Makerspaces and libraries: two great tastes that taste great together


Alex Duner describes the rise and rise of makerspaces in libraries, rattling off an impressive list of public libraries that have taken the mission of turning knowledge into action to the next step. Especially inspiring are the stories of library makerspace users who are finding new ways of expressing themselves, earning a living and improving their lives and making their worlds better through making.

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Kickstarting an artist-in-residence for Philly hackspace

Georgia sez, "We've launched Kickstarter campaign to fund a residency just for artists who want to learn to code and hack hardware. The residency was created by The Hacktory, a makerspace in Philly that is proud to be friendly and inclusive. The project has already been awarded a Knight Arts Challenge grant that needs to be matched, so all pledges count twice towards our overall goal!"

This sounds like a good cause, and they've got some sweet donor rewards.

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Documentary on fablabs around the world

Jerry sez, "Jens Dyvik traveled the world over last 2 years, visiting fablabs and sharing the joy of making stuff... with lasers, CNC machines, etc. He shot a lot of video and has pulled together a very nice 42min summary 'Making Living Sharing'. I watched the full video this evening and it is terrific. (I am a bit embarrassed by the mess of my garage shop, especially when compared with the FabLabs in the show) I heartily recommend this to anyone interested in Makers, FabLabs, 3dPrinting, CNC routers, laser cutters, etc. - Design Global, Build Local."

Making Living Sharing - Jens Dyvik's documentary of his world tour of fab labs (Thanks, Jerry)

Kickstarting Hacker Scouts' hackerspace for kids

Samantha Cook sez, "Hacker Scouts, a nonprofit organization based in Oakland CA, has launched a Kickstarter to fund a new hackerspace designed for kids and their families. Due to the increase in demand for their programs, Hacker Scouts is working with local partners to build a space that is practical and exciting where they can run classes and workshops, support outreach programs to Oakland's diverse community, and continue to prototype programs and activities that they release open source to the global community. Hacker Scouts has been successfully bringing STEAM Education and real, relevant skill building for over a year and have grown from one program in Oakland to over 30 programs all over the US. In order to continue the high level of individualized learning and mentorship, they need a space that matches their growth. Please support Hacker Scouts by donating and/or sharing this project. More information can be found on the Hacker Scouts website and on our Kickstarter page."

Hacker Scouts got written up here recently when the Boy Scouts of America threatened to sue them over the use of the word "scouts" in their name.

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Toronto's Hacklab raising money to help it move into larger space


Nicholas sez, "Toronto's oldest hackerspace just turned 5 years old, and with about 50 active members (not to mention all the folks who attend workshops and events), we desperately need to move out of our 600 sq.ft. space into something larger. We've secured space, and plan to have a larger general-purpose 'lab' area, a kitchen/classroom area for holding workshops, and a modest shop area with heavy power tools. Having a larger space will let us accommodate all of our members, provide a place to house versatile tools and will simplify workshop logistics. HackLab Toronto is a community space with a diverse membership, including artists, computer programmers, web designers, and hardware hackers. We collaborate on projects, hold free workshops for the community, promote STEM, and cook free vegan meals at our Tuesday night open-houses. Help us grow!"

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PIN-punching $200 robot can brute force every Android numeric screen-password in 19 hours

Justin Engler and Paul Vines will demo a robot called the Robotic Reconfigurable Button Basher (R2B2) at Defcon; it can work its way through every numeric screen-lock Android password in 19 hours. They built for for less than $200, including the 3D printed parts. It doesn't work on screen-patterns (they're working on that) nor on Ios devices (which exponentially increase the lockout times between unsuccessful password attempts). They're also whomping up new versions that can simulate screen-taps with electrodes, which will run much faster. They're also working on versions that can work against hotel-room safes, ATMs, and other PIN-pad devices. It's a good argument for a longer PIN (six-digit PINs take 80 days to crack), and for using robust and random PINs (26% of users use one of 20 PINs).

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Save Noisebridge!

A reader writes, "Noisebridge, San Francisco's Hackerspace, is having some hard times, so we're throwing an epic benefit and party this Saturday, to include eclectic performers, interactive art, a raffle and more! For more details, if any BBers want to put on demos or ideas share them. Cory

Makerspace at SXSW

Aaron sez, "SXSW Create is a free and open to the public event during SXSW Interactive that will showcase local and national hackers, makers, and creators. It is a hands-on, interactive, and exciting event intended to showcase creativity and innovation that will inspire and encourage others to create themselves. It is located at 101 Red River, directly behind the Austin Convention Center."

