Get To Know GDG VIT Vellore : Shamvil Raza

Get To Know GDG VIT Vellore : Shamvil Raza

While we always talk about technology, we often tend to forget about one of the most important parts of a team. The management. The group of individuals who make it a point to make sure that every whim of the technical group is fulfilled, that they never run out of any kind of provisions and can always continue to work without any kind of interruptions.

Keeping that in mind, GDG VIT Vellore owes a huge lot of its success to the management team, especially to Shamvil Raza.

How It All Started..

One of the founding members of GDG-VIT, he is one of the reasons that the student program by Google, Google Developers Group, was reintroduced in VIT, Vellore after its initial failures which had caused it to collapse the first time it was ever there. He started the chapter around three years back with Rajit Singh, Madhav Menon, Maria Yusuf and Prerit Kimtani. He started off in the chapter as a part of the management team and later, through his hard work and determination went on to become the President of the chapter.

Working at GDG VIT Vellore

As part of the management team, he had a lot of brainstorming sessions with the other members of the technical and management team of GDG-VIT Vellore and came up with quite a lot of good ideas that helped the chapter grow in VIT. He, along with the team of GDG VIT Vellore, came up with the ideas of MyVIT and MyFFCS, both well received by the students of the institute.He was a part of the team that undertook the development of the official VIT website.When the 2014 Admission Campaign was undertaken by GDG VIT Vellore, he was major part of the project. He also took the job of making the VIT website readily available online.

The Experience..

Fondly recalling the late night work, the projects he undertook and spent time brainstorming about, the friends he made being a part of GDG, the ones that he would never really have had if it had not been for the chapter and finally the lovely, although lonely night roads of VIT, he says that GDG as a whole has given him memories that he is going to treasure all his life.

The Impact

The better you become, the better you can help the chapter grow.So it comes as no surprise when Shamvil, who credits most of his skills of public speaking and management to the chapter, took the chapter to a completely different level of success when he was President.He also mentions learning a lot about Google AdSense and Google AdWords while being a part of the chapter, something that had become the most essential components of marketing on the World Wide Web.

Presently..

Although, not a part of GDG VIT Vellore anymore, he overlooks the working of the chapter.He is finishing his course in VIT and has a few placement offers on his desk at the moment.He mentions having a wonderful experience in chapter and credits the brilliant team of GDG Vellore for it.He claims that unlike other chapters who have a core committee framework, GDG Vellore has an inner circle framework. He also believes that GDG Vellore is unique and believes that its doing well this time seeing that it has been only three years since it has started and that it has a bright future ahead of it.

To more about him and learn the skills that he has acquired and polished over time , feel free to contact him at

https://www.linkedin.com/in/shamvil

Get to Know GDG VIT Vellore : RAM KISHORE

It has not been long I met him. I was looking for someone who could help me with my android queries. I asked a member of GDG-VIT to help me out. Giving me a ludicrous look, he shouted, “Go to RAM KISHORE, you idiot. He’s one of the top 50 Android Developers in India”. I was flabbergasted. I wanted to know more about him and here I am today, writing about him and still in awe of the person he is.

So, How it all began? I wondered…

I met him the first time during our GDG meeting. We started discussing some of my doubts related to android. I was taken by surprise with his knowledge in the subject and my eagerness finally popped the question you all have been ruminating on, “how did you make it to the top 50?

He said, and I quote,”If I had to answer this in one line, I can simply say if there was no GDG-VIT, I would have not been a developer today. I would have prolly been in some other field.”

His Works:

He has undertaken a lot of projects in GDG like DevFest’15 app, Clean VIT, Share paper, Play me, etc. The one that is close to his heart is Clean VIT as at that time (2015) it had best possible technologies used like GeoFire (location based queries), FireAuth etc. and that was very challenging to build along with Prince.

Going into the Flashback:

He gave a sigh of bliss and said”To be frank there are lots and lots of memorable moments but the one which I would never forget was when I wrongly defined the SharedPreference variable as “MyPref” in one place and “MyPrefs” in another place and was scratching my head for 7 hrs and at last Prince came and tapped my head and removed the extra ’s’.

