TechWire

Category - Events

අයියෝ.. ආවේ නැද්ද? – Google IO Extended 2017 Sri Lanka

Google සමාගම විසින් වාර්ෂිකව පවත්වන Google IO සමුළුවේ  keynote speech එක ගැන මිට පෙර ලිපියක් පළවුණා. ඊට සමගාමීව ලංකාවෙත් සමුළු දෙකක් පැවැත්වුණා. මේ event එක නම් කරල තිබුණේ  Google IO Extended 2017 කියල. මේ වගේ extended events ගොඩක් තියෙනවා ලෝකේ පුරා. එත් ලංකාවේ තියෙන event වැඩි සහභාගිත්වයක් තියෙනවා. මෙවර Dialog සහ GDG Sri Lanka එකතුවෙලා කරපු event එක ගැන තමයි මේ ලිපියෙන් කියන්න බලාපොරොත්තු වෙන්නෙ.

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Google I/O 2017 Keynote

io17-social

keynote

Google IO Keynote එක කියන්නෙ වාර්ෂිකව Google විසින් පවත්වන conference එකක්. ඒකෙදි තමයි ඉදිරි දේවල් ගැන ලෝකයට එළිදක්වන්නේ. Google එකේ CEO සුන්දර් පිචායි ප්‍රමුඛ කණ්ඩායමක් තමයි මෙහි අදහස් දැක්වීම හා අලුත් දේවල් ගැන කියන්නෙ. මෙහි දී Google ගැන අලුත් දේවල් රැසක් එළි වුණා වගේම අලුත් තොරතුරු කියවුණා.

Google Drive සඳහා මිලියන 800ක් මාසික පරිශීලක ප්‍රමාණයක්, Google Photo සඳහා මිලියන 500ක් මාසික පරිශීලක ප්‍රමාණයක්, Google Assistant සඳහා මිලියන 100ක පරිශීලක ප්‍රමාණයක් ඇති බව හෙළි වුණා. ඊට අමතරව දිනකට බිලියන 1.2ක් ඡායාරුප upload වන අතර Google Maps මගින් දිනකට සැතපුම් බිලිනයක් පමණ navigation කරන බවත් දිනකට YouTube මගින් පැය බිලියනයක video බැලීමක් සිදුවෙනවා.
දැන් අපි බලමු google විසින් මෙවර හඳුන්වාදෙන අලුත් දේවල්.

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Google I/O Extended 2017 – Sri Lanka

Google I/O 2016

Google I/O 2016

Yes, it’s that time of the year. It’s the time that everyone has been waiting for. Google I/O Extended Sri Lanka 2017 is just around the corner, and the registrations will start soon. This is about what Google I/O Extended is and why you should not miss it.

Google I/O is the annual conference of Google where they announce their upcoming technologies and products in both software and hardware departments. The conference is held for two days in San Francisco, California, USA and this time it’s on May 17th and 18th. Google invite people all around the world to watch their live stream and to host extended events parallel to theirs. Google Developer Group (GDG) chapters will be the ones who take the lead in organizing and hosting the official extended events for their country or region.

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Vaadin Sri Lanka (Colombo) Meetup

Colombo Vaadin Meetup was successfully held on last October 13th at the Foundation Institute premises. This was the first ever Vaadin Meetup organized in Sri Lanka, and this was sponsored and facilitated by MillenniumIT, which now is an emerging key player in the Vaadin arena.

Vaadin is a Java based open-source web-framework for rich applications. When compared with Java Script libraries, Vaadin provides the capability to have server-side architecture based applications. Hence, the majority of the logic is run in the servers while Ajax technology running on the browser ensures a rich and interactive user experience.
Even though Vaadin is an emerging web technology, MillenniumIT had already begun to use and improve it in large scale, for their front end applications. That was the major reason this company needs to improve the awareness about Vaadin within Sri Lankan tech enthusiasts.

