Home latest news

2773

From Web data mining, Computer security, Stochastic Network to Advanced algorithms…..
From UC Berkeley, Washington State University to University of Utah…..
“SL2College Research Collaboration” now provides research partnerships between Sri Lankan undergraduates and scientists from foreign universities.
Pick your field and we will match a research mentor for you!

Visit http://www.sl2college.org/research-collab/ and fill out the application form.

 

3993

Blue Ocean Ventures and the Indian Angel Network collaborate for the third successive year to host Venture Engine 2014, a project aimed at fostering entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka.  Over its brief two year duration, the project has served as a springboard for 12 businesses, garnering Rs. 200 million in investment collectively.  In addition to opening the door to financial backing, Venture Engine provides startups with access to a breadth of expertise in the form of workshops and mentoring sessions via Lankan Angel Network (LAN) and the Indian Angel Network (IAN).

Endorsing the event for the third consecutive year are platinum sponsors Expolanka and Orion City and gold sponsor Dialog Axiata, organisations consistently at the forefront of the Sri Lankan business arena.  Venture Engine is run, mentored and filtered by Lankan Angel Network, Sri Lanka’s first alliance of angel investors.

The competition is open to owners of startup businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs.  An open call for business plans was officially launched on the 29th of April and the close of submissions is scheduled for May 26th, after which a rigorous selection process will ensue.  A panel of potential local and overseas investors will review business plans of applicants, selecting a minimum of 20 applications to move on to the second pitch round, and provide valuable critique and insight during this segment of the process.

The top applicants benefit from valuable opportunities to enrich their business plans through a series of workshops and one to one mentoring sessions with successful local and international investors.  These entrepreneurs will make a final pitch to a panel of local and international investors with the most exceptional business plans announced at a finale.

“A salient feature of Venture Engine is that the entrepreneur is granted the opportunity to pitch directly to the investors.  The selected candidates are mentored by LAN and IAN, and there is no ceiling on funds made available through the angel group.  Thus any fundable startup in the top ten has a good opportunity to gain the required investment to set up and expand their company,” explained Prajeeth Balasubramaniam, Managing Director, Blue Ocean Ventures.

Mr. Prajeeth Balasubramaniam, Co-Founder of Blue Ocean Ventures addresses the audience

Mr. Prajeeth Balasubramaniam, Co-Founder of Blue Ocean Ventures addresses the audience

“We were charting new territory in 2012 when we launched the first Venture Engine programme. With foreign investors eager to capitalise on post war growth and budding entrepreneurs looking to spread their wings, the need for an effective startup ecosystem was identified.  Over the last two years we have witnessed an impressive display of talent and drive, reinforcing our decision to launch Venture Engine in Sri Lanka.

“The success of startups from the last two events has seen our investor base expanding.  Sustainability is key and Venture Engine’s role effectively extends beyond the immediate capital infusion.  Our team of mentors continue to provide insight and guidance after the new ventures are underway,” added Balasubramaniam.

“Venture Engine is a unique initiative.  It has inspired entrepreneurship and also driven angel investing in Sri Lanka. Year on year, it has brought critical money and mentoring to young Sri Lankan entrepreneurs. IAN is proud to have helped found Lankan Angel Network, partnered VE and brought in investors from around the world to the island nation,” said Padmaja Ruparel, President, Indian Angel Network.

“From simple beginnings as a small fruit and vegetable exporter in Dam Street, Expolanka has risen to a diversified conglomerate ranked amongst the top ten business entities in Sri Lanka with a global footprint across 18 countries.  Entrepreneurship is the cornerstone upon which our success is built and we understand the challenges of venturing out on new territory.  We see immense value in the exposure and guidance VE provides its participants and its cascading effect on the economy,” stated Hanif Yusoof, Group CEO, Expolanka.

“Innovation and entrepreneurship are such fundamental principles of the IT industry that the terms have almost become synonymous.  The most significant technological advancements have been brought about by entrepreneurs with marketable ideas and unwavering drive.  Without platforms such as VE, we run the costly risk of these ideas never reaching realization.  Orion City, once a startup itself, understands this need and is committed to developing the Sri Lankan IT sector.  Furthering this goal, we are excited to announce the launch of Orion Nest, a dedicated facility for start-ups,” emphasised Jeevan Gnanam, CEO/Director of Orion City.

