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Life Documented

TWTW: Feb 17 — Feb 23 of 2019|#8

What was special this week? | TWTW #23

Sunday (17/02/2019)

Akhil Seshan from IEEE Computer Society is interested to discuss with FOSSMEC on ways to collaborate to conduct the FOSS.Conf conference in the summer break. We planned to meet up the next day at college to discuss in depth.

Devdutt had the opportunity to present a talk at FOSSMEET and he gave some cosntructive criticism to improve FOSSMEC. Though I admit initially being irritated with his accusations, I took the time to breathe and look at his points. He was right about the broken system and I agreed to help him fix it in the time to come. In this regard, I am grateful to FOSSMEET at NIT Calicut for showing the way and how to lead.

Monday (18/02/2019)

Something surprising happened! Harry Stebbings (the mentor I chose on Pioneer Tournament) DM me on twitter, thanking me for following him and also invited me to follow him on Instagram. He also mentioned that he has family in Cochin and so it is one of his favorite places! I replied back appreciating his greetings and welcomed him to take him around the city if he should ever come to God’s own country. Yet to figure out if it was automated or genuine, but either way I find it really cool.

I realized that I follow Austen Allred, the CEO of lambda School, an innovative education system where students can learn from high quality technology lessons and pay back after getting a job. Since he followed me back, I had the option to DM him. I shared my ongoing idea of Communities for the 6 kinds and requested for his feedback. I understand that he is a busy man but no harm trying I guess.

Class was canceled today due to strike due to a political issue. I was grateful for getting the message late as I woke up early and studied the subject. Spent the time I gained completing the write up about my experience in Professional Student Summit.

Adithya, Akhil and Hari came over and we had a good discussion, had fun cooking some noodles and spent the afternoon applying for IIT Rorkee and Gawhaiti internship. We spent the entire day discussing a variety of topics ranging from student relations at college and ways to foster better FOSS community in the institute. Some key points:

  1. It should be informal — Only coordinators and volunteers, no dominating hierarchy or chain of command.
  2. College is quite segregated, each club having its distinct activities. We should instead collaborate to provide the best experience for the student community.
  3. FOSS Activities should not be conventional or fixed with rigid systems. If should be intuitive and flexible.
  4. Due to generations of authority, every institute tends to take time in adapting with new changes. We should welcome suggestions from everyone irrespective of the junior — senior complexity to bring out the best in the system.
  5. We had a vibrant technical community in the past at MEC but from 2015 or so, the legacy slowly started fading away.
  6. Our principal, Dr. Vinu is very supportive of student initiatives and is willing to take the extra mile to help us carry out activities.
  7. When a change is brought out, there will be opposition (ignore it), neutral response (in time they will be supportive) and supportive group.
  8. Unspoken chain of commands ruin the spirit of conducting activities, because people are afraid of distorting views to interfere their regime and over time it becomes misinterpreted as disrespect for their actions.
  9. Most of the energy in the college is spent in Arts/Sports fest (even semesters) and tech fest (odd semesters). These develop several soft skills, but students are worn out in the end and barely have any energy in the end to dive into technical skills. Those who excel in tech completely ignore the rest while those who network a lot tend to ignore tech. Now special cases may exist where multi — skilled individuals balance both and people set that as the benchmark of excellence. But what people tend to understand is that most of us have average energy level and so cannot efficiently balance it all.
  10. Ragging is the result of suppressed rage of seniors from the time when they were juniors. What started out initially as a session to make students open up ends in one feeling extremely oppressed and so the cycle continues over time. The argument raised about a world free of ragging is that freshmen may overly irritate them/not do menial tasks/not interact but a solution to this waould be to maintain mutually understandable conversations and make them understand why their involvement in menial tasks is quintessential. It works better than commanding them. The only way to break out of this cycle of ragging is if a generation of students decide to entirely give up the rage and move on with mutual respect for every other student in the campus.

