My GNOME OPW internship takes off!

The eagerly awaited 17th of June came and went. My GNOME OPW internship took off. I am now into the 7th day of it and blog updates are in order. Here’s the first of a handful of installments.

Day 1

Day 1 was a funny (in hindsight) concoction of anticipation and apprehension, more apprehension than anticipation.

My mentors at OTI, one of my co-interns and I were supposed to have a Google Hangout to become familiar with one another and talk business. While some of us had already been interacting on IRC and over email on a one-to-one basis, it was going to be the first meeting of the OTI-OPW team as a whole. Naturally, we were all excited. Add to that the charm of a video chat and you can gauge just how much we were looking forward to the rendezvous.

Now comes the twist. Every story has one. How could mine be an exception? For quite a few days preceding our meeting, my internet connection had been having mood swings: now ecstatic, now depressed. On the 16th, when I received Seamus’ (one of my mentors) email declaring that there was going to be a Hangout the next day, I had a hunch my connection was going to be a killjoy. Most of my hunches go wrong. So, I hoped for the best. But I had another hunch that my hunch was going to be right this time.

Come 17th and my internet began to behave just as I had feared it was going to. For every 5 minutes of connectivity, there were 55 minutes of “disconnectivity”! As the day passed, my anxiety rose. I could neither afford to miss the meeting nor to look unprofessional. I decided to insure myself and got an internet pack enabled on my phone. “Should my broadband not work, I have something to fall back upon”, I thought. But, but… this was going to be a twist-full story. And so, my standby internet connection also ditched me. Neither tethering nor Wi-Fi hotspot would work. More anxiety! I just had to do something. Around 6 pm (Indian Standard Time), during one of those 5 minutes of good luck, I pinged my co-intern on IRC, apprising her of my situation and requesting her to inform Seamus, if I were not seen around. A couple of minutes later, almost miraculously, my broadband stabilized. All those hours passed in nervousness were merrily forgotten. I had reason to cheer at last. Or did I?

At 8.30 pm, Seamus sent me a link to the Hangout. I am not a social media person at all. So, it was my first time at the Hangouts. Google spent some time downloading the plugins. As soon as the plugins were installed, I saw three screens appear in front of me. The first one had the OTI group (I could only figure out Seamus), the second one showed Georgia Bullen (also from OTI) and the third had my co-intern Megan Bui. I was introduced to the group. I said hi in return. Then, Seamus began to say (or was it ask?) something, but whatever he said was completely incomprehensible. The audio was very much in place, but the quality of it was not. It was my internet connection, playing spoilsport once again!

I conveyed my inability to understand anything of what anyone was saying. Seamus suggested we move to Skype and soon we were all of us on Skype. I could hear several voices from the OTI group’s end, but strangely wasn’t able to connect to the call. They decided to complete the call with Megan alone and to get back to me later. After a few minutes, I got the call back. This time, I was able to connect, but could still not understand a thing. I started to feel really bad about putting everyone to so much inconvenience. Reluctantly, I informed them that their voices, even though audible, were unclear. It was no point continuing. We ended the call, but on Preston Rhea’s (one of my two mentors from Commotion’s field team) suggestion decided to carry on with the conversation, this time on the phone!

The phone call arrived. There was Ryan Gerety (my other mentor from the field team) and Preston on the other end. The audio quality was poor even on the phone, but not as bad as on Hangout or Skype. We just about managed to talk. They detailed my first task and gave me a day’s time to follow up with them (mercifully, on the email!).

The call lasted some 20 minutes, and left me feeling relieved and embarrassed, both at the same time. Relieved because despite all the hurdles, I was able to have some form of meeting with my mentors, and embarrassed because I caused such nuisance to them. The OTI team, however, was extremely understanding, which fact took the sting out of an otherwise unpleasant experience :)


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Posted in GNOME Outreach Program for Women
2 comments on “My GNOME OPW internship takes off!
  1. Kat says:

    You may want to investigate getting a SIP account as voice only should be easier on your connection than voice & video.

    • Shailja says:

      Hi Kat,

      Under normal circumstances, my connection can handle voice and video quite well. It was a temporary problem having its origin in the torrential rains characteristic of the Indian monsoon. But your suggestion of getting a SIP account is great and I am certainly going to explore it. Thanks!!

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