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Laptop.lk revamps website

Laptop.lk is one of the more known laptop shops in Unity Plaza. Their website is also frequently browsed to find out their available laptops and also the general prices of laptops in the Sri Lankan market. Quite recently they revamped their site, in order to improve the user experience for users searching for a laptop.

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Earlier you would have to browse the laptops brandwise, or go through their laptop price list PDF document. In their new site, they have a module to filter and view the available laptops according to the required specification. There is a separate line bar to configure your budget range as well. This makes searching a laptop a breeze. The site is still on beta, and some of the laptop information is yet to be complete. However looks to be a module that will be heavily used, and one which will be very userful for laptop hunters.

University of Moratuwa wins world THIRD at IEEEXtream programming competition

IEEEXtreme is a global challenge in which teams of IEEE Student members, supported by an IEEE Student Branch, advised and proctored by an IEEE member, compete in a 24-hour time span against each other to solve a set of programming problems. Competition is conducted by IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), which is the world’s largest professional association dedicated to advancing technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity.

This is an annual competition IEEE student branch of University of Moratuwa participates each year and surely secures a set of places. This year the competition occurred for the 8th consecutive year, and our budding engineers competed with the world to bring down five places in the first hundred, including the 3rd place which is the highest percentage of any participating university.

Team Oops’ from UOM with members Thilina Sameera Ambagahawaththa, Nipuna Randunu Samarasekara and Varuna Jayasiri proudly bagged the global 3rd place competing with 2000+ other teams. ‘Team Ewoks’ from UOM secured the rank 15 as well.

Congratulations all the winners and thanks for bringing the glory to the country.

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Check some example questions of this competition

‘RIYADISI’— Intelligent driver monitoring system

Road accidents cause large number of deaths, injuries and disabilities of people around the world and it has been found that 10%-20% of fatal road accidents are due to driver’s negligence. Further from the researches it has been identified that main causes for this inattention are drowsiness and distraction.

The aim of RIYADISI is to assist drivers to maintain their attention throughout the journey by monitoring and alerting them throughout the journey. RIYADISI is a real time, automated and noninvasive (not involving the introduction of instruments into the body) system which uses computer vision and machine learning techniques to detect driver drowsiness and distraction and alerts the driver. The main distinguishing feature of RIYADISI when compared with other related products in the market that it does not have any instruments attached to the body of the driver.

The monitoring video camera (Height-2 cm X Width-5 cm approx.) is placed on the dashboard near steering wheel which uploads a live video stream of the driver to a central server. The video stream is analyzed from the central server software and it identifies the status of the driver, whether he is sleepy or not concentrating on driving.

RIYADISI system uses decreased eye blinking rate, yawning and nodding off to detect drowsiness whereas it uses eye-gaze movement and head movements to detect distraction. If the central server detects that the driver is drowsy or distracted, the system has the capability to alert the driver on the same. Furthermore the video camera used here is an Infra-Red (IR) camera which facilitates to use the system in the night as well.

The next phase of this invention is to integrate the whole system into a mobile app where the mobile phone will be able to alert the driver by continuously monitoring him.

RIYADISI is an invention by a team of final year undergraduates of Department of Computer Science and Engineering of University of Moratuwa under the guidance of Dr. Chathura Perera. Team members are Dileepa Fernando, Sandareka Wickramanayake, Sadari jayawardena and Sanka Darshana.

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While congratulating the team of inventors on RIYADISI product, we wish them all the best for the next phases of the product and looking forward to see this novel product in the market in near future.

Refer following video for more details – Video credits to live@8

Welcome the Reload man!

He is dressed in a bright orange coat and carries a point of sales (POS) machine which looks very similar to a mobile credit card machine. You can see him in public places such as bus stands and railway stations and you can get to know his existence by the special sound that his device makes. Pre-paid mobile users gather around him to reload their mobile phones. Welcome the Reload man to town!

