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Save the Hacker – An event to fight the mediocrity trend in Technology

save the hacker

Save the Hacker – An event to fight mediocrity among coders.

Save the Hacker is a two-day hackathon organized by Freshdesk, meant for college students who want to demonstrate their talent and smart engineers who are stuck in an IT services company. If you feel like you are one of them, stuck, with nowhere to go, here’s your last chance at redemption. Code your heart out for two days straight, show us what you have, and while at it, win some great prizes.

Not long ago hackers went out their way to make stuff that made a difference. Today they are mired in corporate red tape, mundane rules and corporate bull shit. Writing awesome code didn’t really matter anymore, work lives became a 9-5 thing and god-level geeks allowed themselves to pursue strategic mediocrity. Today, the hacker is a dying species, endangered by pointless hierarchies, outrageous dress codes, and teammates who are hell-bent on being lazy. But wait, there’s still hope.

Save the Hacker will take place at the Freshdesk office in Chennai on March 1-2, 2014.

Registrations are free and will be open until the 25th of February. You can compete in a team of up to 4 people or be a lone wolf.

You can build a web or mobile app. Coding must be started during the hackathon only. No reusing existing stuff. At the end of the hackathon, you will be asked to give a 5 minute demo of your project to a panel of judges. We’ll be evaluating it based on the original idea, the completeness, and the technical challenge that went behind building your app.

If you’ve got questions, shoot them an email: rescue@savethehacker.com

We will be offering cash prizes of Rs.1,00,000 (and maybe something else) for the winners.

How to Ask Your Government and Get answers for Public Interest Questions

askyourgovt.in

Information is the Anti-dote to Corruption.

Public Minded citizens are now asking various questions under RTI and making the bureaucracy dispense the information. Question Hour of the Parliament is considered the toughest time for ruling government where legislators ask questions and government is bound to answer. When RTI Act came into force the power to ask questions became available to the Aam Aadmi. Like legislators now even bureaucrats fear about the RTI Questions. It keeps them on their toes.

Most requests in RTI are made for personal issues/work. But when a question of larger public interest is made it becomes relevant to a lot of people. Ask Your Government  is a community around asking public interest questions. Citizens can start with knowing about RTI, How to Ask, Browse RTI requests and Responses or by reading public reactions. This will help in galvanizing the community to deliberate on issue of public interest.

The site also contains FAQs on RTI. The RTI Act is also available for download in 10  indian languages.

The facility to ask RTI questions online and publicly is available in many other countries. What do they Know of  UK, Ask the EU of  European UnionKosovo and Brazil are some good examples. What stifles the RTI movement in India is the need for payment of Rs,10/- as fees. If that requirement is waived off public authorities can be made to provide information online.

It will a great innovation if a Govpreneur can provide a service for Public Offices to provide information under the act using online platforms on payment of fees. Such an initiative is already underway in Government of India to make online RTI requests. However it will be sometime before the facility is available to states and local authorities and small public establishments. Till the online RTI space is open for disruption.

History of Right to Information

World over Right to Information is also known as Freedom of Information

Sweden’s Freedom of the Press Act of 1766 is the oldest in the world. In the 18th century, after over 40 years of mixed experiences with parliamentarism, public access to government documents was one of the main issues with the Freedom of the Press Act of 1766. Although the novelty was put out of order 1772–1809, it has since remained central in the Swedish mindset, seen as a forceful means against corruption and government agencies’ unequal treatment of the citizens, increasing the perceived legitimacy of (local and central) government and politicians. The Principle of Publicity (Swedish: Offentlighetsprincipen), as the collection of rules are commonly referred to, provides that all information and documents created or received by a public institution (local or central government, and all publicly operated establishments) must be available to all members of the public. It also states that all public institutions must do everything in their power to give anyone access to any information that he or she might want as soon as possible.

Over 90 countries around the world have implemented some form of freedom of information legislation.

 

 

Reinvent the Toilet Challenge India – Funding Opportunity

reinvent the toilet challenge

Reinvent the Toilet Challenge, seeks to support the development of innovative, new sanitation technologies, products, and services. The program’s goal is to develop sustainable sanitation solutions that can address the many challenges facing poor and vulnerable urban and rural populations in India and the developing world. These challenges include suppressing the flow of pathogens into the environment, improving users’ acceptance and experience, and developing solutions that are easy to maintain and operate in resource poor settings and that complement existing sanitation infrastructure.

This Request for Proposals is specific to India and open to anyone who is interested in applying. Grants will be to innovators who are Indian individuals or Indian entities, but we encourage partnerships with researchers in other countries, especially where the opportunity exists to build on established collaborations.

