Posts from December 2013

Google Code-in: The programming competition that changed my life

Monday, December 23, 2013

This week we have a special guest post from a student, Aaron Schmitz, that was a grand prize winner in Google Code-in 2011 and then went on to participate in the Google Summer of Code 2012 program the following year with Joomla, an open source content management system (CMS). 

When a Google Code-in blog post caught my eye on a cold November morning, it wasn’t because it was another one of those run of the mill race-to-the-buzzer-on-a-contrived-programming-puzzler type programming competition. No. Google Code-in is different for two important reasons. First, Google Code-in is a marathon, not a sprint. Little did I know how grueling but rewarding those six weeks would be. Second, Google Code-in isn’t about who had spent years memorizing very specific algorithms to solve meaningless and often impractical programming problems with no relation to the real world; instead, Google Code-in contestants write real code that finds its way into real repositories for real projects with real users. As it turned out, some of the work my fellow competitors and I did is now in software packages approaching 1.5 billion downloads! Very few industry professionals have the opportunity to write code with that kind of reach -- let alone a bunch of pre-college kids. 
Suffice to say, I was sold on Google Code-in! What could be more amazing than a programming competition designed for students my age (13-17) that tested and strengthened the skills required of real-world developers: endurance, the ability to work as a team towards a common goal, and the need for flexibility. When the first day of the competition finally arrived, I took a relatively simple non-coding task to do some research for an org, submitted the work, and got it accepted. One down; countless to go… I picked up a much harder coding task which I finished many frustrating hours later. Then another… Then another… My weekends disappeared... Then Thanksgiving... Then Christmas… 
What kept me going through six challenging weeks of programming day after day after day? For the first time I wasn’t just programming in a vacuum. I was collaborating with a multitude of other students from many countries and time zones. We constantly chattered on IRC and to some extent collaborated on tasks and worked together as a team to accomplish the goals of the open source projects we were helping. Two years later, I’m still friends with a few of my co-competitors even though we live thousands of miles apart and have met each other only once: on the Grand Prize trip. 
The greatest thing I gained from Google Code-in, however, wasn’t related to coding at all. Google Code-in changed my life because Google Code-in is where I found my confidence; Google Code-in showed me that I can do anything. The grand prize trip was phenomenal. One day we were being led around the Google campus by people famous in the open source community and the next we’re living it up on a private yacht sailing under the Golden Gate bridge. That week of excitement in Silicon Valley changed my outlook and inspired me towards the path I am on today. I don’t know where my journey leads, but the adventure has been amazing thus far. I challenge you to dive into the same adventure and see where your path takes you - you won’t regret it! 
By Aaron Schmitz, Google Code-in 2011 grand prize winner and 2012 Joomla Google Summer of Code student
There are still two weeks for students to learn more about the 10 participating open source organizations and complete tasks earning certificates and t-shirts in Google Code-in 2013. The contest ends on January 6, 2014.

University of Toronto GSoC 10 Things meetup

Friday, December 20, 2013

This week we have a guest post from Google Summer of Code mentor, Amar Takhar, discussing our recent Google Summer of Code "10 things" meetup in Toronto.

Since 2005, Google Summer of Code has been creating millions of lines of open source code for the world to use. To celebrate the 10th year of the program in 2014,  members of Google's Open Source Programs office are traveling the globe visiting countries with high participation rates over the past 9 years of the program.

I was lucky enough to attend one of these events on November 8th in Toronto, Ontario, Canada at the University of Toronto. I'm all for community involvement (especially in my home country!) and it’s very exciting to see Google showing this type of interest. The event was open to anyone interested in learning more about GSoC, Google Code-in and Google’s involvement in the open source community. There was a strong showing with over 60 attendees, including students and mentors from previous years of GSoC as well as students new to the program.

Speakers & Projects
Google Open Source Programs Office team members, Stephanie Taylor and Mary Radomile, spoke about the programs and their success and what the team has planned for the future.

The event also featured eight lightning talks (3-5 minute presentations) given by mentors and former students from the Toronto area who discussed their projects and personal experience with GSoC. They included:
Oh, Canada!
I was amazed to learn Canada has had 869 mentors and 347 students since the program’s inception in 2005. The University of Toronto has had 58 students participate in GSoC making it the #7 school overall in participation!

The event concluded with a reception - dinner, chatting and of course, tons of Google swag. There were several developers and past attendees of the GSoC Mentor summit in attendance who were able to field questions from eager students. I had a long chat with one of these students who had cursory knowledge of GSoC. He came away from the event excited and eager to participate next year. Based on all the ideas that were passed around and new connections made, I would say the event was a resounding success!
Photo by Zoe Song

I’d like to encourage not only GSoC participants to attend future events that Google holds, but also students who are interested in learning more about the program and Google’s contribution to the Open Source community.

