My 1400 hours of stretched coding session ended today!


I was participating in Perceptual Computing Challenge Phase II. It all started on July 9th and exactly after 75 days, it finally ended today.

These 75 days were special for me as I had never had such a stretched coding sessions. To start with, I literally closed all contacts from outside world. I switched off cell phone for this period., arranged a part of office with all my 6 laptops and ultrabooks where I would be coding. My wife had to endure the biggest pain probably for almost not seeing me for this period and obviously my little 30 month old boy.

The Schedule

I had couple of big projects in mind and estimated around 1500 hours of coding. At start the coding was supposed to have ended on Aug 23rd. So I thought, I would get time to finish one. And it was a matter of 40 days. Target was obviously to clock over 800 hours.

So my schedule was chalked out like this:
I would have my dinner at 10PM. I allotted 7 minutes max for it. I surprisingly could manage to finish it in 3 minutes max. So 10.15PM was max for going to bed. As I restrained in the office, there was no bed as such. Sleep meant bring out the mat that I would keep inside my desk for rest of the day and lay down.

I waked up 12.30 midnight. Thankfully I could manage to wake up at about 11.30PM 60% of the days, giving myself an hour more. It would be a coding session till 10AM morning. I had got couple of small gas cylinders. So I could make tea and coffee in my room, without moving. I did stock up 2Lt Sunrich water bottles and Goodlife milk packets for the entire month.
10AM to 10.20 was all that I had for getting fleshed and have my breakfast. I usually took 15 minutes and use another 15-20 minutes for planning what I would do for the rest of the day.

2PM was my launch time. I could dedicate not more than 3 minutes for it. My coding session would begin at 2.30. So I managed 30 minutes of sound sleep almost everyday. However my mind would be keep on working on the problems.

It would be again a session till 9.45. I would takeup my backup and write development journals and algorithms for 15 minutes.

To my surprise I had pulled up more than 6 45+ hours when I went to sleep once in two days.
As it needed a lot of physical ability to take the strain on eyes and mind and body, I had few food routines also.

Food and Health

Rice was entirely eliminated from my diet. I took two chapatis with dal and egg in the afternoon and two chapatis with 150gm of boiled chicken prepared with sauce. I left stopped any sugar and salt content. So my life now is "Chini less and Namakless". I took a lot of apples in these days. Almost 5 a day. Beside apple the other food was carrot and tomato and sweet corn. I had 1.5 Lt milk everyday and had them with dates. Dates gives you immense power. I was a bulky man with 102kg on July and ended up 18Kgs leaner! God what I could not do for 10 years, was done in 2 months.

However as you can expect, health problems were bound to come. I would face I strain and headache. I had to take Saridon many a times( bad but had no options). I used onion with good effect. When in severe pain, little onion juice on eyes gave a lot of relief. I had chest infection ( Well I am a bad smoker. That does not help), few days of high fever. I used turmeric+ honey+garlic paste in milk to overcome cough and cold. I did not take any medicines for fever as any paracetamol will entice sleep. So I put on my sweater under fever. It was tough but ok.

Did I tell you when I went home? Well I did not. for 75 days I was living in office with my family. It would save 30-40 minutes of time in transport and extra tiredness caused by it.

Some good breaks in between

In between I had 3 big things. First I had my Ph.D interview for which I had to drive to Belgaum, give interview and comeback. 800+Km of drive. So my wife accompanied me. During the drive I could manage about 5 hours of dictation about certain design issues which Moumita could manage to type with her frenzy fingers. While I was busy with interview, she tested the pending test cases like religion. So it wasn't that bad waste of time. To have a technocrat wife who builds robots better than you, can cook better than you, can win argument, can suggest code design , who can test, who takes care of baby without any helping hands and who is your best critic is something that only luckiest guys gets ๐Ÿ˜€

Now don't get me into explaining how she wins argument? Well, I stop it after she starts speaking. I guess the secret of happiness is never tell a women that she is wrong. Later just put a sentence "wouldn't it be nice if?" and end the discussion.

Coming back, Had couple of presentation with WD guys and manage to convince them about the work. So it was long 5-6 hours of work other than what I was doing. It went for 2 days and ended in a very happy note indeed.

The third occasion was when I was selected to compete in App Innovation Contest 2013. This was 5th straight entry to a global competition since last year.

Why was coding so challenging?

