A call to hackerspaces to join HITB Haxpo & HackWEEKDAY 2014 in Amsterdam at the end of May

It is just barely 2 weeks away when it will be time for hackers and geeks of the world to gather in the city of Amsterdam for the annual Hack In The Box Security Conference in Europe. Taking place at the iconic Beurs van Berlage from the 27th till the 30th of May. This year’s event is going to be special, not only because HITB will be celebrating its 5th annual HITB Security Conference with an all-women keynote lineup, but also an all new event, which the HITB Crew calls HITB Haxpo or hacker expo!

This all-new Haxpo will run alongside the usual triple-track HITB Security Conference. Think of Haxpo as bringing the best of Mobile World Congress (MWC) and Makerfaire under one roof with security overlay and strong emphasis on technology and innovation. This event is geared towards the community of hackers interested in software/network security, makers interested in 3D printing, Arduino, etc., builders who are interested in software development and hackathons, and breakers who are interested in physical security, embedded and pushing the limits of technology. This event is also aimed at members of the public for themselves to get immersed in the latest enterprise and consumer technology from anchor participants like Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Adobe and DELL, etc. Haxpo also features the Dutch and EU based hackerspaces, makers with 3D printers, laser cutters, a lock picking village run by The Open Organization of Lockpickers (TOOOL), a Capture The Flag (CTF) security competition and HackWEEKDAY – a hackathon of assorted technologies by Mozilla Corporation and Facebook. It also features a category to build, code, compete using LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robots. The entrance to the 3-day Haxpo and HackWEEKDAY is completely FREE! The full 3-day agenda for Haxpo is here: http://haxpo.nl/hitb2014ams-haxpo/

Interested to take part?

HITB is currently looking for hackerspaces to participate at the 3-day Haxpo but are also inviting individuals or teams of builder/coders to sign up for HackWEEKDAY – The 3-day long LEGO Mindstorm EV3 robotics challenge. This category is an all-new addition to the usual HackWEEKDAY software development challenge, geared towards developers/builders who are keen to work with hardware parts and bringing them alive with writing software to solve a specific problem.

This 3-day long LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robotic challenge runs for 8 hours per day, starting on the 27th, until 30th of May. The challenge on the third day after 13:37 CET is for the participants to use the built EV3 robots to colour sort the most number of M&M’s peanuts in 120 seconds. The first day is considered to be a day for building the robots and getting to know the different parts of the EV3 robotic kit, coming up with a design for the competition on the 30th. The second day is for coding the EV3 robot using LEGO Mindstorms’ simple icon based software. There are 3 prizes to be won for the challenge; .edu LEGO Mindstorms EV3 kit for 1st, 250Euro, 150Euro for 2nd and 3rd, respectively. Participating in HackWEEKDAY’s LEGO challenge not only gives you access to HITB Haxpo’s high-speed internet, food and drinks, but also a complimentary pass to the HITB Security Conference on 29th-30th of May, which is valued at EUR1337. What is the most exciting thing about that? The registration to HackWEEKDAY is completely FREE and you get all that extra goodness.

Keen to show the rest of EU and the world your robot building and coding skills? You can find out more and sign up for HackWEEKDAY at the link below:  http://haxpo.nl/hitb2014ams-hackweekday/

International Open Day for hackerspaces, 29 March 2014

hackerspaces_openday***From the wiki***

Just like the past three years, the hackerspace community will open their doors to the public, at Saturday the 29th of March 2014.

Designing 3D printed cookie cutters, make your own soap, milling furniture, adjusting the colors of your living room lamps to the movie you’re watching and checking how secure Whatsapp really is. It’s all possible in a hackerspace.
A hackerspace is an environment where creative, legal, technical and other interested people join together to work on, think about and talk over a wide variety of subjects. “Some of these projects are really practical, others are more “because we can”. What is always the same is our goal to gather knowledge, work together and share our knowledge”, thus, founder of hackerspace Frack, Jildou Gerritsma.

The members of the Dutch hackerspaces demonstrate this goal to share their knowledge by inviting all the curious people to come by and see what’s possible. It will soon become clear that hacking is not only a thing that will take place behind a computerscreen.
Hackerspace Bitlair, in Amersfoort, is working on a lasercutter, in the Amsterdam hackerspace, techinc, there are two 3D printers and hackerspace Frack in Leeuwarden build a large CNC cutter. “The hackerspaces like to supplement each other and work together where possible. This way we can learn from each others faults, increase our knowledge and will we be able to offer a wide variety of projects all around the country”, explains Dave Borghuis, the founder of Tkkrlab.

Next to building machines, members also work on projects to, for example, remotely open the front door of their space, or to adjust the temperature of multiple areas via the internet. There’s also a collaboration with a library to teach kids how to solder, there are privacy workshops on multiple locations and spaces work together with municipalities regarding security and open data.

