JS.everywhere(2013) was a great little conference!

Last Friday I attended JS.everywhere(2013), and it turned out to be an awesome little conference! There were a great variety of talks that covered all sorts of ways that JavaScript is used, from underwater robots, to cars, to education, and even to fashion.

The single day conference started out with Andy Leeper giving a talk on how to create WiiU games purely using web technologies. Fascinating! There is scant little information on the web and the speaker couldn't share any details really due to Nintendo's NDA, unfortunately, but the demo was awesome!

For the next talk, Eduardo Lundgren discussed doing augmented reality with JavaScript and the library he created called tracking.js. Long story short, tracking.js uses getUserMedia to get a video stream, throws the stream in a canvas to get access to the pixel data, and then does image segmentation on the stream. I'm thinking that this could be used to make a really awesome Nodebot of some sort.

I originally signed up for the conference specifically for Warren Sack's talk on prototyping languages in JavaScript with the hopes of being able to apply this knowledge to the Code Processor, but it wasn't as applicable as I was hoping. The talk was great, don't get me wrong. Sack presented a framework prototyping languages by defining the rules completely in JSON in a manner very similar to how languages are often prototyped in Lisp. It was clever, but at the same time, Lisp is often used to prototype languages with the intention of being able to iterate on designs quickly, not for it's performance. Still, it was a great throwback to my college days.

I was really excited to see all of the Nodebots on display, given that I've dabbled in nodebots before! They were definitely the big focus of the conference. Peter Christensen gave a talk about the OpenROV project, which is Arduino based with with a Node.js server (it sounded like he was talking about Johnny-Five). Adam Ulvi gave a thoroughly entertaining talk about AR.Drones controlled via JavaScript.

Probably my favorite Nodebot talk was about Tessel.io. The hardware is pretty expensive, at least for the pre-order, but they seem to have struck a really good blend of the Raspberry Pi and the Arduino. The basic problem with the Raspberry Pi is that it isn't well suited to interfacing with hardware but is great at processing and doing OS-level tasks since you can install an actual OS on it. The Arduino on the other hand is fantastic at interfacing with hardware, but can't run an OS or do a lot of processing. It seems like the Tessel board could be a good compromise between the two.

There was also a talk about Code.org, which is a very worthwhile sounding organization that aims to increase enrollment in computer science programs in high school, especially among underprivileged groups.

Another great talk was by Wes Bailey and Nick Rowe from ModCloth. Wes started the talk about discussing what fashion is, and it was enthralling! He talked about clothing, music, attitude, etc. Any talk that truly understands The Ramones is a good talk. Nick Rowe then discussed how code is like fashion, in that there are fundamental tenets of programming that never change, and yet it is always evolving and moving forward. Nick had an amazing quote that perfectly captures the web: "The web is about conversation." (BTW, I got an awesome shoutout on a blog post by Rowe on his talk)

There were other great talks too, but the conference wasn't just about talks. I met a lot of great people there too. I talked with two of the people working on Tessel, and was surprised to learn that they are all still in college. I also hung out with some really awesome people from SocialChorus who all wore matching pink hoodies, how cool is that!?! Maybe I'll run into them again someday. One of my most ironic encounters was with another guy who works for Appcelerator, apparently for a while, and yet we had not previously met. Crazy!

All in all it was a good conference, especially given the length and price. I will definitely be attending next year if it's in SF again.