Tag Archives: engineering and technology

Data portability on social networks : Bain or Boon ?

[starrating]Last week’s Trend Candy (Trendhunter’s weekly newsletter) got me a catchy piece of news in their Hot trends section. The head line went like “Celebrity MySpace Hacking – Paris Hilton & Lindsay Lohan’s Private Pics (GALLERY)”. After being a spectator to most of their private videos, the ‘private pics’ dint lure me as much as the phrase ‘data interoperability’ which was featured as a teaser for the aforementioned trend.
I decided to Google the phrase ‘data portability” and came up with the observations:

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Microsoft Imagine Cup winners are Novices at Work

Paras Doshi, Veenit Mavani, Saili Dharia,Krunal Dedhia and Bhavik Vora from Vivekananda Education Society’s Institute of Technology(VESIT) called themselves ‘Novices at Work’ when they unveiled their masterpiece Kalpavriksha’ at Microsoft Imagine Cup 2008,Bangalore.

As their fate had it, the underdogs emerged triumphant at the software development contest of the Micrsoft Imagine Cup India finals and are all geared up to head to Paris this July for the World finale of the same Contest. We get up close with them and get it right from the geek’s mouth.

  • How does it feel, after winning IC India, in the Software design Competition?

VM: It feels great especially since we had been there last year and we knew we could pull it off this time. We felt we were a bit under prepared last time, however we did our homework this time and made sure we dint leave any stone unturned.

SD: It feels like im almost on the top of the world;Ill be there when we get to france!! But,seriously, its an amazing feeling and i sincerely wish we cross a milestone in france too.

PD: From the moment our team’s name was announced by Mr. Ravi Venkatesan (Chairman MSFT India) till today, I have been reminding myself that this is not a dream.

  • What got u guys geared up for IC?

VM: This year’s theme environment seemed extremely challenging and it seemed our only way to payback to mother nature for all the atrocities that we do/commit and besides it was more about finishing the job we that we left half way last year.

PD: VESIT’s R&D lab has been working on development of Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) for the past two year. For creating sustainable environment, constant monitoring of climatic parameters is imperative. Here’s where WSNs play an important role. So basically we were geared up for the theme even before it was announced.

  • What made u team up together? Elaborate each individuals exclusivity

PD: To win IC one needs a team with great variety in talents. Ours is one such team. We call SD as PR GURU. She is amazing at handling corporate level presentations. By the way she’s already placed in Microsoft(MSFT). KD has a knack of working with MSFT technologies. VM is great at CS intricacies and coding. I have been working on integration of WSNs with .NET technology for quite sometime.

SD: Well, we all have our traits but work perfectly as a team. Krunal’s extremely resourceful and knowledgeable, Paras is hell bent on finishing something once its begun, Veenit can get things done faster than you can blink..So, All of us coming together for IC was just a equation that fit perfectly.

  • Tell us something about your project and how is it in line with the MS sentiment of exploring your own creativity by creating software design solutions that enable a sustainable environment.

    PD: Our project ‘Kalpavriksha’ is a decision support system for precision agriculture. It breaks the conventional approach of considering farm lands as homogeneous. Instead we divide the whole land into smaller site to perform site specific crop management. We employ WSN to monitor the in-field variability of the soil and climatic parameters. Based on the collected sensor data, our application tries to optimize the utilization of agro-resources. Our main aim is to make sure that each site produces maximum yield. Agriculture has faced a major setback because of low yield and Kalpavriksha tries to solve it. This is how our solution adheres to IC’s theme.

  • What was it like to present in front of stalwarts from GE, IIMa, NASSCOm etc ? What was your strategy?
    Its an honor to present in front of eminent personalities however the experience was worth taking the effort. Their thought process was way superior, as they delved into the intricacies of the system as if devouring each part of it and then cross questioning to test the knowledge of the presenter.

    SD: Well, its was intimidating to present in front of such knowledgeable people but they were perfect listeners and caught on to every word that was said. Their questions were also engineered with an outlook that was different from most people.

  • Did you guys get a pat on the back from any venture capitalist? What are the future prospects of this project?

