Monday, December 31, 2012

Yarl IT Hub ... The first year review

Yarl IT Hub banner with the YIT
logo created by
Kajan  placed in the middle
Its been an year since Yarl IT Hub commenced work. During the last month of 2010 we had the logo competition within the community and right at the stroke of the dawn of 2012 we came in to existence with a logo created and selected by the members of the community.

With a logo, a boot strapped web site and a facebook page with about 5 members we set on a ambitious journey to "Make Jaffna the next Silicon Valley". We planned out a Strategy with a three point action plan for the year. To be honest it was all at conceptual level and non of us really knew which would be well received and which ones would flop. Its just the passion towards the cause which led us to believe that these were the stuff we could practically do within the year.

Our three point action plan included the following,

1. Community Meet Ups
2. ySchool - Open source school management system project
3. IT competition modeled based on the inspiration from reality shows

Inaugural community meet up ( 3rd of March 2012 )
With the above action plan  on paper we set out on implementing them. As the first step to get a gauge of the kind of reception the initiative would get and to solicit support for implementation within the IT community in Jaffna we had our inaugural community meet up at IIS City Campus in Jaffna. This gave us a shot in the arm. The support and blessing we received from Staff and Students from University of Jaffna, IIS City Campus, other  educational institutions was overwhelming. Most importantly we had a session where we got the participants to solve some of the trickiest analytic questions and the unbelievable speed with which all of those questions were solved made us convinced that we are trying to create the next Silicon Valley at the right place. 

Sarves moderating the cloud computing panel discussion at inaugural meet up

ySchool Project 
With the success of the inaugural meet up we started off on ySchool project.  The intent was to involve IT students from Jaffna and the industry and develop an Open Source School Management System. We identified a technical competency gap in implementing the project within the student community with respect to the  chosen technology stack for the project. To overcome this we set off on having a four week online java crash course  for the students. We had again the support of the YIT experts to conduct exceptional quality training to the students. It was attended by around 20 Students all together connecting from their own homes and of course the Jaffna Uni students opted to gather with a lecture room and hooked on the projector and was learning as a team. A few weeks after when I met some of the students it was heartening to see them making a kind request for us to have more similar sessions in future. The thirst to learn was still fresh!

Jaffna University Students following the crash course

Then on the 29th of July we had a ySchool code jam session. Probably the first of its kind in Jaffna. Where the student programmers on the project guided by Jason had a full day session! Putting in to use the stuff they learnt from Ratha, Ajeethan, Vimal, Jason, Gayathiry and JK during the online crash course. 

2nd Community Meet Up
While the ySchool initiative was happening parallel we had the 2nd community meet up at the University of Jaffna. Its fondly remembered by a lot of people for 2 reasons, 

1. The inspirational talk by Harsha - CTO of hSenid Mobile

2. Two student teams presenting their business concepts. 
The two concepts which were almost discussed as ''toy concepts during the meet up are today implemented as mobile applications by those students teams and ready to go live on the biggest mobile operator here! 

Yarl Geek Challenge

Sponsored by the three of the biggest local IT giants hSenid, Virtusa and WSO2 the Yarl Geek Challenge season one kicked off in style with 14 teams in participation from Jaffna, Vavuniya, Moratuwa, Trinco, etc. Each team was assigned a mentor from the industry and they literally lived through  their concepts during the four days. Teams were put through rigorous process of evaluations by the judging panel at a public trial! The teams which escaped from the brink of evaluation on the first round made a dramatic turn around to end up as the winners and runners up. Team Arima from Moratuwa Universiy clinched the crown , Team Cybers won the second place and Zeroes from Jaffna University won the third place. While the team Crazy Coders from IIS city campus won the opportunity round. 

The judging panel listening attentively to the student presentation.
If the year's activities were the cake undoubtedly Yarl Geek Challenge was the cherry on top! 2013 is going to be a crucial year in Yarl IT Hub's quest to make Jaffna the Silicon Valley as we are planing out some exciting stuff for the new year! 

Wishing everyone a very happy new year! May it be the year in which all your dreams comes true!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Yarl Geek Challenge - Season 1 - Competitive round 1

Round: Requirements
Place : Kokuvil Hindu College, Jaffna
Date: 26th of October 2012
Sponsored by : Virtusa, WSO2 and hSenid

On the 13th of October 2012, 14 teams turned up for initial workshop at Sarvodya center in Jaffna. Weather gods decided to do a tensile test on the location and we started with a rain interrupted session. To be honest it was bit of an inauspicious start, Sarves the pillar of geek challenge organizing committee quipped to me as soon as we reluctantly eliminated one of the teams, "we are starting with 13 teams on the 13th, let's see how it goes"! I for one doesn't believe in any other number than 7, replied I don't believe in numbers and luckily Sarves also not too much in to it. We decided to keep this part of the story to us till we completed the  whole event.

After the initial session mentors from the industry were assigned to work with the teams. By the time it was the 26th, 5 other teams found the preparation and expectations to be too hectic and dropped out of the process, but the other 8 teams who were hanging on had bigger ambitions, none of them wanted to be pedestrians, they wanted to go on and prove a point. On 26th morning they were meeting their mentors for the first time, till then it's all been collaboration with the team over Skype for the last 2 weeks.

During the morning hours each team had their appointments with  the 'customers'. Giving the teams an opportunity to validate and verify the preparations they had done for the requirements round. I hear that these customers were as 'good' as the usual customers, giving true perspectives, confusing perspectives, requesting three year products to be built in 3 weeks, etc! The purpose was to give a sneak preview at Yarl geek challenge for these youngsters on what the world holds for them when they do their own business in IT or when they start work in IT industry.

We were all good to start but we had one major problem, Yarl geek challenge organizing team maintained an excel sheet to track the todo list. This was a shared google spreadsheet and till the last day there was a todo item  'find a person to compere' to which some cheeky guy went and added a comment - preferably good looking female announcer who could engage audience, we couldn't find any announcer. As a consequence and out of total bad luck for the audience and the teams they had to put up with a very cheap compromise in the form of yours truly as the 'host'!

