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The most anticipated event of the Sri Lankan Twittersphere, #TweetupSL is around the corner, just few more days to go! Keeping the tradition of annual events, TweetupSL 5 will be held on 20th of December 2014 at Orion City Car Park Premises. This time, the Principal Sponsor would be Mobitel Sri Lanka and they have more than Tshirts to give to the tweeps during the event! A grand carnival atmosphere is planned for the tweeps to get engaged in interactive activities  with other tweeps.

So, what is TweetupSL? TweetupSL is the annual gathering of the Twitter users of Sri Lanka, where tweeps meet in person. This is an event that allows tweeps to take forward the networking that was limited to keyboards in previous instances. Tweeps meet in person, some of them meet each other for the first time and for some, it is one of their regular meetups with their Twitter friends.

TweetupSL is not limited to networking, it also allows Twitter users to have fun in a carnival atmosphere. Many games and activities are planned for the day, where tweeps can take part in these activities as a group or individually.

Another interesting aspect of TweetupSL is the voting and prizes! With the election fever hitting the town, Twitter community also has its own election allowing tweeps to vote for their favourite tweeps under 13 categories, which are highly unique to Twitter behaviors. Some of the unique awards are hashtagaholic, instagramaholic, Twitter news breaker of the year and Twitterholic. Most interestingly, TweetupSL voting also include crowning Mr. Tweep and Ms. Tweep, which are considered to be the most highlighted segments of the event.

So, interested in TweetupSL? J You need to get yourself registered to attend TweepupSL 5. It is a must for you to have a Twitter account to attend TweetupSL 5 and also your account needs to be at least one month old. If you qualify in these criteria, log into www.TweetupSL.org to get yourself registered.

TweetupSL also focuses on ‘social good’ while allowing Tweeps to network and have fun. All the tweeps attending the event have to purchase a coupon worth of Rs. 200/=. The proceedings will be allocated to serve the community in need, in due course. Therefore, TweetupSL is not only about fun, but also making a positive impact on the society to spread the message of love and harmony.

Want to know about past TweetupSL events? Check out our TweetupSL coverage:

TweetupSL 1

TweetupSL 2

Video captured from TweetupSL 4

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Mobile phones are one of the essential commodities these days. Well, they do have endless uses and the Asian region has the highest adaptability rate. In a recent report published, Ericsson claims that in the next 5 year period, highest share of the smartphone growth will come from the Asia-Pacific region. We recently published the growth in smartphone sales based on a report by CMR India. And the same people have now released the Sri Lanka mobile market share report for the 1st quarter of 2014. And we have listed out the key takeaways from the report, below. We have also turned the report into a nice infographic for easy viewing.

Important: There are few things you you should note before reading the facts/ infographic. We have repeatedly used the term ‘sales’ below. But what it actually means is the ‘number of units shipped to’ retailers or distributors. Given supply shares reflect the demand in the market, the producers of the report have used it to reflect the sales in the market.

Another important fact to note is that the numbers actually mean the number of units shipped by OEMs to authorized distributors or retailers. This report does not include the devices sold in the ‘grey market’. There are also instances where devices are brought down by individuals traveling from abroad and the report does not track the numbers. Given these facts, please note that the actual market share numbers will be higher than what is shown in the charts.

Key facts from the report

1- Compared to Q4-2013 (0.8 Million), ‘mobile handsets’ sales (shipments) in Sri Lanka has seen a drop of around 5% in Q1-2014 (0.76 Million).

2- Drop in the sales of ‘feature phones’ (0.68 Million in Q4-2013 and 0.64 Million in Q1-2014) contributed to this overall drop in sales. Smartphone sales (shipments) remained unchanged.

3- Total of 0.12 Million smartphones were sold (shipped) in Q1-2014, which is around 15% of the total mobile phone sales of the quarter.

4- With 26.2% of the market share, Nokia remains as the leading mobile phone vendor in Q1-2014. Compared to 23.8% market share in Q4-2013, Nokia’s mobile handset market share has seen an increase in Q1-2014. We have clearly seen Nokia promoting the Lumia range heavily in Sri Lanka through dealers and service providers in the past few months.

5- Micromax has retained the 2nd place in among leading mobile phone vendors in Sri Lanka with 18.3% of market share. Micromax had 21.4% market share in Q4-2013.

6- With 11.4% of market share, E-tel beat Samsung to claim the 3rd spot in ‘mobile phone’ market share. Samsung occupied the 3rd spot in Q4-2013 with 12% market share. Also notable is that Samsung had the 2nd spot back in Q3-2013.

7- Samsung remains as the leader in ‘smartphone’ segment with 27.7% market share in Q1-2014, which is an increase compared to Q4-2013. Back in Q4-2013 Samsung’s market share in the smartphone segment was 21.2%.

