Developers Podcasting at Apple’s WWDC 2018

Standard

We just recorded a podcast at WWDC by making an appointment at the Apple App Store labs. I invited two other developers who were also attending the conference for the first time. We talked about the following topics:

  1. Experience at WWDC
  2. Parental Control
  3. Car Play
  4. Grouped notifications
  5. Siri Shortcuts
  6. Design at Apple
  7. Memojis
  8. Dark Mode

Following is a photograph from the podcast recording room. We will try to finish the editing and publish it soon.

Podcast room


From left to right: Michael from China, Kushal from India, Digendra from Nepal

Runner Up – District 88 – Toastmasters International Speech Contest

Standard


I am writing this post to share my journey of 2018 Toastmasters International Speech Contest which started in Xi’an on 11th March and ended for me in Harbin on 13th May, when I got the 2nd place at District Level Contest.

The club contest was announced in advance but I simply didn’t have time to write a speech. I kept procrastinating and, the day of the contest arrived. I woke up at 5am and started writing the speech. After finalizing the main points I rehearsed for a few times and went to attend the contest.

I was lucky enough to get second place at club level contest, since I was not very confident about my delivery. I wanted to make sure that I write my speech in advance when it came to the Area Level Contest. So I wrote it one day in advance. One day before the contest, I got a few suggestions from my buddies Kent and Carol and finalized the content. I delivered the speech called “It’s like a dance”. The speech was about communication, and I included a few examples from my life in China which made the audience laugh. I got a lot of appreciation from the audience and secured the first place.

My Club President Madison and and I were securing the 1st as well as 2nd position for each of the contests till now. She helped me book the train tickets for Taiyuan where the Division Contest was to be held. This time I finalized my speech even sooner, 2 days before the contest.

The contest chair had created a WeChat group for all the participants and wanted us to share the speech title 4 days in Advance. I had to tell her that I do not know the title of my speech yet. I used this situation as an example during my speech later. You can watch the video shot during the Division H Contest Below:

As you could observe, the audience response at Division Level Contest was fantastic and it helped my speech delivery a lot. Once again I had secured the 1st place.

After a few weeks when I delivered the same speech at my club, I was un-prepared and exhausted. I delivered the speech while forgetting some parts here and there. Though the audience still liked it, I was simply not satisfied with my delivery. I made it my goal to not forget the speech at District Level Contest. So I practiced my speech around 35 times. To confirm that I am ready, I started using a trick called “Speed-Up”. I shot the following video after the contest for demonstrating this trick:

It was a fierce competition at the district level. The best speakers from 8 divisions were competing for their ticket to the Semi-finals. Beautiful stories were shared, from throwing the skates to playing a violin, all performances were action-packed.

All in all, I had a great time in the past few months and learned a lot during the process. I hope I can participate in the future contests as well.

Traveling Experiences

Standard

Xianyang
“Exploring lands and technologies.”

Born and brought up in New Delhi, I am now living in Xi’an, the ancient capital of China. I love traveling, meeting new people and organizing different kinds of events. Following are few of my travel experiences from:

INDIA

I have covered almost all of the North India and a few places in the South as well. I have been traveling since I was in high-school. So you can imagine what happened when I started getting salary; almost every other weekend, I found a new place to visit by myself. I have been to many beautiful towns in Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Haryana and Punjab.
I have completed treks to Kedarnath temple and Hemkund Sahib back-to-back in just 4 days. Around 60km of difficult hiking.

BHUTAN

The fairytale kingdom where gross national happiness is considered more important than the GDP. The serene valleys of Paro can take your breath away. Bhutan is a country where people are so kindhearted and helpful that they will win your heart within few minutes. For instance, our taxi driver was so righteous that he gave us a huge discount at the end of our trip because some of the attractions on our agenda got closed. Another surprising fact about Bhutan is that there are no traffic lights in the whole country. In fact, people are so relaxed and carefree that they would happily wait for each other. Go figure!

THAILAND

I have spent one week in Thailand where I made some friends via Toastmasters community who helped me visit places like famous shopping malls in Bangkok. One of them recommended a travel agent who then booked a perfect tour for me which included lots of water sports in Pattaya.

MALAYSIA

I had my first HostelWorld experience in Kuala Lumpur where I met many fellow travelers. The dorms were a perfect place to meet new people who were interesting enough to make travel plans with. This allowed us to talk about our home countries and travel experiences as we explored KL together.

HONG KONG AND MACAU

I met a group of friends who already had their week planned. I traveled with them to a few spots and clicked lots of photographs. From the famous peak tram to the secluded Ding Ding rides, we enjoyed almost all different tastes of Hong Kong.

MAINLAND CHINA

I have explored Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Wuxi, Wuzhen, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Dongji Islands, Taiyuan, and now I’m in Xi’an. Each of these places were unique in their own way. The sunset and sunrise looked beautiful from Dongji islands. I am still exploring and would love to visit more places in future.

