So I am in the Cambridge (Boston) Area, What to Do?

Hey y'all, missed your resident Texan? Probably not... Anyways I'm starting my freshman college year by spending a semester at Harvard, attending Harvard Extension School. I've got (for now) a nice helping of free time. Any recommendations on places to go, people to see? MIT open build nights still alive and kickin'? Once I draw up a nice Ibles Robot, expect some images of him making appearances all across the Harvard campus.  Thanks! Kent

Posted by KentsOkay 7 years ago


MIT Electronic Research Society

Hey!If you're around on Friday Nights, come to MITERS!We have build parties every Friday from 7:30 on, at N52-115.We're a bunch of students with a penchant for inventionWho run this complete machine shop, EE lab, and creative haven, with lots of space for large projects.Everything goes, from motorcycles to electronic clothing, with a good helping of logic, lasers, microcontrollers and motors.Instructables itself came out of MITERS!Here's our instructables group.Here's our website.Here's our location.

Posted by stasterisk 10 years ago


The power of the mind...

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipomnartt! Can you understand this? Does it make any sense? I know I could read it. Can YOU? NOTE: Yes, this is more legible than certain Instructables and forum topics are. Irony?

Posted by whatsisface 10 years ago


Large Boston-Area Cooperative Fabrication Facility Seeks Members

A friend writes:Need to do some machining? How about electronic assembly? Want to join a community of other people who are doing the same sorts of things?A new collaborative fabrication facility is starting up in Somerville, and it's seeking additional members. This will be a nonprofit enterprise, supporting the rental of space and buying additional high-end tools via memberships. A membership gets you access to three different spaces:o A 2500-square-foot wood- and metalworking shop in Union Square, with industrial-sized table saws, lathes, mills, drill presses, grinders, sanders, MiG and TiG welders, and so forth.o A smaller fab shop in Davis Sq with smaller and/or lighter-duty versions of some of the same tools, for smaller projects.o An adjacent space for hacking electronics, soldering, hanging out, using computers, etc. This space is likely to have a darkroom as well.The current plan is to have the two smaller spaces available 24x7, and the larger space available all day and evening but probably not overnight.This venture is just coming up; the spaces will be available for use around Oct 1, and tours can be arranged beforehand. We've had several introductory meetings to tell people about the space & will likely have another one soon if there's additional interest.We're already mostly at the number of members required to break even; additional memberships will help pay for higher-end stuff like lasercutters and so forth. If this turns out to be so popular that the shops are likely to be too crowded, there will be a waiting list for those who sign up too late.Membership prices currently range from $100/month to $1000/year, with various amounts of storage on-site if desired. Membership prices for those who join after the introductory period will likely be higher, to help support buying more expensive toys.Some early pictures of the larger space are below (taken during a tour a month or so ago); not every tool that might appear in the pictures will be there when it opens, and there will be significant improvements in the space sometime soon, but it should give you an idea. The other two spaces don't have photos available yet (in fact, we're currently doing demolition & remodelling in one this week).http://flickr.com/photos/27076997@N00/sets/72157603801290559/https://www.new.facebook.com/album.php?aid=144093&l=31aac&id=769825583More info:http://willoughbybaltic.squarespace.com/http://willoughbybaltic.squarespace.com/new/big-changes-at-wb.htmlTo sign up, go to:https://mgarniss.wufoo.com/forms/member-application/

Posted by ewilhelm 9 years ago


Strawberry Fair: Cambridge (Englandshire), Sat 6-06-2009

Strawberry FairIt's a music, arts and crafts festival in Cambridge. What more do you need? As it turns out, I was looking at a room for rent, and the guy I spoke to had an arduino, laptop, webcam and servo being wired together on the table. I asked him a) what it was (answer "a gothometer")b) if he read any tech blogs (answer: Instructables was mentioned)and told him to take some photos and write it up, because as a project it would probably be feature-worthy.My rambling anecdotes aside, are any of the UK 'Iblers interested? There will be crafts, leftfield things to see and wireless internet access (and, of course, a beautiful city with many good sandwich shops). I fully intend to go (the location is almost across the road from my prospective new house) and will write up if there's anything worth writing up.

Posted by PKM 9 years ago


Cambridge Science Festival

I hope this is not a repeat, but I have read that the Cambridge Science Festival will be held on March 10-20 in Cambridge, EnglandCambridge Science FestivalGrand Opening EventCarol Vorderman, the Vice-Chancellor and aliens from Dr Who will open the Festival and invite you to discover the world of Science.With activities exploring the South Pole to China, there's something to suit all ages. This does look like it is an event aimed mostly at the younger crowd, however.

Posted by Goodhart 10 years ago


Mini Maker Faire during Cambridge Science Festival

On May 7th there's going to be a Mini Maker Faire as part of the Cambridge Science Festival. I participated last year and it was a lot of fun, and I'll be there again along with some other folks from the Boston area. The science festival goes on from April 30-May 8 so there are a lot of other cool things to check out there too. If you are going I'd love to chat with you at my Soft Circuit Saturdays booth : ) It'd be nice to meet some more local makers around here.

