Friday 28 January 2011

Andrew Orr is underwhelmed by string theory

Somewhere, in an alternate and equally expansive universe, a hackerspace did not receive a cupcake in the mail. Fortunately, we find ourselves in a dimension where baked goods arrive freely by post.

The cupcake hackathon saga continues, and we are proud to announce the successful receipt and subsequent unboxing of a foreign cupcake. It was a great success, but due to unexpected circumstances, the video will be up later today.

Today is also the day we take a look at Mr. Orr's Code Camp presentation.

Andrew will be giving a talk on hackerspaces, focusing on the movement in a global context as well as providing details on a few of the spaces themselves. The session will detail the purpose behind hackerspaces, the people they attract and the benefits provided to the surrounding community. The talk will elaborate on Winnipeg and the fledgling movement in our city, with the goal of introducing new members and fueling interest in Skullspace.

That's about all for right now, we'll let you get back to your regularly scheduled weekend activities!

Thursday 27 January 2011

Mak Kolybabi is probably up to no good

Continuing our series of posts concerning Winnipeg Code Camp, it's time to turn the spotlight (and our collective attention span, however short it may be) to Mak Kolybabi.

But first here's a picture of a bicycle:

Mak is currently employed by Tenable Network security as a vulnerability researcher. A self-described griefer, he got his start in chat rooms at the turn of the decade. Causing frustration and anger amongst less-skilled users got him into hacking, and he will be attempting to reconcile his cosmic karma by offering an informative talk on the Nmap security scanner.

The Code Camp session will "look at Nmap's past, present, and future, paying special attention to the embedded scripting language that's been the most important factor in Nmap's evolution, and how the community's contributions, particularly a group of Winnipeg programmers, have shaped Nmap's history."

Again, we'll update you with the exact time and date when they are announced. Until then you can hone your skills of tin-can construction by following this
link! [via /r/DIY]

Wednesday 26 January 2011

Ron Bowes appreciation station

Welcome to Wednesday morning in our beautiful, sunny city! As promised, there'll be info on the Code Camp presentations, but before that we have another announcement.

Ron Bowes and SkullSpace have taken first place in the Nightmare Before Charlie Brown's Christmas hacker challenge, put on by The Ethical Hacker Network.

Imagine the situation: Ron, Mak, Andrew, and Russ huddled around computers in Ron's spare room, our half-broken hub humming away, threatening to die at any moment. We were trying to learn how VoIP, or voice over IP, could be hacked, guided by the contest writeup. The whiteboard was covered in hastily drawn diagrams, and our computers chugged along with a variety of new tools.

Little by little, we whittled away at the problem, figuring out how the contest scenario unfolded. Eventually, things started clicking into place, and we knew every detail about the problem! So we wrote up our submission and sent it in, fingers crossed. Today, the results finally came in - we took first place for the best technical answer! The prize (a book signed by Ed Skoudis himself) will be the first book in SkullSpace's library!

So, after having bested the competition, Ron will be giving back to the community with a talk on security and the mistakes people make.

The codecamp talk is called "Stupid Mistakes Made By Smart People" the talk will cover topics from "tricking SQL Server into arguing with itself to time servers amplifying denial of service attacks, useless encryption in and PS3, and even an undisclosed loophole in a security camera that gives full access to anybody who tries." Winnipeg Code Camp takes place on Saturday, February 26. The exact time has yet to be announced, but we'll keep you updated and we hope to see you there!

For now, please enjoy these Japanese anatomical posters of godzilla-esque monsters:

Monday 24 January 2011

moving parts, codecamp and you

We know it’s not even the end of the month yet, but we’ve already moved our calendars ahead and are staring intently at the last week few weeks of February. Not only are we still (constantly) stoked on the materialization of a physical space, but Red River College (and a bunch of generous sponsors) are putting on a free coding event!

