Category Archives: SIDETRACKS

A MILLENNIAL VANGUARD OF RURAL ELECTRIFICATION

In the presence of advance technology today, who would have thought that there are still Filipinos who have never lightened up their homes with electricity? Imagine how hard their life is, and imagine fortunate you are to enjoy the benefits of electricity while some are struggling because they have no access to it.

According to the United Nations (UN), access to electricity should be declared as a basic human right and urges all the countries in the world to make electricity available for all.

While this issue is still on debate, I, myself, who is a member of an organization which is a vanguard of rural development through rural electrification, firmly believes that indeed enjoying the benefits of electricity is a privilege that everyone should have. Though this remains a challenge for the Philippines for years, as we are limited with financial resources, the government never lost its faith in energizing the entire country from the smallest island to the farthest one by continuously capacitating the electric cooperatives and empowering the member-consumers-owners.

Undoubtedly, electricity plays an important role in rural development and in the absence of it, there is no progress, there is no economic growth and people are imprisoned with poverty. Statistics show that people who live in rural areas with no electricity are likely to stay living below the poverty line because of limited resources and opportunity.

While people who live in rural areas which has been energized, just recently, through the help of government’s sitio electrification program, experience a significant change in their lives. Records show that there is an increase in income for every household beneficiaries of the said program and this can be mainly attributed to the surge in production of their farm and higher employment rate in their area.

Brudland (1986) says that “Energy services are a crucial input to the primary development challenge of providing adequate food, shelter, clothing, water, sanitation, medical care, schooling, and access to information. Thus energy is one dimension or determinant of poverty and development, but it is vital. Energy supports the provision of basic needs such as cooked food, a comfortable living temperature, lighting, the use of appliances, piped water or sewerage, essential health care (refrigerated vaccines, emergency and intensive care), education aids, communication and transport. Energy also fuels productive activities, including agriculture, commerce, manufacture, industry, and mining”.  Apparently, the electricity serves as the main stimulant of economic growth and reduces poverty in the rural areas.

I feel grateful that I become part of an organization which was created for missionary and humanitarian purposes. While most millennials are having difficulty in finding their inner purpose in life and looking for ways on how they can make a difference, I unknowingly found mine, amidst my challenging and meaningful stay in National Electrification Administration (NEA). On the contrary with what most people think of millennials, I would be the living proof, that it is not always the monetary benefits that makes one stay in the workplace, because surprisingly, in rare occasions, it is the value or impact that you can bring to the society. It is always good to find a high paying job but it is very rare to find a fulfilling one. And even though I am not a front liner in implementing rural electrification programs of the government, I still appreciate the roles that I play in the agency no matter how small it (effort) is, because I know that I am one of the reason why some members of the marginalized sector have lights in their home.

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Campus Devcon – STI Muñoz

The vogue of application development arrived at senior high and college students of STI Muñoz last September 27, 2016. Students enjoyed a two-hour seminar about the trends in game development, clean coding, hybrid programming, and bots, with the help of DevCon PH.

Little by little, students showed up to fill the entire venue, eager to know what can they expect in the first world of computer science in the aspect of leisure and entertainment, not to mention the business alongside it. Ma-Reiko Borras, a resident academic secretary and ICT coach of STI-Muñoz started the afternoon with her welcoming remarks. The first task of the students was to choose a team leader to represent their sections named after the sixteen regions of the Philippines.

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Ma-Reiko Borras warms up the student body.

Ezekiel Ponciano, DevCon’s representative for the day’s event introduced Developers Connect to the crowd. Without much talk, the seminar finally started with its first speaker. An explanation of the life of a game developer was discussed by Denick Espares. He is an FEU graduate and has walked through paths of game development cycles. Denick has always been a game enthusiast. This pushed him to co-found a start-up company, NightOwl Studios, where he plays as the lead game designer. He introduced their newly developed app Velocity to the students, which they downloaded and played enjoyably.

