Grace what she did and does: The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing – My experience in 2017

Grace Hopper Celebration

Being a pioneer in the computing field which is regarded to be male-dominant is challenging for many women. Despite the social-economical challenges, some walk in heels, let their skills shine and serve their communities as best as they can.  The history has being made and our lives have been shaped for the better by such women. Among such women is Grace, Grace  Brewster Murray Hopper who pioneered in automated computing. Denials of opportunities had not kept Grace from reaching her potential, serving her country during the World War II , being renowned for building the first compiler,  and inspiring young people as an educator and a mentor. Around the world there are many girls who are striving to be Grace and Grace Hopper Celebration of women in computing (GHC) occurs annually from year 1994 (, to support such girls.

GHC is one of the initiatives by AnitaB.Org and is the largest gathering of women in computing in the world. In 2017, GHC had the attendance of around 18000 women in Orlando Florida, USA and I was given the opportunity be a part of it as a GHC scholar. The staggering overall impact of GHC’17 is reported in the impact report of GHC’17, and GHC’17 certainly brought an impact on me as an individual.


Myself as a GHC scholar

GHC scholars consists of women around the world and are given the financial support to attend the celebration with a scholarship covering the registration, airfare and accommodation. Personally, GHC has been a dream for me since I was a Computer Engineering undergraduate and that dream would not have been made a reality, had I not been offered a scholarship from AnitB.Org.


I have been fortunate to be mentored by many women throughout my (short) career so far and I have always been inspired by the energy, dedication and the skills which women bring to the workplace. GHC is my first time to be in the United States of America and being from the other part of the world, it was a life changing experience. To meet women from around the world who are actively engaged in the field of computing in such an environment opened me up to a world which I never knew existed.

GHC’17 kick started with keynotes from leading women in computing, including Dr. Fei-Fei Li, Director, Stanford University AI Lab / Chief Scientist, Google Cloud AI & ML and Melinda Gates, Founder, Pivotal Ventures/ Co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. I have many memos from the event and highlights of the keynotes were “AI requires to be more humane and we need to make sure it is”, from Fei Fei Li and “Realisation of big dreams come with superior failures”, words of Melinda Gates.

The celebration also included appreciation of women for their leaderships shown in the field and for being change makers, namely ABIE awards. It was great to hear their stories explaining how they overcome the challenges over the process and to learn their dreams and vision for the future. World is bound to be a better place with such people around.

The three day event also had a career fair running throughout where the participants were given the opportunity to network with techcompanies including Facebook, Google, Oracle, NBC and Salesforce. I bet a lot of companies found their next set of leaders at the event and a lot of participants got the opportunity to learn about the organisations in which they want to be part of, if not nail an opportunity to be on board with the team right away.

The celebration included many career guidance and mentoring opportunities for women in both academia and industry and for both professionals and students. The topics discussed ranged from defining a research theme, developing a career in engineering to becoming a person of influence.

There were also many technical presentations covering a vast range of specialisations such as data science, computer networks, life science and multimedia. In addition, GHC’17 had made a platform for women from different ethnicities, countries and communities to express and discuss the challenges which they face and formulate solutions for them together.

As a GHC scholar, the 679 of us got the opportunity to meet and learn about each other as much as we can while sharing our accommodation throughout the event. I shared my accommodation with a wonderful soul, Divya who is a graduate student from the University of Massachusetts, UMass university. During the stay, we laughed a lot, shared our experiences and also argued on how the existing systems should be changed in order to give more access to less privileged communities. She brought a different perspective to my view on some aspects and knowing her was definitely a memorable experience for me.

My participation in GHC’17 is full of inspiring memories. Never had I ever been felt, so much appreciated and inspired. GHC definitely opened me up to a world of opportunities and pushed me to achieve more, and contribute to my community which may be not as privileged or abundant as others in the world.

Above all, GHC’17 has been the gift for the little girl who had little, yet dreamt a lot, who hit many stones, yet was with hands to help, who knew she would make it, because so had many before her with less than what she has, and that gift is to remind her she has a lot to do and she is not alone.

I wish we could make many such dreams come true, because that is how we make this world a better place: by empowering people to dream more beyond their boundaries and ensuring that their ability to reach them is not limited by who they are and they are graced for what they do.


Fix: Rstudio freeze when loading a file

Fix extracted from the discussion at

I must have messed around too much with RStudio Version 1.0.x in Ubuntu 15.04 , that all of a sudden it started being frozen whenver I try to load  a script, by File-> Open or Ctrl+O. However, I could still open them through the file manager or by double clicking on the file name in the file listing under “Files” at the bottom right corner of RStudio.

The fix was to delete the lockfile corresponding to a deadlock in Qt.

