Month: December 2009

At barcamp kerala 7

I took a session on recycling old PCs with LTSP at   barcamp kerala 7 last Sunday.  Even though I am associated  with the organizers of barcamp ever since its inception in Kerala, I could not attend any of the previous ones due to various reasons. So I was a bit skeptical about the kind of people I may meet. Also, this was the first public lecture I gave after assuming charges of Principal College of Engineering Attingal. I  conveniently hid this fact from the audience suspecting that my job profile might overshadow the geek in me.

ltsp
I was picked up from home by Kenney Jacob at 5.30 am  and we stated our journey to Changannasery on a TATA VISTA . The car was fantastic with GPS can other gizmos . A few of Kenney’s colleagues were also present in the car. We reached the  venue around 8.45 to find that the  gates of the Krishtu Jayanti college were closed. Kenny made some frantic telephone calls and finally we were asked to enter the college via  the  gates of a Catholic church.

There were around  70 guys in the hall. There was some initial hiccups and the  sessions took some time to start . I missed introductory remark by Kevin as I went to the nearest tea shop for a quick dose of coffee. The next session from Prassed Pai on 3d graphics programming was good and reminded me of my PG classes at CUSAT where we did all the shading and drawing algorithms. I think most of the audience was clue less about the topic.
The next session    Building Complex Website the Drupal Way from  Fredrik Jonsson? was   enlightening.
The third  session on Media by Kenney Jacob initiated some interesting discussions among the audience. Some of the participants expressed the fears about corporate media  manipulating facts .
Next was a cake cutting session . Some one suggested Fredrik Jonsson’s name for the event and every one clapped  when he cut the big cake sponsored by   ayruz web holdings  . Later I had lunch at a local teashop .
I took the first session in the after noon. My Idea was to set up my laptop as ltsp server and net book as the client . Then project the client to  the  big screen and start the presentation on the client.
The Sharp projector  at the venue was behaving erratically. It showed only half of the screen. I had to change instantly to the white board and start writing.  I briefly explained the  LTSP  with a figure that I drew and later on moved the projector to my laptop. The presentation was shown after explaining things with a white board.  I think half of the audience got confused by then.
The next session from UST global was  quite boring. I think such PR crap should be avoided in barcamps. I missed the session by Binny VA as I went out for a tea again.

The last session on linux devices was good,  but Praseed Pai  seemed to be the only person understanding it.
Finally, Fr. Abraham Mulamootil made a surprise appearance. I think it is the first time a catholic priest is seen publicly in a bar(camp). Any way he seems to be the only geek in the church.
The entire event was wound up around 6pm.
The facilities at the venue were pathetic.  No one from the college turned up. There was no net connectivity.  The wifi link of the college was running but their firewall was preventing outgoing net  request. Hope the next barcamp at Thiruvalla will be better and more interesting.

BSNL GPRS on Ubuntu 9.10

As I travel frequently  in connection with my official and no-official engagement, my internet presence is disrupted. I have tons on mails and rss feed entries to be read after each journey. I was thinking of buying a netbook.
I recently bought a Toshiba NB200 netbook at a discount rate from my cousin. It came with 160 GB hard disk 1GB RAM, intel atom processor and Windows XP was pre-installed.
The first thing I did with the netbook was to remove windows. I installed ubuntu netbook remix 9.10, All the hardware except sound was instanly recognised by ubuntu. My next task was to  make it internet ready. I looked for various solutions like evdo from BSNL , netconnect from reliance etc. They all looked costly.
Finally I decided to go in for GPRS connection from BSNL. I  am already an unlucky owner of Nokia N72 , which is recognised only from windows. Fortunately the GPRS modem on N72 is accessible from linux . Here is what I did with my BSNL prepaid  phone connection to get it ready for my net book.

1) Enable GPRS on the phone

The GPRS can be enabled on BSNL connections by sending an SMS to  53733 with the following  word.  GPRSPRE. (I use a prepaid connection). They charge heavily    for GPRS usage 10 paise per KB.  However, they have some schemes which provide unlimited Internet access.
If you are a sporadic traveller, unlimited gprs access  for one day can be availed at Rs.20. For ardent travellers, an unlimited connection for one month can be subscribed at Rs 230. For availing the special schemes, you have to send sms to 53733 with the word GPRS20 (or GPRS230). You need a minimum balance of Rs 75 in your prepaid account for availing GPRS20. Once you send the sms,BSNL will ask you to confirm the scheme by sending another sms with GPRS20Y to 53733. (Sometimes it takes an hour or so  to get back the sms asking for confirmation. Being an Indian, you have to be patient.)

2) Configuring the Modem.

This was rather easy as my N72 GPRS modem was recognised as soon as I plugged the data cable.
I verified its presence  by looking at dmesg output on a terminal.

I installed wvdial from the ubuntu repository .

$ sudo apt-get install wvdial

Next, I ran the following command.

$ sudo wvdialconf

It created a minimal configuration file for wvdial  /etc/wvdial.conf.

/etc/wvdial.conf was then edited as shown below.

[Dialer Defaults]
Init1 = ATZ
Init2 = ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 +FCLASS=0
Init3 = AT+CGDCONT=1,”IP”,”GPRSSOUTH.CELLONE.IN”,””,0,0
Modem Type = USB Modem
Modem = /dev/ttyACM0
Baud = 115200
Dial Command = ATD
Phone = *99***1#
Username =9194461xxxxx
Password =9194461xxxxx
New PPPD = yes
Stupid Mode =yes

Use your phone number as username and password. I entered the phone number including the country code as shown above. Also look at the Init3 entry. If you are in south India, you can use the above line. For other regions look at this page.

Now you can access internet by dialling out using wvdial.

$ sudo wvdial

The internet speed is reasonable.

I am posting this from Venad Express on my way back from Model Engineering college where I delivered a lecture  on free software. The netbook was really handy for the presentation too.