Unearthing the secrets of NTH

 

The Network Treasure Hunt team is probably one of the most close-knit teams who guard their work with stern secrecy. They say Knowledge is Power. If so, the NTH team members usually become the most powerful people during its biannual spotlight moments. The fetish of NTH was what led some of the team members to where they are today.
“When I first played NTH, I’d seen some guy playing it in the FPL practical and bunked for the very first time to play it!”, Utsav Mundada smiled in reminiscence.
“Since we had played NTH earlier, we wanted to take it to the next level”, Saurabha Dhongade envisioned. Around 16-17 people in totality had assembled for the first meet, each having their own reasons.
“We also wanted to learn how to make a website, apart from learning the ability to be a team player.”, Sejal Abhangrao added. In the first week, they received a task daily to come up with 5 to 6 legitimate questions. Little did they know, their work was being tracked.

“By the end of the week, they told us they’re going to select only 5 of us!”, Saurabha exclaimed. Due to the confidentiality required for the event to run fairly and successfully, the lesser the number of people the lesser were the chances of the answers getting leaked. After that week, the 5 lucky members remained profoundly sincere. For what was coming for them, the amount of sincerity they’d developed was apt.

“We had to be serious. Since NTH precedes Credenz, we were repeatedly told that ‘it will be the face of Credenz’ so we had to give it our best.”, Saloni Takawale explained. Despite having given 5 to 6 questions each in the first week, they weren’t up to the mark and were scrapped.
“We were still molding our thought process according to the event”, Neeraj Auti described. For a month they were told to work individually on questions. They had the friendly guidance of their seniors-Himani Deshpande, Rucha Sial, Leena Damle, Priyanka Rathod and Akshat Jain. The process of making difficult questions, however, seemed to be tedious.

“To solve questions we have to think outside the box and to make questions we have to think outside of the area which is outside the box”, Utsav gestured animatedly trying to explain the box-ed up situation. After a month they began working in teams, sitting in the reading hall making questions with each other. They would combine questions whenever they suffered from creator’s block. Usually they had their time to create questions but the seniors would never fail to give them spontaneous tasks! For instance, they had once gone through a very embarrassing situation in the reading hall.

“Once, when the seniors were going out to eat, they told us that if we didn’t finish 5 questions till the time they returned, they’d dare us to do anything. However, if we won we’d get a silk!”, Saloni narrated. When asked what the result was, this image surfaced.

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Despite the bizarre dares they’d go through, they stumbled onto numerous weirder things while they worked. To name a few, there seemed to be a site which had no other function but to hum vowels while another website keeps zooming into a picture forming an endless zoom-zone. After the first breakthrough the work was fun as they even challenged their seniors to solve questions they were sure couldn’t be solved easily.
On the day of NTH, they had all been monitoring from their senior’s place while one of them had to get an extension board from the IEEE room. That team member was trapped in the IEEE room and had to fight bribes all the way up to 0.5k to keep from revealing the answers.
“I was messaging a guy from Delhi whom I told that I was in the top 3 players and he’d send me hints which i was giving him through the NTH account.”, Saurabha laughed.
Despite all the adventures they went through with the first NTH, the second one was an even bigger success. Their super senior, Vijay Malhotra, met after the first NTH after they’d faced some technical difficulties and motivated us.

“Since he had started NTH with another friend, we just wanted to make him proud.”, Sejal stated optimistically.
Within a week, they revamped the website from basic html with improvements in css and javascript. They really came together as a team with 10 times the enthusiasm after first NTH.The concept of ‘Teasers’ was introduced during second NTH, to get potential participants hooked. Arranging the questions, was done last minute for NTH 1 and had caused a lot of confusion. Thus for NTH 2 the difficulty level was decided prior, saving a lot of trouble for the members. NTH 2 also had prizes and certificates and well extended its time limit till Monday. They were so proud after NTH 2 as the response was tremendously greater than NTH 1. A guy from Romania called to ask about the questions.

Nobody could have taught this event to them, as it had to come from within. All the seniors could do is guide them, the rest was all due to individual effort. NTH helped them learn communication skills as an event, as a team and after their inevitable success the seniors treated them to a party in Kalinga, which had a lot of memories associated with it, which made them one of the most close-knit and powerful team present in the PISB.

