Sunday, December 8, 2013

eClub Demo Day

The eClub Demo Day starts on Tuesday at ERA Svet. Join us with your project. We will award scholarships in two categories: the best Technology Transfer (TT) and the best Startup Plan (SP). First place 30k, second 20k, third 10k CZK in both categories.

Everybody is welcomed see the conditions for participation. How to prepare:
First of all register, we need to know how many teams will compete to plan properly.

The Google presentation manager format is welcomed. Presentations with an Internet link will save us time while eliminating the hassle with PC or flash memories. We have Internet connected iPad, which you can share. Certainly, if you chose different format we will handle it too.

Some more advices. The presentation must not be longer than 10 minutes. Be crisp, explain the most important points only. The first page should contain the project name, the team members names and the category (TT or SP).

How to put together the best presentation? I usually recommend the NABC approach:

  • Explain the NEED. What problem do you solve. Is it for industry in the TT category or for customers in the SP category.
  • APPROACH. How do you suggest solving the problem? What technologies can be used, how complicated it is, what is your experience in solving such problem, what is the trick!
  • BENEFIT. What is the benefit. The best approach is to quantify benefits. For example: how much faster is your solution, how much cheaper, is it easier to use. In TT what is the benefit for companies, in SP how would your startup benefit.
  • COMPETITION. Tell us who is your competition, how they solve the problem today and how much better is your idea.
If all goes fine, we plan to announce the list of winners at the end of the Demo Day. Bring your friends to support you during the presentation. I am looking forward to see all of you on Tuesday.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Win scholarship for your disertation

The eClub competition will have two categories in this semester. The first, for the best startup idea and a new category for the best students project idea with an industrial impact. We will award scholarships in both categories.

The main eClub target is to introduce students to entrepreneurship. Show how to turn their ideas to successful products. There are basically two ways how to achieve it. Startups for those who are interested in business and technology transfer for those who are more interested in inventing new stuff and less interested in business. Both must have strong vision and need to keep in mind their customers. To invent a new product is a process of matching the product hypothesis with the customers. Startupers have to do all. The company receiving the technology will become responsible for the customer search. Startup is bigger bet but you can earn more money.

Our students impact and cooperation with the industry is still very small. We want to help. We have been so far funding statups and neglecting those who have good ideas but are less adventures. We will fix it in this semester. We are introducing a new category for students working on industrial ideas. It can be a BSc, MSc, PhD theses or any other school work, but it must be aimed at solving some practical problem. This means during the presentation you will have to prove that your idea is practical and useful for companies.

We will award projects in both categories. The first startup team or student work with industry impact will collect 30k, the second 20k and the third 10k. Contrary to many competition for the best theses we want to support students in both categories during the development, while working on the new idea.

How to enter the competition? Simply go to eClub pages, read the rules, and fill-in the registration. Prepare a ten minutes long presentation explaining the main idea. Do  not forget who are your customers and why they need your solution. Then show up for the dry run session on November 12th. Test your presentation skills and gain a valuable feedback from your peers.  Before the dry run, do not miss the opportunity to learn how to write a good theses or technical paper. Tomas Pajdla, an experienced researcher will share with us how to do it in the next eClub session. Join us! Do not miss your chance, there is nothing to lose!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

CVUT Students get cheep phone with school timetable

CVUT student’s team has developed KOSeek showing the school timetable on your Android. You do not have an Android phone? Currently, Samsung is offering deeply discounted cell phones with preinstalled KOSeek at CVUT, Faculty of Electrical Engineering.

Last week we have officially introduced the KOSeek application during the eClub meeting. We also have released new version displaying the school timetable. We reacted to students demand - the timetable was the most requested feature by many users. In addition, we list peers attending the same course allowing easily starting a discussions, helping each other, etc.

Some caveats:  We apologise, but we support only the Faculty of Electrical Engineering (FEL) and Information Technologies (FIT). Some of the faculties and students are still using the older versions (2.3), but the latest version of KOSeek supports only Android 4.0 and newer. Based on the number of requests we do not plan the older versions support. There are some additional reasons, such as the 4.0 simplifies the tablet version development.

We were very lucky CVUT financially supported the development. Smart decision guys! These days we can observe the growing number of downloads. As of today, we crossed 10% of the total population of FEL+FIT.  We do not have exact numbers but we know that Android is the most popular smart phone operating system at CVUT. Currently, we are closely watching the discussion to carefully select the additional features we will implement. If you have any preferences or wishes send me an email or comment this blog.

Samsung is helping us a lot. This and the next week at the entrance of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Dejvice you will find a small exhibition of new Samsung mobile products. You can run KOSeek on any of the phones or tablets. You can also play with the very new Note 3 with connected Samsung watch. Pay attention specially to the latest watch, this is a device of the future. You can also enjoy the latest tablets and test the screen quality and agility.

Samsung has also prepared a great offer for those who still do not have an Android phone. Stop by and pick a leaflet with a discount code for S3 or the Node 3. Great devices!

Keep us posted, place a comment, request new features for KOSeek and stay tuned, we will introduce other new surprises.

Monday, October 14, 2013

New eClub competition

eClub is preparing a new competition. This time we want to support students of the Czech technical universities interested not only in creating a startup but also students interested in solving industrial problems.

So far eClub focused on early startups. During the five competitions we have attracted around fifty teams competing for scholarships. We have invested around 1 million crowns in scholarships. Some of the teams had a very short life. Some of the teams created a company and are on the market till today. Some teams had dramatically changed their business ideas but are still on the market.

