Make A Good Hack at PlumberCon 10!

astera | Posted 2010.06.22 at 2:00 pm | Perma

PlumberCon 9PlumberCon 9

Yeah, it’s that time of the year again – Vienna has been turning from the sinister city covered in grey light and fog to the blooming summer oasis it’s designed to be, and people overflow with glee (or so do we, at least)! Time to be looking forward to PlumberCon 10, probably one of the snugliest and neighborliest hacker conferences ever heard of.

So what exactly should you be looking forward to, you might ask?
In fact, it’s hard to tell. In one paragraph of lifeless and almost anti-emotional text, that is. What could be mentioned, for instance, is that there’s not only gonna be a ton of interesting talks by speakers from all around the globe (which I’m really really excited about btw), but also multiple hands-on workshops and trainings. Presenters you’ll meet at PlumberCon 10 include neighbors like Mitch Altman, Jimmie P. Rodgers, Jeff Gough, Barry van Kampen, Kugg, Allessio Pennasilico, or Mike Kemp. Topics range from Information Warfare to fun with microcontrollers.
Basically, one could call it a schnuffeliges meeting of a very large family… I happen to call it a hacker con (but that’s just me ;) )

Now, as of the bare basics I haven’t mentioned yet:
PlumberCon 10 will be held at WerkzeugH in Vienna, Austria from Friday, July 09th – Sunday, July 11th in the year of the hacker 2010. You can still register for the 3rd round of early bird tickets at the registration site until the end of the month, and I’d advise every hackerspace member to use the promo code ‘neighborliness flows’ to get a reduction on the ticket price – that, already as it is, will not lead us to profit but only cover a part of our expenses ^.^
Don’t forget to sign up for trainings beforehand wherever you find this requirement mentioned.

In any way, if you’re in town, make sure not to miss the epoque kick-off party on Friday night, where Phonoelit aka Mumpi and joernchen will provide us with their superior tunez that shall guide us safely through the night!

Make a good hack,
/astera

PlumberCon 9PlumberCon 9

Open Research Network for Hackerspaces

Openfly | Posted 2010.05.17 at 7:15 pm | Perma
Click image to enlarge.

Last summer at Hacking at Random ( 2009 ), Eric Michaud spoke to me about his plans to develop “Warzone”. Warzone is an international cyber range project, targeted at hackerspaces. Well, as it happens I knew that the CCC had been doing some mesh VPN networking for a fairly long time. In fact, well before I joined NYC Resistor I had been attempting to link my apartment into the very same mesh VPN along with the folks at the HHH. I ran down Mcfly from CCC Hamburg and got us all talking. Next thing we know we’ve got this awesome idea to link up hackerspaces via a mesh vpn network. That was last summer. Today we have fifty endpoints, and some actually functional code for this. Largely thanks to support from all over including Guss from tinc, who pushed a whole release of tinc just for us.

Today NYC Resistor is linked fully to the network. Noisebridge, Nullspace, and Pumping Station One have joined using the Fonera 2.0n images we’ve built. Other spaces are using homebrew setups built from source or debian packages. The warzone VPN is being put together right now so that we can host an international CTF competition using the new network. DNS is becoming available, and many spaces are setting up to do some really cool stuff.

We’re far from our goal of linking every hackerspace. So if your hackerspace or lab is interested in getting involved, we want you! Get in touch with us.

You can read more about all of this here:


People with big dreams sometimes get lost

astera | Posted 2009.12.18 at 2:27 am | Perma

Dear all,

as of yesterday afternoon, our fellow hacker, amazingly talented game and graphic designer, and wonderful friend Florian Hufsky aka oneup (aka geeq, aka no_skill) is no longer with us.

Some of you might remember his beautiful game ideas for Super Mario War or Puit Universe, the 72 dpi Army, and Urban Takeover (later ClaimSpotting), but also the work for GRL Vienna and laser tagging, and Planet; or him being spokesperson of the Austrian Pirate Party, founding member of soup.io, just as well as an amazing graphic designer and comics artist,… and I could maybe continue this unordered braindump of a silly attempt to make a list of all the projects he’d been involved in for eternity and a day, but – never will I be able to embrace the sheer endlessness of his very original, both incredibly inspired and inspiring, geek-artistic output.

Metalab has lost one of its most creative hackers, and the world one of its most beautiful minds.

