Saturday, January 18, 2014

Electronic Frontier Foundation and being lazy...

Gentle Hackers,

Please consider joining the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Let's face it, you and I are lazy. We are especially lazy when it comes to protesting stuff. Sure, we get frustrated, disgusted and maybe even a little angry about social/political issues that we feel helpless to do anything about. But, are we angry/frustrated/disgusted enough to go and do something about it? ahh No.

So, why not OUTSOURCE YOUR OUTRAGE! That's right, let someone else do it for you. Why? 'Cause protestin' is hard.

Throw your support behind those politically active, socially active groups that you agree with.

In my case, it is the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Go make a donation $5, $10 or a $1,000. Your donations add up.

Just because we are lazy, it doesn't mean we have to be lame. Come on, its just a few clicks of your mouse and BAM! You've made a difference.

A 2013 Harvard Study, that I just made up, showed that people who Outsource their Outrage are up to 68.5% better looking that people who don't get involved at all.

Just because you're lazy, doesn't mean you have to be lame!

Geek it 'till it MHz!


Visit with the Katy Amateur Radio Society

On Monday evening (January 13, 2014) I met with the members of the Katy Amateur Radio Society.

I originally contacted Jack (WB5KVV), the activities director, to see if they would let me attend and to float a fund raising idea I had by him. Mike (KA5OXA), the club's president, was gracious enough to let me address the group.

For those of you who are not aware, HAM or Amateur radio is a big part of our (the GEEK) Heritage. HAM operators, are in a sense not only the inventors of the hacker space concept, but the O.G. (Original Geeks) of modern times. They've been buying, building, experimenting and developing their own gear for a long time. There is a ton of overlap between our groups.

So it seemed like a natural thing to address the local club.

I got a lot more out of it that I gave. I ended up coming home a convert, signing up for a membership and as soon as I got home, I purchased the test prep material for my Technician's (N00b) license. The next exam for it is on February 15, 2014. If anyone is interested in study for it with me, please let me know.

Several members of the group gave me their email addresses, and I have been in touch with them, so hopefully we will see them at the upcoming pizza and lock pick meeting at Rosa's.

If you are interested please visit their website or go to one of their meetings, they are great folks. Memberships in the Katy Amateur Radio Association are free for non-licensed members for up to a year. Once you have a license, you get your first year in the club for free.

Their website is­. They have their monthly meetings on the second Monday of every month at 7:30 pm. Directions are on the site.

There is some really cool stuff in the Amateur band and, if you have any interest in hacking in RF, getting your license will keep you legal. 'Cause Uncle Sam can get a bit grumpy sometimes.

That's it for now. Don't forget to Login at Get involved. Fill out an RSVP for our Monday, January 23rd (7PM) meeting at Rosa's Pizza (510 S. Mason Rd, Katy, TX 77450). Don't be lame.

Geek it 'till it MHz!


Monday, January 13, 2014

Notes from our meeting with the folks at Katy MakerSpace LLC.

Over the weekend (Saturday January 11, 2014) I had the opportunity to meet with the folks that run the Katy MakerSpace LLC. Harry, Izzy, Aaron were there.
In case you are not aware. There is another meetup group called the Katy MakerSpace LLC.  There was a very small amount of confusion by two members of their group about who we were. It was immediately sorted (we are a different group). I also think that there was (is) concern on their part that we are somehow undermining their efforts. I think they feel a bit protective of the MakerSpace name and concept.

At one point Harry commented that, "HackerSpace is just one letter off from sounding like MakerSpace."  I responded by saying that I thought the people that would be drawn toward a MakerSpace would probably not come to a HackerSpace and vice versa. I also tried to reassure him that Katy HackerSpace is simply a place holder name.

Both Harry and Izzy commented that the word "Hacker" had a negative connotation to it and they wanted to avoid being associated with it.

My response was the opposite. I said that I would, "pay people to protest the hackers..." Because it would give us the opportunity to engage those opposed to the term  and educate them, thereby widening awareness and understanding.

We discussed our views on the maker vs hacker space thing. Harry felt that we should change our name as it is too close to theirs. I pointed out that HackerSpace is a generic name which is part of the American technical lexicon. I reassured them that our intention is to find a more permanent name like most other HackerSpaces e.g. (NoiseBridge, TX/RX, Pumping Station 1, HacDC, Resistor (NYC) etc.

We then discussed some general business strategies. Our respective backgrounds etc..

Overall I think we share a lot of the same beliefs; A desire to see a community space, a love of making and technology etc.

I also think that there are some key differences.

Though they are not for profit, it seems like they want to pursue a traditional business model (pretty standard in MakerSpaces). I don't think that there is anything wrong with that. It just isn't my style.