The Czech startup scene is also changing. There are many different competitions supporting starting entrepreneurs. Some of the teams are joining them one by one competing for the prices to get support for further development instead of asking VCs to invest. Other teams are engaging to various contracts to fund their favorite project. Neither is ideal but the entrepreneurship is not an easy road. We want to differentiate, the eClub ambition is supporting technical universities students and the high tech projects. We are also want to support students long term, creating conditions for continuous development. Sometimes good stuff takes long to develop. Ideally we would like to support the top students researching new technologies and converting them to industrial products. There are two ways to a product:

  • Startup
  • Technology transfer

So far eClub was supporting just the startupers. This semester we want to make another step ahead and support also the technology transfer, support students working on great projects with clear industrial impact. Therefore we will have two categories in the competition:

  • Startup projects
  • Technological projects. 

We invite all students working on PhD, MSc or BSc theses or other school projects with a vision of a clear technological impact to the technological projects category. The startup rules will be the same. The rules for the technological projects will be also very simple. I will publish the exact rules on the eClub pages soon. The panel of judges will select the best projects based on the following criteria:

  • Innovation
  • Feasibility
  • Industrial impact
  • Special points for existing industrial partner
  • Existing supervisor - extra points

To balance the university and industry views we will select the judges from industry as well as the university faculties.

The competition will have two stages as usual. First the entrants will meet during the dry run Demo Day planned for Nov 11, which is a chance to test the ideas in front of viewers and learning to mediate the ideas. To deliver the best results there will be a presentation by Tomas Pajdla about how to write a technical document giving you some hints on how to put the structure of presentation together. The second presentation will be shortly before Christmas presenting your ideas to a panel of judges.

The judges will select top three projects in the startup as well as the technological projects and the MediaLab will award scholarships for the three winners in both categories. The total of the prices will be in the order of hundreds of thousands. Talk to your friends and get ready. It will be beneficial and will help you in the competition if you get good supervisor and contact in the industry. If you are already preparing your theses think about the industrial impact. Everybody is welcomed! Our aim is to help shaping the ideas and people who are willing to take new challenges and develop new technologies.

Monday, September 30, 2013


is a new mobile information system for Android for students of the Czech Technical University. This is also an invitation for an official introduction of KOSeek along with Samsung watch presentation. What a coincidence: check on your watch what is going on at your university.

Thanks to CTU support students of the CTU Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Faculty of Information Technology developed a simple mobile application for Android. It allows searching students and employees allowing direct call or email. Students can access the courses information, business hours in the student’s office, get in touch with dean's office. The application also shows the recent RSS feeds for CTU, FEE and FIT. Once you get hungry check the menu at the cafeterias.

The KOSeek beta version was launched one week ago and the Google Play Market already shows 100+ downloads. We have not advertised the application properly yet, and we know we have more downloads. The rating is approaching 4. We also have some crashes but we work on debugging them. We are also happy to report there is already a discussion and many students are sending us comments and suggestion. Unfortunately, as far as I know, no faculties comments. Wait, my boss had commented!

The whole app was developed thanks to CTU. It is based on a long time project at FIT developing KOS API, which was essential for the KOSeek. This API is allowing to access the basic databases in the main information system called KOS. By the way KOS in Czech == blackbird and KOSeek == little blackbird! The FIT students are working with the Computer Information Center of CTU and it is definitely not a smooth ride, but it is hard to beat a person who never gives up. We keep the fingers crossed to get more out of KOS API and enable further functionality. Thanks guys!

The fronted, the Android application was developed at FEE. Three students, MSc, BSc, and a freshman, Adam, Dusan and Tomas joined together to design a great UI. Along the lines they have put together a reasonable development environment using standard tools, git, Android Developers Studio, Play Market. We have now a reasonably organized development and product threads in git, build system with Unit Tests and other tools. This is allowing newcomers to join effectively and get fast productive. I am sure there will be many other students joining. Are you interested, let me know. The build includes also an automatic User Database generation, which is part of the download allowing for KOSeek incremental search support. We use the Android build-in SQLite db.

KOSeek is still in its beta version, there is still lot of work required to make it perfect. We are receiving many suggestions for improvements from users as well as from developers. We have created a wishlist and we try to prioritize based on demand. It will be a hard task to keep the number of features at a reasonable, most useful level. Yes, most of the users are people of technical background, they will handle it, but anyway simpler is better!

Currently, the team is busy debugging, adding the most requested feature and some more goodies. We would like to introduce this features during the official KOSeek kickoff in the eClub meeting on Tuesday Oct. 8th at 5:00 pm in ERA Svet. Come and join us, you will also have a chance to see the latest Samsung watch and Note 3. Samsung representatives will bring the gear with them to let you enjoy a sneak preview. We also be very happy to answer questions and we are expecting further questions and suggestions. In the mean time enjoy KOSeek.

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Check, what we prepare in eClub

EClub starts on Tuesday first of October in ERA Svet at 5:00pm. Michal Pechocek will open the series with the Cognitive Security story. Join us to learn how to replicate their success.

We will meet Zdenek Paskevic in the next meeting (Oct 8). This will be a unique opportunity learning all about the new Samsung watch. Zdenek is the mobile devices program manager in Samsung and will introduce the whole line including the latest flagship phablet Galaxy Note 3. Zdenek and his colleagues will be ready to answer all questions and we will try to let you play and test the gear. In addition, with Samsung we plan to run a small presentation at two stands in Karlovo nam and in Dejvice. For two weeks starting October 10, all the latest devices will be displayed. But that is not all eClub, CVUT and Samsung are together with some more partners busily working on a New Academic Year Surprise for all students. Wait, I will soon report!

