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16 October, 2012

MozTour - South India: 6th-9th Oct, 2012

Event Links:

Talk Slide:
GitHub Gist:
Live Example:
Tour Summary:
Code Walkthrough:

Event Venues:

Mozilla Mania, Chennai
6th Oct, 2012 — Velammal Engineering College

Tech Carnival, Thanjavur
7th Oct, 2012 — Sastra University Campus

Mozilla Mania, Warangal
9th Oct, 2012 — Jayamukhi Institute of Technological Science

Event Tracks:

Mozilla Mania, Chennai
At VEC, the main focus was on the Addon Development workshop conducted by me & the WebMaker workshop by Gauthamraj. Dwaraka was our main contact for this event, and he arranged for the logistics along with the organizers from the institute.

Unfortunately, we had to face power-outage due to an accidental blast in the College power-grid that morning, leading to a late start & occasional backup outage.

The lab was pretty well equipped, but we needed to prepare the development environment to conduct the session. The organizers were trying their best to minimize the impact of the accident, and by the end of the day I took through the development procedure that most of the 57 attendees could follow.

Due to the situation, we had to coalesce both the workshops in one lab & Gautham did a great job making the best out of the session as well.

Tech Carnival, Thanjavur
In Sastra University campus Mozilla workshops were a part of the bigger yearly event of the Institute - Tech Carnival - a 3day event, 9th Oct. being the last day of it.

The audience was amazing — I must say — by both quality & quantity. The lab wasn't able to host 80+ students in one go, so we had to run the workshop twice with 40+ students in each time. It was exhausting, but not frustrating. Even though I had to go through the same 3½ hrs twice, it was totally worth it (in fact, second time it was even better - cause in the first session we had run into Firefox updation issue for firewall rules, which wasn't necessary in the second time anymore). Thankfully, I had a lunch break in-between... :P

There was a good volunteer support — plus Dwaraka, Naresh, Gautham — all lent their hands to run the workshop smoothly.

Mozilla Mania, Warangal
The last event of the epic tour was on JITS college, Narsampet (near Warangal, AP). Special thanks to Vineel for taking up all the logistics responsibilities (& the awesome long drive) - both me & my fellow rep Faisal Aziz enjoyed it very much!

This event was a bit more than a workshop — in fact, not only the entire institute premises was prepared for the event, but the neighboring institutes were invited as well. There were event inauguration, speeches, parallel workshops - full fledged tracks to cover as much of addon-development & localisation as possible in a day.

The audience turn over was overwhelming 400+ — the organizers had to stop the registration in 12hrs since it was opened, for accommodation issues — as they stated. Kudos to Meraj Imran & Hema BhanuPriya (main event organizers) and their team, for making the reach of the event so huge!

I've had suggested Meraj to filter the attendees based on their expertise, for the addon-workshop — and he did a pretty good job at it. Mostly there were 3rd & 4th year students, although two 1st year students were most technically sound bits of the workshop, without any doubt.

Now that I had an awesome audience... the infrastructure failed me. The entire lab was running Ubuntu 9.10 (with Firefox 3.6 — incompatible with latest addon-kit). The firewall wasn't co-operating, and the NTP was mis-configured as well (forking SSL cert. issues for all Mozilla sites). Connecting to internet required too much of proxy settings (so, new Firefox profile for development == setup proxies in all of them, one. by. one.).

By the time the SysAdmin up'd some of the systems, I gave a demo, participants were sharing systems — as a proper hand on for each of them seemed pretty long-shot at that situation. So, I brought in participants one by one & made them to take turns & go step by step on the machine which was connected to the projector, so that others can follow (& take notes).

Most amazingly, even in such unproductive situation — the students DID take notes, caught up the instructions most readily, raised pretty interesting questions — some of them also followed up after I wrapped up the session to discuss more (which generally seems quite usual, after a successful 4hr session — but here!).

Flickr Album, by Meraj:
Facebook Album, by Faisal:

Event Takeaways:

Take a hint from the event names: Mozilla *is* in fact an epidemic now in India — in a good way, though! Students are interested in hosting events, faculties encouraging & helping them organize it, audience joining in hundreds & listening, a huge number of participants are slowly getting into the contribution part (i.e. giving back to the community & upgrading themselves in the process). If mentored right, this could as well be a revolution in the making; in fact, it is a revolution, which hasn't taken a colossal shape yet.

There are a few things getting in the way, though. Disruptive-orthodoxy, premature-evaluation, sacrificing good for easy, culture-shocks — these're holding us back in one form or the other.

Sometimes the willingness to host an event trumps the actual purpose of hosting an event. Sometimes the events are being organized in a format of cultural event & not that of a technical event. These can be fixed though... we need more flagship events, workshops, hackathons to be hosted & we should invite the prospective event organizers to the events to get them familiar with it. We have too much of honest good-wills, but not enough orientation to channel them properly.

It's not me being overly critical — it's me foreseeing if we only learn from the experiences, then how incredibly awesome the events can actually be, going forward.

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