Monthly Archives: September 2011

Ed from i3 Detroit

At World's Maker Faire in NYC, I took a few minutes to interview the hackerspace members around our SpaceCamp area. Some were there to participate with SpaceCamp, some were at their own booths showcasing works, some were there to be on the other side of the table.


Who are you and what are you doing here?

Ed from i3 Detroit. Here to talk about i3 and show off my projects. Giant volumeter, like one on your stereo but giant. Off the shelf kit I hacked to drive some big LED segments I made. Penflakes - hand drawn, one a day since February 2011. Doing it for at least a year, will reassess after that.

What's your role there?

On board, currently treasurer. I live in Detroit, from there originally. Always wished there was a place like that there, and want to help make it available.

Favorite part?

Being able to share the projects I've been working on, more or less in a small group with tons of people and get their feedback, see them smile. For i3 it's the different ideas I get from people when I bring in a project.

What's next?

Focus on i3, keeping it running smoothly. Handling day to day as things happen. Is there a better way to handle these things more efficiently?

Mark from FUBAR Labs

At World's Maker Faire in NYC, I took a few minutes to interview the hackerspace members around our SpaceCamp area. Some were there to participate with SpaceCamp, some were at their own booths showcasing works, some were there to be on the other side of the table.

Who are you and what are you doing here?


Computer engineer. I'm hacking embedded systems, specifically Arduino. I picked that because it was the first embedded system that ran on a mac. Literally the only reason I jumped on the Arduino - it ran on a mac.

What space(s) are you associated with?

I'm with FUBAR Labs - Fair Use Building and Research in Highland Park NJ. It's near where I live. A friend of mine told me about it, I joined.

What's your role there?

Chief Engineer. Means I'm good at hacking embedded systems. I don't do this for my regular job - I used to, and I miss it. Do a lot of teaching arduino (and other things). Do it there because the ability to learn from other people has made it possible to accelerate the learning curve in a phenomenal way. Takes you a day instead of a month.

Favorite part?

Learn and accomplish something, work with other people.

What's next?

Expanding the arduino environment to work on more microprocessors.

Arduino is important because it lowers the barrier to entry. Starting there makes the more sophisticated (exact, powerful, but also intimidating) development environments easier to work with in the long run.

SpaceCamp at World’s Maker Faire

We met you at MakerFaire NYC. Thanks for stopping by the School Factory’s SpaceCamp at World Maker Faire NYC 2011.

New to hacker and maker spaces in general or want to find one near you?

Please use the handy reference of This is a wiki where hacker and maker spaces list themselves.

Are there none in your area? You should start one! The hackerspace design patterns are a great place to start. Have more in-depth or specific questions, such as funding models and safe space?

Check out our Atrium - do a blog shout-out to locate other people in your city.

What is the School Factory’s Space Federation

Our mission is to provide financial and organizational support to open communities in shared physical spaces who use innovative methods and technology in hands-on education. This means we help space facilitators and founders get to know each other, provide fiscal sponsorship (act as a 501c3 without all the overhead) to groups who operate as not-for-profit.

We do this because we want hacker and maker spaces to become the schools of the future (see our panel from Faire). For that to happen, we need to be able to focus on making awesome, not figuring out if our zoning designation will fit with our insurance type. In the same way we share a laser cutter, we can share accountants and lawyers. Better yet, we can share what we’ve learned about things like membership documents, bylaws, and epoxies.

Want to know how to get involved? It’s easy. 

Jump on in to our Atrium site with this overview. Participate and contribute. We hold a monthly call the third Wednesday of each month at 21:00 EST (just missed it! We’ll be holding an additional one October 5th at the same time). We’ll also be holding GlobalSpaceCamp in March or April. Have the perfect venue? We want to know about it! If you are interested in supporting this movement in general, please contact

Plug computing

This week, I decided to take some time to finally get the Plug Computer I purchased about 6 months ago set up.

In case you haven't seen it, Plug Computers are tiny embedded servers that are usually about the size of a normal wall wart or power supply. We got a Sheevaplug dev kit from Globalscale Technology and gave it a go.