Posted by the_gella 7 years ago


Pearl Art Supply in San Francisco Closing Sale - also Cambridge, Iselin and Los Angeles

The Pearl Art and Craft Store on Market Street in San Francisco is closing on Feb 14th. Everything is 75% off now. 969 Market Street San Francisco, CA 94103-1701 (415) 357-1400 It is a big art and craft store - 3 floors. Lots of great stuff. Click on the link. I just did and found that stores are also closing in Cambridge, Iselin, NJ, and Los Angeles.

Posted by SFHandyman 8 years ago


Show & Tell, Fall 2007

A bunch of cool people came together all at once, and showed off their cool projects. Here they are, live-blogged right from my desk in Cambridge!

Posted by stasterisk 10 years ago


Any IE/UK Friends?

Hey everybody! I've ventured outside of Maine and the USA, and I'm currently staying with my grandparents in Falcarragh, Co Donegal, Ireland. Does anyone else live around here? And the second week of August I'll be visiting more family Cambridge and Oxford. Who lives nearby?

Posted by rogers236 9 years ago


We should have known the Swiss were just copying...

Thanks to the great folks at MAKE for letting me stumble across this! The Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge has a 2300 year old Roman multitool, with eating utensils, picks, and the same sort of unidentifiable weirdities the Swiss are famous for.

Posted by kelseymh 7 years ago


World's most efficient solar dish? - MIT

A team led by Massachusetts Institute of Technology students last week successfully tested a prototype of what it says may be the "most cost-efficient solar-power system in the world," revolutionizing global energy production.The 12-foot-wide dish, made of a lightweight frame of thin aluminum tubing and mirror strips, concentrates sunlight by a factor of 1,000, according to the Cambridge, Mass., university. It can create heat intense enough to melt a bar of steel. More from ZDNet

Posted by Goodhart 10 years ago


HELP & ADVICE WANTED TO MAKE COMPLETE CANVAS COVER FOR MY YURT PLEASE !!

Having built my first yurt frame many years ago it has been in storage as I have been unable to manage sewing the cover, walls etc. I am staffing a kids camp in the summer as a volunteer and would love to be able to use the Yurt, so Iam hoping someone out there can help me make the skin, I will fund the canvas etc. As a woodworker myself perhaps we could trade skills ? who knows ?? I look forward to hearing from anyone who can help, and I am based near Royston & Cambridge

Asked by 9 years ago


Rolson hand tool sale?

Not sure if this is a local thing or whether it's also going on elsewhere, but Tesco in Cambridge is having a sale on Rolson tools: I got a pair of safety goggles, four pack of clamps and a junior hacksaw for a pound each, and there's more (mostly hand tools) to be had.  I know all the adages about buying cheap tools, but at that price I'd happily use them as raw materials for a one-off make.   UKinese members, check out the hardware aisle in your local big Tesco, thar be (potentially) bargains.  Now I'll have to work out something to do with them all...

Posted by PKM 6 years ago


Do It Yourself Genetic Engineering

From New ScientistKATHERINE AULL's laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, lacks a few mod cons. "Down here I have a thermocycler I bought on eBay for 59 bucks," she says, pulling out a large, box-shaped device she uses to copy short strands of DNA. "The rest is just home brew," she adds, pointing to a centrifuge made out of a power drill and plastic food container, and a styrofoam incubator warmed with a heating pad normally used in terrariums.In fact, Aull's lab is a closet less than 1 square metre in size in the shared apartment she lives in. Yet amid the piles of clothes she recently concocted vials of an entirely new genetically modified organism....Read the whole article in New Scientist

Posted by kelseymh 9 years ago


Boston Skillshare: this weekend at the MIT Stata Center

For the Boston-area folks, this looks like fun -- it's a skillshare weekend full of workshops on everything from drag king performance to moped restoration to embroidery to electronics to home brewing. from the Boston Skillshare website:what it is:the boston skillshare is an annual donation-based weekend event that brings people together to share practical skills. we aim to create a temporary space for people to share practical skills, which help us to live happily, creatively and sustainably. the emphasis is on action over theory, participation over talk. we want to live with enthusiasm, so let us learn with vigor!when and how:this year, we'll be at MIT's Stata Center (32 vassar street) in cambridge on saturday and sunday, april 5 & 6 from 11am - 6:30pm. $3-10 sliding scale donation and/or volunteer to help.List of workshops here.

Posted by reno_dakota 10 years ago


Without Hot Air: Mackay's new Book on Global Warming

My friend told me about a new book by David Mackay. I've added screenshots of two of the really nice graphs he put together in his book. Says my friend:Forwarded Message:David Mackay, Cambridge U Physics Professor and a flat-out rockstar inthe field of statistical inference, has written a book on SustainableEnergy, which he is (as usual) giving away for free on his website. http://www.withouthotair.com/There's also a few slide decks for the overview: http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/mackay/and a blog: http://withouthotair.blogspot.com/I'm not much through it yet, but the gist seems to be putting realnumbers on the size of the energy problem, much as Saul Griffith hasbeen doing. It's written in his usual style, which is to say it readslike common sense you feel you should have known all along.

Posted by nagutron 10 years ago


Boston-Area Show & Tell at MITERS, November 2!

