Home Interviews

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When Prof. Willie Mendis invited you to start the first Computer Science department in Sri Lanka at the University of Moratuwa, how did you take on the task?

I had just returned from my post-graduate studies and I was still in the Electrical Engineering Department. So computer science or computing was quite new to us. Quite fortunately we had the opportunity to use the IEEE Computer Society model curriculum for Computer Science & Engineering that they had just released in 1983.  That gave us the framework that we used to develop the Computer Science & Engineering curriculum at the University of Moratuwa.

 

What were the challenges you faced?

In terms of establishing the department, I think the main challenge was recruiting enough staff. We didn’t have any Computer Science graduates to recruit. So we were looking for Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering graduates. I was quite fortunate to have the JOCV volunteers from the Japanese government and also the VSO volunteers from the United Kingdom. So we were able to manage to fill some of the staff positions using them. In 1987 we were very fortunate to have Japanese International Co-operation Agency grant in order to setup laboratories. And I was able to set up all the necessary laboratories using those funds.

 

How did you conceive the idea of bringing Internet to Sri Lanka?

That is a very interesting question, because in 1983 when we thought about Networks, we did not really think of the Internet. We were just thinking of building Computer Networks and Data Communication Services to provide academic and research computing facilities. In 1984 I visited some universities in the region, to understand their Computer Science and Engineering curricula. And that’s the first time I got to know about Academic and Research networks in those universities. So my first attempt was to develop the capacity within the department both in terms of resources and staff. And in 1989 I was spending my sabbatical at the University of Keele where I got to work with the JANET, UK Academic Network. And that gave me the impetus to articulate my vision for a country-wide network for Academic and Research Networking. It is only in 1992, when the Internet became known world wide, I reformulated the proposal and started implementing the Internet.

 

What is the concept of LEARN?

The concept of LEARN actually was setting up a country-wide network for academic and research networking. When I proposed in 1989, X.25 was still a dominant technology in the world. And because of the links we had with the UK, I was proposing to setup a similar infrastructure in Sri Lanka. But between 1989 and 1992 many things happened. And we were then able to incorporate ideas into the LEARN Internet. Finally what we implemented was the first IP WAN in Sri Lanka as LEARN.

 

What were the challenges in implementing this proposal?

We had to face two challenges. The first one was financial. Being a developing country, it was not easy to find funds. Secondly we also had some technical challenges to concur. The financial situation was helped by the assistance given by the Computer and Information Technology Council of Sri Lanka, the University Grants Commission and there was also Lanka Academic Network, a not for profit organization setup to support ICT endeavours  in Sri Lanka.

The technical challenges were mainly encountered in terms of setting up the wireless links connecting the University of Moratuwa to the University of Colombo and the Open University. And configuring the routers and various other issues, because at that time the Department of Telecommunication did not have any expertise within themselves. So we were setting up the test bed for both the university system as well as for the telecommunication industry to understand. In 1993 I was fortunate enough, with several others from the university, to attend the developing country workshop organized and funded by the Internet Society. And we met people like Randy Bush and George Sadowsky who were very helpful in our attempt to setup the network.

 

Would you like to mention a few a people who helped in this proposal and making it a reality?

To start with I think I should mention the staff at the University of Keele, where I was spending my sabbatical, who helped me to work with their system understanding X.25 switches and how to configure things at that time. But, on my return, when we started really implementing LEARN, I should mention some of my own colleagues who were my students beforehand, Clement Adams, Gihan Dias, Lalith Gamage and few others were who helping us to run the email system, Sanjiva Weerawarana, Athula Herath, Nimal Rathnayake, Tilaka Sumanaweera, they were graduate students in the US at that time. They all helped us to set it up.

 

What are your thoughts/reflections on the first email system in Sri Lanka?

Again, it is a very interesting question. Because before we started LEARNmail, the first IP based email system, previously there have been several attempts. The Arthur C Clarke Centre started the Mallard MailBox System. Several people were using CompuServe and other private email systems. But there was nothing really connecting networks to the Internet for exchange of Internet email. So when we thought of LEARN network as the basis or the framework for Academic and Research Networks in Sri Lanka, and also to be able to attract funding to implement this, the first service I wanted to implement was the email, because I knew people will then get to know about it and they will appreciate the services that could be offered using a network. So we started LEARN mail in 1990, and in the beginning of course it was expensive to run IDD connections from US to Sri Lanka, so we were dialling roughly about 3 times a week but then within a few months we were connecting 3 times a day, until in 1995 finally we made the permanent connection.

 

Did you have to make any sacrifices to turn your vision into a reality?

