This weekend I am attending the European hacker conference Hacking at Random. HAR takes place every four years at a former socialist youth-camp about an hour away from Amsterdam in the beautiful Netherlands.
Rather than fly directly to HAR, my wife and I decided to make a larger vacation out of our trip, and we have been busy touring Europe for over a week now. We still have over a week left, so expect slow updates until I return and have a chance to catch up!
I just uploaded the slides from my talk at NOTACON about Hacking the Asus WL-520gU Wireless Router.
Eventually a video of the talk will be available from the NOTACON media archive, but for now check out the slides to see some examples of what can be done with the Asus WL-520gU uber hacking platform.
If you have any questions about the talk, you can ask them over on the forums or contact me directly.
Kevin Kelleher wrote an interesting post the other day on emerging technology blog GigaOM, entitled 2009: Year of the Hacker.
Kevin’s theory is that members of the growing ranks of unemployed professionals will choose to apply their “spare cycles” towards new and innovative projects after being released from the daily grind of full time employment.
I wonder what kind of creativity could be unleashed by workers who, though deprived of a steady paycheck, are freed from such tedious tasks. Some could come up with new ideas that help vault the web to a more advanced stage. Others may make micro-contributions that are equally powerful in aggregate. Such creativity could then foster an entirely new generation of startups, which would eventually lure away some of those who had remained at steady jobs all along.
I agree with Kevin because I have seen the beginnings of this trend firsthand. Several of my colleagues in San Francisco left or lost their jobs this year, and not a single one sat at home eating potato chips. Why? Kevin quotes Chris Anderson, who writes:
… I think you’ll see a boom in creativity and sharing online as people take matters into their own hands. Today, if you’re in-between jobs you can still be productive, and the reputational currency you earn may pay dividends in the form of a better job when the economy recovers.
This reputational currency is real, and it is a direct result of the ease of collaboration and the almost zero barrier to entry in software (and increasingly hardware) development. The tools are cheap or free, high speed internet is everywhere, and somewhere out there someone is interested in helping to bring your project to life. It is becoming easier than ever to innovate in your own garage. Don’t have a garage? Use someone else’s instead.
The dividends have yet to been seen, but I am optimistic that efforts today will be repaid tenfold tomorrow.
Some interesting electronics/microcontroller/hacker themed blogs I’m reading these days:
And some new (to me) blogs:
That’s it for now. If I missed any good ones, I’d love to hear about them, leave a comment or contact me. You can access all of the blogs I mentioned (and a couple more) from the blogroll to the right.
This past weekend, I attended The Last HOPE at the Hotel Pennsylvania in NYC. The con was awesome and I had a great time. This was my first HOPE, and I noticed a few strong themes this year, including:
- Hardware hacking is getting a lot of attention and there is a lot of interest in microcontrollers including new design and reverse engineering off the shelf hardware like RFID.
- Local community based physical spaces for hacking are booming. Hackerspaces like NYC Resistor and the Hacktory are becoming a very big part of the scene, and new hackerspaces are popping up all over the world. Each space has their own unique interests, but common themes seem to be microcontroller hacking (especially Arduino), fabrication (like Reprap and Fab@Home) and other more physical projects instead of just writing code. There was even a new wiki announced at the show that is devoted to tracking hackerspaces and helping start new ones at hackerspaces.org.
- There was an awesome talk about Biohacking by Chris Seidel (I wish I could find a link) that makes me wonder if we will see more of this in the future as Bioengineering becomes more accessible to the masses. The parallels Chris identified between biological processes and electrical circuits were spooky.
It was announced during the closing ceremonies that the Hotel Pennsylvania will not be demolished as was previously announced, and that there will indeed be another HOPE in 2010.
NYC Resistor has some info about the 3D Wiremap demo, one of my favorite exhibits, shown below.