Tag Archives: opensource

MOOCs: Massive Open Online Courses

MOOC is known to everyone these days. I am enrolled in some of the courses on Coursera, Edx, Udacity, Stanford, and others most of the time. I sometimes look at Khan Academy’s lessons/courses as well. We are living in a time which has made learning things so much easier compared to what we have a decade back or earlier.

Anyway this post of mine is not about reiterating facts and benefits of MOOCs. I rather want to talk about an idea which I found in my notes written many years back.

Yesterday, I found an old note (written during Feb/Mar 2006) on my Yahoo! Notepad. I think, I wanted to present this idea in an upcoming BarCamp Bangalore. I couldn’t give my talk because I fell sick on the day BarCamp happened.

Following is what I found:

While I was sleeping, I dreamt about my school days and I woke up suddenly in the middle of night. I started thinking, how cool those days were.

Since I was also thinking about some idea for BarCamp before sleeping, something struck my mind…
How podcasting/videocasting can be used in education (school, colleges, training institutes etc) combined with the philosophy of open-source, knowledge-sharing.

For example, in a school a teacher is teaching Maths/Physics…if the entire session is recorded (audio/video) and uploaded to some site (like Yahoo! Podcasts, Odeo, YouTube etc)…Not only students from the same class, who were present or absent but also students from other schools, students from remote villages/small-towns with decent internet connectivity can benefit…

This requires, schools to be more open and willing to share the knowledge and adopt the technology in this fashion. Technically, it is quite feasible, my prototype requires following:-

* Broadband connection
* Account on YouTube!, Y! Podcast or on Odeo account
* An high-res webcam and a microphone..
* A web application written in Macromedia Flash/Flash Media server to do the entire recording, locally…

What I expect that someone comes with a Web 2.0 app like Odeo, where you can do publishing with their API in real-time as well as should be able to upload pre-recorded content. At present, Odeo, Y! Podcast etc lack publishing API…which is I think is important…

I like the idea of Odeo channels, if it’s little more improved it can be like a TV channel…

I think, such things have great importance and we should really start thinking that how can we improve society, education and system with the best use of technology….

We’re Hiring Developers!

We have been working on bunch of products (indiereign.com, and others) for sometime. To take these products to next level, quickly and elegantly, we have recently started expanding our team.

We are starting our new development centre in Noida. We want to connect, talk to and hire smart and passionate developers (hackers) who love to work on products in a small company or a startup (like ours).

We are looking for:

  • bright and smart guys
  • one who can fit in our (small team/company/startup) culture, and becomes a great team player
  • can learn, adapt and use cutting/bleeding edge technologies
  • can inspire and mentor others
  • importantly, loves building cool, useful and scalable products/services

Experience, we would like to see:

  • Application Developer
    • Proficiency with web standards and frontend (HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, etc.) development
    • proficiency with one ore more languages (Python, Ruby, PHP, Scala, etc.)
    • proficiency with analytical approach to problem solving
    • has worked or very interested to work on other frameworks (Django, Rails, Symfony, etc.)
  • Mobile Application Developer (iOS or Android or both) - apps/games development;

Details description can be found at http://jobs.hasgeek.com/at/allies.co.in

We are not rigid about number of years (of experience). We think experience comes out of depth, challenges one has taken, and how many great problems one has solved over the time. If someone has all that, we are happy to talk to him/her.

If you are interested or know someone who is good fit; I would appreciate, if you can connect with me (aqabiz at allies.co.in) and share details.

Installing NumPy and SciPy on Mac OSX 10.8 (Mountain Lion)

I am playing with ExpEyes, which is awesome tool for anyone who wants to learn electronics (and physics).

ExpEyes comes with software (written in python) for GNU/Linux and Windows. I intend to run it on Mac OSX, because it can (provided all dependencies are met).

It is generally easy to install python packages on OSX using easy_install or pip, however, installing NumPy and SciPy turned out to be pain on OSX (10.8.2, latest version the time of posting).

In my case, I am using python binary installed via homebrew, so I can’t take advantage of numpy (which comes installed with mountain-lion).

I have XCode 6 installed, which comes with gcc-4.2.1 (llvm build). I figured out, I can build numpy and scipy from source.

