It’s always good to welcome a new hackerspace to the fold, and thus we’re pleased to hear about the upcoming opening of Hackerspace Drenthe, on the north-eastern edge of the Netherlands. Starting a new space during a global pandemic is something of a feat. As part of their opening something is required to demonstrate a robot for the curious public, and what could be more accessible than a robot arm playing tic-tac-toe!
It would be correct to say that a robot moving blocks with precision is not necessarily a ground-breaking achievement, but in its purpose of providing eye-candy for a hackerspace opening while also serving as an experiment for some of the students from the school adjacent to the space it is a success. The interface is a pleasingly retro War Games style terminal, and the software is written in Python. For the curious all can be found on a GitHub repository, and should you be in that region of Europe you can find Hackerspace Drenthe in the Netherlands border town of Coevorden and attend their opening on the 2nd of April.
[Vaibhav Chhabra], the co-founder of Maker’s Asylum hackerspace in Mumbai, India, starts his Remoticon talk by telling a short story about how the hackerspace rose to its current status. Born out of frustration with a collapsed office ceiling, having gone through eight years of moving and reorganizations, it accumulated a loyal participant base – not unusual with hackerspaces that are managed well. This setting provided a perfect breeding ground for the M19 effort when COVID-19 reached India, mixing “what can we do” and “what should we do” inquiries into a perfect storm and starting the 49 day work session that swiftly outgrew the hackerspace, both physically and organizationally.
When the very first two weeks of the Infinite Two Week Quarantine Of 2020 were announced in India, a group of people decided to wait it out at the hackerspace instead of confining themselves to their homes. As various aspects of our society started crashing after the direct impact of COVID-19, news came through – that of a personal protective equipment shortage, especially important for frontline workers. Countries generally were not prepared when it came to PPE, and India was no different. Thus, folks in Maker’s Asylum stepped up, finding themselves in a perfect position to manufacture protective equipment when nobody else was prepared to help.
Here at Hackaday we’re privileged to be part of a global community of hackers, makers, technology enthusiasts and creative people whose collective works make our daily news feeds such a fascinating read. We encounter you all directly in the physical world rather the virtual one at the many events across the community, or at the various hackerspaces we visit on our travels. But how can we keep track of the world of hackerspaces when there are so many? Maybe SpaceAPI might hold the answer.
Every hacker gathering needs as many pixels as its hackers can get their hands on. Get a group together and you’ll be blinded by the amount of light on display. (We propose “a blinkenlights” as the taxonomic name for such a group.) At a large gathering, what better way to show of your elite hacking ability than a “competition” over who can paint an LED canvas the best? Enter Pixelflut, the multiplayer drawing canvas.
Pixelflut has been around since at least 2012, but it came to this author’s attention after editor [Jenny List] noted it in her review of SHA 2017. What was that beguiling display behind the central bar? It turns out it was a display driven by a server running Pixelflut. A Pixelflut server exposes a display which can be drawn on by sending commands over the network in an extremely simple protocol. There are just four ASCII commands supported by every server — essentially get pixel, set pixel, screen size, and help — so implementing either a client or server is a snap, and that’s sort of the point.
While the original implementations appear to be written by [defnull] at the link at the top, in some sense Pixelflut is more of a common protocol than an implementation. In a sense, one “plays” one of a variety of Pixelflut minigames. When there is a display in a shared space the game is who can control the most area by drawing the fastest, either by being clever or by consuming as much bandwidth as possible.
Then there is the game of who can write the fastest more battle-hardened server possible in order to handle all that traffic without collapsing. To give a sense of scale, one installation at 36c3 reported that a truly gargantuan 0.5 petabytes of data were spent at a peak of rate of more than 30 gigabits/second, just painting pixels! That’s bound to bog down all but the most lithe server implementation. (“Flut” is “flood” in German.)
While hacker camps may be on pause for the foreseeable future, writing a performant Pixelflut client or server seems like an excellent way to sharpen one’s skills while we wait for their return. For a video example check out the embed after the break. Have a favorite implementation? Tell us about it in the comments!
A couple of months ago I wrote a piece about the evolution of hackerspaces, and mentioned that I’d be attending a party for a hackerspace birthday. As I write this that party was last weekend, and it was celebrating both the birthday of RevSpace in the Hague, and the tenth anniversary of hackerspaces in the Netherlands. After a relaxing ocean cruise across the North Sea and a speedy train ride I found myself in RevSpace with a bottle of Club-Mate in my hand, hanging out with not only the locals but a selection of others from all across northwestern Europe and beyond. RevSpace is an exceptionally well-organised hackerspace with a large membership, so there was plenty to talk about and a lot of interesting projects to look at.
There was a short programme of talks in Dutch, covering hackerspace history and interviewing a panel of hackerspace founders. I am told that these may make their way online with an English translation in due course, and should be worth looking out for. Then there was an epic-scale barbecue, an old-school rave with Gameboy chiptunes and analogue synth EDM among other delights, and the chance for an evening’s socialising with the rest of the attendees. Continue reading “Dutch Hackerspaces At Ten Years Old: Celebrating A Community With A Special Map”→
A few days ago I was invited to a party. Party invites are always good, and if I can make it to this one I’ll definitely go. It’s from a continental European hackerspace, and it’s for their tenth birthday party. As I spent a while checking ferries and flights it struck me, a lot of the spaces in my sphere are about a decade old. I went to London Hackspace’s 10th earlier in the year, and a host of other British hackerspaces aren’t far behind. Something tells me I’ll be knocking back the Club Mate and listening to EDM of some form at more than one such party in the coming year.
For most of the decade since I found the then-recently-established mailing list of my local hackerspace I’ve spent a lot of my time involved in more than one space. I’ve been a hackerspace director, a member, and many roles in between and I’ve seen them in both good times and bad ones. Perhaps it’s time to sit back and take stock of that decade and ask a few questions about hackerspaces. How have they fared, what state are they in now, and where are they going?
After a long hiatus, the MIT Electronic Research Society, better known as MITERS, has released their summer 2019 edition of the MITERS Journal, officially known as Volume 43 Issue 1.
The latest edition features a throwback to the first journal published in 1976, showing that some things just never change:
“What is MITERS? MITERS is the MIT Electronic Research Society, a non-profit, student-run laboratory for MIT’s EE hackers. The Society provides work space, tools, low-cost parts and information to any number of the MIT community. We have a few good ‘scopes, various and sundry pieces of test equipment, a b’zillion power supplies, and Bertha, our beloved PDP-7 computer. (No snickers from the peanut gallery, please. Bertha is very sensitive.) We also have the most incredible plunder-trove on campus.”