After quite a few false starts, we got ArmedSlack Linux installed and it has now replaced our old eeepc as one of the shop servers. Check out the new equipment cabinet, now with cooling:

The plug computer is the white thing on top, with the blue 23b sticker. If you'd like to set up a Sheevaplug for your DVR, monitoring server or whatever, we've documented everything here:


Help Hackerspaces Happen in Cairo and Elsewhere in Africa

3-Day Egyptian Maker Space
Maker Faire Africa is coming up next month, in Cairo, Egypt. It promises to be a three-day mashup of Africa’s most imaginative makers. And, at least two Americans will be joining them.

Bilal Ghalib (co-founder of All Hands Active hackerspace in Ann Arbor, MI, and hackerspace documentarian) and Mitch Altman (co-founder of Noisebridge hackerspace in San Francisco, CA, inventor of TV-B-Gone remote controls, and recent recipient of the first-ever Maker Hero Award) are going to Maker Faire Africa to create a three-day hackerspace there. This will help the founders of the Cairo Hackerspace establish their forming space into a physical reality which, in turn, will help get other hackerspaces going throughout Africa. We have recently seen how important hackerspaces are in helping people in Africa live more fulfilling lives. Let’s see how much more we all can do with so little!

Bilal and Mitch received seed funding from Maker Faire Africa, and at posting time, 147 backers have raised $6,822 over the past two weeks on their Kickstarter campaign!  They need to raise $200 more in the next several hours (and any amount over their goal will directly help hackerspaces in Africa!). If you can give a $1, please do! If you can give more, please do! Any amount is great! (And they are offering some pretty cool premiums too.)

3 Day Egyptian Maker Space – Expanding the Maker Movement

Hackerspace incorporation patterns

As a mere participant of Revelation Space, a hackerspace (or makerspace, if you will) in The Hague, who also happens to practice law (but not corporate law), I found this article on interesting. Interesting but incomplete. Incomplete because it doesn’t really explore perfectly reasonable combinations of the patterns described. Also incomplete, because it reeks of a reinventing the wheel, but poorly.

Why so harsh? For the simple reason that at a certain abstraction level hackerspaces are not that new and unique. They are semi-permanent gatherings of people who share a common interest, namely technology for the sake of technology and unorthodox uses of it. Semi-permanent in the sense that the group has a certain continuity, with obvious turnover of the participants of that group. They also have assets and often liabilities. The assets tend not to be very liquid, meaning that often they cannot be easily sold. After all, take a look around in a typical hackerspace and you see lots of stuff that is not easily replaced but not easily sold either. Which is the same for your average rowing society, student union or scouting club. The liabilities tend to be less complex, usually a long-term lease for the space itself, but sometimes a bit more than that, for example some financing arrangement with particular participants that was needed to buy really fancy equipment such as a lasercutter. Which again is not terribly different from a rowing club (you do not want to know what a carbon composite rowing boat costs nowadays).

One caveat however: I am using the terms foundations and associations a bit loosely and from a mostly civil law perspective. In common law countries other than England, Wales and Ireland (Scotland is a civil law country) your mileage may vary a bit more. Your mileage may vary anyway, even within continental Europe.

First of all look at the problems the typical not-for-profit corporations (foundations and associations)  face:

Especially associations are vulnerable to disproportionate power wielded by a small group of members, or even worse, to a newly elected board that turns out not to be competent to run a prudent ship. Especially student associations are vulnerable to that phenomenon because they tend to rotate boards on an annual basis. On the other hand, the democratic nature of associations fit in much better with anything you want maximum participation from outside the board in.

Foundations are fundamentally problematic because the board is accountable to none but themselves (and the founding charter, but this only becomes an issue when a foundation enters bankruptcy). So you end up with a, in the option of some, arbitrary, group of people who get to decide on issues that have a major impact on the not-for-profit.

Another issue is limited liability. In most jurisdictions being a board member of either an association or a foundation you’re personally and jointly liable together with all other board members. However, being a board member of an association has a slight advantage: if the members of the association decide to overrule the board, which they can to a certain extent, board members cannot be held liable for such a decision. On the other hand, telling board members of a foundation that they should take a certain decision is not unlikely to be met with ‘and will you be held liable for any negative consequences?’, or at least the thought of it.