The goal of the “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge – India” is to fund a portfolio of  Indian-led pilot projects that seek to contribute innovations that can be incorporated into a next generation toilet that will reduce the burden of excreta-related disease and improve the lives of the poor. The aim is to expand the use of toilet and sanitation technologies that do not connect to a sewer, as this is by far the most common approach used by the poor.

About Grand Challenges India

The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) under the Ministry of Science and Technology of the Government of India and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in collaboration with India’s Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) have launched Grand Challenges India, a partnership framework for joint programs.

This partnership aims to support initiatives that could dramatically change the health and development landscape in India and leverage Indian innovations to support other countries facing similar challenges.

The partnership identifies the following priorities for cooperation:

1) reduction of maternal and child mortality and morbidity;

2) scientific and technical solutions for infectious diseases;

3) strengthening India’s scientific translation capacity;

4) scientific and technical advances related to agriculture, and

5) scientific advancement in food and nutrition.

The submissions deadline is November 15, 2013. Click here to apply.

First Global Twitter Conference on Mahatma Gandhi held by Sam Pitroda

gandhiji twitter conference invitation
The First Global Twitter Conference on Mahatma Gandhi was held on his 144th birthday today. Organized by none other than Sam Pitroda Today ( 2nd Oct) at 7 PM IST via Twitter Handle @pitrodasam and Hash Tag: #Gandhi . The Twitter conference garnered more than 7000 tweets from across 94 countries. The aim was to discuss the life and  message of Gandhiji among the twitteratti.

When asked wether today’s computerisation any relevance to Gandhiji’s thoughts, Nirupama Rao ( @NMenonRao ) pitched in saying Gandhiji saw technology as a tool of empowerment. The electronic mouse is truly a “vahana”.

Sam Pitroda has been very active using twitter. This is not the first Twitter conference he has held. Last year in september he had conducted a twitter conference on “Democratisation of Information”. It was touted as the first ever press conference on twitter.

Despite of having the limitations of wordage (just 140 character), Twitter seems to be emerging out as the most powerful medium of politicians, industrialists and think-tanks to express their views of various issues, especially on policy matters.

Pitroda’s example of using the micro-blogging platform for holding a press conference may well set an example of how to using such platforms for holding virtual press conferences going forward.

The Prime Minister had recently launched a Gandhi Heritage Portal and it is now available at www.gandhiheritageportal.org. The Portal developed by the Sabarmati Ashram under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India hosts Gandhiji’s Autobiography in 22 languages. It also has placed the ‘Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi’ in three languages: English 100 volumes, Hindi 97 volumes and Gujarati 82 volumes. In all, the Portal presents more than 5 lakh pages, 21 films, 72 audio speeches of Gandhiji and over a 1000 photographs.

Despite this effort to spread the message of Gandhi twitteratti were busy tweeting about #GandhijiKaChashma as it was trending worldwide. Gandhiji was a social innovator. In todays socially connected world would Gandhiji have used twitter. The Gandhi Heritage portal has the answer.

Read through the happenings of the Twitter Conference as it evolved in this Storify embed below.

 

Potholes-Why send a tweet this iPhone app will report it

streetbumpapp street-bump-app

Street Bump helps residents improve their neighborhood streets. As they drive, the mobile app collects data about the smoothness of the ride; that data provides the City with real-time information it uses to fix problems and plan long term investments.

Residents use Street Bump to record “bumps” which are identified using the device’s accelerometer and located using its GPS. Bumps are uploaded to the server for analysis. Likely road problems are submitted to the City via Open311, so they get fixed (e.g. potholes) or classified as known obstacles (e.g. speed bumps).

Street Bump is different from Boston’s first app, Citizen Connect, which required users to actively send a text of tweet, visit a website or call a 24-hour hotline to report a pothole or other nuisances. Other cities, including Honolulu, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio, have encouraged residents to report potholes using Facebook, Twitter, or special apps that allow residents to request city services using their smartphones.

Street Bump App – How it works:

Download from iTunes Now

Before they even start their trip, drivers using Street Bump fire up the app, then set their smartphones either on the dashboard or in a cup holder. The app takes care of the rest, using the phone’s accelerometer – a motion-detector – to sense when a bump is hit. GPS records the location, and the phone transmits it to a remote servers hosted by Amazon Inc.’s Web services division.

The system filters out things like manhole covers and speed bump using a series of algorithms – including one that can tell if the initial motion is up over a speed bump, as opposed to down into a pothole. If at least three people hit a bump in the same spot, the system recognizes it as a pothole.

How did they do it:

Costing  $45000 and jointly funded by Boston City and Liberty mutual, the first prototype returned high false positives. Then the creators organized a competition with a prize money of $25000 and integrated ideas received in it.