bhOndOO at yahoo! hacku.

Day -4.

“Hi bhOndOO.”.

bhOndOO turns back, involuntarily smiles and exclaims, “Oh! Hi.”.

They start walking towards the department.

“You are coming from outside?”.

“Yes, I had gone to Malleswaram to buy an iPod.”.

“Oh! Got one?”.

“No actually. It was a bit costly for me. I came back without buying it.”.

bhOndOO feels bad.

Day -3.

bhOndOO mails one of his classmates during BTech, “Hey Butti, how are you doing? Long since we met. Come to Bangalore some time.” and then finds nothing to add. To please Butti, he writes, “But I keep track of the happenings in your life via your facebook/orkut updates and your tweets.”. To end on a light tone, bhOndOO adds, “So, when are you getting married? Do you still follow ‘her’? — bhOndOO.”.

bhOndOO receives a one liner as a reply, “bhOndOO, my latest tweet has a link to my flickr album where I have uploaded my daughter’s photos. — Butti.”.

Day -2.

bhOndOO, Gullu and BenJi in Computing Lab. Gullu is complaining about the latest version of the LANCE framework not compiling in the current Ubuntu version.

“Man! Why don’t they keep versions backward compatible! It was working in the older version 9.04. I just reinstalled Ubuntu 9.10 and it started giving these errors in LANCE 2.0.”.

“Have patience, Gullu. Just see what those errors are.”, BenJi.

“I have been trying since last night. This is just ridiculous! I have a conference deadline coming and I need to run my experiments. These versions are going to kill me.”.

bhOndOO snaps in, “Isn’t this versioning system designed to help us?”.

“What do you mean?”.

“You at least know that your program does not work in a particular version and works in another. Without proper versioning, things would have been much more haphazard.”.

Gullu is not at all in a mood to listen to philosophy. He stares at bhOndOO for a while and declares, “If you decide, you will also version our lives!”.

bhOndOO laughs, “Relax man, relax.”.

BenJi gets thoughtful, “Actually, at least our daily life on internet is already versioned.”.

“What do you mean?”.

“The traditional world wide web is called Web 1.0. It contained some sites belonging to companies. With social networking and user-generated content like blogs, we are currently in Web 2.0.”, BenJi’s profound knowledge.

bhOndOO, “Then what would be Web 3.0?”.

“Ah! We are not there yet. But people claim that it is going to be about the semantic web. For instance, you could ask your computer ‘I want a cheese pizza right now and then I want to go for 3 idiots in Vaibhav Theatre.’. The system will order a pizza wherever you are, pay from your credit card, book tickets online and may arrange for your taxi to the theatre and back to IISc campus — all on its own.”.

“That would be amazing!”, Gullu.

“Actually not. When we all would be in Web 3.0, we would take all those things for granted. What happened bhOndOO? You look worried.”.

“I am not sure whether I would like the system to pay directly from my credit card.”.

Day -1.

BenJi and bhOndOO in Computing Lab. BenJi sends a forward to all his friends. It is the description of a fashion show and how one model manages to twist her ankle while cat-walking on the ramp and falls down.

“BenJi, you are an idiot. You sent only the story. Where are the images?”.

“Come on bhOndOO. Just google for Lakme Fashion Show 2010 and you will get enough images and videos. It is as simple as that.”.

“Then why didn’t you do it before sending the mail!”.

Day 0.

Yahoo! HR and Developers announce the start of Yahoo! University Hack at IISc. Each participating team gets 24 hours to code the hack which would be evaluated the next day. The winning teams would receive iPods. That is the sole motive why bhOndOO wants to take part in the competition. Hence he goes in without knowing what he is going to do.

The HR person Chilli asks each team to describe its hack. The Yahoo! Developers then give their expert comments and suggestions for implementing the hack and how Yahoo! technologies could be leveraged to finish it in one day.

Every team talks about its idea. Adi and Bindi talk about image search using image as a query. Viki and Vini describe how emails could be better visualized. Abhi, Bhavi, Biggy and Debby talk about an evolutionary search engine combining Yahoo!, Google and Bing searches. Finally, the HR person Chilli comes to bhOndOO who is seated in a corner listening to all wonderful ideas, “What is your hack, young man?”.

“Ummm… I want to… I would… like… to do something… Actually it is not clear to me yet. But I would like to improve the Yahoo! mail system to show me tweets of the person while I am composing a message to him, I would like to extract semantic information from the mail content to be able to do useful tasks like automatically adding flickr images to the mail that would enhance the reading of the mail… and so on.”.

“That’s nice. Keep it up. Are you alone in your team?”.

“Well, …”.

“No. I am with him. We are partners.”. bhOndOO looks at his partner and smiles, involuntarily.

