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DroidCon India-2015

Background

Droidcon India 2015 was held on 17th and 18th of December,2015 at MLR Convention Centre, Banglore. Droidcon is India’s largest Android developer conference and it is organized by hasgeek.

There were two types of diversity grants offered to attend the conference covering conference ticket, travel and accomadation; student grant and the female developer grant.The female developer grant is sponsored by Intel Software and organized by the droidcon global department.  I received the female developer sponsorship. Thank you very much Intel and droidcon global for funding my travel and accommodation to attend the conference.  I won’t be able to attend the conference without that.

I first heard about droidcon and the grants program from a friend’s facebook post. Android has always been my hobby and leisure time activity. Even though I do not get a chance to practice Android at my job, open source and mentoring has kept me up to date. As soon as I go through the event website I knew I wanted to attend. So I applied for the female developer sponsorship grant and about a week later I was notified that I got it.

Conference

MLR Convention Centre was buzzing with Android enthusiasts when I reached there on 17th morning. Upon registration, we were given the conference pass with our names and the goodie pack which included the AuraVR headset. I have been to my share of conferences and this is the first time I got the schedule printed in the conference pass. Kudos to the organizers for that thoughtful idea.

There were two parallel sessions going on the Auditorium and the Banquet Hall so that you can choose a talk or workshop according to your preference. Usually, the talk sessions were at Auditorium and the workshops were at the Banquet Hall. There were sponsor stalls from Microsoft, Uber, inshorts, epson and cube26 at the area outside the auditorium.

Food coupons were given each day at the morning and we had a choice of selecting our choice of food at the food court. Wifi name and password were given. Unfortunately, it was not stable in the first day. But it was much better on the second day.

Sessions

The first session I attended was the “Memory Dumps: Going beyond the memory” by Eric Andre of Badoo. He talked about HPROF and Badoo Memory Dump (BMD) format. You can read more on BMD at Badoo tech blog.

Next session was about modern prototyping by Soham Mandal. He initiated the talk with the importance of prototyping and talked about the tools. During the session he showed us how easy it is, by making a pototype of an app from the scratch.

The session about react was something I was looking forward from the moment I laid my eyes on the schedule. I wanted to know how will it incorporates with Android to give the developer more power. I was also wondering whether it is worth it. However, the talk was able to clear my misconceptions on react for Android (of course a little bit of google helped too ;)).

The 20-minute session about Android Studio was good for beginner level developers. But most of the seasoned developers already know this stuff.  Nevertheless, the speakers were able to keep the session alive by keeping it short and doing the demo.

In the evening, I went to participate to the VR workshop. I was hoping that it would teach to make a VR project from the scratch. But the session needed a GitHub project cloned. But with the poor wifi, it took some time to get the code and due to some configuration changes some more time was wasted to make it up and running. However, they explained the important functions and how they are implemented.

After the tea break, there was a session on building better android apps with MVP. The session was very fast faced and it took me a lot of effort to keep up. Nevertheless, the session was worth it.

The second day started with the “Where do android tests belong”  talk by Nazneen and Vidhi. Although it didn’t teach me something new since I have a special interest in testing, for others it would have been a most important one.

Next was the “Google talk” by Vikram Aggrawal. Although it wasn’t much focused on technical side it was able to freshen up the audience with the cute pics of puppies and kittens. It also gave a brief idea on the development process at Google.

One of the most interesting session from the conference for me was the next session on “Onboarding new users on your Android app” by Elvis D’souza. He was able to give a good value addition to his talk with real app examples.

Azure mobile app engagement” by Abhishek also caught my interest. Needless to say, the whole time I was comparing Google Analytics and searching on the comparison while trying very hard to listen to what the speaker says as well.

The conference ended wth the session on Realm which was another great session because throughout my app development career I have never even thought of replacing SQLite. So it really opened my mindset to search for new and better possibilities.

Epilogue

At the end of the two days, I have learned a lot and met some great people. It got me thinking on some aspects, specifically on app architecture and user interface. Most importantly some good app ideas came to me during the sessions as well. HasGeek has done a fantastic job with organizing. Apart form the wifi problem they deserve 5 star rating.

