Author - LEE – Find and compare your favorite members of parliament before you vote!

“Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka” that’s the actual name of our country. So, we are a democratic country – what does that mean. Wikipedia says: Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens participate equally—either directly or through elected representatives—in the proposal, development, and creation of laws. In most modern democracies, the whole body of all eligible citizens remain the sovereign power but political power is exercised indirectly through elected representatives; this is called representative democracy.

Elected representatives, in other words members of parliament are representing you and is elected by you for that reason. Ever wondered whether there could be a better way to know what how good the MPs you’ve elected has done representing you? But, who has the time and energy to spent reviewing PMs once they are PMs. We all wait for the next election to do our job. Isn’t it? Even then, aren’t we too overwhelmed with the recency effect of the media flimflams during the election time? logo

For the first time in Sri Lanka, here is a tool is available to systematically gauge performance of MPs by the use of parliament records. is a trilingual web which is designated to provide you with the profiles of MPs with a score card based on activities of the parliament. For that they use parliamentary Hansard as the source of information. Contribution to various important topics discussed in the parliament is considered a positive remark whereas disruptions to parliament and impeding its functions is considered as a negative remark.

It also has a profile for each MP with their educational background, contact details and social media details where ever possible which should ideally create the understanding and link between the masses and the MPs.

There is a rank derived of MPs overall performance. Top and last ranked MPs are available in the front page dashboard. You can search by MP name, district, coalition, party and topics that are being discussed in the parliament. You can compare up to 5 politicians for their profile details, contribution to different areas of discussion at the same time – very useful in selecting the next MPs that you are going to cast your valuable vote! On each topic, contributions are ranked. Its interesting to see that some of the ministers are lagging in the scope of the ministry that they are handling to other active MPs. performance Compare Transport is an initiative by Verité Research, a Colombo based research group in partnership with web technology partner Saberion.

We think this useful tool can be further improved if it can include successful projects completions, success rates and financials of those activities as well as personal financial records. It’s all about increasing the transparency of our political system. We believe that small initiatives like these can create a big difference in the time to come.

Team of IIT undergrads win Samsung Digital Native Award in Imagine Cup finals

Team of young undergraduates (Team Firebird) from IIT (Institute of Information Technology) has won a special award in the Imagine Cup 2013 finals held in Russia. i-Chum, a product that helps visually impaired through augmented sensory aids won the “Digital Native Award” sponsored by Samsung.  The team also won $10,000 in prize money.

i-cham product

i-Chum allows visually impaired to interact with and experience the “unseen” world through digital sensory input. By the look, it is a pair of glass with built in earphones and microphones. It reminds the “Google glass” in a way. But it’s not just a glass with more gadgets in it! When connected to a smart phone or tablet PC running MS Windows 8, user can use this gadget to navigate indoor and outdoor environments with facilities for obstacle avoidance, object identification without touching, generic reading and writing. Using its wide range of sensors and the camera, it communicates with the user and the user can also communicate back with the device using the microphones.

“285 million people are visually impaired worldwide. 39 million are blind and 246 have low vision. About 90% of the worlds visually impaired live in developing countries.”

It’s a neat gadget that can make a significant leap on how the visually impaired “looks” at the world.


Team Firebird

Team consists of Stefan Udumalagala, Amal Gunatilake, Mohamed Shehan, Kishore Kumar

“With our product “I-Chum” the visually impaired will no longer be impaired, they could be just as independent and normal as their next door neighbor who has perfect vision.”

Some useful information about this years competition is summarized in the following infographic.


Image credits:

Today is Social Media Day – June 30th

What is World Social Media Day?

Of course, this is not a day that was founded by an international organization such as UN. In 2010, Mashable has announced that they are going to celebrate June 30th as the “Mashable Social Media Day”. World seems to be accepting the leading blog’s well timed initiative; In United States, eight cities and two states have officially declared June 30 as Social Media Day.


Here is what the originators say:

“We’re thrilled to celebrate Mashable’s fourth annual Social Media Day! We launched the event in 2010 as a way to recognize the digital revolution happening right before our eyes. We invite you to join fellow social media enthusiasts by hosting or attending a Social Media Day Meetup in your area.”

Whats Going to Happen Here in SL?