Another stupid moment was when me and Prince got confused on the first function that gets called in activity that is like forgetting order of Alphabets confused between onStart() or onCreate(). I loved the moments where we as a team used to code till morning 5am and then go outside the campus and have a tea and then return to our rooms to get ready for 8am classes.”

What is he doing right now?

He is about to finish his Software Engineering Internship with Skcript and as he enters his 5th year. He replies saying, ”I just want to relax a bit both physically and mentally till October and be prepared for something big”. He has a big responsibility of carrying forward the Banglore based startup in which he is one of the Co-Founders and an Android Developer, named expY. Close to 8 companies are interested in his work and are ready to collaborate for the good. “But frankly I haven’t decided anything right now. Hopefully I will make a good decision in the coming period”, said Ram.

Future Plans:

Will you be in touch with the GDG community? He said,”I will definitely join GDG BlrDroid soon after I start working this December. I am about to have a discussion about the same with Amrit Sanjeev, the lead of GDG BlrDroid when I meet him in August in App Excellence Summit.”

“Was it all worth it?, I asked”

“Golden”, he exclaimed. “It brought a life to me. Its only because of GDG what I am today. The journey of being mentored by an outstanding person, Prince Bansal, and to mentoring all the junior developers in the current team and leading the Android Team. I have enjoyed every bit of it. Now, GDG is getting stronger year by year with the quality of people coming in. I really want this legacy to be carried forward in a right way.”

To know more about him: “http://blog.gdgvitvellore.com/author/ram/

Get to know GDG VIT Vellore – Sauraj Babu

While talking about technology, most of us forget about a crucial part of the package – the designing. Would you drive a Mercedes if it didn’t look the same? Would apple have sold that many phones if it looked any different? No and so design matters plenty. Similarly, GDG VIT Vellore owes a big chunk of its success and achievements to its designers. One of them was Sauraj Babu.

Hailing from Thrissur in Kerala, Sauraj joined VIT to pursue Multimedia and Animation. He believes that design holds the power to tell a convincing story.

How the journey began:

Like many students at VIT, Sauraj was walking towards TT (Technology Tower) when he saw posters of GDG. Fascinated, he went on to the recruitment and soon ended up being one of the first designers at GDG.

The Work:

Much of the work started with making posters for the events and projects but later diversified into designing key aspects of the projects. Sauraj contributed to the Riviera website, Polymer (Fist campus event by GDG VIT Vellore), MyVIT app, VIT Website and hackathons.

Some of the posters

You can check out more of his work on:

http://www.behance.net/saurajbabu

The Experience:

“The most memorable days were the initial days of GDG, where there was just a room full of guys with passion and drive to make it the next big thing.”

Sauraj recalls that in the meetings, they would build a lot of crazy stuff from videos that played on multiple screens at the same time, apps with crazy designs and illustrations with a meaning. He thoroughly enjoyed working hard with team spirit so much so that even though he isn’t a part of GDG VIT Vellore anymore, he would love to be a part of GDG, most preferably in Bangalore where he now lives.

The impact:

“We always tried to give our best and that is one of the best skills i learned from the team. We worked hard and gave a 100%. I still try to do the same professionally.”

GDG inculcated in Sauraj important values like professionalism and hard work.

Presently:

Sauraj now pursues his passion for designing at Keastone.

At keastone, he works on the core visual design aspects of the products, including building a sustainable design system, visual communication and building convincing stories through animated sequences for product communication.

More about him:

You can find out more about Sauraj and his work at:

https://dribbble.com/Sauraj

Or connect with him at:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/sauraj-babu-7932a3a0/

 

 

Get To Know GDG VIT Vellore: Shubhodeep Mukherjee

Get To Know GDG VIT Vellore: Shubhodeep Mukherjee

The unsaid philosophy behind GDG is, GDG is for the student, not the other way around. 

Hi guys! I’m back but let’s rewind a bit. Seems like a long time ago but when we first joined VIT, we were all a bit clueless to say the least. I was super lucky to get the best lot of friends within the first month of college itself.

