Monday, November 30, 2015

Memories of 2013

The pair of train tickets to Porto, from Lisboa
This year resembled 2013 in many ways. I visited Stockholm again after 2013. Similarly, I also returned to Sri Lanka, 2 years after my last visit in 2013. This time during my visit to Colombo, I was taking a few of my clothes back with me to Portugal since I could not take them with me at the last moment in 2013 to Stockholm from Colombo, as at the Colombo airport the Qatar Airways staff was too strict in the luggage allowance.

Going through my things untouched for a long time brought back some old memories. Among them was a pair of train tickets I found in a pocket in one of my winter suits. Those were the train tickets to Porto Campanha train station from  Lisboa Oriente. I have been to Porto only once, that was in 2013. Porto is a beautiful city. But for some unknown reason, I did not go there once more after 2013.

I had come back to Lisbon from Porto just 2 days before my departure to Colombo, completing my first half of EMDC in Lisbon. It was all good and sad memories, leaving Lisbon. Little did I know that I will in fact spend many more years in Portugal, that time. Right now, I am continuing the second year of my PhD in Lisbon, the 4th year of my stay in Portugal.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

White Chocolate Wine..

White Chocolate Wine and Coffee Wine.

Everyone loves white chocolate. Everyone loves Porto Wine. How is it to have a Chocolate Wine? Enjoying the weekend with some! :) It is 12% alcohol, but does not feel like alcohol at all, thanks to the white chocolate in it. It looks and feels like milk. :D I have not tried the coffee one yet. It will be next. :D

Prisoners of Time

I recently watched this amazing video. "Otis Johnson went to jail at the age of 25. When he got out at 69, he rejoined a world that was starkly different from the one he remembered. This is his story."

We often have strong memories when we go back to a place that we have enjoyed before. This year, I had the opportunity to go back to Stockholm after 2 years. Lots of memories. I, in fact, went to Stockholm twice. The second time I went to both Stockholm and Fejan. However, both times I failed to go to Kista, the place where I stayed for 4.5 months, during my entire stay in Stockholm. Our student apartments were located on top of a shopping center. Almost all the shops in the shopping center would close at 9 pm, which I dearly disliked. Other than that, we enjoyed an instant shopping whenever we wanted to. We did not have to walk for shopping.

As I was enjoying Farsta, Stockholm city centre, and Stockholm old city, Kista somehow slipped to the last of the to-visit list. Now, Kista has come back to the top of my places to go when I go back to Stockholm in the future. This is all to re-create the memories of 2013. I can feel the bittersweet feeling Otis faces in the above video. Losing freedom to stay in prison is harsh. While not judging his action and the judgement as that is neither my duty nor the intent of this blog post, I admire the way he expresses himself. This video has become quite popular and viral. I truly hope Aljazeera shares revenue from this video with him. He was quite entertaining and his voice was soothing to listen.a

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Third OpenDaylight Lisboa Meetup

This time we had the OpenDaylight Lisboa meetup at FCUL, Lisbon. We had a productive discussion, and I learned a lot from the fellow researchers at FCUL. Given below is the introductory presentation slides I prepared for the meetup.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Cassowary: Middleware Platform for Context-Aware Smart Buildings with Software-Defined Sensor Networks

Today I presented my work** at FCUL - the Faculty of Science, Universidade de Lisboa. Though I have presented my work in conferences, this was the first time I presented my work in another university in Portugal. I have always enjoyed presenting in different universities when I was in Sri Lanka. However, this marked my first in Portugal, ever since I left Sri Lanka in 2012. I always enjoyed visiting other universities (the universities that I am not studying). I have previously been to ISCTE-IUL, and today it was FCUL. Visiting new universities is like invading a new country. ;) I loved my audience - it was interactive and I learned a lot from the audience myself!

** Kathiravelu, P., Shari , L., & Veiga, L. (2015). Cassowary: Middleware Platform for Context-Aware Smart Buildings with Software-De ned Sensor Networks . In 2nd Workshop on Middleware for Context-Aware Applications in the IoT (M4IOT 2015), co-located with ACM/USENIX/IFIP Middleware 2015. Dec.2015. Pages 1 - 6.

Smart devices sense the environment through their sensors and leverage the contextual information derived from the sensor readings to satisfy system requirements such as energy and carbon efficiency and user preferences. Smart buildings compose of smart devices, and local sensors of the devices and device controllers in a coordinated network. Software-Defined Networking (SDN) offers a centralized view of the entire networking data plane elements to a logically centralized controller. While smart buildings and ubiquitous computing are heavily researched, later advancements in networking are not exploited in achieving tenant-aware smart buildings.

This paper describes the research for the design, prototype implementation, and preliminary assessments of Cassowary, a middleware platform for Context-Aware Smart Buildings with Software-Defined Sensor Networks. By extending SDN paradigm and leveraging the message oriented middleware protocols to seamlessly connect the smart devices of the buildings to the centralized SDN controller, Cassowary enables context-aware Software-Defined Smart Buildings.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Broken wheels and the policy of Sri Lankan Airlines

The new entries to our travel life!
As we took the luggage from the belt in Male, we noticed that the wheel of the suitcase was broken. It was not a good signal to begin with, when we reach a new country that we have never been to before. 