Let me quickly mention the next meeting topic. Microsoft will visit eClub after Samsung (Oct 15). Stepan Bechynsky will deliver an Internet of Things presentation. He will discuss the new opportunities of this technology and will share with us the Microsoft perspective. This is a great opportunity for a discussion not only about the new contextual oriented applications but also about the future mobile and wearable devices and applications in general.

We have many other presentations in preparation. Check our web page for the program. The first three presentations are confirmed but we may still need to do some changes. Check carefully the location and time, because of space limitations in ERA Svet we will run some of the presentations from CVUT at Karlovo nam. Stay tuned we will inform you as soon as we complete the next presentations.

Monday, September 9, 2013

eClub high tech competition

eClub is back, we are starting the next round. I would like to explain why we shoot for high tech projects. How is the competition organized this semester. I also would like to attract all students with great innovative ideas to join us. We will help you!

The Winter 2013 eClub will extend the tradition of our weekly meetings, but with some enhancements. Let me explain. The startup scene is getting bigger and bigger world wide as well as in Prague. Every global company has a sort of startup program attracting startups. We can see many new incubators. In Prague some have already a good track record - StartupYard and Node5. All this made me to think about our direction as a university club for students of technical universities.

I get in touch with many young people who are starting their professional career, making the first decisions. Basically there are three choices: working for a company, creating a startup or becoming a scientist and pursue the PhD. Most of the graduates will start their professional life as engineers in a company at various positions including sales. eClub tries to help students with their own ideas and enthusiasm, who are committed to change them to products. They have essentially two different ways how to materialize the ideas and get them to customers: through a startup or a technology transfer. In either case eClub will help. We will present know-how for creating startups as well as helping with innovation and technology transfer. This way eClub wants give you the opportunity to test your skills and choose the best future path.

This semester competition for CVUT and other universities students will therefore reflect these changes, see below. We plan as usual a competition for the best startup project. But the competition will also addresses students interested in high-tech, innovation, science and research too. We will welcome proposals for not only startup plans, but in addition, we will also support development and research projects. The only condition the proposed projects must lead to a clear industrial solutions. The entrants have to prove they are solving real problems and with a demonstrable impact. We will try to give away awards in both categories.

Who can enter? We will welcome students working on their baccalaurean, diploma as well as dissertation works. Yes, it will be difficult to decide what project to support. The variety will be very large. To ensure equal opportunities an fair decisions we will as usual put together a panel of international judges to decide. Therefore, traditionally all presentation are expected to be delivered in English. The criteria for startup projects will be the same as in the previous semesters. In the technology transfer we will focus on how innovative is the proposed project and what is the financial impact. The scientific quality of the proposed ideas is not the only part of evaluation. The problem formulation and how it solves industrial problems will have significant weight in the final project selection. Currently I am working on detailed competition rules. They will appear at the eClub pages soon.

And how about presentations? We will again deliver interesting and entertaining presentations. As usual we want to open in a grand style. We are lucky Prof. Pechoucek, the director of the local Cisco research office promised unwrap the whole block and deliver the full Cognitive Security story. CoSe is an enormous success not only for the CVUT but for the whole Czech startup scene. It is one of the first startups acquired by a large company as Cisco. What more, it is a research based, high-tech lab employing the top Czech brains. We need many more of these. Currently, we are also preparing the Geewa and Nejremeslnici presentations showing how to start and grow international and local business. This semester we will try to balance how to do business and the technical trends presentations. We noticed that the technological presentations were very popular last semester and this is another reason for this move. One of the first very attractive trends we would like to cover is Internet of Things inspiring a great number of new ideas and startup.

This is a first of the eClub blogs. Follow me, I will tell you more. Let me know if you have better idea or comments. I would like to set all to encourage the largest number of students to actively joining us.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Summer projects

Summer is great, I can finally focus on real research and development. We have pursued several interesting projects in machine learning and we designed one Android application in the Cloud Computing Center. 

Tomas has been mostly focusing on documents categorization. His task is: for a given document find the best category. In practice this kind of algorithm allows automatic tagging of documents, it is good for grouping similar documents or it can be used for pairing ads and content in web advertising etc. To categorize the documents we need to build models for all categories. We have generated large number of models with the Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) algorithm. The final classification to the best category was done with a Random forest (RF) classifier trained on a set of manually categorized documents. The training set was kindly provided by The LDA is requiring a lot of computational power. To accommodate these requirements we selected the Cloudera virtual images with preinstalled Hadoop. The LDA is written in Python and was run in Mapreduce. The work is in progress and the results are promising.

Ondrej with other students is looking in to another interesting problem. They try to model on-line gamers. We have received data from Pool Live Tour game made by Geewa. The data shows in detail the user behaviour. The task is simple. Model users good enough to predict their readiness for buying a new cue. Players are gaining skills, proceeding to higher levels, spending more time in the game etc. All this has to be captured to estimate the correct moment for cue update. The biggest problem in such projects is to get through the data and extract the right features. Mirek from Geewa helped us with decoding how it works. The data includes gamers who bought as well as non-buying users. This is good for supervised training. Again we decided to use our popular RF algorithm for classification. Currently we are planning tests. The models we have developed are also useful for clustering users to groups, for uncovering cheating etc. Similar models can be used for many other games or activities. These algorithms may uncover necessary insight and help us making the game or activity more challenging and engaging. This field is really rich for many further improvements. The greatest advantage: there are really many gamers producing a lot of data and more data results in bigger power.