According to statistics, while 90% of the country’s mobile users are pre-paid and the majority of reload outlets do not provide reload facilities for all mobile communication networks. Z reload service from Sampath bank which powers the reload man has now enabled a hassle-free top up of prepaid mobile connections belonging to any mobile network.

Sampath Bank along with Imovation Data Solutions (Pvt) Ltd is behind this new service. It support reloading of a connection belongs to any Mobile operator network in Sri Lanka namely Airtel, Dialog, Etisalat, Hutch and Mobitel.

Main technology behind this mobile reload mechanism is Margento DOV (Data over Voice), a patented and proprietary contactless data-over-voice transaction technology. In a nutshell, the POS device modulates transaction data into voice signals and sends them to the processing center through the voice connection established by the customer with his mobile phone. Thus, phone serves as a communication device between the point-of-sale terminal and Application servers. They communicate in the same manner as mobile people do – using speech and a mobile phone. DOV ensures fast, highly secure and cost-effective wireless transmission of the transaction messages from a POS machine to the central application servers for further approval of payments and other transactions.

Advantages of Z reload

  • No more scratch cards, IVR calls, SMS typing or menu browsing required for reload
  • Eliminates the need to reveal mobile phone number therefore secure transaction
  • Reload your phone instantly
  • Receipt issued for the transaction
  • Can opt to pay cash or through account (Sampath bank)
  • Access additional points of sales and save from rebates, discounts or loyalty points.

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How does it work?

It’s a simple process – just few seconds for a real time reload.

  • User hand over cash to the Reload man
  • User dials 8811 from his mobile phone and holds it above the screen of the POS machine.
  • Transaction completed notification appears on machine screen
  • A receipt prints from the machine
  • A SMS notification receives to the user with transaction details
  • process 111

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Nexus 6 is here with Android Lollipop

All you Nexus fans, Google has launched the Nexus 6 the newest smart phone of nexus series. It includes a whopping 6 inch display and also a turbo charging feature we are very interested in. Take a look at its key highlights below.

Highlights

–          Motorola-made device

–          6-inch quad HD display

–          Android Lollipop OS

–          13-megapixel camera

–          Dual front-facing speakers

–          Turbo charging  – Gives 6 hours of use from just a 15 minute charge

Available for preorder from October 29 as per Google

For more information visit www.google.com/intl/all/nexus/6/

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Have you tried Google Navigation here in Sri Lanka?

Recently Google expanded its navigation support to a new set of countries including Sri Lanka as a beta release. Google Navigation is available through the Google Maps for android mobile application itself and shows you where you are and gets you to where you want to go. So try out the free, voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation, whether driving, walking or taking public transit. Also it gives you the estimated time to your destination based on live traffic info.

Try it the next time you drive

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However you need to keep the below message in mind…

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This is My Story – How I became a Google Student AmbassadorThis is My Story – How to become a Google Student Ambassador

Time of Calamity

Boom, project came to an end. Having worked at Endignorance.org managed to keep me employed as the Assistant Manager for the project for 7 months managing many youngsters across Colombo and suburbs. They gave a fairly good pay which a Sri Lankan undergraduate would love to work and the front cause is absolutely good. This project indeed gave me an opportunity to meet new people, develop my skills and specially made me realize who are the true friends and ones with “Sheeps with wolves cloak”. Project suddenly comes to an end and I am fasten with financial crisis which brings me down to the Earth, feeling the Apocalypse.

Searching for Light

Time of turbulence, pulling all the connections I had and trying to find a “BIG” company to work. I didn’t fear to face at interviews and I would speak a lot from my experience about a particular area if they ask for a question, for some questions I didn’t know the answer. Some of the connections gave me 110% of their effort to find a job, some didn’t walk the talk and some weren’t sincere enough.  But I always present credits due to all because they at least said “Okay I will try”. Here are some of the places I went for interviews and applied.