Following is what I did to build numpy and scipy. SciPy requires gfortran, so that has to be installed (I used homebrew to do that):

$ git clone https://github.com/numpy/numpy.git
$ git clone https://github.com/scipy/scipy.git
$ cd numpy
$ python setup.py build && python setup.py install
$ brew install gfortran
$ cd ../scipy
$ python setup.py build && python setup.py install

BTW! In case, you are wondering, why didn’t I use Scipy Superpack script, which indeed makes job easier?

I didn’t, because I want to install gnu/unix packages using homebrew, and I already have git and other things. Super Spicypack downloads (gfortran, etc.), builds and installs packages directly to system, making it harder to remove those later? Homebrew makes job easier.

Thoughts: Open Standards and Technology for Movie Rental Business

I have been thinking about open-standards for movie-rental business. I searched to find about such standards but I couldn’t locate. Do you know of any?

Basically, a set of specifications/protocols which can be implemented by different players in movie-rental chain. Players include studios, distributor, application-developers, portals, et. al.

Rough thoughts:

  • A studio/distributor implements this specification/protocol and exposes API  for metadata/streaming(or playback)/file-access from their own server
  • Third party developers use the API to to pull metadata and play the content
  • Third party developers can charge the user and split the revenue with content owner
  • Or, studios/distributors can enable payment-gatway APIs as part of their offering
  • Content is always played directly from studio/distributor’s server
  • Studio/distributor have total control over their assets and also charge based on subscription/per-access
This would solve many problems (billing, stats, etc.), however, there would be concerns:
  • someone (end-user, third-party developer) might try to cache/save streams as file and distribute
  • and other concerns?
Once we have specifications and protocols in place – a stack using open-source technologies can be built as template, and made available so that everyone in chain can use/customize it to build their part.
I wanted to talk about it on twitter but 140 chars were too short to express my thoughts. Anyway, it’s good to have a blog post in place.
Please share your views.

CalDAV and SyncML Resources

One of our projects requires a calendar application with bi-directional synchronization with any other calendar applications/services such as Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, Google Calendar, Yahoo! Calendar, iPhone, Nokia or others.

We can export iCalendar file, that would be readonly i.e. client applications can not write back to source calendar

I started looking at CalDAV, which is an extension to WebDAV, and SyncML, which is gaining traction because most of the mobile devices use it for synchronization of data. I yet to find where CalDAV fits when it comes to mobile devices.

I found out some interesting links, which I am still going through. I thought, it would be nice to share these links:

Ideas: FlashDevelop on OSX and GNU/Linux

FlashDevelop is an open-source IDE for Flash Platform development (ActionScript, MXML, HAXE, etc.) on Windows platform. I have extensively used it in past, and still, painfully, use it via windows virtual-machine on OSX host.

Couple of years back, I looked at FlashDevelop code to figure out, if we can port it for other operating-systems, such as Mac OSX and GNU/Linux.

I posted on Flash Develop forum about my experiments:

I have been trying to run FlashDevelop under OSX. In last couple of years, whenever I got sometime, I tried these:-

  1. Run FlashDeveloper with DotGNU: FlashDevelop was running but due to a lot of native (Win32) API calls, lots of components were failing (screenshot: http://pic.im/5Xk)
  2. Run Flash Developer with Mono: I tried to compile FlashDevelop using MonoDevelop and run using Mono for OSX. Most of the problems is one component/library i.e. DockPanelSuite (http://sourceforge.net/projects/dockpanelsuite/), an opensource code that uses a lot of PInvoke calls (Win32 API).

I am really excited about the possibilities, if we can port this one library we can get very closer to run FlashDevelop on OSX using Mono.

Note: pics.im seems to be dead, so I have uploaded new screen-shots
Flash Develop on OSX - ScreenshotFlash Develop on OSX

Some Ideas:

MonoDevelop is good enough and works well on OSX, I guess also GNU/Linux. However, I am yet to look at licensing and possibilities of forking the project (MonoDevelop)?

BTW! I have been lazy to write about such experiments on the blog, but while commenting on Jesse Warden’s post, I thought, it makes sense to post it here, so it lives.

Please let me know, if you have any ideas about making this happen? I would be happy to collaborate, contribute and donate in whatever capacity I can.

Where is Adobe Store for India?