In June we have started to work on Android application for the CTU students. The app allows them to search for faculties and students from the mobile device. Students can find their classes with detailed description. The app also offers detailed information about the university. The built-in RSS feed reader aggregates the most important university information sources. Finally the application allows users to check what is todays menu in the canteens. We are almost finished. We are starting testing and final debugging. Our plan is to give this away to students next month. It will be downloadable through Google Play for Android owners. We plan to introduce the iPhone version later, since iPhone is less frequent between students. Thanks go to the group of programmers at the FIT faculty of CTU who prepared the required KOS API.

There are some more projects we are cooking in our lab, but I will report about them next time. If you are interested in our projects or if you want to join our group let me know. We have plenty of interesting tasks.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

We have finished several interesting machine learning projects recently. I have updated  our Cloud Computing Center where you can find more details, other finished projects as well as description of what we work on now.  

First, let me describe new implementation of a Contact-less heart beat measurement on iPad. Jan Plešek has designed an iPad app, which works similarly to Mirror, mirror, tell me who's the most beautiful? You just watch the iPad screen locating your face in a square and in a couple of moment the system tells you a pulse rate estimate. The application is using a unique algorithm for the pulse frequency estimation based on the observed changes of the under the eyes skin color . The human heart pumps the blood and the built in iPad camera can recognize the difference in color during the high an low pressure. To focus to the right place the app must first find face, nose, eyes and then focuses under the eyes. The color changes constitute a time series to which we apply a simple algorithm estimating its base frequency. We have achieved a similar accuracy as the standard heart beat equipment.

The next project was done in cooperation with AVG. Yes, the famous anti-virus company. I bet that on many of your machines, while reading this, is softly humming their Free Antivirus software. Ondrej Pluskal has specialised on the development of Mallware detection, particularly on the algorithm estimating anomalies. The antivirus is continuously watching what is going on on your PC: what files are downloaded, what apps are started, what dll’s are instantiated etc. All this and similar actions are signals forming feature vectors. The task is then simple - identify those signalling an anomaly. To design an algorithm deciding which vectors or situations are perfectly legal from malicious situations requires learning. Taching classifier requires a lot of vectors describing usual situations and also the malicious vectors to discover the difference between them. We have received such a data collected on running PCs from AVG. Our classifier is using the Support Vector Machine (SVM). After lot of work with preprocessing, testing and tuning of the operation point, we have delivered a new classification vector improving the performance. We are hoping our solution will get soon to the product.

Third, Tonda Novák was involved with the Design of Probabilistic Models for Text Input Correction project. It was a great opportunity to explore the learning to rank algorithms capabilities, which became the core of the solution. What is it doing? When entering a query to a search engine users are making mistakes and the engine needs to correct them before starting the search. To find what the user really wants to enter is not a simple task. They are entering many more different words than we can find in a standard dictionary, many words are appearing or are being created on everyday basis, some of the works are showing in multiple words phrases, some users do not know the spelling but know the phonetic version. We have collected all this information to guess what the user wants to type. Of course, there are multiple choices for each word. The problem is to put all the information together and run an algorithm deciding what is the most likely word or phrase the users is about to enter. Tonda has decided to use the pair-wise learning to rank algorithm. It outputs a list of ranked corrected queries. It is a supervised algorithm requiring a learning set. We have used a corpus of queries from the search engine. Jointly with we set up a testing server to run tests on unknown test set to measure the accuracy. Our machine works quite well. The proof: parts of our algorithm are already in the product version of query correction. Hooray!

I have chosen these three examples of our projects to show how we want to progress in the future. It is simple, we want to focus on machine learning algorithms in practical applications. Most of students want to work on real industry problems. They would like to get practical experience before leaving the school, cooperate with a company to try how it feels working for them. This is also the best form of a cooperation for the faculty, because we can apply the latest research results and confront them with the industry. \It is not easy to find the right projects and put all the required ingredients together. It requires people with vision and empathy on both sides in the industry and academia too. Not all companies are ready, not all companies compete delivering better, and technologically more advanced solutions. At the university it is a never ending process searching for the best partners, with leaders interested in innovation, bringing their customers the best solutions. We are looking for more partners with clear technological vision to help them solving the most challenging problems in AI, machine learning and computer science. If you know suitable company let me know.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

How Googlers defend the MSc theses

Vojta Jina successfully defended his MSc theses at the Czech Technical University. He has designed and wrote Karma a JavaScript Test Runner. I was his supervisor and I feel very relieved, I have managed pushing him through the process of finishing exams, writing a theses and defending it.

I met Vojta about two years ago and that time he already was a real geek. He knew what he wants to do. His life was coding and the chosen language - JavaScript. He just arrived from a stay in Google London where he was practicing as a student. I was very happy to meet with a student having clear idea for a diploma work. It was great to see him step by step formulating what he needs for developing the JS code. He was enough self motivated and I did not need to do anything except to keep an eye on him finishing exams on time - geeks have very radical opinions, which are not a great match with very theoretically focused examiners. What more, the university curriculum was not of a top interest for Vojta, but beside few flops he got through. Shortly after we agreed on the diploma task he got hired by the AngularJS in Mountain View. I know some of the AngularJS folks and it is a great team. They live for their projects, they love programming, they were free to make their own development decisions and this is the spirit most of the programmers are looking for. Vojta immediately became one of them, dedicated to the project. It became even more difficult to stay in touch. We had regular Skype chats 8:00 am Europe and 11:00 pm California time. I enjoyed the chats discovering what is going on in Silicon Valley. Vojta was making big progress in improving the code, giving presentations and other activities. I was very happy Vojta is moving ahead, but the deadline for submitting the diploma work was approaching quickly and the fear of the blank page grew. He already had well working code on github, number of downloads was rapidly increasing, but the university needs the diploma work. It was a struggle, every week we had to go through the wording discovering how to write and what is the structure of a technical report. It was also big effort to get rid of many geeky wording.

