My experience at IEEE GHTC 2012

I am presently doing my third year B-tech in Computer Science from College Of Engineering, Trivandrum. I recently got the opportunity to attend the IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference held at Seattle, USA.

IEEE stands for Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. It is considered the world’s largest professional association for the advancement of technology. The organization serves as a major publisher of scientific journals and organizer of conferences, workshops, and symposia. It is also a leading standards development organization for the development of industrial standards (having developed over 900 active industry technical standards) in a broad range of disciplines, including electric power and energy, information technology, telecommunications, consumer electronics, aerospace, and nanotechnology. The motto of the organization being “Advancing Technology for Humanity”, it organizes a Global Humanitarian Technology Conference every year. The key idea of the conference is to discuss humanitarian aspects of engineering, promote projects on social welfare, present and publish technical papers on humanitarian grounds and meet up with like minded engineers from around the world.

Most engineering colleges have IEEE student branches where student members meet up, conduct workshops, talks and other technical events. The IEEE Student Branch of my college had initiated a project – “Automated Online Bloodbank Database Management “with technical support from IEEE Kerala Section, last year. The idea was to make the process of finding a blood donor from nearby locality easier and faster. We created a system consisting of a real-time updated database of donors and an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system wherein someone in urgent need of blood can call up a pre-determined number and enter his required blood group and pin code. Our system will find the most eligible donor based on these criteria and route the call to the prospective donor directly. Myself and 3 seniors of our college had written a technical paper on the project and submitted for GHTC 2012. It got selected among the top 5 papers globally for the Student Paper Contest.

I attended the conference which was held from Oct 20 to 24th on behalf of our team. The flight was via Dubai international airport and took a total of about 21 hours. I was accompanied by Kiran RajMohan, presently doing second year B-Tech in Electronics and Communication in our college and Jery Althaf, presently a fellow at Young India Fellowship program who is also our college alumni. Kiran’s poster on ‘Automobile Safety Using Smartphones’ was selected among top 5 for the student poster contest and Jery was presenting a paper on ‘Low Cost Rural Electrification Using Solar Energy’. The journey was pleasant. Our travel expenses were funded by IEEE. The conference was held at Hotel Renaissance, where our stay was also arranged by IEEE. The time zone at Seattle is 12.30 hours behind that of ours.

The conference was formally flagged off with a reception and dinner party on Oct 20th evening. From 21st onwards, there were 4 parallel tracks where more than 200 papers were presented on topics ranging from Energy, Disaster, Water & Agriculture, Connectivity and Communication etc. Each day began with a Plenary by personalities like Krista Bauer, Director for Global Programs for GE Foundation etc. This was followed by a panel discussion on crucial topics chaired by eminent personalities from UNESCO, UN Sustainable Energy 4 All (SE4ALL) etc. Attendees were given the opportunity to raise their questions at the end of each session. We were lucky to have Mr. Satish Babu, Chair of IEEE Kerala Section and Director for International Centre for Free & Open Source Software (ICFOSS) and Mr. Amarnath Raj, Chair IEEE SIGHT and CEO of InApp from Kerala at the conference. The three of us went out for local sight seeing with them on OCt 20th. Kiran had to put up his poster and explain it to interested attendees during each break. His contest also had a public voting component for final evaluation.The remaining two of us stayed back helping him with promotion at times and also went about attending interesting sessions and meeting new people.

On 23rd evening, both Kiran and myself presented our poster and paper resp. Afterwards, we headed out to attend the Hoover Medal Award Ceremony whose recipient this year was Shri. N.R. Narayana Murthy (co-founder of Infosys). The event was held at the topmost floor (76th) of Columbia Tower Club, the tallest building in pacific northwest North America. The view of Seattle from there was a sight to behold. We also got an opportunity to congratulate Mr. Murty and acquaint with many eminent personalities.
After the event, we met up with students of different countries including US, Japan, Jamaica, Indonasia etc and decided to hangout together. So later on, we all met up in my room where we discussed ideas, future plans, experiences etc and also watched a movie. It was a wonderful opportunity to network with like minded engineers from around the world.

On 24th morning Jery presented his paper. It was live-streamed through GHTC website. Afterwards we got out for local sight seeing. We bought Seattle city passes which entitled us to visit 6 of the city’s popular attractions which are the Space Needle, Seattle Aquarium, Pacific Science Museum, EMP museum, The Museum Of Flight and the harbour. We managed to visit 3 of these on 24th before returning to the hotel to attend the closing plenary and award ceremony. I was able to secure second position for the student paper contest. The first position was bagged by Mr. Eobin George, who is also from India (IISc, Bangalore) for his paper on “Disaster Surveillance using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles”. We managed to visit 2 more locations on 25th before heading to the airport and coming back.

The key take backs from my trip was the opportunity to get to know like minded engineers from different parts of the world. I hope to follow up and collaborate with at least some of them in the future. Also, there was lot to learn from a cultural perspective. Most importantly, everyone is very polite there. Standing in an elevator or queue, one will be baffled by the courtesy with which everyone greets each other and interacts. Cleanliness and hygiene also seem very important to them, quite evident from the way even the streets are maintained. I look forward to sharing this experience with my college mates and hopefully enable more of them to participate in such conferences in the future.

