Got into a hackathon! (for the first time!)

Last year, when I was a newbie coder (I still am, but for now, let’s just say relatively), I tried to get into a hackathon (conducted by “savethehacker“), and I screwed it up. Looking back at those days, I feel like I was quite stupid back then. I had no idea about app-development. Despite of that, I tried climbing something big, without even knowing that I’m gonna fall sometime soon. And, I did. I wasn’t selected. I got a reply after the deadline, that my app couldn’t compete with those 30 teams that got selected.

Hackathon is idea-centric!

Honestly, getting an idea and describing it to the organizers is the most difficult part. Because, that’s what’s gonna get you inside any hackathon! (and yeah, it applies to all hackathons). The organizers should feel confident about you, that your app is worthy to get part in their hackathon. This, I figured out later that year. So, idea matters! Once you get it, you’re only a few days away from winning. And, if you don’t win, it’s certain that you screwed up somewhere. Now, getting back to my story…

One fine day, during my semester exams (last month), I got an invitation mail from the same fellas, saying that they’ve come back with a much larger hackathon this time, where up to a 100 teams have the chance to get selected. I gotta do something, right? The problem is that I’m quite slow. I don’t get an idea whenever I needed one. I just think of the situation once, and it pops sometime later (sometimes, even after a few days, but it definitely pops!). So, I “not getting an idea” was an obsession for a while.

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Breaking the Vigenère cipher…

Whenever I encounter a problem that interests me, I get some kinda obsession to solve it. Happens all the time! And this time, it was in a course on “Cryptography” (in Coursera). Well, it’s been an year since I pursued online courses, because I’m simply more occupied by my own works, and I also got bored of those submissions, deadlines, quizzes, etc.

One fine day, I got a mail advertising this course, which got me curious. I wanna know how it’s gonna be. After all, cryptography is the one that got me into some serious programming in Python & Javascript (about a year ago). Anyways, there was this problem, where we’re expected to decipher a “ciphertext” encrypted using a variant of the Vigenère cipher. I got interested as soon as I saw that…

Even though they expect people to solve the problem in C/C++, I (being a Pythonist) decided to get it done with Python! The Vigenère cipher is nothing but a major update to the Caesar cipher. I presume you already know about the Caesar cipher has a keyspace of “1” – just a number to say how much to shift all the characters (so, anyone with a pen & paper can crack it, as it contains only 26 possibilities), but Vigenère extended it, giving additional security.

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Squashing my first bug at Mozilla!

I’m involved in Mozilla for a few days now. So, I’m just gonna talk about my experience today…

I presume you know that I’ve paused my contribution to Stack Exchange for a while, partially because (well, frankly) I got bored, and because I needed time to learn some new stuff. Later on, I was much more involved in coding, as Python & Javascript have caught my attention very well. Assignments, problems, lab works, project works, I use both of them all the time. Soon, I got bored! (again!) I wanted something new (which happens all the time!)…

How did it start?

I remembered Manish’s advertising about Mozilla sometime ago (well, if you’re also planning to get involved, then I suggest his post, which nails down the whole thing precisely, because this is just my experience with the community). When I had a chat with him, he said these exact words, “Mozilla is the most welcoming community I’ve ever seen!”. So, I joined Mozilla, by which I mean I signed up for Bugzilla & Mozillians which are pretty much enough for the start. I later realized that the former is for actually doing stuff, while the latter is for showing it off!

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One hour in the exam hall…

“I told you! You should’ve listened to yesterday’s result! What happened to you? You always trust in chance! And, it did tell you that you weren’t supposed to write the exam today.”, he exclaimed.

(He was pointing to my usual simulated tossing whenever I get confused in making a choice. As I believe only in chance, (and as I’m lazy to actually toss a coin) I use the pseudo random number generator in Python (in a loop) which selects a choice based on a million runs…)

“Come on, I came here just to give it a try. After all, it’s MBA stuff. I felt like this might be easy. I had also thought that I might get lucky today…”, I said.

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The Golden Cut!

Today, I read an (old, but) interesting book on “Fibonacci Numbers” (only about 70 pages). It was mathematically intense most of the time, proving theorems and other boring stuff. But, the results were nice & fun to read. A few of my old questions were answered today, and it’s surprising that they were connected by Fibonacci numbers.

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Encoding multimedia into text!

Yesterday, I got to see a nice photograph of the (controversial) ball lightning. So, I immediately liked the photograph and felt like I should download it. Well, it’s not directly downloadable, especially when the author has asked flickr to disable the option for his/her download.

In flickr, in order to protect the image content, they put a wrapper around the images which shields the image from your easy <dragging-to-desktop> action. Right-click options won’t recognize the image because you’re not on the image! You can think of it like this, whenever you try to “interact” with the image, you’re always a few layers above the image itself, that your browser can’t detect it! (in this way)

But, there’s always a workaround. Before that, let me tell you something. There’s simply no difference between browsing & downloading in the internet (technically). Because, whenever you view something (say, this photograph), you’re already seeing the downloaded copy of the file. This is done by your browser. That’s why it needs the cache. If you can see something, then you can download it. No one could stop you from downloading it because, in order to view it, you have to download it!

Okay, now back to the topic…

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I’m bad when it comes to socializing with people…

I know, it’s been a long time since I blogged. I’ve been busy. Well nowadays, most of the time I’ll be involved in physics & coding (sometimes, I do play games). But, I always feel guilty that I don’t share most of the interesting stuff I get to know every month.

Two things happened last week. Firstly, I took a seminar. And, it’s my first time. I also spoke English (officially) for the first time – I mean, in front of a crowd.

I don’t know. My body starts resonating whenever I see a group of people staring at me – not exactly “fear to speak” in front of people. Instead, it’s an uncomfortable feeling inside that asks a lot of what-if questions like, “What if others ignore your speech?”, “What if you fail?”, “What if you get the crap out of everyone?”, “What if …” all such nonsense. Well, that explains something. In my two years of college life, I’ve spoken a lot in the internet than in the real (social) world. Okay, fear it is.

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