The photos of the event from organizers can be acessed here.

The videos of all the talks can be accessed here.

Once again thank you very much Intel and droidcon global for the sponsorship. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to experience this amazing conference.

 

 

 

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5 least used Git hacks

Git is undoubtedly the best thing happened to the programming lifecycle. To the people who don’t know git, it is a widely used version control system for software development. While git being git , saves most of the troubles software engineers having related to versions, collaborating, going back and forth in developing features and adding them to the software, there are lot of commands in git which are not very commonly used but saves your time in a great deal.

(This article assumes that you have a basic understanding of git workflow)

Git stashing

Whenever you have any uncommitted changes in your git repository and you want to change the branch, you may have come across the following error.

Capture

When you have uncommitted changes which you still want to keep, then you just have to type “git stash”. It will record both your staged and unstaged changes internally. When you are ready to comeback to your incomplete work you just have to type the command “git stash apply”. This command will only apply your most recent stashed changes.

You can see your stash history by “git stash list”, It will give you the list of stashes which are stored. If you want to apply an older stash, you have to specify the name with the command like “git stash apply stash@{1}”.

Capture stash list

Git doesn’t provide a command like “git stash unapply” to unapply a stash. If you want to unapply the changes that came from the stash , you have to do it by simply retrieving the patch associated with a stash and apply it in reverse using “git stash show –p | git apply -R”. This will revert the changes in the most recently applied stash. If you want to specify a stash to unapply you can use the above command as this “git stash show –p stash@{1} | git apply -R”.

If you are more into it , you can also create a git unapply command yourself so that you don’t have to remember the whole thing or google it everytime you need it by using aliases which is discussed in the last section in this blogpost.

Following are few more commands associated with stash

git stash apply –index” – When the stash is applied using the normal “git stash apply” command then your previous staged changes will be unstaged. If you want your previous position with all your staged changes staged, then you have to use the apply command with “–index”. This will give you the original position you were in before stashing.

git stash drop stash@{0}” – When you apply a stash using “git stash apply” command it will continue to stay on your stash list. To remove your stash from the list you can use the above command.

git stash pop” – If you want to apply the stash and immediately remove from the list, then you can use the above command.

One of the other use cases of using stash can be like this. You have two feature branches in your git repository named feature1, feature2. You start developing something in feature1 branch and suddenly you figure out this is not something you need in feature1 branch, but needed in feature2 branch. All you have to do is stash the changes, switch the branch to feature2 from feature1 and apply the stash. Applying the stash might cause you merge conflicts. But if you are using git you should have lot of experience in resolving merge conflicts. So I am not going to focus on them here.

Git reset

This is not very uncommon command as you may have expected. But I am sure the only command you use all of the time is “git reset –hard”. But there is more to the reset command.

If you want to unstage a file or set of files from the staging index, you can use the “git reset” or “git reset <file_name>

If you have a commit to undo you can use “git reset –hard HEAD~1” or “git reset –hard“. 1 can be replaced by number of commits you want to undo. If you want to move some commits to a separate branch, all you have to do is make a branch from the branch currently you are in and then undo the commits. In this scenario you will have the commits safely on the branch you created new.

Suppose while you are working on a certain branch and suddenly you got to fix a bug in another branch. But your current work is not completed. So instead of stashing them you just commit the changes of the working directory and checkout the other branch and fix the bug. But when you return to your previous branch, the last commit of it would contain incomplete work. So you can use “git reset –soft” to revert the commit and keep the changes in the index. So you can start completing work from there.

If you want to remove a file from the index before a commit you can use “git reset <filename>”.

Git ignore

There are standards defining what types of files you should commit and not. If you are a collaborator of a large project, you may have come across what kind of files to commit and not. Most probably these are the files related to your IDE. You can use a .gitignore file in your repository to mention all the files which should not be tracked intentionally. A .gitignore file should be committed in your repository in order to share your ignore rules with other collaborators. Github provides a list of recommended .gitignore files for popular operating systems, environments and languages. (https://github.com/github/gitignore)

But if you have a file which is already tracked by your repository adding that to the .gitignore file will not stop git from tracking it. So you have to manually remove it.

