Frequently asked Questions
We try to collect the most important questions here. Please let us know if your question is not mentioned. Also feel free to edit any of those sections anytime if you have something to add!
Can I bring...
Also see our more detailed list here
...my projects and tools?
- Oh yes, you should!** Even bring your whole project group (and take some code retreat or whatever needs to be done to bring it forward) – and get fruitful exchanges with the other participants. Please let us know what things you want to bring, so that we can arrange appropriate space for you. Also bring your hard drives full with software, documents etc you want to share. Don't rely solely on the internet for being able to share data!
...my camping gear?
- Yes please**! Bring your tents, mattresses, sleeping bags, pillows, blankets, as much as you can carry!
...my trekking gear?
- Yes please**! Bring your shoes, backpacks, bottles, and all that stuff, and go for as many treks and walks you can! (click on this link to get more info on walks&treks)
- Sure you can bring your husband, kids, wife, parents, etc!** Please let us know the details well in advance, so we can help to find appropriate accommodation for you. There are plenty of things to do for non-techies, too!
...a spontaneous session?
- Yes.** Priority for venues is given to those who have submitted their proposals, but there will be facilities for sessions, discussions, working groups, and other activities that form spontaneous on-site. You will be able to schedule yourself into unused spaces. We will keep hillhacks as “un-conferenced and bar-camped” as possible.
Travel & Stay
When can I come?
Anytime from **May 21st** when the Unconference begins. The core of hillhacks starts with the Unconference on May 21st, the main conference will be June 1st to June 5th. Before and after, we will be at our Hackbase preparing the workshops and working on hillhacks itself. From August onwards, some of us will move over to the HackBeach.
When is the main conference?
From **Wed June 1st to Sun June 7th.** For ten days before the main conference, we'll have an Unconference with all sorts of activities and opportunities for interaction and learning, and before that will be the CodeCamp happening.
How do I get there?
- See the Travel&Stay page for details**. In short: Get to Delhi (DEL) and take an overnight bus to Dharamshala. Take a cab or bus to the venue. You can also fly to Amritsar/ATC (close), Chandigarh/IXC (closer) or Gaggal/DHM (closest), and take a bus/cab from there. If you like, take a train to Pathankot and from there use a bus.
How cold will it be up there?
In general it will be **around 25°C during the day, and around 15°C at night**. Be aware! We are on 2000 meters altitude, it can get down to 10°C and on the other hand side it can rise up to 30°C. Unless we hope that it won't rain, it is quite possible that there will be some thunderstorms. Be prepared! Find out more on the climate.
What about lodging and food?
- Simple shared accommodation in tents and (a few) rooms**. Also bathrooms are shared. Ladies-only spaces will the there. Simple food will be there three times a day. We also have water purifier on site for pure drinking water. See Travel&Stay page for details.
I am concerned that...
… I should rather not attend cause I am too young / too old / an introvert / a single-female / a single-male / a robot / something totally different? Read our note on providing a safe and friendly place for everyone. Last year we had all age-groups around, and still ~50% of our core-team are female! As we are surrounded by the ease of the mountains, you will always find enough space for yourself, if needed. **You have found us, that means you are at the right place, please feel welcome!**
My family is concerned that...
… this will be way too dangerous!!11!! OMG!!1! Please have a look at the blogposts from participants from hillhacks 2014 (again over 50% female-blogs), and maybe show them the report or project description (both for funding, from last year). If it helps, we can also create any kind of official paper for your parents eyes, to make it looking more official and/or educational - “It's so very important for my career”, eh? ;) If its about the travel itself, contact us, chances are pretty high that we have someone travelling same route at same dates.
At Shiv Shakti
Are there any staff on site for cleanup and maintenance?
No. We are all responsible for keeping the space clean and tidy. Please be a responsible member of our community and do your part along with all of us. If you see anything that needs maintenance or attention, please spread the word so we can give it quick attention.
Where are the bathrooms?
There are eight bathrooms with toilet and bathing facilities located in the guest rooms of the main building. We will all be sharing these bathrooms so please keep them clean for everyone's comfort.
Please do not flush any toilet paper. If you use toilet paper please dispose of it in the bins in each bathroom.
Where can I do laundry?
There is a nearby laundry which will wash your clothes for you. The price is ₹350 for 5kg (wash + dry), or ₹200 (wash only) or ₹250 (dry only). The laundry is located 20m from the main square in McLeod Ganj towards TIPA. Each bathroom has a bucket to do laundry on site by hand, and hang out to dry. Because of limited water, we ask you to use the laundromat, if possible.
Is there safe drinking water?
Yes. We have an ionising water filter for drinking water. Bottled water is available for sale in shops within a 5-10 minute walk.
What are the meals like?
We have vegetarian Indian meals three times a day - rice or chapati, pulses and sabji. Chai, fruit and biscuits, too. Breakfast is at 9, lunch at 12:30, tea at 4, and dinner at 9.
How is waste handled?
Rubbish is sorted into categories:
- Disgusting stuff you find in the woods
- Chewing gum
- Cigarette butts
- Sanitary waste (diaper/nappy, sanitary pads)
- Bottles, etc
- Broken glass
- Paper and other clean burning waste
- Upcycleable / Reusable items (Only clean/empty stuff)
- Plastic sheets
- Plastic bags
- Bubble foil
- Crisps wrapper
- Everything else (in case of doubt)
- Dirty/Small tetrapaks
Please sort ALL rubbish into these categories and use the rubbish bins on the ground floor of the main building. There is a bin for organic waste in the kitchen where we wash our dishes. This bin is emptied into our compost system.
What happens if I don't sort my trash?
