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Pick Me: What they know about you

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Here’s one of the biggest steps taken in the transportation section by any Sri Lankan, and a tool that will definitely come in handy, especially if you are living around the cities and suburbs. Pick Me, the home-grown ride sharing app disrupted the transportation sector in Sri Lanka, by transforming the classic tuk-tuk rides. Even with the growing competition of Uber, this local company has managed to innovate and diversify its business in numerous areas such as passenger rides, food delivery and parcel delivery. In this article we are going to look into the effect of this ride sharing app on your digital privacy. So, let’s hop on!

First and foremost, Pick Me will receive the information you provide when signing up for the service, which includes the usual user name, profile picture and email address. Furthermore, when you use the app to book a vehicle, generally the following information will be also be collected.

1.Location information (obviously)

When you have allowed the app to use your location service, it may collect data when the app is actively running in foreground, as well as in background. Your IP address will also be used to get the approximate location.

2. Contact information

“…may access and store names and contact information from your address book.”

3.Transaction details

Type of service requested, date, time, amount charged and distance traveled are some of the details that will be collected.

Furthermore, other details such as your app preferences, settings, device information, call and SMS data related to Pick Me services and log in data will be collected.

In addition to this, when you integrate other apps such as Facebook with the Pick Me app, some of your information on such apps will also be accessible to Pick Me.

If your organization provides you work travel with Pick Me, they will also collect some information relating to you from your employer. After you complete a journey or any other service form the app, service providers will also write to you, and your user ratings will be sent to Pick Me. (Peer Review mode alert)

This information will mainly be used to provide you with better service, be it ride sharing or food delivery, and to connect you to drivers and service providers. And as with typical tech companies, user data will be used to personalize the offerings. However, in doing so, data may not only be processed and stored in Sri Lanka, but will also be shared with other countries. (“…some of which may have fewer protective data protection laws…”)

Pick Me will share the information;

  • with service providers Ex: drivers
  • other users, when you use “Share ride”
  • with third parties, for promotional and partnerships purposes
  • other apps and services that may use Pick Me APIs
  • your employer if you are getting the service through your workplace    

What rights do you have?

You can correct or change your account information, but in order to delete or cancel your account, there is no easy way out but to email them at support@pickme.lk. Even after your account is deleted, some information could be retained, in case there are any issues such as outstanding balances to pay on your account, or any fraud and policy violations that Pick Me holds you responsible. Furthermore, depending on the applicable law, your access rights will be executed, and there is no mention about what you can do to delete your location information history with the app, or if it is even possible.

Overall, it seems that given the low level of privacy regulations in Sri Lanka, Pick Me’s privacy statement does not elaborate much and flexible compared to most of the international apps. Hence it is always better to clarify your issues with the company at privacy@pickme.lk, which would be the most effective method we suggest.  

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FeaturedOur Projects

Cut the Greed, Not the Green Phase1

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The Forest Cover of Sri Lanka which stood at 49% in the year 1920, has dropped to a shocking 16.5% over the past century. Today, deforestation continues to take place drastically, destroying over 25,000 hectares of forest annually. While the rich and valuable forest resources of this country are being limitlessly taken away to fulfill the needs of mankind, there exists groups of people dedicated towards compensating the situation and reforming the original as much as possible. We, at Rotaract Achievers believed it was our duty as well to contribute towards the re-forestation of Sri Lanka, and decided to join hands with this valuable cause.

Cut the greed, not the green is a reforestation project carried out by the Rotaract Club of Achievers Lanka Business School, partnering with Reforest Sri Lanka. The project was initiated with the aim of planting trees at different locations around the country. After having completed two successful phases of this project during the last Rotaract year, our team was determined to do an even bigger job this time, completing many more phases of this impressive project.

The first phase for this year took place on 5th of September 2020 with a target of planting 500 kumbuk plants at the Etipola Mountain base beside Moragolu Oya, located near Riverstone, Matale. Our club members had planned to gather by 4.00 AM, at Achievers. However, adhering to the Sri Lankan custom of getting delayed, it was 5.00 AM when we actually set off. After a four-and-a-half-hour journey, we reached our destination.

The surrounding was mesmerizing as the Knuckles range was visible covered by the steamy evergreen vegetation. Despite wanting to sit and enjoy the beauty for some time, we had to directly get into work since we were already late. The samplings and required equipment had already been brought by the members of Reforest Sri Lanka, who were also present to lend their hands for the project.

As the first stage of the process, we had to take the plants down a slope towards the area they had to be planted. We decided to spread out at hands distance and passed the plants down the slope, to make the job faster. After bringing them down, everyone had to take two or three plants and walk another 200m towards the planting spot. This was indeed the most energy draining part of the entire process. We planted the samplings in the holes which had already been bored by augers. After planting about 250 of them, we decided to take a break and have lunch before resuming to finish the remaining.

We all relaxed along the Moragolu Oya, rejoicing the scenic beauty of the environment while having a simple meal, and even enjoyed the natural fish therapy in the small ponds formed by the stone beds along the stream. Just before getting back to work, it started to rain which paved in many ways to add misery to our task.

The main problem we faced was leaches, as they started to appear drastically after the rain. It was a dreadful sight to see two or three leaches lurking beneath our clothes and relishing on our blood. However, we managed to plant some more samplings amidst this chaos. But eventually with many of us fatigued towards the end with the amount of work, and the gradual worsening of the weather, we decided to wrap it up for the day. Even though we weren’t able to achieve the target due to the unfavorable conditions, we managed to bed 320 plants by the end of the day, and everyone felt content and happy to see how it had turned out.