Tickle Me Elmo frozen in carbonite

Todd Blatt and the fun-loving weirdos at the Baltimore Node hackerspace froze a Tickle-Me-Elmo in carbonite because of (awesome) reasons:

I was at my hackerspace one evening and we got to talking about crazy ideas, like normal. We have a full size Han Solo in Carbonite at the space, and someone mentioned that it'd be funny to encase old toys in a smaller carbonite box. So I did. I used the ShopBot CNC router at the MIT FablLab at CCBC in Catonsville, MD to cut the box, an arduino to copy code to an attiny85 to run the randomization script for the LED lights, and my MakerBot to 3d print the side panels I'd previously designed for a different project. The side panels are posted here on Thingiverse and I just drilled out holes for the lights.

Tickle-Me-Elmo in Carbonite (Thanks, Todd)

Noisebridge hackerspace explains fair use to Dreamworks


Dreamworks is producing a sensationalized, awful movie about Wikileaks and Julian Assange. Some of the action involves the Noisebridge hackerspace in San Francisco that Wikileaks's Jacob Appelbaum helped to found, so Dreamworks wrote to them asking for permission to use their logo. Noisebridge collectively penned a letter back explaining fair use and free speech to the representatives from Big Content who'd come a-knockin':

From your description, it should be clear to anyone watching your film that you're just using the image to talk about Noisebridge, not claim you are Noisebridge or that Noisebridge supports your film*.

Given this, Noisebridge as a community believes you have the free speech right to use such imagery without having to ask permission -- especially those who you might be implicitly criticising or commenting upon. Such a right is encoded in the existing nature of trademark and copyright with the idea of fair use.

Sadly, knowledge of such rights have been eroded over the years by the repeated claims of copyright maximalists, who would have you believe that you must beg to refer to us in your film -- or even that you would be beholden to us if, for instance, you parodied our disrespectful attitude to your concerns with the following image, which includes both of our identifying marks, the Noisebridge(TM) circuit, and the Unicorn Pissing A Rainbow(TM).

Such a position is lunacy and a genuine threat to free speech and the first amendment. You should exercise all of your fair use rights freely and without fear.

So we say tell your friends at DreamWorks to publish (or print, or produce) and be damned. Tell them we fully support them in their brave stand. You can say with confidence that the only conditions under which Noisebridge would sue them and their partners to the maximum damages entitled to us by law would be if it turned out that hackers like us were completely hypocritical nihilists out only for our own egotistical ends.

Given that you were so nice as to ask us, we can't imagine you think that of us.

DreamworksReply (Thanks, Danny!)

LA Makerspace featured on White House website

A child learns to make ice cream at LA Makerspace.

Hooray for our LA-based friend Tara Brown, co-founder of Los Angeles Makerspace, who is interviewed today on the White House Office of Science and Technology website! She shares about her experience with bringing kids and families into the growing community of American makers. LA Makerspace is a "non-profit community of practice for inventors, builders, and creators (“makers”) to work and learn in a range of areas, including software, hardware, electronics, robotics, art, filmmaking, bio-tech, eco-tech, wearable-tech, and more." And while many "makerspaces" are exclusively for grownups, this one is family-friendly and for makers of all ages.

What inspired you to help lead this effort?

A few different things inspired me. My biggest inspiration is my own two-and-a-half year old. I work with researchers that are focused on the “connected learning” movement and it became very apparent to me that Ripley is going to need more than what is taught to him in school for him to follow his interests. I also noticed that some of the emerging communities for makers in LA might not be the best environment for younger kids, from a safety standpoint. Not too long after that, I co-founded a women's tech club and I thought that perhaps I could combine my own club activities with the need for a more kid-friendly environment.

What kinds of projects demonstrate the promise (and fun) of Making for parents and kids?

All of them! We have a policy where if you are under 13, you must be accompanied by an adult to all of our classes. At first we thought it was a risky move because we weren't sure if parents were hoping to just drop their kids off at classes, but it was the opposite. The parents were just as excited to be at the classes as the kids. Some families have come to almost every single one of our events and always learn something new and mentor the newcomers.