Around the Globe, about 1800 mashable communities are gathering locally to celebrate the significance of the social media to our lives. In Sri Lanka, there is an event scheduled at 4pm at the Park Street Mews

(50/1, Park Street, Colombo) by the Kolamba Mashable community. Etisalat is sponsoring the event this year as well.


Here is an extract from the Sri Lankan community’s plans on the 30th:


“This year, we are going to make it even better with a range of new activities and sessions added. The whole team of organizers is currently putting their brains together, to come up with an amazing line-up of activities. So, book your calendar for June 30th, from 4.00pm to 8.00pm and stay tuned to #SMDAYCMB and our event.


Meanwhile Dialog Axiata has set up the #GeeksofSteel event to celebrate social media day. #GeeksofSteel is a meetup of all Sri Lankan tweeps to watch a screening of Superman at Savoy. Dialog opened registrations for a time span of a minute, on several occasions last week, making eager participants awaiting the countdown for the registration window. This would be an ideal event for tweeps to catch up and also enjoy a good movie.

So what are your plans for Social Media day?

Internet Entrepreneurship Forum – Rotaract Club of USJP

Event: Internet Entrepreneurship Forum

Organizers: The Rotaract Club of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura in collaboration with the Department of Entrepreneurship USJP

Date & Venue: 11th June 2013 @ Fayol Hall University of Sri Jayewardenepura


This forum was organized with the aim for the cultivation of the entrepreneurship among undergraduates of USJP; making some of them budding entrepreneurs of tomorrow. 3 of the most significant characters in the field of internet based business presented their experiences and ideas in an interactive fashion.

Mr. Rohan Jayaweea, Country Consultant, Google Inc.

Mr. Reeza Zarook, CEO,

Mr. Indi Samarajiva, Founder of YAMU and Kottu blog syndicator

7 Problems to overcome and 7 things to think about – by Rohan Jayaweera

Rohan is also an entrepreneur himself, disclosed some of the difficulties that he has faced and mistakes that others can also learn from. Here is a summary of his session.

7 Problems to overcome

7 obstacles to overcome

7 Factors to think about

7 factors to think about

Final Quote:

Final Quote

Entrepreneurship as a voyage finding new territories – Indi Samarajeewa

Indi introduced himself as a business owner who does not make much money out of those businesses at the moment. His experience in the field as an entrepreneur was highlighted in this session. Here is a summary of his session.

Entrepreneurship as a voyage

How to Start a Startup ?- Reeza Zarook

Reeza is a Charted Accountant by profession, a man “who knows his numbers” did an inspiring and very interactive session taking everyone’s attention throughout the session. Here is a summary of his session.

How to start a starup


Below are a few captured moments from the event










CB Governor: PayPal soon to be available for inward payments

Central Bank Governor Nivard Cabraal said Sri Lankan bank accounts can receive inward payments from PayPal® very soon. He also mentioned that the Central Bank is considering relaxing some of the exchange controls which does not serve effectively in the new technology age.

PayPal is a cost efficient way of handling payments through internet. It supports all major credit cards and can be used effectively as an alternative to a high costly payment gateway account setup with a bank. Because of its cost efficient commissioning options, PayPal is attracted specially by the small scale internet business which can range from a small cake delivery business to a large e-commerce sites like eBay. Also, PayPal hides and manages some of the multiple credit/debit card management and bank account management from the users making it easier and secure as well.

Paypal graphic

As a country with emerging IT market, it is expected to have a positive impact in the long term because of this relaxation. A freelancer can now get their payments at the lowest commission overhead. Many small businesses can start their online selling at a lower operational cost. Other developing countries have gained significantly in their e-commerce based internet presence with PayPal.

With the feedback that we’ve got so far, critics hope these decisions will be effective sooner rather than later.  “It’s already late!”

(Photo Credits: http://www.businesstoday.lk

WSO2 qualified as “visionary” in Gartner’s magic quadrant research on web application development and integration infrastructure

Gartner Research in their 2013 research report “Comparing Vendors of Comprehensive Application Infrastructure Suites” has tagged WSO2 in the “Visionary” quadrant in their magic quadrant relative positioning with big players like IBM, Microsoft and Oracle. WSO2 is the smallest company of the 7 vendors selected. Yet, it is the only company selected among open source vendors with broad enough product suits in all the three application infrastructure sections under analysis. This research provides insights to today’s vendor market and offers basic profiles with the strengths and weaknesses of vendors considering the next three to five years time frame.