The submission day approached and Vojta’s sister was haunting me to get the last signatures before officially submitting the work. Finally, few days before the state exam and diploma defense Vojta arrived with a Californian smile on his face. We met in my house. He brought the latest Google Chrombook. We had great time and some glasses of scotch, but I had no idea what is awaiting me.

The state committee is a panel of very serious, very formal professors, total missmatch with Vojta's attitude. Vojta entered the room very relaxed, no tie and he immediately started: "hi guys, how are you doing these days? Ok, life is short and time is swift, I’ll skip the details and show you some nifty tricks". He continued: "if you did not know, this is a terminal screen. Just give me a second, I need to launch bunch of daemons to make the things move". Then he started typing in a speed of about 200 chars/min first commands. Each enter key hit emitted the full screen of text. In a sunny room with an obsolete projector nobody had a chance to read a single line. Vojta did not show any sign of nervousness and in a cheerful tone was praising his great ideas commenting like: “isn’t it great, this is even better, I have almost forgotten, I need to show you this trick”. He certainly was successful in making the professors awake, they have never encountered candidate like him. Vojta finished the presentation very abruptly saying: “Ok, this is may be enough, if you have any other questions let me know”. The room became dead silent, no questions. I was scared, what would be the perception? It was go/no go situation, either they will get angry and will kick him out or they accept the style and Vojta will become a hero. Luckily the supervisor can comment while the committee is deliberating. To cut the story short. Yes, he is a hero. He has done it. Great job!

The lesson I have learn: I am looking forward supervising other batch of new geeks next year. Let me know.

Friday, May 17, 2013

eClub winners, great new projects

yesterday evening we have awarded eClub summer 2013 winners. The winners are Apeman boards, BlindShell and Mixturam. eClub and MediaLab Foundation awarded scholarships to support further work on their ideas.

The ApeMan team introduced plans for manufacturing cool long boards, which became recently again very popular. They started by creating a community of stylish enthusiasts as well as racers with distinguished taste interested in long boarding. This way they have learned what is the dreamed board, how to design it and how to manufacture it. They are bringing even a little more - great design, which is a very important part of their image, check their cool site. The team includes designers, long board racers, faculty of mechanical engineering PhD. students, and business people. The company manufactures a high-tech carbon based boards with a unique design and great shapes ranging from the middle to the high end.  I wish the team to get through the initial organizational problems as soon as possible and I hope, we will see many more enthusiasts and racers smoothly sliding their boards. I have no doubts, the main award is in the right hands, Apeman will effectively use the 40k scholarship to invest further to technology.

The second team called Blindshell are two students from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering. With their tutor they are for quite some time researching user interfaces for disabled people. Blindshell is a launcher for touch based Android phones customized for visually impaired users. The latest smart phones are bringing many new sensors providing lot of information to enable new and smarter applications, but the whole interface is mostly visually intensive. For people with poor vision is sometimes very difficult to effectively take advantage of all the goodies. The whole idea is based on gesture, voice based interface allowing quick access even for visually impaired. The team still needs to turn the idea into a product and I wish we would soon see Blindshell on new Androids.

The third team is MixTuram offering custom tailored food supplement. Check the web, you can mixFDA to offer the products on the US market. I was lucky and I got the first box with the serial number #00001. I am looking forward to show it to my friends once Mixturam is a major worldwide company.
the right set of vitamins and other ingredients to make you stronger. MixTuram will mail you nice small box with 100 pills. Get one and boost your self for better performance. They have already received all the legal approvals in the Czech Rep. and they work with

It was a great evening and we stayed long having great discussion with all winners after announcing the results. All people were energetic and charged to continue working on their ideas. For the first time two of the winners have already running company and one company is already selling. Overall I feel happy - something good is starting and eClub and MediaLab is part of it. We all are looking for the next eClub season, watch us on the web and FB, we will start in September.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Final presentations in eClub

Eleven new teams met on Thursday to present their new ideas in the eClub. If you did not join us, see the video. All presentations were great. New teams are awesome and the international jury will have a hard time to select the best teams. We will award the winners this Thursday.

Let me share some of my observations. Karel Obluk opened the whole series of presentations in this semester. He talked about the pros and cons of entrepreneurship, the importance of education and the joy of building startup. This semester we have included new educational presentations. Thanks to Jan Vesely we had a great series of Lean Startup lessons.  He explained the steps of these days de facto standard methodology for developing startup. Lukas Fittl nicely continued with a great presentation about actionable metrics showing how to use and interpret the company data. Lucie Havlickova reviewed very well how to deliver the project pitch, how to make viewers involved and how to communicate the basic ideas. We have closed the educational part with an entertaining session about pricing delivered by Jiri Fabian (Vendavo) and Vaclav Lorenc (he calls himself a pricing idiot). They put together an insightful pricing guide for small companies as well as for corporations.

As usual we have been mixing in also motivational presentations. David Vavra an independent developer has shown how to develop a “lonely ranger” application. Working as a micropreneur is a great example. Following his example students can get in touch with technology make some money and understand how the business works. Jarda Gergic has presented some of the techniques for project management using his GoodData as an example. Finally, the business star Honza Rezab from Socialbakers shared with us some of his thoughts about entrepreneurship and his life.

Thanks to ERA Svet we have enjoyed the great space directly in the middle of Prague. They have great people who helped us a lot with organization, streaming and recording all presentations. This year we have been streaming not only to our friend universities we have made the streams freely available for everybody. Google Hangout technology proved to be excellent for streaming and sharing the video on Youtube. I am also very grateful to other sponsor ICT Alliance helping us with catering.

