JSUnconf 23-24 April 2016, Hamburg

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are my own! Pictures are copied from twitter @jsunconf.

Now start reading…

It’s day #2 at JSUnconf, Hamburg and it’s snowing here! It’s weekend, yet nobody is tired. The enthusiasm within the audience/community is crazy. Everybody is here to share and learn something new.

jsunconf-audience

This was my first time at an Unconf! Unlike other conferences, the good thing about Unconfs is that the audience get to vote for the talk proposals on the fly. This is absolutely a conference for the people and by the people.

The two days started with a healthy breakfast and a quick welcoming of the audience. This was followed by potential speakers proposing their ideas. Voting was followed next and the schedule for the respective days was released.

As a speaker, I feel this is an interesting concept to validate your talk proposal. The joy of getting votes and getting a chance to speak is cosmic. My talk did make it to stage on day #1. My slides can be found here. The talk was on Natural User Interfaces using JavaScript. I had a chance to validate my idea before going live at JSConfBP, Budapest.

My session was at 14:30 on day #1. With 3 parallel sessions at a given time, I had a decent audience count listening to me. The demos which I had prepared, showed up very well and all the hard work paid off.

Being a foodie, it would be unfair from my part if I don’t post some FOOOOOOOOOD pictures 😉

JSUnconf highlights

  • It was a well-defined and nicely emphasised code of conduct.
  • This is what was there at both the rest-rooms. Promoting diversity at it’s best!jsunconf-all-gender
  • The coffee cups were re-usable.
  • The diversity scholarship of 300€ was awarded to 17 deserving candidates. I was one of them.jsunconf-diversity

From annoying pop-ups to JS on the back-end, the JavaScript community has seen JS in its varied forms. Conferences like these are a great place to network, learn and share knowledge.

My personal favorite talk at JSUnconf was about CSS refactoring by Christoph Reinartz, Trivago (@pistenprinz). Even though it was more about CSS, talks like these come out with a strong message about the need to use design patterns, code refactoring, terms much reserved to back-end and eyes drooling when the front-end community talks about.

It’s 14:15 (day #2) as I am ending this write-up. With 3 more hours to go here at the conference, it was a weekend well-spent. I have proposed a lightning talk too and is due in next 90 minutes. I made some new friends as well!

jsunconf-new-friends

Long live #javascript!

LearnItGirl -Failure Lessons

It’s been a relaxing weekend. Berlin and Zalando, both are treating me very well. Every day is like living my dream. Well, ‘so far, so good’…

After a heavy lunch today, I have been going through my to-do list. With no mood to sleep, I thought of writing a blog. Earlier this year, I had made an announcement of being chosen to be a mentor for LearnItGirl. I was very excited about this program. I and my mentee exchanged few emails in the beginning, one Skype call. That’s it. After that we failed to catch up.

My mentee, Iulia Dromereschi is from Romania. She is a freelance translator, conference interpreter, language trainer, collaborator at bookblog.ro, creative writer and is a co-founder of a NGO (she had once told me, what this NGO does, but I have no notes of it and now I have forgotten). I was readily impressed with her interesting profile. She has basic HTML and web design knowledge. She wanted to get started with JavaScript, which is why she chose LearnItGirl as the platform.

Since she uses email for communications very heavily, she wanted to build a tool like MailChimp. She decided to name it MailPump. Below is the abstract of the idea:

We would like to build a mail client (similar to MailChimp) which should help Iulia’s NGO send e-mails to the people they have to be in contact with. The mail client should facilitate sending e-mails to a great number of people, and also edit the e-mail content/layout, embed images, links, short movies, allow people to vote in polls or confirm their presence to events, to subscribe and unsubscribe to the newsletter(s).

I liked this idea and we both decided to work on it. Below is the work plan for 12 weeks which we had agreed on:

  1. HTML
  2. CSS
  3. JavaScript – Getting started
  4. Some more JavaScript
  5. Learning to build a basic website with HTML, CSS and JavaScript
  6. Prototyping MailPump
  7. Coding the layout for MailPump using HTML, CSS and JavaScript
  8. Adding interactions into MailPump
  9. Manage mailing lists
  10. Create email templates
  11. Add audio, video, image into email
  12. Final project wrap up

In one of the projects (Selasdia) which I have worked on earlier, back in Bangalore, I had built an email template engine, similar to MailChimp. I thought this would be a good learning project for Iulia to learn JavaScript.

