This update is from Ramya Ramesh, a RapidFTR team member at the Grace Hopper Conference in December...
"Just got back from an awesome and energetic hackathon, organized as part of the Grace Hopper Conference*, in Bangalore, on Dec 12, 2012.
This was the first hackathon organized as part of GHC in India. And fitting to the context of the conference, it was an all-women one too.
RapidFTR was one of the three open source initiatives that were selected to be part of this hackathon (OpenMRS & Camfed were the other two). There were also members from Random Hacks of Kindness who presented two problem statements for the hackers to code away to.
To give a sense of how the day progressed:
We started off by introducing the founding team of this hackathon - Jagruti ,Tina Vinod, Gurpreeth & VijayLuxmi Sinha, among others - to the participants gathered. This was followed by a short introduction to the hackathon, how the idea came about and what each open source application team is trying to address.
Right after this, we had parallel streams set up - one for each RapidFTR, Camfed, OpenMRS, and two for RHOK. Participants signed up for the team of their choice and soon, dived deep into the business problem that the team was trying to solve.
The RapidFTR team had a fairly interested group showing up, with lot of focus on the problem we are trying to address and multiple ideas being pitched about to address the security, the no-connectivity and other issues. We had freelancers, folks from Microsoft, Intuit, IIT Madras, CTS, etc. among other companies raring to go and contribute to RapidFTR.
We started off with setting up the dev machines for the volunteers. This took us a good 4-5 hours after which we got into discussing more details regarding the stories that we had lined up for the hackathon. Once the volunteers got onto the stories, there was basically no stopping them. Jumping from one story to the next is how I can describe the volunteers' enthusiasm during the event and drive for addressing humanitarian issues. At the end of the day, we not only had some bug fixes and UI enhancements in the system but also a new bunch of folks aware of and excited about RapidFTR and looking forward to future contribution. A great day it was!
* More details regarding what the conference is about and how it came into existence here(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Martin Fowler (@martinfowler) wrote a great article about the RapidFTR code jams we've been hosting every Tuesday night in New York and with varying degrees of regularity in London, Melbourne, San Francisco, Porto Allegre, and Chennai. His article pretty much runs down the recipe that Zubair Khan and Tom Elkin put together in London and was then polished into a smoothly running machine by the shockingly unlinkable Chris George. He's definitely the champion that Martin refers to here:
To make meaningful progress, you need someone to prepare for each code jam by breaking down work-items into something small enough that people will be able to finish them during the time at the jam. Whatever people may say and hope, they'll rarely work on the project outside code jam hours, and the schedule is too infrequent to want half-done things hanging over. Small tasks allow teams to make perceptible progress each jam - which helps keep motivation high. We like to put these tasks online before each event so people can prepare if they want to, or just get a feel for what we're working on. We also set up a mailing list to keep up regular communication on the jam and support anyone who does contribute outside of the jam.
Our regular code-jams succeed best when the group has a couple of champions who take the lead in organizing the event. It's best to have more than one champion, to cope with the work load and provide some resilience if they are absent for a while.
The other ingredients, of course, are beer and pizza and chocolate covered pretzels, and music. We've dabbled with Spotify and TurntableFM and Tim Cochran's Radiohead collection, but have recently been working to a Pandora channel that's become increasingly bizarre. Each person adds a song or artist every week, with no repeats. After all, you can't change the world without mariachi, 90s corporate rock, acoustic folk, dubstep, and plenty of Beyonce. Listen here.
Read Martin's post on his blog.
So RapidFTR was named one of the Top 10 Open Source Rookie Projects of 2010 by Black Duck Software. It's quite an honor. You can read more about it here: http://www.blackducksoftware.
They've also asked us to participate in a 'webinar' with some of the other project folk. Something we're glad to do. In 30 minutes. If you'd like to take part, you can, here: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/891597472.
Thursday, Feb 10 - Rookies Webinar
Synopsis: If you’re a developer using open source code to speed time to solution, you know the benefits of working with FOSS. Perhaps you’ve contributed code back to a project, joined a FOSS community, or are thinking about starting your own project. Turn those ideas into actions by listening to FOSS developers who’ve made the leap into the limelight as Black Duck Open Source “Rookies of the Year 2010.”
Join us on February 10th at 11:30 EDT for a webinar discussion lead by FOSS developers from the Diaspora, Activiti, VoltDB and RapidFTR projects. This diverse group of projects spans a personally-controlled social network, a powerful No-SQL database and a mobile application that lets aid workers collect, sort and share information about children in emergency situations. The Rookies will discuss
--How they initiated their projects and successes and challenges
--Provide advice for those of you planning or in the midst of your own open source projects
Fast Company, a really great business magazine mentions RapidFTR in an article about the U.N.'s technology innovations and their more recent Global Pulse project. Check it out: Inside the United Nations' Innovation Overhaul
There's another codejam happening in London this Saturday, fresh off the heels of a very successful event in Porto Allegre, Brazil, hosted by Carlos Villela. We've also been running nearly-weekly meetups in New York city. If you're interested in helping out in any of these places (or Australia or India or San Francisco or anywhere else) join the google group and let us know.
For details on this weekend's London codejam, head to this posting on meetup.com.
A message posted to the RapidFTR Google Group:
So the RapidFTR codejam is going ahead this Saturday at the Thoughtworks London office!
During the recent trip to Uganda, we've managed to gather a lot of very useful feedback from NGOs that might like to adopt RapidFTR, and from the aid workers that would end up using it. The good news is that everyone we showed it to was very excited about the possiblities it offers. We've since been busy taking everything we're learnt and turning it into a set of stories that we think will be necessary for RapidFTR to be used in a real humanitarian emergency.
So we've now got a lot more stories that we would like to get done, and are really hoping to get more volunteers from the software dev community, to help take this across the finishing line and get it deployed out into the field.
As usual we've got plenty of Ruby on Rails stories to play, but we're also keen to get people involved with the Blackberry mobile client (Java), which is absolutely key to the system.
Please bring a laptop ready for Ruby on Rails development, or running Windows for Blackberry development, if you can. If not, we should almost certainly have enough for everyone to pair on.
Kicking things off at the Thoughtworks office in Holburn at 10am. Breakfast and lunch provided. :)
An in-depth review of the user testing trip to Uganda coming soon. fun!
ParticipateWe are looking for experienced Ruby on Rails programmers. If you're interested in participating, please go to developer info.
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