How to organise a successful Google Code-In meetup

In this blog post I hope to write about what is Google Code-In and the best way to organise a successful Google Code-In meetup or workshop in your local community. I hope you will find everything that you need to know about conducting a successful meetup.

What is Google Code-In ?

Google Code-In is a global and an open source contest funded by Google to give real world software development experience to pre-university students who are in age range 13-17. Beside of software developing, this contest’s main objective is to motivate tech enthusiastic students to contribute to opensource and give them the knowledge about open source software development.

The usual timeline of the contest is, it opens for students on end of the November and runs until mid of January. There are 25 open source organizations participating for Google Code-In this time.

Your role ?

As a GCI mentor , past GCI student or an open source contributor you have a responsibility towards the community. That is to expand the community awareness and transfer your knowledge to next generation. You gather experience while working on the open source projects and GCI is the best place to give your knowledge to youngsters while working with them. You should be devoted to guide students and give them an introduction to open source software development.

How students can be a part of the contest ?

Any pre-university student in age group 13-17 can register for the contest. The following four steps needs to be followed by the student to be eligible to compete in the contest.

  1. Sign up at g.co/gci after reading the Contest Rules.
  2. Ask their parent or legal guardian to sign the Parental Consent form.
  3. Find a task that interests them.
  4. Claim the task and start working while getting guidance from the mentors.

In return to their hard work and open source contribution, students can win digital certificates, t-shirts, hoodies based on their performance as well as a trip to Google HeadQuarters for Grand Prize Winner.

How to organize a local meetup ?

Since the Google Code-In contest is for pre-university students, I highly recommend that you organize a meetup for schools in the community. You can easily contact the club or society of the school which is related to Information and Communication Technology and convey your idea of the meetup so that the responsible person can get the management approval from their side to facilitate your meetup inside the school.

If you are not confident enough to conduct a session on your own maybe because this is a new experience to you, Don’t worry ! You can always call some other past GCI students, GCI mentors or open source contributors to collaborate with you in conducting a successful session. As open source world teaches us, it’s always collaboration that brings success to any project.

Taking the start to the meetup, you need to give an introduction to the Google Code-In. You may find different questions from the audience about “What is GCI?”. It is better if you can emphasize the importance of contributing to the open source projects since the students have no experience in that field. I suggest you to give students an insight on the evolvement of Google Code-In throughout the past years, so they get to know the real world statistics.

During the meetup, you need to focus on the 05 types of tasks that are available for students to claim, giving insights to what are the small small things that they really need to use in each task type.

  1. Coding
    • Give insights into GitHub and how to make a GitHub account, how to clone a project repository to their local machines and how to make a pull request.
  2. Documents and Training
    • Give insights into standard ways of doing documentation and basics to follow when conducting a user training.
  3. Outreach and Research
    • Give insights into how to make a blog account and write a blog as well as how to do some research on the project areas.
  4. Quality Assurance
    • Give insights into the measures that we take to assure the quality of the project and the steps that we take in order to make sure the project is adhered to the relevant quality measures.
  5. User Interface
    • Give insights into basic wireframing software like Balsamic as well as guidelines to a successful user experience.

It is really appreciated if you can share your experiences in open source contributions with them like what did you do, what you will be doing next and what obstacles that you had to face while contributing and how did you overcome those challenges. This will be an eye opener for them to think beyond the comfort zone. This section will be really helpful for the students to grab really what open source contributing is.

It is a best practice to conduct the session in an interactive way getting things done out of the box so that the students won’t get bored and they feel more energetic and comfortable since they feel that their opinion is also valued when we give time for their voice as well. Always motivate them to ask questions in the moments that they need more clarifications about what you are saying. In return if you have swags from Google, give them too since they will love it.

Always try to localize the session according to the audience that you are talking to. Use the language the majority of the audience is feasible with in order to make the meetup content more understandable to the community. You can use some slides so that you won’t miss the sections that you are going to talk about and the presentation flow will be really smooth to the initiative. Try to take an offline slide set with you in a USB drive, if you are making your presentation on Google Slides. Same for any videos that you are going to show up too.

Don’t forget to bring necessary cables/ converters(projector converters) with you and always remember to have a good internet connection with you if you are using internet for demos or other things  to eliminate connectivity issues which interrupt the meetup at some points and it is not a good impression to the students.

So far I wrote about how to organize a successful meetup in your local community on Google Code-In and hope this information will be very useful for you which I gathered through my own experiences when conducting the local meetups. I’m waiting to see some new meetups coming soon from all of you guys. Good Luck !

 

References

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Adding IBM Watson TTS Support in Susi Assistant on Raspberry Pi

Susi Hardware project aims at creating a smart assistant for your home that you can run on your Raspberry Pi or similar Development Boards.
I previously wrote a blog on choosing a perfect Text to Speech engine for Susi AI and had used Flite as the solution for it. While Flite is an Open Source solution that can run locally on a client, it does not provide the same quality of voice and speed as cloud providers. We always crave for a more natural voice for better interaction with our assistant. It is always good to have more options. We, therefore, added IBM Watson Text to Speech API in SUSI Hardware project.