Locate the file location by,

find / -name “QtProject.conf.lock” 2> /dev/null

and remove the file QtProject.conf.lock by rm QtProject.conf.lock

Installing kallisto in Linux

kallisto is  a tool to quantify transcript abundances from RNA-Seq data.

kallisto is available from bioconda.  ( and can be installed by,

conda install -c bioconda kallisto

You need to have conda, the package manager which comes with Anaconda, a programming environment for python and R. If you have Anaconda installed, you may still get an error when executing above command as ‘Error: Missing write permissions in: /home/user/anaconda2’. To resolve this, run the command as

sudo env "PATH=$PATH" conda install -c bioconda kallisto


(Assuming that Anaconda has already been added to the path), if you have root privileges.



සින්ඩරැල්ලාගේ දිනපොතින්


අදහන්න බෑ තවම රැය ගෙවුනේ රජ මැදුරෙ
කුමරියෝ වට කරන් සිනිදු සළු පිළි ඇදන්
අත්වැසුමේ ගෙත්තමින් වැහුනෙ කරගැට දෑතෙ
මග දිගට ගෙවුනු පා බුමුතුරුණු සිප ගත්තෙ

ඒ කාලෙ පුල පුලා රජ මැදුරෙ ඇති කියා
සිතා උන් ඒ සැපත සොය සොයා ඇදුනෙ මම
නතර වී තැනින් තැන රජ සබේ අය මැදින්
යන්න අද මට ලැබුනේ මහා රැජිනක් වගේ

මහ මිදුල පුරාවට සිනා ගී සාගරේ
කාටවත් නොපෙනීම හැංගුනා බොහො කදුළු
දැක්කමුත් ඒ වගක් නොදැක්කා වාගේ
හංගන්න මහ හඩින් හිනැහුනා සමහරූ

එකින් එක හා ගැටී නැගූ හඩ මධු බදුන්
යටින් හද දෙදරවන සුසුම් මට ඇහුනා
දිලෙන ලස්සන අදුන් ලා වර්ණ කෙරූ නෙත්
වල තිබුනු වියළි කම මම හොදින් දුටුවා

ඒ කාලෙ පුල පුලා රජ මැදුරෙ ඇති කියා
සිතා උන් ඒ සැපත සොය සොයා ඇදුනෙ මම
ඔපලූ වට තාප්පය දරන මහ සුසුම් කඳ
හොදටෝම බර වැඩී උඩින් පැන ආවෙ මම

ආයෙත් හෙට…

Ride in the Pražský Semmering in Prague

Prague is a city where time seems to have stood still and being in Prague for 6 days was one of the most memorable events of my life so far.  Prague has a lot to offer for a visitor: the beautiful old town with a history dating back to 900, mesmerizing statues around the city, both in old and new towns, gothic castles, enchanting paintings, splendid Charles bridge, the home of Franz Kafka, the famous Lenin wall and the list goes on. While I was fortunate enough to have a feel of all these, an unforgettable experience in Prague was taking a train ride to the suburbs along Pražský Semmering. A lot of details on previously mentioned attractions in Prague are available on the internet, but Pražský Semmering is a hidden gem.

Pražský Semmering refers to a traditional rail line through Prague and the motor-coach train ride takes you to the outskirts of Prague while offering a beautiful view of the attractions such as Charles bridge and the Prague castle. It was difficult to find where I could hop on to this train, as many locals/foreigners seem to be unaware of this rail. The almost empty carriages were a proof of it. After more than two hours of roaming from one station to another in the city,  and failed attempts to know the details of hop on station, I got lucky at the Hlavní nádraží station.  The motor-coach runs on Saturdays, Sundays and on selective public holidays. The timetable of the train is available at I was elated to know I have made it and was eagerly waiting on the platform for the train to arrive. It was a beauty!

Most of the places in Prague were crowded, during my time of visit (July) and this train ride was serene. A handful of passengers, guard and the driver were there. The city does not expose you much to the beautiful nature of Prague and this motor-coach train takes you through it with a mountainous view. To return to the main station one can take a tram from the stop outside Zličín (the last) station. Since for me it was definitely worth another ride, I spent some time at the last station and took the return ride on the same!

තාරකාවක් කී කතාවක්

අඳුරලූ දිනෙක වට, නෑසු කන් ඇති ලොවක
තනිකමක් හැගි විටෙක 
විවර කර කවුලු පත්
මදෙස නෙත් යොමනු මැන

ඉමක් නැති විශ්වයේ නිමක් නැති තාරුකා
එක්ව මා එක්ක ඒ දිලෙන්නේ නුඹටමයි
නැගෙන තුරු හඳ යළිත්
නුඹට තනි රකින්නයි

සාදයේ සැණකෙලියෙ ඇස් නිලංකාර වන
එලිය යට හිඳින විට මිතුරු කැල වට කරන්
විවර කර කවුලු පත්
මදෙස නෙත් යොමනු මැන

දුරින් මං හිඳින්නම්
පණිවිඩය කියන්නම්
වඩා හොඳ හෙට දිනක් පතා නැගි පැතුම් මල්
දැරූ හිත් මග බලන ඒ උදා හිරු නුඹයි