More than sacrifices, I think they were solving problems. Very first was to find enough money to procure 3 digital circuits. And at that time the Telecommunication Department was not able to provide any digital circuits using landlines. So we had to procure equipment to run 3 wireless links and the speed was 64 kbps at that time. And to of course fund that, we needed money and very fortunately the University Grants Commission gave us 3 million rupees to procure those lines. And we also procured the IP routers with that money. I remember the meetings, several meetings we had at the UGC where my colleagues, my contemporaries were asking funds more for laboratories and other basic facilities, rather than setting up a wide area network. I am sure at that time it was not easy for them to understand the benefits that this type of a network could bring to their community. Also you have to remember that this was the time that policy makers, politicians were not carrying smartphones; they didn’t have Facebook accounts; and they didn’t have tweeting to their constituents. For them also it was difficult, so convincing them to support this proposal and the project was the most difficult thing.

 

If you go back in time to 1989 – 1992, are you happy with the progress the Internet has made in Sri Lanka since then?

There are really 2 questions, which I will answer. The first one is in terms of benefits, what I saw was the potential that our students and staff will have if you have access to information. And you got to remember that Sri Lanka being a developing country it is hard to get access to books, publications and information. So my first idea was to provide this network access so that staff and students could benefit from that. Secondly from 1992 onwards, I think it has been a journey which has just continued to grow. I left the University in 1998 and after that of course there were several people who contributed like Prof. Gihan Dias and Prof. Nimal Rathnayake and continued to develop LEARN to the current state. So we are I am sure quite on par with the rest of the world, in terms of the services we provide to our students and staff. In any case every country will be looking for more bandwidth, more resources and more capacity and Sri Lanka is no exception.

 

Do you see that Internet has brought a cultural change in Sri Lanka? What is your opinion on that?

In keeping with the times, I think the academics, University staff and students, Lecturers and others working in the research institutes, they have been able to produce more and more research output which could have been useful for the general community in the country. So in that sense I think we have achieved our objective. But at the same time, there is always another side to the coin and there are things that could be anti-social; not really contributing to the betterment of the community. That side of the story is always there.

 

What threats do you see to the Internet?

As I said there will always be people who will want to destroy and somehow damage the delivery of the services for the common good of mankind. I have always believed whatever we do should be for the common good. And what I see is that small percentage of people will continue to do things which will affect the way we can deliver the services to the ordinary humankind. For an example, identity theft is a major issue these days. Credit Card theft and the use of the Internet to commit crime. Some of the crimes which have been committed for several centuries, you have now found a better and easier way to commit. So that will continue, so the community is quite aware of this and their effort should be to make the Internet a better place.

 

We have Grid Computing, Cloud Computing and Big Data. Where do you think the Internet is heading?

Things come and go. Yes we had Grid Computing which I call the poor man’s Super Computer. And then came Cloud Computing, which is the hype these days. What I see as the future of the Internet, is basically the deployment of the new generation IPv6. Which will allow us to have massive amount of IP addresses which could connect several billion devices. The prediction is that, by 2020 we will have 200 billion devices connected on to the Internet and that would mean something like 25 billion dollar industry.  When that happens there will be an enormous growth of services which will be used by ordinary people.  But this also means that these devices will start to talk to each other, exchanging information, including personal information. If we do not take enough care, so that the privacy is maintained, access to the information is properly controlled, what could happen is that these vital information could fall into wrong hands. And that is the major threat I see.

 

Over the past 20 years, what is the one memorable incident you’d like to reflect on?

I think the day we connected LEARN permanently to the Internet is the breakthrough moment. We have been working really hard to get to that point overcoming all the issues and the problems we had. And with all the cooperation that we had from Sri Lanka Telecom, from the UGC, from the University and the Computer and Information Technology  Council of Sri Lanka, and the people from the USA where we connected to in the end. That was the breakthrough moment.

 

What is the message you’d like to give to the upcoming Graduates and Entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka? How do you like them to take the next step?

If you look back, there are few major steps that we have seen contributing to the exponential growth of the Internet. The first one being, having of course established the Internet, the email which was the killer application until 1993 when Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. So today everything is more or less World Wide Web based. And that is the killer application. It has been growing. Internet is almost like a life form and it is evolving. So I’d expect at various stages some of these killer applications to come to light. That is where the growth will be. So I would expect some of the Sri Lankans to contribute to this type of growing applications.

 

Any last/parting words?

I am quite happy that Sri Lanka had the good fortune of connecting to the Internet rather early, along with several other countries in the region.  After that people have seen the benefits, and they have continued to let it grow to the current state. And I am sure it will continue in the same way for the next 25-50 years.

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In my previous article, I mentioned how Nokia is working hard to add more quality to the Windows Phone OS with their Lumia Devices and by getting more developers to create apps for the platform, through their “Nokia Developer” program. The recently concluded “Nokia Create” global contest was one such initiative that saw tremendous response from developers from more than 76 countries around the world.

