Help Hackerspaces Happen in Cairo and Elsewhere in Africa

maltman23 | Posted 2011.09.27 at 3:18 pm | Perma

3-Day Egyptian Maker Space
Maker Faire Africa is coming up next month, in Cairo, Egypt. It promises to be a three-day mashup of Africa’s most imaginative makers. And, at least two Americans will be joining them.

Bilal Ghalib (co-founder of All Hands Active hackerspace in Ann Arbor, MI, and hackerspace documentarian) and Mitch Altman (co-founder of Noisebridge hackerspace in San Francisco, CA, inventor of TV-B-Gone remote controls, and recent recipient of the first-ever Maker Hero Award) are going to Maker Faire Africa to create a three-day hackerspace there. This will help the founders of the Cairo Hackerspace establish their forming space into a physical reality which, in turn, will help get other hackerspaces going throughout Africa. We have recently seen how important hackerspaces are in helping people in Africa live more fulfilling lives. Let’s see how much more we all can do with so little!

Bilal and Mitch received seed funding from Maker Faire Africa, and at posting time, 147 backers have raised $6,822 over the past two weeks on their Kickstarter campaign!  They need to raise $200 more in the next several hours (and any amount over their goal will directly help hackerspaces in Africa!). If you can give a $1, please do! If you can give more, please do! Any amount is great! (And they are offering some pretty cool premiums too.)

3 Day Egyptian Maker Space – Expanding the Maker Movement

Race for the Future! Design it, build it, race it!

Jordan | Posted 2010.12.22 at 10:58 pm | Perma

Race to the Future

Attention all hackers and hackerspace members! Do you like creating with atoms instead of bits? Would you like to win fame and fortune? The Alternate Power Initiative wants YOU to design and build an alternative energy vehicle! Their second annual “Race for the Future” will be held in August, 2011 in Whiting, Indiana.

This race challenges you to:

Build a vehicle that can travel five miles powered by an alternate power source and race it through the streets of Whiting Indiana.

Here’s a subset of the rules:

  • Vehicle may not be powered solar energy or fuel cells
  • Vehicle may not be powered by a device based on existing conventional automotive or truck technology. Piston engines, rotary engines or turbines powered by detonated combustion gasses are not allowed. Piston engines, rotary engines or turbines powered by other sources will be allowed. These gasses would include but not be limited to those created by using gasoline, diesel, natural gas, propane methane or alcohol as fuel.
  • Vehicle must be self propelled (no pedal power)
  • Vehicle may not be powered by battery or capacitor stored electricity, (brake lights and turn signals may be powered by electricity).
  • Vehicle may be charged, (fueled or energized) before 5 mile trial but may not be charged, (fueled or energized) during run.

For full details, visit their website at http://alternatepowerinitiative.com!

Here are the rules and the entry form.

Better hurry! There are only 20 entries, and hackerspace Pumping Station: One has already claimed two of them! Who will be next?

If you sign up, please post in the comments!


Hack for Humanity! RHoK #2

Jordan | Posted 2010.11.22 at 9:59 pm | Perma

Yes, we know software developers are not necessarily hackers, and visa versa. Yes, we know they’re appropriating a word that’s been knocked about for the last forever, one that most of us stand up for and love. But, this event merits your attention because of the limited overlap between devs and hackers – they don’t think like we do, and that puts their potential good works in danger. We’re hoping you’ll attend this event, even for a bit, to help these do-gooders remember security risks and to push them in more interesting and elegant directions.

Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) is all about using technology to make the world a better place by building a community of innovation. RHoK brings software engineers together with disaster risk management experts to identify critical global challenges, and develop software to respond to them. A RHoK Hackathon event brings together the best and the brightest hackers from around the world, who volunteer their time to solve real-world problems.

When and Where for the Hackathon?
The second global #RHoK hackathon event takes place around the world on December 4- 5, 2010. There are multiple organizations in multiple cities hosting the event, so please check here to register and find out where to go! The event starts at 9:00am GMT on December 4th and ends December 5th at 8:00pm GMT.

Who Else is Hacking for Humanity?
Aarhus, Nairobi, Sao Paulo, Chicago, Bangalore, New York, Lusaka, Berlin, Toronto, Bogota, Atlanta, Jakarta, Birmingham and Open Data camps will be connected over the weekend through live video streaming channels, chat servers, Skype, Twitter, blogs, photo and video sharing as we collaborate across time zones, international borders and languages to “hack for humanity”  – developing software solutions that will save lives and alleviate suffering.

We Need You
This event all comes down to you – we need your participation and support: sign up, and become part of something truly globally awesome!

