Posts by Akash Krishnan

I design ideas, and develop websites

Why Design ?

Many people who make a move from different domains to make a career in Design, are often asked this question – Why/how design?

Even I’m a victim of this question. Because I graduated from an engineering school and then I started my career in Design.

To the question ‘Why Design?’ – My simple answer is – Because I’m passionate about being creative.

My journey to become a designer started when I was a sophomore. I started by reading blogs about design, watched some lectures about design and human psychology, and met a lot of like-minded people during any design events. I spent almost 2+ years to be able to think like a designer.

So it was never easy, but I was enjoying it.

Of course, you’ve to make tough decisions in life to chase the passion, like I did to become a professional designer being an engineering student. And it’s worth it.

Next time, if you’re in the same situation and you get a question like this, then you know what to answer 🙂

If you liked the featured image from this post, then show some love to @heysupersimi.

Hackathon + Trip to Jaipur

5000+ participants for a single hackathon. Can you believe that?

We were super excited for this. Post hackathon, it was a good experience, and we got to build Video-Syncer (https://github.com/akashfoss/video-syncer) – a tool which allows you to share and sync any video in a local network.

We were two teams from my University with two members in each team. We planned it like a week long trip. The schedule was like – one day for the pre-events + 36 hours for hackathon + one day for the prize distribution and the rest 3 days to travel around Jaipur.

The journey started from Kerala, travelled via almost every type of public transport to reach Jaipur via Delhi.

Finally when we reached the destination – Rajasthan University, some pre-events were happening in parallel, like – 5km marathon, dance, art-fest, etc. But we were exhausted after travelling all the way, so could not participate in any of the pre-events. Later the evening, we had good food and slept till the hackathon starts next day morning.

Got up on time, had some refreshments and then the hackathon started. Now we’re talking about next busy 36 hours.

We didn’t have any idea in mind before coming to hackathon. So thinking of a problem and then solving it took us some time. Coding it was less time consuming because we used preconfigured modules from Github.

Meanwhile, we had a lot of fun too. There was a tea stall at night 2am. What more to ask? 😀

Imagine when you’re surrounded by 5000+ geeks. Lot of ideas, prototypes and tech talks.

Post 32 hours, we were super tired because of almost no sleep but we were happy that we finished the work and submitted it 4 hours before the hackathon ends. Thanks to my teammate Akhileshwar Maurya for helping out with everything.

Results were announced the next day. We were not in the winning list, of course because there were many better ideas, and they deserved it. So Chill! Winning is not important always, experience also matters.

Soon after the event, we decided to drop our luggage at the Moustache hostel. I must say that the hostel was amazing, beautiful and quite affordable. We were staying with people from all over the world visiting Jaipur. Imagine that experience.

So that rest three days were spent well. We visited all the tourist spots in Jaipur, had the local food and finally did some shopping from Bapu Bazaar (it’s a chain of stalls where people sell a variety of traditional items, especially hand crafted ones).

Three days got over. We had to return. Time to say goodbye to Jaipur. Overall, it was an amazing trip with friends.

If you’re a fan of monuments, and love shopping hand crafted items then please do visit Jaipur, the pink city.

Student Social Responsibility Project

Career counselling for the future of India

As part of a project, we wanted to help school students to know different career aspects and their benefits.

When I was in my primary or secondary school, I never got this help from anyone. Lack of career counselling can lead to several problems.

MISSION:

  • Provide information on different career aspects.
  • Spread knowledge about the latest technologies.
  • Help students to find value in trying out things.

ACTIVITIES UNDERTAKEN:

  • Counselling sessions for teachers and students.
  • One to one counselling.
  • Illustrating the importance of passion in one’s career.

BACKGROUND OF THE PROBLEM:

  • Lack of awareness about the various career options available today.
  • Passion is never prioritised.
  • Lack of good resources on career development.

ROAD AHEAD:

  • Taking more such sessions in near future.
  • Motivating the youth to contribute to the nation’s growth.
  • Gather feedback and monitor students periodically.
  • Implement this project on larger scale.

ROSES AND THORNS:

We were surprised when some students actually raised their voice that they want to become a robotic engineer, or a computer science engineer, or a micro-biologist, etc. That was overwhelming for us.

And most of the students don’t understand the need of a career counselling. Fair enough, just talking about career options will not add value to try them out. We humans only try things out if we are curious to know about it, so as a parent or a teacher or an advisor or a senior, we should help the younger ones to find value in trying out something, we should make them curious about things, and we should encourage everyone to chase their passion and live their life fully.

