So, I thought I was just hopping over to Noisebridge after a rare semi-”day off”, to celebrate the birthday of Moxie (who I hadn’t seen in 4 or 5 years) and the anniversary of Noisebridge. I knew that this was to be a special event–with everyone throwing $10 in a pot at the event, we were going to decide collectively the “best” use of the money.
When it came down to voting, some of the best ideas were:
-Ball playground like at Chucky Cheeze in the back room
-buying actually needed things, like USB cables or a sign for the space…
but of course the one that actually received the most support was: send someone out of the country as an ambassador for noisebridge…leaving the next day. what a stupid arbitrary use of the money. I mean, I love ball playgrounds (actually I should’ve suggested a fun house/bouncy house). I was just excited about the idea of democratic tomfoolery, and when it came to deciding how to figure out who would get to go, I suggested a Ro Sham Bo tournament.
I didn’t realize that I was the best Ro Sham Bo player around; nor did I realize that if I won, I would be peer pressured into actually doing it. I was playing for the love of the game, not to win. People who know me know that I do too much crap to support myself wasting time sitting on a plane for 15 hours, in order to spend another 30 hours somewhere I’ve never thought about visiting before (and then the 15 hour flight back of course). So when I won, I freaked out. I don’t want to do this. Um, doesn’t someone else want to? Well, yes, Zach Houston will do anything. And that guy in the green shirt had some intense desire in his eyes as I laid down the final scissors of the game, but sorry buddy, runner up counts for nothing in the game of winning a trip to Singapore.
How was Singapore chosen? I don’t actually know because I escaped to the Uptown, to seek advice from my bartender roommate and friends. Unanimously, it was agreed that I should go. Fuck it, they said. Cancel your meetings. Skip an entire week of school. Who cares about all that when you could do something for no reason? So I came back to NB and the decision had been made to send me to Singapore. Luckily enough, kindred spirits over at hackerspace.sg were interested in hosting me, even though (shhh!) I don’t know much about computer hacking. As others have explained, I’m more of a life hacker.
So, long story long, I just arrived to the apartment I’m being put up in, downtown. It’s hot and humid (as expected). I managed to not have any drugs on me, and so escaped the death penalty. I will not be chewing gum. All that is left is trying to see if I can sleep, and figure out what and how many things I can do, foods I can eat, and cool people I can meet in 30 hours.
Suggestions are welcome, as well as requests for trinkets to buy.
hit me up antidogmatist [atttt] gmail [dotttt] com
After my Midwest Workshop Tour of Hackerspaces <http://blog.noisebridge.net/2010/08/04/mitchs-midwest-workshop-tour-of-hackerspaces/> I had 8 days at home to prepare for me next Workshop Tour, this time visiting Eastern Europe and Belgium, where there are lots of new hackerspaces!
My trip to Europe was paid for by BruCON <http://2010.brucon.org/index.php/Main_Page>, and annual hacker conference in Brussels, Belgium, which is branching out this year from security to other diverse hacking activities. I’ll be giving a talk there on how to bring your project from idea to reality, and how to make a living on your project. I’ll also be setting up a Hardware Hacking Area, teaching people to solder and to make cool things with micrcocontrollers.
While in Belgium, I’ll also be visiting three hackerspaces in the area, giving workshops and talks.
VoidWarranties <http://we.voidwarranties.be> — Antwerp, Belgium
HSB <http://hackerspace.be/Mitch_Altman_Electronics_Workshop> — Brussels, Belgium
whitespace <http://0×20.be/Main_Page> — Gent, Belgium
And while I’m out here in Europe, Hacktivity <http://hacktivity.hu/portal/en>, an annual Eastern European hacker conference paid for my trip to and from Eastern Europe, where I’ll be setting up a Hardware Hacking Area.