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ලාංකික චිත්‍රකතාවේ සිංහ උදානය – Lionborn

Sachi Ediriweera

සචී එදිරිවීර

අප සැවොම දන්නා සිංහබාහු පුරාවෘත්තය යළිත් අප අතර කතාබහට ලක්කරවමින්, ඉතිහාසගත කතාන්දරයක් මත පදනම් වූ ප්‍රථම ශ්‍රී ලාංකික චිත්‍ර කතාව ලෙස Lionborn එළි දැක්වෙන්නේ සචී එදිරිවීර නම් වූ තරුණ කලාකරුවාගේ උත්සාහයක ප්‍රතිඵලයක් ලෙසිණි. Filmbox ආයතනයේ ආරම්භකයා වන සචී එදිරිවීර කෙටි සිනමා අධ්‍යක්ෂකවරයෙකු ද වන අතර මෙය ඔහුගේ ප්‍රථම චිත්‍රකතා සංග්‍රහයයි. මොහු විශිෂ්ට නිර්මාණකරුවෙකු වන අතර, එම සිතුවම් වලින් ඔහුගේ Instagram ගිණුම විචිත්‍රවත් වී ඇත.

Lionborn හි කතා රචනය සහ සිතුවම් නිර්මාණය සචී එදිරිවීර විසින් වන අතර සිතුවම් වර්ණ ගැන්වීම සිදුවී ඇත්තේ ඇමරිකානු ජාතික ක්‍රිස් ලිස්මාන් විසිනි. මෙම මස 20 සහ 21 දෙදින තුළ පැවැත්වීමට නියමිත ලංකා කොමික් කොන් 2016 උළෙලේදී මෙම චිත්‍ර කතා සංග්‍රහය එළි දැක්වීමට නියමිතය. Read More

අන්තර්ජාලය හරහා ගමන්කළ ගුරුත්වාකර්ෂණ තරංග

ගතවූ දින කීපයේම සියළු  දෙනා කතා කරන ගුරුත්වාකර්ෂණ තරංග පිළිබඳව ඔබට යම් අවබෝධයක් ඇතැයි අපි සිතමු. මේ අවධානය සමාජ ජාල සහ වෙනත් වෙබ්අඩවි තුළ ගුරුත්වාකර්ෂණ තරංග ගැන සිදුවූ කතාබහ වෙතටයි.

This is how LIGO solved a century old mystery!https://youtu.be/qnTug9sxnJE

Posted by TechTrack on Friday, 12 February 2016

Scientists just confirmed the detection of gravitational waves. This is one of the biggest discoveries of modern…

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, 11 February 2016

My congratulations to the LIGO team on their discovery of gravitational waves. It is a result that is at least as…

Posted by Stephen Hawking on Thursday, 11 February 2016

IdeaBash 2015

It would be very correct if I say this is the season of IoT Technology for Sri Lanka. IoT or Internet of Things technology has been the buzz for quite some time and with recently held IoT events; the IoT Technology event by Garnes Labs & Qi-Code and importantly Google I/O Extended 2015 by Mobitel giving much attention by making it the theme for this time’s hackathon made IoT the talk of the town in the digital community. Things became more interesting when IdeaBash too revolved around IoT. IdeaBash, the tech meetup organized by the award winning, world recognized Eco system, Dialog IdeaMart which facilitates Sri Lankan developers by providing them with a platform to create important services and as they say which offer means of living for many Sri Lankans… which you will have to agree.

Roshanth Gardiarachchi, Product Manager – IdeaMart Services, Dialog Axiata PLC was the first speaker on stage gave the perfect intro for IdeaBash as well as what IdeaMart is and its importance of existence. The journey Ideamart has come and where it today is definitely inspiring and beyond comparison for which they won the World Award for Best Technology Enabler at the 20th Global Mobile Awards further proving it. In the Big Announcements for this year Roshanth unveiled Apptizer, which allows you to build an Android app within less than 10 minutes. Isn’t that interesting? Also two new APIs; IVR (Interactive Voice Response) and WebRTC (Web Real Time Communication) APIs which would sure maximize the opportunities and possibilities for developers, it’s a matter of letting your creative ideas to flow in.

It was Balathasan Sayanthan, Chief Business Development Officer, Hsenid Mobile ran a live demo of Apptizer, by creating his “Chocolate Store” and sold few Chocos to the audience. He showed how easy it is to setup your own online store with Apptizer by using its predefined templates, which is few clicks away.