Gartner Magic Quadrant

Among many graphical representations of research statistics, Gartner Magic Quadrant is a graphical positioning based on the completeness of the vision and the ability to execute in the global market. It serves the bird eye view of technology providers for interested clients as a starting point of an analysis.

Magic quadrant

Vendor Selection

Vendors were selected based on the broader coverage of the application infrastructure suits and they were rated for the following aspects:

    1. Systematic SOA application projects
    2. Shared SOA interoperability and governance infrastructure
    3. Systematic and comprehensive application integration projects


While both IBM and Oracle secured Leader category in all 3 aspects, WSO2 was selected as Visionary in all of them. Visionaries understand where the market is going or have a vision for changing market rules, but do not yet execute to the same level.  Compared to IBM and Oracle who are the market giants who have hundreds of thousands of employees and many years of experience behind them, WSO2 have shown their colors with just 160 employees and 8 years since inception.

Gartner table

According to Gartner’s report, they recommend their clients specially for building systematic SOA infrastructures and for developing SOA applications and composites. Following are some of the strengths highlighted in the report.


1. With successful deployments in high-volume environments, WSO2 has earned credibility as a provider of solutions for larger enterprises and mission-critical systems.
2. WSO2’s highly standardized and open architecture gives substantial freedom for organizations to combine and enhance solutions with existing integration technology. Its minimalist approach, as well as its use of OSGi for integration of WSO2 product modules, simplifies deployment and operational complexity.
3. Offerings are available both on-premises and in the cloud. The multitenant and elasticity enabled for its cloud deployment are also available in its on-premises products.
4. The vendor is growing and has acquired capital, which it has invested in geographic expansion and field and support organizations.
5. By embracing the concept of providing a platform that includes only broadly required functionality and that can be tailored to the needs of individual deployments, WSO2 dramatically simplifies the onboarding and operation of its solutions.


About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. is the world’s leading IT research and advisory company. They provide the technology related insight for their clients to make the right decisions with up to date research findings.  Gartner is trusted by more than 12,000 clients worldwide including an incredible percentage of fortune 500 companies.

Please click here to access the full research report.

About WSO2

Founded in August 2005 by Dr. Sanjiva Weerawarana, WSO2 is a global enterprise middleware corporation with offices in USA, UK and Sri Lanka. Providing the only complete open source middleware platform from on-premise to cloud, WSO2 is revolutionizing the industry by putting traditional middleware on a diet and introducing lean, powerful and flexible solutions to address the 21st century enterprise challenges.

10 things that you need to know about Maththala – Sri Lanka’s Second international airport

1. The second international airport of Sri Lanka was initially planned to build in Weerawila, southern part of Sri Lanka. Then, the plans were fought due to concerns raised on the environmental impact. Finallly, Mattala a small town 15 km north of Hambantota was selected. It was a lesser known area with shrub jungle of many square kilometers. When the engineers approached the area they had to use hand tools to cut open the shrub cover and make a foot path towards the location. They spend their first nights in tree tops to avoid attacks from wild animals.


2. Although Maththala Mahinda Rajapaksa International Airport is commonly identified in media as MRIA, the International Air Transport Association(IATA) airport code is HRI. The International Civil Aviation Organization(ICAO) airport code is VCRI.

3. Super King 20 which features a dual engi,ne a test aircraft of Pakistan civil aviation department had landed on the new runway to test the facility on October 2012.

4. 23 international airlines have voiced interest in initiating flights to MRIA. At the initial stage, Sri Lankan airlines will fly to Beijing, Bangkok, Riyadh and Male. Mihin Lanka to Bodh Gaya. Fly Dubai will fly to Dubai and Air Arabia will fly to Sharjah.

Maththala Counters

5. The Runway dimensions are 3500m (11,482 feet) length and 60m wide with 7.5m paved shoulders either side and 260m Runway safety area on both runway ends. The runway is declared a code F from the ICAO, which allows Airbus A380-800 aircraft to use it. BIA airstrip does not have such facility.