So the afternoon session kicked off in style in front of the audience and a an eminent judging panel consisting of Dr. Maheson ( Senior lecturer), Mr. Thabotharan ( Senior lecturer), Mr. Preethi ( DB Architect) and Mr. Vignesh (CEO of IIS). Out of the eight teams, for me two teams clearly stood out during this round.  Team zeros from University of Jaffna was prepared well including a simulated screen flow created for their concept of implementing "Aadu pulli aattam" a traditional strategy board game played in Jaffna as an android application. Preparation for requirements round by them was impeccable. For me they looked as the team to beat during the competition. I had a casual chat with them and asked whether they have enough tricks up their sleeves for future rounds, I asked this since I had this doubt whether they were playing all the trumps in round one itself.

Team picture of Team Zeroes with their mentors

Team smart friends stunned me with their style of expressing the requirements.It was an absolute novelty by them, they enacted a role  play in their allocated 11 mins to express the use cases to be covered by the system. It was totally unexpected, it took a few mins for me to digest the fact that requirements can be expressed in this form. They deserve a pat on the back for having the courage to experiment with such a high risk strategy!

Not that other teams were bad, but these two stole the show during the first round. My biggest disappointment in this round was Team Arimaa, a talented bunch but totally mismanaged their time and moved in to the real substance expected for the round only when I made the announcement "you have one minute left ".

Then the judging panel went in for consultation and after a lot of thought they were ready with the results. Tension was building around the hall as people were waiting for results. I called up five teams and introduced them as the bottom five teams and after the judges had given the feedback, Preethi said this guy pulled your leg - you guys are the top five. These five teams breathed a collective sigh of relief I am not sure what really went through the minds of the 3 danger zone team, I don't want to know either! Then the danger zone teams were called in which included Team Arimaa.. After careful review and feedback, panel wanted to give the three teams a life line and declared that since it was the first round there would be no elimination, but warned that from the next round they would come down hard on the teams.

As the dusk started to settle on Jaffna peninsula and the rest of the world went to sleep, some teams were burning their midnight oil determined to make a come back at the design round.. await the next post to read about round two and the twists in it...

Friday, October 19, 2012

Yarl Geek Challenge - Requirements Round

Before you start reading the rest of the post please do remember the following unwritten rules about Yarl Geek Challenge.

1. Think out of the box
2. Playing it safe will give you an average score, having average scores will not make you win!
3. So remember there is nothing to loose and everything to gain, its a competition for you to take risks and pursuit your dreams!
4. None of the tools techniques given here might give the right answers to your project, they are just indicators, feel free to innovate and achieve the objective of the round.

Round Objective: Express the user experience of the chosen concept.

There are different techniques in which teams could start their requirements analysis, for example a simple approach might be to do a stake holder analysis. Where you simply start by identifying the potential users of the system and then trying to map the features and functionality each of these users expects from the system. By doing this you could try to capture a greater part of the user experience that users will expect from the system. Alternatively you could start with an analysis of the domain or analysis of a bench marked product. There are plenty of methods which could be used. Trick is to choose a simple yet effective way which would allow you to capture the scope well for your project.

Teams are free to choose how they want to express their user experience design, they could do it via a presentation, they could use a PPT, they could run it on a simulator like windows mobile or android, they could use a prototype, they could even design it on some sheets of papers and show it, they could use a story board, use case diagrams, etc. The trick is to use the technique/s which would best express the intended use of the system to the judges. Evaluation will not be based on the standards the teams had adhered to, but will be based on the quality of the user experience they had designed/envisioned for their product.

When at requirement stage another important trick is to figure out the minimum viable product. Which basically means for you to find out what are the minimal set of features you could start shipping your product with. This is important for teams which had picked large scale projects.

Make sure additionally you identify the following too,
- Areas which you wouldn't consider under the project scope ( "No go areas" ;) )
- External integration
- Any special non-functional requirements

The judges will be looking for the following when evaluating,

1. Quality of the user experience expressed
2. How well the scope had been identified and defined
3. Understanding of the domain and the problem being solved
4. Depth of analysis

Good luck with the preparations, if you have any questions about this round please do not hesitate to contact me!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Yarl Geek Challenge - Season 1

Seated around a table at queens cafe peering over a mind map some of Yarl IT Hub's Geek challenge organizing team members turned themselves in to a team and tried to apply a fictitious concept of "Mobile based early warning system" through the rounds of Yarl Geek Challenge. As the prospectus explained ( its a 5 round competition.

So what the team was trying to do was trying put on the hat of the participants and trying to live through the competition assuming if they themselves are competing how they would face each round. Each round was quite intriguing, there were cross arguments, critical analysis, burst of brilliance and of course a lot of comedy.

The first real fight started at the design stage, trying to figure out which was the most appropriate technology stack. It was quite a spectacle and leaving us with some of the questions judges could potentially fire at teams. Then picking the complex algorithm part of the competition was quite interesting, team wanted to flex their (brain) muscles by trying to pick the part of the early warning system which had the highest complexity so that they could show off their skill in designing algorithms, discussions were not just about making the algorithm correct but also on how team could show efficient algorithm designs.

Then the most intriguing problem was how to justify a business model for an early warning system - its saves lifes but where does it 'make money' ! A spark of innovation in business modelling was needed. It cannot be analysed using the usual pattern of thinking we would apply for a consumer product, the team digged deep to come up with the most astonishing business case for it. Its more a dream being painted as a business model but it was a beautiful dream being weaved together as a team. Almost all of a sudden after spending a few hours on it we all felt an affection towards the concept. Now imagine spending four days and living on a concept?!

Now this is the opportunity that's their for the participants of Yarl Geek Challenge. You come with your own concept take it progressively through the above mentioned rounds while being in a competitive environment. Each team must and should strive to win, but at the end of it if each participants leaves 'Yarl Geek Challenge' having learnt and improved themselves, when compared to where they started we could all walk out as winners!

Its a rare opportunity where there will be mentors from the industry and academia who would guide you and be there to help you in the above process. There would also be some of the premier local IT companies participating as sponsors and its one of the rare opportunities to show case your talent to them! Registrations close on the 11th of October and the proposal round is on the 13th of October. So do not miss out on a golden opportunity! Be there or be missed out and regret for a long time to come!  (click here to register )

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Striking poses

They are turning out to be good models now! At the same time slowly managing to get on my mother's nerves with their mischief. But then mischief is quiet obvious with those blue eyes!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Germany's and Trinity's transformation

The German story 

Rewind ten years back Europe was a growing Economy and Germany was referred as the “Sick man of Europe”. In 2002 Germany’s economy grew by a mere 0.2% and it was the slowest rate in the whole of Euro zone. The unemployment rate was soaring and the chances of a recovery looked very slim.