“We are the Enablers, you are the Innovators – Balathasan”

The father of Mobile Connect took stage next (“but I am the father of many
things… – Geethan”); Geethan Samarawickrama, Assistant Manager – Product Service Innovation, Dialog Axiata PLC. Simplifying login authentication, Geethan introduced Mobile Connect which is one of the best solutions in the Market. Geethan explained why more than 70% of visitors to a site drop as you ask them to register and how Mobile Connect comes handy at this point.

Time for the real show, IoT for Cool People by Sachith Perera was a presentation full of inspiration, and yes it was for Cool People. Sachith, a Technical Architect from 99xTechnology shared his experiences both in his real life and career from the “Smart Office Project” at 99XT to his “Feed my Pet” project which he tinkers at home. He indeed overflowed the room with Ideas. Long live “Pi Culture”.

Undergraduates from University of Moratuwa also got a space in the event. They presented their projects based on IoT technology, which were real life applications. “Towards Interconnected Living Space”, Imesh Lihhnikaduarachchi showed IoT devices at work, from various sensors measuring different conditions and parameters inside buildings such as temperature, humidity and human activity which is then controlled autonomously.

As the last speaker was Heshan Perera, a Tech Lead at Zone24X7 and spoke on Enterprise IoT. He stated that IoT can be categorized into three forms; Home, Government and Enterprise. Heshan showed the less talked perspective of IoT; how we can get this thing in business… It was a bit techie talk but was very informative, he did unlocked a whole new way of thinking, a new mindset.

Towards the end of the evening was the Solve IT session, where the audience was split in teams and asked to identify a day to day issue they face. The problems were shuffled between the teams and each team got a problem from another team. Time to Solve IT! Gifts were handed out for the team with the best solution, Best Selfie and the Best Tweet.

Empowering People with Idea’s… And was the conclusion of the 3rd annual IdeaBash. How can we forget to mention Shafraz Rahim and his awesome team; a big shoutout to them for bringing together an Evening of Geekiness.

First Ever IOT Community And First Ever IOT Meetup In Sri Lanka

Colombo IOT community was founded in November, 2014 with a vision of educating and supporting innovation of IOT in Sri Lanka.

Being true to the futuristic vision of Intel, Intel Sri Lanka was the driving force behind the first ever meetup conducted by the community on 21st January 2014 as the sole sponsor of the event.

We had a packed audience of more than 200 IOT enthusiasts with both industry and academia well represented.

Introductory session was conducted by Kasun Dilunika, Tech Lead at Intel Software. Kasun was instrumental in this initiative from the very beginning and is in the process of building an IOT enabled smart switch to solve a household problem he experienced.

He explained how the evolution of internet progressed from Internet of Places, Internet of People and finally to Internet of Things, with 40 billion devices expected to be connected by Year 2020.

Micro controllers and sensors are the two main driving forces of IOT. There are many to choose from with different capabilities and varying sizes. Want to connect your house keys to internet, anyone?

Kasun answered a question that was surely in the minds of many who attended the meetup. There were home automation solutions etc years back. Isn’t it the same old thing that has come in a new dress as IOT?

IoT devices have 3 main capabilities; Control, Compute and Communication. We call them 3C (ccc) devices. Unlike their pre-IOT era siblings, today’s IOT devices have all 3Cs as a single unit in a small form factor.  Earlier devices mainly lacked in communication aspect. With Raspberry PI, Arduino, Intel Edison and Galileo, programming to hardware has become a child’s play. (We’re serious! Check this out http://www.raspberrypi.org/resources/make/)

Come up with an idea, it was said. It doesn’t have to be world changing, mind boggling complete with a nuclear reactor and a particle splitter. Kasun explained how our friend Jagath Makumbura came up with an idea for a Smart Susan after having chicken gravy spilt on him when using the turn table (lazy Susan) at a Chinese restaurant. Jagath’s Smart Susan was also on display during the meetup.

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We’re sure many young minds were inspired by Kasun when he invited everyone to come up with their own project ideas and insisted on the fact that those who do will be guided by the Colombo IOT community. We truly hope that it will ultimately result in a product with “Made in Sri Lanka” label on it.

It was exciting news for the potential IOT innovators that 5 best IOT project proposals will be given Intel® Galileo Gen 2 microcontroller boards each.

