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“Today we live in a world where everything is interconnected. Your spectacles, your watch, your mobile phone and may be even your shoes. And who knows, in mere future the very chairs you sit on may communicate with your trousers.” The outset of the most awaited event of the month was marked as such.

Google has always been the core engine of almost all the internet related searches. Adding to the interest of young intellectuals, Google has launched many additions like the Google Student Ambassador Program, Google Summer Code and Google Map Making. In parallel to those, with the purpose of running the awareness and guidance to the enthusiastic Sri Lankan youth, a meet up was organized for the Google Students Group in Sri Lanka by the Google Student Ambassadors.

Akshika Wijesundara addressing the audience

Akshika Wijesundara addressing the audience

The meet up, which was a result of efforts taken by the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at UOM, to enhance the skills of the university undergrads, was held on 3rd September 2014 at 1700hrs at CSE seminar room, UOM. The meetup was organized by Akshika  Wijesundara (Engineering undergraduate of CSE), along with the fellow Google student ambassadors. It was compered by Malith Jayaweera, an Engineering undergraduate of CSE UOM. The proceedings of the meeting were followed by the welcome speech delivered by Akshika  Wijesundara.

‘Google Summer of Code’ is a global program that offers students stipends to write code for open source projects. The CSE undergraduates Bhathiya Supun, Sachith Senevirathne, Sachini Herath and Buddhika Dilhan were the experienced seniors of GSoC at the gathering. The audience was thankful when these members came up with a presentation which included their experiences and a brief description of the projects each had contributed.

Department of Computer Science and Engineering at UOM never lack winners. The department included two out of the three winners of G-CV. The competition involved online CV creation using Google Sites and the winners were as follows.

  • 1st place – Justine Win, Philippines
  • 2nd place – Rajith Yashodha, Sri Lanka
  • 3rd place – Sachith Senavirathne, Sri Lanka

The next in the agenda of the Google student meet up was the award presentation to the two G-CV winners Rajith and Sachith thus appreciating their noteworthy achievement.

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Subsequently, the presentation on Google Map Making was staged by Dulshani Gunawardena (GSA for South East Asia). The presentation attracted a considerable attention of the audience that it was followed by a lengthy Q&A session.

“How would the accuracy of an included detail will be confirmed by the map making community?”, “Who has the authority to accept and confirm any details requested to be added?”, “How can one request his/her details to be reconsidered once the request is rejected?”

were a few questions asked and answered during the session.

A person’s interests could vary with time. The meet up was scheduled on a time when the waves of interest were flowing in an around the university premises. The new found interest was regarding the upcoming Google translate week. Adding to the mentioned interest, Kasun Gunasekara (GSA for SouthEast Asia) came up with a presentation which included essential details of the upcoming event.

The most awaited moment of the most awaited event was scheduled next. Dulshani Gunawardena, was once again on the stage with a bunch of stimulating facts and points regarding the Ambassador Summit. Adding to the interest, was a short video depicting their delightful experience in the last summit.

The meet up was an outcome of a collective effort. Its fruitfulness lied in the dedication and the support of many who were involved in the organization. The vote of thanks, which included all the gratitude towards the parties involved was delivered by Samadhi Poornima.

The crowd seemed to have gained so much interest regarding the Google Student Group – Sri Lanka and its associated events. Hoping for their enthusiastic participation in the upcoming events, the  meeting was adjourned with a group photograph taken by Dilshan Pathirana.

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    Google Student Ambassadors have launched a Sinhala Translate week (#SinhalaTranslateWeek) to improve the translation efficiency of Google Sinhala Translator tool. Sinhala Translate Week will be held from 1st to 7th of September 2014. As per Google, the sole purpose of Sinhala Translate week is to get people to contribute to Google Translate through the newly introduced Google Translate Community.

    Google Translator is one of the widely used tools in the online community and it has introduced the Sinhala language to support the needs of Sinhala language users. The Google Sinhala Translate week seeks to improve the quality of the Sinhala translations, by crowdsourcing the words to the translator.

    If you are interested in helping Google improve its Sinhala Translator tool, here is the chance for you. There are three ways in which you can contribute for the Google Sinhala Translate Week.

    Translate and Win Prizes from Google

    If you have free time that you can allocate for translations, here is an opportunity for you. You can help Google to improve its translator tool by translating, matching, rating and comparing words. All what you need to do is to get yourself registered as a contributor and contribute during the week. You can get yourself registered here. Your contribution will help to enhance translation for millions of users who use Sinhala language.

