Mitch’s Midwest Workshop Tour of Hackerspaces

After being on the road since the beginning of July, 2010, I’m in Toronto, my second stop on my Midwest Tour of Hackerspaces which will last throughout the month of August.  (This trip started with setting up a Hardware Hacking Area at RMLL in Bordeaux, France <http://2010.rmll.info/spip.php?lang=en>, followed by setting up a Hardware Hacking Area at Ninjacon in Vienna, Austria (formerly Plumbercon) <http://plumbercon.org/>.)

My first stop was the Detroit Maker Faire <http://makerfaire.com/detroit/2010/>, where 22,000 people gathered to check out over 300 exhibits, enthusiastically sharing, learning, and teaching through making cool things. I led a panel on hackerspaces both days of the Faire — both with standing room only. Hackerspaces are really popular now! There are way more hackerspaces in the Midwest alone, than time to visit all of them in a month. This is an exciting time to be a geek!

My main thing at the Detroit Maker Faire was to set up a Hardware Hacking Area, which I did with the help of Jimmie Rodgers <http://www.jimmieprodgers.com/> and Dale Grover, of A2 MechShop <http://www.a2mechshop.com/>. Together with 19 other volunteers, we taught 1,500 people to solder! The Makezine blog has a really sweet writeup on it:
<http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2010/08/mitch_altman_rocks.html>

From now (4-August) till the end of the month, me and Jimmie and Matt Mets (of Hack PGH <http://www.hackpittsburgh.org/> — who will be joining us for the rest of the tour after Canada) will be giving 14 workshops at that many hackerspaces around the Midwest.

The workshops will give anyone and everyone the opportunity to learn to solder by making any number of kits that me and Jimmie have created to teach people to make cool things with microcontrollers — kits that are designed so that everyone, regardless of age or skill level, can complete successfully and take home with them. It is very similar to what I do when I’m home (and what Miloh does all the other times) at Circuit Hacking Mondays at Noisebridge <https://www.noisebridge.net/wiki/Circuit_Hacking_Monday>. The workshops also help build publicity for the hackerspaces that host the workshops by attracting people to the space, and showing everyone how cool it is to have a hackerspace in their home town.

I also share any and all experiences with the hackerspaces I visit about how we started and run Noisebridge.

Me and Jimmie and Matt are doing this without charge, and only ask to be reimbursed for any parts used ($10 to $30, depending on the kit).

As we go from city to city, hackers host us, and we meet some of the coolest, intelligent, thoughtful, friendly, creative people in the world — hackerspace people!

While traveling I hope to have time to blog more about our experiences here on this Noisebridge blog. Jimmie will be adding his thoughts to the blog on his website.  And Matt will be blogging about it and posting it to the Makezine website. 

Here is our schedule:

Hacklab.TO Toronto, ON — visit on 3-August
Site3Toronto, ON — workshop on 5-August
Kwartzlab Kitchener, ON — workshop on 6-August
think|haus – Hamilton, ONvisit on 7-August
OCDDetroit, MI — workshop on 8-August
Mt. Elliot Makerspace Detroit, MI — workshop on 9-August
I3Detroit, MI — workshop on 10-August
A2 MechShopAnn Arbor, MI — visit on 11-August
AHAAnn Arbor, MI — workshop on 12-August
LVL1/Actors Theatre – Louisville, KY – demo on 13-August
LVL1Louisville, KY — workshop on 14-August
Hive13Cincinnati, OH — presentation on 17-August
Hive13Cincinnati, OH — workshop on 18-August
BloomingLabsBloomington, IN — workshop on 19-August
Arch ReactorSt. Louis, MO — workshop on 20-August
KC Mini Maker Faire / CCCKCKansas City, MO — Hardware Hacking Area at Faire on 22-August
Quad Cities Co-Lab HackerspaceQuad Cities, IA/IL – workshop on 24-August
PS:1Chicago, IL — workshop on 25-August
Madison BarCampMadison, WI — talk on hackerspaces on 28-August
Sector67 Madison, WI — workshop on 29-August

I wish I had more time, since there are many other hackerspaces that we don’t have time to visit on this trip.

According to google maps, we’ll be driving about 2,400 miles in the car we rented for the month. Road trip!

- Mitch.

Categories: General

Codebits

For three days, 400 people created projects, attended presentations, and made cool things at Codebits, the annual hacker conference in Lisbon.  It is put on by SAPO, the Portuguese phone company.  They flew me out here to set up a Hardware Hacking Area.  And they asked me to give a presentation.  I asked if I should do a talk on hacker spaces or on making a living doing what you love.  They asked if I could do both.  I did.

The Hackerspace Movement:

http://codebits.eu/intra/s/session/93

Make A Living Doing What You Love: How to Bring You Project From Idea to Reality:

http://codebits.eu/intra/s/session/95

They were both very well received.  Many people told me they were inspired by one or the other, which is about the best compliment.  The videos are at the above links.

