The Complex Issue Of Hackspace Donations

More than one member of the Hackaday team has significant involvement in a hackspace, as member, director, or even founder. We talk about hackspaces quite rarely on these pages though, not because we don’t have anything to say on the matter but because even when we write in general terms our fellow members invariably think it’s all about them rather than the hackspace world at large.

For once I’m going to break the silence, and not only talk about hackspaces, but talk about my own hackspace in specific terms. Because, fellow Oxford Hackspace members, this isn’t about you personally though I’m using our home to illustrate a point. The topic is a thorny issue that must affect all spaces, that of donations of physical items. People want to help their hackspace, they have a pile of what they consider to be good stuff, and when they’re having a clear-out they make a donation. But, as we all know, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” and vice-versa. Continue reading “The Complex Issue Of Hackspace Donations”

Press Button, Receive Hackspace WiFi Code

When you are running a hackspace, network security presents a particular problem. All your users will expect a wireless network, but given the people your space will attract, some of them are inevitably going to be curious enough to push at its edges. Simply plugging in a home WiFi router isn’t going to cut it.

At Santa Barbara Hackerspace they use Unifi access points on their wireless network, and their guest network has a system of single-use codes to grant a user 24-hour access. The system has the ability to print a full sheet of codes that can be cut individually, but it’s inconvenient and messy. So the enterprising hackspace members have used a Raspberry Pi and a receipt printer to deliver a single code on-demand at the press of a button.

The hardware is simple enough, just a pull-up and a button to a GPIO on the Pi. Meanwhile the software side of the equation has a component on both client and server. At the server end is a Python script that accesses the Unifi MongoDB database and extracts a single code, while at the client end is another Python script that reacts to a button press by calling the server script and printing the result.  It’s a simple arrangement that was put together in an evening, but it’s an effective solution to their one-time WiFi access needs.

It’s a temptation as a hackspace to view all of your problems as solvable in one go with the One Piece Of Software To Rule Them All, and as a result some spaces spend a lot of time trying to hack another space’s effort to fit their needs or even to write their own. But in reality it is the small things like this one that make things work for members, and in a hackspace that’s important.

Does your space have any quick and simple projects that have automated a hackspace process? Let us know in the comments.

Thanks [Swiss] for the tip.

Hackspace U

No Timmy, we're not preparing you for a life of mindless drudgery! PD, via Wikimedia Commons.
No Timmy, we’re not preparing you for a life of mindless drudgery! PD, via Wikimedia Commons.

It’s funny, how obsessed we are with qualifications these days. Kids go to school and are immediately thrust into a relentless machine of tests, league tables, and exams. They are ruthlessly judged on grades, yet both the knowledge and qualifications those grades represent so often boil down to relatively useless pieces of paper. It doesn’t even end for the poor youngsters when they leave school, for we are now in an age in which when on moving on from school a greater number of them than ever before are expected to go to university. They emerge three years later carrying a student debt and a freshly-printed degree certificate, only to find that all this education hasn’t really taught them the stuff they really need to do whatever job they land.

A gold standard of education is revealed as an expensive piece of paper with a networking opportunity if you are lucky. You need it to get the job, but in most cases the job overestimates the requirement for it. When a prospective employer ignores twenty years of industry experience to ask you what class of degree you got twenty years ago you begin to see the farcical nature of the situation.

In our hackspaces, we see plenty of people engaged in this educational treadmill. From high schoolers desperately seeking to learn something other than simply how to regurgitate the textbook, through university students seeking an environment closer to an industrial lab or workshop, to perhaps most interestingly those young people who have eschewed university and gone straight from school into their own startups.

Continue reading “Hackspace U”

Hackenings: Technologica Incognita Parties After SHA2017 Plans

Welcome to [Hackenings], our weekly calendar of what’s going on in the global hackerspace community this week. As ever, if you have any upcoming events that you’d like us to cover, email us at tips@hackaday.com and put [Hackenings] in the subject so that we don’t miss it.

TechInc Turns Five!

Technologia Incognita is a five-year-old hackerspace in Amsterdam, and they’re having a party on the 26th. How do you celebrate five years of social hacking, creative cooking, and general geekery? With more of the same, plus drinks. If you’ve never been to TechInc, you’ll find directions here.

