Blog Posts by Subramanyan Murali

  • Hack U™ at UCLA

    A team of Yahoos from Academic Relations, University Recruiting and the Developer Network partnered with the folks at UCLA and launched our first Hack U™ at the campus. Over 70 students participated during the three days (October 13th – 15th) and the quality of the hacks was outstanding. The events began with a tech, great food and of course coding throughout the night. We needed additional overflow rooms to handle all of the hackers. UCLA Hack UUCLA Hack UThe energy was high and the student team that won couldn’t have been more surprised to come in 1st place - especially as one of their teammates is a political science major!

    Judging was performed by Yahoo!’s Allen Rabinovich and Gopal Venkatesan and the UCLA faculty judge was Anke Audenaert, Professor of Internet Analytics at Anderson School of Management, and Yahoo! alumnus. Watch the final awards presentation.

    The winning team, including Elison Chen, Rupen Dajee, Benjamin Lin and Sam Chuang, developed an app called ServU, a SMS-based services in

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  • Hack U™ at UIUC

    I suppose I was expecting to see other Yahoos, about to brave the chill to head to Hack U™ at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), but glancing out of the hotel window I certainly wasn't expecting to see an enormous semi-trailer with Yahoo! written on the side tuning in to the campus.UIUC Hack UUIUC Hack U
    Unsurprisingly though, it turns out this was far from a coincidence. The truck, driven by a man named Don and accompanied on this occasion by his charming wife Mary, spends its life picking up new servers from Yahoo!’s suppliers and delivering them to our datacenters across the country. Don doesn't only transport new servers though, and on this occasion he was dropping off a whole rack of used servers Yahoo! donated through our Y! STAR (Yahoo! Servers to Academic Researchers) program.

    My partner in crime for UIUC Hack U™ was none other than Dav Glass, a core developer on Yahoo!’s User Interface platform (YUI), so despite the rain and it being 5pm we began the hacking with a room full of

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  • Hack U™ at Carnegie Mellon: Attend concerts, solve math problems, and more

    CMU Hack U 2011

    Fall semester is here, and it's time for your Hack U™ team to hit the road. During our September 29 - October 1, 2011 stay at Carnegie Mellon University, we witnessed 20 brand-new student projects rise up after 24 hours of non-stop hacking.

    CMU Hack U 2011

    On Thursday, we got things started with a nice chat what Hack U is all about: You build, then you present to win prizes after a 24 hour non-stop hackathon. Our CMU stop has a twist: in association with the Tepper School of Business, serious prize money and funding was at stake for going beyond a successful hack to pitch a successful business. Computer Science students with big ambition were able to team up with MBA students to deliver not only a cool demo, but a sustainable business plan.

    CMU Hack U 2011

    CMU Hack U


    CMU Hack U

    In the end, 52 hackers operating under teams like "The Power Ragers", "Sparq Industries", "The BROosevelts", and aptly-named "Team Tired" reached the finish line with a working hack.


    We had some fun during the night: questions were posted on @hacku and

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  • UC Berkeley Hack U™ Recap

    The UC Berkeley Hack U™ events keep getting better each year! And again, the Computer Science Undergraduate Association (CSUA) did an awesome job of coordinating the event.

    The recent Hack U™ had somewhere close to 200 people starting out, easily filling the workspace and requiring students to find other work areas. The energy was high and the creativity running. Hundreds of pounds of food was consumed, and students were still hungry!

    Thirty-three hacks were demonstrated to the panel of judges. The quality of work was so impressive that the judges also created several honorable mention awards.
    The winning hack was by the team with Rohan Varma and Samvit Ramadurgam. Their hack centered around a face recognition algorithm that employed a combination of machine learning techniques as well as some nifty image filtering. The hack reduced the problem to pattern matching as it matched faces to an existing data set of reasonable size with surprising levels of accuracy.

    From winner Rohan,

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  • Copy to clipboard for User Initiated actions

    Last month I wrote about a nifty trick we implemented in Yahoo! Mail to copy an email address using the keyboard shortcut CTRL+C (CMD+C on OSX ) on a selected contact bubble or "Lozenge”. The keyboard shortcut, while useful, was not something that was immediately obvious to users. For the functionality to be widely applicable, it’s important to support familiar UI paradigms that are mouse friendly too. The problem however is that most browsers do not natively support writing to Operating System Clipboard. This means that we had to figure out a way to trigger the copy to clipboard on mouse clicks on UI elements and UI paradigms like custom context menus ( hitting enter on a menu item etc.) I wrote a YUI 3 Node Plugin called gallery-clipboard that is available on YUI 3 Gallery to support this requirement.

