Going Code Crazy

Meet Yuvaraj Pandian, better known as Yuvi Panda – 3rd year student at KCG College of Technology (Chennai), coding geek, Google Summer of Code Student and the techie behind busroutes.in- a crowd sourced site for bus routes in Chennai. What makes Yuvi tick? Let’s find out…

Tell us about your initiative/activities..

I write code for fun and profit. I contribute code to open source projects – I wrote major parts of the new default webcam application for Linux (Cheese), and wrote http://busroutes.in – a crowdsourced site for Bus Routes in Chennai. I was a Google Summer of Code student this year. I’ve also given talks at PyCon India, and sometimes work as a freelancer.

What motivated you to take these initiatives?

Programming is a lot of fun. The feeling of satisfaction you get when you get a piece of code done and working is indescribable. Once you get started on that, it is hard do to back. Also, it gives you a huge differentiator – people with deep technical expertise are those who have the most power to change the world, and I hope to help change the world :)

What roadblocks did you hit? How did you overcome them?

This involves talking about college… But let me not get into that ;-)

When you’re writing code, most of the help/information you need is freely available. So the biggest roadblock is yourself – making sure you don’t get distracted by irrelevant things, while at the same time making sure you have enough adventures so as to be not an automaton. Keeping your health in check is also tough.

A bigger issue is acceptance – saying you practiced 12 hours straight for a cricket match or that you studied 14 hours straight for an exam is considered normal, while programming for 12 hours straight gets you weird looks. Thankfully this is changing, and I’m glad my parents and my college are supportive.

And what were the high points?

Being picked for Google Summer of Code was an awesome feeling. Having some of my code reviewed by some of the people I looked up to as heroes, and receiving feedback was awesome too. Busroutes.in has been featured in various Newspapers multiple times too. But meeting random people who enthusiastically tell me- ‘this cool site called busroutes.in, you should use it!’ gives way more satisfaction.

How did you balance your initiative with college, exams, friends and hanging out?

Exams become easy because you are reading your CS books anyway – they are fun. My college has been immensely supportive of me, making sure I can take every opportunity I want to. The fact that more interaction among friends happens online than offline has made it easier for me too. It still is tough – I disappear from college friends for weeks at a time, but they do seem to not forget me :)

Where do you see yourself in the next couple of years?

Writing more code and getting better at it! Helping more people write code. And also contributing to software that gets used by a lot of people.

Did you do an internship last summer? If yes, where? What’s one awesome thing you learned at the internship?

I spent the last summer doing Google Summer of Code – which can be considered an internship. My mentor was from Germany, and was incredibly fun to work with. The best thing I learnt is how to manage my time better – and the fact that there are awesome people everywhere who will go to great lengths to help you provided that you are willing to do your homework.

Favorite book of all time?

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Whose blogs/tweets do you follow?

Too many to list, but major ones being Paul Graham, Sriram Krishnan,Fred Wilson

Favorite movies?

The original Matrix, The Monty Python Movies, Star Trek.

Any other interests/pastimes?

I photograph a lot, and write stories now and then.

Which inspiring personality would you like to have dinner with?

JWZ (Jamie W.Zawinski) , Tim Lee, Steve Woz and Linus Torvalds.

What’s your favorite quote for students like you?

“Life is what happens to us when we are making other plans” – Thomas La Mance

Check out more about Yuvi on his website: http://yuvi.in/

Follow him on Twitter @yuvipanda

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