My experience at GUADEC 2016

GUADEC, which stands for GNOME Users and Developers European Conference, is an annual conference for and by the members of GNOME community, and is held somewhere in Europe every year. This year’s GUADEC was held at Karlsruhe, Germany.

A big part of my trip to GUADEC was sponsored by the Ubuntu Community Fund. I sincerely thank each and every person that contributed in order to make this possible. All of you totally rock 🙂 😀

I just came back from Germany after attending the event, and I’m irrevocably humbled for being able to share this experience with everyone. If I have to describe the whole of last week in a nutshell, I would go with something like this.


The Conference

The conference consisted of one day for workshops, 3 core days for talks, and then the extended days for hackathons and Bird of Feather sessions. I was only able to attend the first four days, so I’ll be talking about that only.

Day 0: Workshops

I took the Gstreamer workshop, and learnt a lot about building multimedia applications. Although I’m not proficient with C, the exercises were awesome, and very easy to understand.

Days 1-3 : Talks

There were a lot of talks during the core days. The keynotes were delivered by Bradley Kuhn and Werner Koch. There were a lot of talks with a lot of interesting stuff. To see the whole schedule, you can go here. All talks were live streamed and recorded, and you can see all recordings here. I also got to meet a lot of awesome people from the community, which was awesome.

I spoke about ‘Accessibility and the Free Desktop’. If you want to know more about my talk at GUADEC 2016, please visit this page.

My Experience

Traveling to a different country to attend a free software conference might sound nuts to some people, but to be honest, it is one of the best things about being in a community. You get to see people whom you only know by irc nicknames, or Google+ posts. As it turns out, behind the dry and emotionless medium of irc, all of these people are actual beings made of flesh and bone, and are super considerate, funny, witty, and awesome. Although I did not personally meet each and every one of them, I can say this about the ones I did. The other best thing about being in the same place with all these awesome people is that you get to see the awesome power of a community, which brings all of these people from different backgrounds together.

In my experience, GUADEC was not a normal conference, it was much more than that for me. It was a gathering of super awesome people who are passionate about what they do, and trust me, those are the best kind.


I clicked some pictures with some people. A gallery with some pictures is given below. You can also see the official Flickr group for more photos.


When in Rome…

…do like Romans do. Time and again, someone is going to give you this advice, and most people don’t think of it as a big deal. In fact, this might be one of the most common advices flying around, and one of the most common advice to be completely ignored by people who have achieved anything in life.

If Einstein, Galileo, Copernicus, Tesla,  Turing, Stallman, Torwalds, Jobs, or Gates went ahead and followed this advice, think of where we would be today. In fact, if any of the people who brought any change in this world followed this, we would be in a really mediocre world right now.

But how do you swim against the flow?

The world has never been kind to the odd-ones-out. Every time someone challenges the authority of the herd, the herd tries to shut them down. The only way to achieve greatness is to go against the flow. It will always be difficult to do that, especially when people who matter to you repeatedly oppose you, but in the end, it’s completely worth it.

But how do you do it? How do you stand up to all these people, and tell them to mind their own business? How do you get up and gather the courage to not do it like the Romans do? If you think, the answer is quite simple. Suppose, for an instance, that you are drowning. What is the thing you would want most in such a situation? Air? Oxygen? The ability to get out of the water? And what would you be prepared to do to be able to get out of the water and breathe again? I would say that I’ll be prepared to go to any lengths to be able to breathe again. If you have that kind of a willingness to achieve your goal in life, there is nothing you can’t do.

So what do I do exactly?

Well I can’t tell you exactly what to do. Life is like a human body, every one is unique in it’s own twists and turns. To make the best of it, and to be able to achieve any goal you set your mind to, you need to treat your journey as a bespoke tailored suit, not a tshirt from the store around the corner. Of course the tshirt is fine now and then, but the suit, which is custom made to your body’s measure, will always be better. If we look at examples from history, every one of these people who have achieved anything, were met with obstacles bigger than anything. And what did they do? They went ahead and did something unique with their problems. Some faced punishment and death with grace and courage, while others kept kicking until they were sore, and successful.

So, the only advice I can give you, is that when life gives you lemons, freeze the lemons and throw them back at life. Don’t just sit there and go with the current, make it your own, and I can assure you that once you’re there, the Romans won’t mind.



Attending GNOME Asia 2016

I’m just back from the GNOME.Asia Summit 2016, and I must say that I’m equally exhilarated and humbled by the whole conference. The summit was a 3 day event, organized by the GNOME Asia team, and supported by the GNOME Foundation. There were a lot of GNOME Foundation members and directors at the event apart from attendees and speakers from various parts of the world.

The best thing about attending this event was the amazing  sense of community. Everyone I met and talked to, regardless of their experience or position, was extremely polite, humble, and encouraging. I sincerely believe that the sense of belonging that you get in a community, especially in a Free Software one, cannot be paralleled by the so-called “Networking” in traditional conferences.

The difference between a network and community is that a network belongs to you, while you belong to a community.Zygmunt Bauman

I met a lot of people from different countries and cultures, and made a lot of new friends. There was no exchange of business cards, only good wishes and heart-to-heart talks. I can honestly say that this has been the happiest conference I’ve ever attended, and I can’t wait to go again next time.

Hundreds of thanks to everyone responsible for organizing, and thanks everyone attending for making this such a feel-good event. 🙂

UPDATE: For pictures of the event, you can go to this Flickr group.


Image of spiral staircase

An old poem

This poem has been moved from my old blog. I wrote it maybe 6-7 years ago, when I used to be in the existentialistic teen-age. 🙂 Enjoy, maybe..

Take my life
Or give me a reason to live
For all these years I’ve lived
are like stones in a lake
Sinking as they touch

Take my hand
And lead me to a world
where people don’t think
For all these thoughts i thought
are washed away by them
And their inhibitions

Take my breathe
and let me wake up
from a world of dreams
For all the dreams i saw
were shattered to pieces
on ground of reality

Take my eyes
and let me be blind
so I see nothing
For all these things I saw
were fake as a mirage
just seeming to be real

Take my soul
and let me be a stone
so I feel nothing
For all these things I felt
were happy illusions
as mean as they could be

Or take my heart
and fill it with love
So I have nothing
but you in my arms
And the world stares at me
as jealous as it could be……

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.
Douglas Adams, in A Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy