All posts by Adam Stein

We have a Slack

PS1 has had a Slack workspace for a while, and if you’re a member, you should have by now received an invitation to join.* The rest of this post is a brief intro to Slack, broken up into sections for beginners, intermediate level users, and experts. Jump to whichever section grabs your fancy.

For beginners: what is Slack?

Slack is a messaging app that has caught on for a few reasons:

  • Slack is pleasant to look at, fairly easy to use, and sort of breezily fun.
  • It has decent search. (Kind of. Not really. But better than most of the alternatives.)
  • It has excellent synchronization across mobile and desktop clients.
  • Tons and tons of other services have integrated with Slack, which makes it easy to monitor and do stuff from within the tool.

But basically Slack is a nicely designed chat app. It is not a replacement for something like the Google Group, but rather a way to have different kinds of conversations, and especially quicker, less formal conversations.

You can log into Slack via your web browser at, but this is probably the least appealing way to use Slack. Consider downloading the desktop or mobile client.

Slack lets you have private 1-on-1 conversations with other users, but most conversations take place in public channels. When you log in for the first time, browse the available channels and join the ones that seem interesting.

For intermediate users: manage multiple workspaces and customize your Slack

If you are an intermediate user, presumably you already have some experience with Slack. Good news: it is very easy to manage multiple Slack workspaces using the desktop and mobile clients. Just log into the PS1 slack by opening up your Slack client, clicking on the workspace name in the upper right, and choosing “Sign in to another workspace…”

Or open up the mobile client, swipe right to access the sidebar, and then swipe right again to switch to the Workspaces sidebar. Then click “Add workspaces”.

Once you are signed into multiple workspaces, you can easily receive notifications from any of them, and jump back and forth quickly between them.

Speaking of notifications: Slack notifications are highly customizable, so consider spending a few minutes to tune them. Ideally you can find the sweet spot that allows you to monitor the conversation without hitting notification overload. You can, for instance:

Finally, explore some of the dumb/fun capabilities of Slack:

For experts: we have a robot

Meet Gort, our very own robot butler. Gort is an incarnation of Hubot, which originally came to life at Github. (Major thank you to Andrew Vaughan for getting Gort up and running.) Gort is scriptable, and comes with loads of built-in features, ranging from useful to kinda funny to extremely annoying.

To see what tricks Gort knows, start a private conversation with him and type “help”.

If you are so inclined, consider extending Gort to perform useful tricks related to PS1.

* If you haven’t received an invitation to join, email me at

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Put in your order for delivery from Owl Lumber

Owl Lumber is beloved for its selection of hardwood. If you’ve never been to one of their three stores, they’re very much worth a visit. Unfortunately, none of them are especially convenient to get to from PS:1. If you’ve ever wished that they delivered, now’s your chance.

Hopefully this will become a monthly service, but first we’ve got to make sure it works at all–and that there’s sufficient demand. If you want some wood, do this:

  1. Call up Owl and price out an order. Note that many of the prices at Owl vary with the specific piece of wood, so you may need to restrict your purchase to dimensional lumber to get a firm price.
  2. Go to this form and enter the specifics of your order.
  3. Make yourself a michelada and relax while we take care of the rest.

Depending on the size of our group order, Owl will add a delivery fee that is somewhere between $0 and $80. By placing an order through PS:1, you are agreeing to pay somewhere between $0 and $10 (but not more than that) for delivery.

We will take care of payment later, but we plan to take money via the major personal payment platforms: Paypal, Venmo, and ChasePay. Heck, for this first go-round, we’ll take a sock monkey full of dirty nickels if that’s what you’ve got.

Shooting for delivery by the end of month. 🤘

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Tormach trainees announced–and a gift from Tormach in the works

PS:1 recently voted to acquire a Tormach CNC mill, capable of machining metals such as aluminum, brass, and steel. As part of this purchase, the club also allocated funds to send four members for training at the Tormach facility outside Madison, WI.

