The Boston Trip

Please note – this blog is WELL out of date and all of my blog items and much, much more have now been moved to

beerSome 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).

Simmons Hall or Stalag as I will no doubt remember itWe 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.

MITIvan and Swee-AnSo 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.

MIT[6]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.

MIT[8]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.







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