Categories : fun  hackerspace  hacking  organization  people

Announcing The OpenDoor Hackathon!

Jordan | Posted 2010.11.22 at 9:12 pm | Perma

The OpenDoor Hackathon is a hackathon to benefit the members of hacker/maker/artist/co-working spaces by creating a standardized, Open Source access and membership management system that can be used by everyone. At the end of the hackathon, the systems (or subsystems) created by each space will be voted upon, and the best system (or combination of systems) will be chosen. Implementing the system afterward is, of course, optional.

Why are we doing this?
I know, the word “standardized” sends chills down my spine too, but I assure you that this is a good thing! Deciding upon a common system would enable the following things:

  • The ability to share membership between spaces
  • Crowd-sourced security enhancements and feature additions
  • Easier membership management
  • A warm fuzzy feeling of being connected with other spaces

What we’re envisioning (and what many of you already have) is a sort of Reciprocikey or Space Passport system. We believe that the only way to create such an awesome system is to work together on it!

More Focus for your brain meats:

Prize of an Ice Tube Clock from Adafruit for the space who best implements the standardization of interface specification between custom softwares and access control. Each space will review submissions at x time on Sunday and rank the systems they would most like to use (you cannot vote for your own). The runner up will receive a Minty Boost pack.
You can also vote on best hardware system, most elegant code, best independent member management software – the top three of each will receive Minty Boost packs, also via Adafruit.

Systems needed:

  • Software for access control (reads from memory stored users and network user databases)
    • Create a functional specification for how authentication can be done securely.
  • Software that manages membership rights (grants rights/features to users based on conditions specified by managers
    • Standardize an interface specification for how custom software can talk to the access control software interface.
      • example: 3rd party space has a member visiting, presents auth token.
      • example: someone wants to create a custom trusted UI (web, phone, etc.) for talking to the auth daemon
  • Web, phone, etc UI for membership management and access control software
    • Involve user interface management.  See what tools people are using today to manage membership and build hooks in the software to manage access control, or build your own.
  • Hardware for reading identity (RFID reader, USB stick, etc.)
    • Build plug-ins to support common hardware (don’t get stuck on any given vendor).

When is the OpenDoor Hackathon?
The OpenDoor Hackathon will begin on Saturday, December 11th at 2pm PST, ending 24 hours later at 2pm PST on Sunday, December 12th.

How do I sign up?
You can register your space’s team at the Eventbrite here!

Join the conversation at http://groups.google.com/group/opendoorhack-a-thon!

Done Filming!

Jordan | Posted 2009.10.15 at 7:04 pm | Perma

I’ll admit, this post is coming a bit late, but we’re still recovering from our month-long sleepless, caffeinated, sprint across North America. On the plus side, we’re done filming! We visited as many hackerspaces and makerspaces as we could in a month, but that was the easy part….

Now begins the post-production work.

We’ll be working for a quite a while on getting everything just right, so unfortunately I can’t give an exact date of release. I can, however, tell you that we’re going to try to have it done by next spring. Believe me, we’re just as excited to see the finished film as you are!

I want to say thank you to the dozens of people who helped us out along the way. Without the car trips, beds, and donations of both hackerspace members and kind strangers, there is absolutely no way we could have done this. We may have had the cameras, but it was all of you who made this possible. Thank you!!

For updates on the film, check out www.twohandsproject.com! I’ll do my best to keep all of you in the loop here on hackerspaces.org as well.

Why Terminators will not win

nhitze | Posted 2009.09.26 at 11:10 am | Perma

This is a Story originally written by Smári that was spread on the net by some other people. I asked Smári if I was allowed to post it here, since I think it’s really funny – and here it is:

[Disclaimer: This is a bit of a joke, written last night as I was falling asleep.]

I just arrived in London after another one of those mind-numbing long haul flights, this time from Mumbai. And in my eight hours of pneumonia induced pain I managed to watch a delightful array of films that I hadn’t gotten around to, including the fourth ‘Terminator’ movie.

Two-or-so years ago, just before it became public knowledge that this film was being developed, I was visiting MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms when the makers of the film contacted CBA looking for technological goodies that could make the film more interesting. I’m sad to say that none of the more profound ideas tossed at them made the script, but either way, I think that the entire discussion contained an important implicit subtext which was lost on the kind of people who think that hurdling Christian Bale between flying machines whilst explosions happen is a good idea.

So I present here a short analysis of where the Terminator movies go wrong:

The first Terminator movie didn’t stretch things very much. It was a simple time travel scenario with man versus machine, a kind of crypto-luddite cumfest. It wasn’t until Judgement Day came around that the industrial model started to warrant scrutiny.

