Travel Diaries – Tokyo, Japan

I visited Tokyo, Japan in March 2017. It’s a huge, beautiful city and you cannot cover everything  awesome in few days. I spent 4 nights in Tokyo and 5 nights in Kamakura.

Travel Tip: Tokyo has a great train network. But they are operated by different companies like JR, Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway. Make sure you buy a prepaid IC card like PASMO or Suica at the airport to avoid wasting time at ticket booths every time you transfer between lines. Also, make sure you are looking at the correct train network map when you’re planning the trip.

In Tokyo, I stayed in a hostel near the Asakusabashi station because it’s in the center of several attractions such as Asakusa, Ueno, Akihabara and Ryōgoku. In Asakusa, I visted the Sensō-ji Temple. It is a colorful, ancient, Buddhist temple.

If you’re a fan of anime, manga, board games and electronics, you should visit Akihabara, the geek town of Tokyo. In Shibuya, you’ll find the busiest intersection in the world, the Shibuya crossing, and the Hachiko memorial.

Edo-Tokyo museum, situated near the Ryogoku station, provided me with a concise view of the Edo period and the recent history of Tokyo. The kids will love the hands-on exhibits and photo-ops as well. There are free traditional magic shows and other cultural events in the weekends as well.

If you are interested in a more in-depth tour covering the history of Japan and Buddhism in Asia, make sure you check out the Asian gallery of Tokyo National Museum, in Ueno. The highlight for me was the large collection of Buddhist sculptures from the Gandhara, Mathura and Gupta periods. Tip for the history buffs: Ueno area is the home to several other museums as well, National Museum of Western Art, National Science Museum, and the Shitamachi Museum.

In Kamakura area, the highlight for me was the Great Buddha Statue (Daibutsu) at the Kotokuin temple. I also visited the Hase-kannon Temple and the Hachiman-gu Shrine in Kamakura. In Japan, shrines are built to worship elements from both Shinto and Buddhism, while temples are dedicated to Buddhism.

I tasted some special food items in Tokyo as well. I tried Kibi dango and Ningyo-yaki (snacks made out of rice flour and redbean paste) at the Nakamise shopping street in Asakusa. Then there were delicious sushi and sashimi at some local restaurants. Okonomiyaki is a savory pancake that can have a mix of ingredients. Travel Tip: If you want to taste some authentic Japanese food for cheap for one last time before leaving Tokyo, there are some good restaurants at the Narita and Haneda airports.

Must Watch Talks to catch up on Software Engineering Research

This is a post in progress. I will be using this to bookmark interesting talks, as I find them, on Software Engineering research which summarizes the work done in the past decade (roughly) and therefore will be useful for new students like me. If you come across any talks which match those criteria, please suggest them in a comment below.

What We Actually Know About Software Development, and Why We Believe It’s True

by Greg Wilson

This talk was done in 2010. So kind of old, but still relevant. You can find more notes on this here.

What makes useful research in Software Engineering?

by Andreas Zeller

The 3 questions: Was it hard? Is it elegant? And is it useful?

Engineering Complex Software Systems: Challenges, Solutions, and Outlook

This is bit long and consists of 4 parts.

Sri Lanka and GSoC, en route to the true promise of the internet and computer science

Chris DiBona
Chris DiBona (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today is a great day. A pioneering advocate of open source software, Chris DiBona accoladed Sri Lanka for the contribution in GSoC and FOSS, in this interview with TechRadar/LinuxFormat. In his own words:

Every year that goes by we see more people from outside of the US take part [in GSoC]. The US still has a healthy proportion – 250 or something – but it’s amazing to see where people pop up – like Sri Lanka. Even during the civil war we still had Tamil and other Sri Lankan students taking part in the Summer of Code; it’s like, how did it transcend borders in that way in that country? And so, Sri Lanka has always been really interesting to us in ways that even India and China are not.

Here’s basically a very small nation, and if you look at it, there’s a couple of universities that really glommed onto Summer of Code as a way of expanding their curriculum. Think about that. 79 Computer Science students in a small university in a small country in the midst of a civil war, all doing remarkable work. This is the promise of the internet and computer science made flesh.

I think we should all take pride, as students, mentors, well-wishers and finally as Sri Lankans, for contributing with small steps, inspiring people around us, making a mark on the world map for a good thing! I should specially thank few people like Pradeeban Kathiravelu, Kasun Gajasinghe, Thilanka Kaushalya (from University of Moratuwa), Arunoda Susiripala (from University of Kelaniya), Buddie Kurera (from University of Peradeniya), Suranga Nath Kasthurirathne (from IIT) and many who came before them, for pioneering in spreading the word, organizing meetups and going places! AFAICR we did sessions in University of Jaffna, Pera, IESL etc and we used to hang-out in the #gsoc-lk irc channel in FreeNode too.

So let’s pat ourselves on the back once more and get motivated to do better in the coming years, not only in GSoC or Code-In, but in the open source community as well. As Sri Lankans let’s all have a greater impact on realizing “the true promise of the internet and computer science” as Chris DiBona said.

Bravo!

[This post was adapted from an e-mail initially sent to GSoC Sri Lanka Mailing List]

Some Sri Lanka FOSS Facts

  • Sri Lanka has a higher per-capita rate of Apache developers than any other nation on earth.
  • Sri Lanka is home to The Lanka Software Foundation (LSF) founded by Dr.Sanjiva Weerawarana, which has successfully incubated globally renowned open source projects such as Apache Axis 2 and Sahana Disaster Management Software.
  • WSO2 Inc, the open source middleware company backed by Intel Capital, is based in Sri Lanka.

Some more links – just for the kicks – [UPDATED]

From silent self-confidence to a vociferate outburst