If you're in the Boston area, get your projects ready- MITERS is hosting a fall Show & Tell! What: Fall Show & TellWhen: 7:30pm, Friday, November 2007Where: MITERS - the MIT Electronic Research Society N52-115, 265 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA Behind the MIT MuseumBring: Friends, snacks, (non-alcoholic) beverages, and your projects to show off!RSVP: to stars (at) mit (dot) eduBack when we were at MIT, the founders of Instructables and Squid Labs hung out at MITERS. It's a great place, full of creative nerds who love to build things, share them with others, and teach what they know.Drop by for the Show and Tell, and bring your projects and ideas, some snacks and drinks (non-alcoholic- this is the MIT campus), your friends and family (kids welcome, but keep an eye on them- this is a functional shop), and lots of enthusiasm! Halloween projects are perfect for Show & Tell, and you've got an excuse to wear your costume again! The DIY Halloween contest ends on November 4, so take a few shots and post your entries. Remember we're accepting pictures and videos as well as full Instructables!We're sending along some special limited-edition Halloween Robot stickers, too- make sure to grab one!

Posted by canida 10 years ago


Willoughby & Baltic - Boston Area Maker Community

Willoughby & BalticWe make wonderful things.Willoughby & Baltic is a community organization of people who make stuff. Among our ranks are artists, engineers, writers, teachers, and everything in-between. In fact, everyone in W&B is all of those things to some degree - and more.We exist to provide our members what they need to create. Primarily, that involves having comfortable, usable space and an extensive arsenal of tools and equipment available. But with W&B, our members also get a strong, positive community who love to learn new things, teach what they know, and provide unending creative energy. It's a group of people who can appreciate what it takes to bring a project to life, and who can bring new and unexpected perspectives to the tough problems we inevitably encounter.We are located in Somerville, MA near Davis Square and the Red Line subway stop. We are convenient to Cambridge, Boston and the greater metro area.We currently have a Hackerspace with darkroom, silkscreen studio and computer lab, a model fab for smaller projects, and a larger fabrication space with metal and woodworking tools. Please check us out at willoughbybaltic.comYou can read more at the Boston GlobeThese photos are a sample of what our full Fabrication Space near Union Square has to offer.

Posted by waaronw 9 years ago


CAN SOMEONE PLEASE MAKE AN INSTRUCTABLE ON THIS

Can someone please make the device discussed below? According to researchers at Cambridge University, EMV (Europay, Mastercard, Visa) users must be even more aware of all charges applied to their accounts than ever before. They claim that there is an integral defect in EMV’s chip-and-PIN validation protocol for debit and credit cards. Subsequently, a machine can be built to alter and obstruct communications between a card and a point-of-sale terminal. The reason for alarm is that the terminal can be tricked into receiving a false PIN verification. Although there has been no record of this happening in the UK as of yet, researchers have created this hacking device in an attempt to illustrate the flaw. They were able to trick  a card reader into validating transactions, without correct  PIN numbers, with certified cards from six issuers including  Barclaycard, Co-operative Bank, Halifax, Bank of Scotland, HSBC and John Lewis. The researchers contend that it does not take a rocket scientist to make such a device. The financial attacker could carry the device in a backpack with wires running down a sleeve, to connect to the stolen valid card and the terminal. Basically the device would override the verify PIN instruction dictated by the terminal, causing it to respond with the 0×9000 PIN verification code that allows the transaction to go through, even though the PIN is incorrect, therefore giving the attacker full access to your money. Although this is a frightening scenario, there are ways for you, the consumer, to protect yourself. Always keep constant watch over your bank statements and look out for possible fraudulent charges. If you happen to lose your card, get in contact with your bank immediately to cancel it.

Posted by un.kassa1 8 years ago


Job opening at MIT working on wireless sensors

Thought I'd pass this along in case there are electronic hackers looking for a job. Unfortunately, you need at least a master's degree.Post Doctoral Associate or Research ScientistMassachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MAIndividual will work under the auspices of the House-n Research Group to contribute to the development of a hardware and software system that will measure physical activity type, intensity, and location in very large populations of adults using ordinary mobile phones (see http://web.mit.edu/wockets). Responsibilities will include developing and field testing wireless accelerometer technology that sends data to mobile phones, extending past work at MIT, developing housing for those wireless sensors so they meet a set of design constraints identified by prior research and so they can be easily produced in prototype and larger quantities, writing academic papers on the design and use of the technology for healthcare with colleagues at MIT and Stanford, fostering an open-source community of developers to use and extend the technology, and collaborating with other researchers working on developing technologies for the NIH's Exposure Biology Program. The appointment will be for one-year. Minimum Qualifications:An M.S. or Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering or Computer Engineering (or closely related subject), with expertise in embedded systems design (hardware) and RF design (e.g. Bluetooth or any other RF protocols used in sensor networks). Microcontroller programming and knowledge of interfacing microcontrollers to analog and digital sensors is required. The candidate must possess 1-2 years of research or development experience designing, prototyping, testing and debugging electronic circuits, and the candidate must have past experience demonstrating the ability to independently develop wireless sensors from conception to manufacturing to enclosure design. Expertise in rapid prototyping of enclosures, pattern classification algorithm development, and/or ubiquitous computing helpful. Interested candidates should send a cover letter indicating why they are interested in the position and a CV/resume to intille@mit.edu. Please indicate earliest date of availability.