Fast forward to today, the economic crisis has gripped Europe, but ironically Germany stands as the biggest light of hope for the European economy. Not only Germany is managing to withstand the debt crisis, today German bonds are considered the ultra safe investments, doing better than the US treasury bonds! Almost all other European countries look up to the Germans to bail them out.  

The nation is on a high and deservingly a lot of accolades are being showered on its leader Chancellor Angela Merkel. She is arguably the most powerful woman in the world and often compared with Margaret Thatcher and referred as the ‘Iron Lady’. But if you really look beyond the clichés the seeds of recovery were planted and the dirtiest part of the recovery was engineered by Chancellor Schröder. He seldom gets reference or credit for it. His first term of office was dominated by populist and opportunistic economic policies, but on his second term of office he was forced to take the bull by the horn and implement radical and unpopular economic reforms. Immediately he was battered at the elections and ended up losing his job. But the policies and reforms laid the foundations on which the current miracles are being performed. 

The Trinity story

In striking resemblance a decade earlier when we were at school each one of us had great pride in being at Trinity but in sports we no longer had the consistency that was expected out of us, it was exactly 10 years ago we lost the Bradby by the biggest margin. (I personally hate to use rugby as the barometer of measuring Trinity’s performance, but using it since it’s the easiest most of us understand and remember) In sports whatever we won during that time were due to the courage, passion, individual brilliances or due to the luxury of having brains like Mr. Quintin Isreal, who manages to out think and ‘out fox’ the opposition with a smart game plan despite having an inferior line up on paper than the opponent.

Fast forward to today, the present day Trinitians had taken the sports pages of local news papers on a long term lease.  The domination has been consistent and remarkable in almost all the sports, which includes Cricket, Rugby, Swimming, Weight lifting, Chess, etc.  Other coaches plot on ways in which they can out fox them on the particular day, since these boys are much better on a man to man basis.

For those who look from a distance it looks as if it 'just happened' or in the cycle of things its Trinity's turn. But having breathed and lived at Trinity, I see this differently. I see this as the net effect of a very strategic approach undertaken more than a decade ago to create a system which creates brilliance. For this matter I guess a lot of credit goes the likes of Prof Breckenridge, Mr. Fonseka, junior school staff, scrummage, cricket foundation and all the others who were the visionaries who created a process of creating champions. If I am not mistaken it was in year 2000 or 2001 a rule was brought in at Junior school which made it mandatory for each student to take part in at least one extracurricular activity and in parallel investments were made on the junior level coaching structures. I can still remember hearing about the kind of resistance that came from parents; since they couldn’t get the kids back home using the same school van on all five days. The action was unpopular at that time but today Trinity reaps what was sown back then.  I can bet on the answer majority of the boys’ of the champion teams would have for the question “When did you start the game?” It will be a cheerful “When I was in Year 2” and its highly likely they would name Mr. Franklin Jacob as the person who taught them to handle the ball (if I remember right he coached both rugby and tennis for year 2 in 2001/2002). 

Strategies have long term repercussions, when the right thing is placed in motion it goes through a process where it builds a snow balling effect and gives glorious outcomes, but when it reaches the crescendo the people who set in motion might not be in the picture and for spectators from the sidelines its only the crescendo that’s visible but the painful process that had to be undertaken to achieve it goes unnoticed.

The goal of this blog is not to take any credit away from the current school administration, just like I mentioned in the case of Chancellor Angela Merkel they deserve all the credit and admiration for leading the lions and nurturing them. At the same time we need remember and acknowledge the contribution these past silent strategist who had done to make Trinity what it is today. Most importantly bear in mind the need to keep this system intact, improve and invest on it, so that this journey of ascendance continues even a decade from now!

The men that tanned the hide of us,
Our daily foes and friends,
They shall not lose their pride of us,
However the journey ends.
Their voice to us who sing of it,
No more its message bears,
But the round world shall ring of it,
And all we are be theirs.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The return

After a fairly long sabbatical from blogging yours truly makes a return. So I am back again to blogging daily. Not that I am good at it or its worth for someone else, I kind of felt a vacuum during the sabbatical. On most days I penned down something and left it in the drafts. Currently left with about 12 such pieces in draft. Procrastination has taken precedence and the amount of reading has also gone down during this period. More you read, the more you get inspired to write, conversely the more you write the more you read, to make your writing make sense.

Last two months a lot of things had changed and I have not written about them, starting from Aung Sang Su Kyi, Bradby, Mobile money in Sri Lanka, Yarl IT Hub meet up and the debates, iPad apps which I had fallen in love with, internet trolling, book I read and a lot more. So the message is "I am back!"

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

With love from hSenid

“A gift is pure when it is given from the heart to the right person at the right time and at the right place, and when we expect nothing in return” ~ The Bhagavad Gita

Is the English translation of the parting words the Principal of Chembiyanpattu GTMS, Point Pedro told us. Chembiyanpattu is a small hamlet which is about 25 KM away from Point pedro town and it is one of the places that had experienced the wrath of man made destructions as well as natural destructions.

On the way to school
It’s a place where pitched battles were fought. The rows of Palmyra trees without the top, the red flags and boards of landmine warnings (even today), clearly show what it had gone through in the form of manmade destructions. In Tamil there is an idiom “பட்ட காலே படும்; கெட்டக் குடியே கெடு“, when roughly translated reads as “the injured leg gets injured again in the same way affected colonies get affected again”; true to that word the village did face the wrath of tsunami too.

External view of the school
The school was closed down for a long time and it was reopened in 2010 and currently it serves as the main school for the poor hamlet. When we went in they showed us a steel cupboard with a whole pile of teachers guides along with another 10 non – teachers guide books and called it the ‘library’.  Personally I was feeling very guilty as in my own room itself I have a bigger pile of books, which now I seldom refer. Here we have students in hundreds studying up to Ordinary Level and their school library had a total of about 10 books. The world is not fair, is the thought which occurred in my mind.

