The Day and Talks
The morning started with us all together in the main room. The first talk of the day, by Gergely Nemeth, told the story of how the speaker had come from being a PHP rookie, frustrated by learning the archaic language, through trying to learn C, Java and C#, to discovering node and starting a community in his home city of Budapest, NodeBP.
Gergely’s advice and learnings from his journey are some that we can all use when we’re learning new things. The main one being: join a community, or start one if there isn’t one. By being part of a community, you can learn together and from each other, whilst making friends within the community.
The second talk of the morning, presented by Javier Abadía, looked at how you can use nodeJS and Johnny-Five to control physical objects, in this case a simple robot based on an Arduino.
Starting with a blinking LED, possibly the simplest thing to do with this combination, Javier showed us how you can interact with these physical components with simple node code, and how you can use a REST API to get data from these components and sensors, and send information to them through a web interface. By bringing together the LEDs, a servo, an IR distance sensor and the web interface, Javier had a LiDar robot that could detect what was in front of it.
After everyone had a chance to take a look at Javier’s robot, we moved on to doing some gardening. Our third talk, by Anette Bergo, continued the theme of nodeJS interacting with real life items, with her automated greenhouse (well, a prototype of it as she had to get it on the plane here from Bergen, not Oslo).
This project was inspired by Anette’s love of chilies, something that’s quite difficult to grow in the cold and wet (it rains for all but 2 months of the year) climate of Bergen. She originally purchased a standard mini greenhouse and a Netatmo sensor to grow and monitor her plant, but things started going awry when the outside temperature went above 20 degrees, and the plant died before she could get home to save it. A mission started to find a way to automate the greenhouse, so that it could keep the plant alive.
Starting with an Arduino, and searching for “thingamjigs” and “bits and bobs” (her words, not mine), Anette and her husband were able to create a prototype of their smart greenhouse, so that they can enjoy their favourite chilies all year round.
After Anette’s talk, and a refreshing coffee break, the event split into two tracks. Being new to the world of Node.js (being a copywriter, not a developer), I went down through the Beginner Track, the highlight of which was the “Catbot Workshop” led by Jérôme Loï, an infectiously mad Frenchman inspired to make a robot he could connect to the web and remotely play with his cats through.
The session was a great mix of coding and hardware, starting with us slotting together our laser-cut catbots and connecting all the required wires to the Arduino that would power and control the device. It was also a great example of how Node.js needn’t just be confined to the web, and can be used to run almost anything, even in the real world.
Jérôme had us using some of the same tools used by Javier earlier in the day, which was great. It meant we got to have some hands on time with tools and techniques we had seen spoken about earlier in the day.
WeNode is another example of the great events that spring up from the communities based around the web, and a great show of what BarcelonaJS can do, and will continue to do.
It’s a testament to Patrick and the rest of the BarcelonaJS team that they can bring people from across the globe to Barcelona to spend a day talking about a common subject, and sharing their enthusiasm. I’m excited to see what they do with their future events, including MediterraneaJS in 2015.
For more pictures of the event, click here.