“The Venture Engine amply demonstrates the value creation potential of a synergistic platform which brings together Innovation, Risk Capital and Domain Expertise. World over, Venture capital has proven to be an essential ingredient in driving innovation and national competitiveness. Dialog is privileged to be a partner in the Venture Engine competition for the third successive year and it is particularly rewarding to note that within a short space of two years, the Venture Engine programme has succeeded in seeding several business ventures which are globally competitive,” said Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya, Group Chief Executive of Dialog Axiata PLC.

Venture Engine has made substantial headway not just in facilitating startups, but in creating general interest in entrepreneurial ventures amongst investors and potential candidates.

Information on the programme, previous years’ events, and past participants are available on the project website www.ventureengine.lk.  Application process information and resources are also available on the website with entries accepted on submissions@ventureengine.lk.  Further assistance will be provided on contacting inquiries@ventureengine.lk.

2844

Firefox has finally managed to roll-out their GUI redesign. Although it has an uncanny resemblance to Google’s elite Chrome browser, Mozilla who boasts about the refurbishment as ‘Mozilla Introduces the Most Customizable Firefox Ever with an Elegant New Design‘ is adamant that they have enhanced the functionality as well. Customization and Firefox Sync is boosted up and Bookmarking and accessing Add-ons Manager have been simplified.

Mozilla in their blog states:

We reimagined and redesigned Firefox to reflect how you use the Web today and we are excited to introduce many features including an elegant and fun design, new menu, customization mode and an enhanced Firefox Sync service powered by Firefox Accounts.

According to them, the improvements are as follows:

  • Elegant New Design: Sleek new tabs and an overall modern look that makes it easier to experience the Web the way you want.
  • Customization Mode: Makes it easy for you to personalize your Web experience to access the features you use the most. You can easily drag and drop your favorite feature, tool or add-on in the menu or toolbar.
  • Firefox Menu: Includes popular browser controls, features and add-ons in one place to make it easier and faster to access them. The menu is completely customizable so you can edit or add features you use most.
  • Fun and Simple Bookmarks: You can create bookmarks with a single click and manage them from the same place.
  • Easy Access to Add-ons Manager: Firefox includes an Add-ons Manager you can access directly from the menu to help easily discover and install add-ons.
  • Enhanced Firefox Sync Powered by Firefox Accounts: Just create a Firefox Account and our sync feature makes it even easier to setup and add multiple devices with end-to-end encryption. Firefox Sync gives you access to Awesome Bar history, saved passwords, bookmarks, open tabs and form data across your computers and mobile Android devices.

Along with these novelties, Firefox has continued to strengthen its compatibility with Web Platforms and Developer Tools.

4157

Last week was a tremendous and a tiring week for the Sri Lankan Ingress community because for the first time ever Colombo was selected as a connected cell for the global anomaly called Interitus 02 by Ingress. It was a 31 septacycle (checkpoint) mission or simply put 31 battles against the opponent faction to win the anomaly that might add 20 points to the respective faction globally. Unlike all other Ingress cycles monitored by Google, this main cycle of 5 hour 31 checkpoints made both Sri Lankan Enlightened and Resistance teams work harder than ever before and those who participated had poured a tremendous effort to make their team win this and ultimately Sri Lankan Enlightened team got the chance to win the anomaly for Colombo.

For those who do not know what Ingress is, briefly it is a location based strategic augmented reality game introduced by Google that needs an Android smartphone with GPS and an internet connection in which the player has to physically travel from place to place and capture ground areas for their team/faction making fields by linking portals such as statues, archaeological buildings, and unique signs around the country. The more you cover the more points for the faction according to the population density of the covered area. And the tactics can immensely increase or multiply those area points called ‘Mind Units (MUs)’ by using multilayering fields across the ground.

Ingress Interitus final marks

End of the 31 battles across the country to cover the biggest area inside Colombo cell globally known as AS10-GOLF-01, local players from both teams had to travel around Sri Lanka to execute their quick and massive plans several times during the past week that cost time, sweat, thirst, travelling costs, fines and injuries too. If you need to know how precious a minute is, you have to play Ingress and see how it counts to the final decision of who won the cycle with how much score. For this, both teams, Enlightened and Resistance kept communications with India and Maldives players to cover Colombo cell by making bigger fields with multiple layers. This sort of work needs so much planning and final moment decisions when executing plans or to mitigate risks from the opponent team, which might turn the whole situation upside down.