VM: We did get encouragement via the panelists on stage. However R. K Misra showed keen interest in out project. He has an ongoing project called ‘change India and feels that out project fits in line with it. We will be contacting him soon. Moreover we also will be getting training from IIMA’s Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship regarding A-Z of incubation of projects and entrepreneurship. We are eagerly looking forward to it although it clashes with our Univ exams, we are ready to take on the challenge and make the most of the opportunity provided to us by Microsoft.

PD: Mr. Misra was really interested in our project. His speech inspires us to complete this project from a prototype to a complete system.

· Gyaan for the kids: ?who can goto IC

BV: Imagine cup is for those who can think creatively. Also it not only inspires u but also helps you to realise your potential by bringing the best out of you. Imagine cup is where talent meets innovation. IC is all around a theme that is a real problem. Its not a theme actually (but a real world problem).

SD: Imagine cup is all about the right mix of passion and dedication. You think your innovation can be implemented, then get out there and show everybody. Its all about making this world a better place using your innovative thoughts. So, your imagination->your implementation

KD: Imagine cup is, as(the) name suggest more of imagination and innovation. You need to take a step further to think above all (the) solutions available and proceed. It can be perceived as finding out new (a) solution or looking (at an) old solution in a new way and bettering it.

VM: Anybody who has passion for technology and thinks he has got in him what it takes to compete with the most innovative minds in the world can take part in the competition. All one needs is, to come up with a wacky idea in congruence with the theme and then build on it using Microsoft technologies.

· How was it to have a fellow batchmate(Bhavik Vora) to mentor the team?

SD: Bhavik’s been a constant supporter and helped us out of many rough areas. He’s really creative and has always been more confident about our team than we could ever be.

VM: Although quite a few people think that mentor should be some one older , however we feel a ,mentor is someone who can lead us and guide us. Bhavik did exactly that. He always kept on adding bits and pieces to our project idea trying to make it complete on all fronts. Moreover another advantage one has with a mentor of the same age is that there is zero communication barrier and hence easy flow of ideas and guidance.

KD: A mentor is friend at first place and Bhavik was really (the) one we needed. He has knowledge , brains (and he) knew us through .We couldn’t have expected more or given out more without him.

· Bhavik, tell us about your last years stint at IC that eventually got you placed at Microsoft.

BV: Well, the (top) ten teams were going be interviewed for the intership. I got through the tele-interview and had done an internship of 6 weeks. Well after that it was a cakewalk. The interview for recruitment was a formality.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales at Techfest ’08

“Imagine a world where anybody has access to the sum of human knowledge”
And if Wikipedia is the first search result that you imagined, then you’re right there!
Jimmy Wales, the funder of Wikipedia was in town and the quote above was according to him responsible for the Genesis of the revolutionary encyclopedia.

Wales walked up the dais to a standing ovation by the enthusiastic crowd only to figure out a mic failure at IITB’s convocation hall. However the dint goof up for too long and Wales announced to that in addition to the Techfest trophy just given out ( to IITB of course), he’d like to give out another award to the crowd: that of the biggest audience he has ever addressed.

Wales presented on the history of Wikipedia, its present and the future course of path.He emphasized on the importance of the collaboration culture while giving out various facts and figures that also included a video of the Wiki projects in Africa.

Wales’ philosophy of a collaborative culture is to make things as open and public as possible ad keep open the possibility of spontaneous goodwill and discover the bad possibilities in the due course as against the very popular idea of apprehending the negative outcomes and taking precautions in advance.
He thinks, by doing this we can make it cheaper for a person to do good deeds and raise the cost of the bad deeds/possibilities. Wikipedia blocks users and IP addresses to moderate content and keep away the bad guys.

Wales also stated the importance of blogging and that the best of bloggers are akin to the opinion columnists at the NYT.

  • When asked about the uncyclopedia, Jimmy Wales said that he loved the spoof so much that they bought it and is now a part of wikipedia.
  • On Google’s Knol: A leading magazine had nicked him as a threat to Google, but Wales says they’re friendly with Google and Knol is not a competitor because of its nature of operation.
  • On when will Wiki saturate: Wikipedia English may be done with on this Tuesday, or maybe Wednesday.. its like a lot of new info is coming up and we cant really say when we’ll be done with. But theres a lot of scope in the other languages especially Indian and African languages.

Jimmy Wales if not the best orator Ive heard is certainly got the vision it needs to change the walk of world. All in all, hes not another brick in the wall.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are solely the author’s and are subjective.They are not intended to influence,offend or hurt anybody living or dead.The articles may have a tendency to be satirical and or sarcastic.