Participating in Google Summer of Code and Google Code-in has been an adventure I look forward to each year.  I think it would be fantastic to have an annual GSoC meetup here in Toronto where we could help spread the word. I'm already looking forward to the 10th year and all the new developers I will meet!

By Amar Takhar, Buildbot, NTP, RTEMS Mentor

A new role in Open Invention Network

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

As readers of this blog will know, open-source software like Linux has spurred huge innovation in cloud computing, the mobile web, and the Internet in general. Linux now powers nearly all the world’s supercomputers, runs the International Space Station, and forms the core of Android. But as open source has proliferated, so have the threats against it, particularly using patents. That's why we're expanding our participation in Open Invention Network (OIN), becoming the organization’s first new full board member since 2007.

OIN protects the open-source community through a patent cross-license for Linux and related open-source technologies. The license is free and available to companies, organizations, and individual developers if they agree not to assert their own patents against Linux. OIN also defends against anti-open-source patent aggression through education, reform efforts, and its own defensive patent portfolio.

Over nearly three decades, what is now known as open-source software has benefited consumers all over the world by delivering innovative products and services. We’re committed to helping protect that innovation and are happy to expand our role in OIN.

Posted by Chris DiBona, Director of Open Source

Google Code-in update: halfway through the contest

Friday, December 13, 2013

Today marks the halfway point for Google Code-in 2013, a contest for 13-17 year old pre-university students interested in learning more about open source software development. There is still plenty of time for students to compete in the contest, 3.5 weeks to be exact.

Students will earn a certificate by completing one task in the contest and can earn a Google Code-in 2013 t-shirt when they complete 3 tasks. Many students are also working very hard for a chance at one of the 20 grand prize trips to Google’s Mountain View, California headquarters next April.

During the contest students work on tasks in categories like coding, documentation, quality assurance, outreach, research, training and user interface.  Each of these tasks is assigned a mentor who can help the student if they have questions while completing the task.

Google Code-in is a great way for students to use the skills they have been learning in the classroom and apply them to a real open source software project.

Google Code-in 2013 statistics at the halfway point of the contest:
  • 1,085 tasks have been completed with the 10 open source organizations thus far
  • 266 students from 43 countries have completed at least one task in the contest
  • Countries with the most students completing tasks so far are:
United States - 86
India - 39
Romania - 18
Singapore - 16
Germany - 10
  • Over 2,300 students have registered for the contest from 89 countries
  • There are 11 new countries to add to the list of registered students for Google Code-in: Anguilla, Armenia, Cambodia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Kyrgyz Republic, Lebanon, Mauritius, Panama, Swaziland and the US Virgin Islands.

For contest rules, frequently asked questions and the timeline you can visit the contest site. We encourage students to continue checking the Google Code-in 2013 list of available tasks as new tasks are being added daily for students to work on. The last day to register for the contest and claim a task is Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 17:00 UTC.

Students can join the group discussion list for answers to general questions about the contest from other students, mentors and Google Code-in program administrators.

Good luck students, keep up the awesome work!

By Stephanie Taylor, Open Source Programs

LiquidFun: a rigid-body physics library with fluid simulation

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

We are excited to announce the open-source release of LiquidFun, a C++ 2D physics library based upon Box2D that includes particle-based fluid simulation.

LiquidFun makes it easier for developers to write games that include realistic fluid physics.  For example, this clip shows a circular body falling into a viscous fluid.
The LiquidFun library is written in platform independent C++ which makes it possible to use on any platform that has a C++ compiler.  We have provided a method to build the LiquidFun library, example applications, and unit tests for Android, Linux, OSX and Windows.

Game developers can use physics to drive new game mechanics and add realistic physics.  Designers can use this library to build beautiful fluid interactive experiences.  We’re excited about the possibilities, and want to hear from you about how we can make this even better!

Download the latest release from our github page and join our discussion list!

Several Googlers made LiquidFun possible: Alice Ching, Wolff Dobson, Dave Friedman, Vince Harron, Stewart Miles, Jason Sanmiya, Kentaro Suto, and Ali Tahiri.

By Stewart Miles, Google engineer

Google Summer of Code Veteran Orgs: National Resource for Network Biology

Friday, December 6, 2013

In our ninth guest post from Google Summer of Code veteran organizations the Org Admin from NRNB gives an overview of their summer and quotes a few of their student participants. 
As the National Resource for Network Biology, we are used to working with scaling networks of complex interactions, but there's nothing quite like the connections made through Google Summer of Code!

