January BLUG meet report

Yesterday, the Bangalore Linux Users Group had its monthly meet, and it rocked!

The meet was, as usual, at HP’s Shezan Lavelle facility, with its modern conference room with all facilities (except coffee – more about that later :) About 35 people attended, and a lot of new faces were to be seen as well.

Waiting for people to assemble, we started the meet talking about various things, but the discussion quickly converged on cell phones (my new Treo 680 triggered that). Amazingly, several people in the room sported PalmOS powered phones, and the merits and demerits of each model were highlighted.

Once everyone had assembled (with Mahendra and Philip missing – boo!), coordinator Tejas called the meeting to order, and after a very efficient “rapid fire” round of introductions (imagine 30+ people introducing themselves in about 2 minutes), we started the main agenda.

Our speaker for the day was Open Source Initiative Board Member Russ Nelson (who had also spoken at FOSS.IN/2006). Russ spoke about The Politics and Technology of the DNS system.

It is always a pleasure to listen to someone speak about something he has personally experienced and has first hand knowledge of, and this was no exception: Russ had tons of tales from the trenches, and a lot of insights to offer. Even those of us who have had many years of experience with this stuff learned a lot of new stuff. The Q&A round brought up many fascinating aspects as well, including issues with internationalised domain names, alternate DNS systems, cache poisoning, etc.

A thoroughly enjoyable technical session, and a fantastic way to start the year for the BLUG.

But more was to come. :)

Russ then proceeded to tell us about this amazing role playing game that has been “infecting” all the Open Source conferences that he has been attending. The game is called “Werewolf” (also known as “Mafia“), and involves the entire audience present. I won’t go into too much detail on how it is played (you can read the links above), but let me tell you this – from being a skeptic about whether such games would work, I went to being a rabid fan. And I am clearly not the only one.

We played two rounds of Werewolf, with Russ being the moderator, and we had a “howling” good time. Ingo Wichmann (one of the LinuxTag guys – the equivalent of FOSS.IN in Europe), who also attended, *really* managed to liven the game up with his comments and constantly misleading everyone. :)

The meet finally broke up at 9pm (a kind of a record), and we moved to the nearby Shezan Restaurant for dinner. Excellent food, excellent conversation, tons of FOSS discussions.

[Update] I forgot to write about the coffee (and half a dozen people have written to me about it!) :) So the story goes that *usually* we have coffee waiting for us in the conference room, courtesy HP. But this time, being a holiday, no such joy. After much ribbing and cajoling, Tejas went to the nearby CoffeeDay and got everyone coffee, which led to some energetic werewolfing. :)

Many thanks, Tejas!

What a day! :)

Speaking of the Open Source Initiative board members – this is definitely an OSI month for me. :) Starting with Russ yesterday, I hope to met up with Rishab Aiyer Ghosh later this week, and on the 26th I meet up with Joichi Ito at the Creative Commons India launch on the 26th. Never mind the frequent interactions with Danese Cooper, who has become a really close friend and has been doing all she can for FOSS in India.

The Creative Commons is particularly important to me – it is to my cultural side what Free and Open Source Software is to my technology side. Phenom in 2004 became the first rock group in India to release their work under an unmodified CC license- partly due to my interaction with Lawrence Lessig in 2004 in Berlin. CC-licensed works have been springing up across the world, and they are doing for culture what the GPL and other open licenses have been doing for software. Even one of the projects I play a small role in – RadioVeRVe – strongly encourages people to release at least part of their work under a CC license.

BTW – the Creative Commons India launch event has my employer, Geodesic Information Systems Ltd., as one of its sponsors. It gives me a warm feeling in the tummy to have Geodesic support so many initiatives, including FOSS.IN, BarCamps, Creative Commons, and many others.