Tag Archives: Talk

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.


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A Guided Tour To Creating a Commercial Video Game

This month (tonight!) our guided tour speaker is Erin Robinson of Ivy Games.  If you’re a fan of adventure games and the game industry moves away from your favorite genre, what are you to do?  Erin decided to start making her own.  After a making a few award winning games and giving them away for free, she decided to make games her career and create Puzzle Bots, which was recently named one of the Pax 10.   Puzzle bots was produced through a small studio, which means it was made with a lot less money and a lot more hacker ethic.  Erin will be talking about what inspired her to take this difficult path, the process of making her idea into an actual product, and the awesome along the way.

The doors will open at 7pm, the talk will begin at 8pm. I hope to see you all there!

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A Guided Tour Double Feature: DIY musical instruments and CNC tools

This month we have two Guided Tour talks from a couple of great people doing very interesting things. In the June “It’s so awesome it’s probably illegal” edition of PS:One Guided Tours we’ll have the following talks:

This Friday, June 18th:


A low-cost, open-source desktop CNC mill – http://www.diylilcnc.org

Chris Reilly and Taylor Hokanson will talk about the history and evolution of the DIYLILCNC project, some general bvackground of CNC technology, some of the shortcomings of the present state of CNC and how those are addressed by open-source hardware projects like the DIYLILCNC. We’ll also go over the specs of the DIYLILCNC, giving details about how it is built and its functions.

Chris Reilly is a Chicago-based artist, writer and teacher. He received his BFA with a focus on New Media from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2006. Chris is currently employed as manager of SAIC’s Advanced Outptut Center, and a part-time faculty member teaching between SAIC’s Design and Film/Video/New Media departments. Since 2003, Chris has shown work in several solo and group art exhibitions in the US and Europe; he works with modded video games, virtual/augmented reality, scripting/programming and kinetic sculpture.
http://www.chris-reilly.org http://www.rainbowlazer.com

Taylor Hokanson is an artist and educator based in Chicago. His studio practice fuses functional design (as exhibited by the DIYLILCNC project) with artworks of a more conceptual nature (such as his Sledgehammer-operated Keyboard). Until recently Taylor taught digital production/fabrication at DePaul University and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Tuesday, June 22nd:


Making unusual and fun electronic musical instruments and turning it into a business – http://unatronics.com/

Maker and Circuit-bender Michael Una will give a talk about the steps involved in turning a hobby into a business. Topics will include business plan creation, logistics, and marketing. Michael will discuss the creation of his company Unatronics, demonstrate his products and discuss his development process.

These are some great talks that I’m really looking forward to seeing. The doors will open at 7pm, the talks will begin at 8pm. I hope to see you all there!

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PS1 is Speaking @ the Ripple Conference this Weekend

After the takeover of Notacon content in Cleveland this weekend (Nicolle ran something like 5 events), it looks like Pumping Station: One members will be providing a lot of content for a conference a little closer to home this weekend: Ripple at the University of Chicago.

Ripple is a conference that explores the role of creativity in urban education, as well as other topics related to teaching practice and education policy.

Here is a partial list of the speakers.  And here is where to sign up.

PS1 Members will be providing the following content:

  • Opening Panel (Christina Pei)
  • Midday Panel 1: What is Education (Christina Pei and Robert E. Lee)
  • Rogue Engineering Skills: lockpicking 101 (Christina Pei and Eric Michaud)
  • Mine’s Smaller Than Yours: Nanotechnology and Chemistry in a DIY Environment (Sacha De’Angeli)
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PS:One Presents – A Guided Tour to Copyright Law

copyleft logoFor this month’s Guided Tour, Daliah Saper will give a lecture on alternative content licensing to members of Pumping Staion: One, answering questions about open source software, creative commons, and the differences between “copyleft” v “copyright” agreements. Her discussion will include an overview of basic copyright law as well as recent copyright cases involving alternative licensing disputes.

This will take place on Tuesday, April 27th at 3354 N Elston.  The doors will open at 7pm.  If you want to learn how to protect your ideas while sharing them with the world, come ready to learn!

About Daliah

Daliah Saper is the Principal Attorney at Saper Law and serves as counsel to creative entrepreneurs and innovative business organizations. She is a member of the Illinois Bar and both the General Bar and Trial Bar of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. As a litigator she handles cases involving trademark and copyright infringement, computer fraud and abuse, trade secret misappropriation, online defamation, and commercial disputes. As a transactional lawyer she helps clients choose the right business entity, drafts corporate bylaws and LLC operating agreements, negotiates contracts and software licenses, and provides comprehensive trademark and copyright counseling.

