My first Barcamp…Barcamp Mumbai 6

Wow. What an experience!
Attended BarCamp Mumbai 6 today at SP Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR). This was my very first BarCamp and so I was unsure what to expect. I reached the venue at 6 in the morning as I had reached Mumbai early and had nowhere else to go. I had prepared half of my presentation on the bus to Mumbai and wanted to finish the rest provided I get a place to charge my laptop. On finding the gates of SPJIMR closed, I headed off to the Andheri Railway station hoping to find a plug point. Once again I was failed by Mumbai. By now hungry and tired I reached a KFC outlet which had opened at around 7:30, which again could not provide me with a plug point but I did find the next best thing, breakfast and that too, chicken. So I had some breakfast. But I still wanted coffee and a helpful guy at KFC told me that one Barista outlet nearby would be open. So I headed off to Barista for my morning cuppa. However, to my dismay, the outlet was to open only at 9 and I decided to sit outside. By now, having had a nice breakfast, mother nature was giving its call and I had no place where I could go and answer it in solitude. I was however relieved that the Barista outlet opened at half past 8 and I hopped in, dropped my bags (one containing my laptop and the other containing lots of Netbeans and OpenSolaris Cds) and answered mother nature’s call just in the nick of time. Once done and much relieved, I had the best start of my day with two cups of double espresso and proceeded to finish the rest of my presentation. Then I headed to the venue at 10 AM.

I got my session registered and selected a time suitable to me. Then I lay down Cds of Netbeans and OpenSolaris 2009.06 on the floor of one of the auditorium and on a desk at the other so that interested people may collect them. I also kept a bunch of OSUM Laptop stickers for whoever was interested. Soon a horde of people started picking them up and there were some queries coming my way. In all I had kept a hundred Cds in all and by the end of the BarCamp all were taken and many had stuck the OSUM stickers on their laptops. Someone had also brought Ubuntu 5.10 Cds to distribute.

Next was the introduction ceremony where everyone introduced themselves in 30 seconds followed by another chance given to attendees who wanted to take sessions to give a very brief intro about what they are gonna talk about. Then the people who wanted to talk were asked to choose a timing for their talk and mark that time on a board placed outside with a post-it not, in many ways like a physical wiki. The sessions were divided across two halls. The first session I attended was by Manan Kakkar who spoke about the tech blogging scene in India. Some of his tips and ideas were good but I found his tone admonishing and patronizing at times and his idea about tech blogging seemed a bit myopic because of his presumption that all tech blogs only report tech news. This was followed by one on solving Rubik Cube and What History can teach us about prospering in the tech age respectively.

The session that I like most (beside mine of course) was the one of Scaling web apps by Vaibhav Arya of Skenzo as bits of it related to HPC which is my area of interest. Lunch followed and I chatted with Amitabh Jain who was to present a talk on Django Framework to be parallel to mine. He is a techie-turned MBA from IIM-A-turned entrepreneur and techie again. Talking to him again made me think if should reconsider my decision to go for MBA, or should I do a Masters in Comps. Soon after lunch I attended a session on Zopte, a web based dynamic website creation and hosting tool. I wanted to go deeper into it but mine was the next session and hence I was busy re-reading my presentation.

I had realized during the introduction session that the crowd was only party techy and that too relating to web technologies. And my talk on Parallel Application Profiling using Scalasca was strictly cutting edge High Performance Computing. Actually I had wrongly assumed that one must speak of ones original work at a BarCamp and my Scalasca work was the only original worthwhile work I could claim of. Had I known the target audience I would have probably talked on JavaFX or Zembly or FBML. Nevertheless I decided to do my best to talk about HPC, Parallel Apps programming, Profiling and Scalasca in my span of 20 min, hoping to create a world record of sorts. As expected, my session had a little more than a dozen people, most had left after reading the title. Still I decided to give it my best and skipped slides which I knew would be too technical. I had prepared those slides while on the bus and at Barista the next morning, so they weren’t exactly my best creation. I finished up my session fast and was asked quite a few questions and all were on the basics of Parallel Programming and MPI which I tried to answer to the best of my abilities.

I attended one more session and then left as I was tired and wanted to go back to Surat and sleep. Overall it was a great experience. I met school kids, entrepreneurs, professional blogger, coders, a really varied crowd and you could learn something from everyone.Overall an enriching experience. Looking forward for more.

So guys I will call it a day now. Am dead tired, need sleep and my back aches from having sat for nearly 32 hours. Good night.

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