Winter School on User Experience Design 2017

Wondering what’s winter school? It’s a school program, apparently this was happening in Delhi, during the first week of December which is usually around 5–10 degree celsius. So a winter school.

It’s basically a crash-course program on Human-Computer Interaction, where you learn to build usable and desirable interfaces.

Meanwhile this was happening, I was anyway traveling to Delhi. So I enrolled for it.

Topics covered were:

  1. Demystifying UX, Interaction Design, and HCI
  2. Types of Interfaces: Mobile, Web, Wearable, Virtual Reality, etc.
  3. User-Centered Design
  4. Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods
    • Interviews
    • Field Observations
    • Cognitive Walkthrough
    • A/B Testing
    • Usability Testing
  5. Contextual Inquiry
  6. Brainstorming and Bodystorming
  7. Rapid Prototyping: Paper, Video, Corrugated sheets
  8. Information Architecture
  9. Case studies
  10. Emotional design

It was engaging, like, getting to know the design concepts and then applying them to solve real world problems. Yes, we did it practically.

Before every session, we took an oath that Users come first, and we’re responsible for the UX. That was fun actually.

Since it was a project-based course, so we were divided into groups of 4, which will remain the same until the end of this winter school. And then here is the story –

1. Selecting a problem statement.

[Day 1] Theme of this winter school program was ‘SMART CITY’, and we had to choose a problem statement in any one sector in a smart city, like travel, communication, tourism, infrastructure, security, etc. It’s always hard to sit and think about problems, moreover we are not supposed to think of solutions.

By EOD, we were able to think of 5 silly problems. Most of them were derived from a solution first. But one, and only one problem was really unknown to us.

Why cannot humans in the metro cities enjoy nature?!

Yes! that’s a problem statement we thought could be genuine. Frankly speaking, when my teammate thought of this problem, the rest of us were simply laughing at it. Because it’s funny, right? Try shouting this aloud and see. You will also laugh.

But now, we were all curious to check whether this is a problem or not. If yes, then why?

2. User Research.

[Day 2] A fun exercise – field observation – qualitative research. So, the major difficulties here were to set the target audience and ask the right questions. We didn’t want to give clues to the user or confuse them.

Things required before field observation – keep the questionnaire ready, one person will talk to the user and someone else should take a note of it. And always keep a video or audio recording of the conversation with the user’s consent (this will help for later references).

Types of the questions we had were like –

  • How often do you travel?
  • What could be the possible reasons for your traveling/not traveling?
  • What kind of places do you like the most?
  • What do you mean by the word ‘NATURE’? What comes in mind first?
  • …. etc.

EOD, we got 12 live and 28 online responses. But we were lacking some more information. So  we managed to get a few more responses with a better set of questions this time.

3. Brainstorming and Ideation.

[Day 3] A tiring but interesting part, where you arrange all the data gathered and do some cognitive research with user inputs. We divided the data into 4 parts –  problems, needs, types of user and all the keywords that describe NATURE according to the users.

Now, we created a persona and a scenario for every user, with the help of the audio and video recordings of the conversations with the user. See! it helped us.

Time for empathy – Putting yourself to the user’s shoes, it’s difficult because no two people can think alike everything. But still you can try with whatever data you have, it’s fun.

Common user problems were – Money, time, job, poor weather outside and pollution.

After collecting all the user problems. We noted around 15 different ideas to solve each of them, where every idea was equally important for the user. So we clustered the ideas to get one feasible and usable solution that could solve most of the user problems.

Finally – Natureye. A VR integrated mobile application with an extra hardware that fits in the VR box for the immersive effects. The app could also –

  • Locate the user in a map and update with the current climatic conditions and the air quality of that location. – This helps in knowing the weather and pollution level outside.
  • Show only the nearby places having good air quality. – Those who get to travel can plan accordingly.
  • Advises the user to schedule their travel plan according to the climatic changes and the change in the air quality of their destination. – This helps them to travel with a plan.
  • Getting a virtual experience of nature using a 360-degree view, with immersive effects like wind, rain, breeziness, etc. – Now this is for users who cannot travel due to money, time or job as their reasons. Definitely this will not solve the whole problem of travelling but  our problem statement is to just enjoy nature. So it does give an instant realisation of Nature.

4. Wireframing or low fidelity prototyping – sketching.

[Day 4] Research part was done. And we started sketching the idea on some blueprints of a mobile device. This task was equally divided to all teammates. For example – I will be taking care of the onboarding experience of the app, someone will work on the map experience, other folks will work on the VR screens and travel scheduler screens.