The evening view of the mountains was so lovely; we spent some time enjoying the view and taking pictures to capture the moments.

Before we set off back to Colombo, we decided to spend some time at the Bambarakiri Ella. It is a multi stepped waterfall, where a series of waterfalls, each having its own pool are connected together one after the other. There were two pools accessible for us. Even though one was safe, the other one had a dangerous plunge pool just below its adjoining waterfall which had a history of no one returning from it after going in. Fortunately, just before we could get into it, somebody directed us to the safer side which was suitable for swimming. We swam and refreshed ourselves in the cold water after the tiring day. The waterfall is indeed a hidden gem, a tranquil and peaceful place. A suspension bridge spanning the falls added the finishing touch to the already beautiful scenery.

No one wanted to leave that place, but since it was already late, half heartedly we all got back to the vehicle and returned to Colombo, putting an end to a very eventful day, with plenty of memories to cherish.

It’s undeniable that the value of time we spent for such a project is immeasurable. Our club members gained a lot from the first phase of Cut the Greed, not the Green, from the knowledge and experience, to fostering partnerships, the satisfaction gained from contributing towards reforesting the county, not to mention the amount of fun we had. We ended the day eagerly looking forward to the second phase of the project very soon!   

Rtr. Gowthaman Jegatheesan

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FeaturedISThe Sports Express

The Sports Express – September

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Cricket

  • The Indian Premier League started on the 19th of September with all matches being played in 3 stadiums in the UAE; Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah in front of no crowds. Delhi Capitals, Royal Challengers Bengaluru and Mumbai Indians got off to strong starts with the early matches having notable performances including KL Rahul’s 132 runs off just 69 deliveries for Kings XI Punjab against RCB, Rahul Tewatia’s unforgettable cameo including 5 sixes off one Sheldon Cottrell over propelling Rajasthan Royals to a record-breaking run chase against Kings XI Punjab as well as the emergence of young players such as Devdut Padikkal, Priyam Garg, Shubman Gill and Sam Curran.
  • The Sri Lanka- Bangladesh 3 test match series that was scheduled to be played in October has been indefinitely postponed after the Sri Lanka Cricket Board and the Bangladesh Cricket Board disagreed on quarantine requirements.
  • The Lankan Premier League which was originally scheduled for the 14th of November was pushed back one week to the 21st of November as the original dates did not allow for the Covid-19 quarantine period
  • England and Australia played a T20I and ODI series with the T20I series finishing 2-1 in favour of England while the ODI series was won by Australia by the same margin. The series was memorable for England snatching victory from the jaws of defeat in the 2nd ODI, after strong lower-order performances propelled them to a reasonable total before Australia collapsed from a strong position and a mammoth partnership between Alex Carey and Glenn Maxwell taking Australia to a series victory in the deciding ODI.
  • Essex won the Bob Willis Trophy, the First Class Tournament that replaced the County Championship for this year. Essex drew with Somerset in the 5-day final at Lord’s, winning the championship on account of scoring more runs in the first innings on the back of an Alistair Cook century. This loss means that Somerset’s wait for a domestic First Class trophy continues, with the club not having won the county championship since acquiring first class status in 1895, despite coming close on numerous occasions
  • England Women and West Indies women took part in a 5-match T20I series with England Women running out 5-0 winners with strong performances from Tammy Beaumont, Nat Sciver and Sarah Glenn

Football

  • The Premier League got underway on the 12th of October, with Liverpool emerging 4-3 victors in the opening match against newly-promoted Leeds. After the first 3 weeks, Everton has emerged as a surprisingly strong team buoyed by new signings, especially that of 2014 world cup star, James Rodriguez. Other notable signings included Gareth Bale and Sergio Reguilon arriving at Tottenham Hotspur, Donny Van Der Beek to Manchester United and Thiago Alacantara to Liverpool
  • The 2020/21 La Liga season also got underway. Barcelona were able to keep star player Lionel Messi even after he had expressed a desire to leave the club but was unwilling to enter into a legal battle with the club regarding his contract. Atletico Madrid strengthened their team by the arrival of Luis Suarez. After the month of September, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid have all got off to reasonable starts.
  • The 2020/21 Serie A season started with Juventus under new manager, Andrea Pirlo aiming to win their 10th consecutive title. Inter Milan under Antonio Conte will hope to be title challengers along with Napoli.
  • The Ligue 1 match between Paris Saint-German and Olympique Marseille, dubbed ‘Le Classique’ for the rivalry between the teams ended in a surprise 1-0 victory to Marseille. The result was marred by an on-field brawl which saw 5 red cards shown, including one for PSG star player, Neymar
  • The 2020/21 UEFA Nations League got underway with defending Champions Portugal getting their title defence underway with a 4-1 victory over Croatia

Cycling

Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia became the youngest winner of the Tour de France since 1904, and the first winner to be on debut since 1983. He achieved this feat by overhauling pre-race favourite and countryman, Primoz Roglic on the time trial on the penultimate day of the race in an incredible performance.

