A late summary of SHA 2017

Note: I wrote this right after SHA2017, in summer 2017. It’s been sitting on my laptop ever since, so I finally decided to just post this here.

Two days ago, I returned from SHA2017, a 5-day long outdoor hacker camp in the Netherlands. It’s been the second time I went to a dutch hacker camp, and my fourth hacker camp in total, if I recall correctly. The week before, I was a bit reluctant to go, but luckily I did, since it turned out to really great.

But let me get my reasons for being a bit reluctant out of the way first. Just six days before leaving to SHA, I came back from a four week journey across northern Spain and the south-west of France. I was traveling in my firetruck, an old ’82 VW LT, and while I did have a pretty decent trip, it was just a bit too long for me. The original plan was to take the truck back to Munich, and just a few days later take it back up to the Netherlands. Now after those four weeks, I had just grown sick of the firetruck, at least for a while, so I wasn’t quite sure how to get to SHA2017 instead, and also where to sleep, since I was planing to camp the truck.
In the meantime, planing for our village had gone ahead, in quite a different direction than what I was hoping for, and I was just seeing the tail lights of it. Some of the things I wanted to focus on got quite a bit lost in the whole thing, a lot of which I’d attribute to me not having communicated them more clearly, and also not having done anything about it during my trip, only beforehand.
Lastly, I haven’t felt as much at home at hacker events like I used to. I’m still trying to pinpoint exactly where that is coming from, but the general feeling was very much on my mind while making a decision.

Ultimately, I decided to still make my way to camp. The first plan was to go there by train, a mode of transportation which would have greatly limited the amount of stuff I could’ve taken to the event. I tried, with only very mixed success, to get people from our makerspace to bring a few things for me, but I still would’ve had to leave a lot of cool stuff at home. Two days before departure though, the chance to share a car turned up, so that was the way to got, and I could take pretty much most of the things I wanted to take with me.

So what was so great about being there? Essentially: The right things at the right time. I constantly carry a bunch of project ideas around in my head, from various sources and in various states of being thought through. And for quite a few of these, there was just the right village, just the right workshop, or just the right person to talk to about. All at one camp. Let me give you a few examples.

Last year, I went to NoWhere, the European regional version of Burning Man, for the first time, and again this year. Leaving each of these burns, I had the dire need to contribute something artsy to next years event. This year, part of the ideas of what to make involved some sort of fire. There’s a lot of fire at most burns, but at NoWhere, all of it is probane powered, mostly poofers (like pyro flame throughers). So as a proof of concept, a friend and I wanted to build one. Fast forward one month, I’m sitting in Mike W.’s workshop „Flamethrowers 101“, on a dutch campground. Teaching me and a bunch of others all the important stuff about how to safely build a poofer. Very big thanks to him and HobbyBob for doing that session.

Next thing, I’ve been toying around with making and selling electronics kits for a while. My latest project is a synthesizer dev board, with which I had held a workshop at a local faire. Part of my original plans about SHA2017 was to do one there as well, which I ended up doing, after just barely scraping the parts together to make it work. But in the process of preparing this workshop on site, I got to talk to so many people who have done similar things, that it just got me so excited to keep pursuing this thing. The workshop worked out great, and we also did another session to play around with synths, not just mine, the next day, leading to more fun discussions. A big thank you to the Hardware Hacking Area, Emily, Mitch, and everyone else who made this possible and who endured my questions.

On a similar note, I got „dragged into“ the Guild of Makers, by Lucy Rogers, who wants to make an organization for makers who are in the process of „going pro“ or have already done so. Such a great idea, and in a great discussion together with @honx, I felt like we had a great exchange of ideas and encouragement to make this happen.

There were more such coincidents, like talking with the AltPwr people, which do a thing very similar to another NoWhere project on my list. But let’s stop here for now. Having been to SHA2017 has encouraged me to definately make it to 34C3 this December, something which I wasn’t too sure about before. And while there certainly were a few things that could’ve been better and improved upon, I’m more than happy I made my way to camp. See you at congress!

Some thoughts

Hi party folks!

