when the source is open…

My college had been too busy with Festember, the cultural fest. So, organizing an SFW ( Software Freedom Week – celebrating opensource ) has got a bit delayed. Still, to keep the brains working a bit, I had given my juniors a ( rather simple ) task of penning down their views on open source. Since it was a weekend when the whole college was dancing to the beats of Sivamani and swaying to the voice of playback singer Karthik, I never expected much of a response from the 80-odd strength of the CSE department second years. Moreover, I had given a deadline too, which was midnight, yesterday. In fact, I expected only about ten entries.
But then, mails started pouring in at regular intervals. I have received about 30 articles, a number much more than my expectation. I have been reading the articles since yesterday evening, whenever I could find time. It is evident that students have sought the help of the internet. But, certain articles were really well written ( might have been a direct rip from some website too… Still, the message they convey is strong ).
I am planning to publish a few of their articles out here in my blog.

Before that, here are some excerpts…

“When the world is wide OPEN …
Why do u require doors or WINDOWS…?”

“What the closed-source players lack is the recognition that the open source movement is a result of years of collaboration with the customer, involving them in every step of development, and delivering premier class support and services – a completely different business model to what they are accustomed to.”

“Any time you give something away for free, you are looking to make money off something else as a result. In this case, the free software compliments a core asset (usually also software). By increasing the market share of the compliment, you increase the market size of the core asset. Open source comes down squarely on one side of this debate, since open source software is an extreme case of an open standard: Not just the interfaces are exposed, but the entire body of source code. Furthermore, competing vendors are more likely to participate in an open source process, not just an open standards process, because there are no hidden components that may be changed out from under them.”

“Open source culture is the creative practice of appropriation and free sharing of found and created content. Examples include collage, found footage film, music, and appropriation art. Open source culture is one in which fixations, works entitled to copyright protection, are made generally available. Participants in the culture can modify those products and redistribute them back into the community or other organizations.”

“Open source is a definite force to reckon with for the companies that create trialwares and for Microsoft and Apple.”

“The main advantage of open source is that the number of developers is enormous as compared to any company. This leads to more ideas , better applications and better performance.We are right now in the transition of completely changing to open source software. By present statistics it shouldnt take a long time…”

“However, if open source does usurp journal science, several new challenges are created. How are scientific contributions by researchers measured for tenure and grants? How will the quality of science change? Time will tell.”

Dr. Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan – the end of an era

Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan

There is a void left behind in the music world. A void which no one can fill in the future. The demise of violin maestro Dr. Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan is a great loss to the whole world. He was a man who entertained all class of audiences. He was a person who had in store something for every person among the audience. He described himself as a departmental store, which is fully true.

I am a student of the great legend. I had been learning violin under his tutelage for the past 8 years. He brought out the talent in me. He transformed me into a violinist. He passed on his knowledge and technique to every student of his.

I still feel like packing my violin and going to his violin class. The classes will be very informal,  without any teacher-student divide.  He rarely used his violin to teach us. He would sing the lines and we were expected to follow, bringing out the exact tune on the violin. This helped us in developing our accompanying skills too. When most music schools claim that to be proficient enough in music to perform concerts, it would take at least ten years, my guru trained us to perform concerts in less than two years. He himself started accompanying great artistes almost one year after he started learning violin from his father.

He was never a serious-looking and reserved person. He had a great sense of humour and his own style of keeping everyone around happy and laughing. He was a very good orator too. His alliterations and word plays were enjoyable. His “one minute stories” require special mention. He often would tell us short stories during class which used to be humorous and they carried a strong message. we used to enjoy the time we spent with him. We used to be like a family.

His confidence in his students was much more than our own and that brought out the best in us. He never used to tell us what songs we must play for the concerts. So we have never been able to practice. Every decision would be on stage. He was always confident that we would perform well at all times. That confidence of his, together with his blessings, helped us perform well during concerts.

He had a very good memory. He used to remember dates as if he were a history encyclopedia. He also remembered almost everyone whom he met in his life. He was a very humble person, never had any pride. He respected everyone and was very devoted to music and God.

I have still not come to terms with his loss. Every human is mortal. But his music is immortal. His violin would continue to play brilliant music and speak directly to our hearts. There can never be a violinist like him. He would continue to remain in all our hearts in the form of music. He would bless us all. May his soul rest in peace.

If only I knew a bit of English

For the first time I was travelling long distance, out of Tamil Nadu. It was a long journey by train to New Delhi, to attend a training programme. And I don’t know Hindi. I had been of the opinion that since English is an universal language, I can manage without Hindi. But I was wrong.

I found it very difficult to order food. The caterer did not know English. I managed to ask him if he knew Tamil. Fortunately, he understood my question and answered in the negative. All that I had to say was that I did not want dinner. I avoided English because he did not know the universal language. I tried my luck with Hindi but in vain. Finally my co-passenger helped me out and did the translation.

The next time he came for taking orders, I knew it was going to be a tough time, if i do not ask for help. Somehow I managed to convey the message. At the end, the caterer murmured something in Hindi and left. I knew he was abusing me. My neighbour translated it for me … “if only this boy knew a bit of English…”

The icing on the cake is this fact: Another co-passenger was a Japanese girl. I tried to build a conversation with her. When asked why she was in India, she said that she was here to learn Hindi and was attending classes at Benaras. Now here is something I should take as a great lesson….