    Contributing for Google Translate during this week also will allow you to win prizes from Google. Registered contributors with most number of contributions will stand chances to win. It does not stop there; this week will also allow you to be a part of the Google Sinhala Translate community by joining the Twitter conversation on #SinhalaTranslateWeek or engaging on dedicated Google Plus and Facebook Groups.

    Participate in a Translation Run

    Translation Run is an informal gathering of people who are enthusiastic about Google Translate, with the sole purpose of contributing, sharing knowledge, taking pictures, having fun, and posting them out to the public to let the world know that it is happening. During the Sinhala Translate Week, there are many Translation Runs happening around the country, predominantly based on universities and colleges. As of now, Translation Runs have been planned to be held at University of Sri Jayewardenepura, University of Moratuwa, University of Ruhuna, SLIIT and University of Jaffna. More details can be obtained here.

    Host a Translation Run

    Apart from participating in a Translation Run, you also have the opportunity to organize/host a Translation Run during the Sinhala Translate Week.  You can organize Translation Run in your university, institute, school or work place.  Hosting a Translation Run should be carried out according to the guidelines provided by Google. More details can be obtained here.

    If you think Sinhala language users deserve a better Google Translate, here is your chance to make the tool better. Contribute and help others to use Sinhala language online!

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    Google is making its presence known in Sri Lanka in various ways starting from supporting entrepreneurs, assisting universities to many other activities including policy development. Under the Google for Education initiative, Google Students Ambassador (GSA) program is an exciting opportunity for undergraduate/postgraduate students to act as liaisons between Google and their universities. GSAs have the opportunity to enhance their professional development, leadership, and communication skills, and access to a unique network of Google Ambassadors across the world.  Google is calling for applications for GSA in Sri Lanka!

    What do GSAs do?

    Google Student Ambassadors get involved in various activities, which are exciting as well as learning experiences for the students.  If you are an undergraduate/post graduate student with a passion to learn about technology, this is an exciting opportunity for you, because one of the key focus areas of GSA is to learn about innovative Google products and programs. Are you a fun loving person with passion to organize and host events? GSAs also get involved in planning and hosting fun events in their universities. In addition to these, GSAs also act as a campus contact for Google teams, which means there is a potential to network and also be exposed to Google’s culture. Google wants to understand how universities work in the local context and such understanding is also facilitated through GSAs where they help Google better understand each university’s culture.

    GSAs also have the opportunity to participate in various student events organized by Google at international level. Search Summit 2013 was one such event, which was held in Hyatt regency Yogyakarta, Indonesia, and ten GSAs from Sri Lanka participated in this event. Check out our article on Experience of Search Summit 2013, written by a participant.

    Want to become a GSA? Here is what you need to have!

    • You need to be a full-time undergraduate/postgraduate student. This does not mean that you need to be an IT student. This could vary from majors in Computer Science to Anthropology, Business to Zoology!
    • You also should be able to commit 10 hours per month for Google evangelist work.
    • GSAs also require familiarity with Google products including but not limited to Google Docs, Chrome, Search, and YouTube. You need to be enthusiastic about Google products! You should be someone who is thrilled by technology. This means you need to know the Google product portfolio in and out!
    • GSAs also need have an active social media presence where you need to be an active user of Google+, which is Google’s own social media platform.
    • In addition to this, ideal GSAs are also involved with student organizations and activities.

    Have you got what it takes to be a GSA? Click here to apply.

    More information can be obtained here. Applications are open until 7th April 2014.

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    It was Thursday night when I got to know that I have to cover this event. As much as I wanted to stay at home and enjoy the match while sipping away a coffee (I don’t do that) , I knew I wanted to be here since I haven’t been to map-up before and this certainly was special. The Prefects Council of Royal College had taken the initiative to add Religious Institutions on Google Maps along with the help of Google Mapmaker Community of Sri Lanka.

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    Started at 8 AM sharp at the ICT lab of the College, the students clad in pure white got into work with absolute enthusiasm with a mentality of completing the job at hand with perfection. Google Ambassadors including Rashmika and Pasindhu and Members from the Mapmarker community were present here along with Rohan Jayaweera, who is the country consultant for Google in Sri Lanka and Maldives.

