Showing posts from 2013

drive-a-bout update- Wyoming drive through and Billings, MT landing

I landed in Billings, MT. last night.  Dark and cold.

The drive through Wyoming was desolate.  That is one EMPTY state.  But the landscape was amazing.  From almost alien to wide open and desolate to rocky mountain beauty.  This is the first time I've gone past Cheyenne (to the North) and it's all true:  It's the backdrop of an old Hollywood western, for hour after hour at 75mph.  The beauty (and sense of being alone) is extreme and, in many places, the wind never stops (I've read Wyoming has one of the highest per capita suicide rates in the nation, largely due to the non stop wind).  I can see why some of the most rugged and self sufficient folks might want to choose Wyoming as home.  If you live here, and you want to be, you're very much alone.

Today:  Not sure if I'll head North, again, or swing West.  Not feeling the draw to the East today.  I may seek out local hackerspaces as I go.  We'll see.

Drive-a-bouts (the Amercian version of a Walk-a-bout)

I'm off on another drive-a-bout.

I started doing these about 20ish years ago.

Just get into a (reasonably well stocked up) car and go.  No direction, no destination, no plan, no timeline.

The original idea came from the Australian concept of a walk-a-bout.  Only, being a lazy American, I didn't do it on foot, I did it by car.

So off on another I go.  It's a been a few years, but I'm due.

Oddly, this isn't 'something a retired person' does (as one of my younger coharts suggested).  It's really something everyone should do, the younger the better.

Outfit your car with just enough sleeping gear to spend the night in it if you need to.  If it's summer, bring camping gear.  Also have enough cash to rent a hotel in any city you happen to land in (I've ended up in NYC, New Orleans, LA, Chicago, a vast array of smaller cities and towns and villages and a few totally out of the way trailer parks and hidden enclaves).

You'd be amazed what you find.  …

Simple Stuff...

Really simple stuff, actually.  Yea.. we've all heard it.  We also forget and the occasional reminder doesn't hurt one little bit.

Some excellent advice on just living from Brad Feld regarding not falling into a depression (and what to do about it):

"The first is the 80/20 rule. When running Feld Technologies in my 20s, I remember reading a book about consulting that said a great consultant spent 20% of their time on “overhead” and 80% of their time on substantive work for their clients. I always tried to keep the 80/20 rule in mind – as long as I was only spending 20% of my time on bullshit, nonsense, things I wasn’t interested in, and repetitive stuff that I didn’t really have to do, I was fine. However, this time around, I’d somehow gotten the ratios flipped – I was spending only 20% of my time on the stimulating stuff and 80% of my time on stuff I viewed as unimportant. Much of it fell into the repetitive category, rather than the bullshit category, but nonetheless I w…

Use of the word "Hacker"

Apparently, the US Legal System hasn't kept up with the use of words in the English language over the last Ten years.

From the blog Digital Bond:

Call Yourself A Hacker, Lose Your 4th Amendment Rights
It seems all you have to do is saying something like this:  “We like hacking things and we don’t want to stop”  on your website, and a court can decide you don't deserve your Constitutional 4th Amendment Rights protecting you from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Read the article and decide for yourself, but, this tells me using the word hacker in my little world of hackerspaces just got a lot more tenuous.  And that's sad.

We use this word because it fits what we do.  We hack things up by taking them apart and putting them back together in different, often better, forms.  We hack together something new out of nothing.  We hack our way into something that's broken or dead or no longer useful and fix it, bring it back to life and make it useful again; often with a new pu…

Starting a Hackerspace or Makerspace - some specifics

Lately, a bunch of people have been asking me about hackerspaces and makerspaces (same thing, different feel to the words, go with whatever you prefer).

I guess it's because I was a member of Denver's hackerspace (denhac) and on it's board of directors.  I also started the Longmont Hackerspace (TinkerMill) in the spring of 2013 and have learned a bit about the current state of hackerspaces, getting them started and running them.  This post is about starting the basics of how to start one with some specifics and some examples.  I may do more on running them in the future, but for now.. just get started.

A bit of background:

There was a time, 5-6 years ago, when it was hard to get people to understand what a hackerspace was.  That time is no more.  It's significantly easier to start a hackerspace today than it was even a year ago.

The two things that have changed are awareness of what a hackerspace/makerspace is, and tools for gathering like minded folks to help get it g…

A Colorado Hackerspace Council?

I'm wondering if it's time to put together a statewide Hackerspace Council of sorts.

We've got at least 5 hackerspaces in the front range (3 in place, 2 forming), all reasonably close to each other.