8- Huawei retained the 2nd spot in the smartphone segment with 18.9% market share, while E-Tel took the 3rd position with 13.9% market share. Back in Q4-2013 Huawei and E-tel had 19.6% and 16.1% market shares, respectively. A notable fact is that for the year 2103, Micromax maintained the overall 3rd place in smartphone sales. But for the last 2 consecutive quarters E-Tel has overtaken the sales of Micromax in that department.

Source: CMR India

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The World Conference on Youth 2014 was held in Colombo last week where youth representatives and various stakeholders including government officials gathered from nearly 160 countries to discuss the issues of the youth community. The theme of the conference was based on developing the post 2015 agenda on youth development and various aspects related to youth development were discussed. These findings of the conference were documented in the Colombo Declaration which would become a primary input for United Nation in coming up with post 2015 youth development strategies. The conference emphasised on the importance of Information Technology (IT) in youth development and some of the highlights are discussed below.

The Secretary to Sri Lanka’s President Mr. Lalith Weeratunga addressed the main plenary session on Mainstreaming Youth in the Post-2015 Development Agenda and highlighted the importance of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in youth development. He said “Throughout the years, ICTs has not had a more robust and loyal champion than the youth. They have effectively exploited ICTs to dictate the trends in a major growth industry, and fostered it to generate youth entrepreneurship as a solution for youth unemployment. Be that as it may, these are not advantages that youth all over the world enjoy. For those in developing countries in particular, ICT access comes at an unaffordable cost.”  The main argument put forward was the making ICT affordable for all youth as a mean to empower them in the development process. Mr. Weeratunga further stated that there is a powerful potential for ICTs to cut across many recommendations to strengthen their outcomes. However, it was also presented that the governments must go beyond simply enhancing access and become actively involved in training and creating programmes aimed towards the empowerment of young people.  In commenting on the IT and job opportunities, Mr. Weeratunga said that becoming ICT-savvy does not only open doors for job opportunities, but also motivates and enables young people to learn about their communities and become active in the local development process.

Secretary to the President of Sri Lanka Mr. Lalith Weeratunga is seen speaking at the plenary session on “Mainstreaming Youth in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: What We Want” at the World Conference on Youth 2014.

Secretary to the President of Sri Lanka Mr. Lalith Weeratunga is seen speaking at the plenary session on “Mainstreaming Youth in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: What We Want” at the World Conference on Youth 2014.
(Photo credits : Official Photographer)

The round table session on Poverty Eradication and Food Security discussed the importance of technology in achieving this aim. Mr. Anushka Wijesinha from the Institute of Policy Studies highlighted the ability to use technology to eradicate poverty. He noticed that youth participation in the agriculture industry has been dropping over time. However, citing an example from the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka, he stated that the youth who are already engaged in the agriculture industry use mobile phone applications to support trading. Further, he also commented on the use of social media at the global scale in order to support the agriculture industry while concluding that technology is a great method to eradicate poverty and address food security.

A section of the audience at the plenary session on “Mainstreaming Youth in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: What We Want” at the World Conference on Youth 2014.

A section of the audience at the plenary session on “Mainstreaming Youth in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: What We Want” at the World Conference on Youth 2014.
(Photo credits : Official Photographer)

The outcome of the conference was the Colombo Declaration which included 97 recommendations for youth development. Among many recommendations that are related to IT/ICT, following recommendations are identified as prominent and expected to be implemented at a global scale:

  • Encourage the use of Information and Communication Technology in education the establishment of inter- and intra-regional youth innovation and technology centers, as a means of disseminating knowledge, skills development, innovation and connectivity, thereby enhancing infrastructure in these areas.
  • Increase recognition of non-formal education and vocational education, including volunteer schemes and Information and Communication Technology models and apprenticeships, as an effective means of empowerment and skills transfer.
A section of the audience at the plenary session on “Mainstreaming Youth in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: What We Want” at the World Conference on Youth 2014.

A section of the audience at the plenary session on “Mainstreaming Youth in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: What We Want” at the World Conference on Youth 2014.
(Photo credits : Official Photographer)

It is interesting to notice that IT/ICT being given the due importance in the post 2015 development of youth. According to Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi, the U.N. Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, this was not the beginning or the end but an opportunity to cater to the issues brought forward for the benefit of the youth of the world. Hence, we can expect more and more development in IT/ICT fields in terms of supporting youth development which is crucial for the betterment of the society.

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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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The SQL Server Sri Lanka User Group (SS SLUG), a sub-project of SQLServerUniverse is an offline community of SQL Server enthusiasts who meet every month to discuss and learn about SQL Server and related technologies. Once registered on SQLServerUniverse.com, everyone automatically becomes a member.

Scheduled to start at 6 PM today at Microsoft Sri Lanka Office.

More info here.

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At the Northshore College premises “ROBOCOM 2014”, the first ever Robotics Competition for the college is to be held on the 24th of April 2014 from 10 am onwards.