BarCamp Techfest 01

Its been long since I wanted to be at a BarCamp, and finally i got a chance this Sunday at Techfest ’08 IITB .Before listing my notes Id like to share what fascinated me in this concept and a little insight about what a BarCamp is all about.

The barcamp has got nothing to do with the booze and the bar.This concept was started by Chris Messina and the name is inspired by FooCamp that has restricted membership. The BarCamp is an open platform to share and gain knowledge in an informal way. Its like one of those dream classrooms where you don’t need permission to walk in or out and you could do that even mid way if you’re not enjoying the discussion; just to walk into another classroom. As far as the discussions go, anybody can take up center stage for about 20-30 min max and present on any topic to an audience who’re either wi-fied with their laptops or just glued to their notepads. In fact I just missed this little school kid present on an offbeat topic, and boy! The kid was all pepped up with his laptop as a member of the audience later.The BarCamp also exhibits tremendous potential in terms of a networking platform. The boards outside these classrooms had various chits stuck onto them offering job opportunities and collaboration invitations; I just happened to get a freelance opportunity because of this. Moreover, the BarCamp has no shape, you can mould it the way you want to. A couple of entrepreneurs exploited this fundaa to launch their companies at BarCamp Techfest.

1) Mykavita.com launched. A webportal based on the wordpress platform supported by the creative commons liscencing that allows users to upload poems in various Indian languages.

2) Language translation is a highly sought after tool on the internet. Research on ease of translation from any given language to any other language and vice versa(not just english to langage x and vice versa).

3)Mobile devices going a long way with the open source platform. If there ain’t Linux down ur mobile phone , you better shove it up or get one with it.

4) Nokia cellphones not to be addressed as ‘cellphones’. They are refered to as ‘computers’ at their Finland base. Its akin to a crime for an employee to use the term ‘phone’.

5)The ipod touch has everything that an iphone has except phone calls and smses. Atul chitnis recommends the pod ,as the phone has poor voice quality and can send only a single sms at the time(no group smses).

6)Open Moko, the ope souce phone has come up with an improved GUI and a rare 640×480 touchscreen.

7)The major cost of developing a cellphone lies in the software and not in its hardware.

8) BarCamp Rocks!
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are solely the author’s and are subjective.They are not intended to influence,offend or hurt anybody living or dead.The articles may have a tendency to be satirical and or sarcastic.

Elecrama ’08: the industrial electronics hub

Its not the best thing to do when you decide to visit Elecrama on the last day, not only do u gasp at its humongous outreach as a first timer but you are also left asking for more.

    Ive been postponing my visit to this international industrial electronics exhibition ever since my first year in Electronics engineering, but now in the final year , the guilt was to high to ignore, so i made a business class visit with my uncle.
    Elecrama ’08 in its eight year had over 1000 exhibitors in addition to select student projects spread across the entire areas of the Bombay Exhibhition Center. That just explains why people ain’t done in a day(no pun intended).The event was held for four days and manifested a smooth and delightful visit for the guests.

    VESIT has been consistently winning the trophy in the students category, and this year too they bagged the first and third prizes from among the five projects they submitted.The winners had designed an excellent solution for industrial power distribution by making it completely wireless(thats like wi-fi switch controls for machines from a central room). The runners up were from K.J Somaiya’s Baraccuda team (the F1 car they recently produced), but the project was to lame for the second place. Why would you replace a remote by a wheel-paddle setup to drive a toy car with a camera? Well engineers don’t take Economics too seriously, so real estate is literally a bubble.The 2nd runners up again from VESIT, had presented a prototype of an uber cool wireless telemetry system named ‘Scryer'(see pic). Apart from technical excellence, the VESIT exhibitors manifested professionalism in their attire, presentation ; they even had brochures stocked to distribute akin to the industrial exhibitors, that made my uncle ask what exactly was I doing in this engineering college,just to get back a smirk.

    All said and done, this place is certainly worth a visit if you looking for some kind of a solution for your business or just wish to keep yourself abreast with the latest happenings in the industrial field

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are solely the author’s and are subjective.They are not intended to influence,offend or hurt anybody living or dead.The articles may have a tendency to be satirical and or sarcastic.