Firstly Intel's SDK is great but not always does give you what you are looking for. Secondly I was working with two subjects: Animation and Image Processing. Interrelated but not something that I had not done on big scale. Another problem was, from my past experience I knew I had to be putting a lot of effort in GUIs and design.
I collected 40+ interviews of Steve Jobs and Ordered his biography at the beginning. Before my session started, I studied the thought of man and calligraphy to great details.

The greatest visionary showed me the way to do it. The interface must be simple and intuitive. But making anything simple for end user is a huge challenge before every engineer. So I spend endless hours typesetting fonts, arranging and rearranging panels, Changing colors, changing ratio. And It took about 200 hours to design the UI that you would see at the end of this blog in video.

Now I know why Mr. Job was so ruthless with his team. These guys could work in stretch. They could go on for weeks. That is perfectly justified.

I also had to integrate voice, gesture, mouse, touch, keyboard, head movement in most natural ways possible. That was big big issue. I have spent countless hours, taking my chair to the corner of the wall, keep looking at the corner and thinking.

The projects were bigger than anything I had done in life and needed every single technical issues I had known for past ten years. So it needed many algorithms and codes that I had developed over the years which went missing in our code database. The only member in my team Moumita took the pain to discover them. Being a passionate programmer herself, she managed to give me with several plugins. But As the work was entirely real time and our challenge was to do everything without compromising on fps, she could not push any code to repo. But I must admit , what she did was something I wouldn't have been able to do. To modify a logic you had written some 4 years back is way better than to write it from scratch.

The change in persona and negativity

During this period I felt quitting more than once. Every setback will tell me "you are just not good enough at this level. Even kids are better." And I would sob in silence. I would then stop working and think " I wish I had a better education, I wish I had my parents bringing me up...." And then I would tell myself, let's give it another day. If I can't do it then I will quit. So I sometimes took a walk at 2AM in night. Silence, I would think about the problem. And most often those 30 minutes walk did find a solution to my problems. I would comeback and code like a mad. Ultimate when the problem is solved, I would say, hey you are better than anybody ๐Ÿ˜€.

I must admit, I was a changed person all along. Had little patience to communicate with people. This was the time when I have behave worse in my life with many. Too bad. I do regret my persona or should I say changed persona in this period. I was rude, unwilling to even speak to anybody. I made a villain of myself. And I never realized that. Because I had no control over my mind and emotions. They were just busy thinking.

During this period, I developed a skill that I still believe was impractical. I could divide my mind in two parts. One that would tell me what I was coding and how I was going about current task and the other would simply think about a problem I would be taking up next. Many will insist in not believing, but we have a subconscious mind. It's what your reflexes are based on. So when you are walking looking ahead, a vehicle comes fast from behind and you still manage to change your path. Taking control over my sleepy part of mind was amazing. I did not realize that my inactive brain processed so much logic and data in the background and handed over to my active mind.

Where I reached?

Every battle is fought to be won. But I do not have a clue of the results to come. All I care is I have beaten myself and my own abilities. I am happy that I could take this pressure. I am proud to have put up products that many companies will find tough with their whole team and product managers in this period. But I lost many things. Health was badly affected. I am quite weak now. Though I feel my wife is going to put mass of dishes in front of me for next few days to see me healthy same way. I lost few friends, made many enemies, created several critics. I do feel I have deprived my kid and wife their share of me for this period. That is bad. Though yesterday was a free day , I could not sleep. The body has been so habituated with this 21 hours of work that it refuses to change. I hope that would come to normalcy.

At times you need to take very very hard decisions. These decisions would make you think again and again for rest of your life and you have to live with them. I have been questioning to myself from yesterday "I have become so unsocial and irritating person! I was never like that. Was it worth?

But then for once I chased my dreams to win the world to extremity. For once I stood up for myself and did what I would want to do. For once I knew that human limit is just a nonsense term. I competed against the best of the world. Programmers like Lee Bamber ( Creator of AGK), Pete O' Hanlon ( A Wpf MVVM gaint), LinkedPixel studio ( creator of Doodle pad and several Million-downloaded drawing Apps), and so many others I wouldn't even know.

What is most heartening is even knowing these guys were in final, I dared to seek their opinion and help and they did. My best moment came when I dared to mail many of these great minds with my videos.

I quote some of the replies.
"Perceptual ImageGrassy is so intuitive. I have never seen an app with voice recognition as perfect as this." Adam David Hill

"That's a real developer material. Congratulation on your work. I especially liked the shadow puppet app. Rupam my app is not even any closer to what you have managed to do". Lee Bamber ( AGK fame)

"Wow! You have a stunning demo. I wish you win my friend". Pete O' Hanlon

"Your app looks so cool. It's wonderful to see you have managed to create such a nice app using Aforge" Andrew Kirilnov ( Creator of Aforge.Net)

"Rupam the app is rocking. It was like wow". Kobi Nistel( Creator of Pixel Garden).

