LovelaceSpace

2017-Apr-14, Friday 10:54 pm
chebe: (Purple - DanceLikeNooneisWatching)
Ahem. Hi. Yes, I'm still around. (Only four more years of posts to go through and relocate the images, and I'll be LJ free!) I was at MakerFaireUK a couple of weeks ago, helping some of the tog guys at their stand. It's always a great trip, to catch up with people from other spaces. (And this time I even got to drool over a laser cutter I really, really want.) But things were a bit different this time, I was wearing a different hoodie. This year I was representing for LovelaceSpace.

A while back I made a post about why I needed to leave tog. In the meantime, as I whined to anyone who would listen, people started making suggestions, and dropping hints. This coalesced into something. Something truly wonderful. A working group, of passionate, hard-working, truly kick-ass humans, to set up an intersectional feminist lgbtq+ inclusive secular space, for hackers, makers, educators, and feminists, in Dublin, Ireland. It's a massive undertaking, we know we're unlikely to get everything right, but we really, keenly, want to try.

Our first event was last month. A cross-stich event, held in a very congenial pub. We'd expected maybe 20 people, 30 people tops. Turnout was more like 65-75. Some people even dropped in just to pick up kits. We could barely cope with the volume. At the busiest we had taken over more than half the pub!

We can't take all the credit. The event was a charity fundraiser, a rather popular one, and it was just before International Women's Day, and the protests that were planned to coincide. We raised €360, which bowled us over. The money went to ARC, an organisation challenging the restrictive abortion laws in Ireland. They are just one of many groups campaigning for change, to Repeal the 8th Amendment.

Our event idea was simple, take the symbols of these organisations, this iconography of the movement, and create cross-stitch patterns that people could turn into pins/badges/anything they wanted. We just didn't realise it'd be so popular! We had people from the other ends of the country asking us to run the workshop down there too. We had people in England wanting in. The solidarity, the love, in these communities, is so strong, so raw. Especially coming from a mostly techie background, it was a surprise for me. It was beautiful.

Well, our next event is somewhat similar, but completely different. The Science Gallery have a 'Humans Need Not Apply' exhibition on at the moment. They have an AI, Hoopla, that designs embroidery patterns. They've asked us to run a workshop to show people how to turn these designs into actual physical objects. This event is free, but also much smaller. It should be fun.

From the organisational side, we have another meeting tomorrow. We're working on finalising our Code of Conduct, planning even more events, and trying to get our documentation in place so we can become a legal structure. And then, find a physical space so we can house this amazing community 24/7.

It's hard work. For a group of people who are already over-worked. But the need for this kind of space, the passion and dedication of the people we interact with. It's a tonic against so much going wrong all around us. It is my primary source of hope right now.

33C3

2017-Jan-02, Monday 12:08 pm
chebe: (Default)
Congress is an experience. Having an Assembly to hang around is a major plus. Like other conventions, the main purpose seems to be meeting up with people you don't get to see every often. (And complaining about how tired you are.) There were enchanting displays all over the place. I'm sure I didn't even manage to see everything. It never really stopped either. There was dancing in the snowglobe at 6am. There was hanging out in the sci-fi console area of the purpose-built-technically-outside lounge at 7am. I still haven't quite got the hang of the toilet and elevator parties. I wish I'd been well enough to do more, see more. But I certainly have ideas for next time.



Congress; 8am Day 4
Photo by chebegeek

33C3; day zero

2016-Dec-26, Monday 10:40 pm
chebe: (Default)
Agent chebe reporting from 33C3; day zero. Although I've been to hacker camps before, like OHM and EMF, this is my first Congress. Plus side; no tents. Negative; hotel is far away, and there's winter rain. We got our wristbands, set up the Assembly next to the lovely Scottish Consulate. Got on the wifi. You know, the essentials. Had a quick look around as people were setting up. It already looks amazing, I'm sure tomorrow will permanently warp my sense of reality. I am a bit worried about how crowded it will be. 13,000 people, one venue. But there is that feel in the air, the one of creative minds working away.

P.S. I am probably Patient Zero.

EMF 2016

2016-Aug-10, Wednesday 10:46 pm
chebe: (Default)
EMF happened last weekend. I went, with some of the tog people, but not with tog. It was a really good weekend.

It's difficult for me to describe what EMF is. Because it is simply too big now. There was somewhere between 1,000 and 1,500 people, camped in one large field. With five stages, several workshop tents, villages, bars, food vendors, and a giant beanbag-filled lounge tent. Every person attending will have had different experiences, some even seeming to be from completely different events. It's large. There's a lot on. And it's utterly surreal.

