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2017-Jan-18, Wednesday 04:17 pm
chebe: (Default)
You may have noticed a lack of updates. That's mainly because finding, and updating, all the image links in my blog takes a very, very long time. Did you realise I've had this blog nearly eight years? I certainly didn't.

In other news, I'm falling down the Quantified Self rabbit hole. I'd like to have a blog to reflect it. So that's another project on the backburner.
chebe: (Wild)
So this thing is happening. A large, ugly, derelict, office block called Apollo House was taken over by squatters five days ago. But not ordinary squatters. These people have turned the building into a homeless shelter. Many internationally known musicians and actors are supportive, some actively taking part. It was announced on the largest, oldest, talk-show we have (clip on twitter). They are clearly owning that it is an 'act of civil disobedience'.

Brief background; Ireland's property market collapsed in 2008/2009, like many other places. A 'bad bank', NAMA (National Assets Management Agency) was set up to take on the bad debts of the other banks we were bailing out. It's still around. Initially it was sitting on its portfolio to avoid flooding the market with incredibly cheap property, and further destabilising the economy. But now it's sitting on it until the properties become valuable again. Until then all these properties are empty. During the largest homelessness problem we've ever had as a nation.

As was to be expected, they got the letter to vacate the premises, and are in court today. The Government says there are enough beds for all the homeless. Clearly they haven't walked through Dublin after 7pm recently.

An aside; soup kitchens have been popping up all over the city. They are always extremely busy. But the mobile sort, with no permanent premises. I saw a sign at the beginning of the year on one building; 'Soup Kitchen opening June", then July, then August, then soon, and still there's nothing.

The activists are maintaining that since we, the taxpayers, bailed out the banks, bought those bad loans, that those buildings belong to us, the people. That having them vacant, and crumbling, while people die on the streets in winter is a disgrace.

In some ways it's complicated. The use of nationalist language, and involvement of nationalist groups, worries me especially. But at the end of the day, 30 homeless people have had somewhere to sleep this past week. That is a good.

What I don't see mentioned is that Apollo House is right beside the literally-falling-apart building of the Department of Health. Which I think is just a beautiful irony.

Also, across the narrow one-way street, is another initiative. In Place. It's a collective of artists, doing things in a very hackerspace way. They are temporarily using the building, partly fixing it up, and have been for a few months now. The difference being, they did it with the permission of the landlord.

There is a lot of empty space around Dublin, people have been building maps of it. There's an app in the Android store that allows you to point your phone at a building and the app overlays if it is owned by NAMA. Meanwhile Dublin is heading into another property bubble, with record high rents, and little to no protection for renters.

It's all very interesting. Something is changing.
chebe: (Default)
This post is going to be a little out of character for this blog. For one, it's an actual update (yes I'm still around), but two, it's autobiographical. This friends is the story of how I came to leave the hackerspace.

It started just over a year ago. And by started I mean it all fell off the edge of the cliff it had been tottering on and the end had begun. And by just over a year ago I mean 12th May 2015. (I know this date because I have the emails, all the emails.)

Ireland was having itself a little vote. One of the things up for public decision was a referendum to remove the distinction as to gender/sex from the articles for marriage. Basically, it was a marriage equality referendum, to allow any two people to marry, irrespective of their gender/sex. A short time previously we had gained 'civil partnership' for same-sex couples (as distinct and not equal to different-sex couples) and the sky hadn't fallen in. So it was time to push for full equality.

This was a very emotive issue. The No campaign were making a lot of noise, using scare tactics, threatening all kinds of irrelevant outcomes. Crowds of volunteers organised to travel the country advocating for marriage equality. Thousands of people told their intimate stories again and again to strangers. Essentially pleading, even begging, to be treated equally. Some well received, others not.

In order to get volunteers around the country, and to get brochures, leaflets, posters made up the Yes campaign were fundraising. Part of this was selling Yes/Tá badges, tshirts, etc. These items actually became quite coveted. Seeing a stranger wearing one in the street made you smile, feel comfortable, accepted.

I bought a big bunch of badges. I brought them to Craft Night in the hackerspace to give them away to whomever wanted one. They were eagerly snapped up, but I had many so there were some left over. I said I'd leave the extra in the Swag box (full of badges, stickers, pencils, etc from random companies and projects) for people who I knew wanted some but weren't able to make it in. And I was told that if I did they would be thrown out. I'm sorry, what? Apparently the hackerspace was to remain completely apolitical. Rather stunned and taken aback I saved my badges and redistributed them manually.

Another woman at that Craft Night later on that evening emailed the fullmembers mailing list to have a discussion that sometimes, on an individual case-by-case basis, we should take a stance.
"In particular, I'd like to see TOG as a group being pro-Yes for the upcoming marriage equality referendum. I'd like to see YES badges and leaflets available in the common room, and for NO leaflets to be unwelcome."