To be appreciated by programmers and creators of software which is used by millions of developers across the world gave me a point of satisfaction.

I may never reach the heights of these great minds, and that is why they are great. But to know that these greats have liked my effort and app gives so much positive energy.

My mind will refuse to accept loss in this competition. But then it will move forward taking the positives out of it. Someday, in generations to come, my effort would be told in my family. That's make me satisfied.

After my efforts, I come down to CE to spill it all. Because I feel so happy when I type in CE's editor. Also I feel sometimes somebody may read this to know that it's always better to try and fail rather than not trying for the fear of failure. Man it was a fascinating 75 days. Also I offer my unconditional public apology to every person whom I might have hurt during this period.

I would welcome thoughts and comments from my fellow CEans. Thanks for taking the pain reading this.

My Effort:

Shadow Art Show Maker:

Perceptual ImageGrassy


  • Abhishek Rawal
    Abhishek Rawal
    I thoroughly read it, twice! Epic job @#-Link-Snipped-# . You make CE proud, more than that you're repping for India,so you make entire Indian nation proud. ๐Ÿ‘
  • Ankita Katdare
    Ankita Katdare
    Man, that kind of perseverance is so rare to see. I really think that you're doing great. All our wishes are with you. You always make CE proud. ๐Ÿ˜€
  • Kaustubh Katdare
    Kaustubh Katdare
    You're a storyteller @#-Link-Snipped-# . On a personal note - the long walks seem to offer solution to almost every problem ๐Ÿ‘
  • Ankita Katdare
    Ankita Katdare
    And if your wife is reading this, #Respect for you ma'am. ๐Ÿ‘
    Without a strong, unfaltering support from the family - there's very less we can really achieve this fast.
  • Kaustubh Katdare
    Kaustubh Katdare
    ...and I wonder if she's on CE? She's too many things to handle; but I'm sure she can find 5-10 minutes for CE every day ๐Ÿ˜€
  • Rupam Das
    Rupam Das
    AKD, I intend to get very focused at times when I aim at something. You can say it is kind of darker part of me that I don't see any other thing other than what I am willing to get. So chances of miss are rare , though not removed from context.

    If you are to win a battle against a winner, you need to first beat yourself and your mental state that a human being can do only this much. People say putting 100%. My 100% is 8 hours which is not enough considering the other. So I actually have to give 300%. That is 24 hours. When you do that you know you have battled better than anybody else and no one can clock higher than that.

    And about my wife, no she would not read any blog of mine. She finds K a more charming blogger ๐Ÿ˜›. So I am safe here!

    Jokes apart, I feel women in general are far more stronger. I am feeling weak after two months. She is looking after the kids, my robots, her education round the clock for last 5 years and never feels that needs a blogging. She also takes care of her brother who is a badminton player and currently ranked 110 in world. And refuses to take any assistance from me.

    Dear K, when we become lonely, blogs are only place where we can speak our mind and walk is the only time we can think out of the box.
  • Rupam Das
    Rupam Das
    Kaustubh Katdare
    ...and I wonder if she's on CE? She's too many things to handle; but I'm sure she can find 5-10 minutes for CE every day ๐Ÿ˜€
    She is a fan of yours and reads your blogs only. If she was regular here, I wouldn't have the courage to troll!
  • Pensu
    Man, that's some dedication. Hats off to you. You are an inspiration to all CEans. Awesome job, @#-Link-Snipped-#
  • Rupam Das
    Rupam Das
    By the way, if you can glimpse the last video and look at my eyes, I was unable to keep it opened. But "Light Camera and Action" makes you smile always!๐Ÿ˜‰
  • Anoop Kumar
    Anoop Kumar
    Superb job and thanks for sharing your experience.
    Shadow art show maker is just superb. (I still have to watch perceptual Image Grassy video) .
    Never seen such idea before.
    Congrats on completing this huge Codathan ๐Ÿ‘.
  • Saandeep Sreerambatla
    Saandeep Sreerambatla
    Awesome job Rupam, your dedication is wonderful.

    The best part is, earlier there is only K to inspire us but now we have you as well in the list.

    What you done is so great ๐Ÿ˜€

    And coming to chest infection , if you cant quit smoking eat many tomatos it helps.

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