By Hiyal Biyagamage
Refresh Colombo, a community of web and technology enthusiasts and professionals, held its June Meet-up at the Royal College Union Skills Center on 28 June. It was a well-organized event for the hackers, bloggers, coders, geeks and geek lovers, journalists, techies, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists out there to enhance their latest and evolving knowledge about technology and information technology. What Refresh Colombo really does is helping everybody further their knowledge on technology, bridging the gap between tech-thinking and business thinking, sharing experiences and success stories to motivate the Sri Lankan youth and building and empowering a strong tech community within Sri Lanka. There are zero restrictions on how to attend the event who should attend the event. Refresh Colombo organizers welcomes everybody as they said to me “you can even bring your grandmother.” In their lineup they have four sessions called Tech Talk, IT un-plugged, Gadget Session and Lightening talk. All these sessions help the participants to improve their tech knowledge.
The June meet-up was and enthusiastic one where there were more than 60 tech-savvies were participated. There was a special speech given by U.S. Department of State Press and Public Diplomacy for South and Central Asia Director Jonathan Henick on ‘How the US Government uses social media in South Asia region’. He talked about different ways how people can use social media in different ways. Henick mentioned social media can use as a tool for communication and tool for ourselves. “Nowadays social media has become a great tool. Government legislations and policies can be questioned by these powerful tools. Social media concerned the Egyptian Revolution which ended Hosni Mubarak’s regime with professional commitment. So diplomatic affairs are being very carefully monitored by these communicating methods,” Henick said. He also said communicating with different people on a small scale or large scale is not a problem anymore. “When you use Facebook for instance, it is not just only a one-way communication. You can have the response from one side and you can respond to it,” Henick added further.
Henick also mentioned the various challenges in social media. He said people should know how to use it appropriately and maintaining the discipline. “Social media is not traditional media, that is what people have to realize. People have to understand different aspects between different social media tools,” Henick said, commenting about the challenges. He shared some general ideas such as broadcasting versus narrowcasting. “For an example US Ambassador for Sri Lanka has his own FB Page. I have my own FB page. But what we have to keep in mind that is his page is much different from my own page. What we are saying through our social media tools may differ. And spending your time in these applications and putting correct and relevant thing is also important,” Henick added. He was questioned by the audience about US Diplomacy controversies and in reply he said that everyone has the freedom to express thoughts and United States is only interested in building up a strong social media community.
There were two special kinds of demos for the attendees. First demo was by Azker Mohammed and Irfad Razik about SSL Stripping. SSL (Secure Socket Layer) Strip is a tool which is used for HTTPS stripping attacks. It was a demo on how actually DATA is sniffed over network and also, an explanation on how to save ourselves on the Internet. Their demo included what is SSL and its usage, SSL process, How SSL Strip sniff data and tips on how to use internet wisely. Second demo was done under the topic ‘Simplifying UX’. It was carried out by Buddhika Siddhisena and Jude Fernando of Think Cube. They talked about idea on usability and shared their experiences on user interface designing. They pointed out when designing user interfaces, developers should be iterative, futuristic, simplified and realistic. Siddhisena, said “We wanted to relate our usability so close to the real world. We tried new things and minimized the clutter. What Jude and I have to tell is that user experience is skin deep. So take a stance when it comes to usability”. They offered a demo on their product, ‘ZoomBA cloud’, which offers integrated business applications which is affiliated with cloud computing.