GNUSIM unscrewed...

Last Saturday, I was in an intensely FOSSible mood. I had just gotten rid of the Control systems paper and was struggling to get back control of my life, fighting for my MUKTI as one might very well say. Well, suddenly I realised how much I had lost touch with my once fabled programming skills, how even the best(albeit, only among schoolmates) can rust out in this blisteringly moving world and be swept away into oblivion. So, indulging in glorious self-pity, even more so when I discussed my dying C skills with Debayan <here>, I decided to move to the other end of the Free Software world, that of the user. So, I set off to find the most practical softwares an Electronics Engineer could possibly need, and start using them. Even then, I was under Debayan's tutelage, who introduced me to uclinux, which I didn't really get very enthusiastic about. So he recommended GNUSIM8085, an 8085 microprocessor simulator, which was of more immediate use to me. In these days of one click installs, no-one even miles close to me in LAZINESS likes to compile from source. In fact, when I was more into coding, many of my programs used to lie around uselessly for the simple reason that I was too lazy to debug them. People used to even say my coding was sub-par, with my football sized ego(back then) coming to my rescue, making me challenge them to stupid stuff like algo design. But although my ego has long left my side, unfortunately, or maybe not so unfortunately, my laziness hasn't. Still in the lack of other options I decided to do something I typically do once in like a quarter. So I set about the job. But it was not meant to be as easy a road as it could have been. First this dependency missing then another. Then somehow I managed to load a package already around because I wasn't paying attention. After all this when the magic word "done" appeared on my screen I wanted to jump up in ecstacy. Settling down, I rushed to /usr/bin to try it out. Then, I realised, that I had never even done make install. Routing myself back to the installation folder, I carried out my duties. Then, finally heaving a sigh of relief, I went back to the binaries when I was greeted by the best message of all : Display cannot be opened. :-( I seriously considered applying for euthanasia, but as it was already 5:15 am by then, and I had an exam the following Monday, the plans were overwhelmed by melatonin(for the uninitiated, it is our biological clock hormone!) and I dozed off. The next morning, or rather afternoon(my morning), I had a brainstorm of sorts and without rhyme or reason, delved back into the installation folder. There I noticed a copy of the binary resting in peace. For the lack of better things to do, I clicked it, and bingo! Here finally, was the first Free tronicate software, up and running in my teenie weenie little netbook. My entire effort was logged by the inimitable myself using CTRL+C CTRL+V, the greatest computer shortcut ever envisaged. It is as follows:

kkn@linux-vnz8:~/Desktop/gnusim8085-1.3.5> ./configure
checking build system type... i686-pc-linux-gnu
checking host system type... i686-pc-linux-gnu
checking for a BSD-compatible install... /usr/bin/install -c
checking whether build environment is sane... yes
(gnusim8085:8374): Gtk-WARNING **: cannot open display: :0.0
linux-vnz8:/usr/bin #

Here's a shot of when I started:

And here is the working version:

What is life? part -1

I have heard that people often look back at their lives and decide how well they have fared depending on the adulation they have received from other mortals. Several people have challenged this approach to measuring one's success through the eyes of others. They ask why it is so important to base your evaluation of your life on what other people have got to say about it. In fact, I am not an rigorous believer of either of the two philosophies. Being more of a moderate, I believe that what we have done with our lives, affects not only us, but also a myriad other people. So it should have atleast some consent on their parts. However, the final power of evaluation should lie within our personal domain. An interesting business practice which emulates this concept is self appraisal, which lets us decide for ourselves how good(or bad) we are. This approach, though it has it's critics and imperfectons, especially since we mostly over emphasise on our successes and miniaturize our failings, more so in a public forum, gives an interesting insight into the human thought process, that of realising how we consider ourselves as people, how judgemental we are about the same failings we would have grossly blasted someone else for doing, when we do the same ourselves. However, on the other end of the spectrum, we see another intriguing example. The objective evaluation, that of examinations, well how objective are they really. We have seen more than once that examinations turn out to be more of blackjack and less asbout knowledge. The objective questions that we see today, as opposed to the older style of subjective, essay like answers of yesteryears, might me much more examiner-independent, but do they really fulfil the purpose of evaluation of knowledge? Would it not be an infinitely better, albeit utopian approach, to have a question like, say in 2000 words what you know about this subject, or for the sake of uniformity, about this subtopic. Two questions of this sort could easily make up a three hour paper. But then people would start saying that the teacher didn't go into the trouble of setting a proper paper. In an utopian world, what they thought wouldn't have mattered, but then, welcome to this El-Dorado. The marking could be done in an interesting manner too, by making all the students check all the papers and averaging out the marks every student got from them. 