So what do you think we did next?

Introduce friends to other mutual friends.

Pursuing IT or CSE, you tend to meet people who are exceptionally good at their field unlike people like me who randomly chose a branch just for the sake of getting a degree.

I actually remember it quite evidently when I was with one of my friends just strolling around the campus wherein suddenly he fondly started talking about this new guy he had just met.

With ebullience he said, “This guy is so cool. He already knows 8 programming languages can you believe it? Like it took me years to perfect Java and he has already mastered 8!! I’m telling you, he’s going to be an inspiration for so many people out here. ”

“What’s his name?”, I ask.

He says, “Shubhodeep”

Right about that time a curly haired guy wearing 3 quarters is approaching us with a guitar in his hand? WOW. And it doesn’t stop there, he sings awfully well too.

That was the first time I met Shubhodeep. 

No wonder we would become good friends. One day I randomly strike a conversation with him and upon asking him his journey as a programmer he said, “During class 9th finals, I borrowed the movie, ‘The Social Network’ from my cousin, and came home and watched it. I don’t know what got into me but I then watched it for 9-10 times in the coming days, and furthermore started searching for web development books in my school library. Whilst the school covered Java as their curriculum, I was scraping PHP codes in my class notes, working on whatever I got.” 

Exuberantly, he continues saying “My first complete project was Frnzmash, yes it was a ripoff of FaceMash, made by Mark Zuckerberg, but don’t judge me, I was in high school. The website was backed by the same algorithm used for FaceMash.”

Well who was I to judge? Till that day, I didn’t even know about such terminologies.

Keen to know more, I excitedly ask him to continue. He goes, “I would have stayed with PHP, if I didn’t watch Iron Man and had gotten the idea of building my own AI. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t even have been a programmer, if there were no movies. So to build AI and speech recognition system, I learnt Python and Linux system programming.

 

By this time, he joined GDG-VIT. And well what a beautiful ride and a learning experience it’s been for him.

Straight out I ask him what his journey has been as a programmer after joining GDG and very honestly he replies saying “GDG gave me a reality check, and showed me how to grow as a developer. I met Ashwini, Rishi and Vignesh, with whom I worked on several projects. I remember, whenever something exigent would come up, it was me Ashwini and Rishi to the rescue, sitting late nights in M.B. I made some awesome friends from the Management team especially Nikhil and Shiv and got an opportunity to work with so many creative people. Well those were the days!”

While on one side, the members are provided with all sorts of schwags, loads of resources and cool tools to keep the motivation going and the zeal to keep on learning and experimenting, it’s actually the friends we meet along the way that help us appreciate the journey. 

To lead the GDG team as their Vice-President (Technical) for a term, he proudly calls it a great experience. He got the opportunity to meet some really exceptional people from both the Technical and the Management team.

And when it comes to the projects he’s done so far in his tenure, oh well you name it and he’s been a part of it. My personal favourite? IT HAS TO BE MyVIT. Don’t we all love that app?

The GitHub link to all his projects is:  https://github.com/shubhodeep9

Link to His LinkedIn profile is: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shubhodeep9

 

You must be thinking what the impact of GDG in our lives is and what happens after your tenure. Well I had the same doubt and so I asked him about it.

 

GDG has taught me so many things, and I am more prepared to face the problems with more optimism than I was before joining GDG.”

 

Shubhodeep was a part of Data Analysis project along with his two seniors in Creation Labs, worked on many side projects like GitChat, a terminal chat application for GitHub Developers, also got his first research paper published under IEEE titled “Big Data As A Service”

But you know you have achieved something, when you get a job where you see yourself working with what you love. Shubhodeep is placed in Naukri.com and will be working on AmbitionBox.com

 

Towards the end, he gladly says “GDG is the main ingredient in making me the developer I am today. People at GDG are smart and helpful. The unsaid philosophy behind GDG is, GDG is for the student, not the otherway around. The members are open to choose the projects they want to work on.