Posted by Vsayuni 9 years ago


Watch out for falling satellites

Watch out for falling satellitesWith no one at the wheel, should we be worried about the large US spy satellite now headed for a crash landing?US spy satellite 193 is predicted to de-orbit less than gracefully in Feburary or early March. The chances of it actually hitting a populated area are exceedingly small, but perhaps you can catch a few micrograms of it using Kiteman's How to catch a star Instructable.What is happening?An out-of-control US spy satellite will crash to Earth in the coming months, government officials say. The satellite is large enough that remnants are likely to survive atmospheric re-entry and strike the Earth, sometime in late February or early March, says Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council.Is that normal?"This is relatively routine in that satellites de-orbit all the time," says Johndroe. Pieces of uncontrolled debris heavier than two tonnes -- mostly discarded rocket stages -- crash to Earth as often as once every three weeks, says Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer and launch observer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.Many discarded pieces retain some power, so that controllers on Earth can guide them to a point far from human habitation, usually using a final dive into an ocean. In 2001, Russian space officials broke up the old Mir space station in this way over the South Pacific. That's not the case for this US one, however."Obviously, we want to take a look at the potential for it to land in a populated area," says Johndroe.What are the chances of it crashing through my roof?Exceedingly slim, says McDowell. Remember that some 70% of the Earth is water, and most lands are void of people. "There is no reason for people to get alarmed about it," he says.According to the NASA Orbital Debris Program Office, there have been no confirmed instances of serious property damage or injury caused by crashing debris in 40 years.

Posted by ewilhelm 10 years ago


MIT Open-couseware Helps Physics Professor Become a Web Star

Open-courseware is helping some MIT professors gain much deserved recognition. While I never took a class from Walter Lewin, I did watch a Nobel laureate (before he won the prize!) ride that same rocket-powered tricycle across the stage of 26-100 (I wrote a little bit about that here in a comment).At 71, Physics Professor Is a Web StarCAMBRIDGE, Mass. Walter H. G. Lewin, 71, a physics professor, has long had a cult following at M.I.T. And he has now emerged as an international Internet guru, thanks to the global classroom the institute created to spread knowledge through cyberspace.Professor Lewin's videotaped physics lectures, free online on the OpenCourseWare of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have won him devotees across the country and beyond who stuff his e-mail in-box with praise."Through your inspiring video lectures i have managed to see just how BEAUTIFUL Physics is, both astounding and simple," a 17-year-old from India e-mailed recently.Steve Boigon, 62, a florist from San Diego, wrote, "I walk with a new spring in my step and I look at life through physics-colored eyes."Professor Lewin delivers his lectures with the panache of Julia Child bringing French cooking to amateurs and the zany theatricality of YouTube's greatest hits. He is part of a new generation of academic stars who hold forth in cyberspace on their college Web sites and even, without charge, on iTunes U, which went up in May on Apple's iTunes Store.In his lectures at ocw.mit.edu, Professor Lewin beats a student with cat fur to demonstrate electrostatics. Wearing shorts, sandals with socks and a pith helmet -- nerd safari garb -- he fires a cannon loaded with a golf ball at a stuffed monkey wearing a bulletproof vest to demonstrate the trajectories of objects in free fall.He rides a fire-extinguisher-propelled tricycle across his classroom to show how a rocket lifts off.

Posted by ewilhelm 10 years ago


Instructables Show & Tell- in our town, and yours

Come to the first Instructables Show & Tell this March! We've scheduled a few to get you started, but need volunteers to host Show & Tells in your town! Check out the Forum post for more details, then get in touch with me.LOCATIONS: Bay Area Instructables, Friday 9 March, 7pm2175 Monarch St, Alameda, CA directionsRSVP: canida(*at*) instructables.com Boston Area MITERS, Saturday 10 March, 7pm265 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA directionsMost of the Instructables & Squid Labs founders built things at MITERS when they were in school; it's a neat clubhouse full of people who love to make fun things. They've got an Instructables group to show some of them off. NOTE: Please don't bring beer or wine as this event is on the MIT campus. Austin dorkbot Saturday, 10 March, 6-8pmBrush Square Park at 5th and Neches map(electronic art) Come to a special dorkbot during the SXSW Interactive Festival! We'll have a carnival style presentation of mad science fun spread across stations around the tent. Between scheduled presentations, show off your own project and get 30 seconds on the mike to tell the crowd about your demented electronic pursuits before being unceremoniously buzzed off the stage by 20,000 volts of raw power! Enormously raw POWER! Brush Square Park is adjacent to the Austin Convention Center, host of SXSW.Mandatory RSVP here or email rsvp@dorkbotaustin.org New York Etsy Labs Thursday, 22 March, 7pm325 Gold St., 6th Floor, Brooklyn, NY mapHosted by Etsy, MAKE, & Create Digital Music Atlanta Taco Mac Perimeter Friday, 30 March 8pm1211 Ashford Crossing, Atlanta, GA mapRSVP: jenny (*at*) hackaddict.net Orlando Panera Friday, 23 March 6pm11472 University Blvd., Orlando, FL mapRSVP: PM trebuchet03 or or send him email @gmail.com Savannah Thursday, 22 March, 7pmLocation TBARSVP: PM royalestelYour City Here?Volunteer to host now! Libraries, schools, and other community venues will often let you reserve space. Just send me a personal message or an email and we'll coordinate.

