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In a bid to introduce children around the globe to computer science, Microsoft launched the worldwide ‘Hour of Code’ campaign in Sri Lanka with ‘Hour of Code’ workshop for over 100 children at the Temple Trees on 7th December. Simply put, ‘Hour of Code’ is an introduction programme to computer science, designed to explain the importance of coding and demonstrate the basics of coding to children.

Country Manager Microsoft - Sri Lanka & Maldives Mr. Brian Kealey

Country Manager Microsoft – Sri Lanka & Maldives Mr. Brian Kealey

Throughout this week, Microsoft will be conducting workshops around the world, introducing thousands of children to the Minecraft coding tutorial to celebrate the Computer Science education week from 7th to 13th December 2015. Developed in partnership with code.org, Minecraft coding tutorial introduces users to the basics of computer science within an entertaining gaming environment.

”This is a wonderful opportunity for Sri Lanka and its future generation. Computer science is an important part of foundational learning which will induce children to develop problem-solving skills and computational-thinking. Hour of Code, Computer Science week will be the stepping stone into the world of computing for thousands of Sri Lankan children. We at Microsoft believe that every young person should have the opportunity to learn computer science, and inherit the power to create with technology.” said Manager Community & Communications of Microsoft Sri Lanka, Janakie Karunaratne.

Microsoft plays a key role in the global movement to encourage young people around the world to experience their first Hour of Code with Minecraft to unleash their innate potential and gain skills to create technology by participating in one of the many coding workshops conducted in over 50 countries.

The result of collaboration between Microsoft and Code.org, Minecraft ‘Hour of Code’ tutorial guides users through basic coding skills, encouraging them to navigate, mine, craft and explore in a 2-D “Minecraft” world by plugging together blocks to complete all actions and generate computer code. Created by Minecraft game designers, the tutorial includes characters and challenges inspired by the game developed by Mojang and familiar to players around the world. Players are offered a set of 14 challenges, including free play time, to explore coding concepts they’ve learned through the tutorial. Minecraft tutorial is suitable for children as young as 6 years of age, older children as well as interested adults.

“Microsoft can do a lot of work in a country like Sri Lanka where a lot of untapped and undiscovered talent remains hidden from view. With the launch of Hour of Code, we hope to encourage those talented girls and boys to explore their potential and take the first step to become technology disruptors of the future. We are committed to assisting budding talent to come to light,” said Country Manager of Microsoft – Sri Lanka and Maldives, Brian Kealey.

Microsoft has a long history of supporting educators globally and remains committed to encouraging young people to engage with and learn computer science. The Company believes that all young people should have access to computer science education in order to cultivate computational-thinking and problem-solving skills that are critical for their future. Microsoft continues to work with governments, schools, businesses and non-profit organizations around the globe to achieve this end and build a generation of innovators.

Microsoft's Hour of Code student participants & organizers

Microsoft’s Hour of Code student participants & organizers

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It has been more than two years since the mobile game known as Ingress was introduced to the world by Niantic Labs, a subsidiary of Google and despite being a small nation, Sri Lanka has played a noticeable role in worldwide gameplay. It is quite rare to see a gaming community step up to carry out community service activities for the benefit of all society in the interest of humanity. Ingress as a community based social gaming experience encourages an initiative called #MissionsForGood, with local players meeting up for community activities to help charities and so on. As a growing gaming community, Enlightened Sri Lanka have stepped forward, gathering themselves through the Ingress gaming network to help save real lives by organizing a blood donation campaign, with aim of doing something good for the people of the country.

Blood is an important and very rare resource in terms of life. Local hospitals occasionally face difficulties in finding various blood types to cater to various severe situations that occur in hospitals to meet the needs of patients. Therefore the need for blood arises daily and the Sri Lankan Enlightened community decided to pull off this event to help maintain the blood transfusion capacity within the country. The Sri Lankan Ingress community currently consists of 200 or more active players scattered across the island and we expect more than 100 eligible donors for this blood drive. This is an open invitation for everyone who wishes to donate for this worthy cause to join us.

Here is the information regarding the Ingress Blood Donation.
Date: Saturday, 17th of October 2015.
Venue: National Blood Transfusion Center, Narahenpita.
Time: Starting at 8.30 AM and will end around 3.30 PM.

FB Event page – Click here

Please spread the word and gather as many people as possible to help in saving lives.

Ingress Blood Drive

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zMessenger, Sri Lanka’s largest mobile marketing solutions provider will bring together top brand leaders from FMCG, hospitality, banking and financial services to the Island’s first roundtable on mobile marketing scheduled for Thursday, 30th October, 2014

The event titled Embracing Mobile Mind Shift – Mobile Moments are the Frontline of Customer Experience will look at the impact of rapidly increasing mobile connectivity on customer expectations.

“Mobile phones are proving to be an effective and affordable marketing channel and in the face of this mobile boom, customers are in the midst of a total mind shift. Their expectations have changed. Whilst they have lost interest in a marketing message, they now demand utility and they expect it now. We thought its timely to focus on how brand leaders across different industries understand this shift and respond to it by creating mobile moments that would transform customer experience and supply them with mobile utility,” Jayomi Lokuliyana, Co-Founder and CEO of zMessenger said.

