Farewell Speech (Tech Issues)

Below is the soft copy of my farewell speech on tech issues.

Good evening everyone. Carry forward the legacy left by one of our seniors, I am going to narrate a short story.

There was a boy, by name OMI, who came to IIIT without having any background in computers. He used to spend all this time in workspace exploring Linux usually at the cost of missing his lectures and even meals. Inspired by the works done by Nirnimesh, SMR etc., over a period of two years, after struggling, only as he could have done, he climbed onto the post which he always wanted, the sysadmin of IIIT.

Today I would like to speak about a few topics. The first one among them is my experiences as a sysadmin.

Our network is not ready to take the ever increasing load. The old wifi infrastructure has already crossed its End Of Life period. Also, the network is not properly planned which increases the time required to solve the issues. For example, it took several days to fix the network loop problems in different research centers last year.
Though we use open source to cut down our IT budget, we don’t make the best use of it.
The process of getting things done is slow. For example, we have not been able to narrow down on buying a firewall since last six months.
Now coming to the people part of it, the server room staff is generally co-operative but the problem lies with the administration mostly because of the slow decision making.
Within the administration, there is lot of interference by the people who don’t have adequate background in related fields.
Most of the time server room staff do the work they should not like asset management. Why a person who spent all his life in exploring technology should count number of computers in your lab?

Now, I’ll talk about the changes I tried to bring about and problems I faced.
There has always been an invisible gap between students and server room server room administration. It wasn’t very easy to convince people to stop treating the other end as enemy.
It was my top priority to restore the faith of administration in students so that more students can be brought into administration process.
Different research centers manage their own servers which poses a great difficulty for the server room staff to assist them. Everybody having their own network eventually increases the security loopholes as well. We tried to reduce the decentralization. Research centers are not usually ready to give up the rights easily but slowly things are changing and we have already moved few servers back to server room.
Since our network is growing, the policies that have been in place for past few years are becoming obsolete. We are in process of revisiting the different policies.

I’ll conclude by mentioning few key points. We urgently need to renovate the existing infrastructure otherwise there will be chaos. There is a need to invest more funds in IT infrastructure as its the backbone of the institute and it should not be seen as a burden. Gear up the approval process. We should be more transparent with students while forming the new policies.

I would like to thank IIIT for giving the students an opportunity to be involved in system administration and I hope the future batches will take this up as a serious job.

Thank You!

 

Mumbai Trip and First Time Flying Experience

As I said in my previous post, I was asked to visit Rediff Office in Mumbai. I thought Wednesday (25th) would be a great idea. Informed the same to HR. I got the return ticket to Mumbai on Tuesday. This was the first time I was going to Mumbai and also the first time I was boarding a flight. Both flights were Indian Airlines.

To Mumbai

Took Aero-Express from Hitech City to Airport. I was at airport (Shamshabad) at 6:15AM. Flight was a 7:50AM. So there was a lot of time that I could waste on the airport. With no idea how to proceed, I kept following a co-passenger (from the bus) and ended up in a queue for international flights 😛 Security redirected me to entrance for domestic flights. I proceeded to check in counters following a very simple approach. Look for counters with hot girls 😛 Among those, look for a counter with smallest number of people in the queue 😀 And it worked out of the box. Got the tickets. Moved in for security check. It was hassle free as I didn’t have any luggage. It was still an hour for the flight to take off. Used the free internet for few minutes. I was a bit nervous :) About half an hour later, we were asked to proceed for boarding.

Ten minutes later, I was in plane. It was Airbus A320. Luckily I got the window seat. I was surprised as there was no in-flight entertainment system and the airbus looked technologically challenged :) Few minutes later, the plane started crawling. It kept crawling at the same speed (20-30 km/hr) for so long that I got extremely frustrated. I was thinking, “Abe Mumbai paidal lekar jayega kya??” (Are we going to Mumbai by foot). I breathe a sigh of relief when it started accelerating. It was a thrilling experience after that long boredom. Things I imagined while playing NFS and other car games suddenly became live. We were on the ground at almost 300km/hr. The feeling while the plane takes off is damn nice. You feel something in the chest for sometime. After the plane is completely in air, things again become boring as the plane looks static with respect to ground. I was feeling like, “Why the hell its not moving??”. As the charm of flying for the first time was over, I picked up the newspaper. It was business line. Couldn’t really figure out a story to read. Then I picked the Air India magazine. While I was turning the pages, saw Katrina on sidebar of a page. Continued reading the story and figured out that both Airbus A319 and Airbus A321 have in flight entertainment systems. It was a real bad feeling to get stuck into A320 when both A319 and A321 were awesome 😐 The food served in breakfast was pretty good. Few minutes later, it was announced that we were in Mumbai. Landing in Mumbai was awesome. Actually, the planes first goes into the sea and then take a U turn. The landing experience was also awesome. It feels great when the plane decelerates.