Each line in .gitignore file specifies a pattern . # denotes a comment. ‘!’ can be used to negate patterns. Sample .gitignore file would look like this

#Complied Object Files

*.slo

*.lo

*.o

*.obj

# Precompiled Headers

*.gch

*.pch

Git cherrypick

This is the most useful command which will get out of you from most of the problems. Git cherrypick allows you to merge a single commit from one branch to another. This is very useful in situations which you do not merge the whole branch because of inconsistencies in versions and etc. cherrypicking is very simple. You have to first get your hash of the commit. You can use git log or any other preferred method. If you are using github the yellow highlightes numbers represent the hash associated with each commit in the following picture.

hash.PNG

Then all you have to do is use the command “git cherry-pick <hash>” in the branch you want to apply the commit.

Git aliases

Aliases is the most amazing concept of git which will let you own it. Here is how it happens. If you are too lazy to type the git commands you can add short aliases for them. For example let’s take the command “git checkout” . You can create an aliase “c” for it by using the following command “git config –global alias.co checkout”. Then next time when you need checkout you just have to say “git c” instead of “git checkout”. As we discussed earlier in the stashing section you can create your own “git stash unapply” command using “git config –global alias.stash-unapply ‘!git stash show -p | git apply –R

 

Resources: https://git-scm.com/docs

Getting Started in Open Source

Last week I have met several college students who are willing to contribute to open source but do not know where to start from. Few years ago I was in the same boat. Since GSoC 2016 is getting nearer and students have already started to find organizations and start contributing, this would be the ideal time to publish the post.

Get your skills and abilities listed

Fist you have to analyze your self. You have to figure out what you actually want and what are you comfortable with. For example you may be an expert in Android and want to contribute to a project related to Android. Or else you may know the basics in Android, by contributing you want to get more experienced. In a completely different scenario, you know Java but you want to contribute to c++ project to learn c++ while contributing. So there can be many reasons why you want to contribute to open source. First take some time. Take a pen and paper and write down what you really expect from contributing to open source.

Once you know what you want, you have to figure out your strengths and weaknesses related to that area. Then you will be able to get a good understanding on for what you want to contribute. Once you get your skills and abilities listed with your expectation you can start finding a project.

Select a project or two to contribute

Many people have this misconception that finding a project to contribute is the most difficult thing in the process.  Believe me it is not. Once you know what your expectations are, you have to list out what kind of a project you need. You have to focus on the project’s technical details for this. For example you are a java expert and you want to learn c++ in the process of contributing, selecting a java project is not going to work. So you have to identify the technical details such as programming language and focus of the project (such as algorithms, machine learning and data science).

Once you figure out the details you can directly search an open source project which matches your specification in google. Another way is go to the last years GSoC page and search your specifications. Then you will find the related projects.

Make a list of projects you like and go through each and every project. Most projects maintain wikis and you can find them in their start contributing page or similar pages. Read through them and try to understand what the projects are about. According to your understanding on them select one or two projects of your interest. Then comes the interesting part.

Subscribe to their mailing list

Once you found the project, subscribe to their dev mailing list. Most projects have the details on how to contribute/ getting started sections. If you are not comfortable introducing yourself to the community just yet, wait for some time and read the mails coming from the list. If you do not understand anything they are talking about, just ignore them. But by reading these mails you will get a good idea about communication and  Do not try to overthink and ditch the project and start another.

Shoot an introductory mail

Once you are familiar with the mailing list and mailing list etiquette, send an introductory mail to the mailing list introducing your self and asking them  to help you on getting started. In most of the cases as a result to this question , a community member will direct you to a page where there will be some beginner tasks related to the projects listed. You can read about them and claim a task. The way of claiming a task is different from organization to organization. In most organization when you go to the ticket of that task, you can comment and clarify your questions and tell them that you are interested in doing that specific task. Then they will assign it to you.