Adobe is yet to launch online store for India. More than four years back, I wrote about this issue..

I have changed my work-flow to introduce more and more open-source tools. However, sometimes I have to use Adobe Flash Authoring tool and Flash Builder for some projects.

I hope, Adobe would soon figure out a way to launch an online store in India. I am yet to understand what has been holding Adobe from doing that, I am assuming something with taxes or government policies, if not Adobe’s intentions?

BTW! Some face problems in USA also, check out what Tariq has gone through today, while buying something from Adobe Store.

Open Source Media Framework (OSMF)

A few days back, Adobe announced Open Source Media Framework (OSMF), which was known as Strobe earlier.

A few minutes back, I received an email confirming that Open Source Media Framework website is up with all the information, specification, developer-documentation, source (Subversion repository), downloads (binary and source) and bug-database.

Open Source Media Framework (OSMF) has an interesting list of features and goals. I like it’s plug-in architecture, that would allow a lot of extensibility and various amazing plug-ins from different providers in coming time.

If you are a developer spending a lot of time developing various work-flows around online media-players (audio, video, images – players), I strongly recommend you to check out Open Source Media Framework (OSMF). I am sure, you would find it worth start using it and also contribute back whatever you can.

Following are the reasons, I am going to use OSMF and give up my existing frameworks:

  • It’s open-source
  • It would solve core issues (video playback, delivery and workarounds for various limitations in Flash Player, etc)
  • It would adopt various standards (playback, cdn, advertising, etc)
  • Larger developer base, that means bug fixes and various features would be available very often
  • I love open-source and see myself contributing to OSMF in future, beyond my current projects.

BugQuash

BugQuash is a great initiative to bring Flex community together to contribute in various ways (bug filing, fixing, patching, etc) to OpenSource Flex SDK.

I am sure, you must have heard about last BugQuash which was organized last month, by Flex community members: Nate Beck and Marty Mickelson.

Hundreds of community members participated including me.

I submitted some patches, which are not big ones, but I got a lot of appreciation from teams within Adobe and other people from community. It suggests that even small contributions matter, hence I should be contributing more often.

Dave Story (VP Developer Tools, Adobe Systems) sent some pictures from one of the all-hands meeting, where BugQuash was discussed, where entire team, along with Dave, thanked to each contributor for their contributions over phone.

Thanks to everyone who organized and participated. It helped me to get started contributing, which I always wanted to do. I am going to try to contribute as often as I can.

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Update:Next BugQuash is happening on May 17, 2009. Check out BugQuash for more details.
Update: BugQuash on May 17, 2009 was successful and your truely submitted two patches :-)

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OpenFiler – an opensource NAS

We wanted to have a scalable storage system. So I went ahead and checked out the cost of buying NAS from various vendors (NetApp, Dell, etc). I figured out, it was going out our of budget. Then I started learning, what it takes to build a NAS for a small teams like ours.

I started evaluating various FOSS NAS options for our office. I checked out FreeNAS and OpenFiler, finally decided on OpenFiler.
I chose OpenFiler for simple reasons – stability and production-quality. Whereas, FreeNAS has a lot more features, than OpenFiler, but doesn’t look that stable. Perhaps, in future I might go for FreeNAS for it’s various cool features (UPNP, iTunes streaming, etc).

We are using an old server based on Intel’s Server Entry Board, Pentium 4 processor, one Gigabyte memory, one IDE drive and two SATA drives. Both SATA drives are under RAID 1 configuration using OpenFiler’s software RAID. I am planning to get RAID controller card so we can use more disks.
OpenFiler boots from USB flash-drive, to make this happen it took some extra effort, Thanks to h@nnes. FreeNAS provides images for flash-devices, so it’s lot easier to boot FreeNAS from USB flash-device. BTW! Booting OpenFiler or FreeNAS from USB flash-drive would save one IDE/SATA port on motherboard, which can be used to plug-in another harddrive for better purpose (not for booting small NAS OS).

Anyway, we are using Intel NAS Performance Toolkit to benchmark our NAS server. We are also doing a lot of tests (semi)manually. The idea is to cover all cases and also come up with disaster recovery strategy.
I would post more details on our findings/benchmark-tests, so it helps you, if you plan to go for it.

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