In the downturn, get involved with the tech community

The next few months are going to be a thrilling time to be a techie in Pune. On the one hand, the financial meltdown is suddenly making its presense felt uncomfortably close to home – multiple companies are firing 5% of their employees, and ASSOCHAM promises more (retracted under pressure); bonuses are being cancelled; salaries are being reduced (yup! negative increments). The word “thrilling” goes both ways.

On the other hand, there are some really great tech events that are coming up and what better to do during a downturn than network with a bunch of people who are passionate about technology that you are interested in! (I know that a lot of you techies really dislike networking – I was like that once. One of these days, I am going to write an article for engineers on how to do networking without feeling like a cheap salesman.)

This is your chance to get involved with the tech community. It means increased exposure to interesting work that is going on elsewhere in Pune. It means improving your tech skills by becoming aware of latest trends and techniques. It means making friends with some really passionate people who share your interests. It means greatly increasing your chances of getting lucky.

With that in mind, I am listing the major tech events that are coming up soon. Many of them (but not all of them) are volunteer driven, so they need your help. Please get involved. Help the community, help Pune, and help yourself all in one shot.

Barcamp Pune 5 aka BCP5. The big daddy of volunteer-driven tech events in Pune. This will be the fifth installment. A must visit, if you want to see energy and enthusiasm. And it is in a bit of trouble as the date keeps getting postponed due to lack of a venue. Get involved, make it happen and become famous, and earn the gratitude of the community who are keenly looking forward to the barcamp. Date not yet fixed – tentatively November 15th (but almost certain to be postponed now).

The IndicThreads conference on Java Technologies. Not a volunteer driven event, but a big event for all Java lovers. If you work in Java, it would be difficult to justify why you are not attending, and Java people from all over India will be attending. Dates: 25 to 27 November.

ClubHack, a group of volunteers interested in educating the public on security issues, is organizing the ClubHack 2008 conference which will feature presentations and workshops on security issues that you must worry about in this big bad world of viruses, trojans, phishing, and all sorts of dangerous threats that are lurking around the corner waiting to pounce upon your computer and your bank account as soon as you let down your guard. Better to be prepared than to be sorry. Dates: 6 & 7 December.

The OpenSocial Developer Garage. A volunteer-driven get-together of OpenSocial developers from all over India. They are looking for a venue, for sponsors, for speakers, and for volunteers. Check out the OSD mailing list. Date: 20 December.

The TCS Excellence in Computer Science Week will feature lectures by experts from all over the world on the topic of de-centralized and co-operative computing. The last day to apply is today, so hurry. A world-class event is happening in your backyard, and is free – why wouldn’t you go? Date: 5 to 9 January.

Other, smaller, but more regular events:

The Pune GNU/Linux Users Group meets on the first Saturday of every month, but this time they postponed it by a day due to Diwali vacations. They are meeting tomorrow (Saturday, 8th November) at 4pm. Getting involved with the open source community is a great way to sharpen your skills, improve your resume and get to know some of the most passionate techies. They also have a Code Camp coming up on November 21st.

The Pune OpenCoffee Club, a group of Pune-based entrepreneurs and expectant entrepreneurs meets regularly and informally. Just yesterday they got together for a movie courtesy Entrip.com. The POCC monthly meeting, normally on the third Saturday of every month, might happen on the 4th Saturday (22 November) this month so as to not clash with the barcamp. Keep checking the PuneTech calendar – the event will be announced there soon.

The Pune Chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMI-Pune), is a very active organization, and their regular monthly meetings happen on the second Saturday every month. That luckily happens to be tomorrow, and this time will feature three talks, one on “Six Sigma for organizational excellence”, another talk giving information on the “Right to Information” (and you have a right to have that information), and finally one on “Trends in Project Management”.

So get out there, and start networking, start volunteering. Please.

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