Sri Lankan Enlightened cross-country mega field made with India

Sri Lankan Enlightened cross-country mega field made with India

However Enlightened team in Sri Lanka managed to create multilayer cross-country fields connecting Ambalangoda, Bible Rock and Coimbatore in India, plus some inland fields covering one fifth of the country with the help of Indian players, adding around 20 million mind units (points) at the very first battle to the Enlightened team and the team was lucky enough to repeat the same plan twice more to keep Resistance team behind the winning line. Knowing that, Resistance team too planned and executed various missions to block Enlightened from making mega fields and their plans too were blocked by Enlightened many times. However Resistance team came up with a massive mind unit gain plan by connecting Jaffna, Udawalawe and Maldives covering half of the country, but just a few minutes before the Google’s checkpoint (two checkpoints before the last around 0630 hrs), a lower level Enlightened player managed to destroy the 20 million worth cross-country fields letting the Resistance team lose their last hope of winning. Both teams tried hard to block and distract opponent plans in many ways that lead many players run here and there across the country sacrificing time, money and sweat.

10259742_10

So we wish all the best to both the teams for taking part in this global anomaly by shedding tears and sweat to win against opponent team by carrying out mission after mission. Congratulations to the Sri Lankan Enlightened team for securing the Colombo (AS10-GOLF-01) cell for the Enlightened faction.

Download Ingress from Play Store here.

Read more about growing Ingress community in Sri Lanka here.

2555

Starting off with the venue, you won’t believe if I said this Northshore College building is situated in Colombo 15/Mattakkuliya. It is enormous inside and out. Started nearly 3 years back,  4th batch of students are now undergoing their studies where the univeristiy offers IT and Management Degrees only at the moment.

The name ‘ROBOCOM’ itself gives an idea what this event is about. A Robotics Competition organized by the Northshore College ‘Robotics Society‘ to bring out the hidden talents among the Mechanical Engineering Students and to get an idea about starting a Robotics Degree at the College.

“I hope this competition is the first step of a long way. You will not win instantly, but you will definitely win” – Professor Niranjan Gunawardhana, Director of Northshore College.

1151056_776529455690394_6027215327547325629_n

10 teams were supposed to battle, however only 7 turned up.  Team Arrow, Team Omega, Team MH370, Team 1st Place, Team Robosonic, Team Circuit Breakers and Team Titan were the present teams at the venue.

Apparently the individual who won the open category Robotics Challenge at UoM last year is one of the Lecturers at Northshore College and he’s been guiding the students for this competition along with some other lecturers as well.

Each team got 3 trials to pick the object and follow the trail. Final results were announced after calculating based on a formula and by judging the design. 3rd place went to Team 1st Place, 2nd place to Team #MH370 and Team Arrow were able to bag the 1st position without any hesitation.

10006598_776534142356592_512871861107863174_n

Visit our Live Blog for Live and detailed updates of the event.

Photo Album: here

4500

Young Sri Lankan duo,  Mihil and Ruvin Suriyappreuma who are nine and twelve may have become the youngest Android Apps developer siblings in the world. They have released their first two apps based on Android OS for Android mobile devices and are now available to be downloaded from Google Play Store free of charge.

According to Daily FT they have taken over the record from two brothers who were ten and twelve years old, when together publishing one iOS app for Apple devices. Mihil and Ruvin are studying at Gateway College Colombo and their apps are branded  ‘RAMPS’ in Google Play Store, which is the acronym for ‘Ruvin and Mihil – Play Smart.’ Their apps Cool Times : A fun way of learning multiplication for kids and Family Photo : A fun album for the whole family are now available to be downloaded from Play Store.

We wish the young App Developers all the very best and we await to hear some ground breaking feats from them in future.

Source: Daily FT

9028

 

 

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.

2207

In an effort to keep up with this rapidly developing field, and in order to expose our students to this particular sphere of robotic technology, Northshore College has organized ‘Robocom’, its first ever Robotics competition.

More info here.

Keep an eye on our Live Blog for detailed updates as we will bring them to you instantly as they happen. :D