Kushal in 2010

Standard

about meThis following blog post was written by me in 2010 when I was a college student:

Social networking is one of my favorite online activities which includes real-time tweeting. Reading novels and posting reviews on Goodreads is among the other ones. I tried Dancing as well, which is one of my ways of balancing out my adrenaline rush and enjoying the music. And guess what is my profession: Computer Engineer. But I don’t spend all my time in the air-conditioned office, I rather like to go out and do something that makes a difference and I call it an investment in our future. One of these activities is teaching the underprivileged children in the nearby slum area. I seldom miss a chance to volunteer and have worked with various NGOs and societies. I believe in the idea of excellent education for all children which is the vision of Teach for India.

Motorcycling
I love to take risks and that’s why I like stunting. I believe in the quote, “if four wheels move the body, two wheels move the soul”. Now you can reckon how much I love my motorbike. I’m d kind of guy who’ll be sneaking out of my bedroom at three o’clock in the morning to look at my bike.

(If you don’t ride in the rain, you don’t ride.)

One can key me out as a speedoholic. When I sit on my bike and kick-start it, I get a strange feeling as if I were omnipotent.

(Everyone crashes. Some get back on. Some don’t. Some can’t.)

Here is a video featuring one of my driving experiences:

Photography

 

In photography, my interest prevails as I keep up my photostream on flickr. Though with the advent of Instagram  I started clicking more pictures by using a smartphone.

I am going to put all about me and my thoughts on this blog, and I hope that you revel reading it.

More : http://about.me/kushalashok

Technical Presentation at Toastmasters ACB9 – Mobike | How stuff works?

Standard

Tonight I delivered a prepared speech at Toastmasters club after several months. It was my 19th (ACB9) Speech as per Toastmasters International education system; project 4 of Technical presentations manual, which provided me 12 minutes of stage time. You can refer to the slides which I used during the presentation, by using this link: Mobike PPT

Also find below the link to white paper which inspired me to choose this topic:

Mobike White Paper 2017

In terms of experience, I got an engaging audience and all of them had used Mobike before. Thus, it was quite easy for me to get their attention. I was worried that I may have included too many technical terms for everyone to understand, but I believe it went well since I got voted as the best prepared speaker. I think the inclusion of a poster from movie “3 idiots” successfully brought back nice memories for everyone.

I also got a nice feedback from my evaluator and she rightly mentioned that I could not summarize the speech to reiterate the key take away since I ran out of time. The agenda of this speech was not to publicize or praise Mobike, but to inspire people to learn and investigate more about the machines they use in their daily lives. To have that curiosity and zeal, to find the answers, and more importantly; to ask questions.

I also got some feedback from the Grammarian on my pronunciation, which reminded me that I still need to work on it. It gave me another reason to continue delivering more speeches at Toastmasters clubs.

P.S.: I used the word of the day (in retrospect) twice, once in my prepared speech and once during table topics.

 

 

Top 3 reasons for buying an iPhone X — “One more thing” at Apple’s September 2017 event

Standard

It’s around 4 AM in Shanghai and I have been up watching Apple’s September event which took place at Steve Jobs Theater, and was streamed live. Though I did enjoy the announcements and demos related to other products like Apple Watch as well, I am writing this post to share with you, my top 3 reasons for buying an iPhone X; despite of it’s high price.

iPhone X

Reason 1: Face ID

I have been reading the rumors and watching Youtube videos that rediculed this feature of the new iPhone X, but I was right to wait for the actual announcement where it got explained in more detail. If there is one thing that Apple has been able to convince the masses about; it’s security. So all those videos of people wearing a mask and making fun of this feature can literally be laughed at, once we read about the underlying technology and the kind of testing that has been performed by the engineers at Apple. Simply put in numbers, it is 20 times more secure than touch ID.

Just last week, one of my acquaintances asked me, “What if I pass out at a bar, and someone uses my thumb to unlock the phone and transfer all my money while I lay unconscious?”. Well, I bet opening the eyes of such a victim would be far more difficult than forcing his or her thumb.

In terms of accessibility, I think Face ID is going to open a whole new avenue for people with disabilities.

Reason 2: Wireless Charging

From removal of the headphone jack, to removal of the home button, Apple has been making things cleaner and getting rid of all the moving parts. From my perspective, a machine with more movable parts is subject to more wear and tear. I like the haptic feedback based home button in iPhone 7, which feels far better than the traditional home button. Now with an all new glass design (the most durable glass ever in a smartphone, front and back. Surgical‑grade stainless steel), iPhone X allows wireless charging which is a game changer for many Apple fans.

After visiting manufacturing hubs like Huaqiangbei in Shenzhen, I am pretty sure that other companies would soon be manufacturing products like AirPower Mats to help Apple users charge their devices wirelessly (probably before the actual 2018 launch of mats by Apple).

