Sunday, June 11, 2017

Leaps.

New things are scary. Changes are scary. They are supposed to be. But the fun lies on the other side of the scary bridge. I know, it sounds so clich├ęd. But it seems like I've got to keep reminding myself about this repeatedly. This post is more for the future-me than any of the readers lurking around.

I didn't want to go for MIT Media Lab Design Innovation Workshop 2015. There were a couple of reasons for doing so: I didn't get the track I wanted, I did not know anyone else who might be going there, it seemed pretty long at the time, and it seemed kinda expensive at the time too. But after being confused for so long, I finally decided to go. The only problem was the banks were closed by the time I decided I want to go, and the next day was a public holiday and the deadline for the fees. Things worked out in the end, and I ended up going for what I can confidently say set me up on a path that made me who I am. I had an amazing time. We built something really frickin' cool. I met lots of interesting people. I didn't want it to end.

I had just completed my exams and would be going back to Jamnagar from Vadodara. It was January 2015, and MakerFest was being held at Ahmedabad that weekend. I wanted to visit it, but again - I was alone, didn't really know anyone there, and going to Ahmedabad and then to Jamnagar meant I had to move my luggage through one more city. But I ended up going. I stayed for the two days it was held and it felt pretty cool - knowing things like these exist not too far away from where I live. I ended up having a stall at MakerFest Vadodara that year, and another one at MakerFest Ahmedabad in January 2016.

My precious MacBook had been stolen with all my work on it, two days before exams. I had an internship after exams in Pune - a city I'd never been to. I was struggling with searching for a place to stay, studying for exams, and grieving over the loss of my laptop. It was scary. I'm not even kidding. I took a leap of faith while finalizing my stay in Pune. I ended up getting a pretty good score in the exams. I had a pretty fulfilling experience during the internship.

I start my first full-time job in ten days. I haven't figured out where I'll stay once the company-sponsored accommodation period ends. I don't want to leave the comforts of my home. I'm gonna miss my parents and my room. But I know I'm going to figure things out and things will end up falling in place. I will make them.

I just booked my tickets for a solo camping trip next month. It was through a program I've been selected for. It took me two days to decide whether or not I want to go on a trip so far, alone. But then I reminded myself about everything you've been reading so far. Nothing good comes from staying within my comfort zone, and almost all the good things that have happened seemed just as scary at first.

If you are reading this, and if there is an opportunity handed to you that scares you, you should take it. I cannot promise you that it will be worth it. But I can promise you that it will change you as a person, maybe even set you on a trajectory that lands you exactly where you have been dreaming about. Take the leap.

"If you're offered a seat on a rocket ship, don't ask what seat! Just get on." 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Why I hate college (but love learning).

If you follow my Facebook posts, you’ll find at least one rant every month. The last few weeks have been crazy; I’ve never been more ambitious, I’ve never felt more energetic. But every time I schedule something that I’m going to love doing, an assignment spoils the plan.

Here are all the points I hate about college. (Almost all. A tired brain skips some points.)

Attendance. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: Make your classes worth attending, rather than making attendance compulsory. What if I understood that topic within two minutes when I read it online (curiosity!) last week? Why do I have to spend an entire hour listening to the same thing again, and again, and again, when I could channel that hour towards something productive? Nope, not acceptable. Did I mention that the teachers sometimes forget to put our attendance?

Okay, I’ll just read from this book while you’re teaching the thing I already know (or don’t know the topic it’s based off). NO! Okay, you’re teaching topic X, for which one needs to know topic Y. I missed the class when you taught topic Y, which is why I’m reading about that. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t understand any of topic X anyway, so wouldn’t it be better if I read about topic Y? I’m reading quietly with my head down, but you cannot stand that. You could let me sit in the library, but then ATTENDANCE!

Introducing a new subject in the middle of the semester, with a ton of coursework to complete. Please don’t do this. Please. I was already stressed about managing my time, you didn’t have to make it worse.

Code on paper. Because screw logic. Execute code on the computer, write it on paper, AND get it printed. lolwut?

Goddamn assignments! Plug in your earphones, open the reference book, and initiate mindless copying.Tick, tick, tick, tick. “What’s your enrollment number?” I have no idea what s/he wrote.

Arrogance of teachers towards extra-curricular activities. “I don’t care about . That’s between the HOD and you, even if you have a permission letter.”

Doing something different in a different way than how the teacher knows it can be done. “You will get zero marks in the exam for this code.” Yes, it works flawlessly.

