Wednesday, April 26, 2006

All about TopCoder

Next SRM is on 28th morning at 6:30 am IST. And yes it has lots of prizes as it is the 300th SRM. Do participate.
Nowadays I am addicted to TopCoder as I said in the last post. So what is TopCoder? Most of the IIITians here would already know about it as IIIT is primarily an IT institute. TopCoder conducts weekly programming contests in its own special arena(will write abt it later in the post) and you get a chance to compete with world's few of the finest coders.
Programming contests are conducted by other organisations as well, but they are not as thrilling and fun as TopCoder's is. ACM ICPC is one of the world's finest contest, but is conducted only once a year. Its true that there are hundreds of acm practice sites, but they don't have that thrill. They are just for practice.
TopCoder's weekly matches are termed SRMs - Single Round Matches. Let me till you a little about SRMs. Each SRM consist of three phases - Coding, Challenge and System Test. Actually only the first two of these are relevalant. In coding phase you will be given 3 problems : easy (300pts), medium(500pts) and hard(1000pts) and you have 1 hour and 15 minutes to code them all. Yes you heard me right , just 1 hr 15 mins!!! And there are in now way less challenging than ACM questions. The easy one is usually too trivial, medium one is alright, but the hard one is as good as an ACM Hard question. I am saying hard because half of the problems on are too too too trivial. There are questions like subtracting two numbers, etc on ACM sites. Yes dudes, those of you thought ACM questions to be too tough or something , change your mind now. Have a look at this questions and see for yourself :-
272 : Tex Quotes : Just replacing quotes!!!
424 : Integer Inquiry : Adding integers using strings !!
458 : The Decoder : Just do ch=ch+7
488 : Triangle Wave : This you already did in your first sem
499 : What's the frequency : Simple Counting
There are hundreds of more dumb questions. And yes I do agree there are hundreds of pretty tough questions as well.
But whatever, doing 3 questions in 1 hour 15 mins at TopCoder requires some skills dude. But there are people here who do all three of them much before the time. The record is 15.50 minutes by Zis. All red coders here are ACM finalists or have been an ACM finalist during there time. Many of them are ACM coaches in some universities. So you have a chance to compete with the best coders and yes you can chat with them during the matches and on the forums.
Oh yes I forgot to tell you about TopCoder's rating system. All new members who have never competed in an SRM are called unrated and are white. Coders till rating of 800 are Grey. 800-1200 are Green, 1200-1500 Blue, 1500-2200 Yellow, 2200-3000 Red and above that are called target. I am currently Blue and its really easy to get a green or blue. Initially you compete in divison 2, which has extremely easy questions. (Don't frown when you see dumb questions when you participate for the first time .. coz you are in div2). Once you are Blue , that is you rating is above 1200, you start competing in divison 1. For actual rating formula, see this.
Ok this was all about coding phase. The competition does not ends here. Next comes the challenge phase - 15 mins . In this phase you can see others' codes and challenge their codes with a valid input if you think the code is wrong. You get 50pts for this and -20 [ EDIT : Its -25 actually ] if you have unsuccesfully challenged. I forgot to mention that , when you submit a solution during a SRM, then its not evaluated at that time. Its finally evaluated at the time of System Tests. That is when 100s of test cases are applied to your problem and you get zero if your code does not pass all system tests.
So does it sound good ?
If not then wait, there is more to topcoder. Maybe you don't like just programming but you like making softwares, etc. In that case you can compete weekly in design and development competitions. And I must say, they have a lot of prizes as these events are directly sponsored by IT companies. I can't tell you any more about design and development matches as I have never participated in any of these.
Then there are other events like Marathon Matches and Intel Multithreading Series.
And TopCoder also conducts an annual TCO which has a lots n lots of prizes. This year's finals will be starting in a few days in LAS VEGAS. (Yes, every year they choose cool locations for the finals).
And yes it was TopCoder only which conducts Google Code Jams.
And being a good scorer at TopCoder can enhance your resume. You can place following badges on your resume:-

Obviously, these are available in various sizes.
For more information about TopCoder, visit the FAQ section at Topcoder's website.

PS: Doesn't it look like I am advertising for TopCoder?
PS1 : Ohh! I forgot to write abt the arena. I will do it later :( Its too much for today.