6. In addition to the main airport facilities, MRIA will have facilities for pilot and technician training, aircraft maintenance and charter/private jet parking. Sri Lankan Cargo will manage MRIA’s 5,000-square meter cargo facility with the capacity of handling 60,000 metric tons. A 10-acre land has been allocated to Air Arabia for the construction of a 400 room hotel while a local company had also been allocated land for a hotel project.

7. The first phase of the new 800-acre airport was constructed by China Harbour Engineering Company at a cost of US$ 209 million (Rs 26.7 billion). It is built to handle 1 Million passengers per annum, 45,000 metric tons of cargo per annum, 30,000 aircraft movement per annum and 10 parking bays for aircrafts, two aero bridges in an 800 hectare of land.

8. The second stage of the project expansion work at the airport is to be completed by 2015. This includes expansion of the airport’s terminal building, aircraft parking apron and public utilities, full-length parallel taxi way, a flying school, an airport hotel and recreational facilities. With that it is expected to handle 5 Million passengers per annum, 150,000 Mt of cargo per annum, 45,000 aircraft movement per annum, 20 parking bays for aircrafts and 15 aero bridges in a 1200 ha of land.

9. MRIA will be developed as a primary destination for foreign employment departures, reducing the overhead on BIA. Out of 262,960 total departures for foreign employment in the year 2011, 28% of the departures (73,652) are of citizens of Hambanthota, Monaragala, Ampara, Batticaloa, Mathara, Galle, Rathnapura and Nuwara Eliya. Out of them, about 93% (total of 68,385) have departured to Middle East countries.

10. MRIA is built with few important goals in mind. Key is to play a supportive role in the development activity in the southern part of Sri Lanka and capture market share of the regional air traffic growth. Second, to promote air-sea transshipment hub operation in conjunction with the Hambantota Port. Third, to play a key component in the development efforts of the Eastern and Southern coasts. Fourth is to be an alternate airport to Bandaranaike International Airport. Fifth is to facilitate the establishment of a gateway for economic and investment infusion in Sri Lanka.

MRIA Tower


Photo Credits

Keeping Hugo Chavez alive, after death?

After 14 years as the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez died when he was 58. His death was announced 4 days later, based on the tradition followed by socialistic countries in announcing deaths of their leaders. First they strengthen their borders and take internal security measures to make sure that their enemies cannot take advantage of the situation; then only they announce the incident to the public. With US as their key enemy, it is no wonder why they do that!

Chavez’s official funeral is on 15th Friday and his body will be embalmed to keep him look alive to his followers in the next few decades to come. This again is seen commonly in socialists and communists. Chavez is going to get the same treatment that Vladimir Lenin, Ho Chi Minh, Mao Tse-Tung got. Highly successful chemicals and the embalming process used remains a secret in the hands of socialists.

Just like Chavez, dead bodies of yours and mine are likely to get the embalming treatment when the time comes. The difference is that the embalming job is simple for an average persons body, to keep it look good for a few days. But for Chavez, it needs to remain for decades. This is not the job for the local funeral agent; but for a embalming specialist.

Decomposing of the human body starts immediately after death. Intestines as well as respiratory tract will be attacked by the bacteria; enzymes generated in the body starts to self-destruct. Formalin is the most common and widely used chemical used to kill the bacteria and stabilize the enzymes. Formalin is Formaldehyde(CH2O) dissolved in water. When formalin is pumped into the blood circulation system, it strengthens the proteins of the cells and makes them stiff. These high end embalmer specialists use a super strong solution of formalin with better purity values with other preservatives added to increase its effectiveness.

One problem with formalin is that it dries the body tissues by absorbing water. Muscles starts shrink and shrivel and the body will “age” due to this. Therefore Vaseline is a commonly used as a moisturizer to prevent this. To keep fingers of the dead body looking alive, wool wax (lanolin) is applied.

Tissue decomposition is expressed by the body temperature. Lower the temperature, higher the effectiveness of the treatment. Thus the Body is usually kept under 7 Celsius in a closed container. The container fluid as well as body clothing will be changed regularly to maintain the freshness. Caretakers of Chavez will have to closely examine his body to see signs of deterioration.