Keratoconus. In case you didn’t know, I suffer from a corneal disease called Keratoconus, which makes it really tough for me to read what’s written on the board, sometimes even from the first bench. (Yes, that is why I sit on the first bench.) This one’s not on the college, but why I find it extremely difficult to study in class. I’ll study 2x if I’m reading from a book, or from the internet because of this very reason.

And to add to that, teachers use marker ink like it is made of gold. C’mon! No one’s going to die if you refill your markers properly.

I’ve had countless arguments on why dropping out would be the best choice for me, because I know I can learn things without going to college (hello, internet!), like I have done in the past.

I absolutely love learning. Most of the times, you will find me sitting in the corner, reading an article on my phone. (Because there are little things I find sexier than knowledge and good information.) I don’t hate studying, I just really hate studying at college. Formal education is not for me.

I received emails this evening containing assignments of two subjects, due next week. Good bye, weekend development plans!

Until yesterday, I used to say that IF I ever got my hands on a time machine, I would not use it; neither alter the past, nor the future. But starting yesterday, I’m looking for a time machine that would let me talk some sense into that kid (who resembles me way too much) filling out application forms for college. Would you please let me know if you happen to find a time machine?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Why you should reinvent the wheel

If you have wandered among forums, and questions on websites like Stack Overflow long enough, you will be familiar with the phrase “Don’t reinvent the wheel”, which basically means don’t write code that’s already written by someone, or don’t waste your time writing code that would do things that can already be done by using frameworks. I’m going to tell you the contrary: Reinvent the wheel!
Because once you reinvent the wheel, you’ll be familiar with how the wheel is supposed to work, allowing you to modify it in ways that would make it more efficient for your particular use.
Frameworks sound pretty, code already written by someone else saves a lot of time, but when things don’t work like they’re supposed to, you’re bound to spend time scratching your head, unless someone already encountered a similar problem, and posted the solution online (which supposedly is the most common way people fix their code).
There are two primary benefits of reinventing the wheel, or writing code from scratch by yourself:

  1. You’ll get to know how the wheel works:
    When you start writing code from scratch, and you understand what you’re doing, there’s no doubt that you’ll know how, and why things are happening like they are.
  2. You’ll have complete control over all the features:
    When you’ve written the entire thing from scratch, you’ll know what features you have added. You will be able to put only those features that you require, leaving out access code, and complexity. You will also be able to integrate those features with any other framework that you’re using in your code.
But don’t use your wheel. Why did I tell you to reinvent the wheel, and then tell you not to use your wheel? Because the mainstream wheels already developed will be more stable, more secure, and would have more community support. You might also find lots of forks, and add-on features developed by fellow developers.
How you will benefit from this: You know how things are working behind the scenes. You know how, and what to modify in order to make the code do exactly what you want. You’ll also be able to make the existing, stable, secure framework work hand-in-hand with another existing, stable, secure framework. You’ll be able to develop add-ons to make your code more functional. And the best part? You’ll be able to share all the expertise you gained with the community!

So the next time you're thinking about integrating a framework on your project, stop and try to code it on your own!

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Impact of Teachers

Teachers: Being one is the highest privilege. Having one is the best blessing. 
                            -  Source: The Internet.
I stumbled upon the above quote this evening and pondered upon it for quite a bit. What’s said is true, but there are cases when that’s completely false.

Let’s talk about how we define a teacher for a sec. Who do you call a teacher? The person who teaches you some subjects at an educational interview? Sure, but that’s not it. There’s a much broader interpretation of teacher. Someone who teachers you something, be it educational or otherwise, can be called a teacher. That includes your parents, teachers at your school, elders, your friends and in my case, much of the internet and almost any person who has made even the teensiest impact on your life, helping you become the person you are right now.

Now, let’s go over the people mentioned above and how they become teachers. I don’t need to elaborate much on how parents can be called teachers, but for the sake of covering almost everything I can, here it goes: They supported you when you tried to walk and stumbled. They supported you when you talked to them in whatever alien language you used when you didn’t learn your mother-tongue. They helped you become you. And if you’ve mature enough, you know that everything they did, no matter how wrong it seemed at the time, they were always trying to teach you something, perhaps from their own experience with life. The same goes for elders.

Teachers at educational institutes, another area I don’t need to cover but I do. Which teacher do you remember who taught you to write? I don’t remember mine, not even a hazy memory. If you do, cheers to your memory. They taught you how to add, subtract, multiply, divide, differentiate and integrate. They taught you how to read and write. The reason I’m able to write this thing here is because of a teacher.