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Next post on topcoder

Nowadays I am totally addicted to Topcoder. Its not all about programming but there is a lot of fun in the forums as well. Well, this post was supposed to be all on Topcoder and why I am addicted to it. But due to lack of time ( I want to go to sleep early. Don't want to miss any more CVIT classes.) - so I was saying due to lack of time today I thought I won't do justice to it by finishing it too quickly. So I will be writing about Topcoder tomorrow. Keep waiting ... ( obviously only they who are interested :) ).
But LOL. This blog now seems useless. So let me post a screenshot of topcoder to make it up. It looks cool, isn't it ?

I know you would say why a screenshot. I donno myself. I am nowadays inclined towards putting pics on my blog, makes it look better :)

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

CVIT Day 2 & 3 and more ...

So, after the extermely hectic first day, I had an extremely relaxed second day. Now note that only "I" had a relaxed day. Thats because my body refused to do any more work. I slept all through the day and finally woke up at 3'0 clock. So missed the class. It was a two and half hour class. Missed a lot. And since I didn't attend the class I was not in a position to do the 2nd day's assignments. So no work :) Watched 5 episodes of Rome continuously ;)
OK so then came the third day. This was on video - quite an interesting topic. I enjoyed this class the most. Was taken by Tarun Jain sir(This link is currently not working as tarun sir has disabled permissions . Dunno why ). We were basically taught reading and writing videos in mpeg format.
Got 3 assignments today :-

  1. Implement a basic video player which reads a video file and displays the sequence of frames in a GL window.
  2. Capture a strem of images from a webcam, save it as video sequence with each video of 10 secs. and generate the output in HTML with each video hyperlinked by its thumbnail (a smaller size version of the first frame)
  3. Capture output of an openGL program (any existing one with you, which has some motion/navigation) and save it as a video.
All three are pretty easy, not because we are bond in video processing but because of the API that we got. Its so simple to use. Using this API reading, writing video is as simple as reading, writing a normal file. And this was developed by our seniors at CVIT. Thanx to them. But one problem with it, it has no sound support yet. Hope one of us will add that functionality.
Being Cyrus
Sucks big time. Don't watch it if you haven't yet. When I heard the name first time, it sounded interesting to me. I mean a hindi movie by such a name ought to be different. It was different ... but in the wrong sense. Just the same double cross story.


It rocks. Not because of the tasty scenes (is tasty the right word? who cares anyway?) but it has trully depicted the minds of the people during the ceaserian era. Its so real. A person is on one side now and switches his loyalty so quickly at the next monent. The king turns into a slave in a matter of seconds. That time the world was so violent. How a person's minded is so easily corrupted by the powerfuls. So much politics. I bet today's politicians are nothing as compared to the nobels of the roman era when it comes to treachery, betrayal and shrewdness. A must watch.

PS: I wonder what happened to iiitbuzz. Has cmdrbuzz left for home?

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Debate rages over benefit of quotas

Read this article from NDTV. That is why I say "Provide scholarships to the needy not reservation". Even if an SC/ST/OBC gets an admission in a good college due to reservation, he may not have the money to pay the fees.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Welcome to CVIT - Day 1

Got the first hand experience of what being a part of CVIT(Centre for Visual Information Technology,IIIT) means. Got to know why seniors said CVIT requires so much of work. Got to know Why ppl run away from it.
Today was our first CVIT lecture. This trend of CVIT lecture has been started from this year. So the first CVIT class was sheduled at 9:30am today. And true to his style, Prof. Jawahar was there even before we reached. So this class was all about image - very basic image stuff. He told us about B&W, grayscale and colored images. Then different file formats : pbm, pgm, ppm, gif, jpeg, etc. These all were easy to understand. But the real surprise came towards the end of the class. We got an assignment!! Yes, on the very first day. We have to develop an image library for basic image processing like rotation, zoom, crop, etc. And to add to that, the time given to us was just 7hrs : From 11(the time when class ended) to 6pm. We were to meet at 6'0 clock in the evening to integrate all codes to develop the final library.
But as you might have guessed, we are used to postponements, and no one completed it. And its not only abt getting used to postponement, but the task given was so big that its bound to take time however sincerely you work. Ohh.. I forgot to mention Paresh Jain sir was also there in today's lecture and he showed us some example programs on how to read/write various image formats. So now he came at the 6pm meeting to integrate our codes. He was pretty surprised to see that we haven't done anything. I guess he has now got used to CVIT so he was surprised that we did almost nothing ;) Ok, but finally at the end Rasagna got postponement till tomorrow morning from Prof. Jawahar(he had to go to J's house to ask for it). But still so less time. I wonder if any one would be able to complete it by tomorrow morning.
I guess for the next 2 and half months(or even more?) we are going to be screwed badly. But atleast we can say onething ,As Prof PJN put it "We are VIP people" :D
VIP = Visual Information Processing people :D
PS : Does blogspot has smiley support ?