A game application development starts with pre-production. A car that flies with automatic expandable wings and shoots bombs or a game character that uses earwax (which explodes on target) as a primary weapon. Anything is possible. The first part of creating a game is the brainstorming phase. All ideas are consolidated and analyzed for feasibility. This might be the most critical and busiest part of the process since this is where bugs are fixed and improvements to the game are constantly added. The main production phase, however, is where the real development starts. After coming up with timelines and due dates, everybody has to turn their berserk modes on.

A game is now ready to be played. It is now packed up and ready to meet its judgment. The Beta Phase shall then turn the tides up and down by developer bug-fixing and player criticism. Fortunately for a game to encounter few glitch fixes, a full market release is inevitable. Meanwhile, if a game becomes a hit or meets a significant applause from the public, it should be expected to offer support and release updates every once in a while.

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Denick Espares, a fresh grad. Co-founder of their start-up company NightOwl Studios

The clarity of a programmer’s code is highly significant. Students must learn how to write their hard work in an effective and understandable manner. Edwin Richbald Salinas, discussed the way of creating clean codes. Ed is a software engineer and is currently the CEO of Convonaut. To him, a programmer’s coding technique reflects their discipline. Anyone who wants to become a developer must be capable of designing comprehensible scripts.

For newbies, early practice of clean coding can result to perfect codemanship. For existing programmers who did not begin with the right technique, it’s not a hard thing to apply. There are only a few pointers to remember.

A few tips include the use of intention-revealing names. Single character declarations can be made self-explanatory.

int x; //product of two factors

can be declared as:

int myProduct;

Another tip is avoiding disinformation. Short comments that define some operations can be made straightforward and non-confusing. For example:

//This array enlists alphabetically arranged employee surnames
$cars = array("Badiola", "Dela Cruz", "Cruz", "Delgado");

A careful review of your code can eliminate unnecessary comments that can leave false information. The code above can settle without a comment. Don’t worry about the array, it won’t judge you.

public Date dob; //date of birth

The code above is fine. But, the best suggestion would be:

public Date dateOfBirth;

The variable named ‘dob’ can stand for many things. Why not just declare it unambiguously? If you do, you make the world a better place. Another tip on naming convention applies to Classes. Class names should be a noun or a noun phrase in Pascal case. Reserve your verbs for functions. A lot of reading about Clean Code by Uncle Bob is available for purchase online.

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Ed Salinas, shares about the perks of code clarity.

Humans can always get some help from artificial intelligence, whether for great use or just for fun. Jover Nuevaespaña, on “The Rise of the Bots”, talked about the new age of artificial intelligence. Bots are software applications that run automated tasks, they are abundant over the world wide web. Now, they can be run through stand-alone applications as well. Jover engaged the students to try his own creation, joverbot, by opening the commonly used facebook messenger app and chatting it up.

Since bots are easier to install, they can be distributed in a snap. Maintenance can also be a big advantage for bots since major updates can be done on the back-end alone. Although today, people are interested mainly in engaging with lots of messaging apps and find little time facing with a good bot. The time for bots to entirely meet the gen-pop can be declared transitional and shall eventually be valued highly, if not in a few years, within just a blink of an eye.

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Jover Nuevaespaña, on The Rise of Bots

Kurt Nolan Lopez, the last speaker, is a Creative Director of Convonaut. He featured the use of the mobile app framework Ionic. Kurt is a freelance designer and application developer, he is a co-founder of Banyera, a start-up company which recently got in ideaspace.

Ionic app development can be very handy. It is an easy to learn hybrid programming. HTML5, CSS3 and AngularJS are necessary to come up with an Ionic application. On limited time, budget constraints, and small manpower, Ionic programming can offer its best for creation of small scale applications.

Ionic provides all the functionality that can be found in native mobile development SDKs. Users can build their apps, customize them for Android or iOS, and deploy through Cordova. Ionic includes mobile components, typography, interactive paradigms, and an extensible base theme. – source

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Kurt Nolan on a quick Ionic programming run-through

Excitement still filled the atmosphere even after the lightning talks. The students were engaged in debate or what DevCon calls the “Birds of Feather” session. Two teams argued about which OS was better, Windows or Mac. One side of the team composed of one college student and two senior highs. The other team had two college students and one senior high.