My mentee was awesome, the project idea was super cool and the interest to learn and teach was at its best. But, I and my mentee have been too busy with our day-to-day work and we failed to show any progress in this program. My sincere apologies to the LearnItGirl team for not completing this project. As any successful person will honestly admit, failure happens, and we’ve all had our fair share of it. But from each failure, we learn our lessons.

To summarise our failure lessons, I have the following notes:

Choose wisely: I was new to Berlin and Zalando, I had too many things to focus on. I think it was a bad decision from my end to volunteer to be a mentor and not complete the task. I have already learned my lesson. I am now more careful in prioritising things and pick up only the ones which are doable.

Persistence: Iulia was travelling most of the time and had poor internet, which is why we couldn’t schedule our initial calls on time. Both of us didn’t give the right amount of attention to this project and it was undone. Had the two of us been persistent, we would have come half way through by now.

Motivation: Motivation is the key to everything. I strongly believe in this simple yet powerful word. Our daily schedule kept us busy from seeing any motivation in this program.

Never forget why you started!

As I conclude this post, I really hope Iulia learns programming and builds her own MailPump.

 

 

 

 

 

How to be happy and make others happy!

As I woke up today morning, there was a message from my sister asking me to write an essay on “How to be happy and make others happy”. Her daughter (my niece) received this email from her school about an essay competition. Today being a Sunday, I had no plans for the day and I liked the idea about writing an article for my blog. Well, I was happy! Maybe once I am done with this writing, I would definitely make my sister and my niece happy!

I am now sitting and wondering how an 8-year old can be happy and make others happy. I like this topic because I am one of those people who constantly tries to be happy by valuing the tiny things which would matter in my life rather than the materialistic side of the things. I have lot of memories of my 8th year and I doubt if I ever wondered how to make others happy. Off course, I was a happy kid back then. And I think, my deeds made my parents and my sister happy. I still remember the day, I was 7 and I stood first in my class and it made my mother so happy that evening. I was happy too. I was 8, and I won an elocution competition for the first time. Both my mother and my sister were happy. I was happy too. So, that’s about it. I was happy and my family was happy too. Not to mention, I am happy even now and my family is happy too!

The next few paragraphs (approximate 400 words, is the essay requirement) will talk about an 8 year old’s perspective of being happy and making others happy.

‘What do I want from my life?’ I think it’s too early for me to decide on this. But off-course, I know for sure, I want to be happy. I do have many reasons to be happy.

  • My parents love me
  • My dad has a nice job
  • My mom is pretty
  • I get good food to eat
  • I have nice clothes to wear
  • I stay in a big house
  • I have friends to play with

This is my sweet world and it is perfect. I don’t see why I should be scared of not being happy at all. But, I do see that the grown ups aren’t entirely happy after all. I am too young to comprehend the grown up’s world, but maybe I have a few lessons for them to be happy and make others happy. I hope to be following these lessons as I grow up too.

  1. Be self satisfied: I have read this somewhere, that man is greedy. He always wants more and he is never satisfied. Instead, focus on the things what you have rather than going behind the ones which you don’t have. Life will be lot easier and happier. For example, I need to consider those kids who are poor rather than complaining to my parents about not gifting me what I saw in the mall yesterday.
  2. Sleep more: I am always full of energy after a good night’s sleep. The grown ups often miss this important aspect and mess the happiness in their life.
  3. Spend more time with family and friends: Money cannot buy all the happiness. Yes, I need my dad to work in the office and earn money but I wouldn’t want him to be only doing his office work. I want him to spend time with me and my mom and take us out on vacation.
  4. Help others: Think of those who are less privileged than you. Do not be stingy. Be thankful with what is give to you and get on the spirit of helping the needy and the less fortunate. I always insist my mom to give away my books, clothes, accessories to our maid’s daughter who is of my age. The joy of seeing my friend happy is inexplicable.
  5. Practice smiling: Smiling can make us feel better, but it’s more effective when we back it up with positive thoughts.
  6. Practice gratitude: This tiny gesture of appreciation is the most effective to make others happy. I start my day by thanking God for giving me a chance to live in this world, yet another day. I thank my mom and dad for looking after me, my teachers for teaching me, my friends for playing with me. This is a very simple strategy but it will surely make a huge difference in anybody.