The most exciting part of the contest was that 2 of the 8 “Master Missions” corresponding to the 8 main categories, were won by Sri Lankan developers. And today we will be featuring “Extreme Music” which won the “Music Master Mission”. We had a chat with the talented developer of the app, Heshan Pathirana. Heshan completed his Software Engineering Degree at APIIT recently and has started working at a private firm. Heshan is a person who loves coding. He spends most of his time coding, trying to recreate the apps he comes across, so he can understand how they work. “I developed a Windows Phone app for my final year project at APIIT. I believe that practice helped me a lot to achieve this goal” says Heshan. I can’t agree more with him.

Heshan Pathirana

Heshan Pathirana

Extreme Music: What Makes it special?

Extreme Music is the best and the most advanced music application available on the Windows Phone Apps+Games Store. The app has some of the most advanced features like Voice Control. One can control the app without even looking at the screen. “With a special screen called “Blind Aid”, even visually impaired users can control the app using the voice command feature” says Heshan enthusiastically. The speciality of the app is that it offers all these advanced features through a simplified User Interface, giving a pleasing experience to the user. According to Nokia Developer Blog, it’s this simplified user experience that led them to choose the app as a winner in this category.

Extreme Music is deeply integrated with Nokia Mix Radio online streaming service API. If you use a Nokia Windows Phone device, then you can also purchase songs through Nokia Music, using this app and get most out of related services. The app is available for free download and a number of advanced features can be enabled through a purchase. While writing this, I was going through some of the user comments for the app and some say this app is “far better than the default music app” and “this should be made a default app”. Those comments speak for the app. According to Heshan, the app currently has more than 17000 downloads. “Initially the app was created to overcome certain Windows Phone limitations like custom playlists and favorites. Then I  improved the features to suite Nokia Create Contest” he says.

Extreme Music

How did Heshan end up developing mobile apps?

Heshan started developing when he was in Grade 11 at school. He wrote his first program using VB 6.0. He has not stopped since then. Speaking about his motivation, he says “For a developer, sky’s the limit. I think this freedom motivates me all the time.” It was when he was working on his final year project that Heshan decided to venture into developing “Mobile Apps”. “I also decided on Windows Phone OS because I thought it’s better to master a new platform rather than mastering already established ones” he continues.

I had mentioned in my previous article about the prizes offered to the winners of the Nokia Create Contest. In case you missed, the winner gets a Nokia Lumia device of his choice along with a Nokia Gear. Winner also gets 5000 Experience Points from Nokia DVLUP reward program. Their app is promoted app on Windows Phone Store and AppSocial for one week and they also get PubCenter credits to run a campaign, to promote their app. Above all, the winners are offered an all expenses paid trip to Mobile World Congress 2014, where the winning apps will showcased! Speaking about these exciting prizes, Heshan says “I feel extremely proud and happy. Trip to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is the most exciting prize for sure”. He is not mistaken there. He is getting an opportunity to showcase his app at a global event of this nature attended by some of the brightest minds of the tech world.

The Nokia Create contest was based on 8 Categories and had 15 “Missions” – that included 6 Mini missions, 8 Master missions and a DoGood mission. Each mission had a specific focus. Mini Missions required developers to add Nokia’s APIs and new features to their existing Windows Phone apps. To enter one of the 8 Master missions, participants had to develop a brand new app or game, or port one from another platform to Windows Phone 8. The Do Good Mission was quite different. According to Nokia, the aim of the DoGood mission was to “help enhance the lives and mobile experiences of visually impaired people.” The competition also had one Grand Prize.

Heshan is an enthusiastic youngster who is passionate about what he does. He also feels grateful for Nokia and Microsoft for the opportunity. He says he is “hoping to see some groundbreaking inventions and technologies from top notch companies in the world” at the MWC happening next month. We at Digit, are extremely proud of this high achiever and wish him good luck!

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Cover Cam

Windows Phone is slowly but steadily becoming popular around the world, according to reports. Most part of this success can be attributed to Nokia devices. Nokia’s Lumia series has become the backbone of Windows Phone OS. And Nokia does not stop there. It is also working hard to bring in more apps to the WP world, by luring more developers. Founded in 2012, “Nokia Developer” is one such program that “aims to help mobile app developers create apps and publish them to connect with people around the world.”

As part of this program Nokia held the “Nokia Create” contest which is a global competition for developers to develop apps for Nokia Lumia and Windows Phone 8. Developers from 76 countries around the world took part in the contest and Nokia announced the winners last week. It was a delight for us to hear that 2 Sri Lankans emerged as winners in two categories. “Cover Cam” app developed by Tharaka Wijebandara from Sri Lanka, won the “Master Mission” in Image and Photo category. Tharaka is a final year undergraduate, studying Information Technology at University of Moratuwa. He is also a Microsoft Student Partner and an active developer in the local scene. Heshan Pathirana a student of APIIT won the “Music Master Mission”for his app Extreme Music.