And to make the sketches work like a prototype, there is a mobile app called POP 2.0, it’s available in Google Play Store – free app. Basically, this app uses the snaps of the sketches and allows us to add the button effects to make the screens clickable – kind of a working lo-fi prototype.

Meanwhile, for the immersive effects, receptors and sensors were out of scope for us. So our idea was to fit a small toy fan which also sprinkles water with the VR box – HAHA – it’s just a prototype. So, I was designing a layout for that, and ended with a mask kind of design that covers half of the face, so that a fan can fit in easily.

5. Rapid Prototyping

[Day 5] Post wireframing, we had to make real screens and some prototype of the hardware device for VR immersive effects. We used proto.io for designing the app. My teammate Ankur helped us with the app design. Meanwhile, I was working on the hardware prototype. Purchased a toy fan with water sprinkler, and made a cardboard setup to fit this fan with a VR box. It was difficult but I enjoyed it.

It took us 14 hours (approx) to reach the final product including the presentation slides. And we were ready for it.

6. Presentation

[Day 6] Finally, it’s show time. All the groups were ready with their prototypes and presentations, so were we. Our presentation was small, because we had to demonstrate the prototype within a time frame (8 minutes).

We explained different personas with their scenarios, one was traveler and other was non-traveler/ less traveler. Then we demonstrated our app idea, by taking the example of those scenarios. Judges and others really enjoyed the concept. And finally we got our goodies and certificates.

Eventually, the winter school came to an end with some good south Indian food, a strong team, a good project, some goodies, and memories. Thanks for the read. #WSUX17

You can find the prototype of the app here – https://www.behance.net/gallery/62451695/Natureye

Installing drupal on a local machine

Setup up a Drupal instance in your localhost by following these instructions:

Pre-requisites

Install and configure Git in your machine (use the following command) :

$ sudo apt-get install git #installing git
$ git config --global user.name "<username>"        
$ git config --global user.email <email>

Install Composer using Curl:

curl -sS https://getcomposer.org/installer | sudo php -- --install-dir=/usr/local/bin --filename=composer

Install PHP:

sudo apt-get install php5-gd php5-curl libssh2-php

Install LAMP server (follow this blog):  Installing LAMP server on ubuntu

Once you have installed all the above softwares, then you just need to configure some apache local server files and MySQL.

First create a database (I’m calling it as ‘drupal’ and adding a user with email address and password, you may add your email and password):

mysql -u root -p

CREATE DATABASE drupal;

CREATE USER drupaluser@localhost IDENTIFIED BY 'password';

GRANT SELECT,INSERT,UPDATE,DELETE,CREATE,DROP,INDEX,ALTER,CREATE TEMPORARY TABLES,LOCK TABLES ON drupal.* TO drupaluser@localhost;

FLUSH PRIVILEGES;

exit

Now configure this apache file:

sudo nano /etc/php5/apache2/php.ini

Check whether you have these conditions as mentioned below:

. . .
expose_php = Off
. . .
allow_url_fopen = Off
. . .
sudo a2enmod rewrite
sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/000-default.conf

Check whether the below codes match with the file you just opened:

<VirtualHost *:80>
    . . .
    ServerName  example.com
    ServerAdmin webmaster@example.com
    DocumentRoot /var/www/html

    <Directory /var/www/html>
        AllowOverride All
    </Directory>
    . . .
</VirtualHost>

Now restart the apache server to execute the changes you did:

$ sudo service apache2 restart

Once you are done till this step. Then clone any Drupal version repository to /var/www/html.

Clone Drupal version 8:

git clone --branch 8.x http://git.drupal.org/project/drupal.git

Extract the file.

Go into the folder called Drupal and do composer install:

$ composer install --no-dev

Now browse for this address in your browser:

http://localhost/"<name of the directory you cloned>"

Hope you get a screen like shown below. Enter the Database name, email and password that you entered before.

drupal1

How to make a USB bootable using Linux machine?

Hope you have these items

  • USB drive (at least 2GB)
  • Linux machine
  • The ISO file for the OS you want to boot

Once you have them ready.

Step 1 : Go to Disks in your linux machine (you can just search globally and you will get the option), and choose the USB drive which you want to boot.

Step 2: Format the USB to FAT-32.

Step 3: Open Startup Disk Creator in your machine. Select the ISO file.

Step 4: Click on Make Startup Disk button. (Be patient, it might take some time)

Your USB drive is booted now.