Chamara Ratnaweera (Senior Architect at Intel Software), Chandana Kithalagama (Senior Architect at Intel Software) & Banuka Amarasinghe (Senior Software Engineer at Intel Software) presented “Kumana IOT Project”, a unique demonstration of IOT in a practical scenario.

Kumana is a national park in Sri Lanka which was severely affected by drought in 2014. Many animals were dying due to the lack of drinking water. Efforts taken by park authorities to deliver water to water holes from bowsers were not very effective. An initiative was taken by Intel Sri Lanka employees along with many other environmental enthusiasts to provide drinking water to the animals. Idea was to install a solar powered water pump to draw water from a tube well and fill a watering hole with it.

It was completed successfully. We were happy, animals were happy; but there was a small problem! The equipment was located in a remote area inside the thick jungle and there was no way of getting any information on how it was functioning. We didn’t want the water to be pumped when it was raining, we wanted to know if any of the equipment was malfunctioning and we knew Sri Lankan elephants are known to attack anything foreign! We couldn’t possibly get an elephant to telephone us if anything goes wrong.

Chamara got the bright idea of implementing an IOT solution to solve all of the above.

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A sensor array would gather environmental data (ambient light, temperature, humidity) and other relevant data such as voltage generated by the solar panel, amperage flowing through the system, water flow rate from motor to tank and water level of the main water hole for animals.

Sensor Data Aggregator (SDA) would periodically consolidate the sensor data at a particular point of time, process them and send it to onsite controller module. An Arduino board was used due to the ease of handling low level devices, low cost and low power consumption.

It was decided to use SMS as the communication channel since the onsite deployment is in a remote area.

Handling communication by sending out the data SMS and receiving and processing control SMS and also issuing control signals to the motor is the responsibility of Motor Control Module. A Raspberry Pi would run the show in this module and the decision to use a Pi was inspired by the fact that it’s better at working with high level languages like Python.

Central Processing Unit (CPU) hosted in cloud complete with an analytical module decided when to send a control signal to stop/start the motor and when to alert the stakeholders of a possible breakdown.

CPU provided an API to extract data and control the system.

A fancy UI application called the API exposed by the CPU and displayed it in a nice dashboard and provided control functionality, and of course you could access it via the internet on whatever smart device you choose to view it from.

Chamara, Banuka, Jagath, Sachindra, Chandana, Buddhi, Madhura, Kushan and many others contributed in successfully building up the prototype that was on display during the meetup.

Aruna Dissanayaka, Director of Engineering at Intel Software, took the audience on a global tour in his key note speech, highlighting on the need for IOT in major cities to cater their booming population. He explained that having enough IP addresses is not sufficient for the exponential growth in IoT devices. Standards would have to adapt, for example IP stack doesn’t suit most IOT devices.

Kolitha Ratwatte, General Manager, Intel Software Sri Lanka, whose immense support helped make this event a success, concluded the meetup speaking about the way forward for Colombo IOT community.

A Q&A session followed with many interesting questions raised by the audience.

This is the story of the first ever IOT meetup in Sri Lanka sponsored by Intel. It might be a small step, but as they say “A journey of a thousand miles must begins with a single step.”Colombo IOT community was founded in November, 2014 with a vision of educating and supporting innovation of IOT in Sri Lanka.

Being true to the futuristic vision of Intel, Intel Sri Lanka was the driving force behind the first ever meetup conducted by the community on 21st January 2014 as the sole sponsor of the event.

We had a packed audience of more than 200 IOT enthusiasts with both industry and academia well represented.

Introductory session was conducted by Kasun Dilunika, Tech Lead at Intel Software. Kasun was instrumental in this initiative from the very beginning and is in the process of building an IOT enabled smart switch to solve a household problem he experienced.

He explained how the evolution of internet progressed from Internet of Places, Internet of People and finally to Internet of Things, with 40 billion devices expected to be connected by Year 2020.

Micro controllers and sensors are the two main driving forces of IOT. There are many to choose from with different capabilities and varying sizes. Want to connect your house keys to internet, anyone?

Kasun answered a question that was surely in the minds of many who attended the meetup. There were home automation solutions etc years back. Isn’t it the same old thing that has come in a new dress as IOT?