Your friends, they share so many personal experiences with you, just like your share yours with them. Those experience have, in one way or the other, helped you make decisions. They’ve taught you how to copy in exams or how to bunk those classes or how to prank call someone using the internet. You’ve taught them a lot of things too.

The next thing that I’m going to mention has helped tremendously shape myself to become what I am now: the internet. To all the people on Stack Overflow, to the authors of countless WikiPedia pages, to the people answering interesting questions on Quora, to the people who resolved a problem with someone’s computer and posted the solution on a forum and to all the writers from the blogs I read, I’m extremely grateful.

We’ve all had great teachers, some who saw the hidden talent inside of you. Maybe that teacher was a parent, a sibling, a friend or someone else. But you just can’t deny the fact that they haven’t impacted your life. If you don’t know it yet, I actually like teaching. And to all the people who’ve asked me a query, you’ve helped me learn something. Thank you for that.

But not every teacher is an angel. Remember the one who wouldn’t even flinch before hitting you? Yes, that’s the one. Not every kid is born equal. Not every kid can understand what’s written in the books. To make the world a better place, no matter how harsh this sounds, we cannot let those teachers continue teaching. If a teacher, which does this, is reading this, you should remember that you won’t impact the kid instantly, but believe me because I’ve seen this, you will make a tiny impact on the kid’s life, but not for good.

So here’s to every teacher, friend, search engine, blog, mentor, and experience.

On a side note, help me win my college’s Google Innovation Club’s Teachers’ Day challenge by liking and/or commenting on this Facebook post over here: http://www.facebook.com/umanghome/posts/10152737609876340 . You can read more about the club on their Facebook page.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

How Microsoft has impacted my life and how I plan to bring a change in to the society being a Microsoft Student Associate!

9 years ago, I got my first personal computer. 9 years ago, I got my first hands-on experience on a Windows computer. 9 years ago, everything changed.

A 10-year old me would just play games on his computer, and listen to a couple of songs all day. An 18-year old me on the other hand knows a lot of ins and outs of computers as well as a lot of gadgets – and Microsoft has played a big role in shaping me into the geek I am, because almost every time I learnt something that made me the guy I am, one of Microsoft’s products has always besides me. Starting out, I used to tinker around with my Windows 98 (and XP later on) and break a lot of things. Needless to say, I had to fix them back in time if I didn’t want to get in trouble. And I did, I fixed them. Most of my knowledge about how a computer works the different aspects of software came from breaking and fixing stuff. Later on, I developed a lot of interest in blogging. Microsoft Office’s various applications were pretty useful, as they let me format my articles perfectly as well as make sure there are no typos and the grammar is perfect. I’ve helped a lot of people fix bugs within their Windows and helping things with the UI overhaul which Windows Vista brought has allowed me to know my way around different applications and find almost everything I’d ever need. But that’s not it.

I got my hands on a Windows Phone 7 device and was very intimidated by the user interface, it was the best I had ever seen. We tried to implement a similar design for TheGeekBros, a blog a friend and me founded, but never got around to publishing the new design. Later on when Windows 8 was introduced, I was excited because I love Metro UI, even though a lot of people on the internet seem to dislike it. I think that’s the time around which I realized that user interface has almost as much importance as functionality of an application. If you’ve known me for a long time, you know how I used to geek out about Windows Phone 7 and 7.5. I was equally excited when Microsoft got around launching Surface. When you’re getting a complete computing experience on a compact tablet, what else could you ask for?

But Windows, Windows Phone  and Office aren’t the only three things that are awesome about Microsoft. There are a lot of areas where Microsoft seems to excel. I got introduced to cloud storage by Microsoft’s SkyDrive (known as OneDrive now). 25GB of cloud storage and access to my files on any computer with an internet connection, why not? Sharing files with friends became easy, storing important documents became easy.

Then there’s Microsoft Virtual Academy, which has online courses ranging from HTML5 to game development and the cloud, which is pretty awesome by the way because you get to learn things you need to turn your dream about developing games into reality. You can also learn the essentials to making that app you always wanted to. Tutorials are just a click away.

Azure is another area where Microsoft lets users access the power of cloud computing. You can develop that application you always wanted to, and deploy it on the cloud and ensure uninterrupted access to your database. Heck, you can try out virtual machines on that thing. Pretty awesome.

We have entered the digital era, but not everyone is that computer literate that they’d be familiar with computers like us geeks and find their way around everything. Over time, I’ve had the chance to help out a lot of people find answers to their queries and figure out that with a computer, they can do the things they always wanted to, but they couldn't because they thought that they didn’t have the necessary resources and skill set.