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FRED Talk: Good Times With Quantum Mechanics on April 14

We’re delighted to announce our latest FRED talk: Good Times with Quantum Mechanics.

If you’ve ever wanted to talk with a real live quantum mechanic, this is your chance!

April 14 at 8pm (doors open at 7) at Pumping Station: One 3354 N. Elston Ave, free to the Public.

Dr. Ian Spielman, a NIST researcher and UMD adjunct professor will present:

Synthetic electromagnetism: using quantum mechanics to engineer the fields that weren’t

Creating Synthetic Magnetism from JQI Admin on Vimeo.

[details after the jump] Continue reading FRED Talk: Good Times With Quantum Mechanics on April 14

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PS:One Presents – A Guided Tour to Twisted Python

Twisted Logo

It’s time for another Pumping Station: One Guided Tour.  This time, Dustin J. Mitchell, the maintainer of Buildbot is giving an introductory level tutorial on Twisted Python, a popular asynchronous programming library.  Afterward, he will lead a sprint on Buildbot to add some tests and squash some bugs that will give you some practical experience using your new Twisted skills.  The sprint will start on Tuesday night and reconvene during PS:One’s Quiet Riot Hackathon the following Saturday.  The tutorial will be recorded and once the video is complete it will be added to this post.

The tutorial will begin at 8pm on Tuesday, March 23rd.  The doors will be open at 7pm at 3354 N Elston.  Please bring your computer if you plan on participating in the programming.

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PS:One Presents – a Guided Tour to The Technological Singularity

Coutesy of Ray Kurzweil and Kurzweil Technologies, Inc

I’m pleased to present our first PS:One Guided Tour on this Tuesday February 23.  Our guest is Joel Kuennen, who will lead a discussion about the technological singularity.


The End of Modernity, the Birth of the Singularity: Cultural Implications of the Technological Singularity

Modernity is defined by philosophers and historians as a stage in human culture which is referential in nature; a state of being which collapses time through its signification of past, present, future. It is fundamentally paradoxical. A contemporary, modern moment consists of a spectrum and gains meaning through the relations of the points on this spectrum. How we think, act, and feel are all bound to this conception of being in time. We are born into a cultural unit with a specific history, a specific ontology that defines our social roles and positions based on recordings of past occurrences. The present is congruent with the past and history assures us of this. We live and someday will die. We surround ourselves with momento mori as to not forget the meaning that can be associated with every breath. Life is short. It is transient, a blip. We will die someday. This is what we in our culture believe.

This view is what determines meaning in our lives but what happens once the threshold of the singularity has been crossed? Once death is no longer a promise but merely a possibility? Once the present is so different from the past as to detach itself from the reflexivity which has so far defined modernity and the meaning of everyday life?

Joel Kuennen is a graduate student in the Masters of Arts Visual and Critical Studies program at The School of the Art Instiute of Chicago. He is a contributing writer for Chicago Art Magazine and FNews Magazine as well as a practicing artist who works primarily with digital video and multimedia installation. His theoretical writings concern cinema studies, new media studies and contemporary subjectivity as inflected by spatial relationships.


This sounds like an exciting topic, I hope you’re all looking forward to it as much as I am!

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Neurofeedback: the ultimate in self-hacking

image credit: Gaetan Lee

Guest speakers and mother-son duo Nancy Milnes and Dan Simborg come to PS:One to talk about the technology, promise, and pitfalls of neurofeedback training.

Date: 1/23/2009
Time: 6:00 pm, before the evening’s Hackathon activities

Neurofeedback, or biofeedback with an electroencephalogram(EEG), is a potentially revolutionary technology. You can use it to train your brain for increased focus, improved meditation, and to alleviate various medical conditions. Come early to the Hackathon to learn from two experienced practitioners of neurofeedback:

Nancy Milnes is a licensed clinical social worker with over 25 years experience as a psychotherapist.  in 1999, frustrated with the limits of talk therapy, she began her exploration of neurofeedback.  Along the way, she cured herself of narcolepsy and migraine headaches as well as reduced some of her ADD symptoms.  Nancy has used a variety of systems and approaches and currently combines talk therapy with 2 different kinds of neurofeedback therapy.

Dan Simborg is a sociologist, community organiser, and producer of many artistic events throughout the country.  he took an interest in neurofeedback when his mother “turned him on to it.”  over the years he has seen many advances and changes in the technology and has explored NFB as an effective healing modality.  in 2006, dan went to Victoria, BC, to train under the creators of one of the programs being used by the mother son team.  what he found was an opening of a door into the mind and spirit that surpasses many non-traditional areas of thought.

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