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Circles in the sand: Greetz to the bitgrip crew in Berlin

Fantastic Four‘s review to JSConf Hawaii

Kai Dahlke
Mar 8, 2019 · 6 min read

our bitgrip developers, Matthias, Paul, Jörg and Philipp, took part on the first Java Script Conference (@JSConfHi) from 7th to 8th February this year on the marvelous Island of Hawaii. Our fantastic four spend a couple of inspiring days — not only because of the breath taking nature, but also because of the lovely organized conference with a very special flair in the capital Honolulu.

Following their mission the conference organization team really created a fun, unique and welcoming event where diversity throve and attendees could hear and discuss JS related topics. The fantastic four would like to thank everyone who helped to make JSConHI such a great experience for the conference visitors from all over the world.

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Our fantastic four: Matthias, Philipp, Paul and Jörg

Each ‘bitgrip’ had the task to highlight a talk of his own choice. Doesn’t sound difficult to you? Well, with the overwhelming number of great presentations this was not THAT easy for the lads. But in the end, everyone picked his favorite.

In a couple of days another article will follow. This one will focus on the personal impressions of the 23,000 kilometers long journey. You will learn what stories the fantastic four have experienced and which places and impressions fascinated them most. But now the favorite talks:

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Matthias’ favorite by Olivia Jack:
“The browser as a modular, networked video synthesizer”

Bio: Olivia (@_ojack_) is a programmer and artist who works frequently with open-source software, cartography, live coding, and experimental interfaces. Originally from Frisco, she currently lives and works in Bogotá, Colombia.

Based on analog video synthesizers and classic image processors, Olivia has developed a web tool that allows the creation of truly amazing colorful images. The created works can be shared and made visible for everyone. The best: all this is free of charge and can do without much effort.

She didn’t present classic slides, but led the audience live through her tool and showed how easily different sources can be connected. Olivia also uses her tool to perform in live coding sessions together with DJs, which produce really cool results. But just see yourself:

Everyone could see how much fun and enthusiasm Olivia had. I found it very inspiring and I realized (once again) that with dedication and time you just can program everything.

More facts about Olivia and her hydra editor:

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Phil’s favorite talk was from Kyle Oba:„HI && AI”

Kyle (@mudphone) has experience building large-scale web and systems development projects, data analytics tools and mobile app, including several apps in the iTunes App Store Hall of Fame. Collaborative learning excites him, and he has initiated community projects, such as workshops, artist talks, and data visualization efforts.

Kyle’s talk wanted to sensitize his audience for surveillance technology, face recognition, Data privacy issues and a clear separation between machine learning (ml) und artificial intelligence (ai). In order to do so he introduced a very interesting project from Honolulu Museum of Art.

To get an individualized tour in the museum every visitor had the chance to make a selfie. A software tried to match the visitors face to art currently on display and based on the results, suggest a special tour.

This was a good example of a positive use case of automatic face recognition and machine learning. But of course there are also many negative aspects — such as the extensive surveillance of the population. I liked the way Kyle used his talk to draw attention to the topic and the dangers it posed to people.

More facts about Kyle and the museum’s project:

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Paul’s favorite by Visnu Pitiyanuvath
“How to cheat at life with JavaScript”

Visnu (@visnup) currently works at Opendoor on analytics and data visualization. He likes games, programming and mischiefs and he loves to play the card game SET with — or better — against his friend Susan.

Rules of SET:

SET® is a card-matching game.

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A set is 3 cards for which each feature is either common across all 3 cards or is different on each card.

Cards have four features, each with three variations:

  • Color: red, purple, green
  • Number: 1, 2, 3
  • Shading: solid, striped, outline
  • Shape: diamond, oval, squiggle

Unfortunately (for Visnu) he’s hopelessly outclassed by Susan in this game and that makes him sheer mad. He desperately wants to win against his friend. But simple practice or training are no options for him. And this has three main reasons:

Laziness: He doesn’t want to put the effort to train his brain.

Impatience: He doesn’t want to take the time to get good at this game.

Hubris: He thinks, he can solve this with a computer.

So he plans a mobile Javascript tool to help him discover sets quicker than he can: The tool has to analyze the maps via the mobile phone cam and mark sets of three. And all this as quickly as possible.

The practical test shows — his tool actually works! But sadly, it is not fast enough to beat Susan. Of course, Visnu already has a plan to improve his app.

I like the idea, that computer support humans in visual detection of objects. Out of the technical perspective I found it very inspiring, how Visnu uses pattern matching in combination with augmented reality. All in all, his presentation was well structured and very entertaining. It also includes the code and the used libraries.

More facts about Visnu and his work:

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Jörg’s favorite by Shawn Wang:
“I can Babel Macros (and so can you!)”


Shawn (@swyx) was born in Singapore, but currently he lives in New York City. He really enjoys helping the community online at /r/reactjs and getting first-timers started doing their first talks in the New York tech scene.

Shawn talked about a plugin for integrating macros into Babel. This allows to use small complex functions via Babel in specific places in JavaScript without having to mess around with the code.

One way that we grow a language is by changing the rules, and the other is by adding vocabulary within the existing language. Is there a third way?

Meanwhile Babel is a core part of the JS. The adoption of babel-plugin-macros (in larger ecosystems like Create React App) grows and grows. Further than only transpiling your code to native JS it allows you to write simple compile time libraries (compute from run-time to build time). They can be imported explicitly, letting you apply transformations to specific pieces of code without having to muck around in your global babel config.

Shawn gave us a pretty good introduction to Babel Macros. How he wrote babel-blade macro to solve the double declaration problem in client side GraphQL libraries.

For me it’s a new approach for code optimization and transformation. I liked the way how Shawn introduced us his babel-blade example in order to solve a common problem in GraphQL development. I think we’ll see more and more compile-time optimizations for libraries and frameworks. Even not only about language syntax extension, rather it’s simple code optimization that enables faster apps and a better developer experience.
I also loved the wonderful Moana theme in which Shawn delivers his talk — inspired by the famous movie from Walt Disney about a young Polynesian girl.

More information about Shawn and Babel Macros:

njoyed the article? Clap 👏 👏👏 a few times below to recommend it to other interested readers!

If you want to know more about bitgrip, our projects or our trips to conferences, just follow us on Twitter @bitgrip_berlin or subscribe our medium channel to receive updates on the latest articles.


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