Joaquim Rocha
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Codebits Review + BluePad Video

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    Joaquim Rocha
  • Principal Software Engineering Manager at Microsoft

I realized I didn’t write anything about how the event Codebits was. So here it goes.

We (me, Valério Valério and Patrício Fernandes) went only on the second day and arrived at the building to receive the goodies (a great backpack with advisory papers, a pen, a t-shirt… that sort of things).

We readily proclaimed a round table for ourselves, we’d spend many ours on that table.

We got to know the place better and attended a few conferences, talked to people, etc. The mood was really cool. In the beginning of the night we had dinner and watched a mini-concert by F.E.V.E.R., a Portuguese metal/electronic band. OK, I am a fan of death metal but I really like one of F.E.V.E.R.’s songs when I first heard about them and I was really looking forward to enjoy the concert. I even had the expectation of them being heavier in a live show but these expectations weren’t fulfilled at all. The music simply didn’t caught me, from the simple riffs to the pointless vocals performed by a “modern cliche” vocalist. The only thing I liked about them was the drummer, he was completely crazy! His energy and skills made me forgot the rest of his crew in the show.

Back to the computer things, after the concert we went on with our idea and started to create BluePad’s mouse module. A few schemes drawn up in some large paper sheets and we were ready to do it. We were chilled, sometimes we simply dropped the programming and brain burning things and moved on to the Wii consoles and played for a little while. Yes, it was NOT a trivial thing to develop this module and too add a cherry on top we had a big problem with the bluetooth connection. Usually BluePad takes about 10 seconds to find the nearby devices in our University but in the event’s room it took minutes! We thought the problem was the number of folks with the bluetooth mobiles and laptops so we managed to get some of them to turn it off (thanks to the staff). The problem continued. We summoned plagues to the ones who didn’t turn of their mobiles but after talking with the staff we were told that the WiFi routers were really powerful and that should be the source of our problem. WiFi works in the same bandwith as bluetooth and their NASA like routers were taking advantage of the whole spectrum. And I’m talking about more than 4 of these nuclear routers only in our room. No solution, everytime we needed to test BluePad we had to: move it on to my mobile, uninstall the previous version, install the new version and wait, wait, wait until we had the search results. Fun fun fun…!

At about 7:00 AM we decided it was time to get some sleep and so we went and laid down in some poofs. I thought four poofs would replace my bed but nope… the damn things slipped under my body.

Anyways, we all slept about 2 hours or so and woke up to finish the project. This was at 10:00 AM and half of my team was ill – Valério got food poisoned! Yes, we all ate pizza until we smelled like it, yes we all drank sodas, lemon flavored waters, cokes and non-alcoholic beers until our tongues tasted like it but Valério was the only one who took the adventure of eating a “chick’s chocolate” (a chocolate bar with fruits and milk and whatever…) and the result was…. FOOD POISONING! But he’s a though guy and he got a way of getting himself fine (and I won’t explain how…).

After more than 20 hours of programming with only 2 hours of sleep we finally finished the mouse module. It was working in an acceptable way.

On to the presentations! We tested Valério’s laptop with the projector before lunch and guess what, we had problems with it… mine didn’t work as well… we solved it by installing some graphic card drivers but we had to do the presentation with a resolution of 400×600 or something like this. Yes, we’re lucky guys…

After lunch we went to the climax of the event – the presentations – and since we were number 19 we decided to start trying to connect BluePad on presentation 10 (each presentation was 90 seconds only) . So, on project #11 we ran BluePad… ran it again… and again… until project #14 and the search didn’t finish. A little bit of panic and we moved to plan B: to go to the parking lot and connect BluePad away of the spacial routers. We ran down the 2 sets of stairs and connected BluePad in the middle of the parking lot and it functioned! Hooray! Next mission: get to the presentations room before our time to start while pressing BluePad’s keys so the connection wouldn’t finish.

We did it. Project #17 was being presented. Right on time! We presented it as you can watch in the video and got a great feedback from the audience. There were a “Yes I Like It / No I Don’t Like It” for each project and we had about 50 YES and 7 NO and it was one of the greatest feedbacks according to our friend Patrício. This votes didn’t count to elect the winners as there was a jury composed of many people from SAPO to other Portuguese companies.

In the closing session where the winners would be revealed. There were several categories and we were faithful, I confess. So: First winner, category best game (or something like this)… The guy steps to the stage, thanks the jury and everybody and says something like: “Well, I’d like to thank my boss, Paulo Laureano, we have great fun with stuff like this in the company…”. Paulo Laureano is the president of the company Mr. NET and announced earlier in the event that he would give a prize to the quicker developed game… and his employee won it.

Some SAPO employees also participated in the contest and guess what? Yes, some of them also won!

Some PT (which can be considered as the same company as SAPO) employees also participated in the contest and guess what? Yes, some of them also won!

But the best part of it, to prove that Codebits is not a regular contest… a MEMBER OF THE JURY participated and won too! Yes! They chose one of the juries to win one category against regular participants.

I want to make it clear that I am not complaining because we didn’t won anything, we didn’t even know there’d be prizes in the first place but as events and contests organizers ourselves, we think that a situation like this can really destroy and event’s image. In every contest rules there might be a clause that doesn’t let people close to or in the organization to participate in it, even when the jury is outside of the organization…

And that was it, with lack of sleep, code still running as a daemon in our brains we watched the final concert of the event by Wraygunn (only to please Patrício) and drove back to Évora (about 120 Km) for a deserved night of sleep.