Science Hack Day India 2019 Experience

© Sayan Chowdhury

This was my first year attending Science Hack Day India. I came to know about Science Hack Day after I met Praveen at FOSSASIA Summit 2017 at Singapore. He started the Science Hack Day (aka SHD) event in Belgaum, the city where he lives. This year was the 4th Edition of SHD India. The idea of Science Hack Day is to make anything in 24 hrs using Science. But it’s actually more than than. You will get to know how it turns out at the end of this post.

Day 1

I booked my tickets for SHD India 2 weeks before the conference. I reached the venue on Saturday, 19th Oct. My bus was 2 hrs late. The venue was in Sankalp Bhumi Resort in Parvati Nagar, Belgaum where SHD India is held every year. Once you reach the team picks you up from the bus stop to their venue, but since I was late Praveen guided the Auto driver to take me stratight to the venue. After I reached I met few students who come each year to the event. I met Sayan at the Breakfast area which they call ‘Dhaba’ . After Breakfast I went to my room to freshen up and get ready for the event. The venue of SHD India is really picturesque. It’s calm and quite place full of greenery around with some awesome spots for Hacking ! Here is a image I took of the cottage house I was living.

I went to the stage where the event was about to start. I met Jithin and Saptak there. They were going to work on a robotic arm powered by KuttyPy. Jithin is the maintainer of KuttyPy and he showed how it is used to send signals to a output port of a ATmega32 microcontroller by simple clicks of a button using the KuttyPy gui.

The event kicked off by introducing Science Hack Day. After that Mentors introduced their hacks to the audience and welcomed everyone interested to join their hacks. I introduced about the Papercraft Spectrometer by PublicLab which I was going to make for the event. There were many young hackers among us who were excited to Hack among us and also introduced their Hacks. After that I went to the Hacking area at the ‘Cafeteria’ . I met Hitesh who was hosting a CTF . It was the first time a CTF event was being organised at SHD. Me, Sayan and Saptak started solving the CTF puzzles. The problems were intriguing and we kept solving them one by one. Other hackers were working in some interesting stuff. I met Akshai M who was working on a LoRaWAN Transmitter. We breaked for lunch around 2 pm. The weather was cloudy and it was raining for most part of the day. Post lunch there was a Python 101 Workshop for college students hosted by Sayan. I helped people around to Install Python in their systems and writing their first Python Program. After that I continued solving CTF questions while others continued their hacks. Here is a photo of everyone busy Hacking 🙂

In the evening there were Lightning Talks. There were all sorts of lightning talks starting from Hardware Systems, Security and Privacy over Web to Gardening plants. I gave a lightning talk on my HydPy community experiences on how regional communities play an important role on engaging more people towards a shared objective and idea. It was the end of the day. We had Dinner after that where we had more interesting discussions. I returned to my room since it was raining quite a lot, where everyone (Me, Praveen, Sayan, Saptak, Akshai, Hari, Jithin) gathered beside the balcony of the cottage house discussing their experiences in FOSS and Conferences. It was bed time soon, end of an exciting first day.

Day 2

The next morning we had a video conference with the SHD San Francisco Team at 9.30 am. SHD was also happening in the same days at San Fransico this year. I woke up and went for breakfast with Sayan. The item served for breakfast was unique for me – Mishar and bread, a typical Maharashtrian breakfast item. After having breakfast everyone gathered near the Cafeteria for the video call. Ariel who is the global Director of SHD was hosting the call from San Francisco. Everyone was excited to share their hacks they were working on. It was really amazing to see people from 2 different timezones sharing there awesome hacks and their excellent level of enthusiasm. After the call ended everyone started working on their hacks again. They were to be presented soon to the audience so there was little time left. I went to take some materials for my Papercraft Spectrometer. There was a team which made the Da Vinci Bridge using wood. People were walking over it turn by turn. I also had a walk over the bridge. Hari was taking a Unicycle riding session for people.

Meanwhile there was a microcontroller Workshop using KuttyPy going on in parallel which was hosted by Jithin. My hack was almost complete and I was seeing hacks of other people. A team made an awesome Ruben’s Tube where we could see flames dancing with music. Shortly after everyone gathered for the SHD India group photo in the lawn. There was a Treasure Hunt event after that. Reminded me about my college days. Hackers were giving final touches to their hacks which were to be presented after lunch.