  1. Millenium IT – Coordinated by Navodi Kariyawasam – HR Internship -Not Selected
  2. Millenium IT – Coordinated by Navodi Kariyawasam – PM Internship -Not Selected
  3. KDG Global – Supported by Raashid Liyaaff – Sales Manager, South Africa – Selected but didnt go- Commitment was 3 years on a row
  4. Etisalat – Applied by me – Billing Executive – Not Selected
  5. Duo Software – Coordinated by Rusiru Peiris – Junior Project Manager – Not Selected
  6. Duo Software – Coordinated by Rusiru Peiris – Technical Writer – Not Selected
  7. Bileeta – Applied by Me – Application Consultant – Selected and then rejected because my offer was high
  8. 99xtechnology – Applied by me – No reply
  9. WSO2 – Coordinated by Anushke Attanayake – Internship – No Reply
  10. JKCS – applied by me – No reply
  11. Virtusa – Coordinated by Yashodhya Wijesinghe – Associate SE – Not Selected

 

Going for an interview, failing. Going for an interview, failing. This made me completely loose myself. I was a performer at my University, both in academics and extra curriculum making so many marks in history. But the ones who were not performing that much were in bigger companies. This situation made me really sad and made me think where did it go wrong.

Opportunities never comes twice

It was a quite worrying day and I was addicted to Robin Sharma’s vlogs watching how to overcome the problems. I go to facebook and I see a post by Rohan Jayaweera, Google Country Consultant calling for applications for Google Student Ambassadorship 2013, Southeast Asian region. I read the description of the selection and I realize “Man, this is my time”. The application required recommendation from lecturers, to fill an online questionnaire and a 1min video about myself and plans. From inside me, my desires were burning which I could feel it because I did know this is going to be huge. I contact my lecturers, I contact my program coordinator, filled my questionnaire, wrote the script, made a video  posted on the deadline – April 14th. Special thanks goes to my Dad, Mr.Chaminda Rathnayake, Mr.Chaminda Wijesinghe, Mrs Devika Weerawardane and Rohan Jayaweera for bringing this opportunity for Sri Lanka.

On the other day (April 15th) I leave to Badulla for Twinning Schools Program which is done by United Nations Development Program. I didn’t had any clue that Varuna aiya,Sandhani, Sudaraka and Sisini would arrange me a surprise bday party which happens to be my first B’day celebration without parents. There we had a core team, facilitators and we are equally crazy enough to help people. Always much love to them all for volunteering to make another persons life better. Kudos.

Meeting the Man of Steel

I come home from Badulla on 26th April. No reply from Google, No messages for an interview. Feeling drained again. This time I searched for IT companies in Sri Lanka  and I send my CV to their emails. Two days later I get a call from a company called “Ridgecrest Aisa” for an interview. They are the ones who developed the Link.lk platform, Tickets.lk, Autos.lk…etc. I have a habit to Google about a company before going for an interview and I found that interview is with the CEO Mr.Sanath Fernando who is also a product of D.S.Senanayake College made me feel content because that too is my alma mater.

I go for the interview, late. Mr.Sanath says Shafraz that’s something you should improve to work on time and to inform prior if any emergency with a smile. Interview goes really well and I come back home thinking why this man didn’t scold at me. Mr.Sanath happens to be a Director at SLAASCOM, founder of Ridgecrest Aisa, part of Venture Engine and the 2013 Venture Engine Winner. and Now I call him as Man of Steel.

Best Day in Years 😀

I get a call from Ridgecrest Asia for a second interview and now I am like wow. Its 13th of May, I go to the interview reading the book “Leadership Wisdom” which I got from Manuri Ranasinghe, a person whom I always respect. Interview had 3 phases, 1st with a Project Manager and a Senior QA engineer, 2nd with Staff and 3rd with Mr.Sanath again. To be honest, they are the best staff I have ever met in an interview. SIMPLY the Best. Between the 2nd and 3rd interview they invited me for lunch where everyone sits together and eat. Even the CEO sits on a small bench and eat with the coworkers which is amazing. After the 3rd interview Mr.Sanath explained me what they will be expecting from me and promised me to call back on the other day after discussing with his staff.

I was really happy and I came out of the office with much content.