Current 'library' - the non - teachers guides are the pile of books on the extreme right on the last row of the cupboard
Luckily for us we had gone there for the purpose of donating library books. It was part of hSenid Software International’s 15th anniversary celebrations. Starting from very humble beginnings, hSenid has reached the 15th year in its journey last month. To coincide with that Dinesh, who is the founder and CEO of the organization and whose name when spelt in reverse order gives the organization’s name, initiated a program to donate books to 15 rural libraries in different parts of Sri Lanka. He insisted that schools from all parts of the island should be covered by this project and had a soft spot for a Point Pedro school.

So we asked from Sarveswaran, a Lecturer at the University of Jaffna to help us in finding a school which is in need. Sarves contacted the Provincial Education Authorities and on their advice found this school. It could not have been a more deserving school. If not for this effort from Sarves and the authorities, very easily the books we donated could have ended up as a drop in the ocean had it been given to a school with more books and hence lost its value.  Also we didn’t want to donate random books, so we obtained the needed booklist from the school itself. They took two days to compile a complete list with input from all teachers and sent us the list of books needed. hSenid made sure that the whole list requested was provided to them.

Harsha - CTO hSenid Mobile and Principal of Chembiyanpattu GTMS, Point Pedro exchanging the MOU
The need was clear and the right gift was given to the right school at the right time. We walked back home feeling that we had done something worthwhile.

The team from hSenid with Principal
hSenid team also participated at the YIT meet, which I would blog about in the coming days.

Pictures courtesy of Duleepa and Priyanka

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Free crash course on Java web programming - Yarl IT Hub

Start date: 21st April 2012 - 9 AM to 10.30 AM

Location:  Online

Technologies to be introduced: Java web programming, introduction to source control, JSP, JPA, JSF2, Bootstrap, JQuery, Java scripting and Ajax.

Intended audience: students and programmers who are passionate about learning technologies and those who wish to code on the ySchool open source project on a volunteer basis or/and as interns.

Experienced expert programmers will conduct training sessions on technologies that will be used on ySchool project.  The course will also have hands on exercises and the students who develope the best solutions will be walking away with surprise gifts!
Make sure you do not miss this opportunity! If you want to participate, please drop a mail to jk at yarlithub dot org or sayanthan at yarlithub dot org . Send in the mails at the earliest to avoid disappointment because of bandwidth limitations we can only handle limited number of students.

"Teachers open the doors, but you must enter by yourself”. Chinese Proverb

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sayy's (365/365) ~ The END!

Dear All,

All good things should come to an end, so does all bad things! So today, its the 365th post on a self proclaimed "365" challenge. Just like a typical human being while in the journey I yearned for the destination and today when I reached the destination I started feeling nostalgic about the journey.

It happened during school days too, when I was at school wanted to grow up as soon as possible and attain a perceived notion of "freedom" . So that the world will be all out to be explored. But then, from the day that "freedom" was attained, I started missing whole list of things including school, the carefree life without responsibilities, a mind filled with joy, the child like innocence, etc. 

Like wise during the 365 days, I badly wanted to reach this post. But when I sat down to write this post was thinking that 365 could have been a bit longer. Was thinking whether to extend it to reach 500 posts. But my mind reminded me of the irony that during the 365 journey there are countless fake posts. So after a few days of contemplation I decided that a post a day will end here! I would definitely blog,  but probably it will be a post a week or when ever mind says that I have something nice to write about. At least I hope that I will not be making fake posts hereafter.

So now its time for the vote of thanks, so ladies and gentlemen with that I would like to thank each and everyone of you who had been reading the stuff I put up here, special thanks to JK, Nee, Sach, Angel, Roshni, Sanderenu, Gayathiry, Indi, Uthaya, Dee, Jack Point, Gowri, Sabesh Anna, Ishara, Vimal and all the others who took time to leave comments on the blog and apologize me for replying to those comments very very late at times. To be honest, when the comment arrives, it brings a child like joy and it  also reminds me that - "oops! there are people who read this crap!, so let me try to do a better job on my next days post!" Last not least, a big thank you to all the others who had been silently reading the stuff I put up here and had given me feedback in person at different times. Don't worry I can hear those people who are cursing, after 365 days of fake posts, now he wants to add a vote of thanks. Its all part of the game - Politics is the name of it :D

Wishing all the locals a very happy new year! Have fun!

Signing off after 365 days,

Yours truly,


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Comedy around Tsunami warning

One of the peculiar abilities of the people in this Island, is to keep our selves entertained with jokes even in the worst of situations. While all the panic and chaos was raining, the social networks were with its own share of comedy but I guess the best comedy was from the metrological department itself.

When daily mirror tweeted this,
Out of curiosity I visited the official site of the metro logical department and this is what it had to say!

Probably the guys were on New Year holidays, but anyway the guys came back to work by about 6 PM to update the withdrawal of the warning visit here - God bless this country!

Out of Jokes, we haven't still realized the importance of technology during crisis and how technology could help in such situations, luckily nothing serious happened this time but we are playing with lives.

Some Gems on this warning from FB and twitter,

"டேய் நகுல பாண்டிகளா .. facebook ல சுனாமி வருது என்று ஸ்டேடஸ் போட்டு லைக்ஸ் வாங்கிற ஆசையில .. தக்காளி சுனாமி முதுகுல தட்டபோகுது .. ஓடுங்கடா! ஸ்டேடஸ் போடுற வேலைய நாங்க பாத்துக்கறோம்!" [ JK

ஹலோ மணிக்கு 400 கி,மீ ஓவர் ஸ்பிடில சுனாமி சென்னை கடற்கரையோரமா வாறானாம்,உடனே ஸ்பாட்டுக்கு சென்று பைன் அடிக்கவும் ஓவர்..-தமிழக பொலிஸ் [!/Mrkunchu ]

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bogambara Ariel views

 Some times walking around Kandy we do not realize how big the Bogambara prison area is. It just takes a view from one of the hills to figure out how big this place is and what kind of space its taking up in the center of the city!
The Bogambara ground and the adjoining Bogambara prison 
A zoom in of the bogambara prison complex. A prison right in the center of the town. Has been the topic of relocation from the day I know. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Counting light posts

In local exams for failures the grade given is "F". For some weird unknown reason "F" is usually called as "light post" in local dialect,  on second thoughts probably due to the resemblance of the shape of the light post to the  letter F. When I am not studying properly for exams, I had been asked countless times by my mother on how many light posts I had ordered,  to annoy her; I used to reply with a very generous number.

