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Its a long time I have written something here. Everytime I think of it, I will get involved in something else and forget about it. This time, I can’t resist it.

Our friend, Shyam Karanattu passed away two days before. The saddest part is that it was a suicide. All people who know him are shocked to hear the news and has not yet recovered from it. Shyam was an active free software advocate and activist. Here is what Anivar has to tell about him.

For me, he was more than a friend. He was my senior at THSS Vattamkulam and also at MESCE, though he was in EC branch. He was one of the persons who has influenced me much. Even though I am attracted to FOSS a long time before, it was he who introduced me(and many others) to the FOSS Community and Swathantra Malayalam Computing group. Later, we became colleagues, organized many events at MESCE and participated in many events together. He was the major driving force for the formation of MES-FSUG group and GNULabs at MESCE.

He was so attracted to FOSS and whenever we talked, we end up with something related to it. After his B-Tech also, we kept in touch and the last time I contacted him was during the time of SMC Localization Camp at MESCE. He said he had some family functions and couldn’t attend and will try to be there for the next event. Now he left us without waiting for thee next event.

Here are few snaps of him from my collection.

He has also interviewed RMS during the conference.

Shyam Karanattu Interviewing Richard Stallman for Amrita TV

There are much more to say about him, but….
We all love you Shyam. You shouldn’t have done that, whatever the reason was.

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Today was the official launch of Mozilla Firefox 3, the revolutionary open source web browser. Its aiming to setup a new world record of the most downloaded software in a day. Though my Beta 5 version of Firefox 3 upgraded automatically to Firefox 3 a week ago, I also became a part of the Guinness World record by downloading Firefox 3 from the college lab as a part of the download party organized at college by GNULab. Here is the screenshot of the certificate I got.

Mozilla Firefox 3 - Download Certificate

Mozilla Firefox 3 - Download Certificate

The only special thing that happened in these few days was that my mother’s sister and family came home from Chennai for┬ávacation. With these days at hostel and home, I noticed that I could study more when I am with my friends than I am alone.

MESTECH, the annual technical festival of MES College of Engineering is scheduled tomorrow and day after tomorrow. It will be a great miss for S1S2 students and especially me as I will miss a few seminars and contests.

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Today, I thought deeply of managing web designing as a part time job. The main thing what I lack is support. Parents don’t like me spending lot of time with computer and Internet and they says that I am wasting lot of my time with computer. If I get someone with ideas like mine, it won’t take long for me to start web designing as a part time job… With my more than 5 years experience with the web and its technologies and services, I think I have got enough exposure with the field.

Another field is that of free software. I hope that the GNU Lab project at college will be helpful in gaining exposure in that field too.

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I was thinking about writing about the workshop and I wrote a bit about it. Then, I saw Shyam’s mail and he has written a report much better than mine. So, I am posting it here(with a little bit formatting and editing) instead of mine…

We started the inaugural ceremony by 10:00am. Raju sir started by welcoming all to the workshop. Col.Induchudan sir, HOD of IT department was our chief guest. He did the formal inauguration of the workshop. Later Raju sir invited Jinesh to give an introduction about the workshop. Jinesh briefly explained what the workshop is all about. He started the workshop with an introduction and then handed over to me, to take an introductory session on how Malayalam is handled on computer(the user level things) and some very basics about Unicode.

The previous day, We a team of free software fans[FSFs?], including Mahesh, and first year CSE guys Manu, Krishna Raj, Vishnu, Savanan and myself was in the lab till 7:00-7:30pm installing the Malayalam locale, and the essential softwares in all computers. Thanks to the teachers at IT lab, they have been so helpful in setting that up. We saw, how interesting it would be if we could team up and hack every night in the lab… It was a new joy for us.

So with those installations, it was very easy for me to show the participants how it worked. But those are just user level hacks, every man with some common sense could study himself, with some time. We did that to show the students who are yet to start, that these things are so easy and its there for making our life easier:-). We showed them, the default inscript method of inputing Malayalam, the difference between lalitha and the usual keymap. Swanalekha was shown and finally ended up with tuxtype.

After this introduction the workshop changed to its second phase, explaining what we can do in this area as Engineers. How we can make a career around language technology, what all are oppurtunities around language technology that usually are not taken seriously while considering our career options. He explained about what
localisation(l10n) and internationalisation(i18n) is all about and the community efforts in this area.

There were some time left after Jinesh’s workshop, so I took a brief session on IRC. Which is one of the must-know kind of thing for an engineering student. Where almost every free software projects are discussed and where we get quality help, provided we behave well;-) [To add a lill thing to that- People, I am alone at our home #mes-fsf;-). So while being online, just try to be there at #mes-fsf. Its as easy as clicking this link and clicking connect there]

The workshop ended with the valedictory function which was chaired by our Director, Dr. K.P Mohammed sir. He wished all the best for our ventures and said that the idea to make use of the lunch time is good.

Thus the second activity of GNU Labs got to an end successfully. Raghesh sir’s and Raju sir’s strong support is what enables us to cover our disabilities and shortcomings in organising such functions and we will try to improve through activities.

Special thanks to all who attended and we hope, you people become active in the near future, that we together can move to more meaningfull activities than mere workshops like, if you people got interested in localisation, we can very well start a localisation group and start localising KDE who’s Malayalam status is quite low. Remember, you just wanna know Malayalam and absolutely no programming skill is required, you just want to know, how to edit a text in a computer… believe me!:-)

So we just had a good start and lets together go forward to build a better future.

Shyam’s original report can be found here. He just forgot to tell about the code of Swanalekha, which was very interesting to read with the comments in Malayalam. Its a good example on how to make code interesting to read.

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Today was the college sports day. Since the series exams are near, most have gone home and hence the participation was less. I went to the college to attend the mechanical workshop scheduled in the afternoon section, but I was disappointed to hear that there was no workshop today. Its not because of my fond for mechanical workshop; its because I am one section behind everyone, due to some leaves. So, I and Krishnaraj went to help Shyam and Mahesh to configure the systems for tomorrow’s workshop related to localization of softwares and its importance, organized by the GNU Lab @ MESCE. The workshop is conducted by Jinesh K, a former student of MESCE. The exact topic is “Opportunities and challenges of Localization/Internationalization in Personal Computing”. We installed Malayalam locales and some softwares related to Malayalam developed by SMC.

I have been wondering how to install Malayalam language in Debian and enabling the menus in Malayalam. Today, I came to know how to do it and much more regarding mounting drives, network drives, apt-get, Synaptic Package manager, .sh extension files, etc. The lab chosen for the workshop was the Multi-Core computing lab of IT department and most of the systems have Debian installed. Also, the staff in the lab helped us a lot by installing Debian in the systems which don’t have it and in mounting the drives and placing our files in server.

We were in the lab till around 8 O’ clock. Vishnu and Savanan from S1S2 CSE-B also came to help us.

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