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Mac team (above from left to right) Ronan Nicolas Chua, Christian Matthew Alcaria, and Daniel Pangilinan. Windows team (below from left to right) Nathaniel Ocular, Jocelle Chua, and Arif Tabonawas (no photo)

Each team explained the benefits of owning a device with the said operating systems. They boasted on device capabilities on the aspect of customization, user-friendliness, security features, and affordability. They were judged by the four speakers. After a series of intense argument, the Mac team won the debate.

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Nathaniel Ocular, second year CS student, speaks the good thing about Windows.
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The teams with the speakers and Ms. Reiko. Mac team brought home awesome devcon geek shirts.

Indeed it was a very informative yet gratifying day for the students. Once again it was another successful day for Developers Connect, sharing knowledge around campuses like STI Muñoz. To know more about DevCon events, check out their website. To become a volunteer, fill out the online form here.

DevCon Summit 2016 is scheduled to invade MOA SMX Convention Center at November 16-17, 2016. Register now to enjoy unlimited talks from professionals around the globe and visit fantastic booths. See you there!

Nexcon3: Hack-a-Superpower with Bluemix

An asteroid coming straight to planet Earth. A devastating solar flare. A threatening alien invasion. Mankind is in trouble, and they need the help of superheroes. But, no superhero can save everyone at once. People need to be forewarned before all else. To help them get ready, several teams of young developers from universities around Metro Manila were assigned to create an app that will bolster up the people when mega-disasters like these occur.

As a part of Nexcon 3 – a two-day celebration of fantasy, science fiction, the science behind it, and a gathering of fans from all over the country – DevConPH and IBM collaborated with and held a Hackathon in line with the genre of the celebration at the Mall of Asia SMX Convention Center last April 2-3, 2016, where students enjoyed two days of ‘learning how to Bluemix’ and a bonus engagement with cosplayers from all around the Philippines. Prior to the main event, a briefing on Bluemix APIs were conducted last March 30, 2016 at Oakwood Ortigas.

Bluemix is an implementation of IBM’s Open Cloud Architecture, leveraging Cloud Foundry to enable developers to rapidly build, deploy, and manage their cloud applications, while tapping a growing ecosystem of available services and runtime frameworks. – IBM

DAY ONE

Students were given a chance to spend the day coding their disaster-preparedness and alert app. Mr.Tom Neil Wagan, External Relations Manager from IBM, acted as the host for the hackathon. To start the event proper, RJ Ramirez from DevelopersConnect began with introducing the non-profit org’s pledge of service to the IT industry.

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RJ Ramirez from DevCon presents the organization’s mission to the developing community.
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Tom Wagan, IBM External Relations Manager, warming up the morning session.

A few team members from the participants introduce themselves to break some little more ice.

The audience watched a short clip about IBM’s evolution as it reached its 100th year of innovation. In the book Making the World Work Better, IBM tells a story of its progress.

IBM engineers and scientists invented many of the building blocks of modern information technology, including the memory chip, the mainframe, the personal computer and even new fields of mathematics. This story points to the future of science, and of thinking itself.

IBM’s business innovations-from progressive workforce policies, to new ideas of societal responsibility, to global engagement, to the deliberate creation of corporate culture—shaped the modern corporation.

IBM’s big bets—including enablement of the US Social Security System, space travel, modern banking and more—made a lasting impact on our world, and laid out a path to progress the company is still pursuing today.

THE MIGHTY TEAMS

Whether a team consists of a full-on three or a one-man team, they all possessed the ability to save the world (or in this case, create an app). But only one team will be chosen to take home the ultimate prize. PHP 12,000 worth of gift certificates from Sodexo, Event hoodies, powerbanks, smartwatches and much more goodies.

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They spent the whole morning working on their codes. Bluemix served as their platform for creating and managing their apps. To pause the tension, a short game of human bingo took place during lunchbreak. Participants were given a bingo card with character personalities, hobbies, preferences, and the like. A perfect socializing game for the attendees. Almost everyone filled up the card completely. Of course, greater effort received cooler rewards.

The winners of the bingo card game who completed the patterns, receives IBM goodies.

