Wednesday, August 15, 2007

openITis.com is here!!

Been to linuxforu.com? It just got bigger, better, much better, much, much better... the new avatar, also called openITis.com was launched today, on the occasion of India's 60th independence day. And they could not have done it at a better time! There is much talk about India not giving back enough to the global open source community. This website bodes to be a relatively big step towards that.

For one, much of the content of Linux For You magazine is going to be opened up under a Creative Commons license and made available on the website. But more than that, if used well, openITis.com could prove to be a good platform for Indian developers and users to connect with each other and with global projects -- share tips, discuss issues, collate ideas, blog, contribute content, and so on. The site will also point users to the best content already available on the Web, in addition to original content developed by the Linux For You and EFY Times teams. The community can also contribute content to openITis.com

There seems to be something in it for everybody -- CXOs using (or considering the use of) open source in their enterprises, developers, professional users, newbies, etcetera. The website is still in the alpha stage, so do make it a point to share any bugs you find or suggestions you may have with the team!

OH, I almost forgot to tell you... there is a BRILLIANT interview by Linus Torvalds on openITis.com -- he answers around 35 questions put forth by the open source community (the interview was organised by EFYTimes.com). Truly, an amazing, frank interview. Topics discussed range from what textbooks students should read to why there aren't any many notable Indian contributors to the Linux Kernel.

Here is a tiny extract...

Q: What does Linux mean to you -- a hobby, philosophy, the meaning of life, a job, the best OS, something else...?

Linus: It's some of all of that. It's a hobby, but a deeply meaningful one. The best hobbies are the ones that you care 'really' deeply about. And these days it's obviously also my work, and I'm very happy to be able to combine it all.

I don't know about a 'philosophy', and I don't really do Linux for any really deeply held moral or philosophical reasons (I literally do it because it's interesting and fun), but it's certainly the case that I have come to appreciate the deeper reasons why I think open source works so well. So I may not have started to do Linux for any such deep reasons, and I cannot honestly say that that is what motivates me, but I do end up thinking about why it all works.

Anyway, click here and you'll be at openITis.com before you finish saying, "God, please ask Janani to shut up, and take me to openITis.com!"

Independence Day Wishes!

Namaste! Wish you a very, very happy independence day!

This day is all the more significant for me this year, since I am out of the country!! Having always been a person steeped in organic India, savouring its arts, culture and heritage, I have always appreciated and loved our country and been a rather fanatic Indian all the while (as all of you probably know more than me). And I thought I could not get more "Indian", but living abroad for a few months makes you realise all the more what you have back home -- INDEPENDENCE!! If you're thinking, what the heck, it's not like you're gaoled... imagine something as simple as having to carrying a bulky copy of your passport in your handbag all the time, and you'll understand what you have! :-)

And it is amazing how much the Australians respect Indians -- NOT for the intelligence, NOT for the natural tan or the black eyes, NOT for persistence, or anything else -- but for our HERITAGE! Some Aussies claim they are jealous of us Indians because we have such a rich heritage (the word is so virtuous because it signifies a cutlural 'inheritance'), which they, as a nation of immigrants do not have. A bus driver saw me running down towards the bus stop in the city, and waited to take me on board... he wanted to chat about Indian culture. A friend tells me how her Professor's wife invited her over to dinner and made dal (with a recipe she got from the Internet) for her! Another told me how the bus driver waived the ticket fare because she was an "Indian Indian"!!

Many of you probably appreciate our culture and heritage and INDEPENDENCE already, but in case not, please try to make a conscious effort to understand it -- for every custom you follow, try to find out why or how it came about (for example, we pierce our ears and nose not because it is funky but because it has an acupuncture effect, we wear the toe-ring not just to "show" that we are married, but because it exerts force on a nerve that strengthens the uterus); try to appreciate our cultural inheritance in the form of music, dance, frescoes, bead-work etc; our architectural and artistic prowess in the temples and monuments; and God's gift in the form of our mighty mountains, vibrant rivers, and unconquerable seas! The first step is appreciation, then understanding, then spreading this consciousness to others.

Wish you a wonderful time exploring India!! Don't rely on Google for the info, YouTube for the videos and MusicIndiaOnline for the music -- get into your kurta-pyjamas or saris, get out there, and savour organic India, LIVE! If you're on this journey of discovery, we are sure to bump into each other some day, because I am too :-)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mission Impossible!

Last month we attended a performance at the Sydney Opera House's main concert hall. You know what, the Opera House is simply amazing just to look at... but listening to a concert there is just out of the world! Most brilliant acoustic experience I've experienced so far.

(Hmm, actually no, second-best, because the best acoustics any day is at the Kalakshetra Auditorium - Chennai, in its own natural, ear-friendly, art-friendly, heritage-friendly, cultural, cultured way!)

Coming back to Sydney... so, this concert was composed and conducted by Lalo Schifrin, winner of four Grammy awards and six Oscar nominations to his credit. But you'll probably recognise him best if I tell you he scored the famous 'Mission: Impossible' tune!

This concert was in his inimitable 'jazz meets symphony style', and was performed by the virtuoso James Morrison on the trumpet, and the upcoming Ambre Hammond on the piano, along with The Sydney Symphony orchestra.

As expected, the scores were scintillating and the delivery perfect. This the first time I've listened to a symphony orchestra live, and, not surprisingly, what amazed me more than the performance of the lead players was the brilliant, impeccable coordination of the symphony orchestra. Some of the instrumentalists had to play for less than a total of two minutes during the two and a half hour concert, yet they did it perfectly. The percussionists took such care to make sure that the the synchronisation was perfect... in fact, I noticed that one of the guys who operated what looked like an oversized gong (I don't know what the instrument is called!) actually used his hand to stop the thing from vibrating for a second longer than required! Exemplary team work.

Brilliant experience!