After lunch everyone gathered near the stage and get their hacks ready for the audience. I got Table 1 where I was talking to people Regarding Spectrometry and my Spectrometer hack. It was nice to talk to people from all age groups. There were some really good hacks around. Praveen was demonstrating Hacks using Liquid Nitrogen, breaking flowers after freezing them with Liquid Nitrogen. It was really spectacular to see science Lab experiments done in fun but careful way.

After the demonstrations were over it was time for Awards for the Best Hacks. The Da Vinci Bridge and Ruben’s Tube were among the Award winning Hacks. The Best Hack of the event was given to a Team who made colourful clay plasters . There were more Awards coming in. Me, Sayan and Saptak were jointly awarded the CTF Award for scoring 950 points individually. I got a medal for that 🙂 Finally it was time for the closing address, thanking all organisers and Sponsors and See everyone at next SHD. Fun events continued after that. There was a Domino sequence made by some students. It was really nice. Then there was Bubble blowing by participants. Enthusiasm was still high among the participants and Hackers.

Also it was time for me to say goodbye to friends at SHD. I had my bus at 9.15 pm. It was raining quite a lot. Before I left for my room for packing my things I spoke to Akshay Deshpande who was a mountaineer and doing Treks at Himalayan ranges. He was sharing anecdotes about his mountaineering experiences. He took a session on Mountain Raffling in SHD. Then there was music and lights and people dancing together. I had my dinner and after saying goodbye to everyone at SHD it was the end of event for me. Praveen arranged by drop at the Bus Stop. He has been a Super Host !

I really loved my first Science Hack Day. It was a weekend full of Hacks, Fun and exciting discussions beside the tranquil venue at Sankalp Bhoomi. Making friends is the best part of the event which I look out whenever I go to Conferences and meetups. Eagerly waiting for the SHD India event !

PyCon India 2019 Experience

What an experience it was! This was my second time attending PyCon India and third time attending a Python Conference. I have been a part of the organising team of PyConf Hyderabad 2017 and PyCon India 2018 (Hyderabad). Each time it has been a fulfilling experience and numerous takeaways and new bonds of friendship made. I haven’t blogged about my experiences in past conferences. So this will be my first blog post regarding my Conference experience.

The last 2 times I had attended Conferences close to where I was presently living. This time PyCon India was held in its 11th Edition at Chennai. Being organiser in past Conferences I knew about the wonderful experiences that I was involved, so I decided to be part of the Volunteering team for this year’s PyCon. I was eagerly waiting for the event from when it was announced. PyCon had become a mandatory event for me now, where I get to meet old friends and make new ones.

Day 0

I reached Chennai on 11th Oct night, before the Conference to help out with volunteer activities. I went straight to the Conference venue at Chennai Trade Centre where many volunteers had gathered for helping out with Pre Conference activities and goodie bag packing. This is like a fun event where we introduce ourselves and assign tasks for the upcoming days. I met HydPy folks – Ram, Murthy, Gokul; Dgplug friends – Rayan, Devesh, Chandan, Bhavin and many more friends whom I met at last PyCon. Chandan was co-ordinating the Volunteer team. I also met Vijay, Naren and folks from Chennaipy who were the organisers this year. After Dinner we started packing the goodies bags and sorting Attendee ID cards and getting prepared for the big day. It was almost 2 am when we left the venue to our hotel. Unfortunately my Oyo booking was cancelled, thanks to Murthy who shared his accommodation for the night.

Day 1

It was the first day of the Conference. I reached the venue around 8 am, there were already people coming in for registration. So I sat at the Registration Desk to help with Registration. I met with Kuntal (@hellozee) from Dgplug and Rayan who helped with the Registrations. Within no time there was a big queue of people. After sometime when the crowd lessened I went for Breakfast where I met Chirag, who came for the day. We discussed regarding the Upcoming PyConf Hyderabad 2019 event. After that I met all folks from HydPy who had come up for the conference. Here’s our group photo

After that I went to attend Pradyun‘s talk on Python Packaging . It was a really insightful talk explaining the pip ecosystem. Soon after the talk I started going around Sponsor booths to know more about their business and also to solve the puzzles they were gibing out to get some goodies 🙂 This year PyCon India had a long list of Sponsors – 41 of them ! Kudos to PyCon India team!

