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On Sampada, Saaranga, WikiTrack and more...

It has been quite a while since I posted regularly here. This space has long been neglected by me and some of you following this still (I'm very thankful to you for the affection) have asked me back and again why I haven't been posting much here anymore. While there has been no particular reason why I have stayed away from posting regularly here, looking back I do realise I've lost an invaluable opportunity to share what I had written. It is not that I was writing quite regularly or wrote as much. However, much of what I wrote is just lying on my note taking tool now and some of them are not worthwhile sharing now that the moment has passed. I will still try and make an attempt to pull back some of the still relevant notes, posts from those that I had scribbled. Hopefully, this space will see some regular posts from now on.


Incidentally, hpnadig.net has now been around for exactly last 10 years and my website in itself has been around for last 12 - 13 years in various forms. Now that I recall the way this all shaped up, my interest in tinkering with this website got me introduced to some amazing open source tools like Wordpress, Drupal and others. I was a student who was fascinated by GNU/Linux and free software when I started this website close to 13 years back. Crazy about Cricket, I had so imaginatively thought this would be my book of comments on each match I'd watch and during that time, I seldom missed any. Over the years, I've gotten to a stage where I just don't get to watch Cricket matches or sometimes I just don't prefer to. And that has been one drastic change.


It is amazing how time flies - I still remember how I started blogging in Kannada by writing about rains in Bengaluru more than a decade back. One thing led to another from there and within few months, I had created a platform for an entire community of Kannada writers through Sampada. Even to this day, people recognise me better by Sampada here, in my home state. While it was never less of a challenge to keep it going, more than 10 years since its inception, it is still going strong with millions of page views each month. Although I should admit that of late, it hasn't been like the days when it was at its helm. While Facebook has taken away much of the activity from there, my inability to stay involved in day-to-day maintenance of the project does seem to have taken its toll.


What lies ahead for Sampada? well, although this project does get as challenging sometimes to talk about shutting it down permanently, we've been working to revamp the platform once again. We're restructuring it all, yet again. The focus during this however has sharply been on mobile. Apps are available for both Android and iOS for Sampada. We've been getting quite a good number of visitors through mobile, taking the average readership of good/featured articles to around 400+ from the earlier 250 - 300 and that should be quite encouraging for everyone who use it as a platform to publish. Haridasa Sampada will soon be part of Sampada main portal (rather than keeping it as a separate sub-portal). All content from that project shall be restored right inside Sampada without affecting Sampada's content structure. Some of the associated projects that haven't been getting much visitors shall be frozen or archived. The other projects that have been down for a long time now (like Krushi Sampada for instance) shall be brought back for reference as archives. Podcasts project was completely frozen due to absence of any real infrastructure or resource to ready them for publishing - we plan to bring that back soon in a slightly different way taking it quite slow nevertheless.


Planet Kannada has been quite an attraction among Kannada users on the Internet. We have been seeing rise in the users for this both on mobile and web. Again, apps are available both on Android and iOS for Planet Kannada.


What is keeping me busy? well, Saaranga has in fact been taking much of my time. Over the years, it has been a great learning. Running a firm, programming, fixing the code, getting work done, managing people, talking to the customers and providing better solutions - each responsibility has been great deal of learning on its own. Apart from all the hard work we have been doing on Drupal, we have been working on building some products on mobile.


A framework we have developed (which is still going through plenty of fine-tuning) helps rapidly roll out an advanced native app on both Android and iOS with Cloud capabilities. An app rolled out with this framework takes as less as a week to build and comes with GCM/APN, Random Ratings dialog, Google and Amazon Ads integration, FaceBook SDK integration, Custom splash, Custom layouts for specific requirements (based on HIG) and much more. To get more information on this, shoot us an email through the Saaranga Contact page
Up next from the firm are some games, most notably the ones in Indian languages. Keep watching this space for more updates on those.

 

Some apps that have been developed as pilot projects to test and fine-tune this framework include CropInfo (Android), Sampada Kannada (Android & iOS), Planet Kannada (Android & iOS) and Sampada Shravya (Android & iOS).

 

Some games developed by Saaranga include: Indian Maze (Android & iOS), Tiger and Goat (Android).
 

I have also been involved in a project titled "WikiTrack" which has turned out to be a very interesting project to work on. Working on this project has also been a great learning experience. You'll be hearing quite a bit on this space about project WikiTrack. I hope to keep away some time to talk more about it with editors on Wikimedia who'd find use for the project. This is a Wikimedia IEG funded project.
 

WikiTrack existed as an Android app, initially released for Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam and Sanskrit. These have been quite successful going by the number of downloads and active installs.
We've been re-doing this app from scratch to include all Wikimedia projects that can be covered, all languages that can be covered and most importantly, reuse components from the Wikipedia mobile app so that the app can see continuous development while also reaping on the work done by mobile team of Wikimedia. WikiTrack can be useful for contributors to track their favourite projects on the go. It presently lets Wikipedia contributors to track Recent Changes, their Watchlist and User Contributions (of any user) right on their mobile. The application is more focused on editors and because it works with multiple projects and languages, it could be handy tool for contributors. A draft release for the app for Android is up here, in case you like to test run it before the first alpha. The code is now available here.

 

Two years back when my health got affected pretty bad, I had not imagined I would come back as much I've been able to over the last year or two. Despite not being able to attend much of the public events or conferences over the last three years (this year has been an exception), things have been better if not the best. A little-one has entered our life; We've been rethinking the food we eat and have resorted mostly to millets and locally sourced grains that are healthy yet inexpensive (I hope to write more about our findings experimenting with traditionally used grains and vegetables sometime on this space). And the most significant change has probably been the chance to rediscover Pranayama. Thanks to the rich culture of Mysore City where I grew up, as kids we got a chance to learn about Pranayama in summer camps. Despite that, my knowledge of Pranayama was limited to the basics on its practice. I realised the importance of these simple sets of breathing exercises only during the last few years. The more I practice and read about it, the more it feels like science that is of immense value. It has helped me stay away from steroids and much of the medication I should have otherwise been depending on.

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