No, I’m not in Australia anymore, and I’m sorry for writing this in English, but it seems like that’s the way my mind want to work right now. A lot of things have happened since the last post right here, but this is not the time and place to go through that all.

I just felt the need to write something, and surprisingly, this need hasn’t been diminished by the troubles to log back into this blog thing again. Maybe I had just sat up a few security hurdles too much (is that even possible on the web?). I’m not quite sure whether this is a good idea, since it feels like it’s going to be much of a stream of consciousness thing, but hey, what could  possibly go wrong…

I’m a bit exhausted right now. There has been a lot going on in the past few days and weeks, plus just the standard craziness this time of year seems to bring with itself. The makerspace (or hackerspace if you like) I co-founded, and still „lead“ as president of the board, is being kicked out of its current space. And while me and I guess quite a few others are rather pissed at Mr. Landlord about the way this has happened, we seem to have a grip on turning it around for the better at the moment. But this whole thing has forced me to think about what my vision for that space is, and also what I personally really want to get out of it. This space has been a shit ton of work and the source of a lot of frustration for me, while at the same time being very inspirational and motivating at other times as well. It just seems to get harder to keep those two sides in balance. There’s always the tiny thought of not going for another year of being member of the board, but being one of two more-or-less solid pillars (in a personal sense) the space had been run on for the last three years, and this whole operation still feeling like „my baby“, it’s not an easy decision for me to make. Even though I see the latter becoming weaker and weaker as an argument, which in a way might be a good thing.

This moving thing we now have to do provides us with a chance, but also with a bunch of risks. Participation for „a greater good“ hasn’t exactly been great, at least from my point of view, and this is something that eats me up a bit. For the most part, I feel like I have been holding my personal projects back in order to get the space and the idea behind it to move forward. But it also feels like there’s only a small handful of people who have a similar mindset. To make matters worse, things had been going surprisingly smoothly for a few weeks before receiving our 3 months notice, which had allow me to finally get some personal projects to move forward, but the „shit came crushing down again“, and it feels like I’m back to zero on that front.

And today, I once more spent endless hours dealing with organisational issues, in ways that got me thinking more than once about whether I should really be doing this. There are some high hopes that we can get this thing to work out, which could turn out really great, but will once more take up a lot of personal effort from people, and I have a feeling it’s going to be the same handful as usual. And once more, it’ll mean the personal stuff moves to the back of the todo list again. For the greater good.

There’s no real takeaway from these thoughts for me yet. Maybe there is in less than 24 hours, we’ll see. It just feels good to have these thoughts written down. Thanks.

Tag 9 – Kangaroos und Koalas


Brisbane. Viel zu früh wach. Frühstück auf Dachterasse. Bus zum Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Rumhängen mit Koalas. Schlafende Wombats. Koala auf dem Arm. Bus zurück in die Stadt. Rundfahrt mit Fähre. Einkaufen. Sonnenuntergang. Continue reading

Tag 8 – Nochmal surfen in Cooly


Kostenloses Frühstück im Hostel. Früher Surfkurs um 9. Pigdog. 2 Quallen, am linken Knie und am linken Ellenbogen. Super Burger (Grill’d). Mit Ananas. Grenze zwischen New South Wales und Queensland. Mit dem Auto nach Brisbane. 6er Zimmer im Hostel. Bus und Fähre zum Hackerspace. Irgendwo im Nirgendwo. Riiiiiiesiger Laden. Monster-CNC-Platform, Nixie-Tubes, Pulse Jet. Fähre und Bus zurück zum Hostel. Ekelhafter Cheeseburger. Birne und Banane. Bett. Continue reading

Tag 7 – Surfen in Coolangatta


Auschecken. Im Auto mitgenommen nach Coolangatta. Hostelzimmer mit Meerblick. Surfkurs in Rainbow Bay um 11, da Wellen besser als am Nachmittag. Bessere Wellen als in Byron Bay, weniger Strömung. Mittagessen. Zu Fuß durch Coolangatta. Tacos und Seashepard-Film in der Hostelbar. Alleine im Dorm. Früh ins Bett. Continue reading