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THE CLASHERS OF C

To begin with one of the CLASHERS, Pooja Patil, revived the earlier days saying, “There were about 80-90 people with a worthy craze for the CLASH Team, everyone full of optimism, with a new medium for learning programming skills and technical knowledge.”

She further added, “After a course of time, due to different reasons, the number of total members decreased to about 25 to 30.” Nevertheless, the enthusiasm of the team only grew with the closeness. They geared up and began learning different programming skills because that was the real time for hardwork!

Amongst the group, another CLASHER, Pranjal Bhor, elaborated the details of the
event, “The CLASH event composed of two rounds, the first round having
MCQ type questions which is succeeded by algorithmic questions for the second round.”

All the members agreed that they had a little background of programming but there was a lot of work to be done and they had a deadline of a month for the entire project.

Another member, Yash Gandhi, said, “For simplicity, the team was divided into groups according to the respective rounds and everyone was allocated different tasks of making questions on the respective topics.”
He added further,“The best part was the leaderboard, which specified the quality of questions being added by every group in a definitive order.”

Despite all the members having a spontaneous and energetic mindset, they had challenges to face, of which PyQt and Django were the mere start.
Jainesh Patel commented, “We were all familiar with the programming part, but implementations using Django was a major get through.”
Nevertheless, not only did they leave all odds behind but also they were also able to succeed in their goals and proceed beyond limits.

The CLASH members unanimously said that the seniors helped them in overcoming every obstacle that they faced while working on the main project. Day by day, the questions were built by them with the helpful co-operation of the seniors.

Swapnil Khandekar, another member, added, “As the event grew nearer, we all spent our time working in the IEEE room through afternoon till nights, the boys slept in the college Boys Hostel. We were even enthusiastic in helping members of other events like helping the Design Team as well as the Roboliga Team.”
“That was truly fun!”, he exclaimed.

Shweta Singh, another member,  remembered that, “Until the last night, finishing of the project was still ongoing and yet had to be finished, also there were bugs in the project but teamwork and help by seniors led us to a great success.”

Amidst the overnight stays and busy keyboards, the day of Credenz ’14 arrived with all fervor.
The first two days of Credenz were reserved for the First round and the last day for the Second round.
All of them recalled that the testing of software which was a rigorous task in itself had to be finished within an hour with many run-time difficulties. As a reward, the response that the team got from the participants was heartwarming.

“Seeing multiple requests on servers was an awesome feeling for all of us.”, Pranjal added.

There were about 1000+ teams registrations and more than 2000 people along with BE students (CLASH Seniors) had also participated which was quite good to watch. By the end of the first round, the questions were praised by students and even the seniors who had participated, appreciated the work.

Having participated in the earlier year’s CLASH the team members wanted to be on the serving end instead of the receiving end of the game for another hilariously vengeful motive. Jainesh added comically, “As the questions were made by all of us, watching the contestant going wrong had a devilish satisfaction in it!”

CLASH was a success for all of them inspite of the monstrous difficulties which came hand in hand with an event this largely scaled. The CLASHERS agreed that they worked their way up from the 0th level to the 1st level, which would have been unfathomable without the support of their seniors.
They also learnt how to work in team unanimously alongwith sharpening their programming skills.
It was during this time that they spent a number of memorable moments and strengthened some bonds with seniors while forming the SE-TE Team which would probably last a lifetime!

3 ways the B-Plan team proved true to their event’s purpose

The main aim of having a business event in an engineering college can be explained best in Shubhankar Panse’s words,
“The knowledge and activities concerning the engineering college help you manufacture a product while you can get into nits and grits of how to market it with the help of B-Plan.”
B-Plan is an event which involves as much proficiency to think outside, inside and all over the box as it does the ability to deal with realistic constraints. Coincidentally, the B-Plan team has had its own share of thinking about ways to get around real-life situations as their contestants. There were several incidents that defined the integrity of the team and also tested its patience but they always managed to overcome these.