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Kickstarting a hackerspace in Iraq

Quinn Norton sez, "The Global Entrepreneurship and Maker Space Initiative runs around the Middle East creating hackerspaces and fostering maker communities in places like Cairo and Beirut -- but its hyperactive lead instigator Bilal Ghalib is taking on his biggest challenge in his native Iraq. They're currently raising money to have a two day hackerspace, and create media (comic book and live stream video of hacker/maker stories) to support and inform people in and out of Baghdad about what hackerspaces are and what they can achieve. GEMSI doesn't just drop in and then leave. In Cairo they helped create relationships, looked for space, and eventually were able to jumpstart a maker community that is taking on its very own Egyptian flavor. Baghdad is an even bigger challenge, but as Bilal points out in the GEMSI Kickstarter video, Baghdad has a long history of being a place of tremendous creativity and invention."

Imagine you are a young Iraqi student, just graduating college. Opportunities to work in the country are few, and working outside Iraq is difficult due to strict visa requirements. Your country still experiences violence weekly, while also facing many technical challenges characteristic of a developing country. You want to build the country, you want to share – but you feel isolated. You hear about a group of people who have an open space near the center of town where you can build almost anything. One day you decide to see what it’s about. There, you find others like you: looking at the world around them and thinking about how they can start creating solutions. They are creating open source medical devices, filling potholes in city roads, creating clean street initiatives, or making alternative energy products to fix the intermittent power issues of Baghdad. These are people taking initiative. They are looking to take ownership of their cities and build the change they want to see – serving their communities on the most direct level. At this open space, you have finally found a home to put your talents and energy to work. You’ve found a group you can trust, they are courageous, curious, and want to help you create a better future. You feel happy, you feel capable, you've found your people.

Quinn adds, "It's a remarkable project, ambitious, but done by people who know what they're getting into." These two points are critical for me, suggesting that the money will go to something that actually happens.

Baghdad Community Hackerspace Workshops

Three hidden photographs found in Mac SE ROM

NewImage
The folks at the NYC Resistor hackerspace found a Macintosh SE that had been abandoned on a Brooklyn sidewalk and decided to conduct a little "digital archeology."

While digging through dumps generated from the Apple Mac SE ROM images we noticed that there was a large amount of non-code, non-audio data. Adam Mayer tested different stride widths and found that at 67 bytes (536 pixels across) there appeared to be some sort of image data that clearly was a picture of people. The rest of the image was skewed and distorted, so we knew that it wasn’t stored as an uncompressed bitmap.

After some investigation, we were able to decode the scrambled mess above and turn it into the full image with a hidden message from “Thu, Nov 20, 1986“

They say there's more curious data in the ROM that they haven't been able to decipher yet.

Ghosts in the ROM (Via Matt Richardson)

WobbleWorks: animatronic dinosaurs and animated floppy-ear hats


Engadget's Brian Heater visited the WobbleWorks folks at the Somerville, Mass. hackerspace, where animatronic dinosaurs and rabbit-ear hats are the order of the day. The WobbleWorkers sound like they have a hell of a time.

Dilworth flips three switches on the robo-dino's neck, firing it up. It looks around quizzically at first before its creator, manipulating knobs on a small block attached to the dinosaur with a thick wire, sends the robot on a clanking walk. The robot is roughly three or four years old, created as a museum piece, an attempt to bring life to lifeless exhibits made of fossil and bone. With a realistic silicone skin created by dinosaur exhibit giant Hall Train, the baby dino might someday become part of a robotic petting zone, wandering around the area with a certain level of autonomy, perpetually grazing in the museum hall.

...During our visit, the pair won't divulge too much about the projects they're prepping, even while many prototypes sit just behind them, atop of a couple of messy desks. They do happily show off a bipedal dinosaur, an early prototype of a future toy that they're looking to land in stores in the next year or so. It's not quite a museum-style protoceratops in every home, but perhaps the minimalist two-motor setup will make such products a little more widespread in a world that wasn't quite ready for Pleo. It's a small, off-white plastic contraption with two giant feet that lumber about. The company's also looking to branch out into four- and six-legged 'bots that share the two-legger's "natural gait," while maintaining a reasonable price point.

WobbleWorks: flapping ears and robotic dinosaur dreams (Thanks, Pete, and everyone else who suggested this!)

Police loom over Byron Sonne's victory party

Uh-oh. A tweet from Toronto notes that weirdly, there are 4 cop cars outside #hacklabto as they are having a party for #freebyron. HackLabTo is the Kensington Market hackerspace that Byron Sonne (who was acquitted yesterday on all counts related to his emperor-wears-no-clothesery of the Toronto G20 summit in 2010) is affiliated with. Update: they're gone now. Cory