Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Blogging is simple...

In the last few days, I have got several requests from different people, asking me to suggest them how they should start blogging and give them some tips on blogging. 

On one hand, it makes me feel proud to think that my blogs are encouraging others to become a blogger, but at the same time, it increases my responsibility towards my readers.
These questions actually did force me to put on my thinking cap and ponder over the real secrets of being a good blogger. Is blogging really an art?

Photo source: http://www.gabrielweinberg.com/blog/2011/08/why-i-blog.html

For me, blogging is as simple as writing your journal. You just need to put your thoughts into words.

If I had to jot down a few important tips on blogging, these would probably be the ones:
  • Know your readers. I am sure while making a blog post, most of us have a target audience in mind. Understanding the reader's perspective is important. Just as a speaker needs to strike the right strings in his or her audience, a writer also needs to do the same.
  • Keep your blog simple. There is not much need to put in too many flowery or high technical words (unless there is an absolute need or requirement for it). A simple blog is easier to read and understand.
  • Make your blog interesting to read. Unless you are writing a completely technical blog, there is no harm in putting in a few light jokes here and there. [Just a word of caution here, let the jokes not be at the cost of anyone's sentiments.]
  • If you have a very techy blog post, you can always add a few screen casts or screen-shots here and there.
    If you are writing a blog on your travel experience etc, adding a few pictures is always fun and interesting.
I do not hold more experience than this about blogging....so someone seeking an answer to this question can search a little more for available stuff on the internet.

Also, it would be great if some of my readers can leave their views on this topic as a comment on this post.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

MDN Workweek, Paris

My first year in Mozilla was more of experimental...I began my Mozilla journey with localization. Then tried my hands on some awesome Webmaking...and finally I got into MDN. Once I got introduced to MDN, I instantly fell in love with it. The MDN project had everything I like...an awesome blend of both documentation and coding.

My MDN contribution till before the work-week had mostly been small documentation edits here and there, some playing around with KUMA and a lot of MDN Evangelism.
When I got the invitation mail for MDN workweek, Paris, I was already on cloud nine. I had got a chance of meeting a few members of the MDN team previously in Santa Clara during the Mozilla Summit, and the very idea of getting to work with them again was super thrilling!

The Super-heroes of Mozilla
The journey to Paris was also an awesome one. Afterall, Paris had been my dream since my days of 'Mills and Boons' ;)
Kaustav  and I had reached Paris on the 5th of March. It was our immediate instinct to visit the Paris office where we were hoping to find a few other participants of the work-week. We met Christian at the office. Well, walking on the streets of Paris with Christian is something not very easily achievable...that every moment I knew that this trip was going to be super awesome.

At work....in Paris office
Next day, we were honored to be able to join all the staffs in the Paris office. Kaustav and I were the only volunteers there and the pride we felt sitting in that room is beyond explanation.
MDN work-week  began on the 7th of March with a blast. There were 16 volunteers and 18 paid staff from 11 countries (France, USA, Canada, UK, Sweden, Italy, Poland, Germany, India, Bangladesh, Brazil) who worked together to finish 23 projects, touched 400+ bugs.


MDN Workweek was the perfect example of Work hard, party harder. After the entire day's hard work, we would be taken to some awesome French restaurant for mouth watering food and heavenly French wine.

Time for some French wine

My contribution in MDN Workweek

My agenda for the MDN workweek was to build a start-up page for new contributors so that whenever new contributors ask - "How do I contribute to MDN", we have the one work answer to that.
After working on it for three days, this is what I could finally manage to get done:
https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/MDN/Getting_started
Here, I shouldn't forget to thank Janet, Kaustav and Sheppy for helping me in getting the page completed.

Along with this project, I also did help Janet and Kaustav complete the event format for MDN events and publish the page on Mozilla Wiki. The page can be found here.
Another very interesting stuff that I got to work on during the work-week was the planning of Dev Derby launch with Kensie.


MDN Workweek was an experience of a lifetime and I indeed feel immensely lucky to have been able to be a part of such an event.

For the entire awesome experience, I would like to thank Ali Spivak, who had managed the entire event in the most efficient manner I have ever seen.


Other related posts:
1) Kaustav's blog-post regarding his experience
2) My blog-post about Paris



Saturday, March 8, 2014

Afterall its Paris...

My after event blog posts are generally a report of the event...if you are looking for a report of the MDN Work-week, this is not the right post. This post is a complete non-technical and non-work oriented story of how I fell in love in and with Paris.

A glance of Paris...

 Paris had been a dream of mine for quite a long time, and the first time I got the invitation for MDN Workweek, I kind of knew this one was going to be awesome!

Paris is beautiful...way more beautiful than my words can ever express. Every moment of this one weekend feels like a long, beautiful dream. Everything is too perfect here. This city has a weird kind of "intoxication" in its air. The more you breadth in the cool air, the more you fall in love with this city.
The weather here couldn't probably be any better...its perfectly cool....not too hot, not too cold. Refreshing cool breeze just washes away all your worries and stress. Someone couldn't probably be upset in this city...its awesomeness is bound to wash all the sadness away!