I believe that the computer is a world of infinite possibilities and there are a lot of things that people can achieve through computing that would really make an impact on the world. Windows is the most user friendly computing operating system out there and it already has every resource built into it or just one download away. As a Microsoft Student Associate, I’ll spread awareness among masses about the things they can do with their computer, as well as help them figure out what the right way to do them is, whether it’s about which software they should use, or how they should go about acquiring the skills to turn their dreams to reality. This will be my first step towards making the world a better place. I’ve quite a bit of experience helping people out with their computers on a personal level, but being a Microsoft Student Associate will give me the chance to do it on a much larger scale. It will not only allow me to spread awareness and make people more computer literate, but also give me a chance to develop myself.


I hope that I’m selected for being a Microsoft Student Associate and it gives me a chance to make an impact on the society and take a step toward making the world a better place.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A package of inspirational quotes for your desktop!

I’ve seen pictures of posters having inspirational quotes stuck on the walls of workplaces of tech giants and since the very first picture, I decided that I’d do it too when I have mine. It wasn’t too late until I realized that it takes a lot more to be one of those tech giants who have their own superb-looking workplaces. So I thought, why not do it while I’m working on my way there. It wasn’t until last week that I was adding posters to my cart on an online-shopping website that it hit me that I’m not sure at what place I’ll be sticking those, just because I thought that I’m not home 80% of the year and they won’t stay intact in my room at the hostel for a month.

Are you sure you want to remove all the items from your cart? YES.

Turns out that most of the time I’m productive is when I’m on my computer, so it would be the best to have something like those posters visible to me when I’m actually productive. Hmm, I don’t have a specific place I use my computer on. Sometimes it’s the bed, sometimes it’s the desk and the others it’s someplace random I find comfortable lying at.

A quick Google search and I had about a hundred inspirational quotes to myself. I had this desktop wallpaper that was minimalistic as well as visually appealing to me. Why not put the quotes right here on the desktop instead of having posters. You can have a hundred wallpapers and they wouldn’t take as much space as a hundred posters would.

The minimalistic desktop wallpaper I used to have.

Looked through the list of the quotes I had and trimmed them down to seventy of those which weren’t too long and were actually inspirational. Next thing I know, I’m typing those off on various Photoshop files. So, I have to myself 70 wallpapers full of inspirational quotes.

Next thing I had to do is to have Windows automatically change the wallpapers one by one. If you go to the Personalize menu by right-clicking on your desktop, you’ll see a Desktop Background option on the bottom. Hit that and change the Picture location to the folder where you have stored all those images. Select all seventy of them, set the Picture position to fill, set the time for changing the pictures, select Shuffle it you like randomness like I do, and deselect the When I’m using battery power,... option and hit Save changes. Voila, you’re done.

Where do you get all those wallpapers, you ask? Well, they’re right here: 70 Inspirational Quotes’ Wallpapers. The file is a ZIP ~5.35MB in size and the resolution of the wallpapers is 1366 x 768. Extract the file in some folder and follow the steps mentioned above and you’ll have a nice background that’s bound to energize you over time.

Also, I spent a couple of hours doing all of this. So, if you’d give the credit to me, that’d be great! Cheers!

Leave a comment down below if you’re experiencing problems with downloading/extracting the file or setting up changing backgrounds on Windows and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

End Of Year: 2013!

