Monday, April 10, 2006

Hyderabad BarCamp - Postmortem

It's almost been 2 days since the hyderabad barcamp ended, but unfortunately I am getting time to write about it only now. Well, I haven't really been busy with anything, guess the heat is taking it's toll on me and I am just too lazy to do anything.

So, 5 of us (from the company I current work for), set out in almost 40 degree celcius on a lazy saturday afternoon (2pm) for this barcamp. Well, nothing could have got me out of my house on a holiday but my love for web 2.0 & ajax and all those cool buzz words was incentive enough for me explore this event. And moreover it was free...yes free! That means I could go there without having to convince anyone on why/how it was important for me to attend it ;)

It took us almost 45 minutes to reach there. The event was supposed to start at 3pm and by the time we reached there, we had given up all hope of getting a good seat. To our suprise we still had some good seats available (in the front and we quickly grabbed them).

Oh Ya! As soon as we reached there we checked in at the registration desk and got a lot of goodies (T-shirts courtesy cordys, stationary - fancy notebooks & pens courtesy progress and some more stuff courtesy pramati). It's always good to get such things..I somehow have a liking towards fancy notebooks :)

This event was taking place at the IIIT campus and I must say I was pretty impressed with the WiFi connectivity in their campus (even though I was not carrying a laptop - actually I don't even own one right now ..hehe!)

So, the event kick started by Ramesh Loganathan's Intro talk on Web 2.0. He gave us insights on how this term was coined by O'Reilly - how it created a buzz and it was clever marketing. He encouraged active participation from the audience and discussed a lot on how blogging, google, wikis, community sites, flickr, etc have changed the face of the WWW.

Following this was a talk by the CEO of Pramati - Jay Phullur. To be very honest, I didn't know who this guy was and I was least interested in his talk, but somehow when I got to know 5 minutes down the line that he was the CEO of Pramati (well, i don't know much about this company either, but then what the hell! he is the CEO man! he demands some attention :) I started listening to him. He was presenting on the opportunities web 2.0 had to offer and it turned out to be quite an interesting talk in the end. Obviously, for people present there it was great fun when Jay mentioned about his 70 year old dad and what kind of web interfaces (especially webmail) he wanted to use (and how he thinks the Yahoo webmail user interface is so crappy - well now that was enough to get some reaction by all those Yahoo folks who had flown down from Bangalore for this BarCamp:) Having worked a lot with the designers, I found Jay's dad's ideas actually pretty interesting...Might even try some of them. After that all questions & answers were in reference to Jay's dad :) I think he was probably the most famous guy out there (till the end of the seminar ppl kept giving examples with reference to him).

The next talk by Rajan (on Economics of Web 2.0) was a little disappointing. He spoke about the move from n^2 to 2^n and all the laws related to it and the importance of attention. The chap probably knew a lot but his presentation was of no use to me (at offence! he was one of the organizers and definitely worked hard at organizing this event..only he should have worked a little harder on his presentation :) joke.

Sharad Singh Solanki (SAS) gave a nice presentation on Tangible User Interface Design. The videos that he showed just blew me out of my chair..they were really cool especially the Sony example (with all those tiles for data) was out of the world. I culd possibly find no relation of his presentation with AJAX or Web 2.0, but nevertheless, it was so interesting to know about an alternative user interface design.

Dr. Vishal Garg (IIIT) and Kamal (IIIT) presented their ideas on Open Journal and Maha System respectively. With all due respect, to me both sounded a little confused and were not able to present their ideas across. None of them made any sense to me.

Rajiv and Pavitar from Pramati gave a talk on XFORMS. This talk too was disappointing not because I don't like XFORMS but because these guys failed to convince the audience why XFORMS are needed. I think the participants should keep in mind to first speak a few words on why this technology is needed and why we should learn it. Everyone just comes and dives into their material and writing code :(

Anand from Cordys gave a presentation on showing off his company's product to be very honest. This was probably the most humorous presentation as this guy surely was a cartoon. He kept bashing every other company and was so proud of the product they had to offer. Obviously he had no idea about front end technologies as he kept saying that AJAX is rocket science and how javascript and dhtml are so difficult - well all ths while showcasing a product that itself was written in DHTMl..irony! irony! :)

Oh Well! sometime in between was a tea break where we were served snacks, tea, coffee & coke. The organizers definitely had taken care of us pretty well. Kudos to them!

All this while I was eagerly waiting for the Yahoo guy's talk because obviously he seemed to know a lot about web 2.0 and all. Finally his turn came around 8pm (while we were being served some pizza's for dinner, thanks sponsors! :) and everyone was hooked onto the talk. I must say some people (probably from cordys) might have already developed some disliking toward this guy as he was quite bored by their presention and also came across as someone who was very proud of the libraries his company had written.

To be very honest there was a air of attitude with the guy, but it was pretty constructive I must say. That guy was totally in love with his company / his work and I think that's a really good thing. He also seemed to know his stuff..demo'd some of the Yahoo library features and show cased the cool new Yahoo Avatars stuff.

I managed to win a Yahoo goody for asking some good questions..hehe! probably advantage of sitting in front. I won a wallet. I just wish they would have put some dollars into it :)

Finally, the last presentation of the day - "Into the mind of a shit scared entrepreneur" by Sunder. His was a nice talk. He seemed to have stared a startup with some of his friends after quitting his job and he took us through the ups and downs of starting a startup. Was a funny talk and quite interesting.

Phew! I am tired now. I think I should go get some sleep now!

The event was a huge success and I hope this kick starts more such events in hyderabad. More than anything else it was good to know / meet people working on similar stuff and how they approach problems in their projects.

Till Next Time,

Great work organizers!

What is BarCamp?

So, what is this BarCamp? Is it the newest bar in town where everyone jams up to have lots of beer? Unfortunately not :(

In response to criticism of Foo Camp, BAR Camp was created as an open, welcoming, once-a-year event for geeks to camp out for a couple days with wifi and smash their brains together.


What are Mashups?

A mashup is a website or web application that seamlessly combines content from more than one source into an integrated experience.

Content used in mashups is typically sourced from a third party via a public interface or API. Other methods of sourcing content for mashups include Web feeds (e.g. RSS or Atom) and JavaScript.

Much the way blogs revolutionized online publishing, mashups are revolutionizing web development by allowing anyone to combine existing data from sources like eBay, Amazon, Google, Windows Live and Yahoo in innovative ways. The greater availability of simple and lightweight API's have made mashups relatively easy to design. They require with minimal technical knowledge and thus custom mashups are sometimes created by unlikely innovators, combining available public data in new and creative ways. While there are many useful mashups, others are simple novelties or gimmicks, with minimal practical utility."