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Abilash: Make the computer your best friend!

Abilash: Make the computer your best friend!

25 Apr 2020 Smart Ninja

We've interviewed our instructor Abilash and asked him a bunch of interesting questions.

Watch the interview in the video below:


  • Sanjay Jain (short: SJ), Operations Manager for SmartNinja Winnipeg
  • Abilash Janakiraman (short: AJ), Web Development instructor for SmartNinja Winnipeg

SJ: Welcome everyone! My name is Sanjay Jain and I'm the Operations Manager for SmartNinja Winnipeg. Today we have with us Abilash Janakiraman. He is the Web Development instructor for SmartNinja Winnipeg. Welcome Abilash!

AJ: Thank you!

SJ: So we are going to do a Q&A. I have some questions for you, if you'd give me your opinion, that'd be great! Can you tell us something about yourself? How would you describe yourself? What do you do professionally? Things like that.

AJ: I am a software developer. I have been a software developer for almost 10 years now. I have worked in various industries: Power system, then Automotive, then Disaster Management.

So I have various experiences and background. I studied in India. I've been there, then I recently migrated to Canada three years ago. It's been good so far!

SJ: When did you start programming?

AJ: As a hobby, I started programming in 2007. And professionally I started around 2010. So the first three years are more like learning and hobby projects. Just tinkering around and those kinds of things.

Professionally, as a software developer, I started in 2010.

SJ: How did you learn it?

AJ: Self-learning mostly. My background is Electrical Engineering, without much university classes on programming. Just C and C++, that's it.

The rest, whatever I know, was self-taught, just

SJ: You work in the power industry. There are a lot of changes happening. Electric and autonomous vehicles and such. Can you kind of give me some of the highlights of the changes that are happening in the power industry?

AJ: The power industry kind of got saturated in terms of power systems around five to ten years ago. There's nothing more they can do about processes and all you can get is the voltage and current, right?

The amount of quantities that you can derive from that has already been set. Then it started going digital. All the mechanical parts are turning into digital.

You have digital relays and all those things. The interesting thing was that once the things turned digital then you've got communications.

Now I would say the major research that is happening is in communications. The big things are getting smaller, smart grids are coming in.

In the past, the whole country was in one grid. But now you have many small grids, every block can be a grid. Renewable resources are one of the main things that people are focused on these days to get up and running.

Another would be communications. Remember the Die Hard movie, where you can get the whole city dark with a click of a button.

And that's exactly what's happening and that's reality. So yeah, that's pretty much what's happening. As for what I am doing, I am involved in the communication side of power systems. Even though I'm an electrical engineer, I don't deal with power system algorithms and all those things.

My job is more related to after these algorithms are done, you have to take their values and analyze the data: How it is, how it looks, are there any blips in the data and all those things.

These are the parts where I come in. There's a lot of opportunities in this field. There's a lot of research going on, how to make things better and faster.

SJ: Let's go back to some more personal questions. Do you have any hobbies or hobby projects?

AJ: Oh, yes, definitely! Considering my hobbies, I do a lot of reading, that's the main thing that I do. I also started with a little bit of cooking because of Covid-19 and I like it so far.

I never knew I had that talent!

As far as hobby projects go, I've started with a couple of new projects. One is home automation. I got a new house so I started automating things.

Instead of using ten different apps, I wanted to use one single interface where I can have all the things in my house that can be controlled. Fortunately, there is one open-source home automation platform that has been gaining popularity.

There are two in fact. One is called OpenHAB. The other one is Home Assistant. I am exploring OpenHAB.

It's basically a web interface for your home. You start a web server inside your house and you have to design a website where you can have all the things described there in one single tablet or one single view.

You can take an old tablet and mount it somewhere and you can have the whole view of your house right there. You can also use an Android or an iOS app where you can control any switch or anything that you have in your house.

You don't need to have a million different apps for that. That's Project 1.

Project 2 is - recently I came around something called Web Assembly. This means using high-level languages like C and C++ on websites. I was really intrigued by that concept and I am exploring it right now.

It looks good so far.

SJ: What achievements or projects are you most proud of?

AJ: Achievements? That's a tough question...

I would say that one of the achievements that made me very happy was my first product development that happened 12 years ago.

That was the closest to what I would call my baby, my company.

It was the first time I was involved in the development and the hardware, down to the customer. And that was one of my major achievements.

Another thing I'm very proud of is taking the courage of quitting my full-time job and going freelancing.

That actually worked out pretty well, which helped me to migrate to Canada. That's something I'm proud of.

SJ: We're glad to have you here! Thanks for trying that. :) You're also a coding instructor at SmartNinja Coding School in Canada. What motivated you to become an instructor?

AJ: I have prior teaching experience. I started teaching people back in 2016, or 2017, when I came across Python, and I got the opportunity to teach people Python.

One thing that I realized was, the more you teach the more you learn. There are different people from different backgrounds that attend coding classes.

They have interesting questions that you have never thought of. Someone with a different background would have an entirely different outlook on what they are doing or what we are doing in the class.

These things give us a new perspective on the way things work. So it's more like a continuous learning process.

That's one of the things that I like in teaching and that's what motivates me.

SJ: In your opinion, what's the biggest advantage someone would have if they are able to code?

AJ: Everything these days is programming. Any field that you take, from computer science and all the way to mechanical, everybody is doing coding.

The thing that people should know about coding is that no matter which field you are in, there is always some kind of modeling software that you can use to express your ideas and develop a proof of concept and those kinds of things.

But unless you have a good programming logic, you will not be able to use any of these things. You have to be good with computers. And to make a computer your best friend, you need to talk their language - a programming language.

Get started with any small, basic programming language, just to have an idea of what programming is and does, and how programming looks.

Because any of these modeling software solutions have some kind of scripting language which runs in the background. So if you want to understand those kinds of languages, you need to have at least one language which you're good at so it makes it easier.

SJ: What do you think the world would look like in 10 years? Also considering what's going on with the Covid-19 pandemic.

AJ: I don't think the world will look any different. It will be exactly the same. People will be going out. Everybody will be back to normal.

Human beings are one of the species which has high hope. As long as hope is alive, I think everything will turn out just fine. In a couple of years, Covid-19 will be like flu.

We have overcome much worse things in the past when technology was not that good. Right now with the technology and things that we have in our hands,

I would call this a temporary setback. We should be fine.

SJ: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

AJ: That's a very tough question! I don't know... I never foresaw myself in this situation ten years ago.

I don't know where I'll be in 10 years, but I really hope I'll have my own startup, or some business, yeah. That's what I hope I will be doing in ten years.

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