So, it’s time for my end-of-year post again.
I’m typing this on the 17th of December, because I have exams from tomorrow and I’ll be pretty busy for the next couple of days. So, there’s a lot of exciting stuff going to happen during the last two to three days of this year, and obviously they are not included in this one right now, I’ll probably add what happens after the seventeenth at the end of the post, when it goes live. Anyways, keeping up with the tradition, I’m not going to press the backspace key, except for the times I need to correct my typos.
Started the year with an eight-hour long CS game at Jinesh’s place. That was pretty awesome, we kept playing fy_showdown for like eight freaking hours! Too bad you couldn’t be there, Sanket. And obviously, I was pretty tired the rest of the day. I don’t remember much about January, except my cousin got married and I had a bit of fun with my cousins who came to attend the wedding. Oh, and we had a picnic in January if I’m not wrong. That was pretty fun. Oh, and I had another cousin’s wedding in January too. The food was awesome!
February had lots of studying and a farewell, which was fun too. No, not the studying part. I don’t remember much from February, probably because of boards.
March was the same. Board exams finally got over on the 23rd, but entrance exams began in April.
So, April. I had a month to prepare for my JEE Mains after my boards, unlike most of the people who opted for the offline test, who had exactly half the number of days I had. But, I was like yeah, okay, I’ll start studying one of the days. Then came the 7th, when I realized I don’t know enough shit about Mathematics. That’s when I started studying a bit seriously. Anyways, my JEE Main was done on the 23rd and I had my eye-operation on 24th. Or 25th. I don’t remember. But anyways, Iron Man 3 was getting released on the 26th, and I couldn’t watch it on the first day like I was hoping to ever since the dates came out. I could watch it after a week of my eye-operation and it’s awesome that my friends waited for me to be able to watch the movie so that we could watch it together. The movie was awesome, but the Mandarin twist was ehhh. I read an article a couple of days ago which justified the twist, but it still kills me that Tony destroyed all the suits and got the Arc Reactor removed.
I watched the movie in May, so we’re already there. I was prepping for two (actually three) more examinations that I was supposed to give that month in Mumbai along with Jinesh and Sagar. May also gave us results of most of the exams. That shit was pretty depressing. We started filling out forms for different colleges and stuff.
One particular trip that I’ll always remember is the one Jinesh and I made to fill out one form in Mumbai. We found out that we’ll have to go to Mumbai at around 11am and we left for Mumbai at 3pm. Reached the next morning, and it was raining cats and dogs over there. It was awesome! It’s super awesome roaming in Mumbai with your best friend when it’s raining heavily, until your phone gets wet mysteriously and the display stops working. We left Mumbai the same evening and were back home the next day. That was one heck of a trip, man!
So, anyways, back to stuff. Jinesh was going to Manipal, Sagar was going to LPU, Sanket was going to Marwadi and me? I just wanted to leave this country. But that didn’t happen, and I went to Marwadi for two weeks and then I got Baroda during the first week of August.
Mom and dad dropped me off at the place I was staying at as a paying guest. 5 minutes after they left, I realized that I’m all alone in a new city. Well not technically new, because I had my eye operations in Baroda itself and have visited it a couple of times for the follow-ups. So anyways, I still wanted to go to Ahmedabad, but then the admission council decided to go nuts and made the fourth reshulffing round offline. Screw you for that, ACPC! >_<
I was missing home like crazy. I’ve been on lots of trips without my parents, but I never felt homesick. Why was I feeling homesick now, I asked myself. After all, this is what I wanted, wasn’t it? No.
Got a chance to go back home during Rakshabandhan, all hail mass bunks! ^_^
So college starts from there and it’s half exciting and half boring. Nothing interesting to talk about there.
And yeah, I coded a website, http://umanggalaiya.in this year. It looked awesome at the time and now I’m getting bored of the layout. I’ll update the site pretty soon. It will be a whole different thing when you read my 2014 year-end post. Praanshu helped me make the site look a bit more appealing, thanks for that!
I forgot to mention about a trip I made with Jinesh, Sanket and Sagar, which was pretty awesome as you’d expect. Rain made it better. It was dope, can’t wait for the next one.
I meet Sanket every time I’m home, I met Sagar during the Diwali break, and I’m gonna meet Jinesh as soon as I get home.
So yeah, Diwali. What month was it during this year? November. I skipped over some months, because there wasn’t anything interesting that happened during that time. November was pretty awesome, mainly because I got to be home for some days and got to meet many of my close friends during the break.
Got to visit home on my birthday, and stayed there for a week. Came back here and it didn’t take a day to make me want to go back. I’m going home after 9 days, so that’s awesome!
Anyways, that’s the end of this year until the 17th of December.
I learnt a lot of things this year. There was a time I lost every bit of confidence I had and it took me a hell lot of time and efforts to get all of it back and get back to being awesome. I made new friends and made up with some I lost last year. Things can’t get any better right now. Except exams (._. )
I used to be the most impatient guy I knew and it’s kind of hard to believe that I’m not extremely impatient person anymore. I can’t say I’m completely patient, but I’m a lot patient than I was. Guess that’s one of the things being away from home has taught me. I’ll make a post about all the stuff that’s changed some time later, but soon. I’m also planning a post about Keratoconus.
So anyways, that should be it for this time. I’m considering blogging regularly, but if I don’t, you can always stay connected with me on my social networks. I’m 18 now, so Facebook allows you to Follow me, so do that if you’re not on my friend list. Follow me on twitter too, the links will be down below. Have a great year! J

I’m like a bottle of wine, getting awesomer with time.


Update: I'll be updating what happened after the 17th, quite a lot of fun.