The last 2 weekends were really awesome. First, I went to FII Competition, a contest organised by the student organisation from the Computer Science Iasi Faculty. Second, I went with my school in a study visit at the Adobe HQ in Bucharest.

FII Competition

It's a computer science contest, with 4 sections: algorithmic, web development, digital art and security. It has 2 phases: one online, where at web dev I had to submit a project based on predefined themes, and one fast dev in Iasi, where in a short amount of time you have to code an app. It was the second edition of the contest, and I had good references about the contest, because at the first edition, one of my school colleagues managed to qualify at the final algorithmic section.

I didn't know I could participate at the contest, until 4 days before the deadline for the first project phase. So I forked the Rails Tutorial, which I finished it in January and in 4 nights I added a little functionality: changed the homepage to a more relevant one, added registration by invitation and LinkedIn integration. See the demo or the source code.

I arrived in Iasi Friday night, after 10 hours of travelling by bus and by train. I was a little special "case", because I wasn't 18 years old and I didn't have an adult mentor in my team, so my guide paid extra care for me (thanks Cosmin). After the road, and a little walking to the dormitory (it was very far), I went straight to bed, but not until Hertz arrived and we talked a little geek and hack stuff.

The next day, we went to University Al. I. Cuza, for the presentation of our projects. Most of the apps were quite impressive, and I was a little ashamed of the fact that I didn't work more on my project. Even mr Buraga, the president of the jury and one of my favorite web gurus said that I could have worked a little harder and not be so lazy.

me, presenting my first project
At the lunch, I met my old friend student at Iasi, Vlad Stoian, to whom I talked at Yahoo! Open Hack, was in the jury at InfoEducatie and now works at BitDefender. With him was his pal Bogdan Gaza, who was also in the jury at InfoEducatie (at my web section), coded a great Ruby gem and now he works at Amazon. We talked about the web and security contests and other geek / nerd / dubstep / hack stuff.

After the presentations, phase 2 of the contest started. We had to do a single page web app in Javascript, that takes books from Project Gutenberg and generates a tag cloud of the words in the books, together with the animation of the words, until next day at 9 a.m. First, I tried to process the books server-side, but I got stuck and moved to the HTML5 File API. Then, after creating the layout with Bootstrap, we received and awkward announcement: everybody had to get out of the university, and we weren't allowed to stay until late night to code. So, here I was, with 100 MB of limited Internet on my Vodafone mobile phone, not enough experience with Javascript and front-end development and a little grumpy.

Luckily Andrei Avadanei and Hertz were near me... to take me in the clubs. So us and a gang of other students and participants went clubbing in Iasi. We went to a hard-rock club, then to a nice terrace named "Brewers Yard", where we got pints of beer on a wagon's wheel and finally we settled in a dub-step club. I arrived a little tipsy in the dormitory at 4 am, with the thought of sleeping only one hour, and then working on my project.

Unfortunately, I didn't set the right hour on my alarm clock, and got up at 7:30 am, with only one hour of coding left. I tried to do a mockup of how the end result should look like, but in the end I presented only an idea, not an app.

I didn't win any prize, and I felt a little disappointed of me. But the guys eventually cheered me up. Me and Vlad went then to Men in Black 3, which btw is a great movie with really smart and unexpected turnarounds generated by time travel. Finally, we visited the new Palas mall, which has a great park in which I could spend days of my life.

Adobe HQ

HQ building
My head-teacher and computer science teacher, Miana Arisanu, has a student, Robert Hasna, which participated at contests and olympiads, and now he is a student at University of Bucharest and a Computer Scientist, Software Engineer at Adobe, working for WSDK. With his help, she obtained a study visit at the Adobe headquarters for 35 students and 5 teachers from our high-school.

We started the visit being welcomed by Bogdan Ripa, head of Engineering at Adobe. He presented then a short history of the company, from the foundations of Interakt, a Romanian web company, to the talent acquisition in 2006 of the 30 passionate people, to the now 270 employee web research center. Then, he enumerated the jobs that we can have in computer science, together with the different skills we need, and what I really like was that he emphasized the fact that our primary goal should not really be getting employed, and an idea could easily be transformed with a lot of passion and work into a startup.

The Adobe Romania motto is "Moving the web forward", and I was very pleased to be surprised by the fact that CSS3 Regions is the first W3C standard proposal which was incubated, written and coded in Romania. Then, he presented the other teams in the company (I found out now that they have a really good website).

Random office
Then, Adobe employees demoed us some of the apps that they were working on: a modified web-kit engine that could render articles with pagination, a magazine in web-kit that had page transitions written in OpenGL and an inDesign demo, together with the final National Geographic product.

Then Cosmin Lehene took the scene, and tried to "connect the dots". Except of me and 2-3 other students, nobody ever coded a real world app. So he tried to link all the things that were presented, to basic algorithms that all of us were good at school, and in my opinion he did a great job.

Finally, we did a tour of the building, going from the web dev area, to the big data team and finishing in at the video distribution team, occasionally ranting about different technologies, frameworks or business approaches used by Adobe.

In the end, I went to the cinema and saw Prometheus, a well-thought Sci-Fi movie in which I recognized that the director inspired himself from the old legends of the "uriesi" (big people), about which the Dacians thought are our ancestors, and that they seem to look like the Sphinx of Bucegi.
whole group
Kudos to Florin Roman for the Adobe pics, and pics from F11 are unviewable on their website.