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    Not only Religious Institutes, but also non-existing roads were added. They were reviewed and approved by the Google Sri Lanka Mapmaker Community, simultaneously.

    Rohan Jayaweera said that, “ This is not just another map-up. This is special to us because School students are using technology to promote religious harmony. This is also the first time a map-up has come to a school level.”

    Around 1 AM we concluded the event after a successful attempt to adding Religious Institutes and Roads to the Google Maps.

    Our live blog has in-depth details to the map up which we updated as it happened on Saturday

    Pics from the mapup are on our fb album.

    Video coverage from the MapUp

    Priyesh Perera, deputy Head Prefect in charge of IT at Royal College also shared a few words with us:

    Sethpriya Dassanayake, President of Group of 2008 shares a few thoughts with us:

    Power Mapper Tharaka Devinda also shared his thoughts with us:

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      For the last 9 years  of GSoC, there has been a significant number of participants from Sri Lanka. Specially University of Moratuwa reached the top of GSoC for several years. Also the IT industry in Sri Lanka consists significantly large FOSS community and GSoC has been behind the success of this  community as well as the community was behind the success in GSoC .

      GSoC Sri Lanka Meetup is the event, where GSoC community in Sri Lanka gather to share there experience with others. Also one of the main target of this meetup is promoting GSoC among young students.

      Inaugural meetup of the GSoC Sri Lanka will be held on Thursday, 5th of December 4 pm at Seminar Room of Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Moratuwa. This event will be participated by lot of experienced IT professionals in the industry as well as many students from all the IT based educational institutions and universities.

      Also the second meetup of this series will be held with the participation of Google  GSoC Coordinators.

      This event is sponsored by CS&ES and Google Student Ambassador Program. We are happy to announce that we are the Online Media Partners.

      Please find more detail from https://www.facebook.com/GSoCSLMeetup

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      ‘Node.js Knockout’ is a 48-hour hackathon featuring node.js. It’s an online, virtual competition with contestants around the world.

      Hackathon took place from November 9, 2013 0:00 UTC to November 11, 2013 0:00 UTC. Judging and public voting took place the following week.

      This is the 4th year it’s been held. “Meteor Hacks” team from Sri Lanka were able to take the 6th place competing with around 400 teams all over the world. They placed 4th on completeness category and 8th on popularity category.

      MeteorHacks was teamed two months before the competition. Arunoda Susiripala (Hacker @Meteor Hacks), Pasindu De Silva (NSBM 1st year undergraduate, Google Student Ambassador ) , Muhammed Thanish (Undergraduate at Uva Wellassa University) and Pahan Sarathchandra (Hacker @Meteor Hacks). By after few app ideas the team finalized an idea by 1st week of November. it was “The Open Comment Box”

      Open Comment Box is a Realtime Commenting Platform. You can use it for power any website with comments. Unlike popular disqus service, Open Comment Box is open source and you can host anywhere you want.

      It can be easily deployed with any NodeJS PAAS and we even provide docker images. If you are having wordpress site, you can simply enable comment with our WordPress plugin.

      Key Features of Open Comment Box

      • its open source

      • its real time

      • easy to integrate to wordpress or ghost blogging platforms

      • markdown support

      • users can logged in using gmail, twitter, facebook

      • you can host it on your own server , easy to deploy with

      • heroku

      • nodejitsu

      • modulus.io

      • docker

      Open Comment box received lot of attention from the community all loved its idea being open source. Meteo Hacks team is already working towards the open sourcing the project. will be available soon on as github repository.

      for more information please visit meteorhacks team page.

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        Audience – IT and Management Division Students

        Speakers – Sameera Jayasekara(President, UCDAASL) D.M.A. Kularooriya (Director, Productivity and Management Division,NIBM), Shafraz Rahim (GSA) , Pasindu De Silva (GSA) , Laksheta Moorjani (GSA)

        Organized by – Google Student Ambassadors, University College of Dublin Alumni Association -Sri Lanka.

        Objective – Educate Student about vital elements about career development, what potential employers looking from graduates and what are the opportunities available at Google for students.

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        With the aim of bringing all the South East Asian Google Communities together, South East Asia Outreach Summit (SEARCH Summit) with Google was held in Hyatt regency Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The conference spanned from 19th to 22nd of June. The South East Asian Google Communities: Google Business Groups (GBGs), Google Developer Groups (GDGs), the Map Makers and the Google Student Ambassadors (GSAs) participated the conference to understand and learn from each other.

