FUDCon Pune: My session on ‘Learning Git’

My session on learning git (slides) was scheduled right after the lunch break on the first day of the FUDCon Pune 2011.

I had targeted the session for beginners; however I had some help from Shakthi, who conducted a session on git during the 2nd FAD and from Ramky who spoke on version control systems in the talk before mine.  So I could skip a few basic things and get right on to the demo.

I didn’t really get the luxury to prepare in advance; I had in my mind what I would do in general, but got the slides and the flow ready just the night prior to the talk.  Organising FUDCon wasn’t too taxing, but there are a few last-minute things that have to be done, well, at the last minute.  And the presentation, etc., had to wait.

I have earlier seen students just attend sessions but not really follow up on what they were being taught.  So I thought I’d make this an interactive session, inviting people from the audience to participate in the session by someone coming up on the stage and writing a .c program, someone else coming up and creating a git repo, then someone else modifying the code, doing another commit, and so on.

While I thought about this, I recalled Rusty’s session at foss.in a few years back where he did such a thing successfully.  Now emulating that feat would be really difficult.  People who have attended Rusty’s talks would know what I mean.  He puts in hours and days for such talks.  I’m sure he’d have thought about how to pull it off even if the person to come up on stage wouldn’t know how to type.

There were about 50 – 60 people attending the  talk.  So what I did, instead, was to ask the attendees about who knew how to write C programs, and who knew how to type fast.  I called up one such attendee and asked him to write a simple ‘Hello, World!’ program.

I then called up someone else (Aditya) to commit the first version.  Thankfully, the original C file did not have any punctuation in the ‘Hello, World!’ string, so the idea for the 2nd commit was ready.  Once Aditya initialised the git repo and did the first commit, I modified the program output to add the comma and exclamation point and make that the 2nd commit in the git repo.  I then moved on to create a new C program that prints out ‘Goodbye, World’ (we had dedicated the conference to Dennis Ritchie).  This was done in a new branch called ‘goodbye’.  Next was to create another branch, called ‘fudcon’, and write another C program to show ‘Hello, FUDCon’.  Then a few lessons on merging, switching branches, viewing commits and logs from other branches followed.  The slides have the list of commands that were shown.

The last step was to clone this repo into another local one, commit a few things there, do a push into the original repo, make some other pulls here and there, and the session participants were ready with hands-on git lessons that they could use.

I had quite a few questions during and after the session, and I even heard of people trying out the examples after the talk. So I’d call the talk/demo a success.

FUDCon Pune Day -1

Things had been going on smoothly so far: banners, posters and booklets had arrived, wireless routers had arrived, the guys in charge of adding power outlets to the venue were going to arrive on time.

Jared Smith, Joerg Simon and Robert Scheck were already in Pune that day and we hosted them at the Red Hat office after lunch.

However, with just one day left for the conference, a little amount of panic set in.

We had planned to go to COEP and register the volunteers to minimise the rush on the registration counters on the first day, and also to have a brief chat with the volunteers on how the event would proceed.  However, we were informed the students had classes till 1730 that day.  Also, the t-shirts would have to be kept on the other side of the campus (across the road) on the 3rd floor of the building (which doesn’t have an elevator).  Lugging the huge T-shirt boxes isn’t something we wanted to burden anyone with, so we decided not to do the distribution / registration that day, but call the students earlier on the 1st day.  We decided on meeting at 0730 hours to register the volunteers on day 1.  Satya, who was in contact with the volunteers, conveyed all these messages across.

However, I sensed a bit of agitation in Satya’s voice.  Looks like she had been in touch with all the speakers landing in, and they were landing all through the night.  She was then also co-ordinating with the cabs to get them to Pune (for those coming in from Mumbai).  Some speakers missed their flights, some chose to hang around in Mumbai and shop around.  Getting in touch with these folks became difficult, and with the cab drivers asking for details from Satya, it was clear to see what she had gone through: no sleep, and working overtime to figure out if everyone is safe and sound and coming in properly.

She wasn’t complaining, but definitely there was something wrong.  She had too much to do on her plate.  I’m not sure how that happened; we had delegated most of the stuff to people, but Satya somehow got caught up with volunteers, registration desk and hospitality.  And all of these things got pretty active in the final days.  We’ll have to keep that in mind for the next time.  Satya’s been a great sport, though, and she’s ensured people got in and out of Pune on time.

A note to speakers and those whom we approved travel sponsorship for: please help us help you.  Keep a phone handy and call us immediately in case of any change of plans (or delays).  Please respond to all emails we send out asking for information and call us the moment something unexpected happens.  Helps maintain everyone’s sanity!

Back to the action: while Prasad (PJP), Shreyank and Kashyap went ahead to the venue to set up banners, power outlets and wireless routers, the rest of us stayed back at the office, started the registration session for Red Hat speakers and attendees, handing out their badges.  Things weren’t too smooth for the folks who went to the venue, either.  Power had failed and they couldn’t test the wireless capabilities.  The electricians adding power outlets could go on doing their work using mobile phone flash lights, though.  It took a good hour and a half for the power to be restored.  We worried if the event could go on without glitches…

Quotable Quotes and Videos from FUDCon Pune 2011

Jared Smith: ‘Our biggest enemy is ourselves’

Sitaram Chamarty: ‘English is never going to be as precise as perl or shell. That’s my biggest problem in life.’

Joerg Simon (kital): ‘The event was really smooth.  All talks started on time, with German precision.  Almost feels like a German event.’  (In an offline chat with me).

Jared Smith: ‘Best FUDPub EVER!’ (on-video, off-video, in multiple locations, in multiple voices)

The kpoint folks have the event videos at their site.