Chavez Funeral

Whatever embalmers do, embalmed bodies have expiry dates. They cannot keep the bodies forever. All this is done by the government of Venezuela to keep their great leader under showcase as long as possible and show to the world that they are still living. Similar needs of ancient Egyptian kings were fulfilled using mummification which is a much superior technique in terms of the time to expiry. Many believe that the secret ingredients used for mummification are uncovered to a certain extent and is also used for modern day high end embalming; and to make Chavez look alive.

Displair : You are looking at the future

If you can remember Tom Cruise using a 3D holographic system in the film Minority Report back in 2002, you might have thought how cool it would be to have it real life. Well it has arrived!

Minority Report Display

A 24 year old entrepreneur from Russia has successfully invented such a device which can show interactive display right in the air. Not yet to the clarity of the one in Minority Report, but through this device you can control a screen in midair with almost real time responsiveness. Check it out in the below video


Displair treats the air and disengage the smallest moisture particles, and then add them up again to the refined air. Because of this, the air seems to be kind of pale or bleached. This state is called “fog”, but it is absolutely dry. Also by having the particles very small, they are stable even when they collided with physical objects, thus not leaving any wet traces. When an image is projected on to this air layer, it creates a screen in mid air.

The specific software and the set of sensors (Infrared cameras) make it possible to manipulate the image. Users feel it entirely. All the fingers can be used to control the image. Several people can use it at the same time, simultaneously as well.

There is a 0.2 second lag between the action and the actual motion. Displair can detect smaller finger movements up to 1500 contact points with the accuracy of 1cm. This depends on the screen size which varies between 40 and 140 inches.

The Creator

The inventor of Displair is Russian Maksim Kamanin, who was a network engineer who ultimately pursued his dreams to create a futuristic device.

“I was working as a network engineer, when we were fastening a motherboard, it seemed so dull, that my friend and I were dreaming about the future and how everything would look like then and this talk somehow caught me and I thought ‘Why not start doing it right now?’

I started to search for the information and data, learning more and more. At last I came up to the effects of mirages, clouds. Once I was in a church, I noticed that the space above the candle was diffluent and at that particular moment I realized that a special physical effect will definitely take place and we’ll be able to create and image right in the air”

Founder Displair

Maxim with the help of other people interested in the project were able to develop a working model in their dormitory. He explained how things went on from there when he got a call from Moscow:

“You’ve got and interesting project. If you have a functional prototype, you’ll have a chance to meet the President of the Russian Federation”

Maxim with his Displair project went on to win many of the innovation competitions and prizes in Russia, including the top on “Zvorykin Prize 2011”.


Adrien Henni became one of the first of the foreign partners. He gave Displair the understanding of how to attract investments, how the company should develop at this point. He introduced Maxim to most of the great companies we cooperate with at the moment.


Once they come through in Russia, Displair thinks they have a good chance to expand abroad. They have already got $1M investments from Silicon Valley giants. Pretty soon they will be entering the second round of investments. Once they expand the pilot production, they are planning to increase the company headcount and entering foreign markets. Maxim said “At some point we will become self-supporting”. That’s our goal as a company.

Displair has already taken the path of the patent war. A company called Fogscreen who develop a similar type of screen insist that that Displair should stop doing the development of this project, otherwise they will fight Displair.

The Future of Displair

Work needs to be done on the clarity of the image and also the required fine tuning  for it to appeal to consumer masses. However Displair is an amazing innovation and seems that it is well on course to be the next big thing in displays.

US C++ developer caught outsourcing his work to China

In 2012, Verizone security team received a call from a US company specializing mission critical infrastructure services saying that they see traces of abnormal VPN activity. That company was promoting telecommuting instead of typical office environment for their workforce; hence they had a VPN solution for their developers to work from home in some days. They had setup a VPN concentrator solution sometime in 2010 and their IT department started actively monitoring its usage logs from May 2012. They were surprised to see an active and live VPN connection to their facility from Shenyang, China!


They were highly unnerved as they were one of the US’s mission critical infrastructure providers and they were probably under the threat of an initiated VPN attack initiated from China.

The security mechanism used is a fairly standard two factor method; User’s credentials and then rotating RSA token generated from a hand held token generator.