Reason 3: A11 Bionic Chip

To put it in simple terms, other than being faster and smarter while still providing slightly better battery life, this new chip would allow you to make use of features like machine learning (Face ID is one of it’s implementation), augmented reality (enjoy many AR games like Pokemon Go), animoji and real depth selfies (the new true depth camera along with A11 Bionic chip can analyze more than 50 of your muscle movements and create impressive photo effects)

These are my top 3 reasons, what are yours? Please do share them via comments.

P.S.- Say hello to the future 🙂

You can also checkout the Hands-on video by engadget:

Why freelancing is lucrative for developers?

Standard

If you are an experienced developer or any individual who have access to Youtube / MOOCs and strong willpower to learn, this post is for you.

I have been working as a software developer since I graduated from college and it has been 5 years now. I did some freelancing during college days but it did not involve any serious engagements like signing the NDA or any other contract. Now that I have worked at one of the largest IT companies in India, I am looking at freelancing with quite a different perspective. It is no longer considered a hobby which helps me earn some pocket money. If done right, I can earn much more than my salary as a full-time employee. (no kidding)

I am writing this post to help us understand why freelancing is lucrative for developers and I would like to start with some simple figures. At most of the software companies, when you join as a full-time employee you agree to get paid a fixed amount every month, irrespective of the number of projects you complete. Now every resource / developer is having a billing rate that is sometimes shared with the client while estimating. If you can learn your billing rate and multiply it by the number of hours you have put in, you will realise that you have been swindled. But that is not entirely true since your employer is taking a risk for you and providing you security. Even if the project fails due to some reason, you still get your monthly salary.

Now that we have a fair idea in terms of numbers, lets dive in. If you can manage the projects on your own and have enough skills to develop a product based on client requirements, freelancing would indeed by quite lucrative. Following are a few pros and cons.

Pros:

  1. Get paid for your work genuinely as per the market standard and your skillset.
  2. Have complete right over your work.
  3. No time to be spent on transport. (Some of us get hustled in the subway)
  4. Can spend more time with family and plan trips on any day of the week.
  5. Have liberty to make important decisions and learn from your mistakes.
  6. Your advice and expertise is valued.
  7. Your income is not dependent on your appraisal but only on your work.
  8. You still get to improve interpersonal skills by communicating directly with your clients.
  9. You earn a reputation in the market and you are an asset to your clients.
  10. You can work on the technologies that you like.

Cons:

  1. You have to have enough work in pipeline to earn minimum wages.
  2. You can not afford to make too many mistakes.
  3. You need to plan everything in advance and be ready for worst case scenarios.

Recently I found a perfect solution to having enough work in pipeline. Even though there are many freelancing portals online, they do not have the required screening system in place to make it authentic. I strongly suggest Toptal to all the potential freelancers reading this post. It has a well defined interview process which helps in ensuring that your expertise level is as per your claims. This not only helps the clients but also the freelancers, since they can now focus on the right set of clients while getting rid of the noise.

I am sure you have come across those ads which claim that you can become a billionaire while working from home using internet, well you can make it possible on your own. I hope this post has answered the question fairly.

If you are interested in mobile application development, keep reading:

I have developed enough mobile applications from scratch to have the required confidence when someone asks me if his/her new app idea can actually be developed as a product. Well there are thousands of apps in the market and mobile apps have become more important in our lives than brushing our teeth daily. If you perform a quick search online, or even attend a meet-up or social gathering, you will learn that almost everyone has got multiple ideas for developing an app. Now some of these ideas might be good while some could be trivial, but if you have the right skills to create an app, any of these apps could become successful.

I have keen interest in iOS applications and I like to follow WWDC as well as popular blogs like raywenderlich. Even the app with simplest solution can gain a lot of customers if it is intuitive and bug free. In David Murphy’s words, the future of mobile is the future of online. That is why, I have specific interest in joining the Mobile App Programmers Network.

10 months without blogging

Standard

I have never been a regular blogger but I did write diary entries from time to time and the whole experience of documenting my thoughts has been wonderful. Other than making the memories permanent, it also serves as a way of sharing my knowledge and experiences. The only reason Google is able to answer most of our queries is because somewhere, someone wrote about the solution online and Google team is smart enough to make that answer reach you.

This is the reason I am writing a blog post after more than 10 months now and the first topic that came to my mind was applying PAN card and Aadhar card for Bhutanese as foreigners in India. I am not sure if people will be getting this as a result when someone searches for “How to get a PAN card in India” but at least if a Bhutanese citizen if making a specific search like “PAN card for Bhutanese”, he or she might stumble upon this post and it shall fulfill my purpose.

The only thing that is lacking in my blog is discipline. If I can follow a schedule and write posts regularly, I am sure I will be happy about it and maybe even proud to be owning a blog which narrates my story beautifully.

Procrastination