Posted by canida 11 years ago


Toggles, LEDs, and Ultimate Frisbee

So here is my challenge. I play an ultimate frisbee pickup game every week (Tuesday at the Harvard commons in Cambridge, MA, at 7PM stop by and play!). We have a great LED frisbee that extends the games into the night, but once it gets really dark telling teams apart becomes challenging. I hit upon the idea of making LED 'throwies' for one's body. Take a little 3v watch battery, tape the leads of the LED on with some electrical tape, and then use a safety pin clip it onto to clothing, and blamo!, you have an LED pin that makes playing ultimate frisbee in the dark surprisingly easy, fun, and colorful. There are some problems with this. First, it takes a little time to wire up the LEDs. It is a fun group activity to start with, but this is a pickup game so people wander in all of the time to play, and each time this happens someone has to run off to make some more LED pins. It would be awesome if I just had a bag of them ready to go. Second, I have to pull the pins apart after each game. Third, my red and yellow LEDs (blue and green are fine) really need a resistor as they tend to go dull. Finally, I would really like to make these guys a little more robust by fixing the leads on more solidly. So, with that said, here are some things I could use some ideas on. 1) Cheap toggles. I needs them. I would be willing to toss a few more dollars at these pins if I didn't have to tear them apart each time. Toggle switches would mean I wouldn't have to tear out the battery each time. I am having a really hard time finding cheap small toggles on the inter-tubes. Does anyone know of some good places to look? There is also the added challenge of finding a way to attach the toggle in a mildly robust manner. 2) I am looking to rig these pins up into something a little more sturdy. I was pondering soldering the LEDs to the 3v coin batteries I am using and then super gluing the solder. Is this workable, or should I just break down and buy some battery holders? If battery holders are the answer, again, does anyone know of a cheap place to look? Finally, does anyone have any other interesting suggestions? I am willing to drop a little money into the project, but I really don't want to be spending 5 dollars per pin. In my ideal world my final product would look like an LED, a battery, and switch mounted on a safety pin in such a manner that if someone sticks it to their shirt and rolls into the ground it doesn't break. Getting all of those things to come together in an even vaguely cost effective manner is proving to be a bit of a challenge. Any ideas would be great!

Posted by JonnyProton 9 years ago


Instructables Show & Tell- in our town, and yours

Come to the first Instructables Show & Tell near you this March! Held in the Bay Area (Friday 3/9, 7pm at Instructables HQ), the Boston area (Saturday 3/10, 7pm, hosted by MITERS), Austin (Saturday 3/10 at SXSW, hosted by dorkbot ), NYC (Thursday 3/22, hosted by Etsy, Make, PopSci, and Create Digital Music) , Atlanta (Friday 3/30, 8pm), Savannah (Thursday, 3/22), and Orlando (Friday 3/23, 6pm). Contact me by private message if you'd like to host an Instructables Show & Tell in your area, and we'll add it to the list. Locations and times will be posted at the bottom of the page. We'll be doing this again, so plan ahead.The TheoryHow to Host an Instructables Show and TellBring your friends & family, drinks or a snack for the table, and something you've made (or are thinking about or working on) to share with the group. You'll meet a diverse group of smart, excited art and technology geeks who want to talk to you about your projects and ideas. Please RSVP so we'll have a decent guess how many people to expect.Examples: your new LED, LEGO, or K'nex project, a cool screen-printed T-shirt, neat origami, a cool bike mod, home-made kimchee, alternate uses for your ipod, a fire-breathing Godzilla, a neat example of vintage technology, or just a cool idea you'd like to explore with other like-minded people. Anything you'd put up as an Instructable is definitely fair game- bring it by and show it off. Email or message me if you've got specific questions.Note: NO PowerPoint. You've got 2-4 minutes to talk about your project; words and models are best way to do a quick demo.SCHEDULE:7pm Doors open for mingling and snacks. If you've got something to talk about, put your name on the whiteboard. If not, you'd best have brought extra snacks.~8-9:30 Show & Tell. We run through the list, giving everyone a couple of minutes to talk about their project/idea and answer a few questions. In-depth discussion is saved for later so everyone gets a chance to demo their project; there will be a gong.~9:30-10:30 Check out what you liked, ask the questions we didn't get to during Show & Tell, talk to the cute nerd you've been eyeing across the room, and help clean out the rest of the snacks.Now you can join your geographic group!LOCATIONS: Bay Area Instructables, Friday 9 March, 7pm2175 Monarch St, Alameda, CA directionsRSVP: canida(*at*) instructables.com Boston Area MITERS, Saturday 10 March, 7pm265 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA directionsMost of the Instructables & Squid Labs founders built things at MITERS when they were in school; it's a neat clubhouse full of people who love to make fun things. They've got an Instructables group to show some of them off. NOTE: Please don't bring beer or wine as this event is on the MIT campus. Austin dorkbot Saturday, 10 March, 6-8pmBrush Square Park at 5th and Neches map(electronic art) Come to a special dorkbot during the SXSW Interactive Festival! We'll have a carnival style presentation of mad science fun spread across stations around the tent. Between scheduled presentations, show off your own project and get 30 seconds on the mike to tell the crowd about your demented electronic pursuits before being unceremoniously buzzed off the stage by 20,000 volts of raw power! Enormously raw POWER! Brush Square Park is adjacent to the Austin Convention Center, host of SXSW.Mandatory RSVP here or email rsvp@dorkbotaustin.org New York Etsy Labs Thursday, 22 March, 7pm325 Gold St., 6th Floor, Brooklyn, NY mapHosted by Etsy, MAKE, PopSci, & Create Digital Music Atlanta Taco Mac Perimeter Friday, 30 March 8pm1211 Ashford Crossing, Atlanta, GA mapRSVP: PM irollmyown or email jenny (*at*) hackaddict.net Orlando Panera Friday, 23 March 6pm11472 University Blvd., Orlando, FL mapRSVP: PM trebuchet03 or or send him email @gmail.com Savannah Thursday, 22 March, 6:30pmCafe at Books-A-Million, 8108 Abercorn St., Savannah, GA mapRSVP: PM royalestelYour City Here?Volunteer to host now! Libraries, schools, and other community venues will often let you reserve space. Just send me a personal message or an email and we'll coordinate.