If you've been to any of the maker faires, then EMF can be described (as one of the other attendees said) as a large faire, only instead of explaining your ideas and projects to regular people you're showing them off to other makers and hackers. There's a level of engagement, of enthusiasm, of sheer energy, that is difficult to gather in other places. It's a bit like a temporary Never Never Land, full of grown-up techie toys, organised and run entirely by volunteers. Large inflated bunny filled with neopixel strips that you can change the colour of by tweeting it. Really tall LED tower game. Pong made physical, with giant paddles and fire. A podium that made fire dance to music beats. Bbqs, fire pits, self tending bar robot. Amazing micropython badges. An incredible wifi network with over 64 access points, a beautiful dashboard, and nearly two terabytes of data transmitted. Electricity to your tent. Hot sunny days, clear starry nights.

Reality is proving just how hard an act EMF is to follow.

You can check out photos, and watch the talks. It will give you a flavour, but it isn't the same as being there.

An aside )

It was a replenishing weekend. Fun, energising, and completely exhausting. I want to go back.
chebe: (Cyberish eyes)
Yesterday (Saturday 20th February) Career Zoo was once again held in the Convention Centre. It had a couple of themes, one of particular interest to myself; women in tech. I wasn't sure what to expect, but the powerhouse that is Coding Grace got in touch, organising a mini wearables hackathon in the middle of the whole thing. Uh, yes!

We spent the day in an indoors white-picket-fenced picnic area next to DAQRI, our generous sponsors. Playing with toys, battling software, sharing resources, talking to curious attendees, and having a great laugh.



Wearables mini hackathon picnic in progress
Photo by CareerZoo, source




Photo journey )


A huge thank you to my fellow subversive hackers; [twitter.com profile] whykay, [twitter.com profile] micktwomey, [twitter.com profile] saoili, [twitter.com profile] meaigs, [twitter.com profile] taraannosaur, [twitter.com profile] norette, [twitter.com profile] NaoimiGillis, and everyone I got to talk to during the day/night for keeping me so entertained! And Coding Grace, DAQRI, and Career Zoo, for making it happen.



Hack-ter Party
Photo by CodingGrace, source

SciHackDay side project

2014-Nov-19, Wednesday 09:34 am
chebe: (Default)
Set the scene; it's midnight, I'm just back from (sci-fi) book club, SciHackDay kicks off in the morning, and I want a project; something sciencey. I decide I want a radio telescope. But, well, I don't have the parts. So I scale back my idea into something I can iterate up into a radio telescope.

I shifted my focus on the electro-magnetic spectrum up to visible light, hoping to use my new colour sensor. It will really only give me one reading from one point of space, like a single pixel. To scan an area I'll need something to move it along. But I don't have any servos, and I've never played with motors before. Luckily I have a robot arm handy. And then the rest should just be Arduinos.

That's the thing about poorly researched hacks, they're never as straight-forward as they seem.

Down the rabbit hole )

Also, photos are up!

SciHackDay 2014

2014-Nov-17, Monday 12:47 pm
chebe: (OnTheVergeOfSomethingWonderful)
Science Hack Day is an all-day-all-night hackathon; covering software to hardware, but with a project emphasis on science. It's in its third year running in Dublin, but this is the first one I've been able to attend (November is a much more civilised month than March).

It started Saturday morning (15th Nov), and finished Sunday evening (16th Nov). In thirty-two hours of incredibly intense focus, I got a mere thirty minutes of sleep. But ate a lot of pizza! It was fantastic the way the SciHackDay crew set things up. Large quantities of food would just appear every so often, and there was a steady supply of snacks throughout. Eliminating one very common, and annoying, disruption to work; that of hunting, gathering, preparing food. Sleep as well! Although many people went home to rest, and some managed a few hours on sofas and floors, my brain was just getting settled into focusing on some software work in the wee small hours, and not being forced to leave and miss that period meant I was much more productive than I would have been otherwise. But I am very glad it wasn't any longer. As soon as I got home I fell asleep for sixteen straight hours.

There were some really great project ideas, and even more great project implementations. (A fantastic number of wearables and etextiles too.) But I was wary of the too-many-cooks problem, so I helped out where I wasn't in the way, and worked on my own small project.

Chording Glove project )
chebe: (StarryNight)
I think that's right, yeah. There's a festival this weekend called Prototype, which focuses on play and interaction. There are some interesting talks and performances ranging from games, to analogue human interaction, and even some wearable tech. Niki and I are running a workshop tomorrow morning, teaching the basics of soft circuits.