The four members will form the core of the Danger Committee for the mill, responsible for designing the authorization process and performing authorizations for six months. Eleven members applied for this opportunity, and four winners were recently announced. Congratulations to:

  • Andrew Wingate
  • Abel Greenwald
  • David Earl
  • Andrew Camardella

A related exciting development is that Tormach has offered to donate spots for 10 trainees to PS:1. A big thanks to member Tucker Tomlinson for arranging this donation.

Full details are still being worked out. As part of the donation, PS:1 will engage in some joint activities with Tormach, including hosting a meet-up for the Chicago-area community interested in CNC milling. All in all, the donation represents both a cost savings to PS:1 and an opportunity to raise the profile of our upcoming acquisition.

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Announcing the Pumping Station: One newsletter

As part of a series of efforts to improve communications both within PS:1 and with the wider community, we are launching an email newsletter.

The content and format of the newsletter will undoubtedly evolve over time. The newsletter will of course publicize upcoming events and important news or announcements. It will also spotlight the innumerable people and projects that make PS:1 such a vibrant community.

Why is this happening?
Perhaps the most basic reason is to reach a bigger cross-section of the membership. The Google Group is a valuable resource, but participation is fairly low, not just in terms of the number of people who post, but also in terms of the number of people subscribed at all.

Beyond that, there’s a lot of stuff happening on a daily basis at PS:1 that simply isn’t publicized in any venue at all right now. If you’ve ever attended a member meeting, you know that individuals and groups are constantly up to amazing things in the space. Find out what your fellow makers are doing!

Finally, PS:1 very badly needs a way to engage the wider community, including mission-aligned organizations in the Chicago area; individuals who have found our website or come on a tour but aren’t yet ready to join; or really anyone who participates in or supports the maker community.

How will it work?
We expect to send out 1 or 2 newsletters per month. The hope is that as we get into a groove, we can hit a more regular cadence. Newsletter content will also be posted online so that non-subscribers can access it.

Needless to say, we will follow normal email best practices: we aren’t going to share your contact info with anyone, and anyone can unsubscribe at any time.

What will happen next?
If you are a current PS:1 member, you will receive the first newsletter soon, which will include instructions for managing your subscription. Anyone can sign up on the PS:1 website, and we will be posting reminders on the Google Group.

Can you contribute?
Would I have asked this leading question if the answer was no? We love, love, love submissions or even just content ideas from members. Please send your thoughts to

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Pumping Station: One building up for sale

When PS:One expanded in 2017, we negotiated a five-year lease with an option to renew for another five years.

At the time, the building was owned by the Khouri brothers, Tony and Dan. Recently the brothers divided their ownership. Tony moved his business closer to his home, and Dan took sole ownership of the building.

A few days ago, the brothers let us know that Dan would like to sell the building and is making preparations to do so. Any new owner would be obligated to honor the lease, including the renewal clause. Even in the event of a sale, PS:One retains the right to stay in its current location for up to eight more years.

Or possibly longer. Another option that has been long discussed is PS:One buying the building ourselves. Alternatively, a trust could by the building on our behalf. Similar arrangements have been made by the Milwaukee makerspace and others.

A third option is to remain a tenant under new owners. And, of course, a final possibility is to move to a new location. Moving is logistically complicated, but it also offers an opportunity to consider the long-term needs of a growing membership.

No changes are imminent, but we do need to begin the hard work of educating ourselves and laying the groundwork for an eventual decision. Likely steps include:

  • Understanding our legal rights as tenants
  • Talking to lenders about the financing options available to us
  • Establishing a capital fund
  • Setting fundraising goals and soliciting donors
  • Appraising the building and surveying the local real estate market

But the most important next step is tapping the expertise and seeking the input of our membership base. We plan to hold an ongoing series of conversations, both in-person and online, to ensure that members have full insight into the process as it unfolds. As always, we will be reliant on dedicated volunteers to ensure that PS:One continues to fulfill its mission and thrive.

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