If you are familiar with mailing lists you'll know what happened. The ensuing shitstorm resulted in the majority of the membership saying "we don't want to be unwelcoming to No voters", or, saying nothing at all. Several members, did as the volunteers did, and opened their private lives, their soft quishy insides, to the scrutiny of the group. They asked to be seen.

It's at this point that several people will want me to point out that any group, especially a hackerspace, is not a homogeneous whole. That some peoples' opinions do not represent the group. Except, thing is, we work by Consensus. So when we decided that we'd rather protect the feelings of hypothetical potential members (who don't see their fellow human beings as equal) rather than support a significant chunk of the existing membership, it did actually speak volumes about the group as a whole. It told us that we were not welcome. That the realities of our lives were disruptive (in the bad way), and something not to be talked about in polite company. We were rejected.

On Friday 22nd May 2015 the country voted. On Saturday 23rd May 2015 the country partied. The result was 62% Yes. (Only one constituency had a majority No vote, and even that was by a tiny margin.) Nearly a 2:1 ratio. We became the first country in the world to pass marriage equality by popular vote. We were ecstatic. We were deeply, deeply relieved.

The hackerspace went on saying nothing.

Things continued on as usual. Our lease was being terminated, we had to find a new space. Then we had to do up the new space. We were also changing legal structure from a club to an actual company (one of the 16 new definitions that had just become law that Summer) with limited liability. Lots of to-ing and fro-ing, lots of discussion about direction, ethos, and internal wall layouts.

The landlord was putting in new toilets. In the old space we had two separate toilets, gender neutral. We asked one to be made wheelchair accessible. (In the end he didn't make the door wide enough.) The other he put urinals in. So now we had a Mens toilet, and an Other toilet. This did not sit well with many of the membership. But it wasn't seen as a real issue by many others. We were pushed out again.

Around this time I started being harassed by another member. (For reasons as yet unknown.) Counter to some stereotypes, and playing into others, this other member was/is female. Verbal harassment, accusations, following me, making me leave rooms, not leaving me alone as I repeatedly asked. Which several months later escalated to her trying to get me thrown out of the building for simply showing up.

You probably have guessed the pattern already. The hackerspace did nothing but bury their heads in the sand. When it escalated many months later, it made the rest of the membership uncomfortable enough that the new Board of Directors decided we should seek independent arbitration. This is a fair idea, except that in the meantime I was so scared of this person that I self-selected out of physically attending the space, expect when I knew there would be many other people there as well.

I'll never know how the arbitration would have worked out as the first session would have been next week. But that all seems a bit redundant now. Also, at time of writing, they are still discussing whether or not they need a Code of Conduct, what should go into it, if it needs to be enforceable, and how. A discussion which has been going on for over a year. They (baring a few trying to push it to happen) just don't see the need.

To wrap up this long tale, yesterday a Consensus Proposal arrived on the mailing list. Two of the Board were supporting a new member's request to have their probationary period shortened (the usual period is three months) to less than a month. I asked why. I wasn't told. I said that it wasn't fair, it looked like favouritism, and that more justification needed to be given. Mailing listness happened, and I was forced into an official objection. To many I suppose I won the battle. But that's only if you completely miss the point.

I received the most condescending email I have ever received (and there's been a few) privately from one of the Board. I realised that I couldn't deny it anymore. Despite the best efforts of a great many people over the years, despite blood, sweat, and tears, my beloved hackerspace had abandoned their own ideals and become just another boys' club. Which broke my heart in ways I didn't think possible. So I quit, with barely a peep. And the (near) silence I got in return is proof enough that I did the right thing.

I truly, deeply, desperately, hope they can turn it around, that they can make it better. But I've no energy left to fight for something it appears nobody wants.

Updates of stuff

2013-Mar-12, Tuesday 09:01 pm
chebe: (Default)


Work has been keeping me busy so coherent ... speech stuff ... is little beyond me at the moment. (I'm going to a grammar workshop on Saturday, maybe that will help.) So this will be blessedly brief.

Those are crepe-paper cherry blossoms at the top. I roughly followed this tutorial, only I lack a tree branch.

I've taken to learning how to needle-felt. Here's my first attempt at a rectangle in green wool, and conductive stainless-steel fiber.



I've also been experimenting with fusible fibers (and sheets) together with conductive fibers as well.



In tangential news we got a 3D-printer. I haven't logged much time with it yet but am looking forward to some of the translucent and UV-reactive plastics.



Finally, to conclude, I'm going to be busy this year attending all the things.

April, Saturday 6th. Anime Dublin (facebook twitter) Showing people how to make LED-flowers.