The one quote of his that came to my mind right after we heard the terrible news was, ‘When in doubt, do it (you have no chance to survive, make your time)’ – and that, I believe, is what held true for all his life.

R.I.P. Florian Hufsky | November 13th, 1986 – December 16th, 2009

While tears choke the words, I have to admit to fail at expressing my deepest sorrow.
Much love and sincerest condolences to all friends and relatives.

And we all go together if one falls down, we talk out loud like you’re still around; and we miss you.

/astera

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.

Abbenay Hacklab Shut Down, AK4 Evicted

Nick Farr | Posted 2009.10.08 at 6:35 pm | Perma

Bad news regarding Abbenay Hacklab, for whom we put out a call for support last week:

I am sorry to inform you that early this morning the cops raided the AK4 squat where the Abbenay hacklab was set up, and 16 people were arrested. The joys of Sweden…

So far, I do not know if Fredrik Winberg made any further contact with anyone involved, nor if the squatters have been released.

More news and updates on the aftermath over at the Hackerspaces Discuss list.

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An interview with syn₂cat

nhitze | Posted 2009.10.04 at 12:47 pm | Perma

syn2cat logo

First of all, please introduce yourself – who is behind syn₂cat and what do you do for a living?

While syn₂cat began as a two men project in August 2008, it has by now developed into a fully fledged non-profit organisation, featuring 4 administrative members and 4 additional officers. The initial founders, Steve and David are a freelance IT consultant and a political science student respectively.

Of the additional people that soon stocked up the syn₂cat office, macfreak109 is a school teacher in information science, xx5y is a microelectronics engineer, Bartek a post-grad physics student, Gunstick a sysadmin and Michel is a student in secondary school. We only now got reinforced by an 8th crew member.

So how did you come up with the idea to found a hackerspace?

The idea of a hackerspace was born out of desperation ;)
David felt that, should he ever have to return to Luxembourg after university, there’d have to be a hackerspace. Visiting the Metalab in Vienna, though only for a short hour and without much going on, was a key moment in filing that decision.

Though the idea of building a hackerspace was initially scheduled for after David’s graduation, we spontaneously decided to do it “right there and now”. Since then, the project has been steadily growing like an open source project, with its “developers” learning by doing how to run such a show.

What are your future plans for the hackerspace?

Bootstrapping the space is still the near future and once we accomplished that, attracting more people and launching projects will be our focus. One group will focus on youth projects to get more young people into thinking outside the box and begin seeing solutions instead of problems.

Another future task is to constantly shift the responsibility of the actual space to other, maybe younger, people. Although we talked about an “administrative” board, we are far from paper tigers and want to keep the complexity as flat as possible.

Why do you think is the movement spreading so fast right now?

It gained a lot of momentum by the Hackers on a Plane project and the incredible amount of hackerspaces growing in the US. The sudden US movement had its spark from some German hackerspace visits so I guess it was the Germans again ;)

Interestingly enough this amalgamate of people starting open spaces backlashed to Europe again to give rise to a new iteration of hacker- or open spaces. The movement is nothing new but currently it sees fit in the hacker culture which sees an imminent uprise. To get to the point: People saw peers doing cool things in cool spaces and thought – “us too!” – and started doing it too.

Another factor might be the rise of social networks which allow ideas to spread quickly, especially amongst technically minded people. Hackerspaces take the connections made online and map them into the physical world.

Are there any fixed dates for events at syn₂cat?

There’s a list of fixed dates on our website. As we use Semantic Media Wiki (SMW) quite extensively, it is even available as an RSS feed.

The next big things will be our OpenWeekend where we show the space to the general public and keep it open for 36h straight. Further, we are also planning regular Python classes and electronics (soldering) sessions, with another focus on attracting other peer-groups such as user groups , the Chaos Computer Club, miniature railway hackers etc…

And the last question, where can we find some pictures?

There are photos on our website – but be ready to be rocked by the upcoming “after syn₂cat” pictures!

syn2cat meeting

The Situation at Abbenay Hackerspace

Nick Farr | Posted 2009.09.29 at 5:54 pm | Perma

The one-month old Abbenay hacklab has put out a call for support from the Hackerspace community. In the spirit of ASCII and PUSCII, they opened up operations in a squat in downtown Stockholm. While squats are unusual in Sweden, this particular space has been able to stay open for a month.

