Not Just Another Workshop

In closing out 2020 and before going on leave, I was given an opportunity (never a challenge). And it came in the form of these Oracle Code Cards. For those that haven’t seen them, this is what they look like and here is a git repository of some code explaining more about the cards themselves that I’m revamping –

An trial using the Oracle Code Card before the workshop.

The outcome required was as open as I could get.

There were no boundaries and there were no specific rules.

So, I did what I normally would do – who in the local ecosystem could I partner with to give this a try.

My inspiration for this has been something that’s has been there was a while – to work more with students and secondly identifying purposeful use-cases with technology. And it didn’t take long (a couple of emails and a phone call) to partner with BOP Industries and Robotics Playground to offer a holiday workshop for students – ages 12 to 16 to explore how these cards can be used.

What was quite good with this workshop was the combination of design thinking and technology – both very good skills to help understand problems, identify solutions and then applying that design to a piece of technology.

To provide further context and purpose to the workshop, we wanted to also focus on technology and waste – ewaste. The worse-case scenario for this kind of tech is that it is given out and not used or discarded into landfill. Anything that we can do to extend the life “reuse or repurpose” should be an easy thing to do.

As part of the event, participants had to research into ewaste and some interesting statistics were captured from various sources. One specific ewaste statistic found would fill the workshop room with ipads. That created a sense of scale for everyone in the room – including me. This gave the participants purpose for what they were going to design and prototype.

Over the next hour or so, participants brainstormed, ideated and then came up with a solutions for the Oracle Code Cards – something that they could work on technically with the cards. I purposefully left the room and left them to do their thing during this time. (I don’t have much content or insights during this design period because … I left the room).

When I did come back to the workshop, they were into getting their Arduino environments up and running. Wilson and Harrison were the main facilitators during this part of the workshop and led through the quick-fire process of getting to know technology as well as getting started coding.

Over the next hour or so, they went through the process of using the Oracle Code Cards to bring their solutions to life. Wilson and Harrison brought sensors and devices to attach to the cards to help bring these solutions to life. Robotics Playground shared their examples and starter-kits that they walked through with the participants on github –

What didn’t seem to be a lot of time, it was interesting to see what they could do and accomplish. It may have been simple to execute on, but it was effective in telling the story about where their solutions were going.

Yes. It’s not complete. What do you expect from 4 hours of work? How amazing was the outcome though. What if we had more time, more resources?

Around 2pm, the participants had to focus on their pitches to help articulate the problem, the idea and their solution. This can be confronting for the lots of people and for these participants it wasn’t any different. AND in the majority, they did it with their own style and swagger. I couldn’t be prouder.

So what kind of things did they present?

  • Security solutions for homes
  • Do Not Disturb solutions for hotels
  • Education solutions
  • … and a few more …

As well as presenting their solutions, they also achieved some other goals.

  • Learnt more and executed design thinking principles
  • Explored the problem area of ewaste
  • Explored digital innovations
  • Came up with their own problems to solve, ideas to bring to life and delivered digital solutions
  • Create potential use-cases for the Oracle Code Cards

This workshop / hackathon (whatever you want to call it) was an opportunity to engage in a different way. In my introduction of the workshop, I described the Oracle Mission Statement …

Our mission is to help people see data in new ways, discover insights, unlock endless possibilities.

I think we did and also achieved a few other things too.

  • Exploring problems that are important (and in this case, it was sustainability and environment)
  • Enabling a broader industry engagement (and in this case it was with students)
  • Partnering with others with the intent of open collaboration (thank you BOP Industries and Robotic Playground)

This was set up as an experiment – not as a once-off, nor a drop on the ocean and not as a piece of theatre. It was a way to explore more about this style of engagement. And hence the data is important to gain more support and to do this at scale. I’ll be collating this and working through what this means.

If you are interested in this workshop, wanting to know more or you think that you have someone to contribute – reach out

Oracle IoT – Working with Bosch Devices

How to use the Bosch XDK with the Oracle IoT cloud service.


As I continue to work with various IoT vendors to see how they could be used with the Oracle IoT cloud service, I came across one of these nice little Bosch XDK kits.


This is a demo kit to show off the many Bosch sensors available and give people an environment for prototyping.  Here are some of the built-in sensors:XDK Sensors

The device has built-in wifi and Bluetooth LE.

My goal was to get this to periodically send sensor data into the IoT cloud service and make it easy for others to do the same.

Continue reading “Oracle IoT – Working with Bosch Devices”

Oracle IoT – Working with Sigfox/Thinxtra Devices

How to use the Thinxtra devices and Sigfox network with the Oracle IoT cloud service.


There are lots of activities happening today in the world of IoT (Internet of Things).  The market is growing at a staggering pace.  Oracle, of course, is providing services in this area, mainly to support our many great SaaS applications.  Almost every application can benefit from data coming from devices on machines, automobiles, medical devices, human wearables and such.  However, there are several issues people face:

  • How to work with all the various devices.
  • How to manage the devices and information.
  • How to integrate these with other systems in the enterprise.
  • Deployment of devices, configuration, maintenance, versions, upgrades, Etc.

Oracle IoT Cloud service is designed to help with these issues, but it is often overwhelming to get a given device’s data initially into the IoT cloud.  Case and point is with the wonderful devices from Thinxtra which uses the Sigfox network.

Continue reading “Oracle IoT – Working with Sigfox/Thinxtra Devices”

Teaching How to Use Alexa to Take Off your Drone using NodeJS

Recently I was in Auckland, New Zealand running an Integration in Action workshop and I used Alexa to trigger some of my APIs, including some NodeJS APIs that I built to take off a drone. Some people found this interesting and asked me to write this blog to explain in detail how it works… So, here it is, I hope you find it useful.

There are multiple ways in which you can make Alexa to call your own APIs. Perhaps the most versatile way is by adding a new skill (see: blog 1, 2). However I found an even easier way to do so, and in order to achieve the MVP approach I have been attempting to practice in my day-to-day life, I took this simpler option, which is simulating a Phillips Hue HA bridge. By doing  so, Alexa detects a new Home Automation (HA) device in “her” network range and accepts voice commands to easily “turn it on” or “turn it off” which you can then leverage to call your own APIs.

Continue reading “Teaching How to Use Alexa to Take Off your Drone using NodeJS”