Realizing the potential that Robotics possessed,  “The Northshore College Robotics Society” with the ultimate goal of instilling the very essence of Robotics in Northshore College, was created. In order to expose students to the robotics era of technology,  “ROBOCOM 2014” has been organized , the first ever Robotics competition at Northshore. ROBOCOM is a challenge that which tests participant groups on some of the basic principles of Robotics. Essentially the Bot needs to be able to place/pick an object and follow a line. With the announcement of ROBOCOM, almost all Robotics Enthusiasts or “ROBOMANIACS” within the Software, Electrical and Electronics respects of Northshore have collaborated and formed powerful teams, each comprised of no more than five individual. Almost all the teams have completed the construction of the Bot.

To make the competition a true race to the finish line, cash prizes will be offered to the First, Second and Third teams of the competition. DMS (PVT) Ltd. are the prize sponsors for the competition with Digit being the media partner.

All who are interested in Robotics are cordially invitedo to joins as Northshore puts first steps into the world of Robotics.

Fb event page here

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Professor Induruwa pioneered academic and research networking and Internet deployment in Sri Lanka. He served as prime mover, Principal Investigator and Project Leader of the Lanka Experimental Academic & Research Network (LEARN), to provide data communications throughout the island in 1989.

This is the Felicitation ceremony for Professor Induruwa for being inducted for Internet Hall of Fame.

See what Professor Induruwa has to about this:

 

Stay tuned with our Live Blog for detailed updates as we will bring them to you from Renuka Hotel premises.

 

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Twitter community of Sri Lanka is unique! They have been arranging various community building activities online as well as offline including events such as TweetupSL and Tweeps Iftar. The most recent event of Sri Lankan Twitter community was its blood donation camp, which was named #iDonateLK. Twitter in Sri Lanka is regularly used as a methodology to communicate requests for blood donors where Twitter accounts such as @BloodLK and @BloodNeedSL push updates on urgent blood requests and Tweeps regularly engage in such donations. Taking this practice a step further, few tweeps got together and organised #iDonateLK exclusive blood donation camp for tweeps to donate blood. This event was held on 6th of April 2014 at the National Blood Transfusion Service. This is the very first time the Sri Lankan Twitter community organised such an event, going beyond typical events of networking and fun.

How did it Start?

Like in the case of most the Twitter event, iDonateLK also started simply with a tweet, which was posted by Gayathri Seveneviratne (gsenev).

 

IMG_7107

Proving the point that a simple tweet can do wonders, there were many tweets acknowledging the idea which led to another ‘social media for social good initiative’ by Sri Lankan Twitter community.

 

Who was behind iDonateLK?

 

Organising an event of this nature is challenging because all the coordination and communications happen online. But, there were tweeps to accept this challenge and be a part of this great initiate. The team behind iDonateLK include @milindat @MoAwesomeSauce @udithaumesh @SNSalgado @BuduMalli @nisald @Yeheshan @ShafrazKhahir, Vishmi and @gsenev. @dialogLK  was the sole sponsor who backed the event financially.

 

 

What Happened at iDonateLK? 

Proving the point that social media can be used for social good, there were many Twitter users who made themselves available on that day to donate blood. 44 donors succeeded in donating blood at iDonateLK and there were many who were turned down in the donor filtering process.

The diversity was the most interesting element of iDonateLK where differences such as religion, age,  social status and gender did not have any impact on making social good through social media. They all came together as ‘tweeps’ to donate blood and support the needy people.

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What do Tweeps Say about iDonateLK?

As I told you before, organizing an event of this nature is challenging and we spoke to the main personality behind to iDonateLK, Gayathri Seneviratne @gsenev on her experience  and this is what she had to say:

“I am excited and so extremely happy that we were able to record 50+ donors today. Why it is so is that first, it happened to fall on the day of the finals and promotion of the event was done solely through Twitter. A lot more than 50 turned out but most of them were rejected due to various causes. This meant that not everyone knows a lot of the prerequisites of donating blood and among other plans of having another event of the same caliber, we’re also hoping on building a system to improve this knowledge and awareness among the young people. I also want to thank the team for all their efforts both online and offline. On behalf of the team, I thank all the donors who donated and to everyone else who made an effort to be there.”

Not only the organisers, but also the donors consider this event to be an exciting experience as they were part of a social good initiative.  One of the donors of iDonateLK, Udara Dharmasena (@udaraumd) says “It was the first pint of blood I have ever donated. I was not planning to donate yesterday since I’m barely passing the minimum weight required for blood donation. But suddenly I felt like giving and Umesh encouraged me. It’s a great feeling to donate blood and physically I didn’t feel that I have lost 450ml of blood from my system at all. Anyway It was a great effort by the tweeps of Sri Lanka. I’m very happy to be a part of this social good activity.”

 

There were many first time donors and many were inspired fellow tweeps to donate blood. Sri Lankan Twitter community has embarked on something extra ordinary and this is not the end! The organizing committee of iDonateLK is certain that there will be many more similar events happening in the future. In the time of negatives about social media, Sri Lankan Twitter community has set an example that social media can be used to generate social good, if it is used in the right manner.

For full pics from the blood donation, see our fb album