Overall I have the feeling we did very well and offered great speakers and valuable presentations with lot of know-how. We certainly want to continue starting in September. Let me know if you have some ideas for improvement or any comments. I also hope, I will be able to help students with starting their projects during the summer vacation.

Next Thursday, the jury will announce the winners and the CTU Media Lab will give away the scholarships. Join us on Thursday or watch the web for the winners.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Demo day in eClub

new teams will meet in eClub this Thursday for a dry run presentations.  The purpose is to test the ideas, get a feedback and prepare for a final presentation in front of a panel of judges on May 9th.

This time eClub tried to put together curriculum to help you to develop and communicate your ideas to be successful in competing for a seed money in our competition. Two weeks ago Lucie Havlickova taught eClubbers in the art of delivering a stunning presentation. She has listed and explained all the basic rules. It is up to you to exercise in front of an audience now. The presentation is the first test of how well you can formulate your ideas. It is also the best first test about the quality of the idea. Jan Vesely delivered a series of Lean Startup presentations formulating the first steps on the road of testing your hypotheses. One of the most important messages is: get out of the buildings. This is the Steve Blank’s famous advice. Finding customers and making sure they need your solution, your product is the first essential step in building successful startup. A presentation in front of your peers will be the first real step in this direction.

We will organize the dry run presentation in a similar way we have done in the last years. We will meet in the great Era Svet rooms having coffee in a relaxed atmosphere. Every team will have about 10 minutes for a short presentation, and then we will open discussion. Ask for explanation for clarification, find out the essential, try to learn how you would better formulate the final idea, how to communicate briefly etc.  We will as usual record all presentations. This is a great chance to watch yourself and fix all the flaws.

eClub focuses on students teams. There needs to be at least one student in a competing team. We do not expect the teams will be describing finished products we are looking more on newly created teams planning to start an interesting fresh business. How to prepare for the presentation? Come with a maximum of four slides to support your ideas. Try to present to some of your friends before to fix the ideas and see how long it will take. I will appreciate if you can register before Thursday, this will allow us to better plan for the evening. If you don't, it is OK too, just show up, registration will be open till the final demo day in May.

I hope, for the final presentation all teams will already have a web page with a short product or service description. You do not need it for the dry run. The final competition will be run in front of a panel of international judges. It is therefore important to deliver your presentation in English. In exceptional cases we will allow the dry run in Czech, but it is highly recommended to test your English skills.

Join us and present your new ideas, show up even if you are not presenting you can give a valuable feedback to the new teams. I am sure it will be a great experience for all.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Huge crowd in eClub

More than 80 people arrived for Lukas Fittl's presentation this Thursday. The folks were excited by his “Actionable metrics” presentation.

It might be because of the great rooms in the middle of Prague, which is EraSvet kindly providing to us or it might be because of the snacks we are serving in the networking part of the eClub meetings. Who knows, but I believe, it is because we have attracted great speakers.

First we welcomed David Vavra well known Android applications developer. His presentation was a continuation of Tonda Hildebrand's presentation. David explained  the advantages of an independent developer, micropreneur.  He has step by step reviewed how he has been developing the “Dluznicek” alias “Settle up” (English version) mobile application. David was chronologically showing how he was improving and enhancing his application, how he was attracting users. All the development steps and actions were accompanied with many references to many interesting  sites, which can help you to advertize, analyze and sell your application. Watch the presentation.

It is most important for me that I met David first as my student and then he has joined eClub and entered one of the first competitions. It is great to see, he has not stopped working on his ideas.  And today, tens of thousands people are using his application. Great job! What more his application is earning money. See the presentation and get inspired, do something similar, this is the way to make dreams happened.

Lukas Fittl had attracted the largest crowd this year. We did not have chairs enough, the food was finished before we started, but it was a great success this Thursday.

Lukas is well known on the European startup scene. He is mostly pitching the Lean startup. This time he gave a very interesting presentation about actionable metrics. The presentation step by step analyzed how to quantitatively answer questions like: am I making progress in the right direction? Does my product fit the market requirements? How to increase revenue? He also touched the cohort analysis. In his presentation cohort is a group of people sharing common characteristic over a period of time. According to the Lean Startup theory he has shown how to deliver and measure value. The final part focused on how to take action, how to plan, run, evaluate experiments and quantify the goals. Look at the video recording and the presentation, I am sure you will find it very inspiring.

There are another presentations ahead of us, Lucie Havlickova will teach how to give a catchy presentation and Jarda Gergic will talk about organizing group of developers.  He runs the GoodData group of developers in Prague. But the most important event is coming just after that, the first presentation day of this year eClub competition.  Join us too and compete for interesting prices. Looking to meet you at the next eClub meetings.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Machine learning for Internet

I have a passion for eClub and startups, but I also do research with my students. I would like to share with you some thoughts about our strategy.

I have a team of doctoral, MSc and BSc students working mainly on Internet apps. Most of our projects are in machine learning, some in infrastructure (cloud), provisioning and the rest are mobile applications. We are lucky, because all of these are of high interest for many industries today.

What are the essential ingredients for our research? For machine learning we need data, actually we need big data. Big data needs big infrastructure.

What is the industry situation? The leading Internet companies have pioneered big data processing and currently are capitalizing on this success. Many have developed large data centers and many are offering them as a service, but the smart algorithms are kept in house. There are many medium and small companies generating large data, but without smart algorithms. They do not have the research resources, investments and know-how to develop them.