One such incident that took place the night before the event proved the same. They had to finalize the drafts for judges and participants for the 1st round.
“We had to publish a map in the round which had a huge part to play but we published the incorrect one”, Sahil Sharma recalled. Sakshi Kasat and Akanksha Gurjar, their seniors, pointed it out to them.
The map along with the drafts had to be ready by 8 the following morning and in order to get the job done, the team kept working till 2 o clock in the campus with the help of an improvisation which included cutting out the wrong part of the map and changing some parts. At 6 the next morning, the whole team turned in the corrected map along with the drafts and beat the challenges set up by the universe in their path.

Challenging situations seemed to have a thing for this team for this wasn’t the only time they had had to rebuild something at the last minute. There was the time they had to make the bar graphs for the background and paint thermocol. “Painting a thermocol is difficult in itself and with such tiny paintbrushes!”, Pritish Upalavikar exclaimed.
“Some of them was around the size of a man”, Akshit Pasrija added and opened his arms to portray the size.
About three of those were left and five were done when..
“Someone who had been passing without looking, happened to stamp on it!”, Akriti Goyal exclaimed with horror.
The flexes weren’t new and the bar graphs had to be of the perfect color to hide the part of the soiled flexes and the anonymous stamp just struck the nerve. On encouragement from their seniors, Madhuri Phute, Anjali Deosarkar and Gandhali Sheode, they restarted some work, cut and rebuilt half of it and joined it again ultimately having to put in twice the amount of time and efforts than what was necessary. Nevertheless, it had been a learning experience for them and they’d made a unanimous decision to never stamp on people’s work which was lying in the corridors, no matter how inviting it looked.

Speaking of inviting, there had been a certain turn of events where the B-Plan event faced which turned up like uninvited guests at a party. Instead of the participants being the object of speculation, the event’s strategy itself had come to be under speculation. As per the latest knowledge of B-Plan’s routine, we know that the event consists of two rounds, the first round being the objective one and the second round being the one where the participants present their own B-Plan.
“We put them in a situation where they’d have a startup and would have to compete with other reputable establishments and check what they’d give more importance if they had a limited budget-food quality or the ambience for an eatery and so on..”, Rohan Chandavarkar explained.
After the first objective round they had declared a break of 15 mins and everyone was about to disperse but the judge wanted to say something. As it turned out, there seemed to have been a misunderstanding with respect to the number of rounds in the event hence the first round faced sharp criticism on its objective format. However, after the second round had been executed successfully, the misunderstanding had cleared. The judge appreciated the event and also enlightened them on how ‘venture capital’ worked which was definitely helpful for all those present at the event. The B-Plan team took the criticism bravely as a team and decided to let its mettle do the talking for them and never once has it begrudged that moment since that was the moment their strength as a team had been tested and in turn had proven the saying “United we stand, Divided we fall.”

The teamwork which the team possesses is largely because of how approachable the seniors were. The seniors would decide the deadlines and impose them strictly as they should but they also gave them the opportunity to frame the first round entirely on their own. “Pushkar Badjugar, Gandhali, Anjali and Sakshi asked us to frame it as we wanted it, we discussed all their ideas after we’d framed it and there was never a bland no.”,Tansmay Deshpande added. The helpful insights into the same helped them understand the process of marketing a product and was knowledge well learned and applied. As the B-Plan team went through a lot of “learning things the hard way” themselves, it stood true to its event’s true aim: To provide a learning experience of how to deal with real-life situations while propagating your plan or in this case, your event.

The ‘Enthronement’ of Xodia

“The first day, when they showed us the game, we were hooked and when they made our groups, there were about 30 people”, Rudra Lande reminisced as his teammate Shivani Firodiya seconded reminding everyone that Xodia was a new and isolated initiative of PICT-an exclusive Artificial Intelligence based gaming event which was just in its second year of generation.

Despite their earlier excitement, the new Xodia members were beginners at programming and the languages themselves were very unfamiliar, python and cpp, so they had to learn it from scratch.
“The head of Xodia at the time, Abhiraj Darshankar, sent each of us a program statement to code in python and submit by the end of the week”, another Xodia member added.