And surprisingly at the same time the user who’s credentials were used to login was seen in the office working at his desk staring at the monitor just as usual. Before coming to Verizone, the company security specialists were convinced that there is some malware routing traffic to China through their proxy by some strange means; they wanted Verizone to catch the malware.

The Verizone security team started digging into the issue and they found that this strange connection is not new. It was there active during working days for the past 6 months where VPN logs were available. Surprisingly it was active during the full span of office hours almost all those days. When the investigation team found that the connection initiation uses user credentials, they started studying about the employee as well.

He was a software developer in his mid 40s, experienced with C, C++, perl, Java etc. who was there for a while. He was a quite family man who is not very noticed, but was a good asset to the company. Verizon security team called him “Bob” in their case study.

As a basic forensic measure, Verizone wanted to check whether there was malicious software activity in Bob’s PC. So they managed to get an image of the hard disks and recovered many files from the free disk space which might have been freed after deleting those files. Hoping to see an accidently downloaded malware which could have caused this, they were astonished seeing hundreds of deleted invoice pdf files from a third party contractor in Shenyang, China.

It’s revealed that Bob has outsourced his work to a Chinese outsourcing firm and got his work done for just a 20% of his paycheck. No wonder there is an ever increasing trend to outsource! To cover the authentication, Bob has FedExed his RSA token generator to China so that the Chinese developer who is supposed to work on behalf of him could use the token generator along with his credentials to login to the VPN during each workday.

So what was Bob doing all day without doing his job? Investigators later found his web browsing history, which explains that. He was used to surf Reddit for a few hours, then watch cat videos until lunch. After lunch he starts browsing EBay, FaceBook and Linked in where at the end of the 8 hour day he send an end of the day email to the management before he leave the office.

Bob was smart enough to do the same across few other companies as well while earning few hundred thousand dollars by spending only $50,000 for the Chinese developers per annum. It was a well run outsource business!

This is the coolest part of the story:

Bob was identified as the best developer in the building; His code was well written and clean and always on time! Bob has received continuous positive remarks for excellence at work several years in a row.

Some say outsourcing can reduce efficiency, long term maintainability blah blah… but, Bob showed that it’s not the case with his case study! We never know what really happened after the incident.

Was he convicted of the breach of the company NDA policy? Or was he being promoted as an outsourced development account manager role and the development work was outsourced to the same Chinese sub-contractor?  Then you better find the name of the company and buy their shares! Cos, they are going to go profit this year with a fivefold cost reduction!

What was the highest risk that you’ve taken in your workplace?

If you are dare to open up, use our comments section to tell us your views.

Gravity Light – An effective replacement to kerosene lamps


Out of the 7 billion people who live on earth, 1.5 billion people are still using alternative biomass fuels (mostly kerosene) to generate light as they have no reliable access to electricity.



Yearly, 2.5 million in India alone suffer from severe burns due to overturned kerosene lamps. In Sri Lanka also there are many burn cases due to kerosene lamps. According to World Bank reports 780 million women and children are vulnerable to inhaling of kerosene smoke which is equivalent to 2 packets of cigarettes a day. Although not seen obvious, kerosene used only for lighting can consume a 10% to 20% of the entire income of a family. With ever rising fuel prices, the overhead expenditure on kerosene has created a burden which keeps them in a permanent state of subsistence living.

What is the Gravity Light?

There are many solutions found for low power off grid energy generation. Solar powered electricity in rural areas is a well-known example. Gravity light is a device that converts potential energy to light by the use of a dynamo. Someone needs to lift the weight (bag full of earth or sand weighing about 10kg) to the top position where from that point onwards the weight will slowly move down with the help of gears that cause the dynamo to rotate longer generating electricity which is transformed to disseminating light through a LED.

Gravity light in work



It takes only 3 seconds to lift the weight, but it can power up to 30 minutes. There is no recurring costs; No batteries; its fully clean and green energy.





It takes only 3 seconds to lift the weight, but it can power up to 30 minutes. There is no recurring costs; No batteries; its fully clean and green energy. Gravity light illumination strength is better than typical kerosene lamps. Light output is adjustable; depending on what is filled in the weight bag and the brightness of the light, it may light between 18 minutes to 30 minutes. The Dynamo and the LED lights are designed to be very efficient, so that it can last up to long time. Although you can listen to a small radio or charge batteries, you won’t be able to charge your high end phone or do fancy things with that. It’s simple and basic.