        More than 200 participants from different South East Asian countries presented at the conference. For the Google Student Ambassador conference, 138 Google Student Ambassadors from countries around the region, including first time participants from Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Vietnam attended the SEARCH Summit. Other countries to attend included Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

        934923_10152978376485445_2072740073_n1017237_10151577402987669_914920195_nFrom Sri Lanka, there were fourteen participants. Ten Google Student Ambassadors: Hasini Abeywickrama (University of Moratuwa), Chaamini Mangaleswaran (University of Moratuwa), Rashmika Nawaratne(University of Moratuwa), Shafraz Rahim (National School of Business Management), Pasindu De Silva (National School of Business Management), Laksheta Naresh Moorjani (Asia Pacific Institute of Information Technology), Irma Shennon (Asia Pacific Institute of Information Technology), Hasangi Kollure (University of Colombo School of Computing), Anaz Ashraff (American Education Centre) and Shamika Dharmasiri (University Of Peradeniya), two Map Makers: Dihan Perera and Tharaka Devinda, Keshan Sanjaya Sodimana from Google Developer Group and Indulekha Nanayakkara from Google Business Group participated the SEARCH summit 2013.

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        MTG_Jogja_220130622_144041The Summit for GSAs kicked off with an ice breaking session to connect students of different countries together. These students introduced themselves and then interacted with each other with a fun activity. The conference was coordinated by Aileen Apolo (Outreach Program Manager – SEA), NeeKhern and Hadi.

        Further on the first day, sessions on Google culture and the role of being a Google Student Ambassador were presented. The session on Google Culture was fascinating to listen. We were interested in the way Google employees spend their working hours, how they are treated and how they are allowed to use 20% of work time to work on their own innovative ideas.

        IMG_8919On the second day, GSAs were educated on how to use Google Apps for Education. GSAs were given in-depth knowledge on using Google Drive to collaborate among peers, collecting information using Google Forms, using YouTube for educational purposes and how Google Apps could help students in their everyday lives.

        During the afternoon of the second day, a group photo of all the participants was taken in their national costumes.

        Then the success stories of former GSAs, members of GDG, GBG communities and Map Makers on their contribution for the past year were presented. The stories inspired us and showed us how this experience could be used to bring the best for our country. Furthermore, we learnt what were the failures encountered and how to overcome them.

        On the third day, there were a number of sessions on technical aspects of how Google works. Google Search and MapsAPI were discussed in-depth. In the evening, a panel discussion was held with the participation of Googlers from Mountain View head office.

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        The cultural exchange program was held during the dinner on the second day. Participants from all countries performed with their cultural shows and made a very entertaining night. From Sri Lanka, Shafraz Rahim presented a speech on Sri Lankan culture and the entire GSA team did a performance on Sri Lankans’ common behavior like how we talk and dance.

        On the final day, numerous programs were held to develop the communication and presentation skills of the GSAs. One of the exercises saw GSAs form groups to come up with creative ideas to show how Google Apps could facilitate the progress in the education sector.

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        Finally, the SEARCH Summit 2013 with Google was concluded with the graduation ceremony.

        The knowledge we acquired is important to us Sri Lankans, because we are still in the process of incorporating technology into our university culture. Thus with the knowledge we gained, we will be able to contribute in full capacity to upgrade the learning culture in our universities.

        934938_10151694836589452_1593165737_nThe SEARCH Summit 2013 with Google was an epic event. The knowledge and cultural exposure we received was once in a lifetime experience. I would like to thank everybody who took the time and effort to organize this wonderful event. Special gratitude goes to Mr. Rohan Jayaweera, Country Consultant at Google for supporting us from the beginning to participate this event.

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        The first decade of mobile business communication was in the hand of one and only device, the Blackberry. If you were carrying a Blackberry you were a top executive of a company who is travelling around the world very frequently. It’s added Blackberry services together with the secure messaging protocol; it was the best device a businessman could have. The only close competitor that they had was the windows mobile devices but the game has changed drastically since then. With the introduction of iPhone and the ever expanding universe of android devices, it is either live or die situation for Research in Motion (RIM).