Well, there was a power cut and all my thoughts got muddled up. Guess I'll finish this up some other time. Sorry for this discontinuity, but guess those who say you never know what is coming the next moment are not so wrong.

GLUG, NIT Durgapur Annual General Meeting.

This write up took a long time coming. My apologies to all concerned. Nevertheless, this AGM took a long time coming too. When it did come though, it had little if any scope for complaint. The Annual General Meeting, 2008-09 of GNU/Linux User's Group, NIT Durgapur took place on Wednesday, the 8th of April, 2009 at the conference hall of the D.M.Sen Memorial building. It was finely attended, and the faculty was represented at the meeting by our very own S.Chowdhury sir, Sajal sir & S.Das sir, all from the I.T. Department. The meeting, scheduled for 6p.m. started in time. We were addressed by our teachers who shared a few kind words with us and assured us that their blessings and advise would always be with us. S.C. Sir told us that we should keep setting higher goals for ourselves, and be ready to overcome newer frontiers. He gave us examples of various people who had done pathbreaking work despite roadblocks and lack of support, including the illustrious work of S.Das sir. He also spoke of how our GLUG had, despite opposition from various quarters and a non-supportive administration, risen from a low to become a respected FOSS awareness hub, reaching new heights that had never been contemplated earlier, to become one of the best known GLUGs in the country. He praised the vision and tenacity of both the student members and the faculty advisors which had made this possible, specifically mentioning Debayan and Mayank among students. Sajal Sir encouraged us to turn our GLUG into an even larger entity, which would change the face of computer usage and the image of GNU/Linux as a geeky OS, at the least in our state, at the most...well, you know. He spoke of 4 things that had changed the recent world, namely Google, Wikipedia, MIT OpenCourseWare and Youtube! videos, and how we could very well be the fifth. He was followed by S.Das sir who spoke of the various opportunities we have and get and how we should go out and use them to our benefit.

This was followed by a presentation by Debayan, the outgoing head of our Software Development Unit. He spoke of the various shortcomings of GLUG in it's earlier avatar, which had caused it to partially collapse and how it had risen from that low, thanks to the undying enthusiasm and support of the concerned teachers and students. He spoke of the plethora of work done by GLUG, NITD in the past two years and of how this work can be carried on by it in the coming years. He spoke of the grand success of Mukti '09 in achieving it's primary goal, not that of pulling in huge crowds but of reaching out to the right places where spreading FOSS awareness mattered. Thanks to Mukti '09, new GLUGs have come up at several places like NIT Agartala, NIT Jamshedpur and KGEC, Kalyani. The working of GLUG, NITD has matured over its 5 year life, and it has grown to become a resource hub of sorts for the entire region, with other close-by GLUGs calling in for technical and logistic support. He spoke of the extremely helpful role of IOTA, Govt. Of West Bengal, in providing us with psychological and financial support when we were facing difficult times, and in its usefulness to the future plans and functioning of GLUG. He also gave us an idea and useful advice on the future tasks and responsibilities of GLUG, with plans like the FOSS helpline and Freedom toaster. We realised how much we had done recently and how much more needed to be done yet if what we did was really to bring about the change we wanted. Thanks to Varsha's efforts and survey, now 75 of 228 girls in our college used one distro or another of GNU/Linux, a positive tendency, to say the least, at the grassroots level. It was clear from his words that to make Free Software a true success, the basics were where we needed to go back to. The 3 mailing lists(well practically two,)received the much deserved attention in their role in popularising GNU/Linux, both in and outside the campus. The list of common interest would be .