F1

  • The FIA imposed a rule on teams that they can use only one engine mode from the start of qualifying till the end of the race which will be from the Italian GP. 
  • This was done in order to slow the Mercedes team down and close up the Pack.
  • Gasly wins the Italian GP for Alpha Tauri with Carlos Sainz and Lance Stroll finishing as 2nd and 3rd respectively.
2020 Italian Grand Prix Top Three Press Conference | GRAND PRIX 247
  • The Tuscan GP was next and it was the 1000th Grand Prix race for Ferrari with Ferrari running a special livery for the race and the iconic safety car also getting a colour change from Silver to Red.
  • It was announced that Sergio Perez will not be racing with Racing Point (Aston Martin from next season) and Sebastian Vettel will be taking his seat.
  • Lewis Hamilton won the Tuscan Gp with Valterri Bottas 2nd and Alex Albon getting 3rd and his first F1 career podium with it.
  • The Tuscan GP was also a race we saw having multiple red flags, with a safety car restart going wrong for the drivers behind the pack and creating a massive crash involving 4 cars. Luckily no one was injured.
  • The last race of the month was the Russian GP. Lewis Hamilton was given 2×5 second penalties for doing practice starts outside the designated area. Which made the race of his teammate a bit easier and since his win on the season opener, Valtteri Bottas collected his 2nd win of the season
  • With the Russian GP, standings were as follows. Lewis Hamilton has a 44 point lead over his teammate and Valtteri Bottas has a 33 Point lead on Max Verstappen. As for the constructor’s standings, Mercedes is very clear of any potential threat from a rival team getting their place on top with a 174 point lead to their closest rival Redbull Racing.
Mick Schumacher to debut at the wheel of a Formula 1 at the Eifel GP - TV6  News
  • As for the rumours Mick Schumacher son of the 7-time world champion Michael Schumacher might be in for a seat at a Ferrari powered car next season, probably in Alfa Romeo.
  • On F1 records, Lewis Hamilton is just 1 race win short of matching the all-time win record of 91 wins currently held by Michael Schumacher.

Tennis

Dominic Them became the first male player born after 1990 to win a grand slam, beating Alexander Zverev in the US Open final. Pre-tournament favourite Novak Djokovic was disqualified in the quarter-finals after hitting a line judge. In the women’s tournament, Naomi Osaka won her 3rd grand slam and 2nd US open title after defeating former world number 1, Victoria Azarenka.

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FeaturedFree*

Data Privacy with Google Chrome

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Chances are that you are reading this article using a browser named “Chrome”. This is because roughly 7 out of 10 people use this free and fast software provided by Google to make you “Google” better. In other words, Chrome owns around 69.9% of browser market share as at 20th August 2020. So, it’s worth looking at the impact of this product on your digital privacy!

We all know that, in general Chrome will store information such as;

  • Browsing History
  • Personal Information / Passwords
  • Data Saved by Add ons
  • Cookies
  • A record of your downloads

Most of the time, these data will be stored in your device, and hence there is the risk on your data privacy. Hold on, I know what you are going to say. “There is an unless; through settings you can change the privacy related permissions and do the classic history wipeout.” This however, has many loopholes.

Did you know that this information will be sent to Google if “you choose to store that data in your Google account by turning on sync, or in the case of payment cards and billing information, choosing specific payment card and billing information to store in your Google Payments account”?

Chrome is known for its browsing speed, and one tool that enables the “need for speed” is called “Prerendering”. This is looking up the links on the web page you are looking at and loading a part or the complete site on that link in the background. If this feature is enabled, the preloaded site can “set and read its own cookies” stored on your device, “even if you don’t end up visiting the prerendered page”

What about Location Data? “Chrome won’t allow a site to access your location without your permission” but it is just as complicated as any other tech promise. If you are using Chrome on a mobile device and the app has permission to use” for the particular site, *drum roll*, Chrome will automatically share your location data with the search engine which is most probably Google.

  • The Wi-Fi routers closest to you
  • Cell IDs of the cell towers closest to you
  • The strength of your Wi-Fi or cell signal
  • The IP address that is currently assigned to your device,

Are some of the ways Chrome will collect your Location data.

Google wants to help you, so they have Search Prediction and it is really “helpful” that when you are searching on the search box on Chrome, what you type will be sent to “your default search engine” also known as Google, “even if you haven’t hit “enter” yet.”

Web Pages or URLs you visit will not send your personal information to Google unless you have turned on “Make searches and browsing better / Sends URLs of pages you visit to Google”.  So, take a break and turn that off.

Fun Fact – When you use Chrome on Windows and open it for the first time, it will send information to Google about your number of installed browsers. It’s just to make sure if they are still the number 1. 😉

When you have enabled syncing with your Google Account, your browsing data will be used to “improve and personalize your experience within Chrome”.

Whether you already know it or not, Incognito mode can save the day!

When Incognito or Guest mode is enabled, Chrome will not store information like;

  • Basic browsing history information like URLs, cached page text, or IP addresses of pages linked from the websites you visit
  • Snapshots of pages that you visit
  • Records of your downloads, although the files you download will still be stored elsewhere on your computer or device

So, it is one way to surf the internet with some peace of mind, other than looking for alternative browsers such as Brave.

And if you have some time to spare, and are concerned about the Privacy, you can read the Google Chrome Privacy Whitepaper.


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FeaturedGeneral

The Future of Smartphones

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If you could travel back in time to the beginning of the year 2007 and ask someone what they think the future of mobile phones would be, they’d probably tell you that phones would get smaller to improve portability or they might tell you that phones would have much better battery life.

If you tell them that after 13 years, in 2020, a mainstream phone has a full touch screen of 6.5” with no bezels or that a phone would carry a camera capable of capturing breathtaking images or that a moderate or even a cheap phone could quite literally do most of the daily tasks they do in their computers, they’d probably laugh at you.

