SAINT-PETERSBURG, October 2017
Every month Bekitzur gathers up its development teams to participate in hackathons that mostly serve the team-building purpose but they also allow dev teams to try something new and learn some useful skills on the way. Bekitzur is keen to give its employees some room for improvement and growth. The dev teams in Bekitzur are very talented in different areas of expertise: from hardware system architecture and integration to web design and DevOps.
In October the main topic for the monthly hackathon was chatbots. Four teams had some spare time to participate, though the timeframe was quite generous – almost two weeks to build a bot from scratch. The teams were granted a complete freedom in their choice of bot functionality. Some of them took that with a bit of humor, and some decided to embrace the existing problems in their office lives to tackle them with the most trendy option available.
The most popular platform among the teams was Telegram. It’s very popular and fast growing among East European, Latino, Middle East and African countries. Though some of the teams are intended to deliver their bots to Slack and Facebook Messenger.
The first team created MrHankeyBot that notifies its users about the availability of the lavatories in Bekitzur Saint-Petersburg Dev Center. Despite sounding funny and trivial the task involved some serious hardware modifications to prepare the old-fashioned bathrooms for modern IoT compliance. The team used Node MCU Amica chips with PIR-sensors to acquire visual data that was then fed to https-server with MongoDB installed on it. They also changed the mechanical locks to the digital NFC ones and integrated them into IoT system as well. The users of this bot are now able to check the availability of the bathrooms, form a queue and reserve the time slot.
The second team created a StackOverflow bot that can understand the natural search queries, feed them to StackOverflow and get the best answers. This Telegram bot is really useful on a daily basis for both junior and senior developers providing them with some cool answers in no time.
The third bot provided an ability to follow up on your favorite TV Shows and have a notification every time the new episode is released. Pretty handy for those of us looking for some new seasons of Stranger Things or Mindhunter! The bot also shows the basic info about the desired TV show which is pulled from different services like IMDB.
The last but not least team made a Telegram bot that can entertain you anytime by feeding your device of choice with some fresh and funny memes. What’s better than some good old funny pic or gif whenever you feel a little bit down? Despite sounding pretty trivial the bot involved some heavy Node.JS code while some of the team members were Python developers. So they quickly adapted and learned a few new tricks. That’s why we hold these hackathons in the first place!
This project gave me motivation boost to learn more of JS and write more Telegram bots, because they are simple and useful.
– Lisa Shevtsova, Meme Bot team