Our target is to develop useful applications and algorithms. For that we need to understand what are our customers needs. They are very different in different, sometimes the law requires physical location of data in the home country or in EU. Some want to keep all the data on premises. Sometimes the customer needs to use both public as well as private resources. Every company has the data in different format. Each company wants to extract different information from data.

What should we do at universities?  We have to find partners in the industry to get the big data and good problem formulation.

Who are the best partners for university? These are the companies who generate the big data, who already feel the need for smart SW and who want to differentiate on the market. We must look at companies with established internal processes, who understand that the university can deliver the algorithm but cannot be responsible for integration or product delivery.

We can research custom solutions for our partners. The open source is another important distribution channel for university  The open source smart algorithms must stick to standards. To make the algorithms useful for medium and small companies we need to offer the solutions along with platforms for building, provisioning, managing and monitoring. The tools must run on popular APIs, for example AWS, which is becoming a standard for cloud.

The companies needs for data location and processing will differ. Some will require keeping the data in particular locations on private or hybrid clouds. These requirements are best satisfied deploying to open source cloud operating systems (Eucalyptus, OpenStack, …), which can be easily installed on private clouds. But the provisioning and management systems are nonexistent or in their infancy. This is opening another track for research and development of smart algorithms along with provisioning, management and monitoring easy to deploy to standard clouds. In addition these offering must install on private, public and hybrids cloud too.

Here is the conclusion: search the partners who can share the big data with us and help them designing smart applications. For other customers provide smart applications with provisioning, managing and monitoring on open source clouds.

BTW I am looking for new doctoral students ...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Next week the eClub starts new series.

eClubbers suggested many projects, new, inspiring ideas, demonstrated good skills and it only remains to turn the ideas to a profitable business. Here comes the eClub again with a new series of lean startup presentations. 

We start next Tuesday, join us. The invited speaker Is Karel Obluk. He is an investor and long time AVG CTO. He will specifically focus on the role of high education for building successsf startups in the opening session. His speech will come in a very specific moment. You may have noticed it too. The Cognitive Security startup was sold to Cisco and Karel was one of the team members who helped with the exit. Great success, congratulation to the whole team. In my view, this sets the best example for all eClubbers. Cognitive Security was originated by CTU PhD students and their professors. The principal know-how comes from a CTU PhD dissection. CS is a high-tech company created by real scientists with smart ideas and great enthusiasm for research. This is the kind of companies we all should shoot for. The top quality of their ideas and solutions is proved by the fact that they were bought by an Internet communication leading company such as Cisco. This exit is a great win not only for CS, but for the whole startup community in the Czech Republic. The initial investor was Credo Ventures, who also helped to start eClub.

What to do now? eClubbers we have to copy it. The know-how comes from CTU doctoral study and research. And the business part? Here comes eClub, we want to help all of you who are interested in high-tech to complement the top professional skills with the businessk know-how. We want to help you with the basics of how to create a company and repeat the success of CS.

How to do it? We have decided to follow the leabn startup movement pioneered by Steven Blank professor at Stadford university. It is a proven system. The lean start up movement has many followers all over the world these days. It is introducing the required steps for creating successful business. The most attracting for me is that the theory is based on the scientific approach. The same approaches as we use in research. First we have hypothesis then we need to prove it by an experiment. Our series will show what are the business hypothesis and what are the right experiments to prove them or pivoting. By the way if you do not know what is pivoting, join us we will explain. During the course we also would like to let you simulate or test your ideas at the end of presentations. In the middle of the course there will be a dry run presentation in front of your peers to test how well you can communicate your idea. We plan to have tutors to validate your steps. We assume you will work in teams. If you do not have team, do not get nervouse join us you will meet new friends in the networking sessions to create a new team. We have a simple advice: Follow lean startup steps, join us for the presentations and we quarantee you will avoid many mistakes and get much faster to a match between your product and customers. 

On top of all this we will organize a competition for the best idea with great prices. The final presentation is planned for May. Join us Tuesday Feb 19th at 18:30 in the Era Svet Jungmannovo nam. The following presentations will be on Thursdays in the same place.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

eClub Summer 2013 plan

The fifth series of eClub meetings starts in February. eClub wants help creating new teams and introduce them in the essentials of building new business. The teams will compete for the best startup plan awards in the middle of May.

We will surprise you with a lot of changes. We are moving out of the CTU classrooms to new Era Svet rooms at a really distinguished place right in the heart of Prague at Jungmanovo nam. It is also a great place for networking and enjoying coffee after each presentation. The meeting rooms are equipped with projectors, speakers, and cameras connected to Internet. This will simplify streaming and recording. We plan to stream our sessions to cooperate with people from the whole Czech Republic.

Currently we are putting together a plan, see the eClub page. This year I am not alone. I am happy, that Jan Vesely is joining me in preparations. He is bringing in the economical and marketing perspective, which is important for technologist. We had a lot of discussion about what should be the presentations directions, what are the hottest problems or question. Finally, we agreed we will concentrate only on two observations. The first observation is people want to get connected.

We have decided we will try helping all eClub friends, students and young graduates to meet, create new teams and starting new business. Mainly we will focus on in the IT segment, but other segments are welcomed too. Most of the students of the technical universities have good programming skills. but they are lacking the business insight. The schools of economy students are on the other hand searching for example for programmers. All of them need graphical designers and many other skills to work on new ideas. eClub is the place to get all of you together. The networking will be an integral part of this year events.

The second observation is, students do not know how to systematically work on creating startup. We have been discussing how to change this. Finally we have decided to loosely follow the well known lean startup strategy.  Not a big surprise, but lean startup works.

