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Monday, March 31, 2008

Roundup of Barcamp Mumbai 3

Vijay and I were in Mumbai on Saturday for Barcamp Mumbai 3. I had checked the wiki the day before and there were over 600 registrations. Wow. Out of that I guess about 200-220 turned up, which is still a pretty big crowd.

There was some confusion at the start especially with the schedule board with a big crowd putting up sessions only for everything to be rearranged by track so that all startup demos go into one room and so on. Eventually by the time everything started we were running about 90 minutes late. The other problem was the wifi. I asked about five of the volunteers, but no one seemed to know the settings. I finally got the wifi configured thanks to one of the students sitting next to me.

I first headed out to the startup demo track and checked out demos of on2biz, MediaMelon and WikiSlice. on2biz is a workflow management web app. From the demo, it looked like it is targeted towards the sales cycle. MediaMelon is a video delivery network that uses p2p to deliver the videos. I would have loved to have seen a demo, but apparently the firewall was blocking the app. WikiSlice is a UI layer around wikipedia that allows you to browse topics better (grouping related pages, subtopics etc). They have also made it work with an offline wikipedia dump. My initial reaction was why anyone would want wikipedia offline, but the discussion brought up some interesting cases like rural access.

I headed out for the Firetalk track, but it seemed to have fizzled out, nothing was happening there. I went to the tech track. A talk on jQuery was going on but both the wifi and the projector were not working in this room. The laptop was connected to a computer monitor making the slides unreadable, and the lack of wifi meant that the online demos didnt work.

The next talk was on Asynchronous IO by Bhavin. This was a really good talk, and fortunately it didn't depend so much on the slides. A couple of points - having worked with async IO, it really complicates the application logic, especially state management, so thats a tradeoff that must be made. The other problem with not handling each request in its own process is that if there are any misbehaving callbacks, they can bring down the whole server. A pretty interesting talk.

Next was my session on some of the homebrew stuff that people have done on the Nintendo DS, following which was a session on Facebook API, except the speaker didn't show up, so I left the room. I spent the rest of the day floating between rooms and the lobby area.

I managed to catch bits of Aalaap's demo of linkbunch, Aditya giving a session on Startup Saturday and Aditi doing a session on the iAccelerator program for startups at IIMA.

Just as we were leaving, we met Grishma from Whirlybird Electronics. This is a company that builds measurement and control systems for unmanned aerial vehicles. Pretty cool stuff.

One thing I was quite impressed was how many people had heard about Proto. They would mostly go "Ohh you're from Proto." If you dont know what Proto is, it is a two day event that brings together the startup ecosystem - startups, investors, invited guests, industry experts etc - and gives each selected startup six minutes to pitch to the audience. The event also has a series of talks by industry experts on technology and business topics. See the agenda for the previous edition and join the facebook page to get a better idea.

By the way, the nominations for the July edition of Proto have just opened. If you are a startup and you would like to present at Proto, head over to the nomination page and nominate your company

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