Connecting The Dots With [topcoder] – 02/2013

Member since 02/06/12. Specialties include Cloud Foundry,, and Google App Engine.

This post is a testament to Romin’s earlier post, as I am currently studying at a university. Going to college these days is an expensive venture. Luckily I got a full tuition scholarship and with winnings from [topcoder] I can take care of my expenses in the very expensive Sweden.

My Journey With [topcoder]:

I started cluelessly one year ago with a challenge on “Google Apps migration”. It looked scary as [topcoder] challenges require proper test coverage, documentation and a screencast. Frankly, I had only written a few websites at that point, and never really written any tests for my code. Doing a screencast was not my cup of tea either. I had to record it, with pre-written transcript, at least 20 times to get the screencast which I eventually submitted. And with first-timer luck, I won the challenge.

Looking back at my journey with [topcoder] over the last year, I am extremely satisfied that I embarked on this journey. The challenges bring out my potential not only on the coding front but also have helped in my planning and presentation skills. After numerous challenges, and luckily some wins, I can now naturally do a screencast, on the very first attempt even without a transcript.

The CAP Theorem:

The CAP Theorem, also known as Brewer’s theorem is usually used in describing databases. I have a similar philosophy framework to guide me in my general decision processes. As I am still in my twenties, I need be learning as much as I can to amass knowledge; going for Master’s degree and doing an internship. Naturally there needs to be compromise, and essentially with knowledge as the most important, I have to compromise with my monetary wealth.

Well… as the no-sql movement is trying to challenge the governance of CAP theorem, I too am challenging the validity of my own framework and comprimise by being a [topcoder]. Now I do not need to resort to typical student jobs where pay is mediocre and learning opportunity is scarce. [topcoder] offers me opportunities to learn new important skills while earning competitive prizes, allowing me to achieve appropriate levels Knowledge, Happiness and Wealth.

I Am Not Studying Computer Science:

You might be assuming that I am studying computer science for being competitive in [topcoder]. Well, I am not. I am doing my Master’s in Sustainable Development covering social and environmental issues. So if you have CS background, you might have some advantages in [topcoder] but if you do not have CS background, do not hesitate to give [topcoder] a try.

In fact, experiences gained from [topcoder] help me with my studies in social science. Many concepts of cloud development could be creatively applied in social and environmental projects. This semester I am taking courses such as System Analysis and the technical knowledge I have accumulated through [topcoder] has greatly assisted in my learning. The future obviously is a merger of diverse disciplines to tackle the world’s urgent challenges, with creative solutions.

Connecting The Dots:

This is not the phrase I came up with. It is the phrase popularized by Steve Jobs in his commencement speech at Stanford in 2005. I have a few dreams such as running a social enterprise in rural areas and starting an innovative technology firm in Silicon Valley. While I don’t yet know how these will happen, as long as I keep learning and challenging myself, the dots will connect someday! [topcoder] is the perfect medium for me to connect those dots, all while earning a little on the side.

If you too are a student reading this, get started with [topcoder] right now!