Saying Hi to Guido

13 09 2008

Sure, it isn’t the most awe-inspiring of events, but then again you don’t get to talk to the Guido everyday. Besides which, a considerable amount of effort and FOSS pimpage went into this.

The Guido, i.e. Guido van Rossum, will be doing a video conference (VC) at our annual techfest (Shaastra) this year. Because of certain scheduling issues, Guido will be doing the talk from home, using his Mac’s webcam. Our “VC” team has never ever held talks with anyone not using one of those super expensive VC equipments that all colleges and big companies own, so it was upto us to figure out how the heck to get it to work.

It was a trivial enough of a task. I found out which protocol the VC equipment we have (it’s a Aethra VegaStar) uses; H.323. Then came the task of finding something that supported the protocol. Pre-assuming that the Linux solution sucks (which is obviously a huge error), we tried getting some software (for free) on Windows that supports the protocol. What do you know, none exists (and more over, NetMeeting used to have it, though it no longer does).

Ditch Windows, fire up Linux on my friend’s (S.V. Vikram) computer.  Unfortunately it  was running KDE and apparently they don’t have any video conferencing software supporting H.323.  Poking a KDE friend (Akarsh Simha), I got the reply: “GNOME is for n00bs”. The only inference I can gather is that in the real world, you reconstruct videos from tcpdump. In your head.

Being the n00b I was, I decided to take the easier route, ssh into my system, install ekiga, and run it (using X11 forwarding). Voila, it works, Shaastra is half saved. Enter the Mac side of things. A friend of mine owns a MacBook (and has been trying to sell Apple to me ever since), and we tried to start a video chat of our own. He starts iChat. What do you know, it doesn’t support H.323. Enter XMeeting, a Free solution. Works brilliantly. (It feels so good that I could *only* get this working using Free software).

This was a few weeks ago. We arranged a dry run with Guido last Friday (12th September), early in the morning here (Chennai, India). We get to the conference room which has a dedicated IP, and brilliant bandwidth (300Kb/s downloads anyone?).  Akarsh has Guido on his GTalk list, and we start to talk him through this. Unfortunately he’s under a firewall, glorious FAIL (we tried to use a STUN server, which also failed). He drops his firewall completely, but still no go. After lots of calls to our network administrators (who are on holiday), we reluctantly give up and decide to just use Skype. 2 minutes later, we are logged on to Vikram’s Skype account, and I am saying “Hi!” to Guido. Brief para-phrased excerpt of our conversation:

Me: Hello!
Guido: Ah hello. Great. It works.
(somebody knocks on Guido’s door)
Guido: A second, my son is calling.
Orlijn (Guido’s son): Daddy, who are you talking to?
Guido: Some guys from India. You want to say hi?
Me (with a *huge* grin): Hi!!!
Orlijn (slightly confuzzled): Hello
Me: What’s your name?
Orlijn: (something that sounds like Orelyn)
Guido: Ok, now you have to go to bed.
(Orijn leaves)
Guido: So let’s try this with the firewall, because I’m a sitting duck right
Me: Ok.
(still working)
Guido: Great, so I’ll see you on the 4th then?
Me (confused about the date): A second let me check. Yup
Guido: Ok, bye
Me: Good night!
Guido: See ya

Guido has seen every part of our team. One guy (Sanjeev) writes all the mails, one owning the GTalk account (Akarsh Simha), one owning the Skype account (S.V. Vikram), and finally one on the screen (Me :-)).

Without sounding too cheesy, I’d like to invite all FOSS-enthusiasts and hackers to Shaastra. We have a couple of good talks, a HackFest, and infinite coffee (for hackers only).



9 responses

14 09 2008
Pranesh Srinivasan

I wish I was well that morning. I was down with a bad fit of cough the whole night. Even met SV on the day’s morning.

I have a very few dreams. One of them is to say Hi to Guido. 😀

Dammit! 🙂

14 09 2008


14 09 2008

@Pranesh: Ouch. Well, since you be the python man, I’m sure you’ll be saying Hi to him on the day of the talk

@Sudarshan: Well, it’s only a mild technical difference, since we run a 8 bit system around here so we can’t count past 255.

15 09 2008


Btw, is this a typo?

“Guido: So let’s try this without the firewall, because I’m a sitting duck right”


“Guido: So let’s try this with the firewall, because I’m a sitting duck right”…

15 09 2008

@Vimal: Thanks for catching that.

15 09 2008
Siddharth Agarwal

You think 300 kB/s is good? LOL. 😉

Try a megabyte per second (using decent enough servers).

16 09 2008
Christopher Warner

Wow this is unfortunate that you had to use Skype2 if you want feel free to email the Ekiga mailing list so we can find out what went wrong! 🙂

26 09 2008
Paul Boddie

It would have been funny if his son had said, “I thought I had this room booked now!”

Explanation: Guido’s keynote at EuroPython was done over a video-conferencing link from Google, and there was a guy who interrupted the talk a few times to argue about who had the room or not. GvR should have played it like the Monty Python argument sketch.

3 06 2013

An intriguing discussion is definitely worth comment.

I think that you ought to write more about this issue,
it may not be a taboo subject but generally people do not talk about these topics.
To the next! Cheers!!

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