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

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

Akshika Wijesundara addressing the audience

Akshika Wijesundara addressing the audience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

were a few questions asked and answered during the session.

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

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

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

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

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Ingress is a location based mobile game popular among Sri Lankan youngsters and it now has its own community that keeps growing each day. This game has two teams or say two factions, the ‘Enlightened’ and the ‘Resistance’. The game is all about destroying enemy builds and territories, claiming them to your team and expand your faction’s ground area by actually traveling places around the country and world using mobile phones.

For the Enlightened faction, some of the agents (players) came up with a team activity to increase motivation and enthusiasm of Enlightened members. In January 2014, there was a global event organized for the Enlightened agents around the world to actively participate in Ingress as a motivational and an effort of uplifting the Enlightened network and statistics in a global scale. It was named after Summer Olympic games and the event was ultimately launched as ‘Ingress Enlightened Olympics’ that had nine Ingress related activities which were matched to the exact Olympic sport names.

Inspired by the internationally organized ‘Ingress Enlightened Olympics’ event, those Sri Lankan Enlightened agents was able to organize and execute the first ever Ingress competition called ‘ENL Games LK’ in Sri Lanka for the local Enlightened community.  (ENL for Enlightened)
After weeks of elaborate planning and discussions, they successfully finished the said community build up project ‘ENL Games LK 2014’, an event that commenced on 22nd of August and ended on the 29th. Sri Lankan Enlightened agents who participated in this event had shown their game skills in various ways and they played very enthusiastically to compete against each other to win places. But ultimately it was team play, enthusiasm to level up and mind blowing stats that decorated agent profiles.
The eight-day event consisted of the following ten Ingress sporting events.
  1. Sprint - Gain maximum points during one hour.
  2. Marathon - Gain maximum points during the Games week.
  3. Hurdles - Create the highest number of control fields during the Games week.
  4. Relay - Make the highest number of overlapping control fields as a team of two to three Enlightened agents.
  5. Shooting - Score the largest points gain from a single attack on an enemy portal.
  6. Boxing - Highest energy loss through attacking an enemy portal.
  7. Long Jump - Make the longest link inside Sri Lanka during the Games period.
  8. Triple Jump - Create the largest control field by geographic area.
  9. Javelin - Create the largest control field measured in Mind Units.
  10. Taekwondo - Highest points gained for destroying enemy resonators, links and control fields during the Games week.
From among all the participants, only twenty two agents could make their way to the top ranks in the leaderboard at the end of this event. A community meetup was held at Independence Square on 30th of August to mark the end of this event to give away prizes to those Enlightened participants who won in aforementioned ten events. The meetup ended with a farming session (excessive walks around several high level portal clusters to gain more items beneficial for the game play by hacking them), to strengthen solidarity among agents and spotted new faces too.
As a whole, ENL Games LK 2014 was a huge success for Sri Lankan Enlightened community and it wouldn’t have been this successful without the organizing team and the judges who worked till late night finalizing scores.
ENL Games Prizes

ENL Games Prizes

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ENL Games LK 2014 Stats Infographic

ENL Games LK 2014 Stats Infographic

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

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

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

    Translate and Win Prizes from Google

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

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

    Participate in a Translation Run

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

    Host a Translation Run

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

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

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    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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    Can the search engine giant make a leap with its payment tool by adding it to the wearable device?

    Google recently reported that it is testing possibilities of incorporating Google Wallet in to Google Glass which is set to be launched soon. According to the sources, this would enable the Glass users to transfer money through the wallet with a simple voice command “Send Money”. With Google’s recent move of enabling a similar facility for Gmail users, this would be an additional access medium to the money transfer facility.

    In order to install the wallet service to the Glass, users are currently required to log in to a computer on Google’s corporate network. Thereafter, users could install the wallet to the wearable device to set up to transact. Google is expecting to charge 2.9% of the transaction value or 30 Cents (whichever is higher) for these money transfers. Currently this would facilitate transfers up to $10,000 per transaction and $50,000 over a period of five days.

    What is Google Wallet?

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    Google wallet is a virtual mobile wallet which stores payment information securely and enables users to make speedy payments both in store and online. Google wallet users can store their credit, debit, loyalty and gift cards in this wallet and make payments using their mobile phones. The wallet uses Near Field Communication (NFC) technology which enables users to make the payment by simply tapping the phone on the enabled check out terminals.

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    Google’s tough journey with the wallet

    Since launch of the application in 2011, similar to other mobile wallet service providers, Google also has faced with many challenges with regards to user adoption to the service. Though Google has been able to create awareness about the service, active usage has been at low levels due to various reasons. Realizing the growth potential of mobile payments market, Google has tried various different approaches to improve user adaption and seems to be continuing it with this latest move. The approaches have mainly been through using tactics of improving access medium and promoting individual service functionalities.

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    Google wallet is the second popular digital wallet in US after PayPal

    Inconsistency among retailers, lack of awareness on availability of the service at retail points and less usage of the mobile for payments were few key challenges Google faced with the service. In order to overcome these barriers, in late 2012 Google introduced a physical Google wallet card to its customers. This enabled users to link all other major credit, debit and loyalty cards to this and use at any accepted outlet.

    In addition to facilitating payments, peer to peer money transfer is a key feature of a mobile wallet service. Google launched this service by enabling it to Gmail users in May 2013. The service was structured by linking the wallet to a bank account or a credit card. Fund transfers between users were made free of charge.

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    Considering the financial aspect of wallet project, there has been many serious concerns as Google had made significant investments to employ hundreds of dedicated developers and acquire digital payment start-ups but failed to make expected returns. Analysis conducted in mid-2013 revealed that Google was losing money on every transaction. The head of wallet business Osama Bedier also left the company last year and Google abandoned several projects related to the wallet.

    Considering the current stance of the concept, building the ecosystem around the wallet remains as a priority for Google as pressures from Apple is also likely to occur with its intentions to enter the mobile payments market. Mobile payments market is growing rapidly across the world and in US it is expected to reach $90 billion by 2017.

    It would be interesting to study the progress of the wallet with its introduction to Google Glass as it enables greater convenience to transact. However, making a leap with this would be questionable as the wearable device would reach the mass with various other new functionalities.

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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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    TechEx Society of University of Moratuwa presents ‘Girls Gone Google!’

    What does it take for a girl to excel in a very techie world?
    Girls, join in for a very special GIRLS-ONLY event

    Also, the CSE Department will launch “CSE News Magazine – Special Edition” at this event.

    More: Info

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

    What do GSAs do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Pics from the mapup are on our fb album.

    Video coverage from the MapUp

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

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

    Power Mapper Tharaka Devinda also shared his thoughts with us: