D E Shaw Hackathon Winner!! (2013)


D E Shaw hackathon which started in 2012 (& was a huge success), was conducted again this year. Like last year, i was very enthusiastic & jumped in to participate in a team of 4 people (including me). We named our team as baZZinga, which was our way of saying “zing!” like when you zing someone in a joke.

The theme of this year’s hackathon was out a week before the actual event would begin & as expected lot of teams started brain storming to come up with some innovative ideas. Unlike other teams, we didn’t discuss anything until the last day (the good old engineer in us never dies!). We met just 14 hours before the event was to begin & put forward all the little ideas that we had. A bunch of the ideas were good-to-have but not-very-innovative/useful. Our ideas ranged from developing a framework to display any standard data visually (charts/graphs) to developing an employee evaluation tool. We finally zeroed in on the employee evaluation tool as our project for this year’s hackathon, after which we disbursed.

Snapshot of what we discussed

Day 1

Th event was to begin at 10 AM. We reached the venue well before time (for a change!) & waited for the countdown. The clock tick 10 & all the teams started off with the work. We chose a cubicle with 4 work stations & settled down with some yummy snacks. After the food & some videos on youtube, we decided on the important modules in our to-be-coded project & distributed the work equally, after which we worked seriously (well, with lot of fun in b/w) for sometime. In between we had a couple of mentors visiting us, with whom we shared our project idea, to which they gave a positive feedback (may be, this increased our confidence a bit). By lunch we had a web application skeleton ready & committed to our repository, after which we started work on the core modules. We did a lot of research & zeroed in on a NLP library & an open source sentiment analysis library. Before putting them to use, we tested them on some sample data & to our surprise the results were pretty good, hence we decided to use them for the real data. This was the time when we decided on the data sources to be used for evaluating an employee, we then extracted data from these data sources & integrated it with the NLP sentiment analysis libraries. The output had an accuracy of about 70%. By the time we did this, it was already 9. I felt very tired & decided to leave, promising my team members to come very early
the next morning, thus day 1 ended with some good amount of work being completed.

Day 2

This was the THE day – we had to finish our work by 5 in the evening & present the work before the jury in a 2 minute presentation. I woke up late (hence, couldn’t keep up my promise :) ), but after reaching office we put in some serious work in adding UI for the data work that we did yesterday. Deciding the UI components has always been a challenge in S/W development world & not surprisingly it took good amount of time for us to decide on how to present the data. We decided on presenting the data using charts/bar graphs/line graphs. We re used Highcharts, one of the rich chart libraries to build our UI. We almost finished our work by the end & prepared for the presentation. Now was the time for presentation & we had some brilliant ideas by various teams, one of my team members presented the key aspects of our project to the jury. This ended our HACKATHON journey.


The results were announced a week after the presentations. Frankly speaking, we weren’t expecting anything, but the results are always unexpected ;) , we won the Hackathon for best creative idea. To add cherry on the cake, we were given the prize (XBOX) by well known actor/director Rahul Bose.

Hackathon Winner

Hackathon winner!!

JavaOne & OracleDevelop 2012

JavaOne & OracleDevelop, one of the premiere technology conferences was organized on May 3 & May 4 at HICC, Hyderabad. I took a break from my Office-Home-Office schedule & got a chance to attend the conference. Two days of knowledge overflow, with sessions by some of the best Java minds/evangelists (wow!) in the business.

Day 1 started with JavaOne sponsor keynote by Gerard J Rego, he emphasized on the importance of mobile computing & applications and Nokia’s contributions in this area. There was a big round of applause for Santosh Ostwal who spoke about his innovation on mobile controlled water pumps even with low cost Nokia phones. It was an unbelievable achievement given the fact that be belonged to a poor farmer’s family in a remote village.

Nandini Ramani and Anil Gaur presented the keynote for Java technologies. Anil Gaur spoke about the project Avatar which involved HTML5 as well. Nandini talked about J2ME technology & how Oracle is working towards converging J2ME and J2SE, which was followed by Angela Caicedo‘s talk about the scene builder for JavaFx and demonstrated the gesture controlled duke app in iPad written using JavaFx (marvelous it was!). The bottom line here was the usability of JavaFx in creating platform independent UI applications.

After the keynotes, it was time for the attendees to choose sessions of their interest among many running in parallel (i wished to attend all), i started off with “Introduction to JavaFx 2.0″ by Angela Caicedo (i still had the hangover of gesture controlled iPad app), it was good to know the paradigm shift of JavaFx from a scripting language in 1.0 version to a Java API in 2.0. After this, i went into a hall where David Holmes presented the fork/join parallelism framework who later on gave a session on Project Lambda as well (this was the most interesting session overall). This session made me feel that Java is trying to go the functional programming way with closures coming up in Java 8, but giving a serious thought to it, you understand how beautifully these concepts will be introduced all the OOP’s way. Simon Ritter presented the keynote on JavaFx.The most interesting part was the demonstration of JavaFX on Raspberry Pi. Last session of the day was by Marcus Hirt who was originally involved in creation of JRockit virtual machine when they were students in their start up company Appeal Virtual Machines. It was very inspiring meeting him. He talked about HotRockit virtual machine which is coming up from Oracle.