At the beginning of 2007, people didn’t know that they would need a smartphone, they didn’t know that in only a few more years, the smartphone would become almost a “need” rather than a want.

So how did this happen? How did we end up getting something that has become an inseparable part of our lives when we didn’t even know we needed it?

Enter Steve Jobs. On the 9th of January, 2007 a revolutionary new product was announced. In Steve Jobs’ words, “An iPod, a phone and an internet communicator. These are not separate devices. This is one device. And we are calling it the iPhone. Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone”. Reinvent the phone they did.

So what does the future hold? What is the next revolutionary thing in 2020 that is gonna change smartphones as we know them?

I won’t bore you by saying that processors will get faster and cameras will get better. We all know that’s happening. In this article, I will look at what innovative phones have been released recently which might just be the next big thing.

Foldable phones

For those of you who don’t have an idea of what I’m talking about, a series of foldable phones have been released since 2019. The main advantage is that you can use it as a phone as well as a wide display tablet if you need to. Remember that revolutionary next big thing that I was talking about? Well, this could be it. It’s still in the early stages and we can’t quite say how it’s going to go. The main issue with these right now is how expensive they and how thick the body is which makes it difficult to carry it around. But with a few new developments, we could easily see a foldable phone in everyone’s hands in the next few years.

Royole Flexpai

This is the first foldable phone released and it’s really a hit and miss. As you can see it looks chunky and doesn’t look very appealing.

Samsung Galaxy Fold

The first fold-able phone released by Samsung, the galaxy fold was way better. It had a great screen when unfolded and a decent set of cameras. The biggest catch was that the screen when folded was very small and almost impractical to use. This meant that the Fold is to be used as a tablet primarily but also as a phone if need be. The need for 3 sets of cameras and two screens meant the Fold would have a hefty price tag of $2000.

Huawei Mate X and Mate Xs

Now this, this is what I think is the first step in producing an actual widely used fold able phone. The main difference in this is that the screen folds outward in contrast to how it folds inward in the Galaxy Fold. Since this means that the front folded display is actually a part of the same display that is present when unfolded, it translates to an amazing front folded screen. The Mate X is also much thinner than the Galaxy Fold. It also allows you to take selfies from the back camera which is a huge added bonus. All these points to the fact that the Mate X is a phone first, and a tablet second, which I believe is what will be more useful.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2

In the second generation of foldable phones by Samsung, they fixed pretty much most of their mistakes. It is still an inward folding phone but the front folded display has been upgraded to a full-screen display which is a huge step in the right direction. The bulky front camera setup in the unfolded screen has also been replaced by a notch which looks much better. This phone is also still considerable thick however.

Apart from these, there are multiple other foldable phones in the market and I’ll leave a link for you to check it out if you are interested.

Foldable phones are still in infancy and need many improvements, but in a few more years, with a few more improvements, we could potentially see fold able phones in the hands of everyone.

Rtr. Lakshan Banneheke

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FeaturedOur Projects

Our 11th Installation Ceremony

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It was another memorable day on the Calendar of Rotaract Achievers. It was the most awaited and excited occasion, where a new president, along with a new Board of Directors were to be appointed to ‘Reach Beyond’.

The 11th Installation Ceremony of Rotaract Club of Achievers Lanka Business School was held on 29th of August 2020 at Construction Industry Development Authority (CIDA) Auditorium. The young bloods were ready for their duties which they’re assigned to, and were about to officially take over that day!

The compere for the night, Rtr. Vinuri Ramanayake (who is none other than our President’s very own sister), held the proceedings perfectly together from beginning to end. The event was graced by the Chief Guest; President of the Rotary Club of Colombo Midtown, Rtn. Aswan Bangsajayah.

The ceremony commenced with the lighting of the oil lamp by the dignitaries, after which they were invited to take their seats at the head table. Then, Sergeant-at-Arms, Rtr. Niflaz Nuhuman called the house to order and handed over the proceedings by collaring the District Rotaract Representative, Rtr. Kasun Sigera and Outgoing President, Rtr. Sathma Jayasinghe. Rtr. Sathma called the 11th Installation Ceremony of the Rotaract Club of Achievers Lanka Business School, and the event was officially begun!

After the National Anthem, the proceedings were followed by the Rotaract formalities. Rtr. Asel Gunaratne recited the Flag Salutation, Rotaract Invocation and Rotary four-way test. After the Rotaract Song, the welcome address was delivered by the Project Co-chairpersons, Rtr. Mark Nesan and Rtr. Nethmi Lavanya.

Next up, the Secretary’s report was presented by the Secretary for the year 2019-20, Rtr. Thisura Ramanayake. It outlined the remarkable projects Rotaract Achievers had completed during the last year, under the theme “To Avail and to Thrive”. Rtr. Thisura added that he was proud of how the club had performed; the service it had done towards the community, as well as how he saw the club members learn and grow through this journey. He then displayed a video presentation which replayed the beautiful memories created during the year, which was a nostalgic moment for us all.

This was followed by the speech of the outgoing President, where Rtr. Sathma Jayasinghe took the stage to address the audience as the President of the Rotaract Club of Achievers Lanka Business School, for one last time. She started off by saying that the four years she was a part of Rotaract Achievers were some of the best years of her life, and that she could not put into words how grateful she was for this “Magical Journey“. She said that it was her absolute honour to have led this club, and that the memories and satisfaction she gained through this movement would be cherished for a lifetime.