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Made a Hit Counter, Edited Template and more ...

[ Edit : I uploaded the image in .png format(a lossless format) and file size was just 159kb. But blogspot automatically converted it to .jpg and now the text looks blurred :( Any idea how to correct that ? ]
Since last 2 days I had been trying to make a hit counter. The reason being that my original hit counter is now disabled. They say that I have used their counter for more than 6 months and I need to subscribe to payed service if I want to use it anymore. LOL at them. (I m referring to that free counter site as they/them coz I forgot its name. It was some flaxmconsultancy something.)
So , why would I pay when there are plenty of more free counter sites ;;) . But then I thought why not make myself a free counter site.
Take a look at my site. It has more than 150 designs to choose from ;;)
The counter on my blog is now from my free site :D
Though it was pretty simple but took me some time coz of a lot of problems. I didn't know how to join images of digits to make a number. So I decided to use iframe and display all images side by side so that they look as one. But the default size of the iframe was too large. I could not use the width, height attributes as they would change as the number of digits in ur count increases and this width, height code has to be in user's site(which I can't change). So then I went back to the image joining idea. But How to join image? Nirnimesh sir told that I could use ImageMagick for that. But 200(for those who r not from iiit, 200 is the server on which all iiitians have their accounts and are allowed to host websites) does not have ImageMagick. So now my problem became complex. I had to join the images on my local machine and then send it to 200 from where the user will get the count image. For that I had to create a page on my local machine that would return a joined image given the counter design and the count. Now that required setting up a http server. So I had to do a lot of work and finally all is done and working fine.
I have also added almost all possible google adsense products. Hope I would earn something from it :D
Similar change done here also. Removed "about me" section and added google ads, google firefox with toolbar referal and google search button.
Now another idea is wandering in my mind(is the english OK? I doubt.). Now I m planning to create a website that would allow people to access our intranet sites from outside IIIT. That means u can access ftp servers too and the documentations and software at 150. The idea is same as that used by several anonymous proxy servers. Users will query my site on 200(which is accessible from outside) for a intranet site. My site will fetch and display the queried site.

PS : ImageMagick is really cool. It allows you to operate on images directly from command line. Also it has a wrapper interfaces for python, perl, php, java, c/c++, etc.
PS 1: Python rocks. It has a module for almost everything. U need to write very little code to get ur work done.

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

50% reservation - How's that ?

Politicians can go to any level to fill their vote banks. Now govt. is introducing 27% reservation for OBCs in 20 Central Universities including IITs and IIMs and probably that may be later extended to private institutions like ours as well. Add to it the 22.5% already present for SC/ST - total 49.5% seats are reserved. And in the remaining 50.5%, remember that we also have 33% reservation for girls!!!. So that leaves just 33.835% of total seats for GENERAL boys. WTF???
Don't we had already so much reservation?
And first of all, I don't understand why a reservation on the basis of caste/community?
Everyone knows that the benifit of reservation goes only to the better ones of the caste. It should be rather based on economic backwardness rather than social, if at all it is. Or a better idea would be to provide scholarships to the economic backward right from the primary schools to the university level intead of providing reservations.
And when Congress is introducing it, no major party seems to be opposing as it may effect their vote banks. So, its left on us to stop the govt. from enforcing this rule. In fact, SMS protests have already started :-
"Think about it, if you're giving your Class XII exams or trying for a masters in JNU, 50 per cent of all the seats are reserved. Let's start a campaign against this insanity.
- Angry Students"
One good thing about OBC reservation is that the reservation does not cover "Creamy layer". Persons having gross annual income of Rs.2.50 lakh and above come under creamy layer. Still, 27% is too much. Why not make a creamy layer rule for SC/ST as well? I guess politicians can't do that as SC/ST have long enjoyed this reservation without this rule and will protest against a change whereas OBC reservation was introduced later and the creamy layer rule was from the begining itself. But still, the creamy layer rule can easily be abused by non-salaried people.

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