IoT devices have 3 main capabilities; Control, Compute and Communication. We call them 3C (ccc) devices. Unlike their pre-IOT era siblings, today’s IOT devices have all 3Cs as a single unit in a small form factor.  Earlier devices mainly lacked in communication aspect. With Raspberry PI, Arduino, Intel Edison and Galileo, programming to hardware has become a child’s play. (We’re serious! Check this out http://www.raspberrypi.org/resources/make/)

Come up with an idea, it was said. It doesn’t have to be world changing, mind boggling complete with a nuclear reactor and a particle splitter. Kasun explained how our friend Jagath Makumbura came up with an idea for a Smart Susan after having chicken gravy spilt on him when using the turn table (lazy Susan) at a Chinese restaurant. Jagath’s Smart Susan was also on display during the meetup.

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We’re sure many young minds were inspired by Kasun when he invited everyone to come up with their own project ideas and insisted on the fact that those who do will be guided by the Colombo IOT community. We truly hope that it will ultimately result in a product with “Made in Sri Lanka” label on it.

It was exciting news for the potential IOT innovators that 5 best IOT project proposals will be given Intel® Galileo Gen 2 microcontroller boards each.

Chamara Ratnaweera (Senior Architect at Intel Software), Chandana Kithalagama (Senior Architect at Intel Software) & Banuka Amarasinghe (Senior Software Engineer at Intel Software) presented “Kumana IoT Project”, a unique demonstration of IoT in a practical scenario.

Kumana is a national park in Sri Lanka which was severely affected by drought in 2014. Many animals were dying due to the lack of drinking water. Efforts taken by park authorities to deliver water to water holes from bowsers were not very effective. An initiative was taken by Intel Sri Lanka employees along with many other environmental enthusiasts to provide drinking water to the animals. Idea was to install a solar powered water pump to draw water from a tube well and fill a watering hole with it.

It was completed successfully. We were happy, animals were happy; but there was a small problem! The equipment was located in a remote area inside the thick jungle and there was no way of getting any information on how it was functioning. We didn’t want the water to be pumped when it was raining, we wanted to know if any of the equipment was malfunctioning and we knew Sri Lankan elephants are known to attack anything foreign! We couldn’t possibly get an elephant to telephone us if anything goes wrong.

Chamara got the bright idea of implementing an IoT solution to solve all of the above.

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A sensor array would gather environmental data (ambient light, temperature, humidity) and other relevant data such as voltage generated by the solar panel, amperage flowing through the system, water flow rate from motor to tank and water level of the main water hole for animals.

Sensor Data Aggregator (SDA) would periodically consolidate the sensor data at a particular point of time, process them and send it to onsite controller module. An Arduino board was used due to the ease of handling low level devices, low cost and low power consumption.

It was decided to use SMS as the communication channel since the onsite deployment is in a remote area.

Handling communication by sending out the data SMS and receiving and processing control SMS and also issuing control signals to the motor is the responsibility of Motor Control Module. A Raspberry Pi would run the show in this module and the decision to use a Pi was inspired by the fact that it’s better at working with high level languages like Python.

Central Processing Unit (CPU) hosted in cloud complete with an analytical module decided when to send a control signal to stop/start the motor and when to alert the stakeholders of a possible breakdown.

CPU provided an API to extract data and control the system.

A fancy UI application called the API exposed by the CPU and displayed it in a nice dashboard and provided control functionality, and of course you could access it via the internet on whatever smart device you choose to view it from.

Chamara, Banuka, Jagath, Sachindra, Chandana, Buddhi, Madhura, Kushan and many others contributed in successfully building up the prototype that was on display during the meetup.

Aruna Dissanayaka, Director of Engineering at Intel Software, took the audience on a global tour in his key note speech, highlighting on the need for IoT in major cities to cater their booming population. He explained that having enough IP addresses is not sufficient for the exponential growth in IoT devices. Standards would have to adapt, for example IP stack doesn’t suit most IoT devices.

Kolitha Ratwatte, General Manager, Intel Software Sri Lanka, whose immense support helped make this event a success, concluded the meetup speaking about the way forward for Colombo IoT community.

A Q&A session followed with many interesting questions raised by the audience.

This is the story of the first ever IoT meetup in Sri Lanka sponsored by Intel. It might be a small step, but as they say “A journey of a thousand miles must begins with a single step.”