IBM Watson TTS can be added to a Python Project easily using the IBM Watson Developer SDK.

For using the IBM Watson Developer SDK for Text to Speech, first of all, we need to sign up for Bluemix
https://console.bluemix.net/registration/

After that, we will get the empty dashboard without any service added currently. We need to create a Text to Speech Service. To do so, click on Create Watson Service button

    

Select Watson on the left pane and then select Text to Speech service from the list.

Select the standard plan from the options and then click on create button.

You will get service credentials for your newly created text to speech service. Save it for future reference.

After that, we need to add Watson developer cloud python package.

sudo pip3 install watson-developer-cloud

On Ubuntu with Python 3.5 watson-developer-cloud has some extra dependencies. Install them using the following command.

sudo apt install libssl-dev

Now we can add Text to Speech to our project. For that, we need to first import TextToSpeechV1 library. It can be added using following import statement.

from watson_developer_cloud import TextToSpeechV1

Now we need to create a new TextToSpeechV1 object using the Service Credentials we created earlier.

text_to_speech = TextToSpeechV1(
   username='API_USERNAME',
   password='API_PASSWORD')

We can now perform synthesis of a text input and write the incoming speech stream from IBM Watson API to a file.

with open('output.wav', 'wb') as audio_file:
   audio_file.write(
       text_to_speech.synthesize(text, accept='audio/wav’, voice='en-US_AllisonVoice'))

In the above code snippet,  we are opening an output file ‘output.wav’ for writing. We then write the binary audio data returned by text_to_speech.synthesize method. IBM Watson provides many free voices. We supply an argument specifying which voice we need to use. We are using English female ‘en-US_AllisonVoice’. You may test out more voices in the online demo here and select the voice that you find best.

We can play the ‘output.wav’ file using the play command from SoX. To do so, we need to install SoX binary.

sudo apt install sox libsox-fmt-all

We can play the file easily now using the following code.

import os
os.system('play output.wav')

The above code invokes the ‘play’ command from the SoX package to play the audio file. We can also use PyAudio to play the audio file but it would require us to manage the audio thread separately. Thus, SoX is a better solution.

Resources:

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Setup SUSI Assistant on Raspberry Pi in under 30 minutes

With our ever growing list of list of platforms supported by Susi AI, we now have a client that can run on Raspberry Pi and you can access it hands-free!! Here is a video that you can refer for its working.

But it might have left you wondering how you can replicate such a setup yourself? It is fairly easy and will be done fairly easy. Just follow the following instructions.

You need to have following hardware in order to have your own SUSI Assistant running on Raspberry Pi.

  • A Raspberry Pi (prefer 2 or 3) with Raspbian Jessie OS.
  • A stable internet connection.  ( Recommended 4 Mbps )
  • A USB Microphone /  USB Webcam with Microphone. You may buy one like this.
  • A Speaker that connects through 3.5mm jack. You may buy one like this.

After you get all the above items in order, you need to get access to a terminal of your Raspberry Pi. You can have that by either connecting a monitor to Raspberry Pi temporarily or by connecting to Raspberry Pi over SSH.

Once this is done, next step is the installation of the dependencies. The installation of the SUSI on Raspberry is automated after dependencies are installed. Run the following command on Raspberry Pi terminal.

sudo apt install git swig3.0 portaudio19-dev pulseaudio libpulse-dev unzip sox libatlas-dev libatlas-base-dev libsox-fmt-all python3

After this, you may check if your output and input devices are working alright. For this, run rec recording.wav . It will start recording audio and saving it to a file named recording.wav. Play back the file using play recording.wav If you hear your audio clearly, setup is done right else you need to configure your Audio Devices correctly.  Most of the time the configuration of Audio works out the box and devices are plug and play so you would not encounter any errors. If you are successful in configuring your devices, install extra dependencies for SUSI Hardware by running the automated install script. In your terminal run,

$ git clone https://github.com/fossasia/susi_hardware.git
$ cd susi_hardware
$ ./install.sh 

This will install all the remaining dependencies. After the above step is complete, you may run configuration file generator script to choose the Text to Speech and Speech to Text service according to your wish. For doing so, you need to run

$ python3 config_generator.py

Follow the instructions in the script. It will ask you to configure the default service for Text to Speech and Speech to Text and other options. After the configuration is complete, you can simply run the following command to start SUSI.

$ python3 main.py

This will start SUSI in a continuously listening mode. You may invoke SUSI anytime, just by saying SUSI followed by a query. The query will be answered by SUSI subsequently.

Since configurations for different hardware devices may vary, you may encounter some problems. In such a scenario, you may refer to the following resources to solve the issues.

Resources:

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