Rtr. Sathma extended her gratitude to the Past Presidents and Past Members of Rotaract Achievers, and wholeheartedly thanked the present members who have given their utmost commitment to continue the legacy, giving an individual shout-out to her Executive Committee and Board of Directors. She also did not forget to appreciate her parents, siblings and friends who have supported her throughout this journey. Rtr. Sathma said she was nothing but proud of her team, and her love towards the club was visible in her face. She wished her best for the incoming team, being certain that the club will only reach greater heights under the leadership of Rtr. Thisura. Rtr. Sathma ended her speech reminding everyone that “You are only as brave as you allow yourself to be”.

Rtr. Sathma then handed over tokens of appreciation to dignitaries who have played a major role during her Presidency. A real surprise was revealed when she also had a token for her very dedicated Secretary (Secretary Slave :P), and incoming President, Rtr. Thisura. Following this, a token of appreciation for Rtr. Sathma was handed over to her by her Board of Directors, and the Board of 2019-20 officially stood together for one last picture.

After this, the best part chanced. It was the introduction of the incoming president, and Rtr. Thisura was surprised to see his schoolmate Ruchira walking up on stage to introduce him. After an exciting reveal of Rtr. Thisura, the most anticipated moment arrived. It was time for a new leader to take up the club to reach its boundary, and to officially hand over the reins. Rtr. Thisura Ramanayake was collared as the 11th President of the Rotaract Club of Achievers Lanka Business School, by outgoing President Rtr. Sathma Jayasinghe.

Rtr. Thisura Ramanayake officially addressed the gathering as the President for the year 2020-21. He then inducted his Board of Officials, giving each one of them a funny and unique introduction.

On the lineup, the District Rotaract Representative, Rtn. Rtr. PP. Kasun Sigera was invited to address the gathering. He spoke about his career in Rotaract and what it has to offer. He admired the club for the work done throughout the past year, and wished a successful year ahead.

Following this, the District Rotaract Chair, Past District Rotaract Representative Rotarian Amjad Yoosuf and Chief guest, Rtn. Aswan Bansajayah shared their words. President Rtr. Thisura presented token of appreciation to the dignitaries.

After this, the floor was open for felicitations. The Rotaractors and well-wishers were lined up. They expressed their Congratulations and wished the club all the success for the upcoming year.

The vote of thanks was delivered by the Secretary of the year 2020-2021, Rtr. Suwithi Karunasekara. Rtr. Thisura Ramanayake terminated the 11th Installation Ceremony of the Rotaract Club of Achievers Lanka Business School for fellowship and refreshments.

A part of the crowd was enjoying the refreshments while mingling with one another, while others were still busy taking pictures. All in all, it was a great and memorable day of Rotaract Achievers, which was made possible despite the Pandemic. The hard work of everyone who made it a success is highly appreciated.

VIVA LA ROTARACT!

Rtr. Mark Nesan 

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FeaturedOur Projects

Speak to Lead

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The third of September was definitely a day to remember! The first Professional Development workshop for the year Speak to Lead was finally here. It was to take place right after the club meeting that day, and fellow Rotaractors from other clubs were also to join the session.

Having experienced a very thrilling and sensational public speaking workshop by our guest speaker Ms. Sachintha Gunaratne “Speak Up” the year before, the Rotaractors of Achievers were rather upbeat over this follow up session of Speak to Lead conducted by Sachintha herself again.

The workshop started off with a round of introductions with everyone introducing who they were. However, this wasn’t your typical introduction, unless you’re used to walking up on stage doing your own unique dance to Apache Indian’s ‘Boom Shakala’ while introducing yourself. It was the first step of Ms. Sachintha’s strategy of overcoming our fear of taking the stage: being comfortable and confident enough to embarrass ourselves! Everyone was on their feet having a good time, laughing at not only the silly antics put up by others but also over the silly dances each of us had to offer.

After that exciting introduction, we all settled down to listen to some key points on how to make our speech great. The most important aspect Ms. Sachintha stressed on was how we need to make our speech an extension of ourselves. In other words, it must be based on what we’re truly passionate about. According to her, this makes sure that our tone, facial expressions and gestures would all synchronize with our speech. Therefore, it makes it easier to make the best use of our body language as we’re speaking about something that naturally comes to us.

Afterwards she asked a few members what they were passionate about. She used this to bring out how we could potentially build powerful speeches from the ground up, using something that interests us or we are passionate about. She strongly suggested that instead of speaking on overused and generic topics, that we should use novel and abstract content that can maximize our engagement with our audience. At this point, she stressed on the importance of understanding our audience when delivering a speech, and how we need to put our place well in the audience. Ms. Sachintha also taught us how we can orient our speeches to what would engage the audience the best. An important tip to aide this which she pointed out was that we should always use language that refers to the audience, such as constantly using the word “YOU” which gives a strong impression to the audience that you are talking to them.

Seeing that the session was getting monotonous, Ms. Sachintha felt it was best that we try out an exercise where we try to bring out our expressions and our gestures. For this, she played a few songs where we had to sing-along while showcasing our emotions to bring out the meaning of the lyrics. She first played “Hello from the Other Side” by Adele where the crowd had to bring out their remorseful emotions with the words. After some time, the song was changed to “Sheela” by JayaSri which really got everyone riled up and full of energy. Everyone took turns to show their most passionate affection to their beloved කුමාරි Sheela. Some rotaractors really took it onto themselves, notably Rotaractor President Thisura who capitalized the opportunity to express his passionate feelings for someone a few rows behind him. (#ඒවිදෝමගේකුමාරි?).