Get ready for the inaugural UX Colombo Conference

There are numerous definitions for User Experience, but without going too deep, we can define it as the holistic experience for the customer who uses a product or a service. Now when designing & developing software products, providing a good user experience is often overlooked in Sri Lanka. However there is a growing interest in the UX field, which was ignited by the UXColombo meetups which started back in 2013. We are finally realizing the importance of good UX.

Now it is being taken a step further, as the first ever UX conference is going to be held this month, on the 19th of March. The conference would be taking place at the BMICH and will feature the following 8 sessions.

Keynote Speech by Linda Speldewinde – Founder/Managing Director of AOD International Design Campus & Sri Lanka Design Festival

Bare Basics of UX by Rasika Mahindasiri – UX Architect @ 99XTechnology

Visual Communication by Alain Parizeau- Programme Head of Visual Communication @ AOD International Design Campus

UX and the love for your e-commerce customer by Adnan Issadeen – Former head of production @Anything.lk

Replacing sales people with great UX by Chandika Jayasundara – Co-Founder & CEO @ Cinergix/Creately

How design makes everything better by Yudhanjaya Wijeratne – Editor @ Readme.lk

Shortcuts to Deliver Delight by Hasanga Abeyrathne – UX Architect @ 99xTechnology

UX in Enterprise by Hasitha Yaggahavita – Technology Manager @99xTechnology

This conference would be valuable for anyone in the software industry, especially for UX/UI engineers, business analysts and product managers. The investment would be Rs 4500 and for more information visit http://www.colombouxconference.com/

Planning on organizing a hackathon? Here are some essentials

It’s great to see many hackathons are being organized all across Sri Lanka, and thought it’s a good time to write a simple guide to explain the essentials of a hackathon before organizing one.

I’ve been involved in organizing 5 hackathons and currently progressing to organize a global hack. “Scrumagize” was my very first hackathon to organize back in 2012 where it was a 12 hour hack organized for NIBM students.

Scrumagize

Hackathon? WTH?

Hackathons are happening all across the world and some firms conduct it as a business. If you have never heard what a hackathon is, simply it’s an event which brings down developers / tech evangelists / hardware folks together and create a product / a software / a mobile app or some cool gadget within 12 / 14 / 16 / 18 / 24 / 36 / 48 / 72 hours at a stretch (There are hacks which does not adhere ‘at a stretch’ criteria). End of the hack, teams will present their ideas to a set of judges or investors and get a prize, money / some cool tech gadget or get funded. Teams who do not become the winner, would end up getting a recommendation letter / certificate of appreciation. It is always a good habit to update your linkedin profile mentioning that you participated or won in hackathons.

There are different versions of hackathons. Make-a-thon is one of those where it essentially focus on a hardware component as well.

Best part of every hackathon is the free food, fun activities + probably redbull coming on board as the beverage partner + the redbull wing team 😉 This is true for every hackathon across the globe.

Conducting a hackathon boils down to the organizers end goals. Before starting off organizing a hackathon, do have max of 1-5 objectives.

Redbull

Image Credits : Charith De Silva

Hackathon Matrix v1.0

Hackathon matrix is a collection of basic elements of a complete hackathon. Human needs and expectations are evolving every single day and that’s why it’s v1.0.

Hackathon-Matrix

The blocks which has yellow highlighted texts are the basic elements of pre-hackathon. The blocks with green texts  are the post-hackathon elements.

Let’s quickly run through each element.

Date, Time and Venue 

First thing, identify the target audience. Eg – Global, All Island, university, school…etc. This is important to identify the date. Because if the hackathon is during exams or a festival season, the number of responses you get will go down rapidly. Also it’s a good practice to allocate the days during weekends (Eg – Starts on Friday eve and will end in Sunday morning max). Simultaneously look for a venue which is available on proposed dates plus should be within your budgets if it’s not free. Time can range from a 12 hour hack to a 72 hour hack.

Selecting date, time and venue are mutually exclusive parameters. You might find a hard time coming to a conclusion so do it at least 2 months before the hackathon.

Budget 

A super important element. Do create a resources list and see what you will get for free, where do you have to buy stuff / rent and how much you have / you will be able to raise. Sometimes you might get a chance to sell the goods you bought or rent it for another event.