Posted by canida 11 years ago


TEDxBaghdad - Iraq - violence, dust storms and open sourced manufacturing

Baghdad Iraq. It was once the jewel of the Muslim empire and epicenter of knowledge in the Eastern world. Now it is best known for corrupt governance, bombings, and dust storms. It was also my parents’ home. After visiting once in 1991 as a child the few memories I have of Iraq seemed to be shouting matches as my parents yelled over the phone making overseas calls. Names of Uncles I had never met were mentioned and a phone was handed to me and I was left to nervously fend for myself with my weak Iraqi slang and an Uncle who apparently knew all about me while I knew nothing of him. The country was an impenetrable black box to me that would spit out another refugee somewhere in the world every few years or so. Sixteen years later the first wall between Iraq and me was broken. In 2007 my nuclear family had traveled to Syria and for the first time I met family members who still lived in Baghdad. I knew them now. My uncles and cousins grew flesh and blood. I could feel their prickly faces as we greeted with the traditional Iraqi 4 sided cheek kiss. They could graciously give me their dishdashas as gifts. Names finally had faces, but those faces were deep, sunken and afraid. 2007 was a bad year of sectarian war in Iraq, which is why the Damascas district of Harasta was flooded with Iraqis. The sound of construction continued through the night to keep up with the massive (ab)use of the "tourist" visas. I saw something in the Iraqis in Syria that I hadn't seen before; something that scared me. I saw hopelessness. It was then I settled on a long-term project to return to the country and share something that I had just discovered around the same time: the future doesn’t come prepared -- we make the future. The do-it-yourself attitude that was growing in America was being combined with the culture of sharing that you find in hackerspaces, at instructables.com and in open source technology. This atmosphere made anything possible. You want to build a vertical generator without any spinning parts? Sure! How about a walking quadraped robot with a sofa? Do you want to quit your job, write zines and sell them in the crafting circle? Sure! Start a business! Write a novel! Organize a benefit concert! Sure - sure - sure! “Make your own future” was the message. It was a message of hope - it was the message that I wanted to share in the Middle East, and especially in Iraq. In 2011 the opportunity to work on sharing this beautiful message in the Middle East presented itself to me, so I quit my robotics job and took it (sorry Andrew). A few friends and I started a tiny organization called GEMSI - The Global Entrepreneurship and Maker Space Initiative. We funded ourselves through Kickstarter and our first project was a Three-Day Maker Space hosted at Makerfaire Africa. We were hoping to let people experience the feeling of the Maker Movement first-hand. We collaborated with Emeka and the team from MFA, Cairo Hackerspace, along with many amazing egyptians from all over the country. We had a successful first attempt at sharing the message of "Yes you can!” It was a great start, but Iraq was still an impenetrable fortress to me. It took till 2012 and a chance encounter with friends in Cambridge, MA for me to find my first avenue back into Iraq. Via my friends, I met someone who’s friend was affiliated with TEDxBaghdad. A few steps removed, sure, but when I heard about TEDxBaghdad I knew I had found my way in. I knew TEDx and the types of programs they hosted; I knew they were hopeful, inspired, and shared a vision for a brighter tomorrow. I started communicating with Emeka from MFA, who also works with TED, and he put me in touch with Yahay. After my first skype call with Yahay I knew I was going. Someone else had done it - someone broke that barrier, did amazing work in the country, and survived. It wasn't the death trap my family was telling me it was. There was a new narrative being woven and I knew what I needed to do. I booked my flights before I even finalized any workshops. I needed to meet the TEDxBaghdad team. Later, I called my parents and told them I was going to Baghdad and they said, "Shinu?! Inta Makhabal?!" That probably means exactly what you think it does. Needless to say, they had their concerns, but I was going regardless. Now that the tickets were bought, we started planning. Yahay put me in touch with Abdal Ghany, one of the Iraqi organizers living in Baghdad. He coordinated everything. It was amazing. These guys kick some serious planning butt! Ghany basically told me, “Show up and give your workshop. We'll take care of the rest.” This was a welcome change from the hours of facebooking, planning, and coordination I usually have to go through to schedule events. It really seemed like this was possible. I was going to give an Arduino and 3D printing workshop in Baghdad and I was really excited! I sent an email to Sparkfun and Makezine asking them for open source electronics donations since I knew bringing my electronics box through the airport wouldn't be a good idea. They sent me a nice goodie-bag of beautifully packaged Maker products. These two organizations have given me a tremendous amount of help throughout the years, for which I am extremely thankful. I packed a suitcase filled with 2 3D printers, 25 Arduinos, an assortment of other open source hardware and sensors and headed out looking a bit like a bomb development lab. Yeesh! Somehow I made it through China, Saudi, and Turkey without any serious interrogation. Mostly just really quizzical looks from my unzipped bag up back to me... "You're a teacher?" they ask. "Yes," I say, "yes I am." Turkey was the stop before Iraq. Turkey was brilliant, sunny, lush, and seemed to be comprised of mostly happy smiling people walking by the sea. Coming from the deserts of Mecca, this was a welcome sight. I let the green of Turkey wash away the dust of Saudi Arabia. The mishmash of cultures, sounds, foods, religions gave me a great feeling of liberation. This was a lively place and the two hackerspaces I met up with there, Base Istanbul and Istanbul Hackerspace were fantastic hosts. Furkan and I spent a lovely day together chatting about Maker