My preference is based on my experience within the hacker community. Every group (both formal and informal) that I have been a part of has been to run things a little more democratically.

Their vision is for a MakerSpace that contains a space for hackers. Which, they would prefer, not call themselves hackers.

Mine is for a technology focused HackerSpace that adds equipment that is relevant to the group's current interests. I think that such an organization should derive its mission from the members.

In the end I made a $200.00 donation to their cause and advised them that my intention was to stay the course. I told them that I would talk to the group in a few months to see where we want to go.

The folks over at Katy MakerSpace LLC seem like good people and in the grand scheme of things our differences are very small. I would encourage you to attend one of their open houses and see what they are all about.

In the interim I will continue to pursue the goal of a Katy based HackerSpace and I will continue to put my time, energy and money behind this concept.

Geek it 'till it Mhz!


Fill out a Thankless Job application!

Do you have what it takes to operate at an elite level and breakneck pace? If you so you will probably find our mediocrity annoying. We gotta start somewhere right?

If you have a few hours a week you can donate to the cause and a set of skills that matches the task, please consider taking on one of the following positions: 

Minister of Propaganda: Are you a wiz with Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter et al? Do have a sense of humor? Are your writing skills above average? Are you a Smooooooth talker? Have the gift of communicating technical ideas to anyone? Have a great sense of digital etiquette?  If so, you may be the person we are looking for. 


Job Title: Provisional Minister of Propaganda.
Daily/Weekly time suck: 30-60 minutes per day (average)  / 3-6 hours per week. (average)
Qualifications: Background in Marketing and Advertisement. Strong written and verbal communication skills. Strong interpersonal skills. Dynamic Thinker. 3-6 hours per week to give.

Description: As our Provisional Minister of Propaganda you will be responsible for having a sense of humor. Updating social media with news and progress reports. Drafting official "press" releases which are congruent with the club's official polices and practices. You will author tweets which do not exceed 140 characters.

Since we are a start up, this position is expected to share a good deal of the burden with our "Minister of Making People want to be like us" (Marketing) for getting our message to the people.

Applicants should send an email to: (subject) MOP

Minister of Education: Are you an awesome teacher? Have a gift for breaking down and explaining complex technical concepts to group of technical neophytes?  Do you enjoy cataloging and organizing complex data into easily digestible groups? Have a passion for teaching? Are you patient and take joy helping other meet their educational goals?


Job Title: Provisional Minister of Education

Daily/Weekly Time Suck: Unknown
Qualifications: Strong background in education and technology.

Description: As P-Minster of Education, it will be your job initially to screen potential classes for quality. To assist in writing manuals and training media. To assist in the production of educational material for civic outreach projects. To identify educational needs within the organization and surrounding community. To assist in creating exciting and effective training programs. To instruct others so that they may lead and educate their peers.

To apply for this job please send and email to: subject: MOE

Minister of Defence: Do you know Kung-Fu? Do you see 0s and 1s when you look at the network? Could you have coded stuxnet on a VIC20? Shoot us an email and apply to become Minister of Defence.


Job Title: Provisional-Minister of Defence
Daily/Weekly Time Suck: UNK
Qualifications: MUST KNOW KUNG-FU! and spell defence with a C. Overall network security.

Description: As Provisional-Minister of Defence you will be responsible for the design and implementation of our network and server security and security policies at facility. You will respond to web and in house network security events. You will work with the Minister of Education to create training programs.

To apply for this job email: Subj:MODC

Minister of Acquisitions: Are you a geeky anomaly? Got some game to go with your name? Apply to become our Minister of Acquisitions. Are you resourceful geek? Do you know a guy who knows a guy? Do you have a source for yellow striped, neon green desktop cases with a water cooler mod and a custom, laser cut picture of my grandma on the side? Then you just may be the qualified to be our go to scrounger. Drop us a note an apply to become our Provisional Minister of Acquisitions.


Job Title: Provisional Minister of Acquisitions

Daily/Weekly Time Suck: Unk at this time

Qualifications: Background in business management/purchasing/fund raising

Description: The P-MOA is responsible for sourcing facilities, gear, parts, resources.  negotiating leases and purchase prices, equipment leases and donations.

Apply: (subj MOA)

Chief Engineer: Do you have a Scottish accent (ok not a requirement) Have a strong background in Electrical Engineering? Apply to become our Chief Engineer.


Job Title: Provisional-Chief Engineer
Daily/Weekly Time Suck: UNK
Qualifications: A strong background/experience in electrical engineering, hardware systems integrations, Robotics, Access Control etc.

Description: Responsible for consulting on major development projects. Assisting in the design of cool stuff for our facility. Working with the MOE on skill development courses for our hardware centric members.