Organizing Team 

Having a great team whom can be accountable and whom can take responsibilities seriously and who have ability to accomplish them on time is crucial. Create a work breakdown and delegate the work among team members, setup a deadline and follow-up. If you come across a situation where you will have to do their work, that means there is a skills gap in your team or a problem in your work breakdown.

Hackathon Topic 

There are hackathons with topics and without topics (TechCrunch Disrupt). It’s up to you to decide if you want to have a topic or not. Both types has its pros and cons.

Marketing 

Marketing or  we can rephrase it as “Taking the word out” so the people will apply to the hackathon. This needs to happen at least 2 weeks prior to the ideas selection date. Dont worry if you have a lower number of submissions. Just increase/ change the methods of marketing + we developers love to apply at 11:59 P.M.

Have the marketing materials, media partnerships, proof read of write ups…etc is pretty important. If you are a Sri Lankan, you can invite ReadMe or TechWire to become your official digital media partner so they shall cover live blogging to event pictures to articles. ReadMe boys are doing a great job in this part of the world. No matter if its Jaffna or down south, they will do an complete neat job.

Publish the hackathon in websites such as  hackerleague , hackathonwatch and tag @hackathonwatch in twitter so you can give a global awareness for your hackathon. It is good if you can live stream the event, but this needs to be only the most important parts of the hackathon because no one wants to watch a bunch people coding overnight. If its in Sri Lanka you can invite LearnTV. They will cover and live stream for free (T&C Apply).

Pick a official photographer. This is good for your future hackathons.

Sponsors  

There are firms willing to sponsor hackathon events. Make sure you reach out to them before their budgets are over. Usually budgets are over in final quarter (Oct – Dec). Do keep in mind to give sponsors promised publicity.

Setup

Two types of setup. One is you need to setup a place to submit ideas. You can setup a new website or use a web application similar to Hackathon.io where visibility of submitted ideas can be controlled.

Hackathon can be physically attended or virtual. The second type of setup is this. If it’s physically attended you need to make sure proper seating arrangements, fun activity areas, tables, power cables, internet connectivity, ventilation, food arrangements, clean venue, washrooms…etc is arranged.

If it’s a virtual hackathon you dont need to worry about the physical infra and what you need to worry is how the teams are connected, how you are going to check their progress (Eg – Using Github commits) , final presentations, code reviews, judging…etc.

Rules and Regulations 

Setting up some rules and regulations is important. It again depends on the type of your hackathon. Eg – All the code needs to be done at the event, code review at the end of the event, need to bring deodorant and tooth brushes…etc.

Ideas Selection

Filtering the ideas and getting the best ideas to come and hack would truly save you some money, time, energy and you can potentially focus on a few teams rather than a larger number, which is effective. Having teams from 10 – 15 would be ideal. But again this depends on your end motive of the hackathon.

Food

You need to make it unlimited and easily accessible. Famous Sri Lankan meals are Kottu, hoppers or pizza.

Prizes

It either can be a cash prize, cool gadget or funding.

Dialog Ideamart hackathon gave 100k, 75k and 50k cash prize, WSO2 hackathon gave 4 go pro + vouchers to a hotel while Yarl Geek Challenge 3 gave funding for the winner in collaboration with Blue Ocean Ventures in 2014.

Judges, Mentors and Investors

Contact and invite these parties at least 3 weeks prior to the event. Mentors are optional but according to my opinion, having business and tech mentors would sharpen the idea more. If your hackathon ends up by an investor pitching, you need to invite some angel investors. If it’s in Sri Lanka, contact Lankan Angel Network or Blue Ocean Ventures. These investors are pretty much helpful.

Feedback

Get feedback from every single party who was involved in the whole process.

Thank You

Thank everyone who helped by any means, send them some pictures of the hackathon. Honest appreciation can make a difference and its an emotional hook.

Retrospect 

Conducting a retrospect meeting and analyzing the feedback would allow you to identify what you did best, what needs to be improved and how you can improve the next hackathon. Its because near perfection comes from iterations and acting upon filtered useful feedback.

