I have been living out of my suitcase for the last one week. First I travelled to NMAM Institute of Technology, Nitte to deliver a talk on Virtualization at the 22nd Computer Society of India (CSI) Karnataka Convention. Then to Mumbai to attend the IBM Software Universe’08 event. Both of them were really interesting experiences.
I travelled to Nitte by train via Mangalore. This was my first train ride to Mangalore. It was quite pleasant. Unlike the bus, one can sleep peacefully without having to bother about the bumpy roads or the rash drivers. Although I doubt if I will want to explore this option when I visit Karkala since the bus takes lesser time to reach, and drops me right in front of my house. The train would mean 11 hours from Bangalore to Mangalore and another 1.5 hours to Karkala.
The talk was scheduled on 7th Nov in the afternoon at 2:00 PM. But unfortunately, it began half an hour late. Indian Stretchable Time (IST), I guess. Anyway, the talk was well received. I had 45 minutes of time allocated for the talk. I used the first 20 minutes to explain the basics of Virtualization, Full-Virt and Paravirt. The next 15 minutes, I gave a demo running two operating systems simultaneously using KVM on my Fedora 9 based laptop. To show isolation across these two guests, I ran a fork-bomb on one of them and Beethoven’s symphony on the other. The final 10 minutes, I kept aside for Q&A. What I realized during the talk was that students didn’t seem to think that a systems talk could be fun. On probing a bit, I came to know that Operating Systems (OS) was one of their least favorite theory subjects! I was shocked, since OS is one of the most interesting subjects that one can come across in computer science. I guess it has something to do with the way OS courses are taught these days. Students only end up mugging up the likes of Bankers Algorithm but aren’t able to relate to the actual operating systems. This is not a good sign. My opinion is that whoever it taking the OS course, should attempt to make the lectures interesting and inspiring rather than trying to teach what’s there in the Dinosaur book. I mean, these students know how to read. So, teaching the same thing from the book is not going to help a great deal. If they could succeed in making the subject interesting enough, the students themselves might attempt reading the book and understanding it.
Spent the weekend at home in Karkala booking my tickets to Mumbai, and reading AvaraNa.The journey back to Bangalore was also quite pleasant, and I had a good time on the train in the company of the member of the CSI Bangalore chapter.
Monday morning, I had to take a flight to Mumbai. I was manning a kiosk that was showcasing some of the products and features of my division. So, I had to be there a day before to check if everything worked fine. Turned out that checking everything only meant to see if the power cable and the LAN cable worked fine. So, a whole day spent in the expensive room of a Business Hotel. I somehow don’t like the Indian Business Hotels. They are exorbitantly priced and provide very little value for money. For instance, the place where I was put up didn’t even have free internet in the rooms! WTF!! In a Business hotel, internet connectivity is a necessity and not a luxury. So, how come it’s not a part of the “package” ?! They were charging Rs.800 for a day for internet connectivity. That’s about how much most of us pay for the whole month! And the food! Horribly bad. Too overdone, and not authentic at all. They had poha for breakfast, so I thought, let me enjoy some authentic Maharastrian breakfast. But it sucked. The Poha at our office canteen used to be way better than what I ate there.
However, the conference was a great experience. I got to meet many of our customers and got to talk about the pain points they would like to have addressed and the features that they would like to see on our systems. This is my first interaction with customers. I realized that all the cool stuff we add in the Kernel, or elsewhere ultimately don’t matter much if the customer cannot use it with the ease he would like to. Something to think about the next time we add a new interface I guess! I also got a chance to listen to talks by Marc Woods and Don Tapscott.
On my way back to Bangalore, I reached the airport an hour in advance. I was reading a novel, when my peace was disturbed every five minutes by the jarring loudspeaker announcing the departure of a new flight. Seriously, we need a better system than that. I mean, broadcasting seems like the stupidest thing to do when the recepients of the intended message are not more than 10% of the total number of people in the airport.
Anyway, it was a hectic week, but an interesting one. Got back yesterday night, and caught up with some sleep. Now need to check my e-mails, RSS feeds, kernel-stuff, University Applications, ….. Looks like I need some time off!!!