Who’s Going On Your Fifty?

You can tell a lot about a country, its history and its politics, by taking a look at its banknotes. Who features on them, or in the case of studiously engineered international compromises such as the Euro, who doesn’t feature on them. Residents of the UK  have over the years been treated to a succession of historical worthies on their cash, and when a new revision of a banknote is announced you can be certain that the choice of famous person to adorn it will be front page news. Today we have a new banknote on the way, and this time the selection is squarely in Hackaday’s sphere of interest because the public is being urged to nominate a scientist for the honour. The note in question is the £50, the one that nobody uses and plenty of shops won’t even accept, but still, it’s an important choice that will replace the incumbents on the present version, steam engine pioneers Matthew Boulton and James Watt.

So, given a blank £50, who would you put on it? Candidates must be British, not fictional, and also no longer alive. Names in the frame include Ada, Countess Lovelace, Stephen Hawking, and Alan Turing, though with such a wide field to choose from there are sure to be many more front-runners. You might, for example, wish to consider Rosalind Franklin, but you can forget Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, or Michael Faraday as they have all already featured on British banknotes.

Hackaday does not take sides in such endeavors, but it’s still an opportunity to back your most inspiring figure. As your scribe, it’s a tough one between Lovelace and Turing, though Turing probably wins by a short head. Who would you like to see on the next £50 note? The bank has produced a short promotional video which we’ve placed below the break.

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How Hackerspaces Spend Money

Running a hackerspace is no easy task. One of the biggest issues is money — how to collect in dues and donations, managing it, and how to spend it. Everyone has different interests and would like to see the budget go to their favorite project or resource. Milwaukee Makerspace has come up with a novel way to handle this. Members pay $40 a month in dues. $35 of that goes into the general budget. The member themselves can pick where the last $5 goes.

Using the hackerspace’s software, members chose where their $5 goes each month. It can all be spent in one area or split up among different resources at the hackerspace. Members choose from many different interests like the 3D printing area, the laser lab, the forge, or specific projects like the power racing series. This results in a budget for each area which can be used for materials and parts. It also gives the hackerspace board of directors information on which resources people are interested in, and which they aren’t.

In the current budget, no one is supporting the anodizing area, but lots of people are supporting the laser lab. This is just the sort of information the board could use when planning. Perhaps they could store the anodizing tools and expand the laser lab. Click through to the link above and see how this year’s cash voting panned out.

Of course, all this only works if you have a hackerspace with plenty of active members. In Milwaukee’s case, they have about 300 members. Would this work for your hackerspace? Let us know down in the comments!

Life on Contract: How Much Do I Charge?

If you’re comfortable with the technical side of becoming a consultant or contractor but are unsure what to charge for your services, you’re not alone. “How much do I charge?” is a tough question, made even tougher by the fact that discussing money can be awkward, and at times virtually taboo.

As a result it’s not uncommon for the issue to get put off because it’s outside one’s comfort zone. Technical people in particular tend to suffer from an “if you build it, they will come” mentality; we get the technical side of things all figured out and just sort of assume that the rest — customers, money, and so forth — will fall into place afterward. If you’re lucky, it will! But it’s better to do some planning.

The short and simple answer of how much to charge is a mix of “it depends” and “whatever the market bears” but of course, that’s incredibly unhelpful all by itself. It’s time to make the whole process of getting started a bit less opaque.

A stubborn determination to solve my own problems has given me plenty of opportunity to make mistakes and commit inefficiencies over the years; I’ve ended up with a process that works for me, but I also happen to think it is fairly generally applicable. Hopefully, sharing the lessons I’ve learned will help make your own process of figuring out what to charge easier, or at least make the inevitable blunders less costly.

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Creepy Robot Really Wants Money…

As technology advances forward so does the numerous ways to beg for money. [Chris Eckert] has developed a robot to do the deed for him.  With an odd  eye mounted on the top of the robot to invoke pity presumably and a tin can out front to collect change from people it may encounter this is quite the hobo robot.  On his build log, you’ll find tons of great pictures of the entire process from start to finish.  With robots sent to beg people for money, it is only a matter of time until the first squeegee robot is cleaning your car at a red light.  Make sure to check out the video after the break.

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Hacking an iButton

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Maxim’s iButtons, which are small ICs in button-sized disks, are starting to show up in more and more places. They have a range of uses, from temperature loggers to identification, and all use the 1-wire protocol to communicate. Over a furrtek, they hacked an iButton used for buying things from vending machines and created an infinite money cheat. They built a small rig based on the ATmega8 to read and write data to the chip. The data was encrypted, so it wasn’t feasible to put an arbitrary amount on the card. Instead, they used a similar technique to the Boston subway hack and restored a previous state to the iButton after something was bought. They also created a hand-held device to backup and restore the contents of a button for portable hacking.

[Thanks furrtek]