Cutting the cord


So, on a Hacker Dojo mailing list, a note went out today that read:

When I came in today, I saw the toaster was written on "MORONS LEFT ON ALL NIGHT SOLUTION ->" with an arrow pointing to the cord which has been cut. I'm wondering if anyone knows more information about it.

With a picture attached:

Hacker Dojo Toaster

It reminded me of college, and, in fact, of the Ride of the Valkyries.

It was tradition during finals week to play the Ride at the loudest possible volume at 7:00 am. I was dating Frank my sophomore year. He had access to the giant speakers from the music room sound system located at the Student Center. By "giant" I mean the cabinet for the subwoofer was a meter tall. And he had a particularly good amp that could power two of these speakers.

So, at the end of the school year, on the first morning of finals, we dragged those speakers up the stairs, set them up at the end of the freshman hall, set up the amp, attached the CD player, put in ear plugs, and promptly at 7am, launched the Ride of the Valkyries at volumes not previously heard in the previous two years (I have no idea if someone else had done this same plan, I just know it was the loudest I had heard). As soon at the song started, we hustled to the far end of the hallway to see the carnage that would follow.

Not very long later, I really don't recall how long it was but it wasn't very long, Prince, the tiny freshman that no one in the house liked, walked out of his room next to the speakers. With scissors, he proceeded to cut the cords on the speakers.




There was a certain amount of anger and finger pointing that happened immediately after that. Frank ended up paying for replacements for the now unusable speaker cords. We filed a complaint with the MoSH, though, in retrospect, I'm not really sure what argument we were trying to make. We were tormenting the frosh, but doing so in an accepted tradition, they responded in a destructive way, who is really at fault here? Had Prince just unplugged the speakers, I'm not sure we wouldn't have just plugged them back in, though I also don't recall the "rules" with the Ride.

Maybe Andy or Charles can help me out there, I should ask one or both of them if it was verboten to start the Ride back up once it was legitimately shut down on a morning, or if we could play it until the end.

Not clued in


Some people don't know the hacker/cracker distinction. Nor do they quite understand the concept of the "community center" that the Dojo is.

From IRC, Freenode #hackerdojo tonight:

[23:19]   hello
[23:21]   i stumped upon some documents with admin/passwords w/ corresponding websites.
[23:21]   anyone interested, perhaps for knowledge collection.

Best schedule yet


Directors meeting set up for next Tuesday has the following schedule:

Rough schedule:

7:00PM - Cocktails & guests arrival
7:30PM - Dinner
8:00PM - Main Act
8:30PM - David dances around naked
9:00PM - Cult suicide whilst waiting for a comet

Cracked me up.

I'm in Wikipedia!


Unlike most of my tech friends, I haven't had a presence on Wikipedia. Since they discourage vanity pages, and I didn't get in during the free-for-all hey-day of its beginnings, I'm pretty much screwed in terms of having my own page. So, no love for me.

Until yesterday, that is.

With the reference in various local venture sites, the HackerDojo is on Wikipedia, and therefore, as Founding Director, so am I. I should have made this a lifetime goal, just so that I could check it off.

First all hands at the HackerDojo


We had our first all-hands, membership meeting of the HackerDojo at the HackerDojo. Really, to go from idea to momentum to incorporation to lease to opening in less than six months is impressive if looked at from an outside viewpoint. From here in Silicon Valley, wow, what took us so long?

I arrived a little early, mostly to straighten up a little bit, but also to think about what I was going to say in front of the group that was expected in an hour. Fortunately, Zonker had arrived and had his broom with him. I was able to zone out and think with the mechanical rhythm of pushing the room to clean up sawdust and leaves.

My two areas of talk were donations (what we need) and thanks (oh boy!). Donations were straight forward, as we have a list of things the HackerDojo is looking for. What may not have been clear to people is that they don't need to actually OWN the stuff themselves to be helpful in finding furnishing and equipment for the HackerDojo. Aside from Craiglist, Freecycle lists are also a great way to find items people are giving away. Our biggest problem is getting crap (or as Kris says, "Free shit is still shit.") as people people clean out their garages thinking, "oh someone could use this." Yeah, free crap is still crap.

Figuring out who to thank as my second topic was far harder than I thought it would be. My first instinct was to just thank everyone, because really, wow, didn't everyone help? But, well, as I pushed that broom and people began to filter in, I realized that, no, not everyone here had contributed equally. There were some people that were head and shoulders above the rest, a fact which really shouldn't surprise me.

In every volunteer organization I've been in, EVERY single one, from ultimate leagues to Master Gardeners to the HackerDojo, the majority of the work is done by a small number of very passionate individuals. The trick of a good volunteer organization is to have someone in a high enough position, with a strong enough personality, who goes out and individually picks people to lead tasks that need to be done. When there is one person in charge of a project, the project gets done. When there's a group, the diffusion of responsibility leads to a diffusion of blame, and nothing gets done.