Basically it is a trade-off between accountability and (certain level of) stability.  But also of participation versus consumption. The nice thing is that it is not an either-or decision. And the issue has been reasonably well solved by my earlier examples: student unions and scouting clubs. The typical pattern used there is that of two entities that work together: a foundation and an association. The foundation typically has one or more seats reserved for representatives, if not board members, of the association. All activities that need lots of participation in terms of time take place under the flag of the assocations. Assets and long-term obligations that are best served by a foundation are put under the flag of the foundation. In case of scouting clubs the club house is typically owned or rented by a foundation, which lets the association use it while the association typically transfers  financial surpluses above a certain level to the foundation in order to let it invest in the club house and associated expenditures.

Translated to a hackerspace the foundation would be:

  • renter or owner of the real estate;
  • owner of the equipment that would otherwise be called ‘capital goods’, for example CNC equipment, lasercutters;
  • provider of said real estate and equipment to the association and in return being funded by the association.

The association would exist for the actual activities, e.g. the actual hacking, running the bar, organising events. Accountability can be introduced by having the foundation’s board having one or more seats appointed by the association. It is however preferable not to have an intersection between the foundation’s and the associations board in order to keep roles clear, if only inside peoples’ heads.

And yes, it is a bit of a hack. It is not terribly elegant, it needs specific bylaws and statutes for both the foundation and the association involved. But it allows for a modicum of accountability for the foundation and a reasonable amount of stability for the association. It works elsewhere, for non-profits faced with rather similar problems as faced by hackerspaces. If you are involved in starting a new hackerspace or running into governance issues at an existing one, consider this option. Why limit yourself to one entity if you can solve issues by having multiple?

The Power Racing Series Has Launched a Kickstarter


Hello everyone! Power Racing needs you! Hackerspaces from across the Midwest have joined together to race children’s toys. At first we did this because it was fun, but we continue to do this because it helps send a message to the public: making is fun. It is a SoapBox Derby for the 21st Century; a race that is amusing yet enlightening. The pressures of competitions are removed with the open nature of team sharing. Teams get together to celebrate their creations and race for fun. No monetary prizes are given, just the pride of building something, setting it out in the real world and working with others who tackled the same project.

Our Kickstarter intends to raise $20,000 so we can rent or develop a digital Timing & Scoring System because our current one is very rudimentary (hand counted) and has not scaled well to the number of cars and races we have (from 6 in 2010 to 20 in 2011 ). We also wish to host new race locations for more teams who have desired to race (Maker Faire New York, Maker Faire San Mateo). Finally, we wish to allow more teams to participate and sign up by expanding our series to other regions.

Many rewards are offered (including a yearbook!) for supporting PPPRS in 2012. We wish to use the community to support the series, so we don’t have to rely solely on sponsors to keep us afloat. We also wish to help support hackerspaces and teams by showing the public that their community is full of Makers who are excited to show them a whole slew of new skills and ability.

So tell a friend, tell your family and help spread the word! PPPRS has been a hackerspace community event since its inception, and now we wish for you to be a part of this maker community!

Hope to see you at the races.

Brandbrief van nationale hackergemeenschap inzake ICT-beveiliging overheid

Zojuist is onderstaande brandbrief in de ronde tafel van de commissie BiZa van de Tweede Kamer uitgereikt. De hackerspaces en organisaties van Nederland spreken zich hier expliciet uit over het gebrek aan besef van ICT-beveiliging bij de Nederlandse overheden. De brief is opgesteld en ondertekend door alle Nederlandse hackerspaces en drie organisaties die de Nederlandse hacker-community verenigen. De brandbrief is tevens verstuurd aan de landelijke media. Wij hackers zijn het simpelweg zat om keer op keer te moeten vernemen dat bij de implementatie van grote ICT overheidssystemen kinderlijke vergissingen worden gemaakt die de privacy van burgers aantasten en soms zelfs tot gevaar voor mensenlevens leiden.

De verenigde Nederlandse hackerspaces en -organisaties

Postbus 503

2501 HJ Den Haag

Aan: de leden van de commissie Binnenlandse Zaken van de Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal

Betreft: brandbrief van nationale hackergemeenschap inzake ICT-beveiliging overheid

Den Haag, 15 september 2011

Zeer geachte leden van de vaste Tweede Kamercommissie BiZa,

De Nederlandse hackergemeenschap, vertegenwoordigd door de ondergetekende organisaties, maakt zich zorgen over de beveiliging van ICT-systemen van de Nederlandse overheid. Keer op keer zien wij hoe basale beveiligingsprincipes niet worden toegepast binnen bestaande en nieuwe ICT-systemen.

