Wednesday, February 15, 2006

WiFi as in HiFi, not WeeFee

My fifteen minute attempt of an abstract on "Wifi in Linux" got selected for Linuxasia2k6. The conference was held at the IHC(India Habitat Center) in Delhi. It was my first visit to the capital, so I was quite excited, actually more so , coz I was flying by Kingfisher [:p] They're damn right about their motto "fly the good times". Even before you board the plane, in the airport itself, you can spot their cabin crew by either looking around for chics with bright red suits or simply look where everyone else is looking. The flight is a good two hours from Pune, so that gives you enough time to "be attended" by the air-hostesses, for any lame reasons you can think of. Well for me, getting a window seat behind the wing was more important, than "being attended". [Ahem] The in-flight entertainment systems are cool. They have LCD screens on every seat, serve good food, and the music stations are pretty neat. So, enuf said about the flight.

My first impression about Delhi was ruined coz of the traffic. I mean, they have excellent roads but everyone drives carelessly. Even round-abouts have more than one lane ! So ideally, if they were to follow the right hand rule, and pick a lane according to the exits around the round-about, they'd have such a peaceful ride. But no, that aint the kind of thing happening here. The second thing you notice instantly is the number of four wheelers ! Everyone has a car, there are hardly any two wheelers around, and hardly any undented cars.. in fact I could see only 3 undented cars in 2 days. Trust me, I did travel a lot around Delhi, mostly coz the roads were blocked and diverted because of Moharam (?) processions.

So the venue was at the IHC(India Habitat Centre), which is like a convention centre for expo's and conferences, not just for the techies. But LinuxAsia was full of techies alright. Not really the geeky kinds but it was a mix of CEO's, CTO's, regional heads, VP's blah blah... so basically excellent for startups wanting to pitch at open source tech. The 'crowd' was 'pretty good' (pun intended), so it made for excellent timepass. Was even better coz I had the "Speaker" tag hanging round my neck, so free food, free everything and an excellent excuse to get talking to the chics ;)

The IHC has WiFi too , so that was cool ! Just a couple of hours before my talk, my colleagues who had tagged along, decided to kill some time checking mail and stuff. So they got some scratch cards from the IHC that had the login names and passwords on them. Within the next few minutes 3 of us were out in the open gardens with our thinkpads. I didnt find it worthwhile paying 150 bucks for an hour so I didnt buy me a card. Instead I decided to fire up Kismet (read: wifi sniffer) to check for anything interesting. Suddenly I saw "codito marvin enter login name: ramana.radhxxxx, enter password: ramana123" !!!!! yes, I could see my colleagues login name and password as the dude was checking his mail. So I say to Ramana, "Dude ! ramana123 ?!! C'mon man you can do better than that !" , Ramana just looked at me for the next 20 seconds until he finally uttered a series of "F" words in succession. I had already taken a screenshot of this and added it to my presentation slide, and I was right, it really was an eye opener to the audience. So, basically, the Wifi at the IHC sucks, nothing is encrypted in the air. I dont know what they've done of it now, but its a serious flaw in their setup. So with that last slide and my comment on ramana's lame password, my talk ended with a good sound of laughter in the theatre.

All in all, I had a great time at the IHC.The talks by Klaus knopper ( Knoppix dude) and Mark Shuttleworth (Ubuntu dude) stole the show and I got to meet some of the prominent personalities in the open source industry at the CEO lunch, although I was in casuals and everyone else was in suits. But the "Speaker" tag saved my arse [:)]. I have some snaps of the event on flickr, but I cant for the life of me remember the url right now :p so will update this space later.