Start Contributing

Now that you have introduced yourself to the community and found a task, you can can start working on the tasks. In most of the open source projects, they use git for version controlling. What you usually have to do is fork the project, make changes to the code according to the task you are assigned and then make a pull request to the project’s repository in the organization. You can ask from the community about how they are going to do this.

 

GHCI Preconference Tips

Since GHCI (Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing India) is getting near , here are some tips for the first time attendees to make your experience a comfortable one.

Plan your travel itinerary.

If you are an outstation attendee and haven’t been to Bangalore before, it’s better to plan your travel itinerary before arriving at Bangalore. Plan the travel details from the airport to your accommodation and, from your accommodation to the conference. If you are unfamiliar with the local language and area, you can always use the Google map offline feature and save the route beforehand so that you can even use the Google map with the gps to identify your location and route without an internet connection.

Plan the sessions you want to attend beforehand.

In GHCI there are several sessions going parallel. So deciding the sessions which you want to attend can be a little bit tricky, since all the sessions looks promising. So before coming to the conference take some time and read the detailed version of agenda and description of sessions. Never judge the session from its name. Go through the detailed description of each sessions and figure out the sessions you need to attend.It’s better to be prepared early to avoid last minute mistakes of missing your favorite sessions. Remember that during the conference sometimes the sessions can change and the changes will be notified. You can also use the Convene app for the conference. Believe me, it will make your life easy.

Go to the conference venue early (first day).

In  the first day, registration ques tend to be long. To avoid the long ques get there early and then you have the time to get familiar with the conference venue before the conference starts.

How to extract the images in a Google Doc

Have you ever face a situation where you have access to a certain document with some images and you want to use the images it has for some other purpose. If you want to get these pictures in a word document what you have to do is just copy the image and paste it in the word document. But what happens of you want these images and images only to upload in some wort of web page??
Recently I faced such scenario. When I am writing a research paper using WriteLatex online Latex editor I wanted to include some figures. My friend has shared those figures in a Google Doc and has sent a link to me. Since I wanted the images to upload to the Latex site, downloading it as a word document or pdf did no help. But then I found the solution.
In Google Doc you have 6 download options. If you want to download you have to click “File” menu , go to “Download as”. In the 6 options the last option is download as a web page. If you click that the document will be downloaded as a .zip file. It will contain .html file of your document and a separate folder for images. You can get the images separately if you go to that folder.

Ada Camp, Banglore – Two Awesome Days

Ada Initiative is a nonprofit organization which supports women in open technology and culture.  Ada Camp is a major event organized by Ada Initiative.  It is a series of conferences (Actually in unconference format, more on that later) aiming to increase the women participation in open technology and culture. In 2014 there were 3 Ada Camps in 3 continents.  The participation to Ada Camp is by invitation only. You can apply through the Ada Camp web site if you are interested and they will let you know if you are selected to attend. I was very lucky I got the chance to participate as an attendee in the Ada Camp, Banglore which was held in 22nd and 23rd of November, 2014. I also got a travel scholarship from Ada Initiative which made me possible to come to India and participate Ada Camp.

Rather than going in detail about the conference I will first introduce my self and what are my contributions in open technology and culture. Since being a final year undergraduate studying in Computer Science and Engineering in Sri Lanka, I am very much familiar with open source software. But my expertise does not end there. I am a Wikimedian and Wikipedia article writer in Sinhala. I translate Wikimedia contents and Wikipedia articles. I also contribute to the new Wikimedia project Wikidata which is aiming at structuring Wikipedia.

Ada Camp was held at Red hat office which is located in 11th floor in IBC Knowledge Park. The place was very nice and have a really nice view of Banglore.

IMAG0615

The considerations taken by the organizers to make the ada camp experience a comfortable and a pleasant one to all the attendees should be highly appreciated. From the registration table we get a tag with a coloured lanyard to write our names and have it with us, so we all can communicate with each other easily. The lanyard logic made every one’s life easier representing the preference to be photographed. It goes as follows:

Red : Do not take photograpghs, do not even ask.

Yellow: Should ask and get the consent before photographing

Green : no restrictions in photograpghing

They have even given consideration in to small things such as reminding to bring a sweater if the AC is too cool. Alex and Suki did a great job in hosting the event.