culture as it spreads through the Middle East and then in the end we had a potluck BBQ with members from both hackerspaces by the rocks of the sea. It was great to see these two Turkish hackerspaces and to be reminded that this movement is truly global. My dream of hackerspaces empowering people globally is really possible – and it’s great to know that it is a dream that is shared by others. I left them full of enthusiasm and flew directly to Baghdad. Landing in Baghdad was strange and a bit concerning. Looking out of the window all I could see was a brown cloud. We were landing in a dust storm. I had heard about the turab (dust) of Iraq, but this was the first time I saw it in person, and it would be one of the things most often on my mind. Getting a visa for me was surprisingly easy, except for the fact I forgot my passport on the plane and two guards had to escort me one to each side back to the airplane to retrieve it. But once I had my passport, I told them my laqab, which is the full name that includes ancestry. Showed them a copy of my dad’s passport and my Iraqi birth certificate and I was in. I was hoping for a nice stamp, perhaps with some Iraqi relic on it. But they took my passport and wrote in it: "Originally Iraqi", so there it goes, it's official. Ahmed, my cousin, was not at the airport when I took my paper work and headed out to the lobby. The airport was sparsely populated and heavily regulated. I barely managed to snap a picture before a guard came up to me and had me delete them from my phone. In the lobby I met a man just released from a Swiss prison. The Swiss had given him the option to be sent back home to Iraq, or be jailed. He chose to leave and come back to Iraq. This becomes a theme later as I see more and more people, all of whom desire to leave the country to become refugees elsewhere. It seems that when hope runs out for the country you live in, the only option is to find a new one. This story is one of a million various stories of struggling to find a new life. Each varies in its details, but all have survival at their core. Ahmed arrives 30 minutes late, apologizing. He's wearing jeans and a polo. His hair seemed freshly cut and his face was serious. We had never met before. The only thing I knew of him was that he thought I was reckless for coming. He had been spending hours on Skype with me attempting to convince me that coming would be a bad idea: "You have no idea how bad the bugs are. Just wait till you see the dust storms. The heat will kill you... etc" But once I saw him in person it all changed. I didn't think I'd grow to like Ahmed, but I grew to appreciate his ways and he became like a brother to me before I left. He took me to Mansour, a neighborhood in Baghdad, telling me stories about Iraq as we travelled. This is the neighborhood where the house my dad designed and family built stands. On the ride home we had our car checked for bombs at least 4 times by what Iraqi's call Saytarat, which is the equivalent of a checkpoint and, to me, seemed a total nuciance. They were the reason he was late. What would normally be a 20 minute drive can become three hours long because every car is checked for bombs. They are everywhere; throughout the city, on every road. We passed the guard who watches over my family’s neighborhood, and he takes his hand off his machine gun to wave at Ahmed, and I begin to recognize that weapons, car inspections and burned out cars are normal here, so they don't think to comment on it - like an empty lot in Detroit, or the homeless in San Francisco. We got to my family home with no time to rest. I had to leave to meet up with Abdul Ghany and the crew at a Cafe in an hour and then conduct the workshop in two. Ahmed comes with me - he doesn't trust people we'd never met before and won’t let me out of his sight. I trust first till proven otherwise, he has learned to do the opposite. It’s a telling sign of how different our lives are on a day-to-day basis. As soon as I met the TEDxBaghdad crew, I felt at ease. MNA, Abdul Ghany and the entire crew were thoughtful, hardworking, and inspiring people. I was really happy to have intersected with them and they helped me in more ways than I could count. We first met up at Everyday, a local Mansour café. Everyday cafe was hyper airconditioned and everyone seemed to think it was hotter than it was. The crew was awesome, they were really a great first introduction to the excited young people of Baghdad and they certainly have the famed Iraqi hospitality. But here's a tip: do not order a fajita in Baghdad ;D. Mohammed Al-Samarraie pulled out their iPads and started showing me video production work he was doing for TEDx. Abdul Ghany comes a little late and we have head out to the workshop. The workshop was held in a two story office building surrounded by palm trees. Looking out the the tinted back window we could see the muddy river run past, winding and dark. Slowly the TEDx people started trickling in. Then I started to get nervous. The checkpoints didn't bother me, the tanks in the streets were not an issue, but here were these people coming to learn something from me. What could I share that would really matter to them when they had so much to deal with daily? What could I share that could be relevant to people who see bombings as I experience lightning storms? I have been to other places in the world to share this kind of information, and some of those places have had political problems and ongoing revolutions. But Iraq was the first country I had been to that really seemed like a war zone. I decided that first I needed to learn from them! What were their projects? What did they hope for? I hoped they would learn from each other and get excited about their projects and I wanted to be able to share things that were relevant to them. Thus, everyone was encouraged to talk about who they are, how they learned about TEDxBaghdad and to share their project, share with us their mission, or share an inspiring story. I was amazed to hear about all the incredible initiatives the crew was doing. From intercultural exchange programs, to street clean ups, to historical artifact preservation, each of them shared and I started realizing something. They were not as interested in new technology as