PyCon India 2013

PyCon India 2013 – a premier conference in India on using and developing the Python programming language is conducted annually by the Python developer community and it attracts the best Python programmers from India and abroad. Conferences are the best place to meet old friends, make new one, discuss technical as well as non-technical things at same place. I made it to PyCon this year and met many old faces and made new friends too. It was a three day event starting from 30th August to 1st September 2013 with the first day focusing on workshops and last two days on conference with several talks lined up in two parallel tracks. There were BoF sessions conducted too.

Day Two – After Kiran’s keynote, I attended a session on building a super fast, scalable, distributed Python project using ZeroMQ by Srinivas. He explained about the message queues we can use to scale our code. Then I met Sanket, Co-Founder of CampusHash who conducts workshops-cum-hackathon; he discussed about packaging and distributing Python code. This talk changed the way I use to build modules and package them. I happen to meet a college pal of mine Rakesh at Plivo booth. He was demoing the company’s product, this called me to attend the talk on web telephony and how they use Python to build it. I also went to BlueJeans booth to see their demo on video collaboration in cloud. Discussed about the cloud vendors they use and learnt that they have a private cloud set up on OpenStack. I had some discussion on the networking piece, it went on for sometime, and learnt where I lagged in setting it up at our datacenter. We went for a lunch break and yes food was really tasty. After the break I attended a session on configuration management using Ansible. The talk was really interesting as I have been using Chef in my day to day work. Ansible is an IT orchestration engine written in Python and it makes deployment of applications, task-execution and systems easy. Post this session I met the speaker and discussed about functionality of Salt and Fabric, what differences does it make if I choose to use Ansible in the deployments.

Day Three – Keynote speaker for third day was Kenneth Reitz, sitting in the balcony I was silently listening to his talks. Until lunch I spent my time visiting various booths, seeing demo of their products. It was just awesome. I met Pavan at McAfee booth where I shared my exposure with anti-virus testing on Open Enterprise Server during my period of stay with Novell. Old memories cherished. I met few RedHat follks with whom I discussed my experiences with OpenStack and apparently one of them was a QA guy for OpenStack. May be next time when I give a shot to OpenStack I can keep in mind about his findings for the RDO project.
Python for testing, yes, a session by RedHat lady Anisha was the one which I couldn’t miss. Slides for the talks are here. Another session on penetration testing was cancelled due to unavailability of the speaker. The last talk that I attended was about using IPython Notebook by Konark Modi.
pyconI am seen busy arranging my laptop bag sitting next to Dhruv, a RedHat guy.Later in the evening we had a AGM of PSSI and various points related to spreading Python in India were discussed.

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DevOps Days India 2011

DevOps Days is an open event which is typically considered as an interaction between what is traditionally considered as Development activity and an Operations activity. I added up to Operations activity for this two day event held at ThoughtWorks, Bangalore on 27-28 August 2011. There were talks, interactive sessions and OpenSpace sessions altogether.
The first day began with a welcome talk by Ajey Gore, followed by talk by Nick Hines on Continuous Delivery. Nick was focusing on things like – basic fundamentals, automation, branching,right sizing, continuous improvements; Development practices like automation testing, code on mainline, branching by abstractions, non-functional automation testing, Build – development pattern : build-pipeline, canary releasing. Tooling: Chef, Puppet, CFEngine, Infrastructure as a Code.
The other interesting talk given by speakers from Infosys – “Why is it difficult to do Test Driven Development and Continuous Integration in large companies ?” was an eye opener. Mainly because of maintenance, reliability and performance, feature release, investments in process automation, culture change, dependencies. Mirror environments , need for constant change, split of activities, maturity levels. These were those immense factors which made them think twice before adopting it and deviating from patterns.
Test Load Balancer [ TLB ] was the talk which I liked the most ; it splits tests into multiple mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive partitions and allows it to run in parallel to reduce build time. There were speakers from SlideShare who presented how they were able to build a system that deploys 5 times a day in a production environment. I attended OpenSpace sessions by techs from MakeMyTrip on Monitoring Systems using Nagios, Puppet, Ganglia. They also mentioned about identifying metric for monitoring, they have their own inventory system to deal with each clusters.
Second day witnessed a talk by Garrett Honeycutt from Puppet Labs which was so worth learning that I did mention about it’s usage in my organisation. We can have hosts on demand, reduce entropy, disaster recovery, infrastructure as a code, usage of dashboard. Automate most of the activities on nodes. Garrett’s talk’s slide is available here
I am not a Ruby guy but could definitely understand it’s power – Ajey & Nikhil spoke on Deployment Pattern in Ruby on Rails world. Ajey’s openspace session was the last thing I attended, went on for more that 45mins and got to know about reducing build times from few days to few hours using automated deployment. Things that they concentrate while setting up an environment – define a standard hardware, choose OS, configurations and provisioning them.
Had a rich experience at the event followed by meeting some old faces too. It’s four years now since I am with Systems and working in Operations, but yes is DevOps solving issues like – (1) Afraid of changing once application is delivered. (2) Risky deployments (3) It works on my machine.

The DevOps movement is still in its infancy, but it’s gathering pace – there are conferences, mailing lists, irc channels, blogs and people to get to know. I’m convinced this isn’t just a fad, and we’re on the brink of a revolution in the software industry – a paradigm shift in which developers and sysadmins start to work together, to train each other, and ultimately to blur the boundary – welcome to the world of the DevOps.