To apply email: subj:CE

Minister of DefenSe: Do you know REAL kung-fu? Do you have that magical recipe of intellect, pragmatism, street smarts, sprinkled with just a hint of paranoia? Do you look at access control panels and think, "2 min".  Have you ever met a lock that didn't like you? Do you have a favorite brand of IP security camera? Can you spot a Social Engineer from a 1000yds? If so, you may want to drop us a note and apply for the position of MODS.

Job Summary:

Job Title: Provisional-Minister of DefenSe.
Daily/Weekly Time Suck: UNK
Qualifications: Able to work well with others, Strong physical security background. Strong working knowledge of: locks, locking mechanisms, access control, surveillance, slightly paranoid.

Description: The Minister Of DefenSe will be responsible for the management of facility security. Qualified applicant will assist in the design and selection of, the plant security system, access control, and all physical security characteristics. Should have a strong background in technology and plant security.

To apply email:  subj: MODS.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Greetings Fellow Hackers,

Our group has leveled off at 10 new members. I know that many of you that signed up may have done so out of curiosity. I think that we all probably share the same desire to establish a reliable, local HackerSpace in Katy.

I am reaching out to you to find out, precisely what interests you the most about having a HackerSpace here in Katy and what your expectations are.  It would be very helpful to know what equipment you are most interested in using. What classes would you like to see? Tell me about a current project you are working on or something you have completed and would like to show off to people. Do you need support, materials? Maybe what you need is something I or other members don't need and can give or sell to you or perhaps we can provide support in other ways.

Those of you interested in imbedded systems and coding, could you be more specific? Which micro controllers are your personal favorites. What are you interested in but haven't pursued yet?

My personal interests currently revolve around SDR (Software Defined Radio) cellular base band chips and SBD (short burst data) satellite modems, Arduino, Android, car computing systems, linux, learning C++ and java.

Are there projects in your pipeline that you would like help developing? I know Richard has an online programming course he is developing and he would love some volunteers to give him feedback.

Also, if you have friends, acquaintances, coworkers who might be interested in starting a HackerSpace or belong to other groups who live West of Houston who might be interested; please encourage them to either join us through meetup or our Google groups. We now have a google+ and  blog. Feel free to bring them with you to our January 23 meetup. Just be sure to amend your RSVP so that I know how many to expect.

I know that some people who are reading this message were initially confused by a second group with the word hacker in it. There is a group called Katy MakerSpace. I am a member of it. I think that they are really good people and I would encourage you, if your main interest is in crafting and non-technical hacking, please leave our group and throw your support behind them! Or better yet, stay in both groups. We need all of the creative spaces we can get. I plan on making a personal donation to their cause in the next day or two.

My main focus for the first quarter of 2014 is to establish a Technology and Science based HackerSpace here in town. Your support is vital to achieving this goal. You may want to give your support but you are unsure how to do it. Well, support can come in any number of forms.
Right now the most important thing you can do for our group is to come to our first meeting on April 23 (see the meetup for details) and talk, text, email, your friends. Get them to stop by also.

Other things that your can do include:

  • Donating your special skill set. Are you great at something? Tell us about it.
  • Donate Space. Do you have a HUGE garage or a commercial space we can use after hours? Do you know of a place we can meet or are you willing to host an event?
  • Donate your services. Great at web development, how about coding up our website? Marketing Genius? Help us get the word out!
  • Help fund raise. Have an app you are about to launch? How about donating a portion of the proceeds to our cause. Have a fundraising idea? Share it.
  • Would you like to learn more about a specific topic or share what you know? Please speak up.
  • Are you great at creating syllabi? Are you a great teacher or public speaker? Perhaps you could train others with more technical knowledge than you to teach classes.
  • Are you a great technical translator? How about translating geek speak to Lay-Ease, technology and information should  be accessible to everyone.
  • In real estate and know the perfect place for a HackerSpace? Let me know about it.
  • Have thoughts on dos and don't for where the space should or should no be? Share them.

Our HackerSpace will be precisely as cool and interesting as the members make it. So please, take action! Get involved. This is one of those times where your efforts, no matter how small or big, can create and actual difference in the quality of life for both you and your community. Getting involved and helping will not only make you feel great about yourself. but you will be giving a gift to your community that will last (hopefully) for decades.

Just a reminder that I will be teaching an introduction to Lock Picking class at our first meeting. There is no fee for attending. The pizza and soda/water will also be free. Just show up, have fun.
I'll be sending out another email to the members who RSVP including an ethics statement and some background information on lock picking including, cultural issues regarding hacker meetups and the Texas State Laws regarding the possession and use of Lock Picks. If you can print this out and bring it with you. I will ask you to sign and turn in the ethics statement before class begins

If you think you would like to own your own set of picks, email me ( and I'll have a kit you can buy there for what it cost me (about 30 bucks or so). Otherwise you may borrow some of mine and share with a friend and of course you are welcome to bring your own.