Today I was standing just outside home and gazing at sunset, when my mother came and showed me the light post, I remembered her age old question, but I am too and she didn't ask that and for once I missed not being asked that. Instead she admired the shining light post with the back ground lit with sun set. I didn't do a proper job when she referred light posts to warn me years back and even today when she showed me a post so I could capture it on camera, I failed again. Probably I now agree - Light posts has something to do with failure.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bata slipper

If I do not write a tribute to this, I would rot in hell. Its one of the most important things of my life. At university it was almost a synonym with my name or rather the object that symbolized me. Was part of my daily attire till I started to work at which point, I was reluctantly compelled to learn to wear shoes . This is one of the biggest regrets that I have of the corporate world.  When I used to be at campus I used to tell that "if I had my own company I would allow people to wear Bata slippers and redefine corporate attire". If Steve Job's could walk in with a turtle neck t-shirt to board meetings then why shouldn't we allow Bata too. Now ain't that "Ape Kama"! ;)

In other countries they call it as flip flops and some other names, but for us its bata slipper. Even if we are using the DSI brand of slippers, we still call it the Bata slipper. Out of jokes for our type of climate and landscapes its much much better than any other kind of footwear. Even if you are going hiking you would find that it has a better grip than the expensive branded shoes. It's one of those perfect fit for any day. Probably except on rainy days if you are not too used to it, you would be splashing mud and when you reach home you would have a nice mosaic type art on the trouser.

Normally we can wear it to almost all the places, including lectures, weddings, library, meetings, hanging out, hiking, when playing cricket, you name it... The rumor goes that I even wore it for my graduation, the truth be said "I wish I did that, but I didn't. The picture which did the rounds on the internet was a Photoshop". In case if you haven't used this you had lost half the pleasure of a true Sri Lankan lifestyle.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

ySchool modeling session

For once we have a weekday which is a leave in many countries! So to 'celebrate' that we would do a online requirements modeling session. We would start at 3PM Indian standard time and will go on till we are tired and down, being old limbs I am guessing that it would go on till about 7PM.

The objective is to agree on scope and then to move in to nitty gritty up to the level of forms, attributes and create the wire frames. So when developing we can forget about those complications and develop it.

We had decided to go with bootstrap as the CSS and JS framework. So will try to build the wire frames using that itself. (This is subject to confirmation from the rest of the team )

The tentative plan is to cover the following use cases,

1. School set up and configurations ( 15 mins )
2. Admin features ( 2 hours )
- Student CRUD
- Staff CRUD
- Parent CRUD (?)
- Student parent relationship management (?)
- Class CRUD
- Subject CRUD
- Class student relationship management
- Class teacher management
- class subject management
- student subject management
- Terms management
- Promote students ( better done after confirming marks management from teacher side )
- Manage school wide student notification
- Generate term reports
- manage clubs and societies
- manage teacher club relationship

2. Teacher experience ( 30 mins )
- manage subject social page
- manage club social page
- update student marks
- update student notes
- generate class ranks, subject ranks.
- manage student extra curricula achievements.

3. Student experience ( 30 mins )
- share on club or subject social page
- view school wide notification
- personal online reports
- manage profile ( pic ) (?)

4. Parent experience (?) ( 15 mins )
- View children's reports, achievements.

These are the things that came to my mind. Will add/remove based on feedback. This just a framework to get the ball rolling!

If you are interested to do some contribution to the session/project please drop a mail to sayanthan at
So I could share the detail on how to connect.

Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

MySQL error when running replication and triggers

One of my friends today has today run in to an issue where his MySQL db has run out of synch and giving an out of synch error. When exploring it and checking MySQL documentation I came across an interesting comment in the documentation.

If you want triggers to execute on both the master and the slave—perhaps because you have different triggers on the master and slave—you must use statement-based replication. However, to enable slave-side triggers, it is not necessary to use statement-based replication exclusively. It is sufficient to switch to statement-based replication only for those statements where you want this effect, and to use row-based replication the rest of the time.

So the main message is that If you are using triggers probably its not a good idea to go for row based replication, specially if you want to even complicate it more by having master master replication. I am guessing that this statement implies that replication format - mixed is a better fit. Let me give it a try. Trouble shooting on replications are like how a doctor treats a patient. You try to try different combinations and then find the needle in the haystack!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

muppozhudhum un karpanaigal - movie

Last weekend was one of those movie night weekends after a long time. Muppozhudhum un karpanaigal  was one of the movies I watched. It was a psycho thriller and I actually liked the movie. But after watching the movie more than the movie what I remember is this particular song from the movie.

Its just out of the world. Something really different and gave me goose bumps. The lyrics were magical and probably the first time I heard a mother singing a song for her son in this way and tone. I couldn't think of another situation song I could compare, usually what we come across in movies are the songs in which son sings about his mother.

Listen to the song above, I am just getting myself willingly addicted to this song and spreading the addiction.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Lame April fools' prank

April fool, go to school and tell your teacher that you are a fool!

The above is a famous line we keep on muttering while we were in Junior school after pulling each others leg on the April Fools day. Usually we do have extended April fools' days and irrespective of the date, when we pull a trick we just keep on chanting this. Yesterday I was reminded of this since I managed to pull one on the blog

First I thought I will not have victims, but was over the moon to find that I had 3! One actually breathed a short lived sigh of relieve saying that - Thank god this mess ends. Where as the other two, tried to pursuit me to continue to post" probably they think that I can be a better laughing stock when I write!

Sorry people the shop will be open for another 11 days (atleast) and I would decide on the 365th day whether to really close this down from business or not!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

365 challenge - accepts defeat

Sayy's 365 was started with the intention of making a blog post on a daily basis for the next 365 days. Today when I am on the 354th post and 11 away from the self set target mark, I decide to quit and accept defeat.