Ada camp actually started with the Friday night reception which was held on 21st November. It was a networking event where the attendees get the chance to get to know each other over the dinner and snacks.

Ada Camp started off with an impostor syndrome workshop. Impostor syndrome is the feeling that you aren’t actually qualified for the work you are doing. It is a very common feeling among women in tech. Even I have that feeling to a certain extent. The most interesting thing happened during the workshop was giving and receiving compliments.  It was actually a surprise to figure out that we can compliment others very easily, but are uncomfortable in receiving compliments.

Ada camp is an unconference. An unconference is a participant driven meeting.  After the impostor syndrome workshop the unconference procedure started. The first day was dedicated to discussion sessions as the second day was more focused on workshops and hands on lessons. These sessions and workshops covered a wide area. These are not pre-scheduled. In the morning anyone can propose and pitch the sessions and others can vote. So according to the votes the agenda is created. There are parallel sessions which are run across a couple of rooms and attendees can choose what they want and attend to that. If you feel like you want to go to another session while you are in a different one, you can stand up and leave the session without any hard feelings.

IMAG0599 IMAG0601 IMAG0604Two of the most interesting workshop sessions I attended was the Mozilla crafting community and Arduino and Raspberry Pi workshop. In the crafting community workshop we made thank you cards for our hosts.

IMAG0609One more thing which was new to me was lightning talks. They were 90 seconds talks that you can talk about anything. You can submit your talk proposal before for the ease of organizing. The lightning talk session was after lunch each day.

Ada camp was the best experience in my life where I was able to share my knowledge and learn from others. Everybody participated was willing to learn and willing to share. I was highly motivated to do my best to increase the number of women and their participation in technology. I was amazed how people have initiated things to achieve this aim and successfully expanding their projects.

I can conclude that Ada Camp, Banglore was a big success and I wish Ada Initiative all the best to keep up the good work. If you want to support Ada Initiative and their future work you can support it by donating.

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GHCI – 2014 An Experience of a Lifetime

Ever since I returned home from Grace Hopper Celebration, India I was hoping to write this blog post. But due to my extremely busy schedule I couldn’t find time. Although it has been almost a month, GHCI excitement is still not out of my system. It was one of the most awesome periods in my life.

Since I am from Sri Lanka, going to Banglore is another type of an adventure which I am not going to focus on here. (May be in another blog post) The Grace Hopper Celebration was held at The Lalit Ashok, Banglore. Scholars were given accommodation in nearby hotels. Since I arrived on 19th my hotel was 37th Crescent Hotel. It was really nice and the staff was very much helpful and the food was great!

After an adventurous day and a good night sleep, on 20th morning we were so excited about what will happen in the conference. We knew it would be a whole different kind of experience. But never hoped that it will have this much of impact on our lives. When we enter Lalit Ashok Hotel on 20th morning, we already saw the difference. The vibrant colours made the atmosphere energetic.

After registering and collecting the souvenir gift pack (two bags full of goodies :D) we went to Kalinga Hall where the welcome presentation and keynote speech to be held.  The conference started off with a grand way with a very inspirational and motivational keynote speech by Jayshree Ullal, the president and CEO of Arista Networks.

Next was the panel discussions. They were categorized in to different themes and we only were able to attend one at a time because the sessions were parallel. My first choice among the first set of sessions was “Tapping in to my inner Prada”. I was interested in this session as soon as I saw the name for the first time. It was the most interesting and awesome session I attended throughout the conference.

The aim of the panel discussion “Tapping in to my inner Prada” is to discuss how our appearance impact on our career growth. I have to say that the panelists were amazing. They covered the every aspect of the problem themselves. As a women we all have the problem that our working environments are so casual such that if we stepped out of the denim and t shirt dress code and wear something different and elegant, we are bound to look odd.  In the session they talked about how we want us to be seen and how to achieve that. The panel discussed about how the way we dress and our clothing affects and how we can choose the way we dress to display authority. It also focused on grooming, communication and body language.