Parallely, it took around 15-20 days to decide the game alone. The first weekend after the main meet, their seniors Aditya Sarode, Ankit Bhagat and Vaibhav Tulsyan(VT) gave them a task – to create a tangible idea of a game, complete with point system and rules within half an hour!

After a lot of pondering, there emerged four ideas which were put to vote, namely Tron, Tourist, Camelot and Mod 3. Finally they decided on Enthronement, it’s maiden name being Camelot. Then their seniors divided them into front-end and back-end teams. That point onwards, everything became very technical and people automatically started leaving.

“They started to think it was impossible. Xodia was relatively new, thus there was no hype about it. The technical part wasn’t as understandable as it had been earlier”, Shivani explained.

The more the intensity and number of challenges, the harder they began to work.
“The amount of dedication the team had for Xodia, we probably didn’t have for any other thing in our lives at the time.” , Shivani exclaimed.

The coding of the sandbox continued for one month altogether on which Anuj Godase, Shivani and Rudra worked. Soon enough, the day arrived when they had to present the demo of their game to their seniors but they reached an unexpected roadblock. Bot management wasn’t working because the code was unfinished and Shivani was told to make the seniors wait for two hours.

“She was the staller”, Rudra laughed and continued,“We were at our teammate’s place to get everything finished.” Then, everything started falling into place, except as Shivani intervened…“I was in a spot! ‘When are they coming?!’ is all they (seniors) kept asking and I kept saying ‘They’re (teammates are) coming by 6.00’ ‘they’ll come’ “

Finally, they arrived but just before they arrived I told them I was extending the deadline and asked the seniors if we could. They allowed it and by the next evening, the back-end was complete. After that, a friend working in the UI was stuck at a point and it took almost two days to overcome the problem which they found out was actually very trivial. The amount of time they wasted on it felt very unnecessary but on learning their mistake, they immediately moved on to the next stage without any setbacks.

The server shifting was to be done by Pushkar Nimkar. Pushkar and Rudra worked nonstop for a week all night to finish with the server linking. Despite the bot management code running individually, the outcome was disappointing as the linking wasn’t taking place and the code wasn’t running.
“It so happened that once, around 5 ‘o clock, Shivam Gupta and VT forced us to get out of our chairs and sleep, this was one week before the page went live.”, Rudra recalled.

“When the site was finally live, Rudra and me told our close friends present in the IEEE room and were very happy. Then finally, sometime later, Ankita Malani, our senior announced it in the room and our pride knew no bounds!”, Pushkar added.

On the day of Credenz, everyone was present in the upstairs canteen trying to write bots and it was difficult. They had to change the existing code of validation, in the end and everything worked successfully.
Making the CTD Xodia became very easy for them because of their learning experience in Enthronement. In a matter of a few months, they had learned a lot.

“During Enthronement, we hadn’t thought of the game from the viewpoint of the player, but instead from that of the maker and it was a lesson learned in time.”

Soon, the existent perspective changed and Xodia got more of the recognition which it deserved; it wasn’t a side event anymore. When the time came for Ensquare to be ideated, their senior VT encouraged them.
“Make it reach its level, give your all to it”, he said. Little did they know they would be a team of seven members creating one of the most easily understandable, simple yet sophisticated game they’d ever made.

Their time during the first half of Xodia’s journey was tough but with many lessons which stayed with them for a long time. Each and every moment had been a new challenge, where nobody had trod, so they had had no prior intimation. However, that was exactly why Xodia being the one of the most self-made events, persevered and stood the test of time to give back Ensquare the next semester.

6 challenges we tackled while interviewing Michel Susai

The experience while struggling to have the opportunity to interact with Mr. Michel Susai, Chairman of NextStar Ventures, Founder Chairman and CEO, NetScaler, and Founder,Chairman and CEO,NeoAccel is as unforgettable as it was exciting.
“Two weeks before the day of the interview, a list of contacts was provided by Ingle Sir to the P.I.N.G. team from which one profile caught our attention”, Shamli Singh relates as she recalls the quandary.
They immediately approached Ingle Sir with their choice. After a day’s delay, they finally got the chance to pen down the contact on the backside of a paper which contained the names of participants of the event – Unravel. The paper changed hands a lot of times and soon the contact was lost. After tracking down the IEEE members present at the desk that day, they finally found out who had the sheet of paper containing the contact. However, the person remained unreachable for a while which delayed them a little until at last word reached the concerned indirectly and they were given the contact.

