Recently, I traveled to FOSSASIA 2014 at Phnom Penh, where I was invited to speak about my adventures with developing free and open source software. I must add that this was my first trip outside the country. Thanks to the pleasant hospitality by the lovely folks at Cambodia, it was quite smooth! :-D
Young girls (mostly students) welcomed us speakers at the airport and handed us our package. I was impressed in the first ten minutes, when I learned they had very thoughtfully packed a SIM card for us in the package! I think every international attendee will tell you how useful they found it. I can’t resist mentioning they even arranged for us to get our SIM cards converted to micro-SIM cards if our phone required one.
Upon arrival at the hotel (which was amazing btw), I finally got to meet Gnokii (Sirko Kemter) from Fedora design team – I have known him for a year, but we never got a chance to meet before. Below is a picture of the stylish German in an Assamese Gamusa I had brought for him:
I intentionally arrived a day before FOSSASIA, hoping to catch a bit of Phnom Penh before the busy conference days start. I spent the afternoon with the Fedora team – we had lunch at River crown by the Mekong river (where I tried the Amok) and we followed up with frozen yoghurt from an ice cream parlor.
Unfortunately, I was extremely tired and ended up sleeping through the evening beer party. Later in the night, I joined the other guests for dinner at a nearby restaurant that served local food. I liked some of it, although being from India I found it to be less spicy. Vegetarian guests seemed to have a tough time, because the majority of the local food appears to be non-vegetarian.
The conference itself was great. The venue for FOSSASIA this year was Norton University, so the event saw quite a lot of student participation. There were several tracks, one dedicated for Fedora. I’ll write more about the Fedora track and lessons we learned in my next blog post.
I did two sessions at FOSSASIA this year. One was a mini-workshop on Getting started with FOSS techniques (primarily aimed at the student audience). Also, I did a talk on Using GlitterGallery for Fedora design work. Slides for both my sessions are linked at the end of this post!
Following up with the interest on day one, my friend Rahul and I went to Ganpat Global Educorp, Phnom Penh, to do a similar session on getting involved with open source communities. The audience was a mixed one, so we tried not to keep it centered around programming. From the response I had on my email, it seems like they really loved it!
Sadly for us, in the rush we missed out on the Mekong river boat dinner party they had organized for speakers. Rahul and I went to the riverside for dinner and tried some of the local stuff once again! This time I remembered to ask for extra spice and we ended up with an awesome 10$ dinner!
The second day of conference was pretty intensive. We had more talks in the Fedora track scheduled around a wide array of topics. In the evening we had an awesome socializing party at Park Cafe Calmette. There was quite some incredible variety of fish and other forms of seafood. We also had a mini-dance moment – I’m sure the Mozilla folks from India (and the rest of us) will never forget Biraj’s exciting dance ;-)
Following this, some of us headed to the night market to pick up souveniers.
The ladies with us will vouch for my bargaining skills :P It was fun – in India, bargaining happens through arguments, whereas in Phnom Penh, people tend to be more polite. I picked up some of the local silk scarfs, bags, key rings, t shirts and stuff of that sort.
The final day at FOSSASIA was reserved for hackfests. As usual, we had one room for Fedora activity. It was fun welcoming new contributors, helping them set up their machines and signing GPG keys. We spent the afternoon at a nearby local restaurant. I did a quick trip to the Genocide Museum before my return to India the following day.
I’m thankful to Fedora for supporting my trip and to the organizers, especially Mario and Hong Phuc for the phenomenal arrangements! Now let’s see if we get a chance to host FOSSASIA here in India next year;-)
- Getting started with FOSS techniques: http://www.slideshare.net/sarupbanskota/sarup-fossasia-1
- Using GlitterGallery for Fedora design work: http://www.slideshare.net/sarupbanskota/sarup-fossasia