Another important session in the first day was the keynote speech by Jane Moran, CIO of Unilever. One important thing I learned from her speech was that if we want something in our career we’ve got to ask it. We have to speak for ourselves and if we think we are qualified, we should go and ask for it. With the Asian culture women are little bit of reluctant to this kind of behavior.

The evening followed with a career fair with all the important companies like Google, Facebook, etc. The networking and entertainment dinner at the poolside was also awesome.

The most interesting session in the second day was the keynote by Laxmi Partury. She talked about how she solved the problems she faced. Specially as Asian women we have to face lot of problems regarding our careers and relationships. By our culture we are bound to our families and tend to give priority to family rather than the career.

Two other sessions that I loved were “Discover and build your strength” and “The career guidance never given”. They talked about how we choose the career according to our strengths and how to progress in it.

The most important thing happened in the conference is it changed my mind about career women. During the two days I got the chance to speak and see a lot of women who has gone up to the top of their career ladders while balancing and caring for their families as well. I always thought that balancing family and career has a limit. At a certain point as a mother, as a wife and as a daughter you will have to give priority to your family and you will eventually be stuck at some point in your career. But GHC taught me it is still possible to balance the career with family life and that is entirely up to the individual. “If there is a will, there is a way :D”.

Acknowledgement

Thank you Anita Borg India for the wonderful opportunity to attend GHC India. It was a well organized great event. I think every girl in computer science should attend GHC even for a once in their lifetime.

Why do it in the hard way : A guide to JUnit Parameterized Tests

If you have a set of parameters that your method should be tested, here is an easy way. For an example, let’s take that you have a method to find a number is even or not. You want to test that for some random set of given numbers, whether the method works fine.

The method in Java to find even numbers looks like this:


public class EvenNumberChecker {
public boolean checkForEvenNumber(int number){
boolean isEven=false;
if(number%2==0){
System.out.println("Number "+number+" is Even");
isEven=true;
}else{
System.out.println("Number "+number+" is Odd");
isEven=false;
}
return isEven;
}
}

Then here is where the magic comes in. You have to create a JUnit test case and annotate it with @RunWith(Parameterized.class). Then you have to create the constructor using the parameters to be tested as an arguments. Then annotate a method with @Parameterized.Parameters and add the parameters to be tested through this method. You have to be careful that this method should return an iterable list. Here is what the whole test case looks like.


@RunWith(Parameterized.class)
public class TestEvenNumberChecker {
private EvenNumberChecker evenNumberChecker;
private Integer inputNumber;
private boolean isEven;

@Before
public void initialize() {
evenNumberChecker = new EvenNumberChecker();
}

// Parameter to be tested should be an argument here.
// In this case we have two parameters, that is the input number and the boolean value of indicating whether the number is even.
public TestEvenNumberChecker(Integer inputNumber,boolean isEven) {
this.isEven=isEven;
this.inputNumber = inputNumber;
}

// We have to add the parameters to be tested through this method
@Parameterized.Parameters
public static Collection Numbers() {
return Arrays.asList(new Object[][]{{2314,true},{456834,true},{678423,false},{4632489,false}});
}

@Test
public void testPrimeNumberChecker() {
System.out.println(“Checking Number : “+inputNumber);
assertEquals(isEven, evenNumberChecker.checkForEvenNumber(inputNumber));
}
}

You can download the full implementation at https://github.com/sandarumk/ParameterizedTestTutorial

Want to see more women in tech, Donate to Ada Initiative!

 

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Ever felt lonely in the male dominated tech society? Ada initiative is the right place for you. Ada initiative is an non profit organization which supports women in open technology and culture. In there, you can find women who will be willing to share your ideas, worries and support you in any way they can.

Ada initiative supports women in tech through workshops on teaching skills, teaching how to handle difficulties in dealing with the tech society like handling imposter syndrome and harassment. It helps to get women involve in open source, open data, open education and other sort of open technology and knowledge fields. It’s a feminist organization which creates sustainable system to support women in tech.

Ada initiative is named for Countless Ada Lovelace, who considered to be the first programmer.

If you feel that you want to do something to increase the number of women in tech world, here is your opportunity. Support Ada Initiative and it’s events. Show that you care.

 
Donate now