To Rediff Office (Mahim)

I was warned by Sachin about the taxi drivers charging huge fare for no reasons. So I was a bit careful. But still ended up paying twice the actual charge. I left the airport at around 9:40AM. It was damn hot there at that time. My destination was Rediff office which is located somewhere in Mahim(West). Airport to Bandra (Western Express Highway) was totally jam packed. Taxi wallah turned out to be a bit smart and took the service root and managed to save a lot of time. Still it took almost an hour to reach the office.

In Rediff Office

I met Sumit in the office. He introduced me to a lot other people in NOC team. A small HR interview was conducted which was a surprising element for me as I never expected something like that. But it was fun talking to people from HR department. Then I met Sachin there. He introduced me to a lot other people related to domains I like. After that I had a small chit-chat session with managers from the NOC dept. After that Sachin introduced me to CTO, Rediff. We had a long chat session (almost half an hour). We talked about a lot of things in different domains (mainly open source). After that inspiring chat session, Sachin and me went out for lunch. I felt good to see good north Indian food nearby. We returned to office. Few minutes later, Sachin introduced me to CEO and CFO, Rediff. After that I had a long chat with Sachin about company environment and work culture.

Keeping in mind the traffic conditions, I left for the airport at 4:30PM. Unfortunately/fortunately I didn’t encounter any traffic and reached the airport at 5:00PM which was like 2 hours before the flight. To fight boredom, I headed over to Kingfisher check-in counters and found out a place to sit optimizing the view 😛

To Hyderabad

I was in plane at around 6:50PM. A321 looked really advanced as compared to A320. We were on the runway at scheduled time. But on the way it halted and waited there for another 20 minutes. By the time the plane took off, it was 25-30 minutes late. This time also I got the window seat. BTW plane was almost empty (only 40% of the seats were occupied). We were above sea in a few minutes. The view of the city in night from the sea was beyond my imagination. Every single light adding to the beauty of it. The view was best when the plane took a U turn. The entire Mumbai was visible and lights increased the beauty exponentially. The highways looked like long chains of light sources intersecting each other. It was a really wonderful experience. As we left Mumbai, the in-flight entertainment system was activated. I was browsing the channels and found one of them playing “Sorry Bhai”, one of my favorite pass-time bollywood flick. We reached Hyderabad at around 8:40PM. Took Aero-Express back to Gachibowli.

All in all it was an awesome trip to Rediff Office and also a wonderful first time flying experience :)

 

Rediff Interview

A few days back I got a call from an alumnus about a job opening at Rediff in my domain (server side craziness :P). Initially I was a bit surprised because I was not expecting something like that at all. After discussing a bit more about it, I returned to my room and forwarded the resume. Two days later while I was in RnD Showcase, I got a call from Rediff regarding the interview timings. It was scheduled on Saturday 21st at 1PM.

Saturday 21st

In the morning at around 9:40AM, I got a call from Sumit Rajwade (VP, Tech, Rediff) asking if interview can be conducted at 10:30AM. I replied positively. I got a bit nervous as I had to quickly arrange a place where we can meet. Arranged a conference room. At around 10:15AM, I got another call from Sumit saying that he was at coffee shop. I was deeply shocked. Coffee Shop :O I couldn’t really figure out what was going on. In my point of view, coffee shop is THE best place in IIIT Hyderabad. For me its a holy place 😛 When I reached coffee shop, I saw two guyz enjoying cold milk. Sumit said, “Whenever I come to IIIT, I always visit coffee shop. I can’t miss this cold milk”. I was still dumbstruck.

After brief introductions, interview started. He asked some NATing questions seeking answers at TCP level. I was able to answer those. Then we moved on to open source domain. Talked about Apache compression and keepalive for sometime. Then we moved on to squid and caching. I feel so good when somebody asks me something about caching/squid. Have been experimenting with caching/squid since last 1 year. Then we exchanged a few thoughts about our interests. Luckily there were no questions about printf statements. Then I briefed him about things I have been doing since last four years. After that he introduced me to the kind of work they are expecting from me. It looked pretty awesome and inspiring at the same time. Few more thoughts exchanged and it was all done. I was asked to take some time out to visit Rediff Head Office in Mumbai.

All in all, it was fun talking to Sumit. He has been hacking (here hacking means hacking and not cracking) open source softwares since years. Inspiring personality.

The most shocking thing to me was the coffee shop part of it. I never imagined that I’ll be interviewed at Coffee Shop.

 

Sudden affinity for conferences

I never liked to attend any conferences irrespective of the theme and goal of the conference for the past three years. But after attending two-three conferences in recent months and coming across new people with matching interests, I am suddenly looking forward to attend any open source/linux/entrepreneurship conference in hyderabad or nearby cities. BTW, are you planning to attend Eclipse Demo Camp 2008 – Ganymede Edition in Hyderabad on 25th June?

