IEG For Kannada Wikipedia

About an year ago, we found that it is almost becoming difficult/worse to search the Kannada books on DLI (Digital Library Of India) and OUDL (Osmania University Digital Library).

Reasons:

  • Index found in these digital libraries used latin letters for book names i.e. in Kanglish. It was not easy to type any book name and find them due to the transliteration rule used to come up with these names Ex:
    Aitihaasika Kathaaval’i Erd’aneya Bhaaga.
  • As the names were not found in Unicode/Native language more than 5000 books in these libraries were hidden from common people who would have loved to read them/use them for research, learning etc.
  • Even if we found the the book, it was difficult to read the books as DLI needed a special plugin to view tif files on the browser. Luckily OUDL had books in PDF format.

To view the Books Online Download Alternatiff plugin for Windows Users and Plugger plugin for Linux Users(install GTK,GLIB prerequisites)

These reasons were more than enough to encourage ourselves to do something around this. We started a small project to pull the metadata of these libraries and see if we can do something about the books.

We initiated a crowdsourcing project on our community portal http://samooha.sanchaya.net, pushed the metadata that Pavithra had collected from the DLI & OUDL websites and requested people to help us transcribe the book name, publisher name and author names to Kannada in Unicode. Following video demonstrates how crowd sourcing helped us get the metadata transformed into useful information quickly.

We had fun working on the above interface ourself as it was fun seeing the donut graphs turning blue while we downloaded many books which we found interesting or which we had missed to read all these days. It was a same experience for others who joined us from various countries to help us with this crowd sourcing activity. Thanks to Devaraj (Devu) who helped quickly put this module live.

Apart from getting the data, we also worked on getting it validated. More or less same set of people helped going through the books once again to see that we don’t have incorrect information for the metadata.

Now, it was time to let people search these books on Internet without much effort. Atleast they can find the Book names, authors and publishers in Kannada. We made this possible via http://pustaka.sanchaya.net

pustaka_sanchaya-1080x607

Above image is just a snapshot. 5000+ books being searched on this platform from 100+ categories.

We had admitted for a while that the work is done, but the queries followed our tweets and blog posts on the above projects. We discovered more issues. People desperately wanted to download some of these books, find some which had different author names, some books did not have the right information as printer name was used as publisher’s name and so on…

Apart from that we had more technical issues which we did over see while working on metadata and other things in early stage of this project. i.e availability of the digital library portals round the clock. DLI & OUDL used to fail serving the pages or files intermittently. OUDL library used to go offline after 5pm just like the government offices shutdown. Writing to concerned people never yielded any results.

I’m writing this whole story because we believe  that the work of making these books accessible to all Kannadigas is NOT‌ OVER. We need more work to be done. We thought we should have wiki pages for all these books. Request people to join us writing more about the books, about the authors and the printing presses, publishers. Fellow wikimedians also heard about our idea and helped us write a plan for the same. As a result, I ended up submitting our project plan to Wikimedia Foundation’s Individual Engagement Grant.

Please find the detailed IEG project plan here: Growing Kannada-language Wikimedia projects with a digital library

We have been lucky have been chosen to work on this project along with the other 13 participants who submitted excellent ideas. Read more about the other IEG projects here on Wikimedia Blog.

We are now gearing up to work on the project in full swing. This IEG requires us to teach new wikipedians/wanna be wikipedians to learn about Wiki Editing while working on making the Kannada Books from Digital libraries searchable/made available for learning/research etc.

It’s a challenge to make this happen as it again involves crowdsourcing activities in various stages. Involves understanding how we can control the mass editing on wikipedia while taking care of the edit quality and more.

Looking forward for lots of support and encouragement for us here.

Life at 16ft or 9100+ ft

Life at 16ft or 9100+ ft

After getting drenched in Ganga during our Auli trip @ Haridwar some how I started loving water sports more than ever.

To give a little background on my water adventures, We were at Dandeli last year for a short vacation, photography & birding at Ganesh Guri, as well as some adventure in Kali white water rafting. Oh yes, the bamboo rafting as well as boating near Jungle Lodges where we were staying. It had been an awesome experience!


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Kali is one of the longest white water rafting destination in South India around 9km’s. Our captains were from Nepal and they were trained at Haridwar in Ganga. We literally had fun with a gang of some old men who were enjoying their retirement days. Trust me they were really a good sport. One of them were almost in his 70’s and had a leg operated almost 7+ times. He had settled in the middle and we had been in the middle of the roaring water for surfing against the water.

Himalayan Range @ Auli

In February, we visited Auli for exploring north again (It has become a fun to be in Himalayas every year) and this time the target was to be on road trip. There was almost no trekking like our previous expeditions to Himalayas. Yay! that was not really fun 😛 I was just dumb founded to find the the roads build on the banks of Ganga, Alaknanda, Bramhaputra and many other revers, and mountains with scary land sliding areas. I shall share my experience walking on glacier may be some other time.

On our way to Auli, we had to settle near Haridwar for a day near Shivapuri. Here we spent our afternoon and next day morning doing 16km Rafting in Ganga. Pavithra and myself both enjoyed the longest rides to our hearts content. Rapid rounds are intensive, getting into the water with life jackets was little scary and chilling experience which I will never forget. When I was in water at Kali, it was my first time and holding a rope/boat and staying along was must! It was totally a different experience at Haridwar. I did feel myself moving around in water I felt almost numb in icy cold Ganges.