Sri Lankan Airlines have been always popular in damaging the checked in luggage. We went to the Sri Lankan airlines complaint center in the Male Airport. Interestingly, the staff at the counter pointed out to the policy statement of the Sri Lankan Airlines that the wheels and handles are not covered by their system. That means, you cannot ask for a replacement or repair, if the handle or a wheel is damaged. As a saddening coincidence, on our trip back to Portugal from Sri Lanka via Rome, the wheel of the other suitcase was also broken - this too was in a Sri Lanan Airlines flight. So far in my hundreds of travels, I have encountered broken wheels or handles thrice - all from Sri Lankan Airlines. Since our suitcases are damaged, we bought two new ones in Lisbon finally. As we do not foresee a Sri Lankan Airlines flight in the recent days, these will be safe for while, we hope.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Facebook Emotions

Facebook has rolled out its new emotions - "Love", "Haha", "Wow", "Confused", "Sad", "Angry", which it calls its attempt towards offering empathy with the posts. Interestingly, many users from different countries have claimed that they do not have this functionality yet. Interestingly, many people (including me) from Portugal have reported to seeing the Facebook emotions. Others from other countries, including the US and Finland have reported not seeing them. That means, they cannot see these emotions, except the regular "Like". Moreover, if you offer one of these "emotions" to their posts, they would not receive even a notification. Now this explains why I did not see an overwhelming use of these emotions. It seems Facebook is beta testing with a few of us.

Confusingly large list of emotions.
I still do not have the "yay" emotion, that I can see displayed in many of the items shared by others. I must admit that it now gets a bit confusing with all these emotions listed under the posts as seen above.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Colombo by tuk-tuk

[14th November] My 2016 diary
I had some adventures in 2012 from my journeys in New Delhi by tuk-tuk.. Usually tuk tuk drivers have been nice to me in Sri Lanka, and specially the ones with meter never asked for more than what is shown in their meters unlike in New Delhi. They often claim that they do not have change and try to keep the 10 - 20 rupees change with themselves. But usually that is it.

This time I experienced some differences as I was travelling with a foreigner. First, we were going from Bambalapitiya to Thurston. The driver diverted the three wheeler to Dimbrigasyaya - Jawattha. I asked him "Why are we going here, when Thurston is not this side?" He claimed that he was avoiding the traffic. He took a round trip and came back from Reid Avenue, Colombo Campus, and back to Thurston. It took me some time to realize that he intentionally took us on a long ride to charge more money. However, since this was my first negative experience, I decided to be more careful. The next time another three wheeler driver started the ride without actually resetting the meter, and hence charged for 1.9 km that we did not really travel. After that I always ensured that they reset their meters.

From my overall negative experiences this time, I realized, wherever the country, there are people who try to cheat the foreigners. Their logic is usually the foreigners have more money - and charging them more is  reasonable. I hope for a world where people treat everyone equally without such a double standard - foreigner or not. I have always been under the impression that Sri Lankans treat the foreign visitors better. It was a bit disappointment for me to observe the contradicting behaviours from my fellow citizens. 

After 2 years away from my country, I felt many differences in the country. Also feeling a bit more like a tourist in my own country. This was just a short trip of 25 days, and finally I returned to Lisbon to continue my regular daily life. This year was full of trips. I am now waiting for 2016 - full of events and travels, I suppose.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

A Guide to Commenting on the Blog Posts

Number of spam comments on my blog posts is on the rise these days. However, since the comments are moderated, these spam comments never see the light of the day. I just delete them. This waste my time as well as the time of the spammer, assuming no bot is deployed for commenting as sign-in is required for commenting. Automated commenting would trigger the Blogger captcha which is pretty effective in filtering bots, I assume.

Here is a guide on which is accepted and which is not, as a comment.

1. A long and relevant comment - Accepted.

2. A short comment such as "Nice post", "Thanks" - Accepted.

3. A set of random links - NOT Accepted. Isn't it obvious, after all?

4. A short comment followed by a link to your shitty home page - NOT Accepted. Obviously you just wanted to post the link to your shitty site. Just do not pretend.

5. A long shitty comment followed by a link to a shitty web site - NOT Accepted. Why? See #4 for the reason.

6. A long relevant comment followed by a link to your shitty home page - Accepted. After all you have shared some useful information.

7. A long comment followed by a link to your shitty home page - Depends on the blog administrator's decision based on the contribution of the comment vs. the shittiness of your web site.

8. A random useless comment - Depends.

9. A short/long comment that disagrees with the view point of the original post - Accepted. Comments are there for positive or negative feedback.

10. A random comment followed by a link to a random site - Not Accepted. If you want to advertise in the blog, just contact the blog administrator. Posting random links in the comment section will do no good for you.

11. A well-structured comment followed by a very relevant link - May be accepted. If the link is really relevant, it should be fine. However, if you are just attempting to advertise your own web site, it is better to communicate to the blog administrator than writing it down as a comment.