Yahoo! Open Hack India – 2011

It was the fourth hack event conducted by Yahoo! in India and my first hack event in Bangalore. I do not use most of the Yahoo! technologies while at work, but yes did some stuffs using Y! Pipes, Yahoo! Travels. What called me to this event was the enthusiastic crowd and the kind of hack ( software / hardware ) which was going to happen during this two day event. JavaScript guru Douglas Crockford, has come down for the event.
The event kicked off with some technical talks by Y! folks. YQL, Geo-hacking and OAuth sessions were worth attending. Most of the applications developed during the hack used one of these. YQL turns data on the web into databases. Geo-hacking involved things like – finding a current location, turning a location into a place, finding geographical hierarchy, geo-tagging information, displaying geo-information. Learnt about BOSS [ Build your Own Search Service ], since the back-end is proprietary and owned by Microsoft, one has to pay 80cents per 1000 query. DuckDuckGo uses BOSS for it’s search engine. Did interact with Y! folks discussing stuffs related to systems rather than web scale applications. Got to know about happenings at Y! Labs.
Hack challenges : Location based, Mobile based, Entertainment based. Hackers were asked to come up with applications using Y! open technology mostly available at Y! Developer Network and their latest open platforms. It was time to come up with some ideas and put them in some structure. Teams were formed and few did an individual hack as well. An applications named ‘FakeMyTrip’ wherein a user can put his photo to any fake location (s)he wish to visit, was applauded a lot. There were hardware hacks too – showing mind’s concentration while moving a remote control toy car, LED indicators which shows amount of CPU, memory consumed when a site is loaded, LED indicator glows red when a child tries to access unauthorised websites. 50 finalist were selected and they were given 90 secs to demo it. Grand prize was a trip to New York to participate in Y! Hack All Stars Event, where winner will compete with winners of other open hacks from around the world.
The grand prize winners were actually two – [1] Spotlight – Illuminate your part of the World ( Find out best place to hangout ) [2] D.A.M.N. – Single Serving Friend ( connects people on demand to share meter fare in auto-rickshaw / taxis )
It was a privilege meeting techies from Yahoo!. The event was a place of good learning and experience.

PyCon-India 2010

Yet another open source event, PyCon India 2010 is the primary Python conference in India. It is been hosted for the second time in India. It was a two day event held on 25 – 26 Sept’10.

Got up early in the morning, caught a bmtc bus and reached the venue, MSRIT before time. I was happy to see some old faces and even happier when they also recognized me.

David Goodger was the keynote speaker. After the inaugural ceremony, I moved to lecture hall to attend a session on Python 2to3, followed by functional programming in Python. During break I had discussions with FOSSEE, a team from IIT-Bombay who are working on project to enable students and faculty to use open source software tools for science and education, thereby improving quality of instructions and learning. SAGE session by them was worth attending. I missed my laptop for their hands on, but gave a spin with their linux distribution at home.

Post lunch, I attended GUI programming using PyQt, followed by Twisted programming ( the speaker was my interviewer as well ). And how mobile phones can be forgotten ? Compiling Python runtime libraries on mobile phone, this reminded me of OpenMoko talk.

It was day two, I spent most of the time in discussions and learning what type distro folks over there were using. Met few ThoughtWorkers who actually cleared most of my doubts regarding mobile-based application and Django. Missed sessions on Google App Engine, as there were some other interesting talks at the same time.

The conference ended with Indian Python Software Society annual  meeting and I was happy to be a part of it.

An Un-conference

I was present at Barcamp Bangalore BCB-9 held at Intuit . This was my second Barcamp. It was a one day event this time. Saw less crowd than it used to be earlier.

Barcamp is an un-conference where one can find both technology and non-technology related stuffs. But this time I found more technical talks. There were discussions on mobile apps more than cloud computing, cloud computing more than programming, and programming more than innovations. One of  the talks featuring 5 new songs probably one would have never heard was interesting. Cloud computing discussions were very interactive, throwing enough lights on verticals.

The overall experience and the enthusiasm was great.

Yahoo! Bigthinker India Series

I was present at Yahoo! Big Thinker series session today. This was the last event of this series for the year 2009. The talk for today’s session was –

” Building Knowledge bases from the Web ”

The Web is a vast repository of human Knowledge. A grand challenge is to mine the web to build comprehensive databases of entities ( eg: people, places, things ), relationships and facts. Building such knowledge involves four key steps :

1. Content Acquisition.

2. Information extraction from Web pages.

3. De-duplication of extracted information.

4. Integration of information for the same entity.

I learn t about some techniques for implementing the above from this talk. Some of my notes :

The size of Deep Web is 500 times the Surface Web. They are embedded to billions of pages. Structure of most of the company websites changes frequently. They do so for promotions, look and feel etc. There are some tail sites which has diverse structures. Information extraction depends on various factors – the property of content,  wrapper induction,  page signature,  vector of shingles, page annotated per site. There are a few limitations to wrapper induction. If the page layout ( structure ) is changed, wrapper induction technique won’t work. Most of the sites today are noisy. So, at times when there are match values, those values also contain noisy matches. By noisy match I mean, sites which displays  something of this sort – ‘ people who have visited site X has also visited site Y ‘ or  ‘ too many links of hotels or restaurants when one is booking a ticket in some traveling sites ‘. During integration phase, multiple records for an entity is merged into single record.

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