While in Eastern Europe, I thought I’d put out the word and see if any of the brand new hackerspaces would like me to give workshops at their spaces. The response was very enthusiastic, and I set up a tour of four hackerspaces!
progressbar <http://www.progressbar.sk/> — Bratislava, Slovakia
brmlab <http://brmlab.cz/event/mitchaltmanworkshop> — Prague, Czech Republic
H.A.C.K. <http://hspbp.org/tiki-index.php> and Kitchen BudaPest <http://www.kitchenbudapest.hu/en>
Harkopen <http://harkopen.com/news/workshop-mitch-altman> — Bucharest, Romania
Everywhere I go, hackers are graciously putting me up in their homes. I feel really grateful to be part of such a warm, welcoming, community of hackers.
As with my other tours, the workshops on this tour give anyone and everyone the opportunity to learn to solder by making any number of kits that me and Jimmie Rodgers and Ladyada and others 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 . 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.
Sharing experiences about our hackerspaces is also a big part of how hackerspaces around the world help and support each other, and I’ll be sharing all I can about Noisebridge and how we got going and make things work out.
Other than reimbursement for air fare from the hacker conferences, I am doing this Workshop Tour without charge, and only ask to be reimbursed for any parts used ($10 to $30, depending on the kit). I do this ’cause I love it!
I am looking forward to meeting more of the coolest, intelligent, thoughtful, friendly, creative people in the world — hackerspace people!
Here is my schedule:
11-Sept: leave San Francisco
12-Sept: dinner with whitespace hackerspace — Gent, Belgium
14-Sept: progressbar hackerspace workshop and talk — Bratislava, Slovakit
16-Sept: brmlab hackerspace workshop and talk — Prague, Czech Republic
17-Sept: Hacktivity conference dinner — Budapest, Hungary
18-Sept: Hacktivity workshop
18-Sept: Hacktivity party
19-Sept: Hacktivity workshop
20-Sept: Kitchen BudaPest and H.A.C.K. visit — Budapest, Hungary
21-Sept: Harkopen hackerspace workshop — Bucharest, Romania
23-Sept: VoidWarranties hackerspace workshop — Antwerp, Belgium
24-Sept: BruCON conference talk and workshop – Brussels, Belgium
25-Sept: BruCOB conference workshop
26-Sept: HSB hackerspace workshop — Brussels, Belgium
27-Sept: whitespace hackerspace talk — Gent, Belgium
29-Sept: fly back home to San Francisco
After this tour, I’ll be home in San Francisco for the entire month of October!
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:
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
Site3 — Toronto, ON — workshop on 5-August
Kwartzlab – Kitchener, ON — workshop on 6-August
think|haus – Hamilton, ON — visit on 7-August
OCD — Detroit, MI — workshop on 8-August
Mt. Elliot Makerspace – Detroit, MI — workshop on 9-August
I3 — Detroit, MI — workshop on 10-August
A2 MechShop — Ann Arbor, MI — visit on 11-August
AHA — Ann Arbor, MI — workshop on 12-August
LVL1/Actors Theatre – Louisville, KY – demo on 13-August
LVL1 — Louisville, KY — workshop on 14-August
Hive13 — Cincinnati, OH — presentation on 17-August
Hive13 — Cincinnati, OH — workshop on 18-August
BloomingLabs — Bloomington, IN — workshop on 19-August
Arch Reactor — St. Louis, MO — workshop on 20-August
KC Mini Maker Faire / CCCKC — Kansas City, MO — Hardware Hacking Area at Faire on 22-August
Quad Cities Co-Lab Hackerspace — Quad Cities, IA/IL – workshop on 24-August
PS:1 — Chicago, IL — workshop on 25-August
Madison BarCamp — Madison, 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!
On April 1, 2010, Marcia Hofmann of the EFF gave a talk on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). She covered the basics of what it is, how to file one, and what the legal implications and ramifications of the process are. Her talk was very insightful and cleared up a lot of common misconceptions people have about the process.
Attached are the presentation she gave, as well as a sample FOIA request if you want to file your own. Video of the talk is forthcoming.
Also, feel free to peruse the EFF FAQ on FOIA for more information: http://www.eff.org/issues/bloggers/legal/journalists/foia
10am: the designated meeting time. Noisebridge is empty. Camera battery on table with a plaintive note requesting someone to find a charger. I find the charger in the adjacent box.