As I end my happy lessons, I would like to conclude it with the following note: ‘Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder’!

Well, I am done with my task of writing an essay. Did I make you happy? 🙂 Happy Sunday!

 

2016’s Hello World

Writing my first blog post from beautiful Berlin for the year 2016. I managed to achieve quite a bit in 2015. One goal for 2015 was to start talking at technical events/conferences; which was achieved. The other goal was to win a hackathon; which was partly achieved. Another goal was to do Coursera’s Machine Learning course seriously; which never happened!

Here’s a summary of what happened in the year 2015: read more

Few updates to what happened at JSConfAsia, Singapore 2015 and how I achieved my goal of winning a hackathon partially.

On the morning of 19th November, 2015, I was all set to deliver my talk as an international speaker. I was both nervous and excited. Few days back I had volunteered myself to play JSPardy, a Jeopardy like game, but with JavaScript.

(“Jeopardy!” is a classic game show — with a twist. The answers are given first, and the contestants supply the questions. )wiki

The previous morning (18.11.2015), I got a mail from the conference organisers saying I was one of those 3 contestants to be playing this unique JS game show. It doubled my excitement, but little did I know that this game was a part of the inaugural ceremony of JSConfAsia 2015. I was done with my registration for the conference on 19th morning and I was looking for Thomas Gorissen (conference organiser) to know and understand the rules for the game. Once done explaining, he asked me to occupy the front-row seats so that it would be easy to walk up to the stage without any delays.

I can still recall my nervousness on getting to know that the game was to be played before my talk (my talk was scheduled for 10:00 am and the inauguration was at 9:00 am). Following is the excerpt of our conversation –

Me: “What? Is it really going to be before my talk? I don’t think I am ready for this at all”

Thomas: “Well, it is a fun game show. Just enjoy”

Me: “Will I make fun out of myself if I am unable to answer any questions?” (I was nervous, I was all blank about JS, about my talk. All I wanted to do was, leave the place and run away)

Thomas: “I am sure you will have fun”

The game started, and rest was history :). Well, all this while I didn’t mention about the grand prize. The winner would get the all new IPAD Pro and I ended up winning this game with the audience’s support.

This is how I achieved my goal partially (because it wasn’t a hackathon). I was the happiest person on earth. My talk went well, got positive feedback and was applauded by web evangelists.

JSPardy at JSConfAsia

Video of my presentation

The next talk was at Grace Hopper Conference India, 2015. It took place at the Taj Vivanta, Yeshwantpur (Bangalore). My video starts at the 13th minute here

Meanwhile, I had applied for Zalando in October 2015. After visiting Berlin for the first time in September 2015 (diversity scholarship recipient for JSConfEU), I had made up my mind to take up a job in Berlin (I badly wanted to be in this city, I wanted a job here, Berlin is so beautiful. It seemed just perfect to be living here). The week before flying to Singapore, I had completed all my technical interviews for Zalando through Skype. The results were expected when I was in Singapore. My joy knew no bounds when I received the much awaited positive response from Zalando. The whole process was so well organized, from the interviews to the relocation assitance, everybody involved did a commendable job. Presently, I am “onboarded” at Zalando, and I am loving every single day. #ILikeMyNewJob

“Dream is not that you see in sleep, dream is something which doesn’t let you sleep” – A P J Adbul Kalam

These were the best things that took place in 2015. There were few things which didn’t happen too:

The theme which we (me and Navya) opted for the hackathon was ‘Super Workplaces’, and we chose to build a ‘Moods App’: to record moods of employees, use smart ways to detect if anybody’s unhappy and wants to leave the company. There is lot of scope for this project. I will write another blog post to talk more on this idea.

