Thursday, 1 September 2011

Gaamani - Awesome Sinhala Movie

I was interested in watching Gaamani as soon as I heard it was based on a true incident. I was expecting a good movie but what I got was an awesome movie. It had everything a movie lover would like to have. Good acting, entertaining dialogues and some nice action sequences. It gives you a great picture of the brutality of the war and what people in the villages near the war zone had to go through during that period. The opening scenes are definitely not for the faint hearted. The middle of the movies is the part I enjoyed the most with some nice acting and funny dialogues. The film goes on for about two and a half hours and you wont feel the time pass. A thoroughly entertaining movie although I wouldn't say its a family movie.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Refresh Colombo August 2011

With the new rules in place it isn't exactly easy to leave office at 5 when you get there by 9, so this time I was a bit late to arrive for Refresh Colombo. Took the 154 because it is easier and only one bus but it took close to 45 minutes to reach Royal from Wellawatta. I could have gotten there faster by walking. I did manage to catch part of the first presentation and it was about

Breaking Down Information Barriers with Technology and Social Sharing

It was done by Charitha and his Twitter handle is @diya_rakusa. I don't know what he said in the beginning but it is probably about SL2College which provided free advice and guidance for Sri Lankan students who wants to pursue higher studies. This is a great idea and and something really useful for any Sri Lankan. There forum section seems to have wealth of information for students looking to study abroad. As he mentioned in the presentation they give data to the students so they can make up there own minds. Useful as it is there website can do with some redesigning. I have no idea whats the purpose of having "Welcome to SL2College" at the top of the website. That seems to me like a waste of prime website space.
The questions after the presentation also went very well. There were some discussions about how Sri Lanka can attract Sri Lankans who go abroad for studies. Quality of life in different countries, mindset and the maturity level of the individuals leaving the country, salary scales offered for individuals and the area of expertise pursued by users all contribute to making the decision to come back. And according to the bold headed WSO2 guy US job opportunities are going down and in the future there will be more and more high tech job opportunities that pays well available for Sri Lankans.

Cloud Computing Facts and Myths

The next presentation was done by Samisa Abeysinghe who is VP Engineering at WSO2. He went on to explain what cloud computing is and the facts and myths about cloud computing. It was a simple and to the point presentation and very useful for someone like me who always wondered what cloud computing is. If you are a Sri Lankan you should be proud that a company like eBay that handles millions of transactions uses WSO2 ESB software for there day to day operations. By the way WSO2 sponsored today's Refresh Colombo and the food was great. I especially liked the roll :-) .

Generating and Selling Tech Business Ideas

Although the first two presentation were great I was really looking forward to the presentation by Adnan or commonly known as kiriappeee. It was a very inspiring and thought provoking presentation about coming up with business ideas. As he said Sri Lankans are very good at finding faults so if you use the same energy to find a solution then you can come up with plenty of business ideas. Ideas are a strange thing, they come to everyone but the problem is most people don't realize it. Even if they realize it they hardly act upon those ideas which is the reason for low number of entrepreneurs. Since I make a living out of writing articles I have my special system to store my article writing ideas whenever they come up. You can read more about that here at my blog. He generously gave away his email address so if you think you have a bright idea you can discuss it with him. If you can find it do try to find his presentation which can be very useful to anyone who thinks he has a great idea.
Then there was a final announcement about the TweetupSL which is happening on 27, August. I got my TweetupSL T-shirt today and it is awesome. As usual Refresh Colombo was great and if you are doing something related to technology or online business then this is a must visit event. Hope to see you all tomorrow at TweetupSL.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Blogging Builds Your Brand

Blogging is a great tool to build your brand and share your knowledge. It is also a great way to build your authority in an area. I have being blogging about various things related to making money online in Sri Lanka and this led to several job offers recently. I guess the offers suddenly came in a short space of time because I ranked for certain keywords very recently. Just goes to show the power of SEO and why it is almost insane that more Sri Lankan companies are not doing it. With a few tweaks you can rank for almost any keyword related to Sri Lanka and the traffic potential for some of these keywords are huge. Since no one is doing that I can write a simple post about anything, rank for it and make money with Adsense. Want to know what SEO is and about SEO in Sri Lanka ? Click Here.
As I said blogging has helped me build a brand for myself and when you get few job offers it makes it worthwhile. But when you get few offers its not easy to choose a one. First of all there is the disappointment of loosing all your friends in the current workplace. The new salary package is also a consideration. Then there is the possibility to learn and expand your knowledge. There isn't exactly a course to learn social media marketing, SEO and conversion optimization in Sri Lanka. What you know is what you learn from reading and experimenting. And the ability to expand that knowledge is also a good motivation.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Refresh Colombo - July 2011

After missing the last two events I was very eager to attend the July edition of Refresh Colombo. I was very bitter about missing the last edition because there was a presentation about mobile marketing. I guess you can't have everything in life. There was a huge crowd for the event, probably somewhere close to 150. This is the largest crowd I have seeing after the FireFox party. The organizers were actively promoting the event by mailing previous participants and encouraging them to display poster in there offices and universities and the large crowd could be a result of that. Kudos to @nazly, @alokag, @HamidAfzal and everyone else who plays a part in organizing such a useful event.