April, Saturday 27th - Sunday 28th. MakerFaire UK (website twitter) Helping out at the TOG hackerspace table.

June, Friday 7th - Sunday 9th. GaelHack (website twitter) Doing... something.

July, Saturday 27th. MiniMakerFaire Dublin (website twitter) Again helping out TOG.

July, Wednesday 31st - August, Sunday 4th. O.H.M. (website twitter) Trying to forget that I dislike camping.

Now to find the energy required to do it all.
chebe: (StormyThoughts)
I came upon this post just before bed, and now am having trouble getting my ticking brain to sleep. These photos, reportedly the first colour photos ever taken in Ireland, are 99 years old. They represent some of the poorest people and places of that time, some of the furthest from Dublin, and some of those retaining most of the old native Irish way of life. These people were the neighbours of my ancestors; my grandparents' parents. Irish identity is a tricky thing, a nebulous thing. For so long the colonised, the Free State only 89 years old. The records of our recent past burnt in uprisings, the stone monuments of the ancient past strewn about the landscape. And in between only the stories. (This is a good podcast by the way, if you're interested in the old Irish stories.) Then out of the blue (I like to think of the internet as blue) comes these photos.

It struck me, looking at them, how many are doing something, associated with their craft. Which in turn reminds me of the Hands boxset of documentaries from the early 1960's about traditional crafts, with a focus on those dying out due to industrialisation. I come from a people that tell stories and make things. What with the nature of this blog and all, it just kind of resonates. And my, how the world has changed in a hundred years.

Some days are just *sigh*

2012-Sep-05, Wednesday 10:26 pm
chebe: (DarkStare)
Hello. Well, I was going to tell you about how I'm getting into making bags, show you a nifty little glasses case I made yesterday, and maybe go into some cool Lilypad related stuff. But. My home router decided to bork its own wireless functionality, I wasted an hour trying to fix it, and the helpdesk doesn't open until 9am. Then I thought, isn't technology grand, I'll just connect to the mobile internet through a hotspot on my phone. Yeah, except for some reason all my attempts at uploading photos result in nasty xml-tastic error messages. So I'm throwing in the towel and putting on a few CDs for the rest of the evening. Oh, and things will be back to normal (more regular like) around here shortly, presuming the internet starts working again.

Well that's cool

2012-Apr-12, Thursday 09:35 pm
chebe: (AliceWithTea)
A short post, just because I think this is a brilliant idea; a hackerspace, a safe space for women and mothers, and the icing on the cake, child-care! Mothership hackermoms. I look forward to more innovations on the hackerspace model, it promises to be interesting :)

*edit* Forgot to give props to Julie for finding the link.

Checking in

2012-Apr-08, Sunday 04:22 pm
chebe: (HandAgainstGlass)
Hi! Still really really busy, but that should be easing up a little in the next few weeks. In the meantime if you find yourself missing my ramblings (ha!) I've written a short Intro to IRC and Intro to Mailing Lists for tog. I'm thinking of doing another one on website certs, and email signing/encryption, but I doubt they will be the least bit short.

For instance, tog got itself a cert from cacert.org. It is not one of the Certification Authorities (CAs) trusted by default in many browsers, but is a not-for-profit and popular amongst security/computer folk. In order to use the tog website in https you either have to accept the cert when the browser gives you a warning, or import the Class 3 cert before visiting the page.

Other than that I'm just spamming my twitter with links, and not enjoying my distinct lack of chocolate this day. Okay then, back to assignments! ... *sigh*
chebe: (Default)
/me is here. /me is just very very busy. But, just back from Vancouver, Canada. Expect photos. ... Eventually.

A short aside

2011-Dec-15, Thursday 02:50 pm
chebe: (Wild)
Half the screen on my laptop is broken, and at six years of age the insurance has expired. This means a momentous event is about to occur, the New Laptop. And I'm getting all excited. It's coming with Windows 7 (which I haven't tried yet), so I think I'm going to have to dual-boot it with linux. Probably Fedora, but I'll have to try a Live CD first to see if the USB problems I went through are hardware/driver specific. I have an existing Windows XP VM I'll probably set up under linux too. And I'm thinking of setting up a lamp stack on CentOS to play around with WordPress. Which means I might have use of the IE-testing VMs Microsoft made up. Also a full Eclipse set-up for Android development might be fun. Then there's also the software/IDEs for my music player and xBees that are Windows-only. Can I set-up my VMs in a third partition and have them happily accessed from either OS? That'd be neat. And a media partition too, which I could set up with rsync to external backup. Am I going to need software version control, if for nothing else then Arduino code? If so, which one? ... Maybe this is all just overkill. Then again, I am a computer geek ;) Oh the things I'm going to learn!
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