Thursday, December 13, 2007

R-Store

R-Store is a Java library which converts RDF data into a relational database schema. Check out the R-Store project home page for more details about what it really does. But here's a sneak peak of what this software is capable of:



This project was carried out as part of the Database Systems class I took this semester . Doing this project was pretty fun! I was kinda venturing in to unknown territory, but it turned out pretty well. Of course I had 2 interesting team members... Angelique Mosciki and Sergio Hererro. And this wouldn't have been possible without all the contributions from all three of us.

Please feel free to check out the code and experiment. It is all open source, and you are more than welcome to contribute in any way to make this software any better!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The first snow fall

Just looked outside the window, and I saw this:

Man, tomorrow will be a pretty cold day :(

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Outing

You might think I'm crazy, but I spent the whole day today at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum listening to some of Beethoven's sonatas performed live!

Why would you think I'm crazy? Well, I have the DB finals on Tuesday, the final project to demo next week, and the research supervision form to hand over. So, in the midst of all this chaos, I thought I should take a small break and do something different (at least to make sure I would not go insane :). I wish I had some photos to upload from the visit, but the museum folks said that I cannot take any photos inside... too bad. The cooooold weather outside made me lazy to take the camera out and shoot.

So, being the classical music nut I am, I really enjoyed this outing. Oh BTW, this was organized by the Sid-Pac outing committee, and I got to meet some really cool people as well.

Hoping to participate in more outings like this in the future!!

Friday, November 30, 2007

New Addition to Tabulator

For those of you don't know Tabulator is a RDF data browser originally hacked up by TimBL, and developed over the years by summer interns at DIG.

For the past few weeks, I've been trying to understand and write code for the Tabulator. My task was to provide a justification trace for the annotated transaction log given out by the AIR reasoner. Here's a screen shot of how it looks like now:
If you want to try this out, install the Firefox Extenstion with this latest change, restart Firefox, and navigate to this file.

Overall, my experience with the Tabulator code amazes me as to what javascript is capable of. But however, I've had my share of nightmares debugging the code! Sometimes it was pretty painful, but nevertheless I learnt so many lessons :)

By the way, the Tabulator project is open source, so if you'd like to contribute you are more than welcome to do so.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Savants

I've always wanted to do number manipulations in my head. I am no savant, so the best I was able to get to was powering up any 2-digit numbers within my head in less than 20 seconds. It's a very simple trick where you multiply the nearest whole number with the equi-distant number from the number you are actually squaring and adding the power of the distance. For example, if you want 99^2, you do (99+1)*(99-1) + 1^2.

I came across this on Google Video and I find this man to be simply amazing...

Home Page

I finally created my home page!

I've been putting this off for weeks, and I am glad that it is over. I built the site with Apache Forrest.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Girls' Day Out

So, it was one of these long holidays with Veteran's Day falling on Monday. Since I would get awfully bored with 3 days on a row at my apartment alone, I called up Varuni and we planned a day out exploring Cambridge (mostly around MIT).

We first went to the MIT Museum which is very close to where I live (shame on me for not visiting it before!). I was very eager to see the hologram gallery. I was really fascinated to see what laser and few pieces of glass could do! For example, you can see the following "portrait" in 3D!


For some odd reason Varuni was very much intrigued with this "oil bathing machine". I found it quite gross actually :) Anyway, it was very nice to see very cool mechanical things which were just built for fun.


My favorite section was of course the robots! Sometime back I watched a program on Discovery about Kismet - a sociable robot developed at the MIT AI lab. And yesterday, I was looking face to face with this Kismet!


We then explored some parts of MIT. I was of course playing the role of the tour guide - showing what little parts of MIT I knew to Varuni. Here's both of us standing on the lawn in front of the Oval auditorium right next to the Student Center.


Then it was the Charles River... the view was so breath taking. May be it was the lighting condition and the time of the day or even the weather. I don't know what, but somehow, it was so nice.

This is a picture of both of us in front of the river.


Of course you can see the Boston skyline behind. Here's the other part of the skyline .


