It was one of those special weekends when you feel so happy even though it was fully packed and you are fully exhausted. Especially the travel across the city and back in the evening after full day of non stop talking was very tiresome. But it was very well spent indeed, especially when you have worked with so many awesome people who just camp up to you and asked how can I help or just volunteered without even asking or made sure everything is in place. It was a fantastic team effort and every one deserves the credit.
The enthusiasm and excitement of students was very encouraging. From what they have told us it seems they enjoyed the camp as well. Gautam said he found the informal and interactive nature of the delivery very useful. Some of them wanted to go deep into speech recognition.
Every Localisation Camp targets at least one new translator in addition to spreading awareness about making computers available in a language that is used in every other communications. This time the main target was Labeeb 🙂 When we met for the first time during gnunify he mentioned he wanted to help out with translations but did not know where to start. So I thought I will call him to Red Hat’s office one weekend and will sit down with him and show him how to translate applications. Moreover he is already a contributor to Malayalam Wikipedia. I already had my audience requirement fulfilled so I announced the event as a continuation of the translation camps smc started already.
I talked to more people and every one was receptive to the idea and offered their help. So at no point in time I had any tension about the success of the event. We had a meeting of Uncode, Lokayat’s Free Software initiative and we decided to have it organised jointly. Abhijit helped mobilise students from College of Engineering, Pune and their FSUG joined in as well. The idea of a small event was shared by so many and the event grew in no time.
We had to restrict the number of participants because we could not handle more than 25 people effectively in our venue. But without much wider publicity – considering how I used to spam every user group list for previous events, we had all the people we needed to get going. Then we went about deciding the structure and agenda of the event. Naveen Kumar, Ankit Patel, Runa, Ani, Shanky and the rest of Red Hat’s l10n team pitched in and we were all set with content of the camp.
Red Hat’s facilities team took care of all the logistics and everything went smoothly. We did not have to worry much about logistics, except for deciding the lunch menu 🙂 Mintos, Naveen, me and Runa weighed in the choices and came up with the final list. Now you know whom to blame if you did not like any curry 🙂 We had wifi setup and net connection was least of the worries.
We had very interesting discussion about Free Software philosophy and business models. Most of the time people complains philosophy talks are boring. So we decided to have a question and answer format. People like me 🙂 and facilities at the office gave a definite notion that Free Software folks are not starving 🙂 So most difficult part was already taken care of.
Naveen Kumar took most of the load and explained basic components of a localised application, from encoding to rendering. His fascination with numbers and deep knowledge about Unicode encoding provided a great opening and set the audience on a smooth ride ahead.
Ankit came in and introduced tools and processes in localisation. We gave participants time to get familiarised with typing in local languages and using translation tools like lokalize. Since we already decided the schedule is indicative and go deep or skip sessions based on response we were never looking at our watches (or mobiles or time applets). We had tea breaks when we felt like having a break. Karunakar kept every one in suspense when he started with his tricks for remembering inscript layout. He said he will continue the remaining parts the next day only!
Pavitran came all the way from Hyderabad and forgot to talk about kletters 🙂
Runa talked about tips and tricks and we had lively discussions, some time going very deep into the root of the issue. She walked us through some of the challenging strings translators encounters every day and asked us if it was easier to teach people English 🙂 But we were not at all in a mood to give in and thought those challenges are nothing compared to expecting people to learn English. There were some interesting back and forth between me – Sankarshan, Ramakrish – Prashanth and me, Rishikesh – Prashanth. I was wondering why people don’t find computers listening in a port funny when they laugh at khidki. I think it is a deep rooted belief that is instilled in most of the society that everything foreign must be good and we should follow it (well I agree there is a logic other side also to it, every thing foreign is bad – but we should be debating and evaluating things on our own than blindly opposing or accepting anything).
Rajesh Ranjan talked about FUEL project – effort to standardize frequently used words and Ramakrishna discussed cross platform database for sharing this standardisation effort widely.
Rishikesh gave a social perspective and discussed how a language is related with local knowledge and culture and importance of preserving it.
Nadim showed interest in what we showed him and he admitted he is a crime reporter with DNA and came in to cover the event because no one covering technology was available 🙂
Abhijith gave different perspective about learning where people are taught to collaborate than compete. He also helped with making the press release. Sankarshan always gave helpful hints, suggestions and directions through out the planning phase.
Shanky and Ani were helping out every one with translations and their systems. We are expecting feedback and summary from the students who came for the camp. Also we have updated the coordinators list with our email addresses in case any one wants to contact us for anything. We have decided to have more sessions of this kind and planned one in CoEP in May.
I should say the availability of Red Hat’s l10n and i18n teams give a definite edge to Pune when compared to any other place in India. We had many people who could handle all the sessions. It was just a matter of sharing who does what. Here also we were least bothered. All in all it was a quite natural sharing of experience by many folks who believes computing should be possible in their own language.
If you came for the camp and reading this post, please go back to the same wiki page and provide your feedback.