We're going to be making pet stars. Now, we all know that stars like to shine, but they have to feel safe and loved (go watch/read Stardust). And pets like being petted and cuddled. So when you pet your pet star it shines brighter! If you poke too hard the lights go off. If you do a good job the star will purr! (Turns out a star purring is a lot like lights twinkling.)

Here's the prototype I did up. The real ones will be much nicer, have proper felt, and be more cushiony.

A blue felt star, with a silver star in the middle with a trail of white LEDs

Pet Star - prototype
Photo by chebe



insider details )

I'll take some photos of the proper finished pieces at the workshop. And if the workshop goes well I'll do up detailed instructions on how to make your own.
chebe: (Default)
Things have just kept on keeping on.

My work with Niki is just finishing a run on display at a felting exhibition in Farmleigh called Common Ground. I was at the opening on the 25th September, feeling quite out of my depth amongst the very talented craftspeople. But the nibbles were delicious, and I got to see some beautiful pieces.

Kelp piece displayed on a square of clear perspex, with mine and Niki's name visible on a label next to it

Kelp piece on display at Farmleigh
Photo by chebe



The 4th October then saw newer versions of our work on display at RuaRed as part of Digital Week. I was unable to attend, but Niki tells me there was great interest, which is exactly what we're doing all this for! At least she wasn't alone, with plenty of company from toglodytes. (Photos; close-up of the kelp, and newer, larger version of the talking torque.)

Niki demoing the kelp piece

Niki demoing the kelp
Photo by Joseph Carr at Rua Red



Yesterday, 11th October was the UNs International Day of the Girl. Intel had an idea and got in touch with both tog and CoderDojo Girls and #GalileoGirls magic happened. 75 (or so) girls and teens crowded into the usual CoderDojo space, and got to play with some hardware. From getting started with the Galileo board, to then choosing to play with electronics, wearable electronics, or social media programming. It was a long, chaotic day, but fun seemed to be had, which is very important imho.

Some of the CoderDojo mentors early in the morning

Mentors on parade
Photo by Niambhs, source



Next Saturday, 18th October, Niki and I will be running a 'Playful Wearable Electronics' workshop. I'm looking forward to it as it's a slightly different demographic and I'm curious on what aspects they're interested in, and grasp the fastest.

It's also my last commitment for a while, so I'm looking forward to break afterwards. And I totally mean it this time.
chebe: (FlowerInHair)
Post Dublin Maker I haven't exactly had much of a chance to rest.

TOG had a stand at Dublin Comic Con (out near Swords), where we dazzled people with many, many LEDs. At least I think that's why people seemed confused that we weren't selling anything. I was impressed by the quality of the costumes; both the professional ones on display, and the ones worn by attendees. I attended a panel on Special FX, and was charmed by both Al Matthews and Virginia Hey at another. I may have acquired one or two (too many) books on art/design/costumes of various films.

Rob at our stand with all the blinky LEDs

Rob and the blinky LEDs
Photo by chebe



Two weeks later I attended Shamrokon (a literary con, and this years Eurocon), and was a talking head on three panels; 'Wearable Tech', 'Back to the Couture', and '3D Printers and Copyright Law'. (Name drop; two of which were with Charlie Stross, a delightfully contrary man.) I attended two long days of great panels, my favourite probably being 'Peaceful Science Fiction' and 'Genre Toys'. It was also good to catch up with some friends I hadn't seen in a while (who were mostly busy running the con), and to meet a few people I know mostly online (*waves at [personal profile] vatine*).

Bill Thomasson, @chebegeek, @ickle_tayto, @cstross, sitting at table before panel begins

The only proof that I was there at all
Photo by Joe Mansfield, source



The next week Tog Duck (and some tog members) migrated East to Bletchley for EMF Camp. It was camping. With internet. I made it through two nights this time (yay, improvement!). But it was still camping. The trip also included many hours of driving (omg the M6, the horror, the horror!) and a couple of ferries. So it was fairly exhausting overall. But a good time was still had. There were interesting talks (including the inner workings of Quasar, and Bletchley Park), and Saturday night had people out displaying their finest light-up wearables. There were hats with chasing RGB patterns, animated dot matrix displays, a green EL wire outfit (waistcoat, tie, and hat), and a superb EL wire dinosaur wire mask (with operational jaw). I ran around the motion sensitive LED-poles Grid, and generally marvelled at peoples' projects. But I missed chances to catch up with people, so hopefully there will be another chance at the next run of events (April seems so far away...).

pics )

Also took the opportunity to visit the National Museum of Computing and marvel at the old(est) computers still running (both original and resconstructed). And Chester as well, because it was on the way and contained hotels.

I'm running real low on reserves, so I'm trying to take it easy over the next while. If that happens there should be more blogging happening here. Should.
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