Cover Cam: The app

Cover Cam

Cover cam lets you set your Facebook profile picture and cover image with one click.

Cover Cam is an app that allows you to create your Facebook cover picture along with the matching profile picture with a single click. The idea is simple. But if you had tried for yourself, such an option is practically hard to execute from a single picture. But you should feel lucky if you’re a Windows Phone user. Tharaka’s app does that complex work for your, effortlessly. According to Tharaka, the app “makes your Facebook timeline header more beautiful, meaningful, and attractive or something totally crazy.” The app crops your profile picture and cover image from the original image and uploads it to your facebook account. While allowing you to take creative cover images, the app also allows you to choose existing photos from your gallery and turn it into creative Facebook timeline headers. According to Tharaka, his app is available as a trial version and a paid version. So far, it has been downloaded more than 80,000 times. It is also one of the top paid photo apps in many countries. As part of winning the competition, Nokia has also featured the app in many leading WP markets around the world.

So what inspired Tharaka to come up with such a cool idea for an app?

It was his friends. Few of them had manually uploaded their facebook profile picture and cover image in a way that made it look like a single image. Tharaka says that he immediately tried to create his own, with the help of Photoshop, but soon realized that not every image will fit into the idea. “Suddenly I got an idea. What if we can see the world through Facebook timeline header when we capture a photo? Then it will be easy to capture something beautiful for both profile picture and cover photo while they look as one image in the Facebook timeline header. So I decided to develop a Windows Phone app with this idea.” says Tharaka. And the uniqueness of the app is what made it a winner at the Nokia Create contest.

Tharaka Wijebandara, student of FIT, UoM

Tharaka Wijebandara, student of FIT, UoM

Tharaka’s developer career started when he was at school. He started to develop simple programs using VB 6, and they eventually became a hit among his friends, who encouraged him a lot. And thus, he ended up choosing Information Technology for his higher studies too. Tharaka enjoys developing mobile apps. “Mobile apps have very large audience compared to other software products“ says Tharaka; “We can have continuous feedback and keep on improving the apps”.

Winning a global competition brings more recognition for the developer. Our local talent gets noticed globally. And there’s a lot more. The winner gets a Nokia Lumia device of his choice along with a Nokia Gear. Winner also gets 5000 Experience Points from Nokia DVLUP reward program. Their app is promoted app on Windows Phone Store and AppSocial for one week and they also get PubCenter credits to run a campaign, to promote their app.

Nokia Create

Above all of these, *wait for it* the winners are offered an all expenses paid trip to Mobile World Congress 2014, where the winning apps will be showcased. Yes, you heard it right. Tharaka has won a trip to attend the MWC, which is happening in Barcelona in February. Mark Zuckerberg will be delivering the keynote speech this year. According to Tharaka, attending the MWC is the most exciting part of winning this contest. “It’s a great opportunity to learn new technologies, know about latest trends, make new friends and share experience with Windows Developers from around the world”, he says.

The Nokia Create contest was based on 8 Categories and had 15 “Missions” – that included 6 Mini missions, 8 Master missions and a Do Good mission. Each mission had a specific focus. Mini Missions required developers to add Nokia’s APIs and new features to their existing Windows Phone apps. To enter one of the 8 Master missions, participants had to develop a brand new app or game, or port one from another platform to Windows Phone 8. The Do Good Mission was quite different. According to Nokia, the aim of the Do Good mission was to “help enhance the lives and mobile experiences of visually impaired people.” The competition also had one Grand Prize.

Tharaka has huge hopes on Windows Phone OS. “Microsoft and Nokia  are very supportive and always encourage the developers” – Tharaka says enthusiastically. The Digit team feels proud for what Tharaka has achieved and wish him the best with his future endeavours!

Sarvodaya Fusion Manager,  Isura Silva talks with us and answers few questions regarding the Fusion Awards 2013, which is scheduled to happen on 6th of January 2014 at BMICH. This will be the 4th consecutive Fusion Award Ceremony and Entrepreneurs will be given away Awards as well.

Q - How did Fusion come up with this initiative? What was the main goal at that time?

It started in 2010. Maithree, Deputy Manager of Fusion thought of having a convocation to rural students. She was inspired by her graduation around that time.

So what started in 2010 is still the only graduation ceremony for rural students who get their IT training at rural telecenters.

We wanted to appreciate their success and show  young rural generation about opportunities in higher education and employment.