At the bank of Sion

The air of Paris is affected with the viral of love and I caught this flu one afternoon while walking down Sion. I fell in love...with the city...with every bit of it. The weather, the scenery, the people around, the its peacefulness and serenity...with everything.

This city has been able to wonderfully hold on to its heritage but not at the cost of cutting itself off from the modern amenities or technologies. Here in Paris, you will see a lot of old buildings, all equipped with modern gadgets....these buildings have huge,heavy and decorated entrance, with the most sophisticated security system installed on them...these are like the perfect blend of heritage with modernization!

Both French food and French wine are really tempting and a treat to your taste-buds. They tastes too good and are presented a bit too well.

Can't remember the name of the dish...but its something cooked in Wine sauce
Another thing about this city that I fell in love with, are the people here. Even strangers cannot pass by you on the streets without a "Bonjour" and a friendly smile. Weird right? Yes, it is. And that is why this city completely won me over.

I have five days in this awesome city...and I am living every moment of it to the fullest!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

GNUnify 2014

This was my third GNUnify in a row as a participant....and the second one as an organizer. Being a student of SICSR and a member of PLUG, GNUnify is somehow way more than just another conference....its MY conference. Everything about GNUnify is a bit too special for me.

The GNUnify fever gets on all the organizers right from December, but this time, being away from college (because of my job)....I did catch the fever a bit late ;)
Right from 7th of Feb, right from a week before the commencement of the event, I went to college almost every evening; to jump into the excitement of GNUnify preparation. Its very difficult to explain others how we get this passion for the so called EXTRA work after office, but we who live it...just LOVE it!
GNUnify is of-course way more to me than just the Mozilla Dev rooms. This year, the Mozilla Dev rooms were a tough job though...due to the lack of budget.
The last MozCafe meeting that we had before GNUnify was a tricky one. Planning an event like GNUnify with "0" budget is not easy (rather its not possible)....someone we did manage it well with little spending from our own pockets :P



Day one was planned to be a bit different this year. We tried out 'the booth format' (instead of one to one talks, we had project tables (kind of booths) for as many Mozilla projects as we could. There were project experts in each booth) instead of the normal tracks. It wasn't much of a success though. There were several reasons behind the failure of this format on Day one:
  • Lack of a proper space- The space provided wasn't exactly a suitable structure for booths.
  • Improper crowd management - When in a technical conference, we never like to wait. Initially our booths were sooo much crowded that people had to wait outside the room which eventually ended up in us losing them.
  • Improper publicity- Somehow, the entire booth format wasn't well advertised to our audience. The people who visited the Mozilla rooms expected the traditional tracks and were disappointed not to find them.

A glimpse of the MDN booth on Day I


Day two went much better. On this day, we had several different tracks like: Webmaker, MDN, Localization, Privacy & Security, Rust, Firefos OS, Reps and FSA. Things went better than expected here. There were sessions like Firefox OS where we had to send some of our audience away due to the lack of sitting space in the Dev rooms.

A few very important learning from GNUnify 2014:
  • For any Open Source conference, using Windows OS while making a presentation should be strictly avoided. The Mozillians had to face some criticism as some of our speakers forgot this rule of thumb.
  • A little more coordination is required within the team...mainly in situation where we have limited resources and a huge responsibility, everyone needs to understand their role well.
GNUnify 2014 was a good show...though there are obviously some immense chances of improvements. Hopefully 2015 will be even better :)



Saturday, February 15, 2014

Taking a break from all Mozilla events

Globetrotting, meeting new(awesome) people, getting a chance of public speaking, exchange of knowledge....everything I always loved was given to me by Mozilla; by giving me a chance to host and participate in several of its events. I became greedier with time and starting getting involved in more and more events.
In the last 4 months, I have been out for some or the other event every weekend. It feels great when people invite me to their event as a speaker. But in the entire 'Oh I am loving it mode...' I have neglected by job enough. I work in a start-up which deserves a bit more attention from me than I am currently giving.
There are two events that I have already committed to, after that (from March 10th) I am taking an official break from events for the next few months.
I will continue my contribution in all other forms in my free time. The offers to speak at an event are always too tempting and really tough to turn down, so I am writing this blog post to let everyone know that I am not available for any event for the next two to three months.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A dream come true....FOSDEM

Since the day I had been involved with Open Source and known about FOSDEM, it was my dream to be able to attend at least one FOSDEM before I die ;)
I never knew the dream would come true so soon, that too, it was a dream come true++ scenario for me. I was not only invited to FOSDEM, I was invited to give a talk on the platform of FOSDEM.
I still remember the exact feeling when I had received that email which read "Your talk proposal for the Mozilla DevRoom at FOSDEM 2014 has been accepted!". I was on cloud nine....too happy to be able to share the news with even the people sitting next to me in office (I was in my workplace at that time).
From the day of receiving the invitation to the day of travel...things moved a bit too fast and even before I had realized, I was already in the flight for Brussels.