In the evening the OTN night was quite entertaining with performances from standup comedian Vipul Goyal, Singer Vasundhara Das and top Indian Idol singer Meiyang Chang.

Day 2 began with panel discussion session with Arun Gupta, and other JavaFx experts. David Peake delivered the Oracle Develop keynote and stressed on Oracle Public Cloud. Next was probably the most interesting session of the day, Stephen Chin and Kevin Nelson discussed why HTML5 and JavaFx are not alternatives, they can be married together for low effort, rich web application leveraging the capabilities of both the technology.

This was followed by yet another interesting session on JavaScript on JDK by Sundarajan. He talked about Nashorn – running JS code seamlessly on JVM. Jay Suri’s session on “Java Beyond IDE” focused on the production time challenges in Java and performance monitoring with Flight Recorder. The day ended with a session on Java SWOT by Harshad Oak, only person to criticize J2ME & few other oracle products (he was not an oracle employee like others :) ).

Overall, these two days where good in more than lot of ways, signing off with a hope to see more of such sessions!

Data Gravity

If you’ve wondered why so many companies are eager to control data storage, the answer can be summed up in a simple term: data gravity. Ultimately, where data is determines where the money is. Services and applications are nothing without it.Data gravity is a term coined in a blog post by Dave McCrory. Basically, McCrory says to consider data as if it were an object:
As Data accumulates (builds mass) there is a greater likelihood that additional Services and Applications will be attracted to this data. This is the same effect Gravity has on objects around a planet. As the mass or density increases, so does the strength of gravitational pull. As things get closer to the mass, they accelerate toward the mass at an increasingly faster velocity.
…Services and applications can have their own gravity, but data is the most massive and dense, therefore it has the most gravity. Data if large enough can be virtually impossible to move.
Later, McCrory’s post went on to talk about artificial influences on data gravity, such as costs, data throttling, legislation and more. Basically, factors that influence the movement of data in ways that wouldn’t happen “naturally.” For instance, Amazon allows free inbound data transfer, but charges for outbound data transfer. Another “artificial” influence is legislation, telling companies where they may or may not store data, or dictating terms of its storage.
Data Gravity in Action
You don’t have to look very far to see data gravity in action. Consider Dropbox, Amazon S3, iTunes or just about any CMS migration ever.
Lots of companies want to emulate Dropbox, but few have managed to attract the same kind of user base as Dropbox. None are as ubiquitous as Dropbox. And that presence is paying off for Dropbox, which has now attracted quite a few third-party apps to its orbit, like Wappwolf and Ifttt. Perhaps that’s why Apple is trying to disrupt Dropbox’s gravitational pull and rejecting some iOS apps that use Dropbox.
You’ll note that Amazon S3 and other Amazon AWS services make it very easy to get data in, but getting data out gets spendy. No shocker here – Amazon wants to encourage as many developers and companies to toss data into AWS, and then tie them to the service.
Apple’s iTunes is all about keeping data in Apple’s services. Aside from Apple’s now-defunct DRM on music, there’s no using iTunes to transfer music or movies to other devices. It’s Apple devices or nothing. Getting the entire library out of iTunes is non-trivial for many users, so in many cases it’s like a digital roach motel: data checks in, but it doesn’t check out.
If you’ve ever worked with content management systems, you already know all about the concept data gravity – even if you’ve never heard the term. Getting all the data out of one CMS to another is, well, painful at best. Often impossible. This is one reason why companies often stick with aging CMSes rather than go through the pain of migration.
Consider Gravity Before Deploying
Whether it’s a single-user application like iTunes, or a company wide project: You need to consider the implications of data gravity – once your data is in, how hard will it be to break the gravitational field?
The stronger the data gravity involved, the more cautious you should be when you choose your data storage solution. It’s likely that once you have a sufficient amount of data wrapped up in a solution, it’s going to be very difficult (if not impossible) to justify the costs of moving it away.

Shorten Links

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Java User Group – Hyderabad

This is a volunteer organization that strives to distribute Java-related knowledge around the world. It provides a meeting place for Java users to get information, share resources and solutions, increase networking, expand Java Technology expertise. It’s open to anyone from Java newbies to experts

All the Hyderabadi Java enthusiasts please join this group at https://groups.google.com/d/forum/java-user-group-hyderabad

Lets take Java forward……