I found people like me in GDG, and believe me, that feeling is wonderful.” 

Awestruck as always, I realised how lucky I am to be surrounded with such amazing people.

Shubhodeep, we wish you all the very best for your future endeavours. Keep rocking the way you do. And for all the others who are reading this, there’s nothing I’ve got to say except that “The expert in anything was once a beginner “

 

 

Get to know GDG VIT Vellore: Prerit Kimtani

A robust structure implies a strong foundation. GDG is as reputed and valued as it is today because of its strong “Foundation”. One of the pillars of our foundation is “Prerit Kimtani“.

Born in Guwahati and brought up in Varanasi, Prerit was always passionate about technology and pursued his BCA+MCA from VIT.

How it all started:

Prerit’s passion for web development and Android blossomed in his third year at VIT when he was working on a project for an app-based Faculty portal. He started a promising project with the CollegeCode team to build an Android app for faculty attendance but he couldn’t reach completion due to lack of time.

Meanwhile he came to know about GDG through his friend Kundan Mishra who was a founding member. At that time there were hardly five to six people in the chapter. Hence, Prerit joined as a founding member and later, through his hard work and dedication, went on to become the President.

The Work:

Being the former President of the chapter, Prerit has been involved with almost all the projects like MyVIT etc. But as an individual he had initiated CodeJam, wherein one individual would get certified in Android by Udacity and help others learn Android. Before being the President, he had worked with the team to make our first campus event- Polymers, a huge success. He also interned for a month with MediTube.com in the TBI (Technology Business Incubator) at VIT.

The Experience:

“I can’t put to words the memories I have had at GDG, working on projects with Sarthak and Shamvil and the fun at the meetings”

Prerit counts GDG’s first campus event Polymers as his best experience in GDG. The first team of GDG VIT Vellore  had pulled off an amazing event in the campus and got appreciated by everyone. He says, “In GDG we just don’t come for the sake of the brand of Google, we are those who really spend sleepless nights to make a difference.” The mission of our chapter was and is to make a change with our projects and this event had a real impact.

In his time, Prerit had seen many chapters open and close in the VIT campus. “They all start with a mission but lose it somewhere down the lane. We at GDG always ensured that the same fortune doesn’t follow us. Quality is something GDG has always maintained.”

 

The Impact:

Like every member, GDG VIT Vellore helped Prerit learn a lot more than he would ever have learnt in the classroom or by himself and it helped him pick up important tech-based skills. “Through GDG I came across the best group of people who were really talented and hard working. And working with those people I have learned a lot. People like Shamvil, Sahil, Sarthak and many others were really talented and I have learned a lot being with them”

The important thing is to work with a group of people who think like you and provide the knowledge and resources which can help you realise your potential. This helped him a lot.

Presently:

Currently, he holds a lot of enthusiasm for web development and works with MintM (a display BoT Startup based out of Bangalore) as a full stack web developer.

More about him:

You can find out more about Prerit and his work at:

GitHub.com/pkimtani

Or connect with him on LinkedIn at:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/pkimtani?ppe=1

 

Know GDG-VIT: Anurag Tiwari

Hailing from the city of Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh; known for juggling between Machine Learning, Big Data, Node.js and other hot-listed and recent technologies, whilst lightening the mood and gluing the team members with his niche sense of humor- is Anurag Tiwari for you.

The Start

Captivated by the word ‘Google’ , Anurag decided to join GDG VIT in 2014 when he was in his fourth semester of college. Learning new technologies overnight to wrap up the assigned task during recruitments proves his fervent desire to be a part of one of the best chapters in VIT even in its infancy.

Work Stack

Set foot as a Web Developer, Anurag progressively scaled to building over a dozen skills to boast upon, being a part of GDG VIT.  He along with former GDGians-  Amit, Sarthak, Sauraj and Shamvil, developed the Riviera(Cultural Fest of VIT) 2014 website and optimized it both in terms of design as well as marketing.