Along with the hackaway, they were introduced to IBM Philippines’ country manager Mr. Luis Pineda. He delivered an inspirational speech about his endeavors from a competent student during his youth to a renowned developer and manager that he is today. The students were surely inspired by his talk about how he managed to discover his talent in computer science and the decisions that helped him carry out his triumphs.

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Mr. Luis Pineda, as he talks about his early days as a programmer.

The ‘hackers’ were also introduced to three Bluemix professionals, which gladly gave mentoring advices and tips to whoever needed their assistance. Benzon Cervas, an IT Architect, Jerome Clyde Bulanadi, an IT Specialist from IBM, and Ranjith Radmahanohar, an Application Architect.

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Mentors Benzon Cervas and Jerome Bulanadi give intructions to Team Tomas.
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Participant JC from STI seeks advice from mentor Ranjith Radmahanohar.

A thankful appreciation was commended to the mentors for offering their genuine services later in the afternoon just before the day ended. A final advice from the mentors adjourned the hackathon. Their words uttered the importance of focusing on an app’s functionality features rather than design. The quality of the interface should be the least concern of the developer. Teams must focus on the usability of the software and do the best they can to meet the challenge’s requirement.

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Mentors receive their certificate of appreciation as Tom Wagan thanks their presence.
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Just one final moment with the mentors to end the day’s hackathon.

Meanwhile at the NexCon Main Hall

Fans gather to witness the showcase of outfits and booths at the function hall of SMX Convention Center. Participants for the hackathon were also given free tickets for this Nexcon 3 main event.

DAY TWO

The second day was welcomed with the introduction of the panel of judges. They were DevCon President Bryan Bibat; Adrian Arcega, co-organizer of NexCon; TJ Dimacali, Science & Technology Editor for GMA News Online and the President  of the IT Journalists Association of the Philippines; Dr. Jay Sabido, IBM R&D Executive and Lope Doromal, IBM Chief Technologist. The students were then ready to present their work after a few given minutes for final polish. Although some teams appeared with a white flag, a few survived and continued their tale.

The pitching hours began early in the morning. Mangga Apps was the first one to present, followed by RAMS, Overknights, Team Tomas, and Shadow Master. Pretty much everyone had the same concept when it came to implying their disaster-response functionality. The use of GPS, evidently, and on the upper hand taking applicability of social media apps to easily inform netizens and the authority for potential SOS scenarios.

Superbly, some teams were able to apply Watson API to their work. They designed the API to behave as an artificial-intelligence chat service. It was a definite bonus for the judges’ criticism.

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Teams present their one-day masterpiece.
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Judges listen to a team’s presentation.

The top three teams who satisfied the judges by the level of usefulness and feasibility were Rams from Asia Pacific College, Team Tomas from University of Santo Tomas, and Overknights from Polytechnic University of the Philippines. They were obliged and privileged to present their app at the main hall of the Nexcon3 event, in front of all the groupies.

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The judges, as they accept and present their certificate of appreciation.

at NEXCON3 Main Hall

The top three teams were then prepared to pitch in front of the audience, but they still did not know their winning places. To start their pitch in, Tom Wagan introduced IBM Watson and to the whole lot.

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The last part of the hackathon event, lead by Tom Wagan at NexCon3 SMX Function Hall.
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Team Overknights, catching the audience with their app GEODATA.
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Team Tomas, on their app HELPLINATOR.
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RAMS, on Flash Tap.

Finally, the places were announced, all the top three teams received hoodies, smart watches, and powerbanks, for each team member. The first place, RAMS, received an additional 12,000 pesos worth of Gift Certificates. Overknights made it to the second place, and Team Tomas, third place. Of course, there were consolation prices for the rest of the students. It was an amazing experience according to the them, as they spoke out about their app on the stage. Still thrilled and excited, they enjoyed the rest of the day around the cosplay event. One highlight of NexCon, the Cosplay Rumble, where contestants dress and act their favorite character on stage, took place after the hackathon pitch in.

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The participants with the DevCon and IBM Team. See you again, guys!

For more DevCon events, click here. See more event photos here.