Chelli continues, “Great! So teams, we have heard the descriptions of all hacks. Please start your hacks now. If you need any help we are around for the next 24 hours. We will evaluate your hack tomorrow the same time. All the best.”.

bhOndOO turns to his partner, “But you are busy with your Rhythmica practice. You will waste a lot of time in this competition.”.

“bhOndOO, I think I know why you are taking part in this competition. And in this effort I cannot leave you alone. Don’t feel bad if we do not win. What matters is trying together.”.

bhOndOO missed a pulse at the last word.

“And don’t think I will waste my time here. The time I spend with you cannot be counted as waste.”.

bhOndOO does not know what to say. He manages to follow his partner to meet the Yahoo! Developers and gets some tips about the implementation. They then go to the Computing Lab and start their hack.

Day 1.

Amidst javascript debugging with alerts, parsing text issues and slow network, the teams spend the night and the next day coding. Some people get frustrated and leave. bhOndOO’s team uses OpenAmplify to get semantic information from a written mail, uses Yahoo! word extractor to get keywords, gets tweets of the receiver using wget and adds flickr images based on tags. The implementation is brought to life on bhOndOO’s CSA webpage. They name it Enrich.

24 hours get over. Everyone assembles in CSA Seminar Hall. The teams look half asleep, half hungry. bhOndOO and his partner are at the entrance of the Seminar Hall. The evaluation by the judges is about to begin, when bhOndOO hears something.

“bhOndOO, I had a nice time working with you. You are a wonderful researcher. Just be confident of yourself.”.

bhOndOO forgets to react.

“I am sorry, but I have to rush to Students Activities Center for Rhythmica practice. I will meet you later.”.

bhOndOO is forsaken before he tries to stop his partner. He enters the room and settles at a corner.

The hacks are demonstrated. Judges ask questions and evaluate the hacks. Chelli declares the result.

“And the winner is Enrich.”.

bhOndOO goes to the stage and receives two T-shirts, two certificates and two iPods: white for him and black for his partner.

In the night, bhOndOO meets his partner and gives a T-shirt, a certificate and, you guessed it, white iPod.

bhOndOO is looking down and the awkward silence makes the situation tense.

“bhOndOO, you want to say something?”.

“… Yes…”.

“Go on.”.

“You are a wonderful partner. Just remain the way you are.”.


Thanks to Adway for pushing me to write this story. The tweets shown at Enrich belong to Sudhira and I have used those without his permission. Sudhira, please don’t sue me.
I should clarify that there were actually three winning teams without order: Geo-targetted ads on Yahoo! IM, What’asZat and Enrich.

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14 Responses to “bhOndOO at yahoo! hacku.”

  1. vinay Says:

    Amazing story!! inspiring in many ways 🙂
    and makes me feel the pulse of iisc again and again..
    thanks bhOndOO! 🙂

  2. Sudhira Says:

    Hearty Congratulations! I just tweeted about this story 🙂

  3. Maneesh Says:

    Ok then, I think it’s officially time I moved back to the “ChhoTu, spanner la” approach to Mechanical Engineering!

  4. pranav Says:

    congrats to bhondoo for ipod .. bhondoo isn’t bhondoo after all 🙂

  5. Tweets that mention bhOndOO at yahoo! hacku. « iisc life. -- Topsy.com Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Pranav Jawale, Sudhira. Sudhira said: #bhOndOO's latest adventures at #Yahoo! #HackU http://bit.ly/cIB1qs Congratulations Rupesh! […]

  6. BiGYaN Says:

    Wow, it was fun having bhOndOO amongst our fellow competitors.

    Awesome post 🙂

  7. Radhika Says:

    Congratulations bhondoo 🙂

  8. id de fete Says:

    Search engine optimization or seo is a complex process that involves checking the site for errors, improving titles and metadata (i.e description) and of course the offpage part of the process meaning a lot of links. This is called link building and it’s probably the hardest part of the whole seo process. Oups I forgot it’s very important to use canonical url’s through a permanent redirect.

  9. apkmnp Says:

    Really awesome blog…love reading the articles..keep continuing them…

  10. aakash1911 Says:

    The enrich link isn’t working.. can you fix it? I wanted to view this hack.

  11. iisc Says:

    Hello Aakash, the link seems to be working for me. Perhaps some problem with the website being accessible from outside IISc. If you have any technical questions, feel free to ask.

  12. Yasuko Rowsey Says:

    Hello, I hope to be this big of help myself someday

  13. Ravi Says:

    Hey, enjoyed reading ur experience @Y!Hack.. congo for ipod.. 🙂
    But hey would like to know is there any research group @iisc working on semantic-web ?

  14. iisc Says:

    Ravi, to the extent I know, none of the CSA faculty work on semantic web.

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