Bring some LOCKS! everyone has an old padlock or door lock sitting around somewhere. Just make sure that the lock itself isn't totally rusted. I have wd40 on hand to lube the cylinders.
Bring your children, siblings, grandmother, spouse and your friends! Locking picking and pizza is a great combination. If you have never done it before, it is really fun. There are a lot of national organizations dedicated to promoting the hobby.

I started a discussion on meetup, and feel free to start one on the Google groups channel or send me an email regarding suggestions, for the name of our HackerSpace. I'd like to get a sufficient list so that we might put it to a vote. The person who submits the winning entry will win a small bag with some cool (hopefully) stuff in it. If anyone has anything they would like to donate to the "SwagBag" please let me know.

To those of you how have RSVP'd to the meetup, please send me an email confirming that you intend on going. Think of it as a filter to improve the quality of the RSVP turn out.

I am interested in hearing ideas for our next meetup. I kind of think that we should have different types of meetups. Educational, Social, Show and Tell and club business. What do you think?

Thank you to everyone who has been so patient and generous with their time and energy. Especially a big thanks to Richard, who inspired me to get off my butt and read about the proper way to start a HackerSpace.

If you need to get in touch with me immediately, please feel free to give me a call. I can be reached directly at


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Hello World!!

Hello World!!

The Katy HackerSpace blog is born! Our goal for this group is to create a HackerSpace in Katy, Texas.

Who is Katy?

Katy is the name of the town we reside in. It is a suburb of the great city of Houston, Texas. Which, coincidentally is home to one GIGANTIC HackerSpace. 

What's a hacker space? asked no one.

A great non question! A HackerSpace is a communal area for all people interested in learning about and sharing their love of technology and science.

Isn't a HackerSpace just another way to say maker?

Again, another insightful, yet not asked question. I don't know the answer to that question. I guess it depends on the space. My goal is to create a place where science and technology are the focus. Clearly creativity and crafts are things that should be celebrated. However, in my experience, techie geeks often get lonely staring at gear and reading science articles by themselves.  So our goal is to create a place where Geeks and Nerds of all levels can come, relax, learn and play.

You said that you were a suburb of Houston, and that Houston has a GIGANTIC HackerSpace already. Doesn't that make your efforts a bit redundant?

Well, in truth, the Houston HackerSpace is really huge and I am told amazing. However, I've never actually been. I've not been there because, traffic in Houston is also Texas BIG and my schedule just doesn't allow me to drive downtown, spend time working on projects, and then drive back.

In my humble opinion, every town should have a HackerSpace. In my case, when I was growing, it was a friend's home. He was one of the first "Digital Hippies" I ever met. An old school ham radio operator, who, after he served in Vietnam, started building some of the first home use computers. He had a terabyte of disc drive space back in the days when the larges consumer hard drives were roughly 6 megs. His computers among his racks of servers he had a trap door that opened to a hidden set of stairs. In his cellar he had a full lap complete with Oscilloscopes and bins and bins of components.  

It seemed like he was always awake and always working on a project and willing to share what he new with others. He was responsible for introducing a lot of people to electronics and computers in a time when it just wasn't that accessible, especially in some of the lower income areas.

Today we are fortunate that the internet, and affordable computing is nearly ubiquitous here in the US. However, with that, perhaps we have lost something. An understanding of how the systems and machines we use work and the science behind it. 

So, my answer is, that having a local, easy to access HackerSpace should be part of every community. I think it is a healthy addition that stimulates analytical and critical thinking skills in a social environment.

Are you making tons of money off of this?

No. I plan on funding this project myself until such time as that is not practical. Then, if we have core members who are committed and enough interest from the local community, we can explore turning this into a formally organized not for profit.

How long will this take?

Well I don't know. I am looking for warehouse / office space for myself. I thought that we could hold meetings there until such time as we out grown them. I am hoping to have secured a location by May of this year. I will pay the rent and utilities and set up work stations and build benches to start with.

How can I help?

Get involved! Go to meetings! Help me find an affordable insulated warehouse! Print out and put up some posters at your local hangout (get permission first) If you have an expertise in a technical profession, but can't make regular meetings, offer to teach a short course in your area of study, of a one night introduction.

If you would like to learn something, make a suggestion. I'll try to track down an expert to give a talk on it. 

In the coming weeks I'll try to post more suggestions, information, guidelines rules and regulations etc..

I am currently reaching out to other successful organizers and reading all I can about starting your own HackerSpace. With your help it I am sure we can create a sustainable HackerSpace for Katy, Texas.