“Since it was an international call, a decision had to be made. All the P.I.N.G. members had postpaid cards, except for me, so it was decided we’d call from my card.”, she added further.
They sent an email to Mr. Susai, alongwith copies of previous versions of the P.I.N.G. magazine and requesting his co-operation for an interview. When there had been no reply for 4 to 5 days, we resent another message pleading his attention.

“The message was sent at 8.30 and after about an hour, he called back! I was literally sitting on the edge of my bed; I was doing this for the first time”, Shamli exclaimed.
The 15 minute talk with Mr. Susai consisted of him expressing his interest in P.I.N.G. and its participants as well as a trip down the memory lane for the businessman as he recalled his experience in PICT , being a former student, fondly asking about the hostel, canteen and mess food and the faculty from his batch.

As soon as the call was over, the team was intimated, and everyone was excited about it. Mr. Susai had directed them to call the next day at 11.30 to fix the timing of the interview. Since the call went unanswered, they assumed he must’ve been in the middle of something and decided to go for lunch and call again later.

“Sahil Sharma, Priyanka Bhagat, Naman Mandlik and I went out for food and as soon as the order arrived, Mr. Susai called.” everyone waited in pin-drop silence in apprehension as their team member tried to communicate with him. However, due to network problem, Mr. Susai couldn’t hear and decided to message them to skype the next day.
The questions hadn’t been prepared as such an immediate response hadn’t been expected by them, so Shamli and Priyanka prepared questions within a day while Naman, Shreyas Kulkarni, Reha Musale and Shivani Firodiya set up the technical support at Shivani’s flat; taking care to test the laptop, camera, wifi, downloading softwares to record the voice and the setup was done till 9 pm on Saturday.

The next day, at around 10.30, the earlier group with the addition of Rishabh Patil decided to check if the Skype call was impeccable through an actual rehearsal, with the help of their senior Nikhil Kulkarni. After surveying their introduction, Nikhil proclaimed that it seemed as if they were reporting in a police station!

He advised only three of them to introduce themselves namely – Shamli, Priyanka and Atharva while he instructed the rest to wave a friendly hello to Mr. Susai so as to not let it seem robotic. Then it was decided who would ask which questions after which a call was made at the decided time, to wait for the skype id and then begin a skype call.

When the wheels hadn’t been set into motion till 11.30, a feeling of doom pervaded the group. Tired by the day’s activities, they ordered a pizza, edited some articles, watched a movie and left her house at 8 pm. They came back near college and went to a restaurant and ordered some food,

“I was about to take my first morsel, and -“, Shamli laughed as she remembered how some of the P.I.N.G. members joked that they should’ve simply ordered earlier since that somehow set the wheels into motion.

“I couldn’t call because I had an important meeting. I’m travelling to my daughter’s workshop, which would take around three hours and since I don’t have steady internet connection, I’d suggest a telephonic conversation.”, Mr. Susai said on the other side of the phone call.

They had their dinner and rushed back to Shivani’s house by 9.30 while their senior P.I.N.G. members Manasi Godse and Advait Kulkarni kept getting updates.

They downloaded a voice recording app on Priyanka’s phone besides using backup as Shreyas’ recording keeping the amplifier near it. Upon waiting till 10, receiving no call they decided to call him wherein he picked up the phone and said he was inside the auditorium, so he’d call within 5 mins.

Hostel in-times were nearing and the team collectively decided that rescheduling should be suggested via message and the very next moment the call was made and they finally got to interview Mr. Michel Susai. Some lengthy and irrelevant questions were cut yet the interview prolonged from 10.30 to 12.00.