 

Accepted for Google Summer of Code

Hi all!

This is my second post of the day but I can’t resit my to write it. I will just say that I am “Accepted For Google Summer of Code”. No its not something propritiery, its “Open Source”. Google Summer of Code is a program sponsored by Google where students write code for Open Source Organizations and Google funds them for the summer.To know more about GSOC, go here.

I submitted my proposal on IntelligentMirror which will be a package for Yum Local Repository Management to Fedora Project. You can browse the breif details of my project here, and for detailed proposal, go here. Seth Vidal, who originally developed Yum, will be mentoring me throughout the project. It will be a wonderful and exciting experience to work with Yum developers.

Adios,

Kulbir Saini aKa General Bordeaux 😀

 

I Feel Good

I have been posting a lot recently. But I am just doing all this to remember all these things few years down the line :) To remember the things that makes me feel good.

I have been working on Yum and Drupal since 3 months now. I have learnt a lot about drupal in these three months. I am a drupal module developer now and also have written a new module which is inspired from a couple of existing modules but make things really simple :) I also submitted a patch for one of the contributed modules.

As knowledge of Yum is necessary for my BTP, I am quite involved in testing the latest release and trying to get started with yum development. I am trying to learn the yum internals and the yum plugin development. To get started with yum plugin development, I picked up an existing plugin fastestmirror and wrote documentation for it. Few days back I submitted the documentation patch on yum-devel list and it is included in the latest release of fastestmirror. Here is the changelog. Apart from this I have also sent 2-3 small patches on yum-devel.

I have come a long way this semester. This semester was almost free. Only 6 classes and a tutorial per week. I was able to focus more on open source and now I feel good that I have finally started contributing to open source :)

 

Afraid

Long time no see!!! After a long wait, I finally gathered the courage to write a blog post. I love to write blog posts but still I am not able to do so. I have so many things/events to blog about, but some of the things have gone really wrong. Wrong to an extent that I couldn’t even gather enough courage to write a blog post.

I am simple boy brought up in a village environment. When I was a child, I used to dream of being a teacher or professor. When I was in 8th standard, we moved to district headquarters and I continued my studies there. In 10th class, I heard about IIT for the first time and being a brilliant student, I started dreaming about getting into one of the IITs. I couldn’t get into IIT, but I landed here at IIIT-H. I used computer (day to day use) for the first time after I joined IIIT. I came here with the dreams that I’ll excel in studies and will land in some company with a handsome salary. Will pay back my loans and live a life full of happiness etc. etc…

Everything was going fine till the end of the first semester. But then I got hooked to this fu**ing awesome thing called Linux. Since then, I never looked back and ignored everything from studies to health to relations (except parental). I kinda become a Linux geek while exploring it day n night. I started writing blogs about Linux which eventually became quite popular. At the same time, I sucked in studies. Got 2 D grades in the same semester and there is only one semester in which I didn’t get a D.

Everything was again going fine and I didn’t care about studies anymore. But then they offered this fu**ing awesome course ‘Social Entrepreneurship and Management’ as HSSM. I don’t know why I opted for that course. I think because friends were opting for that and thinking that they’ll probably teach me for the mid sems and end sem. The professor showed some serious videos of evolution of some social entrepreneurs ( including Mohd. Yunus). I got too much hooked to this idea of entrepreneurship and developed a different point of view. I started reading about the startups and how people actually start startups. I read tons of text about them and realized that its not really a big deal to really get started. But there are train load of risks involved. Its probably the easiest way to go bankrupt. But what if you succeed!!!

After reading a lot I have thought that I’ll give it a shot. Being a guy with open source thinking and having no money to spend on crazy stuff like a startup, I started exploring open source ways of starting startups with no money involved. Current status is that I am working really hard get something DONE. I think I am ignoring other things more than one should. Didn’t have breakfast in Feb so far except Feb 18th, 19th. Didn’t have lunch in Feb so far except Feb 18th. Got fever since last 4 days. But I won’t give up. I got to do it.

Somebody may think that why the hell are you doing all this? Just study and get placed in a company with a very good salary. But my only concern is my thinking. Nobody is going to pay me for sitting in their luxurious office and exploring open source and participating in open source development. I am not after money, I am after satisfaction. I can’t just work for a company which develops shitty softwares which don’t work when you need them the most.

Right now, I am pretty nervous and afraid of doing anything. I am concentrating more on work. I almost read every blog post written by bloggers from IIIT just to digg how people really view this world. I want to thank smr for sharing wonderful stuff on google reader about the emerging startups.

I tag smr for writing a post about this entrepreneurship thingy. I think he is the most experienced person in this field whom I know personally.

PS: Got one of my recommendations noticed in Official Fedora Weekly Newsletter. Search for kulbirsaini in that newsletter :)