Just Fucking Do it, or: How a Little Bit of Anarchy Helped Me

Most of us have spent a significant amount of time throughout our lives asking for permission. From parents, teachers, supervisors, community leaders, peers and everyone else. It’s a normal, natural part of life, and if no one did it then things would likely be worse for it.

I’ve spent a lot of time doing things I probably should have asked for permission to do. In high school, I basically lived in our auditorium, doing technical theatre stuff. I drilled holes in walls, re-wired electrical devices, modified the structure to fit my needs and probably did a lot of stuff I don’t even remember. Some combination of the right level of oversight (thanks, Ken!) and a sense of independence granted by the venue inspired me (and my peers) to take the initiative. In college, I kept right on drilling holes in the walls and changing things to suit me. No one ever noticed, at least no one who would tell me to stop.

I’ve always known when I was doing something I should probably clear with someone, but I’ve often ignored it because it’s more expedient to ask for forgiveness, right?

I’m also someone who has a lot of projects. I have projects that some people like enough that I don’t even have to execute them any more. I have a project that’s a pretty significant piece of infrastructure at a hackerspace that is likely one of the busiest in the world by several metrics (I’ll give you three guesses for which one).

The thing I would point to as the number one contributor to my willingness to change things and press forward with an idea is my membership at Pumping Station: One. PS:One is the greatest place in the world. When I came to visit, I saw a place that was running because a few people wanted it to run. As I learned about the history, I heard a story of people who basically willed the organization into existence. People told me I should change things, that I shouldn’t always feel the need to ask for permission. Folks told me it was a ‘physical wiki’ and it was up to the membership to decide what content we would have. If it wasn’t for PS:One, I wouldn’t have done most of the projects I’m now proud of.

It took me a while to catch on (more time than it took me to start changing things at schools, where this kind of activity is usually frowned upon. That might say something about me.), it was a few months before I started changing things, alongside some of the folks who joined around the same time I did. I quickly fell into the rhythm. I continue to make  changes to the space, because that’s what our culture encourages (and that’s exactly what I encourage every new member to do). We’ve handed out more than one hundred RFID fobs to people, and they now get into the building with them using hardware I nailed to a door (I’m not kidding – come visit and see) that runs code I wrote. That baffles me sometimes, but it’s awesome.

PS:One has changed me as much as I’ve changed it. I now find myself casually contributing to open source software when I see the opportunity – the other day I absentmindedly submitted a pull request to fix a typo in a utility I used once (while trying to help solve a problem I reported in the Linux kernel). This kind of contribution should be more widespread, and if PS:One can accomplish one aspect of its goal, I hope it’s encouraging people everywhere to contribute however they can.

Some folks think it’s just a vulgar phrase on the wall, but ‘Just Fucking Do It’ is integral to what PS:One is, and it’s incredibly important to me and many other people. We radically and categorically reject the idea that you should ask for permission for most things, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

30

06 2015

B.Y.O.T. Tie Dye Summer Event, Friday, 7/3/2015

tie-dye-WEB

Bring your own t-shirt, or other white item, and fill it with fabric dye! B.Y.O.T. Tie Dye Summer Event with be Friday, 7/3/2015, from 6:00 – 9:00 pm in the upstairs arts and crafts area, a free event for members. A 100% cotton item works best such as a clean t-shirt, socks, a hat, apron., etc. Washing items is helpful if they are newly purchased but avoid fabric softener, which is oily and repels dye. Twelve bright colors in easy applicator bottles and all other materials will be provided for you to hand color your item.

27

06 2015

Lockpicking with TOOOL – ATM Edition.

When I found an ATM in the trash near my office, I knew just what had to be done. It had to come to the hackerspace.

IMAG0183After some help from a friend with a truck, we got the ATM delivered to the space just in time for Lockpicking night with TOOOL – The Open Organization of Lockpickers. (Fig. 1. — pictures after the break)  We set to work on the two (surprisingly basic) pin tumbler locks on the front of the panel, and sprung them in no time. (Fig. 2)  Under the the bottom panel we were greeted with a welcoming safe-door style combination dial. (Fig. 3)  Under the top panel are a power supply, circuit boards for the display, the card reader, the pin entry pad and the LCD buttons, and the receipt printer. (Fig. 4)  Sadly, the main computer had been removed before the unit was thrown out.