The open day will be a colorful whole, with activities spread all through the country. Every hackerspace will have their own interpretation. An overview of activities and opening times can be found on the website of the participating space.
Everybody is welcome to come over. Doors will be opened from 10am and around 17 the day program will come to an end. Some spaces are also open in the evening.

Registration is not necessary, but it’s appreciated if the press will make mention of themselves beforehand.

Participating spaces are:

* Wien, Metalab – https://metalab.at

* Campinas: LHC – http://lhc.net.br

* Siegen, Hackspace Siegen – http://www.hasi.it

* Belfast : Farset Labs – http://farsetlabs.org.uk

12 Dutch hackerspaces are joining

* Almere: Sk1llz – http://sk1llz.nl/
* Amersfoort: Bitlair – http://bitlair.nl/
* Amsterdam: Technologia Incognita – http://techinc.nl/
* Amsterdam: LAG – http://laglab.org/
* Arnhem: Hack42 – http://hack42.nl/
* Den Haag: Revelation Space – http://revspace.nl/
* Eindhoven : MADspace – http://madspace.nl/
* Enschede: TkkrLab – http://tkkrlab.nl/
* Heerlen: ACKspace – https://ackspace.nl/
* Leeuwarden: Frack – http://frack.nl/
* Utrecht: RandomData – http://www.randomdata.nl
* Wageningen: NURDspace – http://nurdspace.nl/

====United Kingdom====
* Belfast : Farset Labs – http://farsetlabs.org.uk
* Reading : RMS Rlab Makerspace – http://rlab.org.uk

Diversity and the hacker scene

No matter how you slice it, the hacker scene is not a terrible diverse one. And yes, there are a few hackerspaces that are outliers. By and large there are a few certainties when walking into a hackerspace:

  • LEDs, lots of LEDs
  • Defunct 3D-printers
  • Upper-middle-class white males

Is that a problem? Yes it is, according to the hacker ethic. To quote Richard M. Stallman:

The hacker ethic refers to the feelings of right and wrong, to the ethical ideas this community of people had — that knowledge should be shared with other people who can benefit from it, and that important resources should be utilized rather than wasted.

Unless you define “other people” as upper-middle-class white dudes and the rest of  humanity as non-people, hackerspaces and hacker events clearly fail this ethic merely by their lack of diversity.  Since I am a white upper-middle-class dude myself, I am not terribly likely to figure out the fix for this since I’m quite likely to be part of the problem. Nonetheless this is about sharing a bunch of half-baked, slightly-assorted thoughts on contributing factors to the problem.

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Redefining Hackerspaces.

photo by :sfslim

Disclaimer: These are opinions. You may not like them. These things happen when you express opinions.

In 2007, at the 24th Chaos Computer Congress the first effort at drafting design patterns was attempted. At the CCC Camp that same year, hackers on a plane brought Americans to Europe en masse for the first time to experience a far more vibrant hacker culture than existed in the US, at that time. Americans returned, and two new American hackerspaces sprung up. The first of many new spaces. The first drops in what would become a worldwide deluge.

5 years on, I find that a lot of the excitement that I was wrapped up in in 2007 has gone. What was once new, and full of promise, is now very much real, and part of the day to day humdrum routine of life. Hackerspaces are now so common place as to afford the term an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary. Hackerspaces.org’s blog hasn’t been updated in a year. Because honestly, what is there to say that we don’t already know? The new hackerspace smell is gone.

At one of the earliest NYC Resistor meetings Bre said “This thing isn’t real until it’s been around for five years.” Bre was trying to make a point about how much can happen in five years and why we’d need to plan for the things we didn’t see as being immediate concerns. He was right, more right I think, than he could ever have imagined. In the next 5 years of Resistor’s existence we saw enough members move to California to start a space there. And others move to even more far flung regions of the world. We’ve seen members marry, have kids, and start companies. One of those companies exploding out into the world, and maybe exploding a bit inside of itself as well. I myself, ended up spending a couple years at NASA Ames working on a wildly successful Open Source project. Something I would never have thought possible at the time. And, now after three years in California, I find myself back in NYC taking stock of things.

I think I have a message for Hackerspaces. One that I think is of critical importance. An addendum to the Design Patterns. Something new, that’s worth saying. At the 5 year mark, I find that my definition of hackerspace has changed.

Read more “Redefining Hackerspaces.”