 Q - How many were there with the founder and how many are there now with Fusion? How quick are you growing?

If you mean the number of centers, we started the ‘Fusion Education’ with 15 centers. Now we serve over 60 centers.

 Q - Up to where have you reached so far in SL? What kind of wider coverage is Fusion hoping to get in the next 5 years?

We are operating in all districts in the country. We have trained around 4000 students in 4 years. We want to increase the number of students to at least 2500 per year from 2014.

 Q - Within a very short period of time, 2 years you say; this being your 4th annual Award Ceremony, how do you select the Award Winners? Is there a Nomination and Voting process or it is given away by a Jury/Fusion members?

Awards will be delivered for graduates of “Diploma in Computer Application certificate”. The event will also witness the twenty most outstanding graduates from Fusion Education’s KIDS 1 and KIDS 2 programmes that offer recognized ICT qualifications for children aged 5-9 and 10-14 respectively.

Plus from this year, we celebrate the best entrepreneurs from our mobile for development programs; ‘Smart Village’ and ‘Android Village Hubs’

 Q - What kind of programs do you offer at Fusion? Why mainly focus on IT?

We believe IT and English skills are essential for future. We want to align these students to be IT literate, so they engage to broader national goals of Sri Lanka becoming a ‘knowledge hub’.

Q - These SMEs’, were they powered by you? How did Fusion support /encourage them?

We connect with Enterprise Promotion Officers of SEEDS, the micro finance arm of Sarvodaya. Fusion gives training for these officers who train and mobilize the entrepreneurs in business skills and necessary technical skills. See more : http://fusionsmartvillage.blogspot.com/2012/01/social-media-for-enterprise-promotion.html

Checkout the pics from past Fusion Awards.

IMG_0825 IMG_0887 IMG_0939 IMG_1131

See this video for more. http://j.mp/McmyGp 

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Student Champ Programme recognizes top young minds from around the country who are passionate about technology. It’s once in a lifetime opportunity to develop real world skills to help you succeed in your future career, to help others learn technology and to connect with other likeminded students, all while having a ton of fun along the way! Also build relationships with industry professionals while you are studying.

For more info, click here.

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Qboo Prototypes

“Bringing computing power to everyday objects” was the futuristic vision of Lahiru Priyadarshana, a Sri Lankan born software engineer with special interests in Human Computer Interaction, Artificial Intelligence, Computer Sensing and Machine Vision . And today, he and his team at Kreyonic (where he is a co-founder),  are on track with achieving this goal with an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign for their newest project – “Qboo: Smart Plush Toys for Children”. The ambitious aim of the Kreyonic team is to raise $25000 to support the manufacturing cost and development of the product.

QbooLogo

Qboo

Gone are the days when kids used to run around in the gardens and play with physical objects. Change in modern lifestyle has shown it’s effect on the learning patterns of children whose brains undergo vast development during early childhood days. Sadly, children these days spend their lazy afternoons in front of TVs or playing computer games. “The time children spend in front of a display screen of some sort is increasing rapidly as well. However, apart from keeping them busy this passive and non-active screen time alone will not aid in their brain development.” notes the Kreyonic team.

“It is imperative for kids, particularly in their early ages to play with toys. Active play involving pretend-play and imaginative-play is a major part of healthy brain development as often stressed by child psychology experts.”

And thus, the Kreyonic team came up with Qboo! We at Digit were fascinated by this new product, and had a an exclusive interview with the team behind the idea.

What is Qboo?

Qboo is the first in the line of Kreyonic products. According to the Kreyonic team, “Qboo is a set of farm animals from the magical farm land far far away”. The Qboo characters are made of fabric (plush toys) and they come to life through an interactive educational tablet application which is bundled in the package. The team is planning to release the application for tablets running both iOS and Android. “With the use of actual toys, our products can make screen time more meaningful and fun for children.” Lahiru says while talking about this new project.

Qboo Final Version - Sample

Qboo Final Version – Sample

How does Qboo work?

Once you get hold of the Qboo toys and install the bundled application on your tablet device, all you need to do is to place the toys on the screen. And the magic will unfold in front of the little kids. The tablet app automatically detects the type / character of the toy and presents a variety of activities on the screen!

“Qboo toys do not have any electronics inside. Current toys are passive and use multi-touch technology on latest capacitive sensing tablet screens. Each toy has a uniquely identifiable pattern embroidered with a special thread; when kids place toys on the tablet screen, each toy registers a unique multi touch pattern that our application can use to recognize the type of toy being used” explains Lahiru.

Now, we have got a question. The toys need to be placed on the tablet screen for the stories to unfold. Will the toys damage or scratch the tablet device / screen?