In Judgement Day we are treated to a view of Los Angeles being vaporized by a nuclear explosion. For the machines, this tactic makes sense. Take out major human outposts to diminish their numbers significantly straight off. Humans have very low tolerances for nuclear hijinx such as radioactivity, but machines, being simpler and more discreteized, can presumably take much higher doses before problems start to occur. Expose a titanium alloy to a source of beta radiation for long enough and sure enough it will melt or otherwise morph, but long before humans melt from that kind of radiation atoms in their DNA start picking up extra core elements, altering their nucleic structure, and causing their host to die a very brutal death.

This illustrates a model. Consider that for anything that is “required” for sustenance, or “must not be” for survival, there exists a continuum, and each individual occupies an interval on that continuum. The length of this interval is often called “slack”. More slack equals more likely to survive a lack of something crucial or an excess of something lethal.

Simply by comparing the average slack values and their 95% intervals for each individual species you can pretty easily discern the smartest set of tactics that can be employed by each side. The robots can go ahead and use nuclear instability, thermal radiation (metal objects tolerate high heat while humans like myself start to go all wiggly and faint when it’s higher than 45°C out), extreme climates, darkness, and that kind of thing to their advantage.

The humans on the other hand have a much better ways of dealing with machines at their disposal.

In Terminator 4 a huge 7-or-so-story evil robot thing came out of nowhere in one scene and started scooping up people. It later became a part of some sort of super-carrier aircraft. Each of these things must require a large amount of metal to build, not to mention rare earth metals, plastics, semiconductors, etc. In T-2 Schwarzenegger claims that he has a “metal” endoskeleton, without being specific as to which metals exactly. From what I’ve seen of the Terminator‘s Moh’s hardness, it is most certainly an alloy of something. Either way, Ferrum is for this kind of purposes a pretty aweful atom, and it kind of only makes up for it by fact of its general ubiquity. It requires lots of special treatment to be very hard, it rusts easily, and it is a crappy conductor compared to lots of other metals.

For proper construction of a Terminator you’d presumably need a bunch of metals: TitaniumCobaltPaladiumChrome, Copper, Gold, Silver, Tantalum, etc. Each of these metals is relatively easy to get, provided you know where to look. Tantalum is a pretty good one. Most of it is mined in the Congo, by children. I would be very happy to replace those children with robots, but let’s face it: if the robots are out to kill us, one of our best ways to kill them off is to keep them away from tantalum. Even if that means making a bunch of child slave laborers unemployed. Not being able to use tantalum for capacitors would mean they’d need to use other types of capacitors, such as electrolytic, which have worse properties for a number of things, and are generally larger and more fragile.

See where I’m going with this?

Humans are part of an eco system that has been around for millenia, and through our evolution we have managed to adapt our “slack” values to be narrow for things very abundant in our environment (such as amino acids) and wide for things that are relatively scarce (such as certain metals). We can survive without tantalum. The robots cannot. We can survive without electricity. The robots cannot. We can survive without most of the infrastructure we take for granted – it won’t be pretty, but honestly, you can stick a human in a Mumbai slum far more readily than you can stick a Terminator.

Humans are good at surviving the kind of situation where everything is messed up and ugly. Our bodies adapt. Robot’s specifications don’t change. Sure, you’ll have a T-1000 liquid metal thing every now and then that’ll cause you some grief, but honestly there’s no threat that the T-1000 can pose that a little electromagnetic resonance burst can’t fix.
When it comes down to it, the battle between humans and robots is not so much about sheer power as it is about controlling the industrial chains. Attacking the slack. And as long as robots require things that are harder to get than the things humans need, the humans will win.

Smári

This story is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-SA license.

Categories : fun  tech stuffz  theory
Tags :       

The Journey Begins…

Jordan | Posted 2009.09.08 at 6:00 am | Perma

Soon I may be visiting you!

Today I will embark on an epic journey with my friends Bilal Ghalib and Paul Jehlen to travel across the U.S. and Canada. Our mission? To record hackerspace history. We’re calling this film adventure the Two Hands Project… because along with everything else ever made, it will be produced with two hands!

Why are we doing this? As a member of Pumping Station: One, I know what a hackerspace is, but many other people don’t. If you are a member of a hackerspace, I’m sure you’ve had to explain it before, and it’s not always easy. If you aren’t a member, then I’m sure you’ve wondered yourself. We want to help explain what a hackerspace is, why they are important, and what it means to be a member of such a place.

So, we’re setting out to film the creation of projects, ideas, and whole new hackerspaces! We feel that now is an important time in the history of these spaces, and it is our responsibility to record that history.