I also set up and ran a Hardware Hacking Area throughout the three days of the conference.  49 people out of the 400 attendees made one of my kits — about half of them TV-B-Gone kits.  So, there are currently more TVs being turned Off in Portugal.

Now I get to hang out in Lisbon for a few days, before heading to Singapore on Wednesday, where I’ll talk about hackerspaces again.

Categories: General

Lisbon

It’s Portuguese Independence Day, and as I write, fireworks are going off like crazy outside my window, overlooking what looks similar to the Golden Gate Bridge, but was called Salazar Bridge, after the scary dictator (but renamed to 25 de Abril Bridge, in more recent finer times).

I got here today.  Rather than sleep, which is my MO on planes, I worked on my presentations for Codebits, which I’ll be giving Thusday and Friday — the one Thursday is about how to start a hackerspace, and Noisebridge will, of course, be the focus.

The CNET story about Noisebridge hit the interwebs.  It’s a very decent story:

http://news.cnet.com/8301-27080_3-10405255-245.html

I met up with two friends and managed to stay awake, and even have an hours-long coherent conversation.  Now I get to catch up on some emails…

Categories: General

Pumping Station: One

I’m about to fly to Lisbon from Chicago.  But while in Chicago for the last 3 days I hung out at Pumping Station: One.  The previous time I was at PS:1 was a few days after they got their space (I did their first FRED talk).  The space is way lived in now!  A really great group of people. 

Saturday night was their hackathon.  About 30 people were there hacking away.  I left at about 1am, and there were still lots of people there!  Many stayed till 9am.

Aestetix was there, too.  He and Eric (the founder of PS:1) and several others are working on a collaborative hackerspace project that will be revealed at 26C3.  It is a really cool project that will encourage more collaboration and community amongst hackerspaces around the world.

Eric and some other people on the board of PS:1 are talking about starting a non-profit foundation that will help promote hackerspaces in the US.  More on this later, as it gells…

Rubin will be visiting PS:1 soon.  The cross-pollination continues amongst hackerspaces.  :)

Categories: General

Mitch’s travels

From now till the beginning of February I’ll be traveling around the world, going to hacker conferences, giving presentations, setting up Hardware Hacking Areas, leading workshops, and visiting hackerspaces everywhere I go. 

Here’s my crazy itinerary:  Chicago, Lisbon, Singapore, NYC, Philly, Baltimore, DC, Boston.

At the moment I’m at my brothers house in Chicago, where I need to write the two presentations that I’ll be giving at Codebits, in Lisbon — the hacker conference put on by the Portuguese phone company (and I’m currently procrastinating by writing this blog post!). 

Today I’ll prepare the presentation I’ll be giving on Thursday, 3-December, at Codebits, which is entitled:  The Hackerspace Movement.  This, of course, will include lots about Noisebridge.  And I’m hoping that it will inspire someone(s) to start a hackerspace in Lisbon.  Here’s the abstract on the Codebits website:

http://codebits.eu/intra/s/session/93

Tomorrow I’ll prepare the presentation that I’ll be giving on Friday, 4-December at Codebits, entitled: Make A Living Doing What You Love: How to Bring Your Project From Idea To Reality.  This will include photos from the recent Noisebridge China Trip.  Here’s the abstract on the Codebits website:

http://codebits.eu/intra/s/session/95

All throughout the Codebits hacker conference I’ll be teaching people to solder and to make cool things at the Hardware Hacking Area that I’ll set up there when I arrive on Tuesday. 

One of the cool things about Codebits is the 24 Hour Competition, which is a 24-hour period where people who wish to will initiate and (hopefully) finish a project, which they will have 2 minutes to present on the last day of the conference.  Prizes are given to the people (or teams) who create the coolest projects.   Anyone who wants to can make use of the Hardware Hacking Area, and I’ll be there to help everyone.  It shold be way fun!

Categories: General

Circuit Hacking Monday

Last Monday was the last time I’ll be leading Circuit Hacking Monday at Noisebridge for several weeks.  It was lots of fun!  There were almost 40 people there, making TV-B-Gones, Trippy RGB Waves, Arduino clone kits, and other cool kits that I created to teach people how to make things with electronics.  Several people learned to solder for the first time!  Some people brought in their own cool projects to work on.  And some people brought in their old, broken electronics that are now working again, thanks to the helpful geeks at Noisebridge.

While I’m gone, Miloh will be leading Circuit Hacking Monday workshops.

Over the next several weeks I’ll be traveling the planet, giving talks and workshops everywhere I go:  Lisbon, Singapore, Berlin, NYC, Boston, and hopefully other places out East where I’ll be visiting (Philly, Baltimore, DC).

I’ll be gone till the beginning of February!

Categories: Create

Class: Intro to Processing Language

My friend Bill Hsu creates realy cool animations using the Processing language.  He’s also a really good teacher.  He’ll be teaching a class at Noisebridge!

When: Thursday, December 10th — 6pm to 9pm

Where: Noisebridge

What: Intro to the Processing Programming Language: simple interactive graphics and animation for everyone!

More info:

https://www.noisebridge.net/wiki/Processing_Class

Categories: Event