Deeply inspired by the works of Alan Turing and keeping in lines with the GDG vision, he wanted to develop something that could be of help to the masses. Relief Chennai- a website to support those affected by the 2016 floods by linking NGO and volunteer contacts for food and shelter -is a testimony to the fact. This project was completed with the help of Thiyagaraj,Rishi and Ashwini. SharePaper- an android app to share question papers hassle free made along with Ramkishore and Raichuk , is another of his projects.

Community Leader at Udacity for College and Leader at Atlassian User Group are a few add-ons to his accolades.

Sculpted to write fluid backend code and his in-depth machine learning knowledge bagged him an Internship at one of the most well-known competitive coding platforms- HackerRank. No brownie points for guessing he bagged a PPO(Pre-placement Offer) there too.

You can view his projects at: https://github.com/t2013anurag

Walking Down the Memory Lane

                  

Anurag, expresses his gratitude to the GDG community and seniors like Sarthak, Piyush and Prerit who helped him not only sharpen his technical skills but also taught him how to be a good leader , exemplifying the same. “Working upto 6 in the morning, convincing the guards to permit them to leave the campus so early for tea, brainstorming ideas over coffee at CCD, impulsive drives to Pondicherry overnight-dear friendships were forged and crazy memories were created amidst all this”, reminisces Anurag. The friends he made in GDG describe him to be a good listener, tantrum handler and thrower, someone who has worked hard to achieve what he has and a fun company to be with.

He’s also a Hackathon genius known for making and breaking things up. One such hackathon he fondly cherishes is the MyGola Hackthon where he and his team-Amit,Ashwini,Shubhodeepand Gautham bagged the 2nd prize by building a travel app that uses user’s photos to rate the places they visit and using social profiles to find their interested places and recommending the best trip to them under budget.

As someone who has been a close friend and a roommate for the past 2 years, Amit Rai-former GDG tech member- says “Anurag has always been one of the most proactive,result oriented,responsible,passionate and technically sound people I have worked with. He is someone who possesses exceptional skills at troubleshooting problems, comes up with solutions in methods mostly overlooked and is always on his toes to help out people in and out of his network. His down to earth nature helps him in reconciling with everyone and also in understanding his shortcomings from his team members.”

The Present

Anurag has accepted the PPO and is going to work with the popular competitive coding Platform- HackerRank as a Software Engineer. He wishes to continue supporting and mentoring the community by joining GDG Bangalore soon.

 

Intrigued much? Check out his LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anuragtiwari11

Know GDG-VIT Vellore: Prince Bansal
The Android Maestro

Know GDG-VIT Vellore: Prince Bansal

GDG VIT Vellore stands tall and proud of its legacy. But who creates the legacy? The determined, dedicated and enthusiastic members of the amazing group of developers “GDG-VIT Vellore”. Here at GDG-VIT Vellore we believe its not the name that defines the person but his abilities and work. One such member who redefined the meaning of dedication and leadership was Prince Bansal. With his smiling face and subtle humor no one can judge the intense developer inside. He not only led the Android team of GDG-VIT Vellore but became the Vice President to open up the new dimensions to the organisation.

Prince Bansal

How did it start?

Prince Bansal after discovering his love for computers opted for Bachelors degree in Information Technology from VIT University, Vellore in 2013. Prince unlike many in there glorious college days showing off there talents, focused on his self-development. In his third semester Prince heard about GDG-VIT Vellore recruitment and gave it a try. With the set of skills he possessed there was second thoughts about his selection. “It was not the talent which got us to select Prince but it was his excitement to learn things on the first place” the recruiting seniors told. He joined GDG-VIT Vellore in 2014 as a JAVA developer.

With every passing month Prince Bansal was setting examples by leading from the front, be it team work, dedication, innovation or development. ” Once recruited I just wanted to learn as much as I could. I remember my second year days in GDG working day in day out. We used to work till 5 a.m. in the morning and then go out for a tea and again resume the work. It was so fun back in those days.” exclaims Prince.