The roundtable will see expert panelists Siddharth Banerjee, Country Marketing Director – Unilever Sri Lanka, Tharanga Gunasekera, Head of Marketing and Communications – HSBC Sri Lanka, Mangala Wickramasinghe, Head of e-Banking Services –  HNB and Co-Founder of the Ministry of Crab and Kaema Sutra restaurants, Dharshan Munidasa addressing the gathering on diverse topics spanning from customer engagement to delivery of financial services through mobile phones and the power of mobile context to mobile services in the hospitality sector.

The mobile marketing roundtable will also highlight and profile various ground-breaking mobile marketing efforts of ‘new-age’ corporate such as Unilever Sri Lanka, a driver of effective marketing.

zMessenger is an award winning integrated mobile media company that offers a wide range of solutions from planning, creating and execution of effective marketing campaigns, branded communication applications and content distribution strategies.

zMessenger that first introduced SMS based applications to local media stations also enjoy a leading position in the overall ‘new media’ marketing space for digital. It is also the only mobile marketing services solution provider in Sri Lanka.

The company recently launched Bigbon, a mobile app that allows customers to pick and choose the best deals offered by credit cards, loyalty cards and favorite retailers and restaurants. Bigbon which is completely customizable allows users to explore the deals at a specific location by turning on the “Augmented Reality” feature which displays a list of deals in close proximity to the user. The app also generates a report offering merchants an insight into customer preferences.

“With the journey we’ve come so far, it’s only benefitting for zMessenger to hold the country’s first ever Mobile Marketing Roundtable. We believe that this endevour will help broaden our horizons and consolidate our position in the Island,” Lokuliyana said.

Event is invite only but will be live streamed via MMRColombo.

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    Representing Sri Lanka at the Spikes Asia Festival, Mindshare team members Seninda Bandara and Supun Hettiarachchi did the country proud when they clinched the Bronze medal for ‘Young Spikes in Media’ recently.

    The Spikes Asia Festival was held in Singapore, where Seninda and Supun competed amongst agencies in the APAC region. The winning campaign by Seninda and Supun addressed methods of improving tourism opportunities for Singapore, with the objectives of enhancing visits and driving advocacy. The duo was given three days to work on the project and five minutes to present.
    Having identified the need gap for destination information as well as directions and travel options – with ‘map’ and ‘things to do’ being critical searches during pre- and post-arrival – they created a map to fill this gap and achieve the campaign objectives. Having gathered information and insight, they proposed a campaign of a mobile app based on a map, titled the ‘Orchid Map’. This tied-in seamlessly with Singapore tourism, with the Orchid being the country’s national flower.
    The Orchid Map symbolised the diversity of the country in four areas – entertainment, attractions, dining and shopping – and comprised a simple, real-time, integrated and interactive multi-platform to explore everything in Singapore.

    Commenting on his experience, Supun said: “Spikes Asia was an amazing experience not only because of our victory, but also the exposure I received from many industry experts as well as the great work done by so many agencies regionally. The Young Spikes competition is a great opportunity for young professionals in the industry to enhance their skills to a highly competitive level. I am grateful to the Mindshare & GroupM family for giving me the opportunity to make the country so proud.”

    Seninda, also expressing his gratitude to GroupM commented: “Winning at Young Spikes was a great experience for me and absolutely a milestone in my advertising career. The Spikes Asia Festival of creativity was an amazing festival with opportunities for knowledge sharing, networking, fun. I am proud to have represented our country at a global event of this scale and I am thankful to the Mindshare & GroupM family for the opportunity and encouragement.”

    Seninda and Supun

    Seninda and Supun

    The Young Spikes Media Competition, which took place from 23 to 26 September comprised the presentation of the brief, the two-day competition period, the deadline and the judging process and saw the brightest young minds of the region competing for top honours.
    The Young Spikes Competitions provide Asia Pacific’s next generation of creative talent the opportunity to showcase their talent. Mindshare’s Associate Director – Invention, Seninda and Executive, Supun were selected to represent Sri Lanka at the Spikes Asia Festival after they excelled at the competition held among the local advertising industry.

    The challenging competition here saw teams of creative minds develop an innovative and viable media strategy for a charity or non-profit organization in just two days. The competition, which is a platform for young talent to showcase business insight and skills, was judged by a panel of top media experts.

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    This meetup group aims to bring together people from all industries, university academics, students who are interested in dealing with large amounts of data, offering interesting talks, hands-on advice and a forum for exchange and networking. Topics include (but are not limited to);

    Big Data, Data Mining, Data Visualization, Cloud Computing with Big Data , Distributed Computing with Big Data, Machine Learning, Information Retrieval, Tools/Frameworks such as Apache Hadoop, Apache Mahout, NoSQL storage & search technologies, Predictive Analysis.

    Going a step further, this group also aims to improve the research work done in this area by connecting university students with industrial professionals and academics on various big data related research topics. This will also provide a platform for students to present their ideas to a larger crowd in order to get feedback and funding opportunities for their work.

