Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Bringing back conversations

We are a generation that relies heavily on technology to stay connected to friends. There are many alternatives that make being connected very convenient. We like sending texts over WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, or having a fun exchange of doodled-pictures on Snapchat, or liking someone’s photos on Instagram, and so on to "stay in touch". These are convenient to use. You don’t need to give your full attention. They’re not in real-time, which means we get to edit, delete, retouch, to make it just as we want it to be. “I would rather text than talk” has become more common, but these lack the basic elements that make it an conversation - body language, eye contact, tone of voice, mood, emotions etc.

These connections end up replacing the conversations in our lives. We connect with more and more people. But in the process, we set ourselves up to be isolated because of lack of conversations. We are connected yet lonely.

Actively engaging in a conversation requires phone/voice calls, video calls using FaceTime, Skype, and likewise. They’re the next best thing to seeing someone in-person. However, they have a lot of resistance associated with them. For example, a lot of effort usually goes in scheduling of video calls, and there is always the uncertainty about how long they will take.

We decided to take on these problems by building something that brings conversations back in people’s lives, something that allows you to connect as intimately as a face-to-face conversation and as conveniently as a text message. This is our new app Knock.

Knock keeps video calls short to just 5 minutes. In our tests, we found that it's ample time to catch up if you're regularly in touch. It is easy to find 5 minutes for a quick catch-up with someone. You’re more likely to answer if you know the calls are guaranteed to be short. 

Short and timed video calls

We also allow you to Knock multiple friends at the same time to see who is available at that moment. The app queues up the knocks, and you get on a call with whoever is the first one to respond.

Knock multiple friends at the same time

When you don’t see a Knock, we delete the notification from your phone. As a result there is no notification clutter on your device, and you don't feel pressured to call back right away. But, we do make sure that you know who was "thinking of you" (you missed their Knocks). You can always open the app and check that. However, we don't show when or how many times they Knock’d, or don’t tell them you saw it when you see it. 

No notification clutter
Find out who was "Thinking of you"

It's like knocking on someone's door for a quick chat, and leaving a little note behind to let them know that you stopped by.

Putting it concisely connections are useful, but we love conversations! Knock is our try to bring back the conversations. Knock is currently in beta and is available on iOS. Download it here. Invite your friends, and Just Knock! :)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Invalid techniques of proof

Recently I took an algorithms course which involved a lot of proofs. I used to work together with my buddies on some of the hard problems, and while trying to come up with a proof for a particularly hard problem I would often joking say to my buddies "I bet a $1000 that this is true, are you willing to take this bet?" "Proof is complete if no one takes the bet."

While searching for types of proof techniques, I stumbled across this hilarious collection of invalid proof techniques. Obviously, I had to submit my proof technique as well, which is now part of that amazing collection.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Contributing Java Editor templates via a plugin

JDT provides several editor templates. You can also add your own via the Templates View. However, if you want to share the templates between your several workspaces or with others you can also create a plugin.

As a first step, define the following extension for the extension point org.eclipse.ui.editors.templates.
The xml file just contains the template descriptors. For example, here is a template for printing the enclosing type and the enclosing method.
<template name="debugout" description="%Templates.debugout" id="com.eclipse.jdt.ui.templates.debugout" context="java-statements" enabled="true" autoinsert="true">
You can read about the available template variables in Eclipse help.

I have also shared a plugin with the above code on GitHub.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Debugging with sysouts made awesome

At times I like to debug by writing to console. However, in a long debugging session I often end up with several sysout statements in several files/methods, which makes it hard to track where a particular line of console output came from.

In the past I tried to use code templates to also print the 'enclosing type' and 'enclosing method', but I often forgot to use the template. In any case, via templates you cannot 'link' back to the source code.

Jeeeyul presents a neat solution - just replace PrintStream by a DebugStream so that you can also print 'file : line number : method name' information. I took this code, added it to a plugin and then added this plugin to my launch config. Now everytime I launch an Eclipse Application 'DebugStream' gets activated. 

Essentially, the plugin converts console messages from
Hello World.
to include a link to the source code
(HelloWorld.java:10) main(..) : Hello World.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Going back to school

After working at IBM for 5 years, I am going back to school. August 10th is my last day as a 'full-time' JDT committer, after which I head to University of British Columbia for Masters in Computer Science. I am looking forward to spending two fun-filled years in Vancouver. :-)

It has been fun contributing to Eclipse so far, and in my free time I will likely continue to contribute. So, I will not actually say 'Good bye'.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Eclipse Tip: Stepping into selection and hyperlink debugging

The Java debugger allows you to step into a single method within a series of chained or nested method calls. Simply select the method you wish to step into and select Step into Selection from the Java editor context menu. I prefer to use the shortcut Ctrl+F5.

You can also step into a method by using hyperlink navigation. Simply place the cursor over the method you wish to step into and use Ctrl+Alt+Click to step into the method (rather than Ctrl+Click which will navigate to the source code).

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Improving Java code quality with Eclipse Juno

The Eclipse Java compiler performs more checks and analyses than are mandated by the Java Language Specification. See Java > Compiler > Errors/Warnings preference page for available options.

Now several of these options should be obvious, however a few maybe not :-) In Juno we (I mean Stephan) added a few pages to give some background on certain analyses and hints on how to make the best use of them.

Please let us know if these pages could be improved, or if you want to know more details on some other compiler options as well.