The Linux Bangalore has always been a big event in India. Bangalore being the IT capital of India, has tremendous interest in FOSS. This year the LB was aptly renamed and transformed to FOSS.in as it has grown greatly over the years and due to the amount of attendance it commands it is no longer correct to call it a local LUG event any more.
I was there as a Blender user presenting the ever increasing quality and features of Blender at a booth. The event was launched by Atul Chitnis, one of the biggest supporters of FOSS in India.
After attending the inspirational talque by Alan Cox, we went to fetch the machines which we were going to use for our demos or projects. We got brand new machines from the warehouse. Then I realised that I had a problem on my hands, this being the first of any such event for me, I didn’t bring a copy of Blender with me! Although I had duly burned all necessary stuff for demonstration a day before. No worries, just next to me was the strong contingent from Delhi LUG and they had everything I needed
After a short while I started demos of Blender animations, using the recent Suzanne award winners. Slowly many people gathered and started to discuss among themselves as to how Blender stands amongst other commercial counterparts.
I did not answer any of those queries, but promptly switched the animated demos to the rendered artwork. Their queries immediately changed to: how was this stuff done in Blender? How much time it would take to do so? Exactly the questions I was waiting to answer
Things were going fine for us, though we did not have net access until Atul came in and suggested that we move to the ‘Business Expo booth’, as there was plenty of empty space and ready net access there. By the time lunch ended we had shifted there. At the end of the day the crowd waned.
I was prompt to present myself at the event the next morning, however it seems morning does not wake people faster. Since I had nothing to do, I went and attended my first FOSS event of the day Ahem... ‘LinuxChix’. After attending the event I returned bak to my stall and was told that a few guys were interested in Blender and they were waiting for me for some time. After a while a small group of four guys came over, and asked what Blender could do. I showed them some stuff, Enrico’s ‘Penguin Dance’ was a favourite and so was the ‘Cycles’ animation.
Shortly after noon a group of youngsters presented themselves at the stall. They were the enthusiastic type and one of them wanted to actually see how is was done. There began my first live Blender session and boy I was not aware of the usefulness it had.
This was the busiest day for me. I gave about 5-6 Live Blender sessions, it was as if my stall had a high PR rating through ‘word of mouth’. Sartaj Kang, one of the KDE developers (and few others who have been watching the small groupings with amusement) were of the view that I should have been giving a full talque instead, at other times they even wanted a BOF entirely for themselves. I nodded in agreement but luckily they were just too busy to attend one
Just next to us was an HP stall. There they were demoing a Blender versión running on a modified xserver which made use of three monitors and gave a ‘large desktop real-estate ‘ for Blender. There was Mr. Manjunath from HP, with whom I discussed various issues under which HP could be helping OSS. But as they always say a commercial company has commercial interests in mind, well rightly so, but at-least he agreed in theory that there can be a chance that HP can make use of Blenders growing capabilities. The talque went on to comparing the powerful features of other commercial apps with Blender, which came bak to the development of features needed and when I told him about the speed of actual development, I could see him getting excited.
Again a slow start in the morning, but this was one of the most productive days of all. A professor from one of the Goa Universities wanted to learn the basics of using Blender himself so that he can introduce this useful tool to his students. There was only one problem though, he was looking for CAD features which Blender does not readily offer. I discussed a worque around with him, like importing the mechanical drawings through images and building models with reference. They might not be accurate, but 3d models will keep student’s interest. I alos suggested to him other OSS CAD tools. Despite that, I spent a good 1-2 hrs. detailing for him how to use Blender, and I must say he was really interested in learning. I hope he can make use of the small learning session.
Then there was Vaseem a engineering student, who was interested in learning whether Blender can be used for his academic project on ‘photo geometry’. We discussed a lot on the issue and finally he agreed that using python with Blender might help him.
Finally I met an very interesting person: Shree Kumar. He had worked on Blender scripting and was the one those guys who made those Blender demos running on the HP Cluster (or was it some thing else? ) And if I recall right, was one of the people who customised the Xserver to use múltiple monitors asynchronously on that machine. More importantly, we developed an mutual understanding that I can misuse his talents to correct errors on python scripts which fail on my machine
At the end of it, I was filled with vigour, that I will return next year with a much larger role than this.
If Blender could generate such a good amount of interest despite being announcing as an entry very late in the event schedule, then it surely will have a much better presence with a full fledged talque on the subject, and more importantly a developer friendly BOF on which I am sure Tom (Letterrip) will be nodding his head in agreement
-- Gaurav Nawani