The first barcamp in Myanmar is being held on the 22nd and the 23rd at Myanmar Info-Tech (formerly MICT Park). Around 2500 people had registered online to attend the event and so far around 1700 people came on Saturday. Even the foreigners were surprised by the number of the barcampers. Around 200 people have volunteered and among them, I had volunteered to be a translator. The number of translators is few compare to other teams and not all of them were available to help. Fortunately, there weren’t many foreigners and some of their presentations didn’t require word to word translation.
On the first day, the opening ceremony didn’t start until after 9:30 a.m. After the ceremony, the actual discussions didn’t start until 1 pm, to give time for the presenters to prepare for their presentation. So, for the whole morning, I was sitting in Hall 1, talking to some people and attempting to connect to the internet. Wireless internet access had been provided, but it wasn’t stable so the connection kept going up and down. I only managed to login to Facebook and write my status before being asked away by someone else. Lunch was provided for the volunteers, but I couldn’t stand the wait so I had lunch after 12:30 at the canteen and eventually had to share fried rice with another translator as the food took so long to order. By the time I got back, it was nearly one o’clock.
During the barcamp, six rooms are provided for the barcampers and he/she is given an hour for the presentation and discussions. For the first period, I was sitting in Hall 1 listening to U Ye Myat Thu explaining about how to convert from Win Myanmar font to Unicode without losing format and the original English texts being changed into Myanmar words, but during the middle of the presentation, I had to go to Room 101 where a presentation was given about Podcasting. I had heard about Podcasting before, but I have never really tried it before since I thought it requires high speed internet connection. The presenter said that one of the best ways to look for podcasts is to use iTune software. Too bad I can’t install any software at cybercafés. Otherwise, I could check it out even thought the connection isn’t that good most of the times.
For the second presentation, I was stationed at Room 101 again. The presentation was about Web Single Sign-on with SAML with another translator. This time, I had to translate the presentation into Myanmar so that the participants can understand since SAML was pretty new to all of us. I had some difficulties with the translation ‘cuz although I understood most of what was being said, I couldn’t find the right words to explain them back into Myanmar. So, most of my translation was pretty rough. It was an interesting presentation and I learned a lot, but I also missed out on the chance to listen to my ex-boss’s discussion that was taking place next door at the same time. His presentation was about the Unicode – the third generation and Myanmar language for use in computer systems. (Please excuse my rough translation since the original title was partly written in Myanmar).
I took a break for the third period and didn’t participate till the last period. There were three topics that I was interested in, but I chose to go and listen to Technology for Disaster Resistance. Of course I was there to provide assistance in need of translation, but I didn’t have to translate much. Again, this whole idea of using technology for disaster resistance and re-establishment was pretty new to me. I especially liked the software, DUMBO, which can be used to connect peer to peer without needing an ISP. Of course, one would need routers to connect from long distance ranges. With DUMBO, one can chat using text, voice chat, or webcam, but there are also many other functions like GPS tracking system. This software will become open source in the near future and training would be provided by Myanmar Egress later on.
So, that pretty much summarizes the events on the first day. Since I am merely just writing from my point of view, please feel free to correct me if I made any mistakes. I’m going to write more about the second day tomorrow. So stay tuned if you are interested.
Credit goes to dawn1o9 for the above photo. She’s not happy that I put my name on the photo :).