10.27am: Chris arrives with a tiny video camera that arrived overnight for the launch. Nils and Ariel have also showed up in the meantime.
10.47am: donut run. Everybody is here. Assembly and final checks begin. Progress hampered by Saturday morning cartoons playing on the projector and PyCon preparations going on around.
11.27am: vox mode on ham radio working; we think both beacons should be visible. Setting up radio end-to-end test. In parallel, payload has been stencilled, trial assembly under way for final weighing. Cast up to 9 people, with at least three more to join on location.
11.47am: my updates are coming with creepy regularity. Still at Noisebridge; assembly of the multipart, multiplane payload is proving more challenging than expected. No APRS beacons have made it out yet, though this may be due to the poor radio permeability of the building.
12.00pm: the PyCon attendees are being very tolerant of our bellowing back and forth across the room while they’re trying to run talks. I’m alternating between shushing people and hiding behind the nearest pillar. Final weight comes in at 4 lbs 5 oz; sadly the stabilizing arms can’t take the weight without bowing alarmingly. Rapid replanning of support structure ensues. Still haven’t tested the radio gear.
12.21pm: packing up for departure. Drift trajectory estimate looks reasonable for our Alpha launch site.
12.56pm: all three cars on the road, connecting inverters and chargers in the car to top up batteries en route.
1.26pm: stuck in traffic near Livermore. So glamorous.
2pm: arrived at the California
Qanat Aqueduct site, waiting for traffic-scattered posse. Made a foursquare location.
2.29pm: wind is blowing in an unfortunate direction. Condoms Meteorological
2.45pm: checking skyvector.com confirms that all the local airfields are reporting winds blowing north or north-east. Ozzy uses his pilot contacts to confirm that high-level winds are still blowing towards the east, so we only need to worry about the lowest 15,000 feet of ascent and descent. We decide to get another 10-15 miles east/south-east before launching.
2.59pm: confusion ensues due to phones redirecting to voicemail and partially meshed radio contact between vehicles – cavalcade count now up to 5, and uncertainty if all heads found seats.
3.02pm – interlude: we’re running very late, once again, and although none of the reasons are exactly the same as they were last time, the general problem is that too many individual tasks are still being tweaked, refined (or in some cases started) in the few days before launch. We’re deadline driven, but not very good at planning back from the deadline.
4pm: we spot an airstrip on our way south, and decide to try our luck. After a long and frustrating wait while attempts to contact the airstrip owner via friends of friends are made, the BATF (Bar of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) point out that since they have permission to shoot automatic weapons at the airstrip, they feel entitled to grant us permission to launch a balloon. It’s on.
4.20pm: …or is it? The helium cylinder turns out to have been less than half-full. Perhaps a leaky valve that vented gas over the past month? We have the balloon at approximately neutral buoyancy. So… if we remove the skirt from the balloon, we might be able to cobble together a light enough payload to lift, by duct-taping together a G1, radio and camera. Drama!
4.48pm: Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, Blake returns from a foraging expedition with a 73 cu ft cylinder of helium, acquired from a local party balloon filling place. The balloon has lift – next we assemble the entire payload string and see how much excess lift we have. If not enough, we’ll have to shave the payload down.
5.09pm: And I thought we launched late last time Balloon is filled with all the helium we can get. Electronics are all on, text messages with GPS co-ordinates are coming in; both APRS beacons are being received. Last zip-ties being attached now.
5.24pm: Not enough lift. Luckily, the heaviest camera doesn’t work with the lithium batteries that we bought anyway, so we can remove that. The balloon skirt is also being removed. In worse news, after the first few SMSes, the Android fell silent.
5.57pm: Heartache and angst as people’s favourite projects are ruthlessly culled to reduce weight. Stand-by Android with old SMS code resurrected in the hope that it will send reliably.
6.53pm: not enough lift to clear the trees with even the most minimal payload. We scrub, clean up, and retire to the nearest hotel for food and consolatory champagne.