I myself have never been ragged and would not understand the issue, but the problem does not lie on any singular individual but rather a vibe in the air that destroys the system. At times I feel if we did not have ragging problems but invested in the curiosity of juniors, months of loneliness and homesickness can be avoided by making them feel like they belong, without testing them.

I got the good news that my idea of Academic Support Chatbot was selected for IEDC idea pitch session and so I need to complete the prototype as soon as possible. Grateful for the opportunity :)

Got selected for Idea Pitch and Product pitch! Hurray!

I received a mail from Anshuman Singh and he invited me to check out interviewbit. Quite prestigious it seems.

I received a mail of acknowledgement from Python Foundation that they received my tips on ways to improve Python communities around the world and would reply if they find anything mention worthy from it.

Tuesday (19/02/2019)

A good day at college. Had an engaging discussion with IEEE and FOSSMEC members on the activities to FOSS.Conf, a conference to spread the message of FOSS. Hopefully we will be able to pull off a good event that brings about the FOSS culture in the campus.

Returned home and explored the 3 books I took from library. I am starting to regret not maximizing the free membership I have in the college library and the plethora of insightful books I did not invest time reading.

Completed all the lessons from the Term 2 Udacity Course but still am struggling to code it. Need to invest time and effort to work out problems from scratch rather than depend on kick start code. I guess starting with sample jupyter notebooks would be a good starting point.

Wednesday (20/02/2019)

During lunch break, had a good discussion with FOSSMEC about steps to take while moving forward:

  1. Start weekly open space discussions for FOSS topics.
  2. Start school outreach sessions to educate students about FOSS.
  3. Kick start the project collaboration for MEC.Contrib where the open source enthusiasts build websites for college.
  4. Work out the logistics of FOSS.Conf that we plan to conduct in the summer.

T.I.M.E institute faculty came and gave an engaging session on career options after completing Bachelors Degree from MEC. The session was lead by Hardy Joseph. They explained how GATE/CAT works. The highlights are:

  • Plan long term rather than jumping on to a placement offer directly — invest in your future.
  • Management is all about managing resource: Man, Material and Money
  • In any establishment, be it technical or not, when you climb up the ladder, it becomes all about management.
  • Management becomes of great impact when it is structured, formal and planned. You might become a good manager without formal training but at the cost of missing out on a few aspects of management.
  • MBA in India depends on the CAT exam. It is a skill based exam to test the managerial skills (time/pressure/priority/uncertainty/knowledge).
  • GATE is for those who wish to stick to the technical fields longer. 15 aptitude questions, 15 math questions and 70 core branch questions.
  • We need to focus on fundamentals, prioritize and be thorough in a few topics, work hard+smart work, select right material, practice problems for GATE.
  • People write GATE for PSU/M.Tech/Research.
  • It is better to write CAT/GATE immediately after final year as our minds are fresh and ready to learn. After we join the work force for 2 years, studying in parallel becomes near impossible.
  • Online resources are available but procrastination and lack of real ecosystem makes it even more challenging.

When Opportunity meets preparation, success forms!

I am grateful for being able to attend the session as I was having a dilemma between GATE and GRE. Now CAT in the picture, it looks like lot more thinking is left to do!

At home, had the second call with my Mozilla Open Leader program mentor, Nele Hersh from Germany. She was quite joyful and supportive as I mentioned the latest progress I made. Fingers crossed for tomorrow’s cohort call.

In the evening had call with remote internship team. We need to practice sample code and examples of recommendation systems to get ready for the real work.

Another good thing happened. A member from the PyCon India 2018 team responded saying that my video was found but incorrectly formatted. Thus, it would take some time to get it fixed. I am glad the addressed the delay and so I am willing to wait for the vendor to fix the issue.

Key takeaway:

  1. Slow multitasking gives enough time for the mind to refresh and get new perspective to explore.
  2. Multitasking is actually good if it does not bog you down in pressure but rather further grows the creative mind.


Had a discussion with FOSSMEC. Varun the junior suggested we celebrated Open Data Day by contributing to Open Street Map by mapping our college to their system.