Then someone else (one of us) has to do it by picking through the rubbish bins. That's disgusting, so please do sort your own when you dispose of it.
In addition to our online methods (mailing list and IRC), we have signs and a daily schedule on paper in the common areas of the venue. You'll find them near the supplies and workbenches on the first floor (unless we move them to a better place).
We also have group meetings at dinner time to discuss the coming day's activities and share notices and other information.
Any hazards or dangers to watch out for?
Just a few. The owner raises guard dogs, who are behind a fence. Please say away from them. Some paths at Shiv Shakti are rough with loose rocks. Watch your step and use a light at night. There are monkeys in the area and they do steal food from rooms and tents so please keep all food in the “own kitchen” and keep the door to the kitchen closed. .
Become a part of us!
How do I signup?
How do I submit a talk/workshop/session?
Can I participate in the organizing, too?
I want to volunteer and participate on-site...
… but I don't want to organize or give a talk or a workshop. **No worries**, there will be plenty of things to give a hand to, besides organization and giving sessions. Find more: participate and teams.
How can I get in touch?
Please see the Contact hillhacks page on the wiki.
I wrote in my blog/website/foo/bar about hillhacks...
…can I leave the URL somewhere? **Yes please**, we wanna know all your stories! GOTO media and place your link there!
Are we going to be excellent to each other?
- Yes, we all will be excellent to each other, to provide a safe and friendly place for everyone – regardless of origin, birth, age, cast, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or any other outstanding element. We want to interact with each other truthfully and honestly at all times.**
Infrastructure & Equipment
What about network connection?
- Yes, we do have such** a things even up there in the mountains! Please use the network wisely, responsible and never rely totally on its availability. Private carriers also serve a good 3G connection. Find more on this.
- Power is directly coming** from the mountains via hydroelectric plant stations, and is therefore fairly reliable. There will be a basic power backup on site, but please shut down your soldering irons and geysers if the power goes. Usually it comes back after some minutes, please have a break if using high power load.
What tools and hardware are available?
- We have multiple** Laptops Thinkpad X61s for workshops and coding, and we have some soldering irons, desoldering, hot air stations, variable power supplies, multimeters, assorted e-waste for repair/repurpose/component salvage, breadboards, some IC's, transistors and other components. Also we have a ground stock of hand-carpentry tools. See tools for more.
What do I have to pay?
This year we haven't had the time to raise any funds. Still we are trying hard to keep the costs low and stay on the price between 500 and 2000 INR per day. In order to cover the costs and subsidize others, we kindly ask you to pay as much as you can! Find out more!
Yay, that's cheap!
Great! You are very much welcome to pay more, so that we can support others who couldn't afford to come otherwise.
Way too expensive!
We hope we will be able to support you if you cannot pay for it yourself. Please write to us and convince us to support you! The chance to support you is greater if you submit a talk or workshop or get involved in whatever other way *hint* :D
How is hillhacks financed?
We depend on volunteers, your donations, and funding from partners and supporters. Organizers, presenters and all other contributors are not paid; all the work is done free and voluntarily. We write for grants and have received some independent funding in the past. We've been able to sustain hillhacks in 2015 and 2016 through your donations!
We try to stay free from any commercial entities. Let's see if this will continue to work in the future. The more you support us, the more we'll be able to continue to be independent, autonomous and not dependent on any person, company, or any other entity. We don't want any corporate entity exerting influence on the event or event content.
Thanks for that question, we also find it extermely important to know where the money for the community is coming from. hillhacks is based on a very small budget. If you calculate time, money donations and other ways of free and private contributions, one can say the money is actually coming from the heart.
Why are you guys doing all this?
Not easy to explain. Come up and see yourself.
And who are you anyway?
- An open coalition of independent community volunteers**. Based in Dharamsala/India, but the volunteers are a composition from different countries all over the world. So we are just a group of people spending time and tools. Find out more on our page on the hillhackers.
And where does this come from?
My web browser is warning me about security and certificates, should I worry?
We've transitioned to Let's Encrypt, so most modern browsers shouldn't be showing any warnings. If you're getting warnings please let us know at mai[at]hillhacks[dot]in
We were earlier using a CAcert signed SSL certificate. If you want to know more about self-signed certificates and Internet security, this article is a good place to start. Another one use g-translate to English).
What do you mean by hacking?
In our case, hacking encompasses all forms of creative modification of hardware and software and other systems. Want more details? Listen to the podcast that discusses this (and more).
Some answers for Foreign Visitors
How is it with the Visa?
Please let us know if you need any support like invitation letters etc. Germans do get visa on arrival up to 30 days of stay, starting in 2015 only.
What about mobile internet?
Please let us know in advance what you want to have. Please contact us for the details. The costs would be approximately around 5/6 EUR/USD for 1GB via 3G.
Wall outlets have three round holes arranged in a triangle. The power is 230V 50 Hz. You can get world-plug adapters (pictured) locally, and some with surge protection. Many power strips and multi-plug extensions in India come with so-called world-plugs so you can plug in whatever you like; it will fit.
What about injections, malaria, and such things?
The official recommendation on injections varies depending on the part of India you're visiting. There are barely any mosquitoes up here, so Malaria isn't a problem. If you are staying long term, you may want to get a tetanus booster and/or hepatitis vaccinations.
What if I get sick?
The medical infrastructure is quite good. In Rakkar we even have an Austrian Lady running a hospital. You might wanna have some imodium with you, as the chance for foreigners to get an upset stomach once is undeniable. We will also have some basic medicine on site.
Can I get around with English language?
Almost everyone out here is able to speak and understand English. It's still nice to learn a local language (Hindi and Tibetan in this case), but you will get around well enough with English.