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Mentoring Students for GSoC – Common Qestions

Mentors are one of the stakeholders in Google Summer of Code program, and they are very important set of people. In definition they own an idea and they try to get it implemented/ achieved by a student. In my perspective mentoring goes beyond the boundaries.  Mentor should be able to get he project completed and at the same time he/ she should be an ambassador for the project. How ever it is not the main topic I am focusing on this article.

Through out the GSoC experience, I got some common questions from the mentors, when they try to understand their role. For the benefit of other I though of noting them with my answers. So this is strictly express How mentoring should be, according to my thoughts.

Work load, how many hours per week, should I invest to be a mentor?

There is no upper or lower limit. Your job is to make sure the project is in progress, to get the project going you need to facilitate the student. Depending on the project and the student (some other external factors) you may be investing different hours. You and your student should decide how to interact to get the maximum benefit.

Do I need to be technically sound?

No you do not as long as you know the domain of the problem ! But you should be able to understand what student is doing and then you need to know where to direct if the student needs in-depth technical knowledge.

Is it a professional relationship?

With experience I prefer to make it professional as much as possible when it comes to discussions about the project. Other than that you can use any approach. But make sure everything is in control and you build up a good relationship with the student.

Do I need to have industrial knowledge on how to develop software?

This is not mandatory, but I think it is better you have it. The one of the ideas in this program, is to provide some hands on experience on software development to the students. If you are familiar with those you can transfer the knowledge to the student where he gets additional benefits.

How to evaluate their progress?

This is very important. Two quick rules. Keep in touch with them all time so that you know what is happening. The second is progress meetings. You need to arrange progress meeting according to your requirements. May be once a week, twice a week, monthly or after a milestone. but make sure you have them timely.

Do I need to assist them in coding?

No ! . Most of the time do not help them directly when they stuck. First ask them to solve it themselves. Secondly ask them to contact the community (eg: devel-list, IRC, mailing list…) then ask them to search an answer for the issue (eg: Google, refer books). If above did not work out assist them to solve the problem by giving them required knowledge. Do not code for them at any situation. But train them how to find a solution when they got stuck.

What else other than coding?

As noted in the beginning, you are an ambassador for the organisation/ community. Let the student have the feeling and let him mingle with the community. Guide him so that he can join with other groups with in the organisation and work with them. So that he gets a good exposure on the community.

so few Questions and Answers, I ll keep adding few in future.

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Fedora election – voting has begun

Twice an year Fedora hold election cycles to elect members for governing bodies who then guide the project with in for a period of an year. This June, this summer, we are having three elections running for electing members to the following governing bodies.

  1. The Fedora Board
  2. FESCo
  3. FAmSCo

As usual after series of town-hall sessions we are in the phase of voting, However I hope it is not fun as town-halls but you can have a look and vote for the next generation of the governing body members. Please use the following link and cast your vote.

https://admin.fedoraproject.org/voting

The eligibility for voting differ from selection body, you must however has signed CLA to vote all the three governing bodies. Further for the FESCo and FAmSCo you need to be a member of at least a FAS group to vote. So cast your vote and help selecting the next governing body who can shape the project as you envision.

Have Happy Voting !!!

 

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MATE Desktop joined with Fedora for GSoC 2013

It is a great pleasure to announce that the MATE project is featuring in GSoC 2013 program with Fedora project.

MATE desktop environment, a project forking GNOME 2 code base (read more about MATE) is joined with the Fedora project and working together for GSoC 2013 in coming summer. Two project ideas has been added to the idea page and interested students can look forward to join with those project by contacting the mentor.

Stefano Karapetsas, Lead Developer, is the main point of contact between the Fedora project and the MATE project. We do believe this would be an interesting step to collaborate with other communities.

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GSoC 2013 – The Fedora Project has made it again!

With great pleasure on behalf the Fedora Summer Coding group I would like to announce that the Fedora project has been selected for the Google Summer Coding program 2013 and this would be the 8th time with GSoC.

Student’s application period has been started therefore please make sure you have submit the application in advance to avoid last time issues.

For more info and updates join with the mailing list and find more info at GSoC portal in Fedora http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/GSOC_2013

Wish you a happy summer coding !!!

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__construct() in PHP, OOP with PHP

In PHP it is possible to use the construct method which is really useful, in java we can have several constructor methods and the rule is the method name should be as same as the class name. In PHP the rule is quite different. It uses a special method __construct which is called once an object is created or simply when new operator is used. Therefore this method is also known as “magic method” and it is one of the few magic methods in PHP.

Without further text, following would be an example of using constructor method with in PHP OOP.

class Cube1 {

	private $length;
	private $depth;
	private $height; 
	
	public function __construct() {
		$this->length = 10;
		$this->depth = 10;
		$this->height = 10;
	}
	
	public function getVolume() {
		return ($this->length * $this->depth * $this->height);
	}
}

$box=new Cube1();
echo $box->getVolume();

This looks really simple. How would it be if we need to have more than one constructor methods which can accept arguments.

class Cube1 {

	private $length;
	private $depth;
	private $height; 
	
	public function __construct($a=10,$b=10,$c=10) {
		$this->length = $a;
		$this->depth = $b;
		$this->height = $c;
	}
	
	public function getVolume() {
		return ($this->length * $this->depth * $this->height);
	}
}

$box=new Cube1(10,2.5);
echo $box->getVolume();

$box2=new Cube1(2);
echo $box2->getVolume();

Since in PHP the __construct method cannot be override directly as in Java but there are few techniques to use so that it is possible in the indirect way. Will discuss them in the next post.