“No. This is one of the main things many parents are concerned. We take this extremely seriously and that is why we wanted to create a toy, which is both kid friendly and tablet friendly. The toys are completely made of fabric (plush toys) and no matter how hard your child use it on your tablet device… Qboo toys will not damage or scratch the tablet screen.” assures Lahiru.

The most creative part of Qboo is that the application encourages non-structured, open ended game play, unlike any other game stories that end in a short time. Thus children can choose which characters they want in their stories. Qboo also allows kids to control the flow of the stories based on their own imagination. So, every time the kid starts to play, a different story unfolds in front of his eyes. This means the kids will never get bored with Qboo.

Another interesting thing about Qboo toys, is that they can be used as a regular soft toy, when there is no tablet around. “At Kreyonic, our main goal is to encourage physical play for kids without restricting their access to technology. The toys and stories are made carefully so that kids can continue playing with them even there is no tablet around! Qboo toys are not electronic toys so kids can do pretend-play and imaginative play in the real world just as they play with other plush toys.” adds Lahiru.

Qboo is targeted at the age group of 3-5

Qboo is targeted at the age group of 3-5

What age group is Qboo targeted at?

“The current application we are working on is targeted for kids from 3 to 5 years. The stories are developed under guidance and instructions from educators, early child development experts and parents. We are raising more funds so that we can add an educator and a creative story writer permanently to the team very soon!!” notes the Kreyonic team.

How can you become part of the exciting Qboo journey?

Well, you can use this chance to get something unique to the little ones in your family, while helping this team of Sri Lankan youth kick-start their business on a global scale. The Qboo project is currently in crowdfunding stage at Indiegogo. And, anyone around the world can start backing the project by contributing as low as CAD$ 10 (which will earn you exclusive Qboo merchandise). The real deal starts at CAD$20. Yes, as an early bird offer, you can pre-order the Qboo starter pack along with 3 stories for as low as CAD$20 (around Rs.2500. Add CAD$15 for international shipping). This offer is limited to the first 50 backers; so hurry! More other contribution plans can be seen from the official Indiegogo site here. The funding ends on 3rd of January 2014 and then the team will proceed to manufacturing and you’ll receive your product by next April, in time for the Avurudu! (There you go, perfect Avurudu gift idea for the little cousin!) :)

Meet the team!

“We love technology and we love KIDS!” says the team that includes Lahiru Priyadarshana, Dasun Priyankara and Amani Soysa. And the talented Isuri Hewage (Art Of Isuri) is the illustrator and designer behind the project.

Kreyonic Team. From Left: Lahiru, Amani and Dasun

Kreyonic Team. From Left: Lahiru, Amani and Dasun

Why did the team choose Canada? “We chose Canada because we knew that our initial target market is in North America…we wanted to be as close as to our target market. So we moved here in last August. We find Canada, specially Kitchener-Waterloo to be very exciting and active in the start-up space. It is the community here that makes all the difference! You are surrounded with passionate, inspirational entrepreneurs and you really can feel the energy that keeps you moving forward!” says Lahiru enthusiastically.

Qboo will be in the hands of little children. So the toys need to be safe and from a trusted manufacturer. “We are partnered with a local manufacturer based in Kitchener, Waterloo. They are working with a factory in China, which is where the final product will be made. The factories are operated in safer environment under toy safety regulations. All the toys will go under proper testing and will have an internationally approved toy safety certification.” assures Lahiru.

Isuri: the designer.

Isuri: the designer.

Adding further, “Current toys are passive and we have plans to release active toys with more electronics in future. So this is just the beginning” says he.

Even though Lahiru and his team are based in Canada, he is very much interested to see more similar startups emerge from his motherland. “We all at Kreyonic are very happy to see that a lot of great things are happening in the Sri Lankan IT sector…specially in the startup scene.! We are also just starting… still a small startup, and there is a long way to go. So with all the budding entrepreneurs out there, I would like to share one of the best advices we were given during our time here. “All the best things happen outside of your comfort zone; so step out right now!” :) ” – he says with a smile; the enthusiasm in this young man’s smile cannot be described in words. We at Digit are also proud of this young man, for he is one of the previous employees at GTS!

So, everyone reading this, do spread the word and help this budding startup to achieve their innovative goal by backing them in their Indiegogo campaign here: http://igg.me/at/qboo

Qboo: Smart Plush Toys from Kreyonic from Kreyonic on Vimeo.

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While it doesn’t include anything groundbreaking, the newest Dropbox update forAndroid intros a few handy features. Perhaps most prominent is the new notifications feed, where you can access your latest account activity via the bell icon on the app menu. That could be super useful if you share folders with friends or co-workers, but if not, you can now also email them images and videos from within the app. To do so, simply find the option under the Share umbrella and go to town forwarding your memes. Finally, Dropbox, in hopes of enticing you to shell out for its services, can now auto-fill your credit card details if you take a pic of your plastic. We’ve embedded screenshots of the new features after the break for those who’d like to get a peek before downloading the update.