        RIM, the makers of the Blackberry devices launched its latest operating system recently together with its flagship device, the Blackberry Torch. RIM is expecting the revamped operating system to help Blackberry devices to break free from the issues its previous operating system has. The main issue with the Blackberry devices has being its browsing experience. The new WebKit-based browser is expected to improve the user experience in leaps and bounds. RIM has also reduced the number of menus inside menus together with a powerful search tool. It is also comprised of a social networking tool (surprise, surprise) which enables you to aggregate RSS feeds from any social networking site.

        At the first glance, you see that the menu has gone through a cleanup and is more smoothened out in its icons and text. The menu looks bit more elegant and sleek compared to OS 5. The list of menu is a window that slides up from the bottom with a default of four apps in a row which can be changed according to user’s preference. The apps are separated by type such as media or frequent apps so you can just flip left and right to browse through them. Almost everything in the menu is clickable. You can change your sound profile, check messages, network connections and apps. But still moving from place to place can be confusing as you don’t end up where you started if you go back. For who are familiar with Blackberry, there seems to be less clutter in OS 6. The operating system is fairly fast compared to the Storm and other Blackberry devices but if you are running it on a fairly slow CPU it doesn’t help too much to convince us on the operating system. Even if it is not running anything which is CPU intensive it stalls wondering the limits of the operating system.

        The best feature that RIM managed sneak is the universal search. This feature allows you to search any item within the device whether it is a text, song or an app. You can set preferences to choose what to search and not to search. This one of the best features that I liked and it is kind of like spotlight in Mac or Google desktop but much faster. Blackberry email and messaging services is the primary strength that RIM has. If you plug into the RIM services the user experience is brilliant. If you are using Gmail as your primary email, you just need to log into Gmail and it will sync in the contacts, the calendar and the spam filters. Searching within the emails is much better with real time filtering.

        The new app – social feeds allow the users to combine all your Facebook, Twitter and instant messaging such as AIM, Yahoo and Gtalk and RSS feeds into one place. But this is where it gets ugly. The idea of one place to have them all is brilliant but when you want to view them you actually need to go to the respective app which kind of sucks. So it is kind of a half-baked cake with a nice coating.

        The Blackberry browser was the biggest pain for the users. So this browser is not a new version of the old but a completely new one altogether. The pages are coming up reasonably better and the experience is far better. But how does it fair with the other top end smart phones. Not so well. RIM browser is still noticeably slower than browsers in the iPhone, HTC EVO or Palm Pre for that matter.

        The media section is much improved. But still it has problems when transferring media files to the phone. I believe they did not really do well with certain media files. The coolest thing in this section is that it allows the user to sync the media wirelessly between the PC and the phone using Blackberry desktop. Although it says on the web that this feature is inconsistent, this is kind of neat.

        If you are an app person who wants to get your favorite apps in your new Blackberry, you are in for a shock. OS 6 is not backward compatible which is kind of shocking but I would allow sometime until they sort this one out. If you are a gamer the experience is heartbreaking when compared to the iPhone, Palm Pre and Android the game is experience is nowhere near.

        So would OS 6 take RIM to the next generation of mobile phone fist fight? At this stage it is kind of iffy. I should say that it has improved a lot but I’m not sure if has changed enough to stay in the competition. With controversial but successful iPhone 4G release and with Android devices coming out faster than mushrooms this maybe the last straw RIM gets to be in the game. With trouble they are having in the Middle East and India, a mediocre OS would not do any good.

         

        Sources:

        http://www.engadget.com/2010/08/04/blackberry-torch-review/

         

        Images

        http://www.bberrydog.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/BlackBerry-os-6-0-pics.jpg

        http://blogs.blackberry.com/wp-content/uploads/HomeScreen-AllView-Opened.jpg

        http://www.technobuzz.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/blackberry_os_6-0_screenshot_leak-540×348.jpg

        http://asia.cnet.com/i/r/2010/crave/hp/63019983/bbos64_360x480.jpg

        Author: Isuru Wijeyaratne
        Isuru Devaka Wijeyaratne is currently a graduate student of Rutgers Business School studying towards his Masters degree in Quantitative Finance. Isuru is a product of Royal College and D.S.Senanayake College. He is also a graduate of Computer Science and Engineering from University of Moratuwa. He also carries 2 years of experience as a business analyst for capital markets at Millennium Information Technologies. He was also the first Microsoft Student Ambassador of Sri Lanka from the year 2004 to 2006 working to develop the technical enthusiasm in students. He is a tech lover and has written regularly to technical magazines. He loves to read DC and Marvel comics and enjoys watching Japanese anime.