That was an easy method. But if you want to make the USB bootable from your terminal/console. Then follow these instructions –

Step 1 : Open the terminal and enter this command:

$ sudo apt-get install syslinux mtools

Step 2 : Create a mount point and mount Linux ISO image using the following command.

$ sudo mkdir /media/iso
$ sudo mount -o loop /opt/Ubuntu.iso /media/iso

Step 3 : Connect your USB and Mount it (if it’s already mounted then skip this step) :

$ sudo mount /dev/sdc /medma/usb

Step 4 : Copy all files from mounted ISO to the USB drive.

$ sudo cp -ra /media/iso/* /media/usb

Step 5 : Copy the ldlinux.sys file to your USB drive.

$ sudo syslinux -s /dev/sdd1

Step 6 : Use these commands to rename of some important files.

$ cd /medma/usb
$ mv isolinux syslinux
$ cd syslinux
$ mv isolinux.cfg syslinux.cfg

Your USB drive is booted now.

Fix : ZSH corrupt error

Recently I had an issue with ZSH, whenever I open my terminal it shows some error that my .zsh got corrupted.

This is how the error looks like:

$ zsh: corrupt history file /home/myusername/.zsh_history

How to fix this issue?

It happens when you make some changes to the ZSH history file, or you delete it improperly.

So I found a way to fix it. You need to rename the history file and then delete the new file. Just copy-paste these commands in your terminal:

$ cd ~

$ mv .zsh_history .zsh_history_bad

$ strings .zsh_history_bad > .zsh_history

$ fc -R .zsh_history

Now reboot your system

$ sudo reboot

Or

Another simple way to remove the history file (note that this will remove your terminal history) –

echo $HISTFILE

And

rm $HISTFILE

 

Issue fixed. If you face this error again then follow the same method.

Creating a Drupal site

Hey Folks

Get your own Drupal site within few minutes and few clicks 🙂

First install xampp

Go to this link and download xampp according to your operating system -> http://www.apachefriends.org/en/xampp-linux.html\

Then follow these codes –

cd /home/[Username]/Downloads
ls

Now to make installable file execute

chmod +x xampp-linux-1.8.2-0-installer.run

Your file is ready to execute, now to run this file

sudo -s -H
./xampp-linux-1.8.2-0-installer.run

Now you will get a dialogue box to install it, do install

and then type the following command to get started with xampp

sudo /opt/lampp/lampp restart

Here you installed xampp server

Now go to your browser and type the following on address bar

http://localhost/

and you will be redirected to xampp server. Scroll down and check for Drupal in the following list. Click on Drupal to Download.

Now do the following commands

cd 
cd Downloads/
ls
chmod +x <name of the drupal file you downloaded>
./ <name of the drupal file you downloaded>

This will show you another dialogue box to install Drupal. install it and get into your own Drupal site 🙂

 

Hope this worked for you

Changing Ubuntu’s password

It’s important to choose a safe and secure password for any machine, but sometimes it’s not so easy to remember the password for a long time, which sometimes tend to remove the OS and reinstall. Why to make the process such difficult when you can change the password without making much moderation.

For a fresh start – reboot the machine.

Hold shift key to get into GRUB, for a dual booted version they automatically get into GRUB.

Select your version of Ubuntu image and press E to edit the image.

Find the line starting with Linux and at the end of the line type this command ->

rw init=/bin/bash 

Then press F10 or ctrl + x to save the changes and boot OS, if it comes as a blank page with a blinking underscore then do redo the above procedures carefully.

Hope it worked till now!

Now you get into root mode and type

$passwd <your username>

System will prompt to enter your new password. Enter a valid and easy_to_remember password and save the change.

Reboot the system, and congratulations you are back to Ubuntu 🙂

Installing LAMP server on ubuntu

LAMP is a open source web server to set up websites. It is used to get access to website locally. It include Linux, Apache, Mysql and PHP/Python/Perl.

How to setup a lamp server ?

Installing LAMP is not a difficult task, you just need to copy some codes to your terminal and here it is.

Installing LAMP on ubuntu

Installing Apache

$ sudo apt-get install apache2

To check whether apache is installed or not, you can type http://localhost/ on your address bar and you will be redirected to an apache page.

Installing MySQL

$ sudo apt-get install mysql-server

Installing PHP

$ sudo apt-get install php5 libapache2-mod-php5

Restarting apache

$ sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

Try again to check your localhost

Also you can check about php

$ php -r 'echo "\n\nYour PHP installation is working fine.\n\n\n";'

 

If you have successfully completed all of these, then congratulations you have installed LAMP in your pc.

 

 

 

” Always hope for the best and work for the worst “