His work made him Special

Prince Bansal started as a Java Developer but with time he developed keen interest in Android development. His approach for any task was simple and vivid. ” I wondered many a times is my work even worth because i had no complexities like other in the group.” laughed Prince while sharing his experience. But his work was not only worth but inspiring. Prince always had a solution to the problems in hand. This is the reason he led most of the successful projects of GDG-VIT Vellore. His major projects included: MyVIT app, VOLSBB One-Touch, Devfest 2016 App. He also initiated experimental projects like GDG-VIT app and Virtual Piano which gave a first hand experience to many members of GDG-VIT.

Prince also worked on hardware projects majorly IoT. Prince provided a platform for the new members to learn about development and programming. He never hesitated to share his weaknesses and guided freshers to overcome them. ” I never saw him panic. He always remained calm and composed.” mentions his former team member Abhinav Das.

His few of the projects can be checked on his github account: Github Profile

His memories and experience with GDG-VIT Vellore

Prince worked with GDG-VIT Vellore for two years and half years and have gathered some golden memories with GDG-VIT Vellore. “It was amazing experience to be a part of GDG-VIT Vellore. GDG-VIT Vellore has given me a lot of memories, most of them being pleasant. I have made friends for life working with GDG.” says Prince Bansal. His fond memories include organizing Devfest ’14 and Devfest ’15, participating Hackathons with GDG members and late night core meetings. ” Devfest ’15 was experience which I am going to treasure life long. It had all the elements excitement, tension, nervousness, fun and what not. I would love to join the Devfest in future too if i get a chance.” shares Prince remembering the past.

He won MyGola hackthon held at Bangalore leading a GDG VIT team. It was among the most celebrated victories of GDG VIT members and Prince remarks it as the beginning of the path to success. Prince was selected to participate in Google Android Summit held at Bangalore. Only 50 members across the nation were selected to be the part of the prestigious event and Prince rightfully reserved his spot. ” I could have never got a chance to showcase my talent if it wouldn’t be GDG-VIT. Google Android Summit was my break in the true industry. It was like a dream come true.” says Prince. Prince thanks GDG-VIT to provide him such a platforms where he could learn about so many domains.

” Working in GDG VIT gave me an edge over others. When I sat for my placements, the interviewer was even impressed noticing my work experience with GDG VIT.” Prince expresses on asking about help in Placements. “Being a part of organisation like GDG is special because not many people are from GDG” expresses Prince.

Prince Bansal Post GDG VIT

Prince is currently working as a trainee at one of the leading IT company ‘Kirusa’ at Bangalore. He is working as Full Stack developer in Java. He plans to spend few more years working with the organisation owing to the exposure he is bagging there. Prince has already joined GDG Bangalore and attends the meet ups regularly.

Have a look at his LinkedIn profile too: LinkedIn Profile

 

 

 

Know GDG VIT Vellore- Sai Sreekar

Sai Sreekar

Sai Sreekar

 

Sai Sreekar, one of the few exceptionally talented designers at GDG VIT Vellore, had always had a penchant for designing. So when he saw what his friend Sauraj , already a design team member, was getting to work on as part of the GDG at VIT , his interest was piqued. He started following the happenings of the chapter which was then in its nascent stage in VIT. Eventually he was motivated enough to join the community.

Making Memories

Ask him about his best moments at GDG and he remembers the DevFest of 2016. The event demanded a multitude of uniquely thinking people, all in a single hall, using  their grey cells to come up with solutions with the help of techology. He recalls that it was an enthralling to interact with people and exchange ideas with them throughout the night and the duration of event.

How has GDG helped him ?

He says , “GDG and its community members have given me a broader view towards designing. It wasn’t just about following an idea, it’s about selling it too. “He got an opportunity to work with multi-talented people such as Shamvil and Thiyagaraj within GDG, who gave him clarity on how a problem should be approached and on hoe to produce the right design solutions for them. As a part of the design team at GDG VIT Vellore, the major chunck of his job dealt with the digital marketing for an event. It meant providing high quality social media posters and attracting a larger audience.

He reminisces meeting new people vis the events conducted and interchanging exciting ideas. He has made some unforgettable friends at GDG VIT Vellore and is grateful for all those who have supported him and believed in his abilities.