Its been a whole pile of rubbish that I had been putting up here and whether I get to 365 or not is insignificant. The whole of this exercise had been a waste if time, so enough is enough and today I close the shop for business.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Kandukondaen kandukondaen - Movie

For some weird reason although I had been listening the songs of the film Kandukondaen kandukondaen on a daily basis, till today I haven't watched the film. Better late than never so I watched it today. The opening scene of the movie, could have been easily made in to something else, but the director chose to have a totally unnecessary and confused message.

Leaving that out scene I think the rest of the movie was good. Unlike in most Tamil movies this movie had a clan of big names in it, but strangely for me the main and memorable role was played by Tabu. Her acting was a cut above the rest. While the others at times over acted, her acting was just perfect and she was the soul of the movie. I know for Aishwarya rai fans, they would just sit and watch her screen presence itself, but for me she was not the heroine of the movie.

The movie has some of the all time great compositions of AR Rahman. The cinematography adds perfect colour and at large the movie is a treat to the eyes and ears. I am sure that the songs of the movie would continue to re-play on my devices for a long time to come! I shouldn't have missed this movie for so long if you haven't watched it believe me its worth watching.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Google's initiatives

The internet giant seems to be doing some impressive work. They might have been doing these for some time but I got to know them just today. Today I started off the day by reading about the tech city campus set up in UK by Google. It just the type of set up we dream about in having in Jaffna. But seems like Google has 'gifted' it to England in its own pursuit to become another Silicon Valley.

That, I read in the morning and then in the evening when I was reading "Thursday report" by JK, I came across!home. A project by Google to build a digital archive for Nelson Mandela. A really good initiative for a great personality!

While I was at school, we got a new school archive. It was a great concept and it became almost like a sacred place where years of school tradition were in display. For old boys entering the room itself used to bring moisture to their eyes.  Inspired by this physical archive, when I was handling the College web site I tried to initiate a virtual archive of Trinity College, it didn't materialize but when I saw this google project I was just thinking - if ever its to be created it should be classy as this!

Probably a archive or online digital archive management system is a good open source project for people to work on!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

ySchool - An academics perspective

Some times, we the people in the industry have scant respect for academics perspectives. We try to equate them for being people who are stuck with theories. We at times do not even believe that there is a mutually beneficial association which can be formed with them. If you observe carefully, a larger part of Sri Lankan industry doesn't actively engage the academics in the process of product development or strategies. Yesterday was a good lesson which I learnt, on how narrow minded we the industry practitioners are.

You would know by now that at Yarl IT Hub, we started ySchool an open source project. Day before yesterday I was having a call with Uthaya, who is currently reading for his Phd in US. The conversation was around ySchool and all of a sudden out of no where, he said - "aren't you guys building data mining tool on top of this"? I was like, "What kind of data mining can you do on this". Then I got this beautiful lecture on describing how data mining can be used on a school management system and how that could be used to help in giving a better education to the students. He himself wanted to take this part of the project under him and help/mentor to build the data mining model.

I do not want to spoil the research topics by putting it out here, but I would say, for the people who are going to work on this - it would be once in a life time opportunity and a possible publication opportunity. I feel that some super exciting times are ahead on ySchool!

Now this is the very reason why industry should work with academics, they can bring to table perspectives we miss due to the narrow mindedness which had crept in to our systems by being in the industry for years!

Join the yschool project now by filling in the form at click here

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Vaagai sooda vaa - movie

Totally randomly I got to watch the movie vaagai sooda vaa. Although I was not in a mood to watch a movie at that time, the script was good enough to keep me engaged. It was a nice period film ( I guess set in the 50s - 60s ). The sets the effects and the story line were simple but effective.

The movie didn't have much suspense or thrill, it was more a nice portrait of a poor village in 60s. The message was compelling and the film indeed lot of justice to the message that it wanted to convey - that was to eliminate child workers. Although from a movie perspective it lacked the little bit of spice to it. Could have been a bit more enthralling perhaps. Now this was the opinion I had about the movie and then today I did a google to read about the movie and surprisingly its a national award winning film. It has won the best Tamil feature film of the year award for 2011.

Now that was a big surprise, I accept I cannot think like a critic, I never thought that it would win such acclaim, but then when I watched "who wants to be a millionaire"  I never imagined that it would sweep all the Oscars.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Pera uni from the 'top'

Akbar bridge, gym, pool and parts of arts faculty

Galaha junction, Gala road and Science faculty

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Relaxing behind barbed wires

One of my recent favorites. As in the case of most of my pictures, this view I accidentally noticed while I was laying down on the floor.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Yarl IT Hub – ySchool internship program

ySchool internship is a part time opportunity for IT students in Jaffna to contribute to an open source project , get exposed to an industrial level software development experience and to get a hands on training from Software experts.

Do you have the following,

- Eagerness to learn 
- Good analytical skill
-  Time to commit at least 16 hours of your time per week to work on this project

If you answer yes, for all the above questions – This is for you! Do not miss the opportunity! Fill this form now!

Short listed candidates will be called up for Skype interviews.
Remuneration:   Negotiable 

Now this is a serious opportunity! Do not miss it!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Killing lincoln

In the last few months by some strange coincidence I had been reading books which has association to death. The names include death by meeting, Steve Job's biography, Tuesdays with Morrie, who will cry when you die and the add to that illustrious list now I have, Killing Lincoln.

I just saw that it was a book on history but appears on the ny times list of best for 2012. Although its on American civil war and one which happened long time back I couldn't stop drawing parallel to our recent history. The resemblance were striking, similarities of the cases were not something I couldn't ignore and at the same time I couldn't ignore the difference in the way similar cases were handled. The divide there was between North and South. Both forces went through reversed fortunes and one eventually won.

Lincoln the shrewd strategist, partially for economic reasons and partially in the best interest of the country avoided his usual war time rhetoric and struck a code of reconciliation as soon as the war ended which was a strategic decisions which changed the course of American history forever.

The passage from the book which continues to echo in my mind for days is the following phrase,

"Lincoln hopes for a certain pragmatic leniency toward the southern states, rather than draconian punishment. " Seriously that thinking itself shows how he was destined for greatness, though he would fall a victim to a assassins bullet a few days after the win.

Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My first Refresh Colombo

I arrived in Sri Lanka in the early hours of today and hardly pulled my self out of a quick nap to go to office in the morning. For the last few days I had been deprived of my sleep and in total for the 4 days, I would have slept barely 10 hours. So when I walked in to refresh colombo I was praying that I wouldn't fall asleep. I was so concerned about falling asleep I told one of my colleagues to check whether my eyes are closed and if it was, for him to kick my chair. His work was cut out and the session turned out to be interesting or rather refreshing, so that my sleepiness disappeared!

It was nice to see a lot of tech enthusiasts there. For me the session on payment switches was interesting, I wanted to probe with a lot of questions on the mobile wallet guideline from CB and the paypal integration. Unfortunately since I was part of the next session , I didn't feel like asking questions. But being a guy who had worked on payments for a while now. I was happy to listen to what was the plans for SL. Still I wish and pray the regulators will have more sense and deregulate it to allow competitive forces.

 The hackalthon announcement was good, and really happy to see the venture capitalists coming to the Sri Lankan picture. I am curious to find out how some of these VCs can be connected with the Yarl start ups to and business models they work on.

 Right after the session I was glad to meet indi, I have had mail contact with him and but this was the first time I met him in person. A few months back on mail when he mentioned about Refresh Colombo I asked him "what is it" and a couple of months later I myself is at one of those sessions.

The organizers are doing a great job on this and they deserve an accolade for this. May they go from strength to strength and would serve as a launch pad for the techies.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Intrinsic value of a person

Have you noticed people who are confident and quiet sure of their own personality, the type of people who would not be scared to do what he believes is right instead of thinking what the others around would think. These are the type of people whom I call as people with intrinsic value.

They might not hold titles that would give you a jitter - they are usually leaders without titles. But their approach and confidence is capable of pursuing the others around them to follow them. For some they would look like mavericks, others would see them as solen headed, but if you look beyond the usual glare of their eccentricity these are the people who could change the world and leave a dent. When it comes to recruitment for a leadership position, always look to see whether if the person does have an intrinsic value! That's rule number one, all the rest is second.
Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Beyond language

As soon as I step out of the airport in Jakarta I meet this very pleasant and extremely chatty lady at the cab reception desk. After she gets the taxi arranged, she asks me where I am from? Even this question she can barely put across, but after some stumbling I understand her question and reply, Sri Lanka, she replies "oh Australia". I corrected "no I am from Sri Lanka". Then I asked her whether she has heard a country by the name of Sri Lanka, she gives me a sheepish grin and says "No".

Then she wants to show her smartness and says, "Close to Hindustan?" I ask "you mean India?". She replies "yes". I said that was a good guess! She then said, the only thing I know about India is "Shahruk Khan". Then to find out she has a hindi movie craze. She can barely speak english, I doubt that she understands english sub titles or any hindi. But still seems to have crossed the language barrier on this.

After this incident I went around my work after forgetting about this. Few mins back I stepped into a taxi. He was tuning his radio and on one of the channels they were playing something which sounded like "aaroomalae" song, I wanted to tell him to let that song play. But I didn't, but to my amazement the guy himself reversed the dial in his radio and stopped at that song, the song was indeed aaroomalae. He didn't understand a word but was enjoying the music. Cleverly after that song he opted to change the channel.

Seems like Indian artists had done a world of good to reach people whom wouldn't have been accessed by usual means. Art beyond language!

Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sun sets in Hantana

Usually when it comes to taking sunset pictures at the time of sunset we are supposed to turn the camera towards the sun. In rare cases turning the camera in the opposite direction gives a better feel. Before this I had this weird experience at Sarankot where we had to look in the opposite direction of the sun set. 

This time it was Hantana, where at sunset time the Hantana peak was glowing with vivid colours. That blue is not due to color saturation but it was the real effect. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cat's story in pictures

After hours of walking we reach the peak of Hantana and we see this cat living happily at the peak. I soon as he saw us this is what he did,

suicide attempt 1
Another suicide attempt. This time it was the  tail first.

Then he decides to live and take a career in modelling
ok, now I Know to strike a pose!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

On Hantana peak

I should be ashamed to say that I had not hiked to Hantana after being so long in Kandy. Anyway no longer anyone could laugh at me for this!

Today we did a hike and the weather gods for some reason decided to be kind to us. We went around following the arrows all along the way. Made a wrong turn and eventually ended up at a peak on the mahakanda end. From their onwards went through to the other peaks and finally to the Hantana peak. As a hiking experience it was a nice experience to go through a diversified set of landscapes including pine trees, grass lands, rock climbing, finally a dirt track too.

I would say it was more the journey than the destination that matters on the case of hantana. No wonder all the new comers to pera are taken here, your guess is good as mine. Let me put up photos in following posts.

Now all I need is a good wash, a packet of vintogeno and sleep!
Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone

Friday, March 16, 2012

Yes! Book review

Recently I bumped in to this book with the weird name, Yes! - Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive. I didn't know what to expect, but it was a different kind of book. Written based on psychological experimentation.

I would rather think for a person in Sales its a good to read. It will help to analyse the customers thinking and play the right card at the right time. It is always a blessing to be knowing what probably is going through the other peoples mind and this gives a rationale for analysis. My reason to read this books derives from the interest to read about common things happening right in front of our eyes and give it a scientific view point.

Although the book lacked a complete reading experience in parts it was giving good details. I had been told by a few people I should have rather read the same authors book called as influence and not this. Anyway probably I will pick that too and give it a try very soon.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Aiyirathil oruvan movie review

Today I am in no mood to blog. But from morning I had been reminded about 15 times of the movie Aiyirathil oruvan and its climax scene. When I watched it few years back I was puzzled, but now things are more clear and I know what others had known long time back.

With time I had come to admire the director and script writer Selvaragavan. His research and effort that has gone in to build that movie is immense. It leaves me still wondering - how come he could do all that!

