Sunday, September 23, 2007

More Topi

At the last minute, we found that Kamran Nishat bugged out. He instead asked Zahid to go with us. We left about 45 minutes late at 4:30 pm from LUMS. We stopped at Thokar Niaz Baig to offer Asar prayers. Usman Ghani did the imamat. We then moved on and did the iftar in the bus and stopped at the next rest area to say the prayers. The iftar arrangement was plentiful for me. We bought some cold drinks and chips and the rest area. We also stopped at Bhera rest area for dinner and offered the isha prayers. There was actually taraweeh going on there. I had a cup of tea with Usman. I've rarely tasted worse tea in my life.
Topi is so far off that it seems out of this planet. The road is so pathetic that anyone who commutes to Topi regularly, I think that all his sins should be forgiven. GIKI, in my opinion, is built at a very wrong place. No easy approach and away from everything. While that makes for some calm within it, with a difficult approach, it was anyone's guess why the only teams at the competition were from Islamabad or at most Lahore.
Billions in funds were spent on this place, which might close down because the funds are not flowing in any more. The staff has been cut down and the facilities are not well managed. The hostel accomodation was double rooms for the first year students and single rooms from second year, which is useful. We were accomodated in the common room of a hostel. We got there at 1 am. I couldnt sleep because students were making noises outside the common room somewhere. We got up at 2:30 am and went for sehr at the cafeteria. It was raining lightly and a wind was blowing, making it a bit cold. We beat the cooks to the cafetaria and had to wait for a while until the food was brought to the front. The service was extremely slow as we received our sehr. After eating and having tea, we decided to get a glass of milk shake, which turned out to have a lead time of 30 minutes. We went back to the common room and tried to sleep for a while. At 6:15 am, I got up and got ready to go the AHA auditoritum. Once there, we found a couple of other teams waiting outside the locked auditorium with no one outside. After about 45 minutes of waiting, one of our team mates found a posting at a distance saying that the quiz will start at 8:30 am. We cursed the organizers and went off to get a few things done. Once back, time went by as we saw the organizers in the auditorium trying to set up the computers and projectors. The projection was done on the back walls of the auditorium, which were cream color and with some design on them, which made for extremely difficult reading. With the figures impossible to see, the anchor had to come and draw the figures on a paper for the teams every once in a while.
Several questions were repeated and after objection from participants and audience, they were changed. The planning and execution couldnt have been poorer. The questions and answers were in PowerPoint slides. Several decks of them. The computer operator would blank the projector, sift through his slide decks to find a question and then put it up on the screen, which meant a very long competition. There was absolutely no audienec, except for a few supporters that came with the teams.
The slide decks were also from previous years and you could see 2005 and 2006 occassionally. Plenty of answers were incorrect. For instance, "There can be more than one instructions executing at a given instant of time in a multiprogrammed system." We challenged this and the judges dropped our objection. Then there was "hacking is negative activity, cracking is positive." Now this is extremely controversial. Then, there was the question that resulted in our ouster from the semi finals, "Redundancy in data results in loss of integrity and consistency." We answered that it results in loss of consistency only.
We had two teams from LUMS, two teams from Military College of Signals (MCS). We ousted NIIT, MCS 1 and MCS 2 in the first two rounds and PUCIT lost in the semis, too. The LUMS 2 team gave an excellent fight, but eventually lost on sudden death to Bahria.
You could clearly see from the body language of the organizers how they were biased against LUMS teams. For instance, how the volunteers near the computers running the questions and timers, said, "Shit" when at a crucial stage, LUMS 2 had to get an answer correct to move to the next stage and got an easy question. Then, the judge started pointing his finger at us when we lost in the semis, as if asking for us to get off the stage. Then, before the finals, a volunteer stepped on the stage, to remove the sign saying "LUMS1" form our table since we had lost in the semis, saying "I'll remove this with great pleasure."
By the way, the timer and the question were on separate machines and projectors. How long does it take to build an application that operates that quiz with the timer, the questions, the scores all on one screen? GIKI claim to have excellent programmers, so it shouldnt take more than 15 minutes. I guess they were too busy to do that.
In the second stage of the competition, the teams objected to the projection on the wall, and asked the organizers to project on the regular projection screen. I wonder why the organizers hadnt thought of that themselves. That request was granted. However, it did result in the fact that now, the screen was to our left and the timer to our right. So, while thinking for an answer, we had to look from side to side.
In the end, the organizers apologized for the late start saying that they were rehearsing in the auditorium till 12 midnight. I wonder what they were rehearsing, because they set everything up in the morning hours after scheduled start time.
After collecting our speed programming and software design teams, we got in the bus and headed out. Back on the GT road, we got one of our friends on a bus for Peshawar to see his family, said asr prayers and set out for Lahore. We stopped at a truck stop and had iftar in the form of khajoor and pakoray. We then stopped at Rawalpindi to have dinner at a small roadside restaurant. I listened to the radio for the Pakistan-NewZealand T20 cricket semi finals and reported the proceedings to my friends. Pakistan won the semis and we were on our way after dinner. We dropped Zahid off at Sadar, Rawalpindi and headed off on GT road to Lahore. I slept a little on the bus. We stopped at Mall Road in Lahore at a few minutes past 12 midnight, and had the famous Chaman Ice Cream. Back at LUMS, we shook hands with each other and went to our dorms. It was about 2 am and I had to wake up again at 3:15 am for sehr. Malik Jahan woke me up and we went for sehr.

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