Shreyank, or Shrink as he likes to be called, spoke of his 4yr tryst with GLUG, from its early days to its current state. Entwined though his words were in his characteristic PJs, his dedication and love for GNU/Linux and Free Software was hard to miss. It's people like him, with their delicate balance of sanity and dedication, that our GLUG would miss the most.

The Director shared a few kind words with us, about our future course of action and priorities.

Following this, the new GLUG committee was announced and the outgoing committee was issued certificates of appreciation.

The committees are as follows :



The meeting was then concluded at around 8.

My bloglife makeover

It was back in 1999 when I first heard about blogging. Well, to say the least, I was horrified by the concept. How and why would anyone, in a sane frame of mind, be willing to lay down his thoughts for the world to see. Back then, the web was a relatively small(miniscule by current standards) community of unknown people, and it is but natural for a 10 yr old, who's grown up watching computers to be nothing but stand-alone calculating behemoths, to feel insecure in his first steps into this world of strangers. Remember, that back then nearly no one I knew had any sort of access to the net, and the "Web revolution" had not yet hit my country in general, and my haunts in particular. Those were the days when even setting up a mail account was news, and 'Googling' wasn't yet a word. So I never bothered to even look for a blog on the net, when every minute spent online costed me a hefty INR 2.30, and my first look into this forbidden world came years later, in 2003, when blogging was in the news for some reason. The content I came across got me interested, as even as a child I have always enjoyed looking into the minds of others to try and realise how they work. Even then, my interest was purely academic in nature, and I never expected that some day I would have my own blogs to write in. 
    So when I created my first blog a couple of years back, I can safely say it meant little more to me than an escape route for some of my thoughts which I was getting grossly obsessed with. It was then a personal spot of seclusion and reclusion and I doubt if it had ever had any reader except myself to even gloss through it. It was around 3 months later, that, irritated at the stupidity of some of my posts, I deleted the blog in a huff, thinking that it had all been one fine trip into the world of blogging, but that my part in it was over for now.
  How wrong I was! My true tryst with blogging was yet to start. 
Jan-08:My roomie creates a blog and posts a couple of poems he's written. Everyone seems to be very excited about it. So for the lack of better things to do, I decide to show to the world that there is nothing so great or holy about either of the two, and "Life and Death" is born. It was what I could call my first true blog, but my first post didn't quite have the effect I had desired. I had named it "Goodbye in Advance", and several people thought I was actively contemplating suicide. Here's an insight:
Life has been short, so said a friend
Short it does seem, when we near its end

Remember me, second to none
After all has been said and done

When I am dead or I am lost
I won't return at any cost

It is not so easy to die
It pains so much to say goodbye

I like to live, I like so much
There is no one I hate as such

We like to think that life is long
It might yet end before this song

When life seems unpleasant or hard
Don't think it's played it's toughest card

Good things in life just look so bad
That when they pass you feel so sad

You didn't when you had the chance
Though now you may have changed your stance

But what has gone has gone away
Now I must go, I cannot stay

So farewell friends, one and all
I must answer a higher call
  Thus began my foray into the blogosphere. I started to actively follow blogs, fill some of my own ones and discuss blogs and blogging on irc and stuff. It was then that happened, in response to a diktat that everyone in GLUG core committee must have their own blogs to spread FOSS awareness. By then, my no. of posts were respectably high in what I then called my personal blogs. However, my blogs were so strewn with personally damnable data that I felt uncomfortable to advertise it to the world at large. My bloglife then had a personality spilt, between the personal and the professional. 
08 April,2009:Life turns full cycle, they say. I was appointed JOURNALIST, GLUG, NIT-Dgp, whatever that is supposed to mean, earlier today. My responsibilities include settling and documenting the plethora of blogs the various lugcore people have set up through the year. What better day can there be, I ask myself, to merge my split cyberself back into a single entity. I fall back on my true friend, my tried and tested username : k k n u n d y . The transformation is complete. The journey, I guess, is far from over yet.