I am very grateful to my co-authors, IEEE kerala section, MobMe (a telecom company based in Kochi who provided technical assistance), my family and friends for supporting and motivating me throughout the whole period. Last but not the least, I am thankful to Navodaya (my school) for moulding me and inculcating the confidence and values required to take such tasks head-on.

More details about the conference can be found at:
http://www.ieeeghtc.org/
http://ieeeghtc.wordpress.com/

More photos taken during the visit can be found at:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.434548929928378.105674.100001198237798&type=1&l=a66cbcc937

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The 55444 hackathon

The hackathon that changed everything!

 

This is a post I have been longing to write. The hackathon (or hacking marathon) was held on 14th and 15th of July 2012. 

I heard about the hackathon a few weeks before and registered then itself. But unable to make it to Banglore alone, I had to scrap the plan. #disappointed. Then a few days before the hack, I got a call from Innoz saying that they have a provision for offline participation. #hope. I assured my offline presence. Fast-forward to 12th July night. I recieved a call from my college senior Sharan Thampi saying that Startup Village was arranging a bus from Cochin to Banglore for the hackathon. He said that they have 4 seats reserved and that they are willing to give those seats to interested programmers. #bloundlessjoy

So now it was upto me to get 3 more people on board. An all paid trip to banglore is hard to resist. 🙂 So by July 13th afternoon, myself, and three of my classmates boarded the train to Cochin. Vishnu, Royce and Venki. And guess what, though they were excellent programmers, they didn’t know much web development.

The journey from cochin was an interesting one. We started off by about 10.30PM. Met a lot of students from other colleges, interacted etc. #nicetrip. But one tyre kept getting punchured after every 150 KM or so. So after a total of 3 punctures (after I boarded), we managed to reach Banglore Innoz office. The event started by 11.00AM and we made it there by 2PM. Went in, wrote our ideas, collected our goodies bag and sped of to have breakfast. We missed the Keynote. 😦 

Afterwards we were given a quick intro on how the app. platform works by Mr.Hisam. 

Then we got cracking. I had learnt PHP earlier. So, on  14th morning, we were busy honing our PHP skills. 

to be continued..

 

 

Attachment Improvements

phpBB GSoC Project- Attachment Improvements

Attachment_improvements

Multiple file upload presently implemented. Screenshot from my localhost.

My free hosting at rahulr92.x10.mx is currently acting up. I will upload the phpbb installation as soon as they fix it or I get hold of a new hosting service. (planning to buy myself a domain-name and some server space).

The present integration with plupload is quite priliminary. The main objective was to test:

  • multiple uploads
  • upload progress and queue
  • chunking of large files

The upload to the files/ directory is presently being performed by plupload. I plan to completely integrate plupload with phpBB and provide the present uploader as a fallback mechanism. Also, an option to add comments to each file will have to be added.

Tabulating Life

As expected, I was unable to update my web log for quite a time. Been busy with so must things at hand. Got some time now, and thought I would post something worthwhile.

After tweaking chrome for productivity, I have got this organising craze. I am feeling that lot of data in our lives are getting wasted. Thoughts, ideas and actions get blurred in in the depths of our memory as the time speeds past. I have searched far and wide for the ultimate organising tool, which can store our life (or pieces of it) in a structured manner such that it can be informative at a later stage. The closest I could find was the ‘FlexLists’.

To get an idea about what I am talking, check out this link:

http://flexlists.com/view.php?list_id=19024#

It is just a sort of database, which we can easily design, manipulate and maintain. We can just enter the no. of columns we want, type of data that goes into each of these etc. It even sorts the data as per any column we choose. In the above link, there was a list containing abbreviations which I had seen in the internet, what they stand for, and a short description as to what they are. One can choose to make a list private or public, e-mail it, share it, take print outs etc.

The possibilities are endless. I have many lists (some private) which are tabulating various details that I tend to forget. I dont have to sit in front of it and fill it up with details. Infact, each row is added at different points of time. Let me show another one, which relates more to life:

http://flexlists.com/view.php?list_id=19021

It lists all the movies I have seen starting from 7th July 2011. I have rated the movies based on how I felt after watching it, and have written brief reviews accordingly. The idea is not to show off to someone what all movies I have seen. Rather while adding each movie, I have to look up its director, its cast etc which makes me atleast wiki them and thereby be more informed. I will also have an idea of the number of movies I see and can extract various statistical details based on language, rating etc (sort them, search “column name”:”keyword”, use AND, OR etc). Also at a later stage of life, these lists will be a fun to read through.

As I said, the possibilities are endless.