Hopefully we can pull this off next week. In the evening I attended the Week 4 cohort call of Mozilla Open Leader Training Porgram. This week, it was about mountain of engagement — to understand how to effectively maintain the conversations and layers of work to effectively pursue the vision of the gathering.

I got to meet many of my peers pursuing noteworthy projects with noble goals.

The Breakout rooms were good to see other ideas.

In the evening spent some time with my cousin and then worked on some activities for the weekend.

College Senior Ms. Sharon sent me a detailed mail of their journey to Singapore explaining how their mission exceeded the mark and the realizations instilled in them the will to climb roof tops and shout Yes you can as well!! The sentence that mostly caught my attention was this:

Our aspirations are a function of our exposure

Friday (22/02/2019)

A good day indeed! Had FOSSMEC Open Space discussion with FOSS members. We had a good discussion with juniors about the meaning FOSS and effectively contributing to the welfare in our locality.

We got permission from FOSSMEC in charge and Principal Sir to celebrate Open Data Week by mapping (thus contributing) to Open Street Map. Principal Sir was super supportive of our mission and suggested ways to better generate the result.

College arts fest begins today. I hope that goes well.

In the evening had some patch up work for tomorrow’s meetup done. Also, this TED talk below (+ the one above) inspired me to get back to the numerous goals I set for myself but could not get to it due to self declared excuses.

Key take aways:

  1. Marginal adjustments in lifestyle and slow progressive growth can add up gradually to make an impact.
  2. The change happens when you close your distraction and take the very first step to get the task done.

I cleared my room, decided to make a time table (for probably the 10th time by now) to follow from March. I need to get organized but loose most of my time thinking about the time I have lost (perpetual disappointment). I guess the key would be to shut those thoughts and sit down with one task at a time.

My Financial Aid application to take the Psychological First Aid course has been accepted. I will be starting that shortly to better equip myself as a professional stress busting machine! I am grateful to Kaumudi who is taking major strides to encourage us to better support students through peer to peer support.

In case I forgot to mention, my awesome content writing boss Ms.Nikita Mallya got selected for Johns Hopkins University! Congratulations!

Some relaxing music

In the evening I received a mail from JSConf stating that I did not clear the scholarship grant application to attend the conference as there were more deserving students. I respect their decision and hope they have a good event.

I got in touch with the community manager of open project labs to talk about supportive internal structuring. I hope together we can do some good work.

Saturday (23/02/2019)

I received the rejection mail to attend open education conference.

Arrived at CITTIC for the School of AI Kochi Meetup. Pranav was already here clearing and setting up the place. The poor lad slept late and woke up super early to get to work. So he happily handed over the work to me as he went back to hostel to get some rest.

The meetup went really well! Jithin taught Python basics well while Pranav covered Numpy basics. After an engaging quiz we stayed back and interacted with interested students. I showed my card magic tricks with friends and they seemed to have liked it, even though I did not fully succeed.

Finally I had the phone call with Lyde and Alex from France. We got to learn one another’s pioneer projects better and I am really impressed by their progress and energy rate in contrast to my lazy-to-take-action attitude.

Alex said that despite not being from a technical background, he is taking the time to learn solidity to implement the blockchain portion. They were kind enough to ask about my past experiences as well.

I now feel I can and must put in more effort to be at par with their level, cause Mozilla Open Leader Program and Pioneer Tournaments are two blessings that I have the luxury to utilize and so I ought to not take it lightly.

Returned home and started moving the wheels of Open Data Week celebration by FOSSMEC by contributing to Open Street May by mapping our college into their system for the world to benefit from.

Thank you for reading through my TWTW. I hope it helped you in a way by going through my rejections and my tiny attempts. I hope you have a refreshing weekend to maximize the week to come.




You can find Joel’s TWTW (The Week That Was) all collected together over here. Weekly Open Journals for the world to see.

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Joel V Zachariah

Joel V Zachariah

Uncovering value in testing times | | Reach me at

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