I started heading towards NSBM because I had promised some of my friends to help on their project.

On my way there I checked my mail and it had a mail from a person called NeeKhen subjected as “Did You made as a GSA”. I was like whats this all about then I opened it and I couldn’t imagine what it read.

Shafraz Rahim, 

Congratulations. You are a Google Student Ambassador

I felt like crying and screaming inside the bus. I take my phone, and call my mother and say the news making her happy for her child. Its a simple moment which could wash away ever pain you had.

Missing a Great Place to Work

As promised, Mr.Sanath Calls me and say they are willing to hire me and the only problem they had was my interaction with extra curriculum work but they believed I will manage it accordingly.

But I had to refuse the opportunity by explaining what I have achieved and without being unfair to them at work.

I have a great respect to them all because them all treated me very well, that’s something most places forgets.

Always you need Good Friends

Power of Association it always really matters. My mother was always there to support me, encourage me no matter what she believed I am capable of achieving big. My aunts always had the grip holding me not letting me down when I am in need. You need people like Manuri, Rusiru to showcase what friendship really means and push you back to the track. You need people like Dilakshi to talk what ever comes to mouth but trying to help always. You always need people like Fadhil aiya, Varuna aiya, Muradh bhai and Hamada Kaka to hold your back.

You always need to be surrounded by people who are willing to help another person without any agenda and just for the sake of being human. People don’t ask for a help for fun, they ask for a help when they are in need.

Miracles do happen but come from hard work

At the first half of the GSA program I managed to become the 6th best Google Student Ambassador in Southeast Asian region and that was the very first time a Sri Lankan came into top 10 Google Student Ambassador’s. Felt really awesome and happy because to gain that position I have made a considerable amount of work while being in the 3rd year at Campus. Finally being a top GSA managed to get me a job at Dialog Axiata.

Final Thoughts

Life is too short to play small. Sometimes because of our difficulties we tend to bow our knees and heads for money and people because they have the power. Sometimes when even people have money they do not want to help people because they care about the ROI but not the humane factor.

When you found your passionate cause, you don’t want to sleep, you don’t want to eat and everything else is just useless for you. You will feel a burn inside your tummy coming across whole body till your brain. Viola, that’s your passion all green lights for you. and that’s how I felt when I was applying for Google Student Ambassadorship.

Do not sell your dreams for money

Do not sell your Passion for money

Do not sell your Crazy desire to make a change for money.

Do the the things which really matters to you.

Dont just be a dreamer, be a man who dreams and do things Differently.  And dont forget to help people in need

-Shafraz Rahim

Google unveils the first Android One Smart Phones

At an event in India yesterday, Google unveiled the first set of devices under their Android One program. Android One is basically a set of specifications and rules for device makers to make low cost Android phones. Also only the stock Android versions are allowed to be loaded on these device ensuring that no performance draining customisations will be added. By manufacturing phones adhering to these guidelines, Google ensures a low cost phone that runs the latest Android version with satisfactory performance while having the ability to stay updated as newer versions are released.

Three phone models under this framework were released at a cost of INR 6399. This approximates to about LKR 13,600 which is actually at a higher cost than some of the smartphones available in the Sri Lankan market (Micromax and Dialog Phones). Although the price is higher this phone does have the advantages of better performance and support for version upgrades. Google mentioned having Sri Lanka in its road map for Android One, and at that time we would able to see the take up of it in the local market.

Free Dialog Wi-Fi for a Month

Dialog has launched a free Wi-Fi promotion where Dialog users can obtain free Wi-Fi for a month. In the fine print it states that it provides 1 GB data for 30 days. To obtain this free offer, users have to register here, and the promo password will be sent through SMS.

This seems to be an initiative to popularise Wi-Fi, as most Sri Lankans are used to using mobile data over Wi-Fi. Also people would get to know the available hotspots in their near vicinity. Wi-Fi could be accessible through the 2500+ hot spot network. So go ahead to your nearest Wi-Fi hotspot and make use of this free offer.