Final Remarks 

Hackathons are types of events which could leapfrog the current skills of both organizers and participants. The end result depends on the motives of the organizers. There can be tangible outcomes or not. Most hackathons around the world end up with the winners getting funded by investors for their start ups. According to my point of view, hackathons needs to be introduced to the university / school curriculum as well as for every company IT division. This is because a hackathon is a tool to improve skills and knowledge, create awareness, be a team building exercise, be a sporting event and  be an event which can potentially improve company products.

Please provide your feedback/ comments/ thoughts/ experience sharing or suggestions about organizing a hackathon.

All the green lights are on for you to organize your next hackathon. Good Luck

Idea Bash – June 2014 Meetup

Idea Mart has been grown into a popular telco platform, giving the local developer community the reach to access the 8 million subscriber base of Dialog Axiata. Started in 2012, this developer community has grown over the years, with many developers successfully monetizing their apps hosted on the Idea Mart platform.

A couple of weeks back, Idea Bash the meetup where the Idea Mart community gets together was held at the Dialog Future world for the 3rd time. This meetup aims to creates an environment where developers can discuss their ideas and issues while also learning on the new developments on the Platform.

IdeaBash 2014

Roshanth, Manager of the Idea Mart community kicked off the event by welcoming the guests and provided an intro to the IdeaMart Platform and what it has achieved.  He shared the various highlighting the growth in usage as well as growth in earnings by the developers.

The next speech was delivered by Ruwan Liyanage, an Idea Mart Developer and Founder of Extrogene. He explained his experience in creating a telco app in the standard process, and that it is much faster to launch apps with Idea Mart. He went on to discuss the main pitfalls in creating apps and gave the following tips to successfully creating a revenue generating app.

1) Identify the most reachable niche market for you

2) List what are the problems they have

3) Remove what you cannot solve

4) Select the most practical problem that you can solve using a mobile app

5) Ask from a sample of your market  whether they will use the app if you give such a mobile solution

Dr. Kavan Ranathunga then took the stage to deliver a very informative presentation on the Evolution of the Internet. He highlighted the key milestones of the internet and also key milestones of the adoption of the internet in Sri Lanka.

IdeaBash 2014

Afterwards another Idemart developer Sheddrick Rodrigo shared his experiences. He gave details on how he spent close to Rs. 90,000 on popular paper advertisements with not much success, while getting good conversion by posting a low cost ad on a targeted newspaper. This emphasized the importance of target marketing. He also advised developers to keep growing by adding one app at a time. He concluded with a good quote : “Dream Big, Start Small, Act Now”

Dream Big, Start Small, Act Now

A very bubbly Lakshetha ( A Google Student Ambassador) conducted a very entertaining session on tips to give a good presentation. The summary of the tips are given below.

  1. Connect to the Audience – by researching on the audience and topic
  2. Let go of Fear – Identify your fear and learn to disregard it
  3. Practice – Have a thorough practice beforehand
  4. Record & Watch – Record yourself on video and see how you present
  5. Listen – Listen to the feedback from the audience.
  6. Be Honest – Don’t present incorrect information
  7. Attire – Dress accordingly to the event/presentation
  8. Presentation – Dont have a heavy presentation, have a light presentation
  9. Have Faith – Believe in yourself

 

The next presentation “Product as an API” was presented by Sumedha Rupasingha Director of APIs – WSO2. He explained how companies are making money by exposing their core business through APIs. He took Amazon, Expedia and Netflix as examples, showed their API usage and how they have leveraged their APIs. He went on to show the importance of identifying business opportunities in exposing your companies APIs.

IdeaBash5

The final session of Ideabash was an interesting interactive session called Idea Crunch where teams were give a description of a person and were requested to design an app using Ideamart apps to cater his needs. The description of the person given was Gunapala, an antisocial salesperson with a fish tank and a cat. Teams presented their very creative ideas from fully automating his house, to a dating app, to a house maid finder. An external judging panel reviewed the ideas and judged the ‘Gedera’ team the winner of the session.

IdeaBash 2014

Idea Bash June 2014, meetup was full of substance with five informative session, and one good interactive session to roundoff the best Idea Bash so far. Well done to the Idea Mart team, and hoping for an even better meetup in the Future!

Image Credits : Pasindu De Silva

IdeaBash 2014

Idea Bash 2014 – Live

Welcome to the live blog of Idea Bash 2014