    Colombo Big Day Meetup

    RSVP via Meetup page here

     

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    Explore ’14, the annual IT Day of St. Peter’s College, Colombo 04, organized by the Peterite ICT Team, was successfully held on the 29th of September 2014. With the aim of harnessing the ICT talents and skills and spread the benefits of technology to the entire society, Explore ’14 kicked off at 9.30a.m at the College Main Hall and went on till 5.30p.m. Over a hundred and fifty participants attended the event, with students from all over the island.
    Prof. Sanath Jayasena, chief guest at Explore'14

    Prof. Sanath Jayasena, chief guest at Explore’14

    Prof. Sanath Jayasena was the chief guest for the day. Prof. Sanath Jayasena has been working in the Department of Computer Science &
    Engineering, in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Moratuwa for about 20 years. His research interests include parallel and high-performance computing, machine learning and local language computing.
    Student participation at Explore'14
    There were interesting lectures conducted by well experienced professionals in the fields of:
    Mechatronics – Dr. Dilum Bandara. He is a senior lecturer from the Dept. of Computer Science & Engineering, University of Moratuwa. His
    teaching and research interests are in the areas of Cloud computing, Computer Networks, Wireless Sensor Networks, Computer Architecture,
    Embedded Systems, and Network Security.Game Design/Development – Uditha Bandara. Specializes in Microsoft development for Windows Phone, Xbox 360 and PC. He is South East
    Asia’s First XNA/DirectX MVP (Most Valuable Professional). He had delivered sessions at various events and conferences in Malaysia, Hong
    Kong,Singapore, Sri Lanka and IndiaCareer Guidance – Ms Chathura Sooriyaarchchi
    Mobile App Development – Ms Neera JayamohanThere were also bands and soloists from the school itself who performed at the event.
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    The event ended on a high note with Royal College being the winners of both the Inter-School Quiz Competition and the Hackathon. Ananda
    College emerged runners-up in the Inter-School Quiz Competition and the Hackathon.

    Peterite ICT Team for Explore'14

    Peterite ICT Team for Explore’14

    Article submitted by Vathsala Karunanayake.
    Photographs By Lakshan Bhanuka. Group photo by Tharusha Pathmaperuma.

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    Ingress is a mobile game made for Android handsets that needs more physical strength to play than any other mobile game. It is a game not only for men but also for women. If you are a member of any Sri Lankan Ingress community, you may find how low the number of female appearances are and you will realize how important it is to have a good blend of men and women in a team since Ingress is not for lonely and male players.

    Women too are as important as men in this society and so too in cyber world. As a result of the vast penetration of information technology to the masses, it made local women more powerful on par with equally skilled men here today. Sri Lankan Ingress community is a good stage to show off women’s power to the world, because Ingress is a globally recognized mobile game played by millions of people around the world.

    It has now grown up with female players from both factions, say the Enlightened (Green) team and the Resistance (Blue) team. Two months after the International Women’s day, when one of the renowned Sri Lankan Ingress team was able to secure the Colombo cell in Interitus global anomaly, they have once again made a big leap by taking the initiative to gather all local female players of Enlightened faction together who have been individually playing Ingress to make the first ever ladies only Ingress portal in Sri Lanka on 23rd of May at Independence Square, Colombo. This attempt could clearly highlight the female power of Sri Lankan Enlightened team and it was a 100% Sri Lankan effort without the aid of any foreign players.

    Eight ladies from Enlightened team who made the first female only portal in Sri Lanka.
    Agents @anuRoX, @SuperNando, @lightwillow, @doomblastic, @unsalgado, @tizzyrubix, @Kveykva, @Zensus
    (not shown in order) participated for this meetup.

    First female only portal in Sri Lanka

    First female only portal in Sri Lanka

     

    In Ingress, portals are the main base of the game and they are described as statues, unique architectures, special outdoor buildings, historical places, monuments and places of worship. Therefore players have to physically travel near such portals. Hacking a portal provides beneficial items to players and the ownership of a portal can be claimed by attacking a portal owned by the enemy team. That is called capturing a portal. To capture, a player has to deploy up to eight resonators to give life to a portal. These eight resonators can either be placed by one player or a group of eight players.

    Some chit chat during the Enlightened women’s meetup

    Unlike in other countries, Sri Lankan Enlightened and Resistance teams are mostly male dominated and due to day-night traveling around the country and lack of understandability on first sight, there is a difficulty of attracting women towards Ingress. Having such a situation, the Enlightened team was able to recruit local female players to their faction and the final outcome was making the first ever female only portal following the aforementioned way by placing eight resonators by eight Sri Lankan ladies. This attempt has brought so much public recognition plus honor to Sri Lankan women and it was a better attempt of inviting more women to play Ingress.

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    In today’s mobile world, more and more employees are using mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets to access cloud services to conduct their business on a day-to-day basis. Enterprise mobility refers to this shift in business practices in organization.

    More info here.

     

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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

    Photo Album: here