The TechInc crew is not all play and no work, however. Their party coincides with the end of the second organizational planning meeting for SHA2017, a summer outdoor camping hacker camp/festival/conference that’s going to take place next summer, not coincidentally just outside of Amsterdam.

The European hacker scene is a little bit like international soccer / football — every four years there’s a World Cup, and in the off years there are equally important regional tournaments. The German Chaos Communication Camp and the Dutch series-of-camps-that-changes-name-every-time are like this, but for us. If you missed the CCC last summer, or ToorCamp this summer, then start making plans for SHA2017 next summer.

Don’t Forget Dublin

We mentioned this last week, but TOG Hackerspace in Dublin is having a 36 hour hackathon starting today (the 19th). This looks like a great time to get together with other nerds and make something crazy in a shortish amount of time. If you’re anywhere nearby, you should head on over. After all, it’s for science!

Hackenings: KiCAD, Science, DevOps, and Cyber

This week in [Hackenings], we’ve got a full roster of interesting upcoming events scattered all over the world. Can’t afford airfare to India, but Dublin is in the next county over? We’ve got you covered.

KiCad in Bangalore

IKP EDEN, in Bangalore, is hosting an Introduction to KiCad workshop on Sunday, Nov 13 from 10:00-2:00 pm. If you’re just getting started with PCB layout, or just want a quickstart learning KiCad, Hackaday contributor [Anool Mahidharia] will be there to show you how! Sign up on the link above, and bring your laptop with KiCad already installed.

Science in Dublin

20151115_124704-e1476655395528_thumbnailTOG hackerspace in Dublin is putting on their fifth annual Science Hack Day, a 36-hour hardware and software hackathon on Nov 19 & 20th. Looking through their photos, past creations have included a laser mission-impossible crawl-through maze thing, some kind of freaky turtle, and many objects that move, make noise, or otherwise amuse.

“Each year we bring together, designers, coders, scientists, engineers and makers. Simply to make interesting things. Why? For adventure, for playfulness, for science!”

DevOppery (and Foppery) in Stuttgart

logo_webDo you have what it takes to meet the needs of DevOps, Agile, and Cyber in the Enterprise Environment? Interested in Disruptive Cloud Computing or Mobile First Growth Hacking? Can you rub two buzzwords together and come up with marketing gold? Then you might have a fun time at the shack hackerspace in Stuttgart on Nov. 19th, for the eloop 2016 conference (translated here).

A full day’s talks include topics such as “Enterprise Patterns”, “Good Enough”, and the “Cult of Done Manifesto” as it relates to computer security. “What’s discussed at eloop today moves the digital markets of tomorrow.” YOLO!

Vote for Swindon

If you’re a UK citizen, you can vote to get the Swindon Makerspace some community funding so that they can furnish a new space. Why not?

Game Retro

And if you’re in Huntsville, Alabama, or environs, don’t forget Makers Local 256’s Retro Gaming night tonight (Saturday, 12th).

Hackenings? Hackenings!

[Hackenings] is our weekly Saturday morning (US, Pacific Time) roundup of what’s going to be going on in the hackerspace world in the upcoming week. If you’d like us to cover your event, email us at tips@hackaday.com and put [Hackenings] in the subject so that we don’t miss it. Thanks!

Hackenings: Burbank and Cairo

Hi all, and welcome to the first installment of Hackenings, our review/preview of the week in global hackerspaces. If you’d like to get the news out about upcoming events at your space, get us an e-mail before Thursday to get it published on Saturday. If you’d just like to brag, any time is fine. Drop us a line at tips@hackaday.com and put [Hackenings] in the subject to make sure that we see it.

This week we’ve got two stories of hackerspaces on the move, but they couldn’t be more different. The Burbank Makerspace has upgraded to fancier new digs, while Cairo Makerspace‘s building collapsed, and now they’re taking their show on the road with a hackerspace-in-a-van.

Continue reading “Hackenings: Burbank and Cairo”

Hackathon Alert: Clean Tech At TVCoG

At Hackaday, we get notified of a lot of the cool events going on in hackerspaces all around the world. We’d like to keep you informed too, just in case there’s something going on in your neighborhood.

So we’re going to start running a weekly column on Saturdays that groups together all of the upcoming week’s exceptional events and noteworthy gatherings. If your hackerspace has something going on, tell us about your event on or around the preceding Wednesday. We’ll see your space in on Hackaday!
Continue reading “Hackathon Alert: Clean Tech At TVCoG”