Featured article at IIT Knapp Center

Recently the Knapp Entrepreneurship Center at IIT interviewed us for AwareNet’s success at the Imagine Cup 2010 US Finals.
The article aims at promoting the idea to venture capitalists and other entrepreneurs in the IIT community and Chicago region.
From our end lots of research work is going on to get a substantial user base and to make the interface more user friendly.

More updates coming soon!

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The story so far..

Being at Imagine Cup US finals was a dream come true! Being the winner of the People’s choice award was even more than that!

And we would like to thank everyone of you who religiously voted for us, who spread the word for us! The award is yours first! A heartfelt thanks once again!

And now to tell you the entire story, of how the event was, let me get started! (Takes a deep breath..if I appear to be long winded please bear with me..overwhelming stuff has happened over the last 3 days :D)

We reached D.C. on friday. The briefing which took place over dinner, made us ready for the gruelling day that Saturday was going to be. We hardly slept owing to the tremendous pressure. And since Shayok and Krishna were going to be our presenters, you can imagine their state of mind. After hours of practise, rehearsals, question answer sessions of seemingly stupid to some serious googly stuff, we hit the sacks.
The tension was palpable on everyone’s face, as no one had any appetite on Saturday morning. It was going to be one loooong day! sigh..
As we started setting up for the presentation, in Microsoft office, we hit our first roadblock. The proxy settings were not allowing us to connect to the server. Shayok started working with the technical guys there and in the mean time me and Krishna started working on Plan B. Setting up stuff from our local copies on our local machines. 

So valuable advice no. 1 (This is for future aspirants..others can skip :D) : Always have your back up/contingency plans ready! Always!

Thankfully the problem got resolved and we started on a smooth note, though a bit late. Presenting a complex system like AwareNet in 20 minutes to the judges was a huge task. But Shayok and Krishna shined. The question answer session also went fine. Except for few really tough questions, which we think we could not back up properly. The judges gave us thumbs up. So we left feeling good about ourselves.

valuable advice no. 2 : Have your user cases ready! Try to break things down to simple chunks and analyse. Helps you prepare better for the question answer. We lacked some brainstorming on this front.

Having done with the presentation, we headed for the super cool Segway tours which Microsoft had arranged for us. It is so amazing, that everyone of you must try it! Howmuchever I rave about that experience, it wont be justified. So shall leave it for you to experience :)
Also DC is so beautiful and picturesque, that I am really missing it now!
Late that night was gaming, food and drinks session at the ESPN zone. Now who says geeks cant have fun ? 

Having exhausted ourselves to the last ounce of energy, we closed chapter Saturday really early. 
Sunday was sessions galore! We managed to attend, the windows phone 7 application development, Silverlight and AJAX demos (ignore if you dont understand), and hold your breath .. the Microsoft Surface demo and a super secret demo. 
Yes! The Microsoft Surface isnt an urban myth. It exists. And it is wonderful! I want it!!!! I am not comparing anything, but the user experience was amazing. I wonder when they are bringing that one to the market. It will change a whole lot of things!
And I cannot really talk about the super secret demo, cos we had taken oaths not to reveal anything to the outside world :P Kidding! Its just a part of the confidentiality stuff, and I want to stick to it, by not blogging about it :)

After all these super fantastic sessions, the top 4 teams were announced. These teams were supposed to present again to an open crowd on Monday. Sadly we were not a part of them. So a little dejected we explored DC some more. The silver lining was presence of James Cameron for Monday’s event!

Monday was the community showacase day. All teams were supposed to set up their project tables and give live demos and connect with people. It was supposed to be like the Science fun fair from school days. This was really the highlight of the 3 days. Because, as technology students, we never get a chance to explain cool things to normal people. And this event did that. People were really interested in what was going on. There were highschool students, social activists, venture capitalists, general public, teachers, shortly people from all gamuts and age group. And taking their feedback, reactions was a great experience. And the best part I feel is, this might just inspire more students to do stuff which is out of the box and aims at improving life!

After the event the winners in various categories were announced. The MobiLife team from University of California, Davis won the grand prize in the software design category. Theirs was a simple application to help doctors. They really deserved it!

