MINET 2007 was held at the Mother’s International School on 11-12th August 2007. MINET, as you all should know, is MIS’ annual tech symposium. Incidentally, MINET in itself sounds nice, but their expansion of it – MIS Information Network – is a bit boring. Again, like last year, I think DPS RKP got were the overall winners at MINET 2007, although with much less style I should say. The result isn’t up on the MINET site yet. Get a copy of the MINET 2007 site here, for they have an annoying habit of pulling their site offline as soon as their event is over. Despite the fact that they have only three members in MINET now (Akshay, Milind, and Raag), MINET always turns out to be an amazing competition for the intense competition. Here’s an account of MINET 2007…
Turned up as the only one from my school not in school uniform. Who cares. The previous day had been spent trying to make a presentation for the ‘Showcase Your Dream’ event. In it, we were supposed to come up with a killer software + hardware app. Good thing, except for the fact that we hadn’t even started until Friday to make the stuff. In events like these, everyone turns up with futuristic devices that have already been propounded and well, never make the light of the day. I mean, hell, I’ve been watching the same bloody Extreme Machines show on the Discovery Channel where a cheerful narrator tells us we’ll have flying cars by 2008. Stuff like that doesn’t just *happen*. Thus I thought that being realistic was a better idea – come up with a device that uses CURRENT tech in a new way to provide a service people want. With some inspiration from Mrs Weasley’s clock (of Harry Potter fame), we came up with a device called ‘The Coordinate’. Basically, it is supposed to be an OLED display-based digital photo frame which can help you track where your friends and family are, and then help you get in touch with them.
Digital photo frames have been here for a long time. What we proposed was that using a ‘Coordinate Network’ website, you add contacts to your list, along with their cellphone numbers. Then, connect your Coordinate device using Wi-Fi / USB / or as a standalone thing using a SIM card. The Coodinate Network would then track the person using triangulation of cell towers – what this means is that you take the signal strength from at least three different cell towers which is being received by your friend’s handset, and then use that data to calculate where they are. This is something that is already used to track down criminals using cellphones, and is also commercially available in the UK. Or if the device has GPS, then a mobile Coordinate Network app on the phone could transfer data to the web server at set intervals using GPRS / EDGE. Then, when the photo is loaded in the frame a person uses the touch screen interface to demarcate which contact is what part of the picture using iPhone-style pinching movements. Of course, you can cycle through multiple photos. Apart from showing their location, the device could then also use the Yahoo / Google Maps API to sho, say, the driving directions to that person’s current location. Also, we suggested that it could act as a communication device – using the GSM network to place a call / send SMS to the person; or if the device was connected to the computer, then place a video call using the integrated web cam on the device; or make calls via Skype. Getting back to this soon, I know it was big and boring. You can also view the presentation Vivek and Feroze made, finally tweaked around a bit by me (all one day before the event).
So, we started off with the first event of the day, the quiz prelims. They weren’t that great, but we qualified anyway. Vivek seemed sorta out-of-touch though. Then, rushed off for the presentation event. Boy did we have some major trouble over this. Initially, Feroze was to be the speaker, then we decided on Abhimanyu. He said he had problems too, so we decided on Friday that Vivek would be speaking. Sweet chap, this guy – he calls me up in on Saturday morning and says he’s panicking. So I decide to give it to Waris, who says he might not be able to speak on stage. Then it’s back to Feroze then, for he had worked on the presentation. In fact, me, Waris and Feroze spent the morning chalking out Feroze’s speech. Ah well, 10 minutes into the event start the poor guy gets scared. I finally decided to stuff the myself.
First up were DPS RKP (who did something on mind-controlled computers – came in when their presentation was almost over). Next up were Sanskriti School, who gave a bloody HALF AN HOUR ‘presentation’ on what the definition of a killer app is (rather than what THEIR killer app was), a 10-minute long definition of the word advice, strips from ‘Calvin and Horbs’ (not Hobbes) comics, and an even longer winding discussion with the judge about totally pointless things. They proposed using AI to help people make purchase decisions – life defining ones like ‘which brand of toothpaste to buy’. Here’s how the typical stuff in their presentation went.
Let’s take this example. Say you want to buy a car, and acting on impulse, you go and buy a Mercedes Benz with your credit card. Then, you find out later that you don’t have enough money to maintain the car. Using AI to make these decisions will help you avoid all this.
What I don’t understand though is why on earth anyone with a credit limit high enough to buy a Merc using his credit card wouldn’t have enough money for gas. Pathetic, and incredibly boring, are very polite terms as far as their presentation was concerned.
I was up next, and gave my talk pretty much extempore. Kept it short, ours was supposed to be short anyway. There was a glitch when Feroze couldn’t change back to a previous slide I asked him to. Two of the three judges seemed impressed, but the third guy was probably an Apple fan and was so stuck up about the iPhone that he wasn’t ready to admit this was a good device. I guess events should have better judges, not just about any school alumni who’s obsessed about something (and I’d say that for open source too).
Didn’t stick around for the other schools’ presentation, but later came to know we didn’t win. Then again, our new programming team didn’t qualify. It was here that Akshay of MINET warned me that if I wrote 42 as an answer even ONE more time he’d disqualify me – that was because for whichever one’s we didn’t know in the quiz prelims, I had written 42 as the answer. Next up for me was the surprise event, which was a crossword. Arjun was supposed to join me for this, but he was stuck in his Web D event. Got the crossword paper at around 12pm, solved 11 within a few minutes, and then waited for Arjun till 12.25pm before running off for the Decode event – and his event got over at 12.30pm. Sigh. Vivek was already there at Decode, and together we cracked quite a few ones. Apparently we’d got a good enough score for a podium finish, but Akshay was so incensed at me writing 42 as the answer for three different questions in Decode, each time giving arguments on why it should be 42 that he disqualified us. Tch tch.
Arjun came second in the Web D event, and boy was it close. Varun Mishra got 16 points from the judges (out of 20); while Arjun got 15.5 – it was that close. Might wanna read Arjun’s account of the event for more info.
Abhimanyu forgot to bring the digicam for the
digital photography event, but got his parents to send it. Waris and Karthick were going for this event, and Waris pointed out that it was low on battery. Abhimanyu brushed it of saying his bunny-powered Duracell batteries would last long, really long. We even went to the store at MIS to get extra batteries, but the shop was closed. Guess what? Battery went flat after just 5 photos. One event down.
Gaming. Hmmm. Abhimanyu lost. What more can I say? He really needs to get back in shape (competition-wise, I mean).
The quiz finals got off to a late start. Partly because Akshay wanted to edit the rules to add (something like) this:
NOTE: None of the questions have 42 as their answer. If you still choose to go ahead and give 42 as the answer, you will be disqualified immediately. Thank You.
What’s more. The quiz had 42 questions, but Akshay edited it so that after question 41, we had question 43. No 42. So 42 is the new 13 (for Akshay at least) I guess.
Quiz itself was pretty good. An extra team consisting of Karthick qualified too because Apeejay Noida had backed out. He made a valiant contribution, giving Lucent as the answer (wrongly) for quite a few questions. The main battle was between our team, and the DPS RKP team of Manas and Bharat. Pretty close stuff, and in the end it finished just a question away. Third position was taken by the other DPS RKP team, but they were about 80 points behind us.
In all, just two podium finishes at MINET 2007 – same as last year. Which isn’t good at all. The Code Warriors seriously need to pick up some pace soon…