Day 0 in Brussels

Brussels welcomed us with an awesome climate. The temperature was 0'C when we landed. I was warm in my jacket but I remember not being able to feel my hands after being out for sometime. The hotel was at a great location....so centrally located that we had seen most of Brussels just by taking a walk around our hotel on the first day itself. It was in the evening that I met the rest of the Mozillians over dinner. I was literally the youngest one in the team and I bet was the one most scared (for the talk) among them all. Later that night, we had the FOSDEM bear party where I had the chance of meeting some of the awesomest minds of the Open Source world. I wish I could stay back longer at the party that night, but my unfinished slides didn't allow me to do so. I left early and rushed back to my room to complete my slides and run through them, just to be prepared for the big day.

Day 1 in Brussels

The bus we took to the venue was jam-packed and I was astonished to know that most of them (about 95%) were actually travelling to the same place as I was. Someone had mockingly said in the bus-'if we could hijack this bus now, we could build the Operating System of our dreams. This bus has some of the best brains of the world'.
As soon as I entered ULB Campus, I was thrilled! I had never expected such a crowd in an Open Source event.
It was only at 5pm when my blood pressure started rising...my talk was the next one in line. I was scared like hell but somehow the moment I got on the stage and held that mike and few familiar faces wished me luck, I got an unknown strength to address a crowd of 280+ people. This was my first ever talk in a platform like FOSDEM, addressing a crowd this huge!


Me...in action at FOSDEM


In the next 30 minutes I just lived my dream. I knew this was the moment I had dreamt about all my life.
I can't be a good judge of my own performance, but the tweets I had received during and after the talk were really encouraging.


Day 2 in Brussels

The next was more of enjoying and less of responsibility. I went around all the buildings, visiting all the booths, talking to people, building contacts (and of-course collecting swags). I met some awesome people that day...some whom if I describe as 'genius' it would probably be an understatement. I also got to meet a few people whom I had previously interacted with,online, but never met before.




Meeting Quim Gil at FOSDEM 2014

The most amazing part of this day was when I was told that someone had come at the Mozilla booth, looking for me. When I reached the booth, there was a man who was waiting to interview me and know my journey in the FOSS world. He said that my story could encourage other girls to get involved with Open Source development.
Trust me when I say that there is no feeling better than knowing that your story could make a difference to someone else's life.
I wished FOSDEM was held for longer than 2 days :P

This FOSDEM was a real big event of my life and I hope I get an invitation for the next one as well ;)

My slide can be found here :
http://www.slideshare.net/priynag/women-and-technology-31005551

The recording of my talk can be found here:
Video Link

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Campus Konnect II


The event was rightly named and it was organized exactly a year after the version I. This time, the venue was chosen to be Techno India college at Rajarhat, Kolkata.
This event was meant to open the doors of the Open Source world to the first year computer students of this renowned technical college. The event was planned and organized by Sayak Sarkar, presently a Mozilla Reps Council member, with the help of Srijib Roy,a local Mozillian from the college.
Kaustav Das Modak, a Mozilla Representative, and I were invited as guest speakers for the event. The event start unfortunately got delayed by an hour due to some technical issues faced by the organizers. Instead of 10am (IST), we began at 11am. I took the stage to begin the day with an introduction to Open Source followed by a Mozilla introduction. I touched a bit upon what are the different Mozilla products and current projects being supported by Mozilla. I also spoke a little about how one could get involved with Mozilla and start their open source contribution.
After an introduction session, I handed it over to Kaustav who introduced the MDN project to the participants. After Kaustav, Vineel Reddy Pindi, an ex-council member and one of the oldest (I only mean in terms of experience and absolutely not in terms of age) Mozillians from India, took the stage and spoke about the Firefox Student Ambassador program.
After all the introduction sessions got over we decided to turn the passive listers to active coders and thus divided the crowd into two groups and began parallel hands-on sessions on MDN Code Sprint and MDN Documentation Sprint. As always, Kaustav led the code sprint and I took care of the Documentation sprint. This time, when we had a proper planning done on our end to not let anything go wrong, the Internet did fail us. The connection was so poor that both these sessions turned out to be mostly one way talk sessions where we just explained the participants how to do stuff instead of getting a change of doing something for real. With all the internet issues getting pretty common in most events now, the Mozilla India community is brainstorming on how best we could deal with the situation.



Post lunch, it was a Firefox OS app-building session led by Sayak and Kaustav. Sayak gave a detailed introduction about Firefox OS and Kaustav carefully tutored the participants to build some apps in a very simple and easy way.
Now that the Indian technical crowd is partially aware of the new mobile operating system in market, their enthusiasm to learn more and get more details about it makes our Firefox OS sessions a great hit always. We get fired with a lot of interested questions.
Though we didn't have too many swags this time, we tried giving away the little things we had, to the crowd, in the best possible manner. The deserving participants did depart with some Mozilla stuff which they could proudly show off to their fellow mates later ;)

Take aways from this event:
1) MDN is highly Internet dependent. We need to find ways to make sure not to trust on the event venue's internet facilities and  the organizer's promises. Need some kind of backup plan from our end.
2) Need to think if we could implement a simple username-password authentication method for MDN instead of depending on Persona. 
In the absence of stable Internet, Persona keeps us from getting even user-profiles created.

Other blogposts of this event: