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This week I had a quick trip to Brussels to attend the Free Open Source Developers European Meeting – FOSDEM 2014. I’m having my first contact with FOSS (Free Open Source Software) now during my internship with the Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF) sponsored by GNOME’s Outreach Program for Women (OPW). Marina, one of the program coordinators suggested I attended FOSDEM, so I decided to take a few days off from coding and see what FOSS looks like away from the keyboard.

Since I was going alone and didn’t know anyone, I figured I’d join FOSDEM’s volunteers to meet some people. I thought helping out would also be a great way to be part of the conference, and it was 😀

Shirt mania!

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fosdem3Before I left, I casually mentioned that it would be cool to have an OSRF shirt to wear during FOSDEM and my mentors were really nice to send me a ROS Hydro shirt! So that’s the shirt I was wearing most of the time there 😀 They also sent me some OSRF stickers, so now my awkward chapulina sticker has a friend ^^

While volunteering, I had to wear a volunteer shirt, so that’s shirt number 2. I took shifts on both infodesks and, to my surprise, giving information was the least I did. Most of the work consisted of handing out t-shirts to people who donated money to the conference. Lots and lots of shirts! Of course, in the end I got myself one as well 🙂 That’s the red one.

And finally, since Brussels was freezing, I got myself a LibreOffice hoodie 😀 LibreOffice Impress may be buggy, but it was how I prepared all my presentations during 2 years of masters, so I feel pretty proud to wear this around 🙂

I feel like I really needed a GNOME shirt to complete my FOSDEM collection, but unfortunately when I went to their booth they didn’t have my size anymore 😦 I feel so greateful to them for OPW… Now I’m on a quest to get a GNOME shirt!

But enough about clothing… 😛

JavaScript & Robotics in the Real World

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Definitely, the highlights of FOSDEM for me were these two talks in the JavaScript Devroom: JavaScript & Robotics and JavaScript in the Real World.

The talk I was looking forward to the most was JavaScript & Robotics, by Laurent Eschenauer. The title sounds like the perfect fit for me right now: I am working with robotics, mostly in JavaScript. And really, it didn’t disappoint! Laurent is a great speaker, the slides were nice, and the content… awesome!

In 40 minutes he made a general overview of robotics, going from simple mechanical concepts like Roll-Pitch-Yaw to linear algebra, Extended Kalman Filters, VSLAM, PID controllers, facial recognition with OpenCV… a lot! But the way he connected it all during the presentation felt so natural that it wasn’t overwhelming. You can watch his fun crash course in robotics using quad-copters and the simplicity of JavaScript in the video below 😉 (Spoiler alert: you’ll see a quad-copter dancing Gangnam Style controlled by a dance mat :D)

JavaScript in the Real World by Andrew Nesbitt was equally great. Based on Atwood’s law: “Any application that can be written in JavaScript, will eventually be written in JavaScript,” he introduced several projects and tools which use JavaScript to control physical objects in the real world. Amazing to see that people are doing all sorts of things, from Kinect controlled robotic arms to rabbit feeders built with Legos, all controlled with JavaScript.

When Andrew talked about how they hosted a CoderDojo using nodecopter to introduce robotics to kids, I knew I was among amazing people. Tech education is something I am really interested in, and it’s true what Andrew said: you can easily grab kids’ attentions with flying robots 🙂 Looking at CoderDojo, I was surprised to see there aren’t any in Brazil yet… hummm ideas coming 🙂 He also pointed out that the simplicity of JavaScript allows you to quickly get something working before understanding all the little details of its workings, and then little by little you can dig into the parts which you’re curious about. Which hey, it’s exactly how I like to learn 😀

I don’t think there’s a video of his presentation, but these slides look pretty similar to those at FOSDEM 😉

I’m really looking forward to more events like this 😀

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