The songs of this movie are now master pieces for me, I had been listening to them like an addict who is out of control. I'd rather go and get the movie and watch it again. I am sure I can make more sense of it now.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

End of print encyclopedia Britannica

When at school I had too many questions to ask and one of my teachers told me to go and find out the answers in the library. First I tried the dictionary, but it gave only the meaning but not the detail. While I was walking around trying to find a book, which would explain the term, our friendly librarian had been observing me walk around aimlessly and came up to me and asked me, what was wrong with me. So I shyly explained to her that I had find some reading material for the list of terms I had. Then she took me to the remote part of the library which had all similar looking well bounded big books. She taught be how to look up the volumes and then find the word I wanted to check on. This was the first introduction to encyclopedia Britannica.

Before this I always thought that the children's encyclopedia was what is called an Encyclopedia. But from this day, whenever I wanted to find out about something new I paid a visit to this remote corner of the library. It was the google or the wikipedia of our childhood days. Today when I read the news item that encyclopedia Britannica will no longer be printed. I got a bit of a shock and started to become all too sympathetic about it.

Then it dawned on me that they are probably making the right decision and embracing realities of the digital age. Probably they should have done a bit earlier than now. Probably before wikipedia and google exploited them with a disruptive technology. But the technology cycles are so fast and specially when it comes to disruptive technologies are so fast that you do not realize until it hits you. Britannica was one of the worst casualties of our times.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The technology traitors

Paradise is known to be a place which has intelligent politicians. Today we had been advised to stop using all American based products including gmail and google. I think this is one of the best advices even by our standards.

For starters let me try to help you with the full list of technologies we need to boycott from today, facebook, skype, gmail, yahoo, google, twitter, micro processors, iphone, android, hp, dell, intel, AMD, amazon, ebay, youtube. Remember if you are using this even after today that means you are basically a traitor.

Do you want to live with the label that you are a traitor? you don't right? So take the advice.

By the way I am using blogger and other tools like facebook to create awareness among the masses and that's the only reason I am continuing to use technologies like blogger! So I am excused.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Kolaveri to Kony

First it was Kolaveri which went viral online. Now its Kony, the similarity is that both talk about "Kolaveri" when translated reads as killer rage!

The video has started a big debate on "Why after so many years?", is it to make it look like "US forces on ground in Africa to be a peoples choice" and another lot says that "Its all about the new found oil". I have no idea about this guy and the accused politics of this video, so I would rather not take sides. But this again proves the power internet and the modern day social network in making things go viral. This time to make Kony a house hold name!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Yarl IT Hub - youtube channel

YIT has now uploaded the videos recorded during the event to the Yarl IT Hub video channel on youtube. We were not planning to make a full recording but JK insisted us to make a recording. So did a recording with one of the camera's supporting video recording. Its not complete and its not the best of quality, but atleast its there in parts.

In case if you want to listen to the audio recordings please visit the livestream channel.

Come the next event in 2 months we hope to make sure we have a complete recording!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Its after 25 years...

The only time I remember a results for the big match was during the Murali and Kalpage era, when I was in Junior school, we lost the match before lunch on the second day. Rest of the matches were all draws. During my school days I had come to the conclusion that big match having outright wins were a thing of the past and a draws were the norm and the biggest achievement was to seize first innings victories.

In recent years all of a sudden Trinity teams performances has always raised hope that "this year" we would break the hoodoo, but we had been agonizingly close but still far. So today thanks to I was following the match and again the boys raised hope, during the follow on the Anthonian score board was reading 26/5 by 2 PM. Felt as if we would be home in time for tea. But when it comes to a crunch game like this these boys pull out stellar performances and Anthonian tail was putting up a nerve wrecking rear guard action. At about 4.30 PM Trinity broke the 7th wicket stand followed it up with another wicket. The time and scores were ticking. The guys were rushing through the over so that they had gone above the mandatory number of overs already. Anthonians were playing for time. They had cut down the follow on deficit to a Solitary run and the time was already 4.47 PM, if they had scored another run that would have made mandatory for Trinity to bat again, which effectively would have made the match draw since the turn around time for the innings was 10 minutes and by that time the clock would have ticked over 5 PM.

Just at the moment when I was left without any more nails in my fingers they took out the final wicket right at 4.50 to register a historic win by an innings and ONE run. It couldn't have been tighter than this. The boys had a super finale to an excellent season by registering the 11th outright win of the season. Spare a thought to the Anthonian tail, they did fight hard and grinded the bowlers. There was this 9th wicket batsman who was left not out without scoring a single run but he has faced 52 deliveries.

This is one of the all time greatest sports teams produced by Trinity. People speak about 56 rugby team and 87 rugby and today 2012 cricket team had joined the ivy league.

Friday, March 9, 2012


Rahul Dravid's name is dominating the cricinfo and other Indian news sites today. For unknown reasons, its hard for me to still believe that Rahul Dravid was a modern day cricketer. For me he is more like a stereotypical nerdy Chess grandmaster. In a team which is full of macho men Dravid was the humble human being who went about his work in a very professional and simple manner. He was the purist test cricketer, I have this eerie feeling that he is one of the last of that breed.

In an era of modern day mayhem in the form of 20-20 the purist like Dravid might disappear. If you love cricket , I mean the longer version of it, you start admiring how well simplicity can work when you watch Dravid play. In two of the miracle matches ever played, Dravid had his own share but as part of his fate in both instance he was overshadowed by VVS Luxman and credit is reserved for VVS Luxman for performing those miracle and Dravid's performance are somewhere in the foot note.

I always felt that he played for the Indian team at the wrong phase of time. He might be the all time second highest run getter in tests, but unfortunately he was overshadowed by the Indian god of cricket playing at the same time.

What I most liked about him was this next door guy kind of image, and not trying to be like the younger generation of Indian cricketers who pretend like a gangster who had just broken out of Jail and walk around flaunting their stardom.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Six things that you should know about bloggers

The kind of people who call themselves as bloggers are the ones you should be very careful with. When a blogger is around you should remember the following,

1. On days in which they do not have anything to write about, you could be their victim
2. In their stories, if they do not have a villan, your name could end up in that list.
3. Bloggers are too good at coming up with flattering praises and no where near reality. But but but, most people believe them.
4. They are high on imaginations. They live in parallel worlds, very often they make you wonder how come I didn't observe what they observed!
5. Although they are harm less in real life, they do have swords in words.
6. Each of them are different kind of people, but largely most of them are introverts who like to pretend like extroverts.