Last week I was at the InfoEducatie Galaciuc national computer software contest. This time something was different. I was part of the organising team and part of the web committee. The anxiety of the last lines of code for half-working features changed into non-sleeping nights because of paperwork and lots of arguments related to jurying.

I met with Robert Dolca, Vlad Temian, Vlad Velici and Sabin Marcu at the location where the Bucharest bus departed to Galaciuc. I had already seen Robert and VladT about a month ago when Vlad came at ComicCon, but I hadn't seen the guys from Southampton University for about two years. After 5 hours of geek talking about programming, universities, software and anything you can imagine, we arrived in the camp. Being part of the jury has some slightly little advantages, like the fact that we stayed at "Cabana WiFi” (it's named liked this because it was the only place in the early years where you had Internet access).

opening ceremony
About a week before the contest started, we had our nightly student organisation meetings on Hangouts. We made sure that every student completed a bunch of forms, spammed those who were lazy, verified that each project submission contains the source code and not just a readme file, and lots of other secretary stuff. We also got a little carried away and wanted to rewrite the website. It was built 10 years ago and it’s pretty cool, but some parts of it are using ancient technologies, like holding data in hardcoded PHP arrays. We didn’t finish the new version of the website because everybody had lots of work to do at home, but we promised ourselves that next year it will be ready.

opening ceremony 2
After arriving in Galaciuc we stayed for about 2 hours, just breathing the fresh air at 24 degrees Celsius. In Bucharest, the temperatures were high above 35 degrees. I was surprised to see Mihai Pora, the engineer from Google that I met at the Google Project Tango hackathon in Timisoara. He came with a satellite antenna, so our first mission was to install it. Every year students have cried about the poor quality of the internet, but this year things have changed. After half a day of following lego-like instructions and securing the antenna so it does not fall from the balcony, we finally had some decent Internet access for all the 220 students that came.

the antenna
The next days were full of work. I made an intranet website that everybody in the camp could access, so we wouldn't have to post updates using ancient communication technologies. The BitDefender guys made a cool treasure hunt, were they gave lots of prizes.

you could could easily pinpoint participants in the treasure hunt, because they had red t-shirts and were running with their laptop
As for the presentations, the first day Simona Meitoiu from Intel came and showed the participants how to present their projects. Robert Dolca showed an awesome demo on how to run Android on your Intel processor. Vlad Temian did a Git 101 presentation, but couldn't refrain to dive into the Git internals and how are branches and commits arranged in the filesystem. Mihai Pora showed us how awesome are the Project Tango devices.

Razvan Deaconescu talked about how open-source changes the software world. Razvan Rughinis told the high-school students about the differences between a software engineer and a computer scientist. A nice thing happened after their presentations, when about 50 students came to them with lots of questions.

I did my intro to Python hands-on presentation to about 15 people. I was surprised that 4 teachers came and diligently worked through all the exercises. During my hands-on, the awards for the Java Oracle hackathon were given. Some cool projects were done in just half a day.

people coding and the Python Hands-on
The nights were pretty awesome. I missed my voice for about 2 days, because nothing compares with playing the guitar and singing a song with your whole lungs at 3 am. We also played Mafia till the sun rose and the classic game of mime where we had to mimic words like transistor.
awesome campfire
The differences between being a jury and being a participant are enormous. I knew that before coming to InfoEducatie, because at home I tried for 2 consecutive days to rank the projects that were already sent to us. It's really difficult to compare the top 10 projects, especially when you have 9 areas where you give points to them.

This year was the first time when the robots category had an open. This was a part of their kit.
Luckily we had the open. Each year, after all the participants present their projects from home, the best 5-7 teams at each section get into  it. For 24 hours, the teams do their best to make an app that fits a theme selected by the jury. For web this year, we gave them a tag cloud with the words "Git, merge, diff, unique". The teams in the utility software category had to build an exotic SMS app, where 2 machines could talk only through sound or images.

hacking at the Java hackathon
After the contest ends, the jury from web has a tradition to meet with the participants and give them feedback. Well, this year it was the longest session of feedback ever. For about 2 hours we talked about almost everything we could imagine. Use frameworks, structure your code with MVC, write unit tests, look up Bootstrap, make your website responsive so every device could use it, reduce your load between server and client by using JSON, these topics were all part of the general feedback we gave to the students.

I'm pretty confident this years was one of the best editions of InfoEducatie ever. See you next year, and here are some awesome videos from the Multimedia participants that will surely convince you to come to the contest.

Random stuff

  • pictures as always are taken from mr. Emil Onea's album
  • other photos are in Mihai Pora's albums
  • I've written on my blog about InfoEducatie in 2012 and 2011
  • we have 83 done tasks in our Trello boards
see you next year