The first presentation was about MongoDB, done by Dinesh and Susantha. A nice comparison was done between the traditional databases and mongoDB.Different situations where mongoDB can improve performance in certain cases were also discussed. There was a small demonstration as well showing how easy it is to add, delete and modify records etc. From what I understood the main idea with mongoDB is to reduce the disk space as much as possible and thereby improve performance. ( mongoDB experts feel free to correct me in the comments section). Another good things about mongoDB is you don't need to do any installations. Its just matter of running an executable file. Since I'm having trouble installing various Oracle versions and finding compatible PLSQL developer versions this sounds like a great idea. And there are no JOIN's :-) . I hate joins, specially when there are like four joins in one big view.

Social Media beyond Marketing

The next presentation was by Thushara Hettihamu who is a senior manager in Dialog Axiata. He spoke about how dialog is using social media to respond to customer inquiries etc. I have being using Twitter for a while now and have seeing some complains about dialog and its a good things that they are actively using social media to counter those things. If you want a quick response from dialog the best things to do is post it on there Facebook walls, buy the looks of things you are guaranteed a quick response. In answering a question he briefly talked about how to handle negative reviews as well. Early that morning I attended the Digital Dojo by Ogilvy and some facts mentioned there were also mentioned in the video Hetti showed. Internet and social media users are rising in Sri Lanka and if you don't respond to its as a brand you might find yourself losing customers and crushed by competitors. There were some questions about fair usage policy and things were just about to interesting when Nazly jumped in and ruined the fun :P .

Future of Web Apps

The next presentation was by Lakshan Perera and he talked about the future of web apps. Although I'm a software engineer I wouldn't call myself a hardcore geek and this presentation was a bit beyond me. But since lots of techies come for Refresh I'm sure many of them enjoyed it a lot.

Mobile Trends - From Symbian to Android

The next presentation was done by Thejo, who gave a very entertaining presentation. He talked about how Symbian failed both the users and the developers. If you listened to his presentation you might get the feeling that Symbian was the worst creation made by mankind. But he gave some really good examples of why Symbian failed. Although he talked about the OS one general message you can get from his speech is keep things simple. The world, specially the technological developments are moving at a fast pace and you should make it easier for people for keep in touch with your developments. He also talked about the difference in revenue model, which was another factor that made developers switch to Android. A very entertaining presentation I'm sure enjoyed by many.

TweetupSL 2

After that there was a announcement about TweetupSL. Which is an informal meetup of Twitter users in Sri Lanka. You get a T-Shirt if you register quickly for the event ;) . Using social media is much more effective when you know the person in real life and these events are the perfect opportunity to build connections.

Bus Route Finder

There was another presentation which was not on the agenda and that was the introduction of the much talked about bus route finder by Chav. It seems to work fine for the destinations I checked. It is an open source project so can check out the code and give feedback or make improvements.
Another great Refresh Colombo event and definitely looking forward for the next one. If you are not attending you are missing out on a lot and it is definitely not a geek only thing.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Getting a Housing Loan in Sri Lanka

Getting a housing loan in Sri Lanka can be a very tedious and a time consuming task. There are so many documents to produce and so many approvals to get that you might be forgiven for thinking it is better not to buy a house at all.
Looking at the advertisements in television you might think that it is something that can be done in two three days but it sure takes a whole lot more than that. It becomes worse if you have misplaced an important document or you have an outdated document. Some bank wants documents that are less than ten years old so they can be assured about the validity of the document. After producing all that they you need to pay additional charges for the registration and for lawyers. This can be done for an reduced price if you have some sore of connection with the lawyer, otherwise it will cost a considerable amount.
I thought finding a house for sale in Sri Lanka is a hard task, but it looks like buying it is even harder. In certain areas of the country its becoming hard to buy houses for even relatively rich people. Just do a quick search for villas for sale in Galle Fort and you'll know what I'm talking about.
I had a quick chat with a friend in real estate and according to him one of the main reasons is foreigners buying real estate in Sri Lanka as investments. Now I know that the government made a big deal about not selling land to foreigners, but as my friend told me the government actually needs these investments. Most foreigners and buying them and renting them out to other foreigners and more foreigners that comes to Sri Lanka better it it for our economy. Its just not that great when you're trying to buy a land or home for yourself.