A special hands-on workshop on IBM Bluemix, NodeRED and cognitive computing, Dave Smith comments.
The evening in June 2017 was a follow up on a previous Linuxing in London Meet Up in March 2017 where Ross Cruickshank did a presentation on Artificial Intelligence, which was very well received.
In this workshop Ross Cruickshank and Brian Innes showed everyone how to connect a Raspberry Pi IoT device to IBM Bluemix using Node-Red and how cognitive computing could be made physical.
Every attendee had a few prerequisites for the workshop. A working laptop with SSH installed along with a working Ethernet port and of course a trial account on IBM Bluemix.
The workshop commenced with an overview of the TJBot – TJBot is an open source project designed to help you access Watson Services in a fun way.
Watson Services are a range of cognitive services which use pre-made code that can be adapted to work with an IoT device (in this case TJBot). Typically the types of Watson Services are language, speech, vision and data insights.
Ross demonstrated this by showing each time a phrase was said, TJBot lit up and waved, and this was a great example of just a simple thing that can be done using a Raspberry Pi, NodeRED and IBM Bluemix’s dashboard.
TJBot on Github
Brian Innes did the next presentation, which was an overview of Node-Red visual processing environment for event processing.
NodeRED is a programming tool for wiring together hardware devices, APIs and online services in new and interesting ways. The Node-Red capabilities and ease of use was demonstrated.
I was a lot more open to using NodeRED for future projects. As a non-programmer I sometimes find some of the more coding based tasks difficult but with NodeRED the interface was straightforward and I could see how much easier this would be to use. There are many pre-configured scripts for use making it easier for connecting and programming IoT devices.
Everyone at the workshop was then tasked with getting their Raspberry Pi set up and connected via the Ethernet port to their laptop using SSH. The object of this was to demonstrate how IBM Bluemix could be used to install functions onto the Raspberry Pi.
The first task was to find the IP address of their Raspberry Pi, configure the WiFi, and of course change the username and password from the default settings so that when it rebooted it would be WiFi enabled and ready for the next stage. Naturally, with attendees being from a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines many managed to complete this task with great ease and others less so. Personally, I did not get as far as I would have liked but gained a far better understanding of setting up an SSH connection to the Raspberry Pi, and some of the capabilities of IBM Bluemix.
The security of Skills Matter’s internal WiFi proved to be challenging and in part it was tricky as a result.
All of this is, however, extremely useful preparation for further learning on how to connect the Pi to Watson with NodeRED functions such as Speech (NLP), image (trainable classification), IOT (sensors and actuators over MQTT) and Conversation (chatbots)
I really enjoyed it and want more workshops like this!
Dave Smith, July 2017