Mr. Susai was very happy with the initiative and wanted to visit and gladly sent his photograph and the logo of his company upon which the P.I.N.G. team promised to send the rough draft by the next day. The interview was a mark of honor for the P.I.N.G. 11.0 and the P.I.N.G. members still recall their interaction with Mr. Michel Susai,a PICT alumni, who humbly provided us with his time and information of the real world besides the inspiration to reach heights in our own spheres.

My MIT Alandhi Publicity Experience

“I took the road less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

– Robert Frost.

There is something about a story in which the unbelievable is achieved, odds are beaten and expectations are exceeded. Here is a story of the team who not just took up such a challenge, but also thrived at it.
Pooja Patil, Shubham Pampaliya, Rasika Deshpande, Sushmita Nair, Sakshi Jain and Sejal Kalantri were given the seemingly impossible task of publicizing Credenz at MIT Alandhi, more of an exercise in courtesy than publicity.
“The road that led us was so narrow that even a car could barely pass through. We went through the same road thrice and could not make it to the entrance of the college”, says Pooja, who along with her team had a hard time reaching the college, not to speak of getting the necessary permissions.
The initial response was cold, and the registration desk bore an abandoned look. But there was a desire to try, not accept things as they are, to make something out of nothing. The team started taking to everyone they saw- everyone.

“We were so involved in publicizing that we confused a staff member for a student and tried to tell her about the various events.”

Fortune finally favored the team, when the team started talking to those involved in the Robocon competition being held at the time. As the word spread, more and more people showed up. The response was to such an extent that people bunked their classes to listen to the team.

An unexpected number of 48 entries were received on this day, surprising everyone. This team of six was still unsatisfied as they could not complete their half century, but the team came back to receive an atmosphere full of celebrations, for their 48 registrations completed a total of 1000+ entries in Credenz ’14, marking a greater milestone than the half century goal. Their efforts boosted their fellow publicizers into the adrenaline rush caused by positive competition and were soon followed by higher number of entries by the end of the week symbolising the true spirit of Credenz.

My Publicity Story

In a world full of assignments, submissions and exams, it is tough to find an avenger who wants to cross the boundaries of conventionality. A few young guns of PICT IEEE Student Branch (PISB) jot down their experiences. Here is just another day in the journey of  publicizers- All of us set out on a new mission –  getting registrations for the most awaited and our very own tech-fest: CREDENZ ’14.

We were greeted with a heavy traffic on our way delaying our arrival at the destination. “On reaching COEP, to add to all the odds we had already faced, we were denied to put up a desk in or around the lobby. But after convincing them, we landed up with a desk in the academic complex”, said Trupti Katariya, a member of the team. The first ray of hope in the day was that the BEs had a seminar on the same floor as we were on. Let’s just say the game was on!

There was no stopping then. Registrations were in full swing, to the extent of a situation where no more receipt books were available. So we had to call the seniors for new ones. An enthusiastic response for our awaited robotics workshop made us get photocopies of the receipts we already had until there were none left.

A rookie, Somesh quoted ” I was going for the first time for publicity that too in COEP, so I was a bit scared. Moreover, we did not have the flyers to give away so we had to photocopy it. Our plan was successful and it all went smoothly”. The day went so well that our seniors Akshay, Anmol, Pranav, Radhika, Richa, Shivam, Soutri and Snehal came all the way with big smiles on their faces congratulating us.

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It was more of a quality publicity rather that a quantity one. Sahil Sharma, one of the team members quoted, “After addressing around 30 people, 20 of them turned to register. It was a big leap considering how difficult it is to convince the COEP folk. ” Starving throughout the day, we headed to a canteen which had no food. But hats off to our determination that we still continued the publicity over there.

After all the hardships and difficulties, we must say it was one hell of a day. Other publicizers Renu Tapdiya and Saloni Takawale had this to say- “Crossing boundaries, exceeding expectations”. They also stated, “After a successful day of publicity, there was a feeling of satisfaction. The afterparty turned out to be the icing on the cake wherein our efforts were appreciated. It was a day full of excitement, experiences, fun, success and satisfaction.”

A new record of a total 68 registrations was made on this day. The publicity team consisted of-

Renu Tapdiya

Sahil Sharma

Saloni Takawale

Somesh Sakriya

Trupti Katariya