That being said, TOOOL is not a computer oriented group, so we were plenty pleased with the new challenge presented to us by the combination lock.  Steve decided to give it a go first, boldly citing his experience in safe cracking school. (Fig. 5)  Dave, not being the patient type, and not being entertained by Steve just poking at his phone, decided to take a more destructive route to enter the ATM with a plasma cutter (Fig. 6) and was rewarded with a large empty space and yet another steel plate.  We will be revisiting opening the door next time, and continuing to seek inspiration for awesome ATM projects.  Let us know what you’d like to see an ATM turned into!

Read the rest of this entry →

04

06 2015

NERP Tonite!

NERP is not exclusively Raspberry Pi, the small computer and embedded systems interest group at Pumping Station:One in Chicago. NERP meets every other Monday at 7pm at Pumping Station:One, 3519 N. Elston Ave. in Chicago.

Tonight the NERP agaenda is free-form. Hang out, talk embedded, show-and-tell, it’s all possible!

Also:
In April Steve Laya from Eliete Electronic Engineering visited NERP to acquaint us with the process of getting FCC certification for a new product. I’m not sure how he did it, but he made the subject entertaining if not a little bit fun. Steve was kind enough to send his slides so that we could make them available. The pdf is here. Elite-FCC-Presentation-NERP-4-13-2015

Find NERP and Pumping Station:One at
http://www.meetup.com NERP-Not-Exclusively-Raspberry-Pi/
and
http://pumpingstationone.org/
Doors open at 6:30pm.
NERP is free and open to the public.
Ed Bennett ed @ kinetics and electronics com
Tags: electronics, embedded, NERP, Open Source,
raspberry pi, hackerspace, Beagle Bone, Element14, Pumping Station One

 

11

05 2015

Chicago Northside Mini Makerfaire 2015

Thanks to everyone who helped make this year’s Northside Mini Makerfaire a success! Our awesome volunteers helped everyone from little kids to adults build 100 noisemaker kits. Thanks also to the donors who helped pay for the kits. Yay awesomeness!

Vinyl cut signage:
15 - 1

Dalek checking out the crappy robot contest:
20150502_140217

Noisemaker:
20150502_131056

Noisemakers and volunteers:
pic1

pic2

pic3

Ray’s chairs and tables:
pic4

Crappy robots:
20150502_140300

If you’d like to see more photos, please check out Drew Fustini’s G+ link on the mailing list. Also of note is that we are going to the Detroit Makerfaire, July 25-26th. Announcements will come soon, but email jenny@pumpingstationone.org if you are interested in volunteering for the Detroit Makerfaire.

06

05 2015

Crappy Robots Rise To Compete Once Again

Hey Hacky People,

The last crappy robot competition we ran (http://pumpingstationone.org/2015/01/the-dumbrobotcompetition-for-dummies/) went so well that we’ve decided to do it again. Bring your crappy ideas to the Chicago North Side Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, May 2, 2015. We’ll start competing at 14:00.

Sr. Abrazos (the unofficial mascot of crappy robots) dukes it out against Unilowbrow with its dukes up!

Sr. Abrazos (the unofficial mascot of crappy robots) dukes it out against Unilowbrow with its dukes up!

Sign up here: http://goo.gl/forms/Y0ykHvbsq8

View the official rules here:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1MgUCLj9-AUJJMmDZXbPu0UW3-rmfRhiPhXi8PMfQo-c/edit?usp=sharing

Note that the official rules are subject to change. If you are registered for the competition, you will get notice of rule changes.

Check out http://youtu.be/46ivFpsmEVQ for inspiration! HEBOCON is what inspired us to put on our own crappy robot competition!

Justin T. Conroy

Robot at Large

27

04 2015

NERP on Monday: STM’s ARM-based Nucleo Boards

NERP is not exclusively Raspberry Pi, the small computer and embedded systems interest group at Pumping Station:One in Chicago. NERP meets every other Monday at 7pm at Pumping Station:One, 3519 N. Elston Ave. in Chicago.

Rob Riggs AKA Colorado Rob is a PS:1 member, software engineer, ham radio operator, electronics hobbyist and entrepreneur.*

At NERP on Monday, Rob will be giving a presentation on the STM Nucleo boards. These are 12 distinct but similar ARM development boards from ST Micro. These are simple, easy to use and only $10. They have Arduino- compatible hardware interface for add-on boards (Arduino Shields), as well as their own interface that exposes additional rich features specific to the STM32 microcontrollers.