The MakerBot/Thingiverse move to the Dark Side (Updated)

NYC-Resistor offshoot and a generally speaking cool company MakerBot Industries has caused a sudden uproar which seems not to subside. MakerBot has introduced two new successors in their Replicator series of 3D-printers, the Replicator 2 and the Replicator 2X, that for the first time in MakerBot history are not open hardware. Probably not coincidentally, people started to notice that Thingiverse, the online repository of 3D-designs which is also run by MakerBot Industries had changed its terms of use last February. I will quote the bit that has caused quite an uproar in verbatim:

3.2 License. You hereby grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to Company and its affiliates and partners, an irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free and fully paid, worldwide license to reproduce, distribute, publicly display and perform, prepare derivative works of, incorporate into other works, and otherwise use your User Content, and to grant sublicenses of the foregoing, solely for the purposes of including your User Content in the Site and Services. You agree to irrevocably waive (and cause to be waived) any claims and assertions of moral rights or attribution with respect to your User Content.

The relevant bit of the old terms of use read as follows:

However, by posting, uploading, inputting, providing or submitting your content to Thingiverse.com, you are granting Thingiverse.com, its affiliated companies and partners, a worldwide, revocable, royalty-free, non-exclusive, sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, create derivative works of, distribute, publicly perform, publicly display, transfer, transmit, distribute and publish that content for the purposes of displaying that content on Thingiverse.com and on other Web sites, devices and/or platforms.

The significant difference being that in the old terms of use the license had a limited scope, ‘use, reproduce, create derivative works of, display, transfer, transmit, distribute and publish’ , being the operatives. As a lawyer I tend to struggle with the application of copyright notions to open hardware, but precisely because open hardware and copyright are a poor match, the scope of this license was very much limited to Thingiverse-like platforms. As Bre Pettis wrote in his earlier blog on the change of the terms of use: this bit was probably nicked from the YouTube terms of use or those of a similar content-sharing platform. The net result was that this caused an inadvertent limitation on MakerBot Industries ability to incorporate stuff uploaded to Thingiverse in non-free open hardware products. Because selling a 3D-printer most likely does not fall within the scope of ‘the purpose of displaying that content..’, the newer terms of use however allow for such a thing.

Now these are both decidedly moves away from the openness that MakerBot was evangelizing in the past. Josef Prusa, of RepRap fame, has already started a Occupy Thingiverse movement and others in the community have responded so unfavourably that Bre Pettis, MakerBot Industries CEO and figurehead felt compelled to write a blog titled ‘fixing misinformation with information’ about it. In which he provides an argument that boils down “we haven’t figured out yet how to kick-start a hardware company with venture capital and remaining fully open at the same time. But trust us, we’ll be as open as possible, whatever ‘possible’ means”.  Which is about as tangible as Mitt Romney’s promises for the policies he’ll enact when elected president. Mind you, this section 3.2 of the Thingiverse terms of use is comparable to what is known in free and open software circles as a contribution license agreement. There are are all sorts of ways and purposes for which these are used and having been part of an effort to harmonize these I won’t say it is an inherently evil thing to do.

What is less-than-awesome is the way both changes have been enacted by MakerBot Industries. It is one thing to publicly announce that you’re having to compromise on openness because building an open hardware business model is still pretty much uncharted territory and that you’re moving back to some enclosure and also stating what your goals for future openness are. It is another thing to do kind of omit it in the fanfare surrounding the launch of a new generation of your products, a new generation whose polish was made possible to a significant extent by all the people willing to put up with all the quirks, bugs and sometimes outright braindead engineering decisions embodied in your earlier generations, just because an open 3D-printing future is awesome.

It is outright underhanded to use the same legal tricks outright evil companies such as Facebook and Apple use for the terms of use of a website you awesomely started to create an ecosystem to change the playing field that you can reuse the fruits of other people’s labour and creativity in any way you see fit. Again, you could have announced that due to the different economics of tangible goods versus those of pure information, you’ll need to be able to do stuff that is not necessarily congruent with openness. If done so in advance, the uproar could possibly be equally as bad, but would eventually subside. Especially if you made it clear that if you were actually using a design contributed by a Thingiverse user, you’d be reimbursing them. In fact, MakerBot has already done so, without even being obliged to do so. So if you are already doing something that is acceptable, why not be transparant about it? Because that is what it all boils down: MakerBot betrayed the massive amount of trust it had and makes it worse by telling the community which calls it out for it to trust it even more. And this is what really baffles me. The world of open source is littered with projects that collapsed after a major actor in that community decided to enclose it. Who remembers Mambo? The fork away from OpenOffice.org to LibreOffice because none trusts Oracle? The current forks of MySQL, for precisely the same reason? Or closer to home, Junior Veloso who pulled a similar stunt resulting inbeing overtaken by B9Creator? MakerBot explicitly set out to create a community-based ecosystem, both on the 3D-printer hardware side and the 3D-design side of things. Put a massive effort into that, especially communication. And it is all being thrown away. With platforms like Github available, a Thingiverse contender can easily be created. And then what? MakerBot Industries still won’t have the control it apparantly craved and nothing to show for it to its venture capital funders. I just don’t get it. For now I’ll steer clear from Thingiverse and will suggest others to do the same.