We hope, people will meet and form at least preliminary teams during the initial networking. They will come up with some business idea. The eClub meetings then will walk them through the basic steps of turning their idea to real business. The presentations followed by exercises. Between the educational presentations we will throw also motivational presentations by some of the successful entrepreneurs. We wish and hope the teams will finish the whole course with a plan for making things happen. They will show what they learned in the presentation day. in front of a panel of judges. The best teams will get a great award. We work with several industrial partners raising money and we hope, we will collect enough to send the best team for a stay in one of the US incubators during summer. We also plan to award the second and the third team. We are happy to invite everybody who wants to be part of a new team as well as those who already have teams. Basically there are only two simple conditions. The teams need to have at least one student in this academic year at any Czech university. Teams already awarded i other competitions are not allowed.

This is the first information, if you have any question contact us. If you have a suggestion let us also know. If you have some friends in a company, who can help us funding our events let me know too. Sent this blog link to all your friends who may be potentially interested in our endeavor, especially those outside Prague. Everybody is welcomed to join. We want to put together programmers with economists, marketers, graphical designers, there is a place for everybody. Stay tuned there will be soon more on our pages. In the mean time look at our new YT video. See you in eClub.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

How we build a cloud Android applications

I would like to present a tutorial for building mobile cloud applications, which we have developed with my colleagues during the three month Internet Application Development course at CTU. I will overview the selected technologies and why we selected them. If you like to build our sample application, refer to the details in the final presentation.

Customers as well as industry are demanding stable and robust mobile/cloud applications with user friendly UI. Mobile applications are taking advantage of the sensors in terminals, computational power and all information in the cloud. Number of smart phones is rapidly growing as well as the number of mobile apps. These trends were for us the key motivation for the course and for the selection of a sample application. It is a Android app storing the client data in the cloud.

There are many different technologies to choose from. What are the key components of the sample app?  Here are our choices. The Amazon EC2 API is the de facto standard in the cloud API. The educational accounts on Amazon are free, but students are required to pull out the credit cards ... Thanks to we can use for free several servers  in their infrastructure and it made our decision simple. We have decided to use the Eucalyptus cloud operating system. Its API is very similar to EC2. Application server is Tomcat 7 providing the java sandbox. An obvious choice is the MySQL as a database. We run all on Ubuntu 12.04. The client side is a native Android client also in in Java. The Android SQLite is used as the local storage. Client and server follow the REST architecture.

Our students are running different operating systems on their notebooks – Windows, Linux, OS XW, therefor we had to make some decisions to unify the development. We have decided to leave the code development IDE on the native OS. We recommended  the Eclipse, which coves all our students variety of OSs. The run time unification is not that simple. The reason is that we wanted to provide a step-by-step command description and they are OS dependent. The virtualization is the answer. We will use the Virtual box and an image of Ubuntu 12.04.

We sticked to the most widely used model the REST architecture for the sample application. The source comes with a Maven pom file to build and deploy the final war file. The code can be downloaded from Github. It provides the simplest CRUD functionality accessed through the REST API. Students cloned this code to their workstations as a starting point for testing and debugging their own modifications

To further simplify the development we have chosen to use Vagrant nicely managing the images in the Virtual box. Vagrant installs the Chef solo in the VM, which takes care about the provisioning. Chef proved to be a very simple and useful saving us lot of troubles. It uses cookbooks and receipts.  The whole provisioning process is reasonably fast and simple. Vagrant ssh, and IP forwarding allows to further tweak the installed components from the command line and executing some configuration and initialization scripts for MySQL before starting the app war.

To test the server part we use a simple Chrome plug-in HTTP client. It enables us to test the whole REST API, modifying headers and having the returned data nicely displayed. Excellent not only for demonstrations and teaching!

The final step was to move the application war file to cloud, to Eucalyptus. For this purpose we have installed the Eucalyptus command line utility euca2ools. After exchanging the public keys all commands for instantiating VMs in the cloud are at hand. Eucalyptus provides the IP address of the VM instance. We have again used the Chef solo to install the same pair of Tomcat and MySQL and we used the same process for provisioning and testing as in the local VM.

We have decided to design the client on the Android platform. All tools are available for Eclipse. The applications apk files are easy to distribute. Second, thanks to Samsung we were able to give to our teams bunch of Android tablets for development and testing. The Android application development compared to the server part is much more self-contained. The only non standard action is to install Samsung drivers on Windows to run the debugging and testing on the target tablet. The Java code and development are well described with programming examples at Google pages.  For our purpose we have provided a more complex sample of code. For most of the web applications storing data in the cloud is  essential to use data cash on the client to handle connectivity problems, therefore we have shown the use of the basic SQLite. This time  the DB configuration etc. is part of the code. You also will see some threads handling the background operations in the example. If all works fine, you should be able to run the whole app from your Android device.

At the end of the course students delivered 10 demos, pilot working applications. Most of the teams used the suggested technologies. Some of the apps work on both tablets and phones two.

If you are interested in details or follow the sample development look at the presentation. It provides links to the sample code and shows step by step the building commands. You can cut and past them and follow what we have done. You should be OK except for the Eucalyptus part, which requires creating an account. You can instead use the AWS with almost exactly the same set of commands. This sample application is only a bases for building real applications. We show the installation and usage of development technologies, which are state of the art and useful for serious design. Many required details are missing, but you can start your project with something running. We will continue improving the presentation and add more functionality, other front ends etc. The course took three months and we have been step by step introducing the technologies to our students, therefore take your time and enjoy the details to gain full understanding.

Good luck and let me know about problems you have encountered. I will also welcome suggestions.
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