TinkerMill in Longmont
Solid State Depot in Boulder
Denhac in North Denver
The Concoctory in South Denver
Loveland Creativespace in Loveland

What if we all talked to each other and pooled our resources?  Made it possible to share spaces (someone from Denver's in Boulder for the day and could use a table and internet access to work from: drop by SSD!  Or if someone from Boulder's in Longmont for the day and needs a 3D printer for a couple of hours, drop by TinkerMill!  That kind of thing).

I wonder if it's time for that?

Longmont Friends of Fiber (Gigabit Fiber, that is)

Live in Longmont, CO USA?

Want 1000MB up and 1000MB down  internet access for $49.95 mo?

Want every home and business in town wired up for the 21st century?

Join us in making sure we get the bond issue we need to make it happen.




TinkerMill, The Longmont Hackerspace


eWorld is Dead. Long Live eWorld.

eWorld:  A long long ago project in an Apple galaxy far far away.
Got a call from a writer a month or so ago writing a story on eWorld, the last big project I worked on at Apple back in the 90's.  It's a pretty good write up.  Worth a read if you want to know a little about a tiny corner of the beginning of the internet.  The author (Rob LeFebvre) talked to me as well as several of the key folks that originally started with the eWorld project (Cleo, Peter, Trevor, Chris and Jenna... all great folks) to get the real story, almost 20 years after the fact.
Looking at the artwork from way back then, it's still beautiful to my jaded eye.
It's a shame Apple didn't 'get it' back then.  Peter (our GM/VP) tried so hard to get the (various) CEO's to understand.  I think we went through 3 during the lifespan of the project, which wasn't all that long.  A sad time at Apple. 
But, t…

A Longmont Hackerspace

So, I'm going to take a shot at starting up a hackerspace in Longmont, CO.

First meeting isThursday night this week.  7pm.  See the link above for details (If you live around here.. come on down!).

Longmont:  It's a very interesting town.  About 90,000 people.  Great school system with a special STEM program (6 grade schools, 3 middle schools and 1 high school...).  They start teaching the kids how to program computers, in the 'feeder' grade schools, at 6 years old.

It has a ton of greenway bike paths.

It has a gigabit network buildout in process.  The city council here just gave the go ahead to build out a city owned (municipal) gigabit fiber network.  Think:  Google Fiber level connectivity to every home and business, but, from a not for profit city that will never raise prices (just speeds).  The city also sponsored a City Hackathon in April (first ever... went great). They're well on their way to turnin…

Longmont Hackathon and Open Datasets

Developers, Hackers and Designers Sign up here:

Longmont's Civic Hackathon ( will be firing up next weekend, April, 12th, 13th and 14th at Skyline Highschool in Longmont, CO. and the city just put up more Open Data Sets and and API's that developers and dev teams can take advantage of.

Cities and their information sets are supposed to be open to their residents but, that doesn't always happen to the level it really should.

Hackathons help change that.  We've seen larger cities like New York, Denver, Chicago, Austin and Oakland put on civic hackathons for a few years now, and that's really helped to open these city data sets and turn the cites more into Open Data Platforms for it's residents and it's businesses.

What's exciting to me is when a smaller city like Longmont (Pop. approx 88K) takes the initiative and puts on a civic hackathon.  It's not as common to see and, for that…

What's it take to create a hackerspace?

Hacker Space Brussels (HSBXL)
So, in case you haven't figured it out, I'm really getting into this hackerspace area.  I'm a member of denhac ( and on it's board of directors.

I'm working with my town to try and get them to create a municipally sponsored hackerspace (which I'm calling a makerspace because the word hacker, still, makes some of the more conservative types cringe).

I'm trying to figure out how this can fit into a communities educational system, it's local businesses, it's civic structure and the overall infrastructure of the town it exists in.  And it should exist in every single town.

At first, some people thought hackerspaces where just a fad.


This is a major societal trend.  It's related to community, education, the high cost/debt created by and questionable value of college, the end of unions (and the end of things like guilds and apprenticeships), the desire by many people to start their own businesses and…

Gigabit Cities. How?

I commend Julius Genachowski, Chairman of the FCC.  He wants to see a 'Gigabit City' (1000 MB internet connections to homes and businesses) in each of the 50 US states, by 2015.

But there are two big stumbling blocks in the way.  First, how does this get paid for?  Is the federal government going to help jump start this by providing infrastructure funding to help?

Apparently not.  At least, there are no plans for it at present.

Second, how do you get around all the laws being passed nationally that make it illegal for a municipality to install a gigabit network for it's citizens?  I live in Colorado and we have a law like that here that Comcast and it's friends paid off some state politicians to put into place.  The premise was 'government shouldn't compete with business'.  It makes it illegal for a municipality to put in place a Gigabit Network without first having a special election and getting the majority of the population to vote in building the network…