The Present

Sai Sreekar

Currently, Sai Sreekar is working on his portfolio and learning new design methods. He looks forward to connecting with GDG Hyderabad since helping open source communities has always been a fantastic experience for him.

You can check out some of his amazing designs at –

https://www.instagram.com/kryptonianwizard

https://www.behance.net/kryptonianwizard

Get to Know GDG VIT – Sahil Narula

Get to Know GDG VIT – Sahil Narula

Sahil Narula

The passion of coding and the compelling craze of hackathons, nights exhausted in building projects and the innumerable meetings are some of the many memories that define GDG – VIT Vellore for Sahil Narula.

Sahil Narula, former Co-Vice President, has left a legacy in GDG – VIT enriched by his achievements and many such memories. Asked about his fondest memory, he frowns,  unable to choose. He describes his hostel night-outs, hangouts at Gate-3 of VIT which doubled as their “retrospective discussion” meeting hub and the impulsive train rides to Bangalore for hackathons with ‘literally no implementation ideas in mind” but still emerging victorious. He paints those memories vividly and speaks dearly of the friendships he has forged.

His decision to join GDG – VIT required a leap of faith, being the pioneering batch of the now prestigious chapter. Innate interest in improving his technical skills and a long talk with Shamvil, former President, gave him a vision for his now cherished GDG – VIT. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Apart from the opportunity to improve his developing skills, GDG gave him an opportunity to learn through teaching and teamwork, stumbling, discussing and spending long night works dwelling on projects. Technical skills are undoubtedly self-learnt, but implementing them in a disciplined collaboration requires managerial skills that can only be achieved while working in a team, which he can assuredly claim to have gained. He adamantly believes that the difference between good and wonderful projects are made not by the development but rather because of the team. And to this day, he will argue that that’s the most essential lesson he learns as a part of GDG.

His very first time working as a team was in the course of Polymer Tech Talk. It involved, in his own words, “getting outside of my personal shell and joining the group”. Polymer Tech Talk was also the first time he happened to get on stage to address a crowd. The confidence he achieved that day both on stage and collaborating with his team gave him the necessary boost and he went on to develop multiple projects both inside and outside GDG, enhancing his skills and making him “industry ready” before graduating.

Growing out of GDG was tough, he reminds but now working as a Software developer at Directi based out of Mumbai, he does not have much to complain about. But he still holds GDG – VIT dear, taking the effort to stay in touch with the juniors and helping them lead. Guiding them as they navigate a place he knows as well as home and recreating legacies, he still remains very much a part of GDG.

You may find out his awesome projects at https://github.com/sahanarula

Life with the Google Assistant

Life with the Google Assistant

Now that Google Assistant has finally arrived on the iPhone, Google has managed to bring its product to the majority of smartphone users. The main advantage Google Assistant has over other similar software is that it is backed by Google. The reason being that Google has access to loads of information about you. If you use Gmail, then Google already knows who you correspond with, your travel plans and your newsletter subscriptions among others. And if you’re an Android user, well there’s really not much Google doesn’t know off the bat.

The Assistant makes use of exactly this information to provide a tailored experience for you. It was the first one in the market to bring AI functionality to your phones and its user base keeps on growing everyday—which in turn helps it to evolve further. Google has also ensured that the user experience of the application is continuously improving so you can get as close to the perfect assistant as possible. The latest major addition being that now you can type and interact with your Assistant. The voice recognition has been constantly improving and Google has now added support for multiple languages. However, in order to utilize your Assistant’s functionality to the fullest extent, you should at least know how it works.

The Welcome screen for your Google Assistant

I was one of the few people who got a taste of the Assistant’s functionality when it launched on the phone. My father got a Pixel, and I spent a whole day asking questions and tinkering around with it. The Assistant had witty replies up its sleeve and could follow a conversation easily. So when the Assistant was launched for all Android phones in March, I wasted little time in getting it for my own Android phone—even if it meant having to change my default language to English US. That meant I wouldn’t have to open Google Allo every time I needed to pass some time. 

