Category Archives: Opensource

software freedom week – java workshop

After one full week of preparation, giving lectures and handling lab classes, the Java programming workshop has finally come to an end. The workshop was conducted by me with the help of my friend, Aswin, as a part of Software Freedom Week celebrations.

This was the first workshop conducted in college by me after I was selected as the Campus Ambassador for Sun Microsystems. Java is one of the greatest products from Sun, which is extensively used in programming, web applications, mobile applications and more. So, I felt that conducting a workshop on Java programming would help the students learn the language. The workshop was intended to show the students the door to the world of Java.

The curriculum of NITT does not have an exclusive Java course. But there are many students who are interested in learning the language. I have seen many friends of mine who have tried to learn Java, but were confused about where to start and how to proceed.

The workshop was planned for second year B. Tech CSE students of my college. I went to their classroom and briefed them about the various open source technologies, about the Campus Ambassador Programme of Sun and about the numerous workshops that are to follow in the months to come. I also asked the students to do a study on open source and write an article on the same. The response was very good.

My HOD arranged the conference hall and the laboratory for our use. With the help of Aswin, I installed Java and Netbeans in all computers in the lab. The projector was set up too. The stage was set for the workshop.

32 students had been selected for the workshop. Everyone had assembled, eagerly awaiting the start. I distributed the Netbeans CDs, pens and key chains which Sun Microsystems had sent for the workshop. Then the classes began.

We started right from the basics, explaining the simple looping constructs, the conditional statements and various other syntax. Then we moved on to object oriented programming and related concepts like abstraction and polymorphism. Concepts of classes and objects were explained with regular demos on screen.

When Aswin was handling the class, I was busy taking snaps. Our HOD also visited the class to make sure everything was running smoothly.

java classes
The workhshop in progress at conference hall
The presentation on screen
The class... HOD is seen too

We then explained the concepts of streams used in input/output. Exception handling was taught in detail. The lab practice sessions were interesting. Some students came up with excellent solutions which even we never thought of. The workshop was a learning experience for us too.

We also conducted a small review  examination to gauge the understanding of the participating candidates. We wrote a simple Java program to evaluate the answers of students. The answers were discussed later.

That's me..
Netbeans loading in one of the computers
The lab session

We then ventured into complex topics like networking and swt. Students were taught how to write a chat application. They also had a lab session on that, where they implemented chat application and file sending programmes.

Practice makes a programmer perfect. Learning from the book will not help in learning a language. To become an expert, one must practice various programs and develop programming skills. This was emphasized during the workshop.

During the workshop, we asked the students to look up some interesting topics online, like obfuscated code and the dining philosophers problem. This helped the students to learn loads of new stuff.

All the presentations used and the demo programs were mailed to the students. The students’ feedback on the programme was also overwhelming. On the last day, I requested the students to look beyond text books and the curriculum. There must be a thirst for knowledge. Everyone must participate in the development of open source technologies. Gone is the age when there was a divide between the developer and the user. Now is the age where the user is the developer.

The first Java workshop was thus completed successfully. I am planning for the next workshop, which might be on Opensolaris, one of the most stable operating systems from Sun Microsystems. Looking forward to learning and sharing…

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.”