It is up to you to use your imagination and creativity to make use the of this feature.

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Org perspective on Google Summer of Coding – Part 1

GSoC 2013 has been announced recently and both organizations and students have started working towards achieving the ultimate glory as Google OSO termed.

For a Free Software organization, GSoC is actualizing a good opportunity since it is creating a platform which enables the interaction with the university students. Nevertheless, most organizations envision one major objective that is, getting young contributors to the organization while fulfilling their need by successfully completing the project.

Keeping this hope in mind, the organizations invest considerably enormous effort on these students. Sometimes the mentor may take less time if it is done by himsel, but training a newbie is worthy. Mentors who were into this program earlier, may have noticed that much portion of the students get vanished once the program is over, being exact once they received their final payment. Some remains as contributors and they start vanishing after few months and few stays with the organization and become key players.

The challenge in front of the organizations is to increase the portion of few students that are contributing long term. In Students Application Review Process (SARP), most of the mentors are much interested in the students’ competencies rather than the students’ reliability. The highest demand makes the selection much more difficult. At the same time if they are more projects than the available slots then there is a new problem to rank the projects to match with the available slots. The important projects should be get done and those would be first in the list.

SARP is a three-dimensional process where the importance of the project, students long term contribution and student’s competencies are considered and evaluated. Neither factor cannot be disregarded since each of them are really important for organizations due to small number of slots that organizations are receiving due to high demand for the program. Obviously this is not a simple task for an organization that has a high demand or organization that manages more slots. The selection should be optimal, select the student who can finish the project and who stays with the organization and be a part of that.

Many organizations ask students to fix bugs, write small code segments and so on to elaborate their knowledge. What can be used to measure their reliability? The degree of the accuracy of the method? Questions need answers.

Therefore the challenge ahead is to find ensuring evaluation methods which both implementation of the project and the long term contribution of the students can be earned and ensured in order to get the maximum benefit of the GSoC program and the effort investing by the contributors.

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Hackathon at the Faculty of Engineering, University of Peradeniya

There was a Hackathon at the Faculty of Engineering, University of Peradeniya on 16th and 17th February 2013. Unfortunately I could not participate the event. However it is good to read the event blog post and see some snaps.

Association of Computer Engineering Students (ACES), you are doing great !!

Please keep it up and running !!!

Read more at http://lists.fedoraproject.org/pipermail/ambassadors/2013-February/020892.html

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GCI 2012 Grand Prize winners Results Tomorrow

Google Code In concluded few weeks back. As per the time line Google will be announced the grand price winning students tomorrow. For the first time in history The Fedora project participated with the Google Code In program and it was a quite good opportunity for us to work with pre-university students and earn some young members.

Once the winners are announced I ll be planning to write the conclusion post reading GCI 2012 experience, till then I would like to wish all the students very best. Waiting for winners till tomorrow.

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GSoC 2013 Intro at Pera – Good to be back

Google Summer of Code 2013 has not yet been announced. However we had the first GSoC introductory session at the Faculty of Engineering, University of Peradeniya, last Saturday. Organized by the Association of Computer Engineering Students (ACES) in collaboration with The Fedora Project.

It was good to be back at the University exactly after 6 months.

The event is a success with around 50 students participants. Myself and former GSoC students who were the students at the University of Peradeniya also participated to address the gathering. It was an adhoc event with demonstrations on “what”, “why” and “how” on Google Summer of Code, GSoC.

The event started by myself with an Introduction for GSoC and demonstrated how to find an organization, how to apply, how to use IRC and related stuff.

Then there were some refreshments and after that Gayan and Thilina who was a student participant with GSoC 2012 with phpMyAdmin project shared some experiences. Then Chanaka who represented GSoC 2012 with phpMyAdmin introduced Version Control Systems to the students.

As the last session Harsha who was a former GSoC participant with openMRS has shared his experiences and introduced the openMRS project.

I would like to thanks Lali who was a GSoC 2012 student participant for the Fedora Project for actively engage with organizing this event and would like to invite him to apply for the Fedora Ambassadorship after considering his continuous support towards expanding the Fedora Project.

Still I didnt get the photos and will update once I receive then.

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Fedora 19 Elections : Voting just finished …

The deadline for the voting period for Fedora 19 election is just passed.

This election was held to elect 2 members for the Board, 4 members for FESCo and 3 members for FAmSCo.

Again Ankur Sinha (FraniscoD), thanks for being the friendly election wrangler and hoping to see you on Fedora 20 elections as well. Thanks for others who have devoted their time to make this success.

Being a candidate for Fedora 19 elections I would like to thank contributors who have used their votes to strengthen the continuity of the Fedora Project and I would like to thank candidates who have spent their time for taking time to participate the Fedora 19 elections.

According to the timeline the results are to be announced in 10th – 14th December.

Good luck candidates . . . .

 

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