    The problem is not new and a while back, a very cool project called Zeroclipboard tackled this problem in a unique way by utilizing the ability of the Flash run-time to write to the

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  • Implementing the Copy Feature for Yahoo! Mail Contact

    The email contact bubble or "lozenge" as we call it, is a self contained entity in Yahoo! Mail compose page that can be copied, edited, deleted and even dragged around. It is one of the many useful design elements in the new Yahoo! Mail and a better, more intuitive way of representing the boring old email address. In this post, we will talk about a nifty trick that might be useful while working with web applications.

    Most browsers do not allow the Javascript in the browser to assign text content into the operating system clip board. This leaves us with a unique problem of implementing the functionality of copying email address from a lozenge on to the clipboard. The usual shortcut to copy a string or any content is to use CTRL+c ( CTRL = control / command ) and CTRL+v to paste it back. All the key board interactions fire off events and the operating system manages the short cuts like CTRL+c and CTRL+v. The good thing about web applications running on the browser is that all of the

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  • Recap of Hack U at UC San Diego

    Hack Like a Champion TodayHack Like a ChampionThe Yahoo! Hack U team was in San Diego April 5-8, 2011 for the final Hack U event of the season in the Unites States. We were greeted by unusually cold and wet weather, but were given a warm welcome at UCSD. This is the third UCSD Hack U and as always enjoyed a great response. The Hack U team consisting of Subramanyan Murali, Jonathan LeBlanc, and Jamie Lockwood spent 5 days on campus interacting with students and discussing various tools.

    On the first day, I started off the Hack U intro. Since the students of UCSD are well aware of the format, the intro talk was focused on showing some of the Hacks from other hack days to motivate the students and get their creative juices flowing. Jonathan LeBlanc gave an introduction to YQL and YUI. These are easily the 2 most popular Yahoo! tools used in hack days. The next day, students were invited to an open discussion over lunch about various technologies and hack ideas. This "API brain jam" session was an awesome time for the tech crew from

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  • The force is strong with Georgia Tech Hack U!

    hackubearbanner295x85Yahoo! wrapped up yet another successful Hack U at Georgia Tech last week. This is the 4th time we have gone to Georgia Tech and as always we were received with a great student turnout. The Hack U team — Jamie Lockwood,Jeremy Hubert, Subramanyan Murali and Simon Tunbridge — spent a week in Atlanta interacting with students and discussing web technologies and best practices. A mix of Hack U veterans and newbies participated in the event with the same level of enthusiasm.

    Jeremy Hubert kicked off the week with an introduction to Hack U. He went over the program and showed off some past winning hacks. He also shared his thoughts about prototyping and building quick mock ups as a way to develop ideas in code. I followed with a talk on how to treat the web as a data source using YQL and Yahoo! Pipes. The next day, we did a talk on Web security. I went over some tips on securing web applications from scripting and injection attacks. As part of the hack program, Douglas Crockford gave a

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  • YUI 3 AsyncQueue + Cache Warmer = better Yahoo! Mail performance

    JavaScript runs the race on a single thread. In a recent talk about Responsive Interfaces, Nicholas Zakas describes how the single-threaded execution time is split between the JavaScript thread and the UI thread. To make a web application feel quick and snappy, 50-100 milliseconds is all the time we have to give the user feedback about their interaction. The AsyncQueue implementation in YUI 3 is a way to enable progressive incremental rendering of an application, so that user can start interacting even while the infrastructure is being set up.

    To make a responsive web application, high-execution processes are broken into small chunks and queued up. The Yahoo! Mail cache warmer module uses the browser/application idle time to pre-fetch some important components and data. The bulk of the wait time for an internet application is spent bringing information across the wire. Once it reaches the browser, information can be cached for immediate or future use.

    Cache warmer sequence for preparing compose dependenciesCache warmer sequence for preparing compose dependencies

    Users of Yahoo! Mail follow two

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  • Hack U (Chennai) gets hotter

    Tech Crew T-shirt design for the 2010 Hack U in IndiaHack U visited The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT-M) in Chennai — the land of the white dhoti, loud film posters, and tasty food — from August 13 to August 15, 2010. IIT-M is amongst the foremost institutes for higher technological education, and basic and applied research. We had heard a lot about the IIT-M students and more about the sprawling campus. Both did not disappoint.

    Even before we reached the campus, there were over 180 registrations! The Yahoo! crew was hosted in the big spacious guest house rooms and welcomed by a curious herd of spotted deer in the guest house garden! The Yahoo! PR team had done a great job creating a buzz around the campus. The Yahoo! Academic relations head, Muthusamy Chelliah, kickstarted the evening with an introductory talk, followed by pep talks by the professors at IIT. Thiruvalluvan M.G, an architect from Yahoo!, presented a talk on Yahoo!’s efforts around Cloud Computing, which captured the attention of the research students.

    To start off

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