To that end, I had Sam Odio to thank, for both taking on projects that I just handed him, no questions asked, and getting our new railing in. I had Dean Mao to thank, for both his staffing of the Dojo and the networking setup. Dean was one of the strong candidates for the Founding Director position, and a great contributor to the Dojo. I had Zonker to thank for testing, labelling and fixing all of the outlets, lights and switches of the Dojo. I asked for a volunteer to take on this project, and don't think I could have found a better person for the job. I had Tom Harrison to thank, for both his SHDH contributions, but he behind the scenes support is getting things going. The Tom/David/Jeff combination is really hard to stop when they get going.

So, I had my donation list. I had my list of people to thank, because i was going to forget the names of everyone I've met, who have been helping out. After Brian did an introduction, Melissa gave a budget status report, David wowed the crowd in his energetic, dynamic style, and Jeff talked about projects, I stepped up before 60+ people, took a picture, and commented, "Boy am I glad I didn't have to follow David!" I did receive a number of laughs.

What I found surprising about standing there, and I noticed as I was standing up there, was that my heart wasn't racing. I had none of the usual public speaking fears. My hands didn't sweat, my voice didn't crack, my heart didn't thump-thump-thump as I improvised my thanks and call for donations of fans, furniture and vacuums. A strange type of talking, and I definitely had moments of oops, but for the most part, my chat went well.

I stayed around to meet a number of people, before I just had to leave, the project I'm working on calling insistently loudly in the back of my head. I'm very excited for this project. I hope the space isn't too big and that the culture that develops is amazing.

With the group there, we should be good.

HackerDojo director!

Hey, everyone! Wow, we had more qualified applicants for our Director
positions than spaces! I'm delighted by people's enthusiasm in
pitching in, but also want to specially thank those that applied that
were not selected as Directors. I'd like to honor your spirit of
service and make sure that we have great ways for you to contribute to
the project.

With no further ado, I hereby present Hacker Dojo's Founding Directors
in no particular order:

1) David Weekly.

2) Kitt Hodsden.

3) Melissalynn Perkins.

4) Brian Klug.

5) Jeff Lindsay.

From each of the Directors I'll need your best email, phone, and
snailmail addresses for our legal filings. Please get that information
to me immediately. Oh, and your signature in blood that you're signing
your life away. ;)



Yay, me!

Potential space


Went over with Brian to look at a place in downtown Mountain View today. What surprised me most about the place wasn't how great it was. Rather, I was surprised at how few other people interested in the HackerDojo showed up.

Which is to say, other than Brian, who organized the tour, the real estate agent and me, zero.

The place was/is really cool. There's enough space to have two classes going on at the same time, but the acoustics probably wouldn't lend themselves to such an arrangement. The space had a large number of neat features, the railings, the woodwork, etc., but is too expensive for the amount of space. The building also fails to lend itself to hardware projects: just try to put a CNC lathe on the carpeted, second floor, I dare you.




Hacker Dojo meeting


Tonight was the second HackerDojo group meeting. Tonight was less a progress meeting and more of status session. I felt that last week's meeting was more of an action meeting and this one was a follow up "reporting" meeting for those who missed last week's meeting.

I'm very happy I went, even if the flavor of the meeting wasn't the most desirable, because I met a large number of the people involved with the group via the HackerDojo website. I met Liza (yay! Another Liza!) and another David, as well as Dean Mao, whom I've been wanting to meet as he's a fellow "director," which means he's willing to up a larger amount of moolah than just members.

Because I have difficulty sitting through meetings if I'm not involved in them, I took notes in the meeting. My note taking style is very much a "write everything down, sort it later" method, but it works for me. I can't say I'm thrilled about my role as the "secretary" of the group, but I have to admit that it's more because the role of secretary tends to default to women, and I have a deep-seated aversion to default gender roles. I will also admit, however, that my desire for all things organized often overwhelms my aversion, which explains my willingness to take notes.

I posted my meeting summary. Gosh, I'm looking forward to this hacker community center opening! SO MUCH SO!


Quick visit to San Mateo


Mom and I went up to San Mateo today, to meet up with David Weekly and a few others, so that we could tour some possible locations for a new coworking/community sort of place. There are a number of coworking places in the City, but, as far as we can tell, none on the Peninsula or in the South Bay. Which is not to say you can't find shared places to work: those exist. However, none (also "as far as I can tell") are community run. Most are for-profit facilities with an internet connection, a phone line and a desk. You might have a window in there, too.

So, David put out a call to other like minded people, asking if they'd be interested in starting a coworking/community center on the Peninsula. The response was pretty much overwhelming.

Having recognized, despite my loner tendencies, just how much I need to interact with people to stay happy, I signed up.

Community run means that each member in the community has to help out, or the whole structure falls apart. If nothing else, running multiple ultimate leagues taught me how stressful having a small group, or one person even, run a large organization can be.

So, off we went to help tour places.

Unfortunately, the realtor dropped the ball and didn't meet up with us at David's work place. We ended up chatting about locations and what each of the four of us who showed up were interested in finding. It was a good meeting, if not as exciting as I had hoped it would be so that Mom wouldn't be bored. She was a good sport about it, though.