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.
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.

TOG at the Exchange

2014-Jan-20, Monday 09:00 pm
chebe: (WalkSign)
Our hackerspace is currently showing off some projects at the Exchange. Among the projects are the constellation quilts we made for MakerFaire Dublin last year.

Always with the last minute )

View from street through window of the Exchange. The quilts are visible on the back wall, behind other LED projects from TOG.

Display at the Exchange, from street
Photo by chebe



So if you get a chance pop down to the Exchange and have a look. They're a great group and do some really cool stuff. You'll be glad you did.
chebe: (WalkSign)
The first GaelHack took place a couple of weeks ago, the weekend of Friday 7th to Sunday 9th of June. It was a nice way to start a new tradition, with about twenty people from all over Ireland attending. (I think all but two of the hackerspaces were represented.) It was held on a scorcher of a weekend, in a boarding-school-converted-into-Scouts-Centre, with the option of camping or boarding in the hostel like rooms.

We took over a large room with a bunch of tables and chairs, set up the projector, and got started. There were a few presentations, a couple of hands-on workshops, and a few excursions out-of-doors into the beautiful sunshine to play with aerials and satellites. And to get the occasional ice-cream. In some ways the location was ideal (sunshine, quiet, facilities), but it did lack in some respects (insufficient internet, barely any phone signal, children everywhere). It was definitely a good start though, and at the end there was a great discussion, with people from different hackerspaces volunteering to look around their own localities for alternatives. I'm looking forward to next years. (There's a very thorough write-up by another attendee on the way, I'll link to it here when it's live. *EDIT* link)

Throughout the activities, in spare cycles, we worked on our own projects. It struck me how awkward Ardunio can be when you don't have an awful lot of internet to go looking for, and downloading, documents, tutorials, and libraries. But I persevered, emboldened by fellow attendees reminding me that there is almost always a library out there already. I got started learning to use I2C, real-time-clocks, and seven-segment-displays. Obviously I built a clock. This is the first step towards something else, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Arduino Uno, (you can ignore the MicroSD-shield, it's not doing anything here,) Sparkfun Real Time Clock Module, Adafruit 4-digit 7-segment display. The display requires you to install two libraries details here, and even though I'm using the Sparkfun RTC it uses the same chip as the Adafruit one, and Adafruit provide a library here.

The only gotcha that I ran into is that the RTC time is not set, and it is not running when you get it. (It also needs to be hooked up to 5V, otherwise when you query it you get a nonsense response.) To set the time to the time on your computer there's a section in the Adafruit example setup().
  if (! RTC.isrunning()) {
    Serial.println("RTC is NOT running!");
    // following line sets the RTC to the date & time this sketch was compiled
    RTC.adjust(DateTime(__DATE__, __TIME__));
  }

By default it doesn't execute. I had to remove the not to get it to run, i.e.
  if (RTC.isrunning()) {


You only need dto do this whenever you want to change the time, so ideally just the once. After that I just played around with the display, and got the colon blinking like commercial digital clocks.

Photo and video )
chebe: (Default)
Bear with me, this is going to be a long post.

This Saturday just gone, July 14th, was Dublin's first Mini Maker Faire! It was held in the Science Gallery and on the Physics Lawn of Trinity College. I was there as a part of TOG, the Dublin maker/hacker-space. It was a fantastic day. So many people showed up who already knew a lot and came up with interesting questions and ideas. Some people were just wandering through Trinity like they do every weekend and were a little confounded to find us there. Yet others showed up wearing ESOF lanyards! I'm sad I didn't get to see much of the other makers or exhibits, things were just so hectic! It certainly seemed like everyone was having a good time.

Maker Faire )

TOG's new tshirt )


Projects

Arduino IR receiver )

LED matrix top )

Constellation Quilts )

Well, I fairly collapsed with exhaustion about 4pm (missing the after-party and everything), but up until that point it was a great day and I'm already looking forward to next year!