This season we connected 26 of our mentors with 14 students from 9 countries over 4 continents. But the interactions go deeper than that. This was our 7th year participating in GSoC and we had students returning from prior years for another round of the program along with some past students who served as newly minted mentors themselves this year. And the output of these projects is soon to be in the hands of thousands of researchers studying the role of network interactions in biology and medicine.

We also experienced a tragic loss in our community this summer with the passing of Allan Kuchinsky, a champion of open source, network biology and GSoC. In his honor, we put together the Allan Kuchinsky Student Award and presented it to three of our GSoC students from this summer whose projects exemplified the principles of data visualization and good user-centered design that Allan was so passionate about. Congratulations and thanks to these excellent students!

Finally, here are some great quotes from some of our GSoC students this year. If you're considering applying next year -- the 10th year of GSoC! -- then these inspiring words should convince you.

I've taken part in GSoC 4 times as a student working on network visualization techniques for Cytoscape and Cytoscape.js. Over those occasions, I was lucky enough to work with great people from all over the world (Hungary, USA, Canada, Turkey), and develop key abilities that will be really helpful in my professional future. - Gerardo Huck (Argentina) [github]

My project ended up with adding tests, squashing git commits and making a pull request into main repository. Right after doing that I felt like I leveled up. The most important thing besides gathered experience is the fact that I did something tangible and useful. - Truhin Alexandr (Republic of Moldova) [github] [blog]

These unbelievable life changing four months came to an end on 27th Sept when I completed final evaluations of GSoC. Things I learned as a part of GSoC: determination, collaboration with mentor and friends, and patience to read articles and documentation. I obviously will contribute to Cytoscape in future. In short, thanks to all the people involved in making GSoC 2013 a wonderful experience. - Shaik Faizaan (India) [github]

This year's Google Summer of Code was quite an amazing and adventurous journey. It was very exciting and was very challenging. ...I learned a lot during this brief term of GSOC. I was hit with several roadblocks during the project but successfully solved them and made it to the end. - Sri Harsha P (India) [github] [blog]

Thanks to all the NRNB mentors and students, to all the other mentoring organizations, and a big thanks to the GSoC organizers. You have transformed how we work with students and new developers, and have catalyzed a lot of great code. See you next year!

By Alex Pico, NRNB executive director and GSoC org adm

Google Summer of Code Meetup in Sarajevo

Monday, December 2, 2013

By announcing the Google Summer of Code 2014 program early this year (about 3.5 months earlier than previous years), many students, mentors and open source enthusiasts have been busy organizing meetups across the globe to celebrate the 10th year of the program coming up in 2014. We will continue to post about these global meetups over the coming months.

This week we have a guest post from a former Google Summer of Code student who organized a meetup in his home country of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Enjoy.
For some time now I thought it was time for Bosnia and Herzegovina to have a Google Summer of Code meetup. In the past 9 years of GSoC, Bosnia had 4 different students doing 5 projects. A few times I thought about organizing the meetup but I was not sure if anybody would come to listen to what I have to say, and I finally decided to take this project on myself and was excited to see the results.
The meetup
After successfully completing the Google Summer of Code program as a student twice (in 2012 and 2013), I now had a lot of insight into the program and people had more reason to be interested in my talk. 
Though the logistics weren't terribly difficult to arrange, I needed a room (I reserved the conference amphitheater at the International University of Sarajevo where I am a student), a laptop and a projector. We held the meetup on November 12 with a group of 20 students in attendance, including five from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering - University of Sarajevo, and three IUS professors.  
We kicked things off with GSoC slides and an overview of the program, including info about projects from previous years, open source/free software in general and a few tips and tricks. I wrapped up with some of my personal experiences in the program. Probably the most important thing that happened at the meetup was to alleviate some of the fear around applying for Google Summer of Code. It took me two years to get it together and gather the nerve to send my first email to a mentoring organization, so I tried to explain to the people at the meetup that they should not be afraid, "If I could do it, why can't you?" 
Based on the number of questions and the quality of the discussion after the presentation, it was clear that the main goal of the meetup was achieved: drive interest in the program. A number of students that came to the meetup plan on applying for GSoC, and though this is still a relatively small number, it's the beginning of what will hopefully be strong participation from Bosnia and Herzegovina students. I look forward to organizing at least one more meetup in the future.
Admir Huric, thank you for your help with this story. 
By Benjamin Talic, Google Summer of Code 2012 and 2013 student 
For more information on the 10th year of Google Summer of Code visit our program site where you can find the timeline and FAQs.

By Stephanie Taylor, Open Source Programs