Recente voorbeelden zijn de kwestie rond Diginotar en de SSL-certificaten, de OV-chipkaart, het elektronisch patiëntendossier (EPD) en nog vele andere systemen en omgevingen. Wij hebben een omvangrijke lijst van voorbeelden van overheidssystemen die persoonsgegevens bevatten of persoonsgegevens vragen aan burgers waar de beveiliging niet op orde is.

Dit zijn geen ingewikkelde hacks, maar fouten die mensen zonder opleiding kunnen misbruiken. Daarvoor is standaard programmatuur op internet voorhanden. Het gaat om elementaire beveiligingsprincipes die structureel niet worden toegepast en een blind vertrouwen in techniek, gestoeld op onvoldoende begrip van de risico’s. Audits en certificeringen zijn papieren tijgers. Er wordt onvoldoende gekeken naar de systemen zelf en blind vertrouwd op verklaringen van bijvoorbeeld de ontwikkelaars. Er wordt niet voldoende getoetst of de beloftes van ICT-bedrijven ingehuurd door de overheid realistisch zijn en worden nagekomen. Adequate bescherming van databanken met persoonsgegevens is onvoldoende gewaarborgd. Er wordt niet nagedacht over mogelijk misbruik van nieuwe systemen. Tegelijk worden aan de overheid gelieerde instanties zoals het College Bescherming Persoonsgegevens (CBP) en GOVCERT in onvoldoende mate betrokken bij ICT-trajecten.

De hackergemeenschap voelt zich geroepen deze zaken aan de kaak te stellen. Echter, er heerst op dit moment een klimaat waarin de boodschapper wordt gestraft en de betreffende departementen en bedrijven niet tot verantwoording worden geroepen. Wij zijn daarom terughoudend in het delen van informatie over deze beveiligingslekken.

Wij maken ons zorgen over het feit dat de beveiligingslekken dermate elementair zijn, dat het vrijwel zeker is dat mensen met kwade bedoelingen zich hiervan bewust zijn en deze fouten kunnen uitbuiten. Zoals de recente kwestie met de Iraanse overheid heeft laten zien. Wij roepen derhalve op om de kwestie Diginotar niet als incident te zien, maar als een symptoom van een gebrek aan controle op de veiligheid van ICT-systemen bij de overheid. Het is tijd dat de leden van de Tweede Kamer, zij die het volk vertegenwoordigen en geacht worden het volk te behoeden voor dit soort vergissingen, zich realiseren dat er sprake is van een structureel probleem.

De Nederlandse hackergemeenschap beschikt over de kennis en kunde met betrekking tot bovengenoemde zaken, en deelt deze graag met de volksvertegenwoordigers.

Koen Martens

Namens de verenigde Nederlandse hackerspaces en -organisaties:

  • Stichting Hack42 te Arnhem
  • Stichting ACKspace te Heerlen
  • Stichting TkkrLab te Enschede
  • Stichting Bitlair te Amersfoort
  • Stichting Revelation Space te ‘s-Gravenhage
  • Stichting Randomdata te Utrecht
  • Stichting Frack te Leeuwarden
  • Stichting Sk1llz te Almere
  • Stichting eth0
  • Stichting HXX

DIY CNC Night #3: 9/14 at 7pm

taj mahal by tac feaThe third installment of DIY CNC night will be Wednesday, September 14th at 7pm!

DIY CNC night is a monthly (second Wednesday of each month) event held at Pumping Station: One, 3354 N Elston Ave, for hobbyists, enthusiasts, and professionals to celebrate and explore Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) tools such as laser cutters, 3D printers, CNC mills, lathes, plotters, and more!  Attendees are encouraged to bring along any machines or work examples they wish to show off.

The usual schedule is as follows:

  • 7-7:15 introductions / show off stuff you brought along
  • 7:15-7:45 brief presentation
  • 7:45-9-ish mingling, discussion, tour of Pumping Station: One, general schmoozing, and machine repair/assembly/upgrade

This month Bart Dring of MakeSlide and buildlog will be talking about his projects.

Miniature Taj Mahal designed and printed by thingiverse user tc_fea.