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: (OnTheVergeOfSomethingWonderful)
The Electro-Sewing Workshop was last Friday, and I feel it went very well. Even with starting on Irish-Standard-Time and forcing the class to sit through a slide-deck, there were seven very pretty LED-flowers two-and-a-half hours later. Definitely a success!

Here's a couple of pics from the night.



Aren't they pretty! I am planning to write up a how-to for these, but truth be known, they follow essentially the same method as for the LED-horns from last year. Nonetheless, people seemed rather enthused about the whole experience :)

I've also gotten my hands on the new LilyPad ProtoSnap Development Board. It's very nifty; all the main components of the LilyPad range, pre-connected on one board! So you can practice your programming, or simply getting the components to work together the way you want, without having to worry about any of that sewing malarkey. Then, if you want, you can snap the pieces apart and sew them into an actual project!

I plugged it in just yesterday and was highly amused to find a pre-loaded program that tests most of the components (make sure to play with the switches!). But, looking closely, I've noticed that only the RGB-LED, the five white LEDs, and the momentary push-button are connected to actual sew-holes on the Simple Microcontroller Board. The rest of them are connected through paths that would be available on the full Microcontroller Board, but that aren't exposed on the Simple board. Makes sense, seeing as how the LEDs/button take up all the existing holes! (Still, I imagine the numbers printed on next to the other components could get confusing for someone just starting out. Speaking of, there's a nice tutorial available to get you up and running.)

And all this has inspired me to maybe run a LilyPad course in tog in January. We'll see.


In other news, I don't have any photos from Octocon, but we made the same flowers as shown above, and you can check out the photos from Darklight (where I spent some time teaching people to solder) in the Gallery. (Can you spot me, or rather my Dresden Dolls hoodie?) That's almost it for my busy October. *phew*

Pictures!

2011-Oct-12, Wednesday 04:27 pm
chebe: (MangaMe)
The Basic Hand-Sewing Workshop was yesterday at tog. I still have to work on my handouts, and really nail down the drawstring bag project, but otherwise it went well and I met some very nice people!

Here's a couple of pics from the night.




Basic hand-sewing is a pre-requisite for the Electro-sewing workshop coming up next week, and I think everyone will be more than able to handle it :)

Speaking of electro-craft, you can check out the pictures from Electric Picnic in the Gallery.

Just checking in

2011-Oct-10, Monday 11:09 am
chebe: (WalkSign)
Okay, I've done it again, I've left it too long without posting! I am working on finishing up two projects (which I won't talk about until they're finished), I've been prelaundering fabric, and getting ready for a series of short workshops. And that's before we get to regular life stuff! I'm a busy chebe.

Tomorrow (Tuesday 11th) I'm running a basic hand-sewing workshop in tog.
This weekend (Saturday 15th) I'm running at least one electro-craft workshop at Octocon. It'll be making the LED-flowers we made at Electric picnic. And it's the first step in a series of projects of ever increasing complexity to get you comfortable with etextiles.
And if you can't make Octocon, don't worry, because we'll be running the same workshop in tog, on Friday 21st!
On Saturday 22nd I'll be helping out the tog guys run some workshops at Darklight (and a couple of my projects might be on display the Friday before).
Then the following weekend I'll be hanging around Gaelcon, just for fun, and desperately trying to finish my Hallowe'en costume! (Ideas, quick, I need ideas! ... and sleep.)

I'll try to post some content as we go along, but it's a busy month!
chebe: (Default)
Do I know how to make a wallet or bag? No, but I'm going to make one anyway. Do I intend to use a pattern or instructions of any kind? No, I'm just going to figure it out as I go along. This is what I consider the Synchronous Hackathon Challenges to be about; jumping in and making it up as you go along! This month, the weekend just gone, was the Money Bag Challenge.

I've had the idea to try my hand at making small bags recently, and have been examining the ones already in my possession for ideas on how to construct them, so this Challenge was the kick I needed to get started. But I just can't seem to do just one thing; so as well as making a wallet/bag for the first time, I've added RFID-shielding, and internal LEDs!

Details... )

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