We also went down to the MIT boat dock yard, and said hello to these cute friends!



All in all, it was a very nice day indeed!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Daylight saving time

This is not any major news.

But the interesting thing is now I am 16 hours behind my brother who lives in Melbourne, Australia!

It used to be 14 hours, but on last Sunday my time here was pushed back by one hour to mark the END of daylight saving, and his time was pushed forward by one hour to mark the START of daylight saving time!

We had to coordinate different calling times, cos either one of us would be either at work/uni or too sleepy to talk :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween!

Today was one of these days I really wish I had my camera with me :) It is Halloween here and students here at MIT celebrate it in a grand style.

I was waiting outside one of the classes to end (because my class was right after it), and I could not help but laugh seeing all the students who came out of the class dressed up in very weird costumes - the first guy was dressed up as a banana, and another girl was dressed up as a sumo wrestler (she was wearing a balloon like thing which took up the entire corridor width), there were few witches, and one guy was even wearing a bathrobe!

It is not only students who seemed to be enjoying Halloween. I even came across few professors who were in costumes - most of them seemed to have take up characters from Harry Potter.

It seemed really fun to be dressed up like that. I was wondering what would happen if we start a similar tradition in Sri Lanka ;)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Kathina

Prof. Saman Amarasinghe and his wife Praneeta Amarasinghe was very kind enough to take me to the New England Buddhisht Vihara and Meditation Center in Framingham, MA for the annual Kathina (Robe Offering) ceremony today. And it was a really good experience for me!

Kathina is a traditional buddhist ceremony which marks the ending of the three-month rainy season (Vassana) retreat that usually begins on the Esala full moon (Poya) day. This is supposed to be an important event in Theravada Buddhist tradition and is considered as a period of reflection, meditation and concentration on Buddhist teachings.

The ceremony started with "dana" (serving food to the monks). This was exactly like how we do in Sri Lanka! Here is a picture I took of the monks just before they were offered the ''dana".


Since coming to the US this was the first time I met so many Sri Lankans! There were almost 100 people participating in this, and I was so happy to meet so many Sri Lankans and speak in my mother tongue - Sinhala!



The best part is I got to meet one of my old teachers at University of Moratuwa - Dr. Thrishantha Nanayakkara, who is here on a sabbatical leave and is currently working as a research scientist at Harvard.

I also met Varuni, who is a new grad student at Boston University. Although I did not know her beforehand, she and I share many things: our alma mater, the fact that we both *just* finished our undergrad before coming here, and even our birthdays! We also have quite a large number of mutual friends. So whaddoyaknow... we almost instantly become very good friends - gee... I wish I knew she was here earlier.

Overall, it was a really good day for me! I am very much looking forward to participating in such other Sri Lankan events in the future.

Friday, October 19, 2007

gsl is great!

When the Fall semester started I signed up for gsl (Graduate Students Lunch). If you have no idea what gsl is - well, it is a social event for MIT CSAIL grad students where they have to sign up to cook lunch once for the year, and get free lunch which is cooked by other students once a week on every Fridays.

The most interesting thing about gsl is the diversity of food. Every week, there is some new food to try out. Today it was falafel and hummus, last week it was fajitas, salsa, and guacamole, the week before it was vegetable radiatore and potato gnocchi, etc and etc. When I see the email announcing the food, I always have no ideas how it will look like or what it will taste like. But so far it has been great! I mean the food is not the best culinary efforts I've seen (after all, these food are prepared by MIT students :), but still it is great to taste all these different kinds of food from all around the world!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I am not that camera-monkey anymore. BUT,

thought I should publish some pictures I have taken so far.

This photo was taken in front of the famous MIT dome. If you look closely, may be you'd be able to spot that either the dome is not straight or I am not standing straight. I am not sure which is the case.


Well, I can assure you that I am standing straight here :). It is the building that is not straight! This is the Stata Center, home to the CSAIL (Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory) - the place where I work, go for lectures etc.

Self Discovery

Here I am back in the blogosphere! What has been keeping me from blogging, you ask me? Well, many things... new university, new home, new country, basically my new life!