Finally settling down after that exhilarating item, we next looked into what goes into the structure of a complete and powerful speech. Ms. Sachintha explained on how a amazing speech is like an amazing sandwich. The start needs to be charming enough to hold the audience attention from point get-go and the body must portray the strong message you want to convey, while the conclusion must end on a high note good enough that the audience would remember your speech for a long time. This brought us to the two essential factors we need to keep in mind while preparing our speeches which is “What you say” & “How you say it”.

Finally, to put everything we learnt into practice, we were given a few real world everyday scenarios where we would need to get up on stage and which are also situations where our nerves would get the best of us. Notable of those given scenarios was the Best man/Bridesmaid speech at your best friend’s wedding which was the topic all the speakers spoke about. One of the highlights of this item was Rtr. Oscar of RACIIT ’s speech for Rtr. Thisura’s supposed wedding, which was kept quite heartfelt.

The two subsequent speeches that followed by Rtr. Hasitha and Rtr. Asel didn’t see reason to hold back, and really went onto rip each other off! The item finally finished off with another heartfelt and well delivered bridesmaid speech by Rtr. President Methmini of RACUOCFOA, which ended the event on a high note.

Taking the standards of the last year’s workshop up another notch, Speak to Lead ended on an even higher note. Breaking the norms of a typical monotonous one-way public speaking workshops, we sang, we danced, we joked and we learnt. Making use of the fun but valuable tips we learnt, we will hopefully be able to not only break ground on our stage fright but to also embrace the speaker within us. Here’s to another amazing session organized by our PD team at RACALBS and we await more great events of this caliber to come!

Rtr. Asel Gunaratne

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FeaturedISKnow Your Culture

Know your culture – Sri Lanka

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The Pearl of the Indian Ocean, the Paradise Island, the Teardrop of India. Whatever you like to
call this beautiful island, Sri Lanka holds pride in a very diverse culture. From its written history
dating back to three thousand years ago with the colonization of the Western World, to Sri
Lanka being a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country, it’s no surprise to see some of the world’s
most unique combinations of culture on this island.

Sri Lanka has got most of its culture from its neighbouring country India, with Sri Lanka’s written
history starting with King Vijaya embarking from India. This was the beginning of the influence of
North Indian cultures. With the introduction of Buddhism during the reign of King Dutugemunu,
the base of Sri Lankan culture was built. 

Sri Lanka is not a country with just one ethnicity and has been influenced by various parts of
the world. The country has similar yet different cultures practised around the island. A few to
name would be, the Kandyan culture, Sabaragamuwa culture, Southern culture, Northern
culture and Western Culture. While these cultures have their similarities, they also have their
unique differences. 

Sri Lanka is also a trilingual country with Sinhala, Tamil and English being the main languages.
Sinhala is a language unique to Sri Lanka. Yet, the present-day Sinhala has many words which
were influenced by the Portuguese, Dutch and English.
Sri Lanka has many cultural holidays. The “Sinhala and Tamil New Year” is the most popular
one of them and falls around the 14th of April. Also referred to as the festival of the Sun-God, it
celebrates the Sun travelling a full cycle around the star constellations, bringing a dawn of a
new year. This is the time of the year where Sri Lankans visit their hometowns, buy new clothes,
and shower each other with gifts. Spending time together with everyone in the family while
playing games and making “Avurudu treats” is something people of all ages enjoy doing during
the Avurudu holidays. It’s a very festive season and one of the longest and relaxing holidays in
Sri Lanka.

Next up is Vesak. The festival falls in the month of May and commemorates the birth,
enlightenment and passing away of Lord Buddha. By this time of the year, the streets are lit up
with spectacular decorations. Colourful pandols, lanterns and candle-lit buckets take up the
cities. Sri Lankans also give Dansal during this time, which is offering free food and drinks to
anyone who passes by.

Speaking of food, it is a must mention that Sri Lankans always give a good spin to food. A plate
of food in Sri Lanka is always colourful. Since the staple food of the country is rice, the country’s
main go-to food is rice and curry, where rice is served with vegetable curries, greens and fish or
meat, prepared with spices to add even more flavour to the dish.

The street food of Sri Lanka is
also famous. The youth’s favourite food known as Kottu, is made with a type of roti cut into
small pieces and mixed with eggs, vegetables, cheese and curry. This is a must-try for anyone
of all ages!

If you’re into a light meal Sri Lankans have got you covered there as well. Hoppers and string
hoppers made with rice flour, would make you a light yet satisfying breakfast or dinner in Sri
Lanka. Although the name suggests they might be the same, the techniques of making them
are different and so are they in taste. 

For the sweet tooth’s out there, Sri Lankans also offers many teats to please you. Starting off
with a popular dessert, the Curd and Treacle combo is sweet and milky. Watalappan is another
dessert made with treacle, and loved by everyone.

Entertainment also holds a massive place in the culture. With the influence of the Dutch, Baila
was formed where the songs are very upbeat and energetic while the dancing could be anything
your body feels right. It always has a special place at any party or event and is always
mesmerizing to watch and dance.

We also hold pride in our traditional dancing. The most
famous is the Kandyan dance, where dancers dress up in red and white robes with traditional
drums being played in the background. It’s mostly seen at every perahera that takes place in the
country, but is most common in the months of July.