 

 

Source : http://www.engadget.com/2013/11/20/dropbox-android-notification-send-to-contact/

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 - Interview with Sajith Udayanga, Overall Winner of Digit Ideamart Awards – 2013

Taking another step towards fostering the IT/Mobile industry of the country, Digit Magazine together with Dialog Axiata organized a mobile application development competition for application developers of Dialog Ideamart. Many developers took part in the competition with their innovative application ideas and their effort to succeed is commendable. The limelight of the event was grabbed by Sajith Udayanga, who won two awards, namely the Best Application Award and the People’s Choice Award. Today we interview Sajith to reveal his story to the success in mobile application business.

Q: Hello Sajith! Congratulations on being the overall winner at IdeaMart – Digit Mobile Application Development Competition. Tell us about yourself.

A: I am Sajith Udayanga. I’m an undergraduate of the Department of Sports Science and Management, Faculty of Applied Science at Sabaragamuwa University. I was a student at Ananda College. I have a keen interest for programming and field of mobile application development. It has been about two years since I entered mobile application development field. Now I have around 25 mobile applications successfully operating.

Q: Give us a brief introduction to your presence on IdeaMart.

A: I began to work with dialog Ideamart a few months ago. I have created several successful mobile applications along with Ideamart. The 2 main applications I have created are Lovers chat and Find my Kid. Basically lovers chat application is build under “couple chat concept”. It allows two partners/friends to chat unlimitedly only for Rs. 1 per day. If anyone wants to register for this application all they have to do is type REG JM and send 77220. Find my kid application is built carrying the idea of safety. It allows the user to track the location of the child or any other desired person. This application may become useful in emergency situations. Find My Kids application won 2 awards at Digit-Ideamart award ceremony 2013; the people’s choice award and best application award. To register for this application type REG FM and send to 77100.

Q: What makes you/your applications stand out from the rest?

A: My applications are built according to the requirement of customers. I focus on touching the areas of daily needs through my applications. Applications are user friendly and the customers can give feedback on the quality of the service and the problems they face while using my application. This approach allows my applications to standout from the rest.

Q: How do you evaluate the feasibility of your idea?

A: When I generate an idea for an application, I practically consider whether it could be utilized in daily life and whether it would meet the requirements of potential customer base. Then I would talk about my idea with friends and have their suggestions. Sometimes I tell my ideas to a sample of my potential customer base and evaluate whether my application would become practically useful to them.

Q: How do you reach out to your target market? What are the marketing channels you use?

A: Main-marketing channel I use is social media. Apart from that I use leaflets and my friend network as my channels too.

Q: Behind every success story, there is a list of challenges and barriers. What are the challenges you are facing at the moment as a developer/entrepreneur?

A: I have faced several challenges in this field. Sometime I find it hard to reach customers. Basically marketing is a quite big challenge. The initial cost for marketing is high. The means to reach customers are usually costly that I find as a challenge. Apart from that meeting the needs of dynamic customer base is another challenge.

Q: In your opinion, what are the elements of the formula for a successful entrepreneur?

A: I think to be a successful entrepreneur one should always be alerted about the markets and always update himself/herself about market and strategies. Taking the risk, which is calculated well, is another aspect. And it is important to look at the things in daily routine and activities differently to understand the opportunities.

Q: Where do you see yourself in another 10 years time? Tell us about your future plans for your business?

A: I have aim to start a software and mobile application developing company of my own. In ten years time my vision is to be a successful, competitive and leading mobile application developing company in Sri Lanka.

Q: What is your message for developers who want to become entrepreneurs?

A: If you want to reach out your dreams, always be a leader not a follower. Think further about the life experiences and see the opportunities it generates. Always be prepared to take the risk, which is well calculated. And finally remember to have a backup plan in your initial ideas fail.

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- Interview with J. F. Fazna: An Award Winner of Ideamart – Digit Awards 2013

Digit IT Magazine partnered with Dialog Ideamart to recognize the best performing mobile application developers cum entrepreneurs on Ideamart and the award ceremony was held on 12th October at Dialog Future World Auditorium. There was one particular app developer who was able to stun the gathering, when she was awarded for the most number of application submissions. She has developed 16 applications on Ideamart within a limited time period and today; we are interviewing Jifry Fathima Fasna to explore her story behind the success.

Q:  Hello Fazna! Congratulations on your award at Ideamart – Digit Awards 2013. Tell us about yourself.