Source code can be found here. We built a simple web-based interface to capture moods. The fun part is, using gestures, nodding head – left/right, one can log moods. Demo

There were positive things from this hackathon:

  • I found a new friend – Navya B Raju. She’s a crazy, loving girl. Our trip to Delhi for the hackathon was indeed successful ;).
  • The joy of staying awake the whole night and coding forth something meaningful, the joy of completing the hackathon is exceptional. The 48 hour sleepless night (I winked my eyes just for 15 minutes during this whole duration) was worthy. We did get lot of appreciation for the project!

I had also enrolled as a volunteer for DataKind’s Bangalore Chapter. So, for me, 2015 ended with a DataDive #Data4Good. All my weekends (second half of 2015) were super productive, being with this amazing community of data good-doers.

With all the positive energy and learnings from 2015, I am all geared up for 2016. New place, new job, new people. It feels good. Gives me a sense of accomplishment 🙂

#DreamBig #HappyCoding

 

 

 

 

A thank you note!

I was going through my twitter feeds and came across WWCode’s tweet which asked to submit a story about how WWCode has impacted our careers. I was getting ready to go to office, but I stopped to write this story.

I have been looking for a way to thank WWCode Bangalore and couldn’t find this form any better!

It all began on 7th May, 2015 when I sent a talk proposal to WWCode Bangalore’s upcoming meetup to Devangana Khokhar (Director of WWC Bangalore).

The talk was about Intel’s RealSense 3D technology and how I had developed a game using my face as a game controller. I am a JavaScript aficionado and the best thing about this game was that it was built entirely on JS. How cool it is to do all of this perceptual computing using JS! Ever since I had accomplished this, I wanted to do a demo of this at WWCode Bangalore and we scheduled a meetup for 8th August, 2015.

That was exactly 3 months after I had sent the proposal ;).

Not many showed up for the meetup, but whoever was present were all taken away by the awesomeness of JS. It turned out to be a great 6 hour session and after that there has been no looking back!

The next day there was DataKind Bangalore Chapter’s sprint session and they were looking for data experts in visualizations and
I got a direct entry to be a part of this awesome team too. Thanks to Devangana and Gaurav Godhwani.

Oh, by the way, I need to make a mention here that I go crazy when you talk about D3.js and visualizations. Next to JS, D3.js and visualizations are close to my heart.
Anand S from Gramener is my inspiration to this!

Following this WWC’s session, I got lot of applauds on Facebook and Twitter.
I also got two enquiries from prospective startups who were interested about my work in perceptual computing. They were (and are still) generous to offer me to use their office space and 3D cameras for any R&D related work. I was thrilled.

Meanwhile, I won a fully paid diversity scholarship to attend JSConf.EU. It was my first international trip and I got to go to one of the most beautiful place – Berlin.

The next big leap was when I was invited to be a speaker at JSConf.Asia.
My first proposal to JSConf.Asia was rejected saying they thought the talk was more about an advertisement to Intel’s RealSense technology.
I didn’t want to give up and sent another proposal, which got accepted and I would be presenting my work at Singapore for JSConf.Asia on 19-20th November, 2015.

The idea behind this talk had generated when I was preparing for my first demo for WWC. This is where I would want to thank WWCode whole heartedly.

Little did I know back then that it would become a hit.
This is a little abstract about my talk for JSConf.Asia: “This talk is about a web based solution to simulate 3D cameras for prototyping, developing and testing perceptual computing, augmented reality applications without using a physical device. I will walk you through the immense possibilities which could be explored through JavaScript and web.”

The next big thing happened when my first technical paper on the above subject got selected for Grace Hopper Conference India 2015 which is scheduled for 3-4th December, 2015.

I got excellent feedback for this.
review

So this has been my summary for 2015 and major credits go to WWCode Bangalore.

It wouldn’t be fair to conclude this thank you note, if I don’t mention Cohan Sujay Carlos, CEO, Aiaioo Labs, the person behind getting me to enjoy coding.
He will always remain as my mentor.

Also, Sreeraman Vaidhyanathan, Co-founder and MD, IStar India Skills Pvt Ltd, for making me realise how fast I can code. Today, if I am able to come up with any crazy ideas and make them a reality, then the credit goes to Sreeram.

Amruth Ravindranath and all my other colleagues at Guru-G Learning Labs have been way too kind to offer me all the required support towards my external fun projects.

Last but not the least, my family who will be always there for me.