Jotes! By Solis

Jot Down Notes:

A Notetaking Platform Designed for Humanity

Inspiration

Those with disabilities are often the last people considered with the development of new technology. But Jotes! does it a little different.

We have extended our code to students, learners, and dreamers everywhere, providing a powerful resource for those of all needs and backgrounds. Jotes! was designed for those who struggle with disabilities like dyslexia, dysgraphia, or impaired hearing, providing greater relief in high-stress lecture environments. Jotes! is perfect for those of diverse cultures and backgrounds who may not be native English speakers and have trouble following along with the spit-fire rate of lecturing professors. Jotes is the friend that catches you when life hits hard, and journeying to lecture becomes a nigh impossible task. Fear not! The Solis team is here to help, and we have given our best efforts to support those who don't always feel they have the voice or strength to speak up. alt text

And that's us! Prior to 36 hours of straight coding, of course.

So, Why Use Jotes!?

The short and sweet of Jotes! is that it works by allowing a user to upload an audio file of a lecture (or anything really), currently .flac only because of its lossless data structure, which is then processed through a daisy-chain of different APIs and backend riff-raff. After an absolutely magical wait while our backend makes use of Machine Learning, Neural Networks, AI, and other really cool stuff, a transcription of the file is displayed. The twist is that our platform also identifies keywords from the lecture by their salience, or importance, and sentiment values, and defines them, as well as providing additional resources at the bottom of the page for further research.

Jotes! is extremely flexible in its use cases: use it to compare your notes to the professor's spoken notes, give yourself a more in-depth study sesh, share spoken lecture notes as text to friends who couldn't make it class, the only limit is your imagination (and our GCloud credit)!

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A closer look at the featureset of Jotes! first build release.

How Was Jotes! Built?

Jotes! was built off of a very diversified set of libraries, APIs, and languages. Notably, it makes use of Google Cloud Platform's Text-to-Speech API and Natural Language Processing API, the former providing the transcription functionality and the latter providing the Machine Learning and Neural Network heavy lifting for determining salience and sentiment which are used to define keywords in the audio file. As a result, the Google Cloud SDK was at the heart of Jotes! as well. We also made use of the Wikipedia and Oxford Dictionary APIs, while the core of the platform was built on a Python Flask backend and rendered with a brilliant duo of HTML and CSS. Of course, we give a proud and grateful salute to the countless libraries that aided us on our way.

Otherwise, Jotes! was built with a lot of love, care, and at times a little frustrated screaming. It is truly the realization of the Solis team's passions and efforts, as we all drew from a driving personal experience in some way or another. It is our brainchild, and we most definitely plan to have her grow up alongside us!

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The first steps of Jotes! as some notes.

Our Challenges

There are always obstacles, but trial by fire is what makes you strong! The nuances of the countless languages are an excellent example of trial by fire, that's for sure. Right from the get-go, we had the roadblock of setting up our virtual environment to be compatible with all four of our APIs, which included installing the GCloud SDK, editing our System Path variables, and ensuring proper definition of key/token access. The Google Cloud Platform is powerful but maintains a steep learning curve that takes no shame in punishing those new to the craft of software engineering. The use of different IDEs and unstable Internet access only added to the pressure and stress as debugging became increasingly more difficult and time slipped away.

Trial by fire, my friends.

Trial by fire.


Our Pride and Joy!

In all honesty, there's a lot our team is proud about here at LAHacks! One of our mates was a first-time hacker and did an amazing job integrating the intimidating Google Cloud APIs, while for another three of us it was the first completed project at a hackathon! We are all still apprentices in this craft, with so much to learn and explore, but we traversed astounding ground over the past few days and take great pride in sticking with our project until completion. At first, our Jotes! was an evasive mystery with so many confounding components, but we constantly built on and built up each other, sharing our knowledge and making up for each other's weaknesses. We stepped way out of our comfort zones and implemented tools we had never seen nor used before, like Flask, GCP, and Django. Solis was a pretty big team, but we fit together like pieces of a puzzle. Cute!

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Live by code, fight by code, smile by code. We are Solis!

Fiat Lux

Perseverance. Grit. Patience. Teamwork. All are clique, but beautiful descriptions of what Solis cultivated working on Jotes! as we powered through 3 days of blood, sweat, and lots of Chipotle burritos. We became more confident as the knowledge we gained strengthened our foundation, and we realized the capacity to apply in Jotes! what we gained in workshops. Quite a rush, I must say! One of the most potent lessons we learned was how to properly balance our work and our sleep (I say as I write this at 5 am lol) as it gave us an edge as the days grew dim, the shadows grew long, and the sweet embrace of slumber began to claim our fellow hackers. Pleasant dreams, everyone.


What's Next for Jotes! by Solis?

Interestingly enough, the future of Jotes! is already very clearly defined. One of our mates spent a huge chunk of time working on a fully featured, functionally rich upgrade of the current build, but wasn't able to complete the re-integration in time.

The second build would have added user authentication and blog functionality, so that users could publicly post and share lecture transcripts for others to enrich their studying with, as well as privately save their own personal jotes. The public posts would allow for users to provide their own jotes to help inform others. Current functionality is the aforementioned user authentication, secure registration, ability to modify, update, and delete posts, static data stored in a SQL database, profile images, restriction of edit privileges to only the logged in user's own posts, conglomerated posts by the original poster, tabbing, and a powerful admin tool to modify all settings and data associated with the SQL database.

Jotes! definitely has a promising future, with an already growing feature set, and the passion from Solis brightening any study session. It is deployment ready, and development will always be driven by a determination to correct the inequities that pervade our societies and institutions so completely; to provide more equal opportunity where there may not be. Just take a look!

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