MozillaCamp Delhi turn geeky; jargons frighten non-geek Firefox users

Flickr/Channy Yun

Mozilla is going to launch its web-based integrated development environment app for software development. IIT-Kanpur students will get to use it from a secret server when the Mozilla representatives reach their campus in a few days.

I took a day off from my work as a sub-editor to attend the Mozilla Camp Delhi that was organized in Indian Social Institute,New Delhi. After wandering around Dayal Singh College, the landmark given on the event's map site, in a drizzle on a retreating winter day, I finally managed to reach at the institute at around 1pm. The event was scheduled to start at 10pm.

Though not very famous, and off the view from main road, the institute has a nice four-storeyed building with a well-kept garden with blooming red, orange, yellow and white winter flowers.

When I entered the small auditorium, the camp had already warmed-up and was having some discussion. Being a latecomer, I couldn't decipher anything from the conversation. Soon one person started talking about Firefox Add-ons. I was not at all interested in the conversation as it was a really boring one. The person could have made it interesting by showing the functionalities of the with add-ons to make the right impact. Instead, he kept on dribbling with words. He managed to talk about three-four add-ons before the camp dispersed for lunch.

"You have two options -- India Habitat Centre (IHC) close by or the institute canteen on the top floor," the event organizer, a Mozilla Campus Representative, announced. I chose the latter. Going to IHC wasn't really a good idea as I was all alone. I took the lift to reach the canteen on fourth floor and asked for a veg sandwich. Once the sandwich arrived, I was forced by its volume to ask for some vegetable cutlets. Both items cost me just 18 bucks--Rs18.

But the canteen had a big terrace with huge umbrellas covering the concrete platforms that served as tables. It was still drizzling. I enjoyed my sandwich and cutlets, talking on the phone and looking below at beautiful winter flowers in the institute garden.

But I was still hungry as I did not have had my breakfast. So, I went out on the road and had a plate of idlis, a rice cake dish of south India, from the roadside vendor selling it on a cart.

Once I returned back, the auditorium had Seth Bindernagel, director of localization at Mozilla, and Arun Ranganathan, standards evangelist at Mozilla. The two were were going for a interaction with students of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur. So, they had decided to have an interaction session in Delhi as well.

The two were just warming up to begin the discussion when I entered. The organizers were trying to have a Skype video conference with Pascal Finette, who was supposed to talk about Open Web development. After initial hiccups, the call was connected but with faults and occasional call-drops. As Pascal couldn't hear what was being said at the camp, it was being typed out. So it was a video-cum-text conference call. He did talk about a few things which I would like to summarize as: Get involved with Mozilla development in any possible way, maybe you can just draw some designs for Firefox on paper and scan and send it to us (Mozilla).

After Pascal, came Seth's turn to speak about localizing Fireox. His presentation was focused on encouraging people over there to help make Firefox available in various languages. During his presentation, someone raised a nice question--"How to deal with the words that are common in various Indian languages though they are written differently? For example, a khirki (window) is called khirki in Hindi, Gujrati, Punjabi and several other languages." Some one needs to leverage this, said Arun in reply to the question.

Arun's presentation was the best of what I saw. He talked about lot of stuffs including Open Web, various non-proprietary formats such as PNG and SVG. He also gave lot of information on new HTML 5 specifications and new HTML tags such as "video". He had a pretty nice presentation with ample demos to make things lot easier for the audience.

The main feature of Arun's presentation was a preview of Mozilla's web-based integrated development environment (IDE) used for software development. It is called Bespin. Mozilla is going to "soft launch" the web-based IDE on a secret domain and allow IIT students to try it. The service will save users from the requirement of installing an IDE on their local computer.

What came as a burst of laughter, Arun got distracted by someone fighting on the street outside. He said he thought the audience was heckling him.

The participants in the camp included several technology professionals and students but had a good portion of tech enthusiasts such as me who were expecting the camp to be more of fun rather than being a geeky gathering. It would have been lot more fun if the camp would have focused on basic users of Firefox.

Though Seth has written on his blog that nearly all of the participants had experience of using HTML, CSS, XML, C, JavaScript, etc., I would say that a huge portion of the crowd at MozillaCamp Delhi comprised common enthusiasts who had not used any programming language. Sitting in the row ahead of mine was a group of students--three girls and two boys--who didn't really seem to understand any of the geeky stuff. All of them left before the camp came to an end. Sitting in the same row as mine was KG, who is with the Indian Navy; he is just a tech enthusiast. It would have been good idea not to use the same presentations that they had prepared for their interaction with tech students of IIT-Kanpur.

When the camp ended at 5pm, the organizers had arranged for beautiful Firefox tshirts to be given to participants. Since the volunteers were too busy sorting tshirts of desired sizes for themselves and also keeping a good number of it, I ended up with just laptop stickers and a badge. I have already pasted one cute fox sticker on my laptop.


Author: Nyutech

Date: Tuesday, February 10, 2009

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