(Updated after the break)

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Help Hackitat make a documentary film about hackers world wide

You can help them out on: http://www.indiegogo.com/hackitat-a-film-about-political-hacking-world-wide by donate and/or spread the word.

On the 29th of November 2009 Malmö’s hackerspace Forskningsavdelningen was raided by masked riot police.

Armed with batons and pepper spray they stormed the social center where the hackerspace housed and confiscated computers and other technical equipment.

One of the people detained was a hacker named mackt. With a background in The Pirate Bay, for him the raid was yet another proof of society’s mistrust and lack of understanding of hacker culture.

After the incident he wanted to do something about the distorted image of hackers. He contacted the film collective RåFILM in Malmö and the idea was born to make a documentary that explains the political aspects of hacker culture beyond the simplifications and preconceptions.

The film will take them out on a long trip to the famous and infamous hackers and activists around the world, hackers that express themselves artistically and politically through technology. What are their motivations? What are the politics and activism hacker culture has shaped out? How does this impact our world? The film will feature unique encounters with people that usually elude the public. It will crash land in the middle of the conflict currently taking place between those who want to keep the technology and the Internet free and those who want to control it.


Make Something

The challenge for the June Synchronous Hackathon is inspired by Adam Savage the co-host of MythBusters, who gave a talk a couple of weeks ago at Maker Faire Bay Area 2012.

In Adam’s talk titled “Why We Make”, he describes how and why we are compelled to make the things we make. He also introduces the following manifesto:

“It doesn’t matter what you make and it doesn’t matter why, the importance is that you are making something.”

So to support this manifesto I’m asking hackerspaces worldwide to take part in the Synchronous Hackathon over the weekend of the 16th and 17th of June.

And the challenge for members and visitors is very simple “Make Something”.

Some thoughts on personal fabrication

One of the buzzwords doing the rounds in the past few years is ‘personal fabrication’. The idea that in the foreseeable future we all will be able to fabricate our own stuff. And although the founder of the fablab phenomenon, MIT professor Neil Gershenfeld, is pretty nuanced about it (watch his TED talk on the subject), some are actually talking about upsetting the traditional supply chains for manufactured goods. It actually is one of the stated goals of the Global Village Construction Set project by Open Source Ecology. The heavily ajective-laden newspeak of their website, this is actually a cool project. Watch Marcin Jakubowski’s TED talk about it. Also read Far McKon’s rather thoughtful criticism of it on his blog. The snark in me prevents me from omitting that the Open Source Ecology are doing everything in imperial measurements. Which aren’t quite useful for your stated target audience: farmers and villagers in the developing world. Get with the program guys, use metric!

Other than that, I find any ideas on reducing our interdependencies a bit interesting. There are a few snags here and there. First of all, economies of scale matter. They matter a great deal. Actually, a lot of the activity in hackerspaces would be impossible weren’t it for the fact that China has become our global workshop. There is no way other than massive robot usage in which we can ever dream to meet the current price-performance ratio of the Chinese manufacturing base. Also, do not forget that current shipping all over the globe is probably one of the last things to survive through the permanent oil crisis we have just entered. Simply because the energy expended lugging that container full of stepper motors for your repraps from Shanghai to Rotterdam or San Diego is actually pretty low. A shame that those massive container behemoths burn really dirty oil for that. Not even the next leg, either inland shipping over the river Rhine or over rail from San Diego elsewhere in the USA (granted, electrifying US rail networks would be a big win and will be inevitable). It is the last hundred or so kilometers that are the really energy-intensive part of those steppers’ journey.

Personal fabrication only makes sense for niche products such as spare parts and when access to the world’s supply chains is not really affordable. Which indeed means the developing world, but perhaps also rural communities in a not so distant future in which the world has stopped shrinking and has expanded again because oil is not so cheap anymore.

All of this does not mean that the GVCS is not an incredibly interesting idea that doesn’t deserve support. It also doesn’t mean distract one jota from the fact that affordable CNC-machines and additive manufacturing will make craftmanship accessible again, without the five years minimum you have to spend to get a skillset need for say, advanced woodworking. In the past lots of us had great ideas that would require the collaboration of several disciplines and therefore execution would be difficult. Now that lasercutters,CNC-mills and 3D-printers are within reach of hobbyists and hackerspaces, these barriers are crumbling. Atoms may or may not become bits, but lasercutters are cool!

Global Hackerspace Cupcake Challenge 2012

This weekend the 18th and 19th of February will be the second Global Hackerspace Cupcake Challenge.

Hackerspaces worldwide are challenged to bake, decorate and package a single cupcake and send it to another hackerspace. The receiving hackerspace will then open and judge on various topics including decoration, condition and taste.

Full details are included on the Global Hackerspace Cupcake Challenge 2012 wiki page.

Below you can see last years winner denhac from Denver, US which was recieved and judged by NESIT Connecticut, US.