Post lunch there was Poster Presentation Scheduled where I was going to talk about HydPy Community. Also as I was a volunteer helped in setting up for Poster sessions as well. Folks from HydPy were also there, we also talked about our upcoming conference – PyConf Hyderabad on Dec 7-8. The day got over with ASL Devi‘s Keynote regarding Bridging gender gap in tech. It was an eye opening talk on different gender stereotypes and the unconscious biases that we have in our mind and how we can overcome this together. After that we had Volunteer’s meet to retrospect and discuss feedback regarding the day. The day ended with the Volunteer and Speakers dinner.

Day 2

My Day started again in the registration desk where I sat down to help with Lightning Talk registration and giving out ID cards to the attendees who missed taking it last day. Shortly after I went to the First Keynote of the day by Ines Montani . The Talk was titled Let Them Write Code . The Talk covered some best practices in development and coding, her Lessons from Open Source and much more. We had the Dgplug Staircase Meeting today which is a customary meeting that we have in PyCon India each other where we meet and greet people of Dgplug Community whom we have always seen in #dgplug IRC channel. It’s the time when we actually meet and talk to these people we see online. Kushal‘s absence was felt this time. Sayan was hosting this meeting and he discussed some important concerns regarding the community and the need for people interacting more in the IRC channel. After that he distributed Dgplug T-shirts which we had ordered before the Conference. We had the mandatory Dgplug group photo after that 🙂

I was helping out at the Helpdesk mostly rest of the day and interacting with people whom I met. There was the PyLadies booth just beside the Helpdesk where I talked to women from PyLadies Chennai community. They had a PyLadies Lunch last day and a Speed Mentoring Session to invite more Women in Tech. Finally we were up to the Final Keynote of the day by David Beazley . The Talk was titled – A Talk Near the Future of Python. After he started his Live Coding session in the Keynote the audience was simply going ga ga over his performance. He Live coded a Stack Machine which he later turnd into a Web Assembly compiler which played a Rocket Game at the end. He showed Python has a bright future by demonstrating the power of Python + Webassembly. This was The best Talk I have ever attended till date. He already published the screencast. Do have a look and amaze yourself. The thing that most impressed me most was his fearless stunt in front of 1200+ attendees and calmly handling the intermittent crashes and debugging them.

Finally PyCon India ended with Vijay‘s closing Address who was the Chair for this year’s PyCon. It was the end of the Conference after which we there was Workshop + Devsprints for next 2 days. At the end we had group photo with all the attendees.

PyCon India has been successful for the large pool of people who volunteer at the event and come from all parts of the country for the love for the Community. It has been a pleasure to work and interact with these amazing people. I met Noah this year who came all the way from Taiwan and volunteered from Day 0 for the event. It really amazes me to see the enthusiasm of the people for the Community.

Day 3

Oct 14-15 were Workshop + Devsprint Days. The venue was IIT Madras Research Park. I was also leaving tonight so I packed my bags and went to the venue in the morning. I started helping with the registrations for Workshops and Devsprints and guiding people to the respective rooms. Then I went to the Devsprint room to work on the Python Packaging Sprint which was hosted by Pradyun. I was eagerly waiting for that. I started with the setup and then working on a issue. After Lunch I found David Beazley in the venue so I quickly joined for a quick conversation with him. I asked the secret behind his Live coding stunt last day. He said he did roughly 15 iterations of the run, even spent 45 mins to debug an issue in one iteration. But yeah the fluency came over his 35 years of experience ! Also as he frequently took classes with group of students where he used to live code during his classes. It was a real pleasure to talk to him. After Lunch I continued to work on another issue from pip till the end of the day.

Finally it was time to say goodbye to friends and the awesome 3 days taking back lots of memories and experiences. PyCon India has become an event close to my heart now and it’s an event I don’t want to miss. See everyone again in next year 🙂

Summary

PyCon India has let me meet and communicate with people from all parts of world and domain. There is something to learn in each of these events. It’s An event by the Community. For the Community. My takeway this year was – Work, Interact and Share your experiences. You can always be a good at coding and be an excellent programmer, but unless you interact with more people and share your learning you cannot be a good person. Also Volunteer and give back to the Community. Volunteering requires time and effort, but its a gesture to give back to the Community and meeting people who are doing amazing work for the Community. The entire Open Source world largely revolves around people volunteering their time for the good of the Community. So even a small effort towards that can make a big change.

That’s all about my PyCon India 2019 experience . Do leave your comments ! And if this excites you do come next year to PyCon India 🙂