Good Bye 2008

By the start of January I had finished half of my internship session at LSF. During the mid of January the RMSs visit to Sri Lanaka took place and I was so fortunate enough to engaged with several activities (doing a presentation about Sahana, going out for a lunch with RMS and the LSF Sahana Team, listening to several of his speeches, etc… ). I was so fortunate to meet the father of Free Software Foundation specially since I was also engaged in a project that follows his philosophy that software should be freely available for the well being of mankind.

During the February and March I dedicated most of my time contributing to the Sahana project. Activities such as fixing bugs, testing, developing a new functionality that transforms the Web page to a printable HCR(or OCR) friendly form that can be used for collection of data to the system through the means of paper forms, etc..

The six months internship period at LSF ended on 22nd of April. I had my first experience of developing a web site using the Joomla CMS, it was really challenging and exciting.

The second semester for level two started on May. This time we had the choice of selecting the subjects so I selected three out of the electives and had two more on the compulsory list. Meanwhile the level 3 project was there as well and it was a group one. We selected to do a computer networking related project. Our project involves developing a system capable of monitoring and diagnosing the entire network infrastructure of an organisation. It was a six members group, and our task was to develop it by end of the semester which was due for September. Throughout the semester we worked hard on it get it as we have expected. Most of the credits should go to Thushara and Shashi for their inspiring coding style. We called our system Network Doctor: a Multi Agent system for Network Troubleshooting and Monitoring.

We moved on to our new Faculty premises during the end of August, to mark this the Faculty organized several events. One of them was a symposium under the theme Graduation, Entrepreneurship and Success at our Faculty premises. It was attended by the Faculty staff, all the past and present students and the distinguish invitees of the industry. I was so fortunate to hold the first official event on the opening day of our new Faculty building apart from the opening ceremony. It was a seminar conducted by Dr. Damith Chathura Rajapakse from NUS School of Computing on Postgraduate opportunities at NUS as the President of intecs(although most of our colleagues called our society as nothing happens, because the slogan says it happens).

From the mid of September once again I joined LSF as an undergraduate research fellowship for a period of one year. It always encourages students to take up challenges to come up with innovative software solutions for the benefit of the society through it projects(Sahana, etc…) using free software. During the month of October Sahana community offered me the Committer status in the Sahana project as a recognition for my contributions. Holding a committer status in a Free and Open Source Software project is very prestigious and rewarding.

During the start of November the first semester for the level 4 started and it offered us innovative and challenging subjects to select from. It included Multi Agent Systems, Fuzzy Logic, Advance Mathematics, Theory of Complexity and Computability, Geographic Information System, Mobile Computing, Broadband Networks,Distributed Computing as electives plus Business Law and Advance IT Project Management as compulsory and an individual project.

These days I’m working on writing a paper to be submitted to ISCRAM on part of the work I did during my internship period at LSF.

To me the year 2008 was a year full of excitement and fun and it left me a hand full of memories that made my university life memorable and meaningful. Finally I would like to see an end to the war against LTTE terrorism in my country that cause great sorrow and misery to all of the fellow citizens of Sri Lanka despite the race they belongs to for the past couple of decades. So expecting to see a year full of peace and end to wars against humanity around the world during 2009.


Recall the activities carried out by ‘intecs’

As this is my first article about the society of ‘intecs‘ in the faculty, so let me give a brief introduction. The primary focus of the society is to act as a bridge to strengthen the relationship with the industry and the students, through various activities like Industry visits, Tech-Talk series, peer-to-peer sessions, educational seminars, etc as well as to provide facilitates like access to books and magazines through the ‘intecs Resource Center’.