We will talk a bit about why Rob chose ARM for his next project, why he specifically chose STM, and the capabilities of the various Nucleo boards. We will cover the mbed.org development site, the development process, and the libraries available. We will also provide a brief overview of doing a bit more low-level development using STM32CubeMX and STM’s HAL (hardware abstraction layer) libraries using the GNU ARM toolchain on Windows, Linux, and OS X.

*Copy for this announcement was supplied by Rob. Thanks Rob!
Find NERP and Pumping Station:One at

NERP – Not Exclusively Raspberry Pi

Chicago, IL
326 members

NERP is Not Exclusively Raspberry Pi, the small computer and embedded systems interest group at Pumping Station One in Chicago. (Chicago’s oldest and finest hackerspace.) NERP…

Next Meetup

Bring questions, demos, personal research, etc. to share.

Monday, Apr 27, 2015, 7:00 PM
8 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

and
http://pumpingstationone.org/
Doors open at 6:30pm.
NERP is free and open to the public.
Ed Bennett ed @ kinetics and electronics com
Tags: electronics, embedded, NERP, Open Source,
raspberry pi, hackerspace, Beagle Bone, Element14, Pumping Station One

25

04 2015

Lark Dord Day

#include <stdbeerchurchannounce.h>

OK, so you probably didn’t get tickets to a certain event on Saturday in Munster, IN, and want to commiserate by drinking and brewing beer. Or, maybe you did, and you want a good excuse to drink a certain limited edition beer you just acquired with people who will immediately become your best friends! *hint hint* So come to Beer Church’s Lark Dord Day!

We will attempt a brave and daring feat for the first time in PS:One history – brewing a Russian Imperial Stout. And not just any Russian Imperial Stout. The goal: to brew a beer so alcoholic it poses a fire hazard, with a mouth feel comparable to 15w30 motor oil, that is darker than the CEO of Comcast’s soul!

Noon-ish, this Sunday. 21+ only. Etc. 12:30 PM.

In nomine Barley,
Ryan
Beer Pope (Eastern Orthodox)

25

04 2015

Mother’s Day approaching!

I just got back from taking my kids to spend a week with my mom, but before I did I snuck into the woodshop for an evening to jumpstart an early Mother’s Day present for her: replacement drawers for her kitchen. She’s been managing with one functioning drawer in there for ages due to broken boxes, busted rails, broken face frames – the kitchen is an early 1970s relic, really. A few hours of work and $20 worth of plywood scrap later, I had them ready to haul to Iowa:

image image image

 

Drawers are a quick build, and a great refresher on some of the woodshop tools.

Over the course of the week we spent at her place, I fixed up her frames, added sturdier drawer supports, installed the new rails and boxes, and put on her old hardware – from the outside you can’t tell anything is different on the ones I finished. I also cut out a sagging cabinet shelf and installed a new one. I left two drawers unfinished, because one of her fronts was missing – I brought the matching front home to bring into the shop and try my hand at copying it. Even with the installation only half done, though, she’s gained a lot of function.

image

 

Mother’s Day is just about two weeks away. If your mom has a house full of projects (I suspect this is very common), pop in and use the tools to cross something off her list!

Tags: , ,

25

04 2015

1971 Movie Night

“Before Watergate, Wikileaks, and Edward Snowden, there was Media, Pennsylvania.”

For our next movie night we’d like to screen the documentary 1971: “On March 8, 1971 eight ordinary citizens broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, a town just outside Philadelphia, took hundreds of secret files, and shared them with the public. In doing so, they uncovered the FBI’s vast and illegal regime of spying and intimidation of Americans exercising their First Amendment rights.”

YouTube Preview Image

Adam Forsyth, the son of one of the eight, who called themselves the Citizens’ Commission, will be giving a talk after the screening. The screening is open to the public and BYOB. Some snacks will be provided.

Sign up for the movie here: http://www.meetup.com/Pumping-Station-One/events/221330710/

When: Sunday April 19th, 5 PM
Where: Pumping Station: One Electronics Lab upstairs

Tags: ,

10

04 2015