Gravity light kit

LED bulbs do not attract insects like mosquitos which is another plus point. The goal is to build a commercial version for $5. In a typical target household, the initial cost will be covered within first 2-3 months and then onwards it’s an advantage for them. Saving the money burnt as kerosene for lighting.

Who is behind Gravity Light Project?
Therefore is a UK based design company which started the project Deciwatt which is behind the Gravity light. Therefore has vast experience over 20 years in development handheld, communication and computing households for leading companies like Toshiba, NEC, Psion and Tom Tom. London-based designers Martin Riddiford and Jim Reeves of Therefore spent four years developing the light.

Gravity light team

Do I need one at home?
I don’t want it. I have mains electricity! You might say. But if you are creative, here are few ideas where you want to place the gravity light at your home. Hang the gravity light in your shed, or you can use it as a porch light. You can attach a hanging basket as the weight.

Where to use the gravity light


Want to help?
Please visit this link to help funding of the manufacturing and distribution of 1000 gravity lights as a follow up research in India and Africa.

JAVA developer timesheet, efficiency and stress factors 2012– by ZeroTurnAround (Part II)

The ZeroTurnAround team took attention in the Java developer community with the Java EE Productivity Report back in 2011. It mainly focused on tools, technologies and standards in use and general turnaround time in development activities based on Java as a language. They have comeback this year with their latest survey on Java developer productivity which uncovers very interesting trends about the practical aspects Java development lifecycle.

In their report, they discuss tools and technology usage as well as findings on developer time usage, patterns in efficiency and factors which govern developer stress in general. In Part I of this article, we discussed tools and technology usage findings. Part II discusses the developer timesheet, efficiency and stress based on the survey results of Java developers. Also there are a few interesting Q&A sessions that they had with a few well known geeks in the industry.

Developer timesheet
In their survey on what JAVA developers spend their day at work, they found 3 very interesting points:
1. Developers only spend about 3 hours per day writing code

2. Developers spend more time in non-development activities than we expect them to. For each hour of coding that they do, half an hour is spent on activities such as meetings, reporting and writing emails etc.

3. Developers spend more time firefighting than building solutions

Following is the work breakdown that they’ve found with the activities under each group. Note that “Writing code” is not the same as “Coding” which is generally used to identify writing code, problem solving, QA and strategy altogether.

Developer Time sheet

Here is an extract from the interview with Linconln Baxter III about the findings. Linconln is a Senior Software Engineer at Red Hat (JBoss Forge), founder of OCPSoft, and open source author/advocate/speaker.

Open Quote




ZT: What do you think about finding number 1: developers spend less time writing code than you think? It’s just 3 hours per day it seems.

LBIII: I’m not surprised one bit. The biggest drain on productivity is the constant interruptions to our concentration; that can be co-workers, running a build, running tests to check your work, meetings; it can take up to 25 minutes to regain your focus once you’ve been distracted from your original task.

Think of a brain as if it were a computer. There is waste every time a computer shifts from one activity to another (called a context switch), a very expensive operation. But computers are better at this than we are because once the switch is complete they can immediately resume where they left off; we are not so efficient.

When considering context switching, builds and everything else considered “Overhead” are the biggest distractions from writing code. Even though this piece of the pie is only responsible for 4.63 hours of a developer’s week, in reality, the true impact of this problem is much greater. Once you add in all the other distractions of the workplace, I’m impressed anyone gets work done at all. Every re-deployment is going to cost you an extra 25 minutes of wasted focus, in addition to the deployment cost itself.


Close Quote



Developer Efficiency

This is what developers think what makes their life inefficient at their work places. It’s not the manager’s view; it’s not the independent consultants view. So there should be something to take from it for all of us.

Developer Efficiency

Majority of the developers think too much multitasking create inefficiency. This is somewhat highlighted in the interview with Linconln Baxter. According to him, each context switch will cause 25 minutes of recovery time before the next task to be productive. No wonder too much multitasking will do to the developers. They will simply be switching between tasks without any of them getting completed. From the today’s organizational environments, it’s mandatory that we all multitask in order for us to achieve better and more efficiently. This simply suggests that we should find the right balance when it comes to software development.