I began my tenure as President of Information Technology Society – intecs little less than a year ago and we as a team have remained steadfast in our goal: to continue conducting quality programs that strengthen the relationship with the industry and the students and the emerging challenges of the field of Information Technology. Following is a quick look at the activities we did:

Workshop at Virtusa Corporation

This event which was targeted for the benefit of the 7th batch who were in there 1st year during that time, was organized keeping in mind of the level of exposure of the newest of our students. All of them were fresh out of their A/Ls and enthusiastic of the degree programme, we believed that it was important for them to feel the culture of the industry which they would eventually be groomed for.

Tech-Talk Sessions

This programme was specially targeted for Level 2 (batch 6) students, and for those who joined the industry for their Industrial Training. Through Tech-Talks, we mainly target topics, which are most related to the academic curriculum. The Virtusa Corporation joined hand with us in providing a team of professionals to visit our university and it went for a one whole week.

Guest Lecture Sessions

Had the opportunity to conduct several sessions with industry professionals, where they spoke to us on diverse topics covering the emerging areas, trends, opportunities, etc.

Seminar on Postgraduate Academic Opportunities @ NUS

The seminar was conducted by Dr. Damith Chathura Rajapakse, a lecturer from National University of Singapore. His presentation helped the students to educate themselves on how to overcome the problems they face while seeking for postgraduate studies, such as:

  • Financial implications of an extended period of studying (“I want to study more, but I cannot depend on my parents any longer; It’s about time I get a job, start a family, and settle down”)
  • Lack of information about available funding opportunities
  • Difficulties in meeting the admission criteria (taking GRE/TOEFL, writing research proposals, contacting supervisors, getting reference letters etc.)
  • The mistaken belief that …
    • … higher degrees are useful for academic careers only
    • … you need “contacts” to get admitted to postgraduate programs
    • … you cannot do higher degrees without a first class

This seminar was a valuable opportunity for those how are planning to continue their higher studies.

intecs Resource Center

This is one of the major project I undertook at the society while I was a Committee Member and I managed to grow it further with more books and magazines as the president as well. Many individuals helped me on this, specially I should thank Dr. Aith Madurapperuma and all other lecturers of the faculty for the support and guidance granted in favour of me. Current the resource center has around 500 odd books covering most of the areas related to our degree curriculum and English novels. These days I’m working on with shifting it to a permanent place in the new faculty premises.

intecs goes online

Filling a hole that intecs had for sometime, finally we are online. Through this we are planing to reach out into new areas and opportunities while giving a clear picture to the world about the activities we are carrying out.

Other Activities

We gave a hand for organizing the party conducted for the freshers in the faculty and gave a financial sponsorship for the first Carrier Fair organized at our faculty. As a society we always focused on giving our fullest corporation to activities done by the students although it didn’t go with our primary focus.

Free Software should be introduced to Sri Lankan school children

Last week while I was at LSF I got the opportunity to have a chat with Bikku Mettavihari, monk that has contributed lot to the Sri Lankans in promoting and advocating the use free software and has played an active role in all or most of the free and opensource software related workshops that I have attended during the past couple of years.

During the conversation I got to know that the agreement(MoU) that had with Microsoft Corporation and the Sri Lankan Ministry of Education, on providing the necessary ICT related education to our government schools has now ended 🙂 . That was one good news for me to hear because according to what I believe the schools children should have the freedom to access to information technology related materials with zero cost, and we should not use software that costs thousands when there are enough of materials that are available for free. Well in one point it’s totally waste of money and that money can be used for providing more resources or expand the reach to a wider community.

I think this is a golden opportunity that we have in our hand to introduce GNU/Linux based software to our schools children. We can make use of a distribution like Edubuntu as the base operating system because it has a good support for hardware devices as well. Using them in teaching to students will benefit the child as well as the country. For example if the student gets an ideas of adding new features, looking into the source code of the system, learn how things have implemented, etc the free and opensource software gives the child the full freedom to do all of this. So why not we give this freedom to our future generation. To my knowledge there are lots of countries in the world make use of free and opensource software in their education systems and they have achieved success. The One Laptop per Child project is a good example for it.