A: I’m from the east part of the island. My hometown is Oddamavadi, which is in Batticaloa. I started my school life at BT/BCC/FathimaBalika M.V. and did my A/L at BT/BCC/Oddamavadi Central College.  Currently I’m doing my second year of the degree in Computer Engineering at University of Peradeniya. About my family, my father is an electronic technician and my mother is a homemaker. I have three sisters and a brother.

Q: Give us a brief introduction to your presence on IdeaMart?

A: I got to know about Ideamart from a friend before Ideamart team came to our university and did a session on Ideamart and how it works. Then, I decided to do apps on that platform and started the work. Now, there are 16 active applications on Ideamart developed by me. Some of them are service type and others are contact type.Under service type, there are few subscriber-based apps such as Girl Facts(Ultimate facts about girls), Health Tips, Sports Quotes (famous quotation for sport people by famous sport persons) and etc.

In contact based applications, there are several apps. Some of them are: Biorhythm, Sleep Calculator, Donate Blood, Know Your Blood Group, Future Job, EB Calculator. Biorhythm and Future Job use user’s birthday to produce the results while the other apps have their own specific inputs.

Users can find the full details of the apps on allapps.lk, or in our FB page https://www.facebook.com/toroidz

Q: 16 Applications! That’s amazing effort! What motivated you to develop applications for IdeaMart?

A: I just love programming. When I get an idea to do an app, I just do it. At the time I heard about diGIT-Ideamart competition, I had already finished 16 apps. So, I applied for them all. Yes, there is a motivation for me. My colleague Fawzan was already doing these kinds of work and he has won some awards in a recently held award ceremony and it impressed me a lot. So, I decided to follow his way and do some apps.

Q. How do you reach out to your target market? What are the marketing channels you use?

A: I initially target the people at my university. I prepared some posters and put them in every faculty’s student notice boards. Other than that, I have a plan to put some advertisement on newspapers and magazine also.Currently, I’m creating a Facebook page for all of my apps to reach the people since it is the mostly used media by everyone today.

Q. What are the challenges you face being a developer?

A: Challenges?? Hmm.. I don’t think being a developer is a challenge. May be it is because I love to be a developer. But, my family members worry about me, specially my parents because, I start everyday with a coffee in front of my laptop and end the day with the dinner in front of my laptop. So, they feel that I should move somewhere else and do some other works also.

Q: Do you have any role models? Who inspire you?

A: Yeah, as I already mentioned my colleague Fawzan is my inspiration for being a developer. He is doing lots of work on web development and application development. He was the one who showed me the way to do some creative work. I started my work as a content creator on his websites, Tip4theday.com and ezmodem.com and now reached this level. I’m really thankful to him for what I’m now.

Q: Where do you see yourself in another 10 years time? Tell us about your future plans.

A: I like to see my self as a successful software engineer in the future. I’m not sure whether I’m going to be a freelancer or work under a specific company. Whatever I do, I like to do my best.I think being a freelancing software engineer would be sound nice ;) . So, I can do my favorite work independently without any pressure. Other than the job, I want to do some more creative work in the field of application development and web development.

Q: We do not see many female developers/entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka. What is your message to potential female developers/entrepreneurs?

A: Nowadays, women achievers are in every field. Women can achieve a good place as developers/entrepreneurs, because we are more creative and innovative. These two qualities help us to shine as a developer/entrepreneur.My opinion is being an entrepreneur is a very good profession for women. Not this one, for any profession, if they love the profession they can do it well.

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hSenid Mobile, a multinational telco-mobile software solutions provider hosted a workshop in collaboration with the Electronic and Telecommunication Engineering Department, University of Moratuwa on Tuesday October 01, 2013.

The workshop titled ‘Future of the Connected World’ comprised sessions on present-day mobile trends, future predictions and the potential of the mobile industry, the various career opportunities available in the IT industry and a one-on-one session with representatives from hSenid Mobile. CEO Dinesh Saparamadu was the keynote speaker of the event. The Head of Department Dr. Ajith Pasqual and other faculty also attended the workshop.

The workshop included the various R&D opportunities available and hSenid Mobile’s role in implementing the ‘internet of things’.

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The final address of the session, conducted by CEO Dinesh Saparamadu, focused on career guidance and the various career options available in the information technology industry.

“As an undergraduate and soon a graduate, I continuously urge you all to question if it is a job or a career that you seek. While a career is driven by passion, a job is your usual nine-to-five drill,” said the CEO.

The event held was a continuation to the series of programmes hSenid Mobile intends to implement at university level. Earlier this year the company held workshops at Moratuwa, Ruhuna and Wayamba Universities and at Jaffna University in 2012.

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About hSenid Mobile Solutions

hSenid Mobile engineers solutions that enable telecom operators to seamlessly connect to businesses. The platforms are designed to cater to and enhance business and social requirements of enterprise and consumer markets.