they were interested in arts and culture and after hearing about a few of their projects I started realizing why. Learning about culture and paying attention to the arts gives people the ability to pay attention to details. They can look at another human being and see all the subtleties that make us who we are. We each fall in love, we struggle, we question, and have doubts. Arts give depth to a black and white world. Sectarianism is difficult when we pay attention to the commonalities that tie us all together. What would the world be like if anyone who wanted a weapons license was required to have visited India, could pass an art history exam and could play stairway to heaven on the guitar? We were in a sort of office building near the river which ran by dark and muddy looking through the tinted windows. One by one, they stood up in front and gave their short presentations. There were doctors, engineers, and designers in the crew. They each stood up and told the story of how they found out about TEDxBaghdad and it was incredible. Each of them had a friend recommend it to them, and it was mostly done through Facebook. Some people's projects were related to health, culture, antiquity preservation, and connecting Iraqis with the rest of the world. While they spoke I made a graph of the things that connected all of their ideas together. It was a beautiful thing to see. The common themes were to help Iraq as a country through the integration of new ideas and how to bring a new face of Iraq and present it to the world. To have the news about Iraq be about amazing things, inspiring things, rather than explosions. Being in that room with that energy made me feel like we were already on our way. I pulled out the boxes of donations given to us by Sparkfun and The Make Shed and now it was my turn. I told them about my story coming into contact with my friend Alex through instructables.com, how being in San Francisco and Cambridge opened my eyes to a new way of entrepreneurship using communities and open source technology. And how they could make anything they could imagine if they got together to do it. We discussed how sharing and collaboration was a common value that held the entire system together. I used the concept of the LED throwie, which is a simple idea by Graffiti Research Labs to connect an LED to a coin battery and a magnet. They used it to throw at ferrous buildings as a form of electronic graffiti but once they uploaded it to instructables the idea was out there and people were inspired to take it and derive many other projects. You can never know what will happen when you share something or when you create a tool and share it. People created outlined throwies, LED floaties in balloons and finally we start seeing LED floaties which are sequenced to act like a light show at a phish concert. Hahaha! We then talked about the Arduino an easy to use microcontroller designed for artists. It's a bit of technology that is a simple and easy to use platform to build interactive projects. We talked about how the open nature of the project people can use the Arduino and then use shields to add features like being able to connect to the internet or play MP3s. Open source tools make building new products a lot like using legos. We were in the middle of using some of the sensors The Maker Shed had sent us to make a DIY heart rate monitor when the power went out and all went dark except for the LED throwies we had made. It suddenly felt very intimate. We put all the LED throwies in the center of the room and huddled around it for story time. The feeling of connection was palpable for me. Sure the lack of power meant that we were not going to be able to 3D print, but being in the dark with TEDxBaghdad was one of my favorite memories of this trip. The lights went on and we had a long question and answer session / photo shoot. Some of the doctors were interested to use the Arduino based heart rate monitors to replace the broken ones in the hospital. I heard about this and was flabbergast that the most basic and cheap tools I had brought with me might have a direct impact and may even save lives. Technology might not solve the political problems of the country but it seems that there was a lot of room for development and that the crew I was with was creative and excited to make use of it. I passed out 20 Arduino kits that day, including the Lillypad which is a version of the Arduino intended to be sewn into clothing. Although there were very few engineers in the audience, everyone seemed to be buzzing with ideas and ways to use the Arduinos. What a great workshop! I was super excited because not only had they understood the message, they seem to have been infected with the feeling of capability! Now to seal the deal, we were all going to go out and eat a classic Iraqi dish Simach Masguf. Ahmed has been calling me hourly making sure that I was OK, but I felt safe enough with my new friends so we all headed out to a fish spot by the river. Hours go by, lots of fish is eaten, and lots of juice is drunk. Some of the crew smoke some sheesha. It was like I was with new old friends. My Iraqi slang was improving hourly and although we had just met I knew me and TEDxBaghdad we're going to be working together again very soon. I would have stayed all night eating and chatting about future projects and the problems to solve in Iraq, but the cerfew was about to set in and we had to jet. Yeah, there is still a curfew. On the ride home my head is filled with contradictions. Hope and confusion mix in my head as my family rings 4 more times. I get home safe and decide that the only way to deal with the complicated situation in Iraq was to act with irrational hope and optimism. That's the way TEDxBaghdad seemed to work. And that's going to be mine as well. The next day there were five explosions in Baghdad so TEDxBaghdad and I decided against going out to the Iraqi National Museum even though we had to request permission to go. We meet instead back at Everyday and there we solidify our commitment to working for a more beautiful Baghdad and a country which will become a producing nation once again. Sharing with the world it's art, science and literature like it once did years ago. +BG

Posted by lamedust 6 years ago