The past one-and-half months has been the most strenuous and challenging time I have ever spent in my life. Nevertheless, I guess it was (and still is) a journey of self-discovery. So, I am glad I was brave enough to take this path.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

My Undergrad Days are Almost Over!

It feels like yesterday.

I never imagined that time would fly so fast the day that I first stepped in to the University. But it has!

I started studying at University of Moratuwa on June 2nd 2003, and now my undergrad life is almost over, with only about 3 weeks of work remaining in the June term. Although I am technically still a student, I feel more out than in! :)

So, what do I feel when I look back at the past four years?

Simply Great!

During the intensive English studies period I had a very good clique of friends. Did so many crazy things together, and it was real fun! Then I got involved in a student run organization called AIESEC, where I learnt a lot about the world in general. Unfortunately I gave it up, because I wanted to concentrate more on my studies.
I managed to get into the Computer Science & Engineering Department. I was pretty passionate about the field, and I had a feeling that I could do better in Computer Science Engineering than in any other field. The only difficulty I had was that, most of my closest friends selected Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering and I missed being with them. Somehow, I found new friends, and I had an interesting time with them during the past three years.

Then came level 3. I don't remember anything interesting in the first half, but certainly the second half is really worth mentioning. As engineering undergraduates we are supposed to do a mandatory 6 months internship at a software development company during the semester 2 of level 3. I selected WSO2 for my internship, because I wanted a really BIG challenge. I did not know ANYTHING about web services and didn't have much experience with open source when I started there. Therefore, the work was pretty hard for me at the very beginning. Somehow, I managed to learn lot of things and did interesting stuff. Looking back, I really value my time there. In fact, that experience changed my life a lot!

Then in my final year I had a rare opportunity to participate in a big computing conference for women. This was also one of turning points in my life, as I decided that I want to do graduate studies and started looking at that direction.

I feel so sad that it is all coming to an end. If I remember right, I had a similar feeling after doing my A/Ls and had to say good-bye to all my school friends. Somehow, I got over that and I believe it is part of life.

So, what's next for me? Just one word - MIT !

Sunday, March 25, 2007

VV 2002 batch get-together

A bunch of girls from the 2002 A/L batch from Visakha Vidyalaya met after 5 years at the Austasia Sports club yesterday, and had a wonderful time! I was very lucky to be one of them.

So much has happened over the years.
Most of them have jobs now in banks, airlines, labs, hospitals, schools, insuarance companies, software development companies, and the list goes on...
Some have got married, some of them also have children and some are even pregnant now!
Some like me are still in universities, medical faculties, law colleges etc.
Some are doing external degrees, CIMA, CIM, SLIM, Beauty culture stuff, etc.

WoW! It was so nice to hear all those stories after such a long time.

Here are some of the pictures from the get together. (Btw, if any of those of you who took pics at yesterday's event have uploaded your pictures anywhere and is reading this, please send me (oshanis [at] gmail.com) a mail with the link)

This is Randima in the pic on the left and Ishani (former DHP) in the pic down - the organizers of the get-together talking what we could do now to our alma-mater.

BTW Gami (the other DHP) is also in the picture. However her face is covered by the lampshade.

A committee was appointed to plan future activities. Sara and Myself are also in the committee. We are in charge of building an online forum/web site to keep in touch.

Class reps were also appointed to get all the people organized together. It was a tad hard to remember which class we were in BTW :).


And here's Janani (in blue top) giving her idea about doing some community work for the people who got displaced by the war.
So, the idea is to collect rations and deliver it to the people in need. Janani is working at a humanitarian organization, therefore she knows what is needed.


And here are some other pictures from the party that followed.


Group photos

&

Getting ready for dinner!






Sunday, March 18, 2007

Switching from Bloglines

For a while I have being using Bloglines (http://www.bloglines.com/blog/oshani), and honestly I had served my all blogging purposes. Anyway, one of the major drawbacks of that is that it does not allow any comments.

So, I thought of swiching to Blogger. After all I could sign in with my Google Account, and it seems to be having some advanced features.