For more information about the project, visit www.TwoHandsProject.com. I plan to blog here as much as possible along the way, so stay tuned for updates on our adventures!

Cheers!
- Jordan Bunker

Pow-Pow-Power Wheels Racing Series!

Eric Michaud | Posted 2009.05.21 at 2:49 am | Perma

Brought to you by Pumping Station: One

What may seem to be an innocent toy that was bought for children in their youth, or not, by those deprived by their parents. Has found a home for some of the members of Pumping Station: One in Chicago. In very much the style of Bring Your Own Big Wheel in San Francisco that used to run down Lombard Street, and power tool drag racing, the newly formed P-P-PRWS will be creating a multi race series where people will hack, mod, pilfer, and costume these childhood toys to devices that pop wheelies go at least 10-15 mph and might even spit fire.

A scene from last years BYOBW

Right now the first batch of Power Wheels and teams are forming and getting ready for the first race that seems to be at the end of June. Below is the post from the Pumping Station: One site.

POW POW Power Wheels Racing Series

Who wants to mod and race Power Wheels?

All of you? That’s what i thought.

Chicago’s only hackerspace, Pumping Station: One, will be organizing into teams, and having each team mod, race, fix, and continue racing a Power Wheels vehicle through a series of trials and tribulations. For $40, you can have your very own functional Power Wheels, for you and your team (if you’d like to work in a group) to modify and race!

Join in, or you will be missing the most epic event in hackerspace history: the Power Wheels Racing Series.

PPPWRS from Jeff Kantarek on Vimeo.

In the event you’ll code microcontrollers for power management, rip out motors from washing machines, fabricate parts, and have a art squad on your team. Sounds like an interesting blend.

-E.

Hacking Chicago

Eric Michaud | Posted 2009.03.09 at 5:47 pm | Perma

Recently the Columbia Chronicle did a profile of Pumping Station: One, the hackerspace I run in Chicago. I don’t have much to say here other than the article puts across the vision of hackerspaces succinctly.

From the article.

While twenty people sat around with their laptops and coffee, Sacha De’Angeli stood up to propose a crucial decree for the group.

“The rule I’d like to propose comes from Bill & Ted,” he said. “Be excellent to each other.”

The motion was voted on and seconded. From then on, the organized group of Chicago hackers would have to “be excellent to each other.” After the meeting was adjourned, the hackers scattered and began individual discussions about topics such as knitting and machinery.

Courtesy KAMIL KRAWCZYK

A new Chicago-based hacker space, called Pumping Station: One (PSOne), is ready to set up shop in the city. Since October, the group has been looking for a building to call home. At press time, the group had written a letter of intent and were waiting for the owner’s approval to move into the space as soon as April. Until they move into a space, the group meets every Tuesday night at The Mercury Cafe, 1505 W. Chicago Ave.The members of PSOne aren’t out to steal money or use their computer skills to overthrow the government. Actually, a few of the members aren’t computer experts at all.

Josh Krueger, a member of PSOne, defines a hacker as “someone who makes something and modifies it and uses it in a way that wasn’t originally intended.” His definition can be applied to just about any medium.

“[A hacker space is] a place where people can go to push the boundaries of their form and art,” said PSOne founder Eric Michaud. “It doesn’t relate just to computers.”

The members of PSOne come from very diverse backgrounds. They’re artists, engineers, programmers, bakers and writers. One of the only qualities that binds all of them together is their desire to create. The creations, however, vary from machines to crafts.

Read more…

But can Dan Kaminsky do kittens over DNS?

Eric Michaud | Posted 2009.03.05 at 6:54 pm | Perma

From the vanguard of the hackerspace movement, HacDC is hosting Dan Kaminsky this evening for an interesting impromptu speaking engagement.

From the HacDC Blog.

DAN KAMINSKY AT HACDC TONIGHT AT 8PM!


When: Thursday,  March 5, 2009  @ 8:00 pm
Where: HacDC Auditorium (1525 Newton St NW, 20010)
Why: Because he’s Dan M.F. Kaminsky. That’s why.
Cost: FREE – OPEN TO THE PUBLIC – EVERYONE IS INVITED!

The man responsible for breaking DNS like it’s never been broken before (then quietly gathering the world’s network operators to fix it because he’s a superhero) will be talking about his experiences with DNS and (if we’re nice to him) previewing some of his latest research at HacDC tonight at 8:00 PM.

I hope all is well with the tubes tonight, and might I add let the Ted Stevens be with you!

/E.

Categories : fun  hackers  hackerspace