Sri Lankan Nenasala Program wins award from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The Nenasala Project which is implemented under the e-Sri Lanka Initiative, introduces several models of knowledge centres which are established in the rural and semi-urban population with aims of spreading ICT services. The project which has targeted for 1000 knowledge centres have now successfully deployed 800 centres.  This e-Library Nenasala Program (eLNP) has increased the ICT literacy from below 10% in 2004 to almost 40% today.

In recognition of its impact, the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation has awarded the 2014 Access to Learning Award to the eLNP program. The award includes a sum of $1 million which is to be used to further strengthen the program.

Deborah Jacobs, director of the Global Libraries initiative for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation expressed her views after the announcement of the award “Without a doubt, the e-Library Nenasala Program is making a real and lasting impact on the lives of poor rural residents throughout Sri Lanka. People are getting locally relevant information and hands-on experience in the subject areas that matter most to them. Community members have a real investment in these centers, which promotes their longevity and sustainability for many years to come.” 

Achieving such an award and obtaining the recognition for one of our ICT development program is something us Sri Lankans should be proud of. Kudos to the many people behind the project and best of luck in achieving the 1000 centre goal.

You can read the entire press release here.

 

What does it cost to run a startup?

In this day and age, the advancement of communication and the internet have opened up a large number of  business opportunities for startups. You tend to hear the success stories of the startups with their break though product and then selling them for an insane amount of money to the big giants like Google, Amazon and Apple. In the backdrop of the successful startups are a lot of failed startups as well which for obvious reasons, we do not hear about. Even though there is a high rate of failure, the chance to make a life changing product as well as being able to work for yourself has made starting a startup still very tempting.

Of course there is the cost involved with putting up a startup, and the guys and Staff.com have put up an infographic displaying what it would cost in various parts of the world. The value will be about $40,000 to $50,000 in Sri Lanka which is comparatively low. However since the market in Sri Lanka is low, it is advised to target a foreign market for your product. Infographic credits to Staff.com

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MillenniumIT Rated as the Most Respected Technology Firm in Sri Lanka

LMD’s Most Respected ranking of the Sri Lanka’s top businesses for the year 2014 is just out. Millennium IT is rated as the most respected company in the Technology sector in Sri Lanka this year.

Millennium IT is a technology innovation driven company that powers more than 30 global and national financial institutions around the globe. MillenniumIT’s systems are used by exchange businesses around the world including London Stock Exchange, Borsa Italiana, Oslo Børs, Turquoise, ICAP, the London Metal Exchange, Johannesburg Stock Exchange and a series of emerging market exchanges. Millennium IT has provided technology for London Stock Exchange group and powers one third of the entire European equities market and is one of the fastest trading systems in the world. Founded in 1996, MillenniumIT was acquired by the international diversified exchange business London Stock Exchange Group in October 2009.

This is the 10th issue of the special edition that measures peer perceptions of corporate admiration. LMD has given a give a face-lift to the ranking system this year by adopting the Olympic Ranking System. This year, they are being awarded gold, silver and bronze medals!

Millennium IT has awarded 3 GOLD, 1 SILVER and 3 BRONZE and is ranked at 34th the list across all industries. Virtusa is ranked at 39th with 2 GOLD, 2 SILVER and 5 BRONZE. DMS Software technologies has secured 61st place with 1 GOLD and 1 BRONZE medal. WSO2, MicroImage has ranked 73rd and 92nd respectively. Last year, Virtusa cooperation was the only Sri Lankan software business that got its name in the list appearing in the second fifty of companies.

Most Respected ranking is conceptualized by LMD, and conducted by Nielsen. Rankings are based on survey results on opinions expressed by respondents going in to details of why the companies were perceived as being the ‘most respected.’

We, the TechWire editorial team congratulate Millennium IT and other companies for their achievement. We anticipate information technology companies to show their true colors in the years to come, with far greater contribution to Sri Lanka’s economy in getting its way as “most respected”.

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(source: lmd.lk)