Some time ago, the CEO of Espressif, makers of the lowest cost WIFI-enabled processor on the planet and one I’ve blogged about frequently in here, invited me over to MIT at Boston to the FAB11 conference. As it turns out this was a rather small affair featuring things like 3D printers and other fabrication equipment. However the main point was to run a series of workshops on the ESP8266 and along with me were employees of Espressif including Jeroen Domburg (ES_-HTTPD) and Ivan Grokhotkov (Esp8266/Arduino).
We arrived on Sunday here in sunny Boston and of course the first thing that happened was Iberia lost my large case complete with samples, laptop+presentation, clothing, pills, you name it. I’d had a note to say that due to flooding, my single room accommodation was to be “shared” – with someone I’d never met before. Ok, I’d emailed Jeroen before but I did stress to the staff at the hostel (or as we now call it, the prison) that I really would like my own room. I arrived and despite protests, no change. Now as it happens Jeroen and I get on just fine and it was not a problem – but if this is typical of how they treat students here – you can keep Boston hospitality – not even remotely acceptable. I would not put my cat in the room they gave us. However, he turned up later than me – near midnight and as technical people often do, the moment he walked through the door we started chatting and I think finally gave up around 1am. We got along just fine.
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So first thing Monday I went off and bought a load of clothes. The Americans invented the term “convenience store” but I think they only meant that to apply if you have a car. Walking and taking the bus is not at all funny in the heat and so it was I arrived at the mall mid-morning to find the old American staples – CVS, Walgreens, J C Pennys etc.. I have to say for a country with some pretty large people I had difficulty getting clothes my size (at least with any choice) but came away at lunchtime armed to the teeth with new gear.
I’m not sure what I was expecting, but organisation was high up there somewhere but inside MIT campus, 30 minutes before our presentation, no laptops – eventually they turned up, half of them with the wrong power supplies rendering them useless. As it happens it was not a full house and so we managed just nicely – talking about ESP8266, MQTT, Node-Red and finally a little about ESP-Arduino.
Of course in each of the three versions of the workshops we improved and I have to say by and large they went down very well. Clearly the organisers had done little to help promote us because I know the level of interest I get when I talk about ESP8266 and I was expecting a full house every time – still – all good fun. Yesterday in the middle of a heat wave, the heavens opened up and threw out some pretty amazing hailstones! I mean MONSTERS.
We went out at night – the first walk was rather too far for my airplane-equipped feet and I’ve been hobbling since. Amazingly despite having a medical dispensary within MIT itself and a near by Co-op (or as the lady kept insisting COOP as in soup – I didn’t like to tell her the name is made from two words) – no foot fixing kit, so being the inventive type I went off and bought a box of cork tiles and a pair of scissors – and DIY fixed the foot which is going to need some tender care when I get back to Spain.
Tonight I received my case at long last, I should say thanks but frankly I think Iberia have shown themselves to be a load of tossers up to now. Not only did they give me someone else’s reference number which confused the issue but the fact that I had important medicine in the case didn’t seem to phase them even slightly. Had I fallen ill while away things would be very different now – as it is lets see how promptly they cough up for the clothing and toiletries!
The end result of all of this however is enlightenment and a pretty good time generally. I’ve met some great people and learned some new stuff. Tomorrow I head back to Spain with new ideas, some new thoughts on China having spoken at length to the Chinese guys here – and generally feeling that this was another worthwhile adventure. I cannot, however wait to get back into the nice cool lake in Spain (I’ll never complain about cold water again) – heat can be a great thing but in a city built for commerce and not comfort in heat, give me the wilderness any time.
Next week I plan to write a blog with Ivan on the work he’s done with ESP8266-Arduino which I have to say is pretty good – we’ll be driving a servo from a NETIO Android App – it’s so easy it’s like falling off a log. For now, I’ll leave you with some photographs. My thanks to Espressif and to Swee-An for looking after me and providing thought-provoking conversation.