Sri Lanka also has dances influenced from
India called Bharatha Natyam dancing which is also a colourful dance, which tells a story
thorough the performance.
That is the culture of Sri Lanka. Hope you get a good understanding on Sri Lanka and the
people who make it a very rich and beautiful country.

Rtr. Theekshana Gunasekara

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FeaturedISThe Sports Express

The Sports Express – August

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Cricket

  • The England vs Pakistan test series took place during the month of August. In the first test match, Pakistan batted first and achieved a first-innings lead of 107, courtesy of a Shan Masood century before collapsing in the second innings and leaving England a chase of 277, which they achieved with 3 wickets left, mainly due to a crucial partnership between Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes. Both the next two matches were rain-affected draws with the 3rd test match notable for Zak Crawley’s epic 267, as well as James Anderson, becoming the 4th bowler overall and the 1st pacer to reach the milestone of 600 test match wickets. England won the series 1-0. Jos Buttler and Mohammed Rizwan were named man of the series
  • The T20I series between the two countries ended in a 1-1 draw as the first match was washed out, the second was won by England before Pakistan won the 3rd match. Mohammed Hafeez was named man of the series.
  • The Lankan Premier League was postponed after Sri Lanka Cricket was unable to get government permission to hold the tournament. Sri Lanka Cricket expects to hold the tournament later in the year.
  • The Caribbean Premier League got underway with all matches being played in Trinidad in only 2 stadiums; The Brian Lara Cricket Academy Stadium and Queen’s Park Oval. All matches would take place behind closed doors. At the end of August, Trinibago Knight Riders remain top of the table, winning all their matches.
  • Thabang Moroe, CEO of Cricket South Africa was fired with immediate effect after being suspended nine months earlier. The South African Cricket administration is facing scrutiny after financial mismanagement as well as recent accounts of black and coloured players recalling unfavourable experiences while playing for the national team
  • Dinesh Chandimal posted the highest score in Sri Lankan domestic cricket history with 354* for Army Sports Club against Saracens Sports Club, breaking the previous record held by Kithruwan Vithanage. Colombo Cricket Club had secured the championship of the Premier League Tier A Tournament at this point. Lahiru Udara of NCC finished as the highest overall run-scorer while Duvindu Tilakaratne of BRC was the highest wicket-taker. Moors Sports Club secured the Plate League
  • India which was scheduled to host the 2021 ICC World Twenty20 tournament retained hosting rights while the 2020 tournament, scheduled to be held in Australia but which was postponed due to the pandemic was pushed to 2022. The ICC Women’s ODI World Cup scheduled to be held in New Zealand in 2021 was also postponed to 2022

Football

  • The UEFA Champions League resumed in the month of August with all matches ( except the round of 16 ties not yet completed ) to be played at neutral venues in Lisbon, Portugal. Atlanta advanced into the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in their history and RB Leipzig made it into the semis for the very first time, both teams eventually getting knocked out by PSG. Bayern Munich became the first time to score 8 goals in a Champions League knockout game, defeating Barcelona 8-2 before beating Lyon in the semi-finals to set up a final against PSG. The final at the Estadio Da Luz was decided by a Kingsley Coman goal as Bayern Munich won the title for the 7th time in their history, winning all their games in the process. Robert Lewandowski finished as the top scorer
  • The defeat to Bayern Munich caused huge consequences at Barcelona, with the coach, Quique Setien as well as the Sporting Director, Eric Abidal being sacked by the club before star player Lionel Messi also expressed his desire to leave the club.
  • The UEFA Europa League also came to an end with all knockout matches from the quarter-finals onwards being played at neutral venues in Germany. Sevilla and Inter Milan defeated Manchester United and Shakhtar Donetsk respectively in the semi-finals. The final was held at the RheinEnergieStadion in Cologne and Sevilla won 3-2, following a Romelu Lukaku own goal in the 75th minute. Sevilla won the Europa League title for a record 6th time with Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United finishing as the top scorer ( he also scored for Sporting CP in the tournament )
  • Arsenal won the FA Cup for the 14th time, defeating Manchester City 2-1 in the final thanks to a double from Pierre Emerick Aubameyang.  
  • Manchester City had their 2-year ban on playing European Football due to breaching Financial Fair Play(FFP) regulations overturned by the Court of Arbitration of Sport after they found that UEFA had insufficient conclusive evidence to uphold all of the conclusions that resulted in the ban.
  • Ligue 1 became one of the first European football leagues to resume for the 2020/21 season, starting on the 21st of August.
  • Manchester United captain and England international Harry Maguire was arrested while on holiday in Greece after reportedly assaulting police. He was found guilty of repeated bodily harm, attempted bribery, violence against public employees and insult after arrest and given a suspended prison sentence of 21 months which he is appealing against stating that he is innocent of all charges.

Athletics

  • Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda broke the 16 year world record of Kenenisa Bekele in the 5000m, a record which was previously thought to be near unbreakable, He achieved this at the Monaco Diamond League posting a time of 12:35:36, beating the previous record by almost 2 seconds.
  • Karsten Warholm ran the second-fastest 400m hurdles of all time in Stockholm with a time of 46.87 seconds, only behind Kevin Young’s world record of 46.78 set at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.