If you live under a rock and still don’t know what Google Assistant is, it is the successor of Google Now and has now become Google’s version of your primary digital assistant on all Android phones supporting at least Android 6.0. It was first introduced in Google Allo, but is now available outside the app. It opens up on hearing the words “OK Google” and you can then interact with it. The Assistant performs everyday tasks like setting alarms and reminders, fetching the weather information and getting the latest news reports. I for one, have grown accustomed to saying “OK Google, wake me up in 15 minutes” whenever I get down for one of my afternoon power naps.

The edge over the competition, however, lies in the subtle things one wouldn’t realize during a one-off session. For example, the Assistant can remember where you kept your keys, as long as you tell it beforehand. This works for practically anything—just inform the Assistant what you may forget and it would remember. If you want to remove the entry, tell the Assistant to forget it.

The Assistant can also read what’s on your screen, which often comes in handy while reading articles. You can get the reference or the meaning of a word without ever leaving the app. Decision making can be made easy with the flip of a coin, and you can even ask it to roll a dice. The Assistant can take hands-free selfies as well. Just say “OK Google, take a selfie” and the camera app opens up with a 3 second timer. Say cheese.

You can use the Assistant to help out with translations or directions on the go. Wherever you are, just say “OK Google, take me home” and it will direct you back to your house.  Emails can be checked, messages can be sent and calls can be made. You can even interact with third party apps like WhatsApp and send messages without even opening those apps. It is easy to check up on your photos, and even search for specific people in your photos. You can tell the phone to go silent without fumbling around with volume buttons.

If you are ever feeling bored, the Google Assistant has a virtually unlimited supply of  jokes. The Assistant willingly participates in banter and its replies will leave you smiling. You can also ask it to recognize a song you’re listening to, or play a game with you. You can also ask about Google’s competitors and the Assistant tries to be as diplomatic as possible.

To know about your daily briefing, just greet the Assistant with a polite “Good Morning”, “Good Afternoon” or “Good Evening” and it will proceed to inform you about the weather, your work commute, next up on the calendar and your reminders. The daily briefing ends with news articles but you can choose to skip that by changing the settings.

The Assistant also has the capability to keep you entertained. If you say “I am bored”, the Assistant lets you play a game, or tells you a joke. It can also “surprise you with random fun”. You can listen to a poem or try to solve a riddle. If you’re more into the guessing game, you’ll find “Akinator” the genie quite engaging. “Akinator” can guess characters you are thinking of in virtually no time. I decided a cartoon character from my childhood would be a good match for it. Needless to say, he got it done under a minute. The fun part of all this is you can see how the questions are framed in order to eliminate entire categories in one go. A lesson for “20 questions” indeed.

You can also play a game called Magic Cat academy where you use spells to ward off enemies. It’s rather fun to play if you want to test out your reflexes and has multiple levels. Other games include Solitaire, Tic Tac Toe, Emoji movie guessing and Mad Libs among others. It is a fair bet to say you will have many avenues to be entertained.

You may as well choose to be surprised by your Assistant. Just say “OK Google, I am feeling lucky”. Don’t blame me if your neighbors are startled by what comes next though (You may want to use earphones in a crowded place).

So should you get the Google Assistant?

I have been using the Assistant for almost 3 months now, and it has been fantastic. Google has left around a lot of Easter eggs for you if you like to fiddle around. The general functionality of the app is brilliant, and setting alarms and reminders is very easy. I constantly find myself using the remember function of the app, and play a game of Solitaire while waiting on the bus. It is truly proving to be a useful companion for my phone.

If you are on an Android phone with version 6.0, in all probability you would already have a working version of Assistant on your phone. However, if you are one of the people who rarely update their apps, update your Google App right now. You are missing out on too much of the good stuff. If you use the iPhone, you can now get the Assistant on the App Store. It goes without saying the integration of the Assistant on the iPhone won’t match the levels in Android (you can’t unlock your iPhone by saying OK Google) but the overall experience is still worth a try. Think of it this way, now you have two voice assistants to banter with.