Productivity and Chrome

More on productivity, just as I said. Productivity is a measure of output from a production process, per unit of input (wiki). Another term: Knowledge work productivity is the measure of the efficiency and effectiveness of the output generated by workers who mainly rely on knowledge, rather than labour, during the production process. Well, these might cover productivity in its broadest aspect but what prompted me to write this blog is something different. I recently switched over to Google Chrome from a multitude of other browsers (opera,IE and Firefox). My point is not that Chrome is the best (it might be), over which a lot of high-profile flame wars can be seen in most forums. But the reason I switched over is important. I am juggling between different OSes on a daily basis (Ubuntu,Vista, Win7 etc) and I was finding it very difficult to keep track of  my internet proceedings. I could be seen copying files from one system to other, importing bookmarks, saving websites for later reading etc. I was also maintaining a scribbling pad for sake of easiness.Recently one of my drives crashed, where by I lost lot my data and my bookmarks, settings etc which were collected over a long period. I decided this should end. Then I came to know of Chrome, its app store and most imp. its Productivity section. I found out just the things I were looking for. Chrome installs apps/extensions almost instantly. I tried many and finally managed to strike up a fine balance btw productivity and coordination. I now use Quick Note to jot down points and notes, diigo extention to bookmark, highlight and share annoted links, google dictionary to get instant meanings and Read Fast Later to mark pages for later reading without cluttering my bookmarks. And the best part is google automatically syncs my data between the different systems (beauty of cloud). So no more hussle. I suppose apps like these would help us focus more on the content or matter in hand leaving the organizing work to the machines. Now that is ‘Productivity’ in my context.

p.s. I just wasted about 20 mins writing this and more gravely I am starting to like this!

 

Hello World

The title seems self-explanatory. But one may ask, why the second blog is given the revered ‘Hello World’ title? Its because, in the beginning, this blog was created for a particular purpose i.e. as one of the tasks to qualify as a ‘ninja’ in the ‘Stalk Ninja‘ website. Speaking of which, SN is a novel and innovative venture which redefines freelancing in the context of Indian college students. Till date, I haven’t been able to complete or even attempt any of their projects. But I am working on that. So, as I was saying, I setup the blog that day, submitted it and forgot about it. I hadn’t planned to or rather never even considered writing a blog. It seemed a total waste of time, which those ‘fancy’ people do. So am I trying to be one of them? Well then, hear me out: Of course not. Now it’s been some time since I have started feeling the need to organize my thoughts, ideas and most importantly, the things I learn in a productive way (more on what I mean by that on a later post). Yup, I have tried most of the easier ways starting from pen & paper to todo lists, bookmarks, extensions and all those.I wouldn’t be writing stories, poems or other musings of my life (not much either) in this blog. But I would try to write what I do write, things pertaining to Comp.Science mostly, in an organized way so that at a later stage, these might come handy to myself or someone else interested. I know that the time I spend in documenting these itself would take a heafty toll on the so-called productivity. So I have decided to keep the posts short and crisp with only the core-of-what-matters. This also means that I wouldnt be caring much for the language or spellings or other seemingly irrelevant details, do bear with me. So wrapping up for now.

Thx

 

P.S: As of 2013, StackNinja seems to have been shutdown. I completed two tasks while it was operational.

Blog of an open source technocrat

Note: This was a dummy blog post created as part of a project. Details here – https://rahulr92.wordpress.com/2011/07/07/hello-world/

Introduction to Open Source: Introduction Section
Advantages of Open Source Software

 

Many people like Open Source for many reasons, here is an overview of some of the more important reasons. You can read through these if you’re not sure you want to try Open Source yet, or you can continue to the pages describing actual programs you can use.
Security: Open Source Software suffers from fewer security vulnerabilities than Microsoft products.
Features: Open Source programs tend to have more advanced features and customizability than proprietary products
Cost: Open Source Software is FREE. You pay nothing for a very high quality product.
Community: In the Open Source development community, any skilled individual can contribute to projects in many ways.
Security

 

Open Source Software packages are almost always more secure than proprietary options, especially Microsoft. In fact, the US Computer Emergergency Readiness Team has recomended using web browsers other than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, and many people are turning to the Open Source Firefox web browser for a more secure solution. Furthermore, a large percentage of the Internet’s web servers use an Open Source linux server running Apache, because it is more secure than Microsoft’s own IIS web server technology.
Features

 

Because Open Source programs are often programmed by people who use them, they tend to have much more advanced features. The Firefox web browser for example has dozens of extensions made by users for for advanced searching capabilities, mouse gestures, and more. The Linux operating system has commands like dd (for raw copying) readily available which would require advanced knowledge to replicate on Windows. Also, if a feature you want is not available, you can email the programmer and ask for it, or if you know enough, you can do it yourself because the source code is always available!. For an expert system administrator, people who use computers for a large portion of the day, or even someone who wants to be able to do more, Open Source programs offer far more flexibility and power.
Cost

 

Open Source Software is FREE! That’s right, you can install a version of Linux with Open Office for free, and you will be able to go online, type documents, create spreadsheets, and email friends without paying for any expensive software at all. It’s that easy.
Community

 

In the Open Source community, any individual can take the freely available source code of any project, modify it to suit their needs back, and release it back into the community. This is one of the reasons that Open Source programs can be so good, because many people work on them to give them high quality features. The Open Source Community is also free of the predatory business practices of companies like Microsoft.