Boring tasks are also identified as promoting under-efficiency. There are debates whether the boring tasks should be completed as soon as possible without letting it make your day dull.

Bad management of own time and work as a whole, having buggy software to start with and lack of motivation to do the job have established once again as common problems in causes of inefficiency.

ZeroTurnAround team has interviewed Matt Raible who has few interesting ideas why the statistics makes sense with his real life experience. Matt is a Web architecture consultant, frequent speaker and father with a passion for skiing, mountain biking and good beer.


Open Quote


ZT: What can you say about “Bad Management”?
MR: Yeah, what works great for me is to get used to non-standard work hours, and avoiding inefficient wastes of time.

Work long hours on Monday and Tuesday. This especially applies if you’re a contractor. If you can only bill 40 hours per week, working 12-14 hours on Monday can get you an early departure on Friday. Furthermore, by staying late early in the week, you’ll get your productivity ball rolling early. I’ve often heard the most productive work day in a week is Wednesday.

Avoid meetings at all costs. Find a way to walk out of meetings that are unproductive, don’t concern you, or spiral in to two co-workers bitching at each other. While meetings in general are waste of time, some are worse than others. Establish your policy of walking out early on and folks will respect you have stuff to do. Of course, if you aren’t a noticeably productive individual, walking out of a meeting can be perceived as simply “not a team player”, which isn’t a good idea.

ZT: Lack of motivation was cited as another factor preventing developers from being more efficient. Any thoughts on that?
MR: Look, you have to work on something you’re passionate about. If you don’t like what you’re doing for a living, quit. Find a new job ASAP. It’s not about the money, it’s all about happiness. Of course, the best balance is both. It’s unlikely you’ll ever realize this until you have a job that sucks, but pays well. I think one of the most important catalysts for productivity is to be happy at your job. If you’re not happy at work, it’s unlikely you’re going to be inspired to be a more efficient person. Furthermore, if you like what you do, it’s not really “work” is it?


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Developer Stress
Among the answers to the question “what keeps you up at night?” many say “nothing, I sleep like a baby”. But there are following 5 stressors at the top of the problems which usually keeps developers up at night.

It looks like developers are more concerned about the accuracy, completeness and quality of their code. Whether they are competitive in the world’s fastest running industry. Although not by a large margin the most popular stressor “Making deadlines” also there with one out of every four developers are stressed up due to making deadlines. External reasons like software estimation problems and interruptions as well as not managing one’s work can cause working extra hours in catching deadlines.

Developer Stress

In the interview with Martijn Verburg, ZeroTurnAround team gets exposed to a set of useful points each developer should know and adhere to make their lives stress free; at least from the work stress!

Martijn is also known as “The diabolical Developer”, Java community leader, speaker and CTO at TeamSparq.

Open Quote


ZT: I was surprised to see that developers are primarily concerned about Making Deadlines. Isn’t that something that The Suits should be worrying about more?

MV: Managing deadlines is something that a lot of developers feel that they cannot learn or is out of their control (e.g. their manager tells them what the deadline is). However, managing deadlines is a skill that can definitely be learned! For example, developers can learn to:

  • Scope work into manageable (1day chunks)
  • Define what “DONE” means (95% is not DONE)
  • Factor in contingencies
  • Communicate risks and issue to stakeholders
  • Learn to prototype ideas to keep the overall project flowing

There are a number of tools to assist you in managing the scope and communication around deadlines, but always remember, “Whatever they tell you, it’s a people problem” so developers should look at their communication and expectation setting first.

ZT: Next, why do you think Performance Issues would rank so highly on the list of developer stress?

MV: Performance and performance tuning is terrifying for most developers because they have no idea where to start. Modern software applications are so complex that it can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. However, performance and performance tuning is actually a “SCIENCE”, not an art and definitely not guesswork. Krik Pepperdine (one of Java’s foremost expert in this field) always hammers home the point “Measure, don’t guess”.

By following the sort of scientific methodology that Kirk and others like him teach, you can systematically track down and fix performance issues as well as learning to bake performance in right from the beginning. There is a host of tooling that can assist in this area as well, but it’s the methodology that’s truly important. I can highly recommend Kirk’s course ( – he runs courses worldwide, not just in Crete, so drop him a line).


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