We are however facing an imminent eviction threat and police pressure has been significantly increasing lately – with civil cops coming very often to take pictures of the house and sirens waking us up early in the morning. This call is asking you to contact the landlord to show support to the hacklab and the squat…

Herein lies a rather unique opportunity. While you may not agree with the politics behind squatting, Abbenay’s call for support is asking for an open dialogue with the building’s landlord, advocating on behalf of Hackerspaces and asking for reasonable accommodation. Here is an opportunity to purposefully advocate for a fellow Hackerspace, not by necessarily aligning yourself with the politics of the situation but by appealing to a property owner why it’s in his community’s best interest to allow Abbenay to continue.

Hellekin’s very reasoned and well-argued letter is a great example of how you can voice your support:

Although their methods are questionable, please consider what benefits you and your fellow citizens could enjoy from having such a dedicated team of goofy researchers in your capital city. Beyond the obvious press coverage…you would be surprised … how productive and ingenious these people can be, and how shaking and beneficial such an endeavor can be for the local community.

Those of you who have started hackerspaces know how difficult the bootstrapping process is, as well as how beneficial these spaces are to the technically creative and curious where you live. While your hackerspace probably took a different route in coming to be, consider that every Hackerspace confronts its own forming and operating challenges differently. Consider how you give and receive help at your hackerspace and consider that what Abbenay is asking for isn’t that much different.

While this post is a bit of a departure from my theoretical musings of late, I believe this is a fascinating situation with a good working solution that shows promise. Even if Abbenay is ultimately evicted, the mere process of reaching out to a property owner in another part of the world can help you frame your own thoughts about your Hackerspace and how the magic and struggles in your space relate to those in spaces throughout the world.

If you do decide to contact Fredrik Winberg, be sure to post what you said or wrote to the Hackerspaces Discuss list. His contact information can be found in the initial call for support. There is also a Facebook group you can join as well!

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A passing of a friend and fellow hacker

astera | Posted 2009.09.13 at 12:44 pm | Perma

Dear hackers,

Just this weekend, our fellow hacker Leah Kubik, who some of you might’ve had the luck to call a friend, or the chance to meet at HAR in the Netherlands as part of the Hackers on a Plane 2.0 crew, tragically passed away.

The Sun writes on Friday:

A playful, late-night search for ghosts inside a University of Toronto landmark ended in tragedy yesterday when a 29-year-old woman plunged to her death. Leah Kubik, who was just two weeks shy of her 30th birthday, was found without vital signs inside a courtyard at 1 Spadina Cres. just before 2 a.m.

Kubik and a man were on a first date and were believed to be exploring an old building rumoured to be haunted, Toronto Police Const. Wendy Drummond told the Sun.

Leah was a fantastic cocktail maker, a huge Linux and open source advocate, and an excellent systems security administrator – her sudden death leaves a hole in the lives of her beloved ones, friends and collegues, as well as the hacker community.

Sincerest condolences from the hackerspaces team.

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.

Where Tinkerers Take Control Of Technology

Eric Michaud | Posted 2009.04.21 at 7:04 pm | Perma

From the recent article in the Washington Post,

At a recent HacDC get-together, Tim Collins displays his latest toy to a visitor. It’s a microcontroller, a $6 mini-computer on a chip smaller than his thumb. “This has more computing capacity than my first computer, which cost thousands of dollars,” he observes.

Microcontrollers are the glue that holds the consumer electronics world together, used in everything from kitchen appliances to cars. These days, the parts are cheap enough so that tech enthusiasts like Collins can afford to play with them as a hobby, but they’re also still complex enough that you might need help if you want to use one to build, say, your own personal robot. And that’s where having access to the collective brains of the HacDC membership comes in handy.

HacDC, based out of a church in Columbia Heights, is a sort of a co-op space for tinkerers, with about 25 members paying monthly dues of $50 to rent out the 600-square-foot space. For the money, members get round-the-clock access to the space and its collection of donated tools. Non-members are also welcome to hang out.

These guys are hackers, perhaps, but not in the bad, steal-your-passwords meaning of the word. Hacking, in the HacDC sense, refers to the act of tearing into the latest technology to build or do something not originally intended by a device’s creators. A couple of years ago, I wrote about a guy who’d figured out how to wirelessly control his Roomba vacuum cleaner with a Nintendo DS. That’s the sort of activity we’re talking about here. Read more…

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