Thus the most fun, exciting, and valuable where we learned so much and connected with so many people, 3 days came to an end. We headed back home with a heady feeling of nostalgia.

And as far as AwareNet is concerned, I need to give you more updates. We are right now live on one of the Georgia Tech servers. Once we have security issues resolved, we will open it for all of you. Once it goes live, the plan is to approach NGOs to get a good user base. The competition might be over, but AwareNet is just coming to life :) We expect the same support that you guys have shown till now.

Thanks once again for the wonderful wonderful support!

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Coders Inc. in D.C.

The 4 month preparation for the biggest technology competition for students all over the world, is culminating into one great experience of our lives!

We have landed in Washington D.C. with full fervour. The weather here is beautiful. The city is pretty. And we Chicago-ans were as usual excessively dressed. Well, people coming from the North pole dont really know how the sun feels like!

Microsoft has made amazing stay arrangements at the Embassy Suites here. We are already done with the touristy stuff of exploring the neighbourhood. But the agenda remains i.e. preparing for the presentation. This is only the second time the team has come together. Real time distributed work culture :D

I would like to write more, but need to get back to work. I shall keep updating this space with our experiences as we move forward. But to tell you future aspirants more, this is THE experience of our lives. Just being here and trying to solve the world’s biggest problems has been an enabling experience.

One more update! Got to meet Anthony Salcito, Microsoft VP for Education. EXCITED for the next 3 days! 

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T-10 days and counting

Its here! Its almost here!

Yes, next weekend on Saturday we will be in DC presenting to the judges for the US finals of the Imagine Cup 2010.
After that we gear up for the community showcase to be held on Monday. I will post the details soon, if any of you want to see our project in person :)

Work wise things have been a little crazy and tied up. Marathon calls, code debugging, hordes of improvements, presentation plans and to top it all course work.
In the middle of all this, Krishna finished his thesis defence, which was a huge sigh of relief, cos that meant I could eat his head more! Shayok has consistently managed to keep stuff under control (The dude is doing his PhD, is enrolled as a full time student and manages all this without twitching his eyebrows!). 

I know there is still a lot of time to go before we go to DC and be a part of all the excitement, but I want to tell you guys how awesome my team is! sniff..sniff.. :D ;)

And thank you everyone for your support! It is deeply appreciated!
(Do keep on voting btw!)

And now let me go back to more work. Yes a lot still needs to be done. Perfection is a tough art ;)


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People’s Choice Awards

The final phase of the competition has started in full fervour!

The People’s choice awards are here!

You can vote for various teams and their projects at : http://www.imaginecup.us/PeoplesChoice.aspx

To vote for our team look for AwareNet – Coders Inc.

The voting is open till 24th April, 2010. So exercise you right everyday, till then! :)

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Next Generation Web development

Just finished the submission for Next Generation Web Development, another category in the 2010 Imagine Cup.
More details can be found here: http://imaginecup.com/Competition/mycompetitionportal.aspx?competitionId=44

Had fun recording screen casts, and writing scripts!
But we had a little crisis yesterday, when we mixed up the deadlines. The original deadline was according to GMT. And we realized it 11 minutes before the GMT deadline, when we had just started the upload process. 

But the support staff did not let us down. They gave us an extension of 48 hours. Real nice of them!

So next time you want to submit your entry (in any category) and face a similar situation, just email the support staff. They are prompt and offer great support. 

Anyways cheers to the team Coders Inc. (the crisis really tested our team skills :))

And a whooping cheers to the Imagine Cup Support team!

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The tilt 2.0 is here!

February was going a little ho hum.
But then came March, and brought with it, Spring. Warm temperatures, a lot of sunshine (at least here in Chi-town) and mid-terms!

But the most exciting thing it brought was the HTC Tilt 2.0. Yes! the Windows Mobile phone which all of us in the team got for making it to the US finals!
It works on the windows 6.5 OS with touch flow interface. Does a lot of cool things. And looks amazing too! (Thats the department I am most concerned about ;)) 
The most handy features I found was its 3.2 MP camera, and the keyboard. Since I am not much gadget-y, I will leave it to the guys to explore it more.

Shayok is really excited about developing a small mobile app. Lets see how we can fit it into our quite cramped schedule!


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