F1

  • The British GP was held in Silverstone where we saw a lot of tyre failures occur at the end of the race with Lewis Hamilton winning the race with just 3 wheels, Max Verstappen 2nd and a very lucky Charles Leclerc in 3rd after Bottas had a tyre failure.  
  • During the British GP, Sergio Perez was tested positive with Covid-19 and had to sit out of 2 races which made the German driver Nico Hulkenburg to race for the Racing point team.
  • The following week the 70th anniversary GP was held at Silverstone again where F1 had their 1st F1 race back in 1950.
  • The tyre supplier Pirelli made the choice to go with softer tyres in spite of the failures in the last GP and it made a very interesting race with people doing 2 and 3 stops to make it to the end.
  • Max Verstappen won the race ahead of the two Mercedes, becoming the first winner of the season who was not in a Mercedes car.
  • Next up was the Spanish GP held at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya where F1 pre-season testing happens in the month of February.
  • Max Verstappen managed to split the two Mercedes with Lewis Hamilton collecting another win.
  • After a week’s rest for F1 after a Tripleheader, F1 came to Belgium on the stunning track of Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. 
  • Lewis Hamilton took another win with his teammate finishing 2nd and Max Verstappen in 3rd.
  • In off-track news, Bottas to stay at Mercedes till 2021 while Lewis Hamilton says it’s not a good time to negotiate such a huge deal.
  • Vettel and Ferrari are not having the greatest time as there seem to be flames between the two parties. 
  • All the teams signed the concord agreement to have equal budgets in developing the car.
  • Williams team was sold to a private investment company but the contract agrees to race with the legendary name
  • FIA put out a new rule banning engine modes and from the Italian GP onwards only one single engine mode should be used from Qualification to the end of the race.
  • F1 announces the final calendar for 2020 with races in Portugal, Turkey and two races in Baharin with the second being on the outer circuit of the track (We will see sub 1 minute laps) with Abu Dhabi being the season finisher for 2020 on December 13th.
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FeaturedFree*

Google Search : How Data Collection Works

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Established in 1997 in a rented garage by two people who met on a campus tour, this company has now become one of the most important assets in the world. Yes, you guessed it right! We are talking about BackRub.

Well you might also be knowing it as Google, which is more widely known compared to its official company name, “Alphabet”. With around 86% of Search Market share and 3.8 million search queries per minute, Google Search and its other products have made themselves almost essential today.

Thus, how this company conducts its operations matter to most of us, be it a simple search engine user to Google Cloud user. This is because, except for some products, a majority of its services are provided free of charge. So, how do we facilitate this for them? It’s none other way than simply providing a variety of information about our digital lifestyle.

In this series we will look at most of the commonly used Google services and products and how their privacy practices are conducted. We will start with king of the web search, Google Search.

Whether you have a google account or not, there are a number of information that will be collected when you conduct a simple search. Search Quires or Terms are one of the main information that is collected by the site. This is facilitated by details on your location, IP address, and type of the browser or device you use.

It gets even complex if you take actions through your Search, such as taking a call to a restaurant that you just discovered on the results.

The major concern is that, these details will be saved even if you are offline or not signed into an account!

“Your search and ad results may be customized using search-related activity even if you’re signed out”

If you are using Chrome, which is used by around 71% of Computer users, and have enabled synchronization, then your Browsing history will also be collected and stored along with your profile data. We will dig more into Chrome later in the next article on this series.

Furthermore, the websites and links you click on your search results will also be collected and used to track your movement around the internet. If you are wondering why they need all this information, there are a number of reasons mentioned;

  • To deliver, maintain and improve their services,
  • Develop new products
  • Personalization, including Search results and Ads
  • Measure performance
  • For Security and Protection

Speaking of personalization in Search Results, the information regarding your previous search terms will be used to curate the current results. This will be done even if you are logged into Google Account or not. (It’s all about Data!)

Ads are more related with the Google Search hence your information will be used to understand your “interests” and they cater Ads you like to see (or Google thinks you like to see) when you move from one site to another.

The vast amount of user data that the company has accumulated help Google Search services, specially Ads, to become the Cash cow for the company with over $98 Billion revenue just from the Search product.

“We use various technologies to collect and store information, including cookies, pixel tags, local storage such as browser web storage or application data caches, databases, and server logs.”

How does Google share our information? Only with the companies that are part of the “Alphabet”, but it is questionable.

This is because they further mention that the information will be shared with third parties when we have given our consent (which is practically done by following default settings), for site administrators, Legal purposes, affiliates, and “may share non-personally identifiable information publicly and with our partners — like publishers, advertisers, developers, or rights holders.”

“Some data you can delete whenever you like, such as the content you create or upload. You can also delete activity information saved on your account or choose to have it deleted automatically after a set period of time.”

However, there are unspecified data that will be retained even after you delete the account “for legitimate business or legal purposes, such as security, fraud and abuse prevention, or financial record-keeping.”

With the increasing concerns on the user privacy, recently Google has changed their policy on Search, Location and Voice command data deletion. Now such data, by default, will get deleted in 18 months. This only applies if you are creating your Google account fin this year and onwards.

Are there any measures you can take to protect your privacy when using Google search?

If you have a Google Account – You can use Activity Control, which is the dedicated page to adjust all things privacy related. This allows you to change search record, ad preferences and also export and delete some of your data either in a particular Google product or the entire account itself.

If you don’t have a Google Account – You have to rely on external application such as Privacy Badger, Tor Browser and Extensions, and alternative search engines such as DuckDuckGo. Simply going “Incognito” will help you to protect your privacy to some extent even if you do not use extensions or other tools.

While it is true that you cannot completely refrain from using Google Search, taking necessary measures can make sure that at least you do not compromise all your digital privacy!

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