My Adventures at FOSS ASIA
In March earlier this year, I was one of the few fortunate people who got to attend the FOSS ASIA conference in Singapore. It was three days of magical fun where I also got to be a speaker in the Web Development track. Here are some of the main highlights! :)
Day 1 kicked off with some amazing keynotes speeches. The full day was a single track with talks by many including Chan Cheow Hoe, Singapore GovTech’s Chief Information Officer, Øyvind Roti who currently leads Google’s international team of Cloud Architects and my personal favorite: German privacy activist — Frank Karlitschek the founder of ownCloud and later Nextcloud.
The highlight of the day was the introduction of SUSI AI — FOSSAISA’s Open Source Personal Assistant. Michael Christen, founder and also core developer talked about SUSI’s current development stage as well as project’s ambition and the plan for the future. He demonstrated some amazing things you can do with SUSI such as searching for locations, finding translations in over 100 languages, asking SUSI travel information, weather etc. One of the exciting features is the auto-improvement ability: the more you interact with SUSI, the better and accurate its answers become. Michael also showed the audience how they can actually contribute and create the largest corpus of knowledge for SUSI AI Assistant. The day ended with a great panel discussion about AI where the attendees got to pick the brains of the resident experts.
I was waiting for Day 2 because it had the Mini Debconf. There were a couple of great talks I caught around the place but my fave was one about the comparison of Python and Go programming. There are so many to list here individually, but don’t fret! Almost all the sessions are available online in the You Tube channel (even mine) That’s how the pros catch the sessions they miss!
I spent a lot of time in the late afternoon at the speaker’s lounge, that was heaven! :D Met a whole lot of people, mostly speakers for the next day and of course a lot of Indians :). The FOSS ASIA GSoC interns I met were mostly from Delhi and I had a blast speaking Hindi critiquing the Website and Android App for them. And of course we indulged in last minute preparations for our presentations.
Later by the evening, we went down to the lower floors of the Science Center to have a look around and hit the stalls. Although there were a lot of small standees with people showing off cool tech and stickers, as usual, the most impressive was the Google booth. There was a pretty cool metallic center structure and bean bags all around. Personally, I felt like it was arranged to resemble a human brain with long neurons reaching out everywhere. Also, I got to meet Stephanie Taylor and other GSoC organizers which was pretty epic. Saturday night was the speaker dinner so I got meet a lot of people and enjoy a great dinner on the house!
I had my talk in the morning session of the first day. That was a huge learning experience in itself. Earlier while I was rehearsing in the morning, a kind soul pointed out that I had not paid attention to the license attached to some of the image and media I had used with my presentation. ^O^! This lead to me having to quickly revise my plan and pull out a no multimedia backup I had of my presentation. But again I had a few problems with my laptop but the track moderator helped me out by loaning out his Mac. I guess this rattled me a bit because, I felt that I could have presented better and that I wasn’t up to my usual standard even though this was one of the best platforms I had to talk so far but I’m taking it in stride in my journey to get better.
My talk focused mostly around building websites and especially the front end of any web application. The main highlight was my take on the comparison between Angular JS2 and ReactJS two of the most popular frameworks right now. The crowd was great, very supportive and I got a whole lot of positive responses from a lot of quarters which is a great feeling!
Around the afternoon there were some other great talks I attended. There was a great beginner level talk about OpenSec and another on Privacy. I basically just followed the privacy track all day. The highlight on sunday was getting to meet and spending some time to get an unconference session about photography from our very own James Bond, Micheal Cannon. There were just the handful of us for this informal interaction so it wasn’t recorded… the photographer was busy talking ^_^!
Unfortunately, like all good things, FOSS ASIA 2017 came to an end in the evening of 19th March. There was a great talk by the gentlemen of Daimler about how even big corporations like Mercedes-Benz are being influenced by open source software and it’s a welcome change to see so many big names ready to invest in FOSS.
The closing ceremony was great fun at FOSS ASIA. The organizers indulged the crowd by playing videos from request and even singing for them. They made sure to individually point out and thank the efforts of almost everyone associated with the event. The kids from the local highschool were the superstar volunteers who helped everyone with a smile. The local logistics and equipment support guys. Everyone who made the event such a great success. There was a good feedback and discussion about different aspects of the event and what can be improved to make it better the next time.
After the closing session, FOSS ASIA attendees were invited by Daimler to join an after-event cocktail party. It was a chance to finish up discussions with finger food, drinks and some cool performances. Admittedly, it was one of the best experiences of my life where I got to experience so much and learn a lot. I thank everyone who was a part of making this dream come true, my family, friends, the FOSS ASIA team and most importantly, my awesome sponsors from ETT who have some pretty rad stuff on their Medium page which is totally worth checking out! :D
Follow up: So currently I’m working on another article about my trip to Singapore and one about my experiences with public speaking. I’ll be sure to update the links here as soon as I publish them! Do gimme a heart if you liked my story! ^w^!