Find some of our pictures from Auli, Haridwar and Agra @ Flickr.

Today on my 14th day of swimming classes I could jump into 16 feet water without any fear and swim atleast for few strokes to reach for support wall. Living life is not so easy but also not so difficult. We learn as we move along. We can fly and we can swim. More than that we can feel it with a touch. Life!

Eiffel Tower & Vivekananda @ Lalbagh Flower Show

Eiffel Tower & Vivekananda @ Lalbagh Flower Show

We were bit worried to be late for the flower show as it becomes too much crowded and we never enjoy even walking around the flower monuments created at Lalbagh.

From year to year and show to show, authorities have been making big changes to flower show. Good and bad both are the ultimate outcomes.

To say a few good things, avoiding zig-zag traversals of visitors, now there is a single lane to get in and get out. If you want an another side view, please go out and get back in from the other end. It really saved me today and I think this system was introduced in August 2012 for the first time.

Secondly and the most happiest thing to be seen at Lalbagh during flower show – NO EATABLES and SHOPS selling food and NO MESS in the garden. It was really surprising but a much needed one. We always felt bad to get back to Lalbagh after the last day of any such events. Less number of stalls and easy and smooth sailing comes at a Cost. The entry ticket costed 40 Rs. 10 Rs more compared to last years fare. That doesn’t include parking though.

Those who are visiting from far away places, had to park the vehicles in JC Road. – Good again. There was not much traffic in roads except few days. But surely many might have cribbed to get back to Lalbagh from parking place. There is no easy way back except Nataraja service.

The most and worst thing that happened to Lalbagh because of this Flower show is the empty barren land created by authorities to create a large scale parking lot right in side the park. What a shame and an idiotic decision to cut down trees inside our historic garden of Bangalore. The work has stalled due to PIL filed. Hoping to see a green patch there again soon. Find more pictures from flower show on my Flickr Stream.

iDeaBox – Share Your Old Book Shelf

I was having a word with a trekking friend about book that I had bought. Suddenly he recalled that he gave off many books just a week back while shifting his house. What a loss. He then realized that I might have been the right person to read those book once again!

We might have been in this similar situation many times. Pavithra and Myself are planning to buy all language books from 1st Std to 10th Std to revise many topics to improve on GK and also to analyse what we really missed out during school days. Where did our books go? Similar case with Magazines. I always loved collecting magazines but due to lack of storage space, all of them were dumped into ruddi.

A idea just popped into my mind and I realized that we could put up a note somewhere online about such books/magazines etc. That might help someone else trying to find that book around us. There are many such services/websites/startups in other countries I see on Google.

Would you prefer something similar in Indian Language? Would you prefer sharing your books with someone else? What if they offer you a book or some money in return? What would encourage you to stop throwing your old magazines/books and make it available online instead. Please share your thoughts. I will post a prototype about how this could be done here in India through a simple online app (Web/Mobile).

Weekend on Cycles

Weekend on Cycles

At last we ended up starting our long cycle trips last Sunday. The short weekends always make me feel lazy on Sunday mornings, but Pavithra makes sure that I don’t hide behind the blankets. Still we ended up starting our journey only at 10AM. Thanks to house warming ceremony of our neighbor for the nice breakfast to kick start our cycling.

Both of our Merida cycles (Matts & Juliet) were waiting since Dasara for long drive. Biscuits & few other eatables were packed with Water bottles stacked on stands. Driving in internal roads always a cool thing to do than dragging ourselves into traffic. That was also very much needed to ensure we stay in shades as Pav haven’t been on longer drives before. After crossing Jayadeva hospital and moving forward we were always nearing the busier lanes and we were about to hit the main road. Cycling in internal road at times scares you. Mainly because of bikes who doesn’t care to honk or those who drive with mobiles hanged on their ears always in mood of circus. In turn that takes your breath out. Thank fully nothing major happened but it is worth mentioning such cases as we regularly get to see it on roads which is kinda unsafe.

Its really unimaginable how easy I felt when we could continue driving on Electronic city road on Sunday. We could take our own sweet time peddling all over till Phase 1. Few breaks here and there and Pav almost got on to walking at some places instead. Cool breeze helped much to drag ourselves to our final destination. Mission Phase1 Complete.

My mind was already counting what we might have lost if we would have come via Car or any other vehicle. Around 150Rs for petrol + Toll fee to use the elevated flyover, Joy of riding cycles, cost of burning fat. Alright, its worth counting in to realize few facts of our living costs + what we are loosing on our journey of life. A break from work and trip like this would always refresh our thoughts. While this was on in mind, we finished our chores and we were all set to complete phase 2 to finish the mission.

Back on saddles, we took a break for the lunch and I was reminded to take my medication to blew away the flu. Pav literally didn’t stop much this time and she almost got used to peddling more than the first phase. We also felt that we took very little time to reach the middle of the journey. A quick lunch had fueld us enough to finish the end mile and less traffic on Silk board to Jayadeva let us peddle with no much stress. By evening we were back at home and Pav had successfully finished her longest cycling trip. Approximately 45 kms. Good Job Pav!

Ah! at the end I had to carry the cycle back on my shoulders to 1st Floor from the ground floor. Funny eh? Anyways, that a small little help that I could do to appreciate the efforts taken to complete the mission.