Winnipeg Code Camp is going down Saturday February 26h, and it’s looking to be fairly awesome. Featuring local technology experts (including all three of our founding members) topics will range from coding, networking and security to physical hackerspaces. If that hasn't convinced you, keep in mind the event is at the amazing downtown campus, includes free breakfast and lunch ... and is a stone's throw from the King's Head.

Over the next few days we’ll go over the topics SkullSpace is involved in (and who’s covering them), but for now we'll leave you with this page of useful GIFs of various mechanisms:

Friday 21 January 2011

It's Star Wars craft time!

With the next meeting still being far off (three whole days!) I'm bored and have nothing to do and I'm sure some of you in the same boat. With access to the physical space still a few weeks away, there is nowhere to direct our collective ambition (or place to keep projects...I tried making room on my desk but it was a futile effort).

So I present to you, Star Wars papercrafting! Go home, crack a cold one, hit up /r/trees and try your best to assemble these delightful plant fiber minions of the Empire.

Come in 2 flavors:


and Hard:

Wednesday 19 January 2011

Cupcake Hackathon a success!

Last weekend, on Saturday, January 19th, SkullSpace hosted a cupcake hackathon as part of the Global Hackerspace Cupcake Challenge. There were 16 of us total who all made the long trip to Mak's place out on the edge of the world (well, Winnipeg). Of course, a hackerspace event wouldn't be proper without at least one major technical glitch. Since we had two, we knew it would be good! Our first setback was getting a decent wireless Internet connection in a house that, as far as we can tell, is made of lead. It took an hour and a hundred feet of cat5 cable, but that was solved. The second problem was ustream mysteriously failing under OS X, but rebooting into Windows fixed that. Once we had the infrastructure in place and ustream streaming, it began!

We ended up using a recipe for "french toast muffins," which are sweet, rich, and maple-y, just like Canadians! By law we had to call them cupcakes, and we didn't really know the difference, so we figured it's fine. Since we had two vegans (and three vegetarians!) at the event, we decided to make them entirely vegan, which was a great decision! For an extra touch of Canadian pride, we made a maple-flavoured icing to glaze them with. Our taste testing convinced us we made the right choice!

They were prepared:



Topped with powdered sugar and cinnamon:

And, finally, shipped:

In the end, we shipped a whole dozen (complete with the pan they were baked in!) over to BuildBrighton in Brighton, England, a 6500km (and $80) journey. We hope they get there safe and sound! We also sent one to Black Lodge Research in Redmond, WA, USA, and one member took it upon himself to send two more cupcakes (that he assures me he didn't just eat!) to a boss/friend in Puerto Rico and to a friend in Madison, Wisconsin.

Aside from baking cupcakes we had some other projects going on. Several members brought their lockpicking sets and a plethora of locks so we set up a little "lockpicking village" (which, as it turns out, is a table with locks on it) in the basement. Since it was the first time picking locks for many, it was an exciting experience (and gave us a great idea for one of our first workshops!). Of course, as always, we emphasized the legal and ethical aspects of lockpicking, just like any other security activity.

And here's what it looks like when everybody photobombs the same picture:

At another table upstairs we had 4-5 people doing some software development, working on a secret project (of course, since it's on our SkullSpace github account, it isn't very secret). Hopefully in the next couple months, we'll have an actual release!

Since nobody got a picture of the coding, here's Mak in a hat:

Dave hugging Andrew the Greater:

And the winner of the Best Hat contest:

At the end of the day we had almost 3 hours of video footage from the ustream account. Unfortunately this was very very low quality - 320x240 at 11fps. We took some small clips from that footage and made a little trailer video for the event, which you can view on youtube. We plan to edit up the raw footage and release a longer highlights video with sound in the near future. We also put together a dance number [WARNING: audio] that I don't recommend watching.

Another great thing that happened on Saturday was the pile of donations we received! We had mentioned previously that donations were being accepted, but that it was completely optional, and just people showing up was enough. We tried doing the hard sell, timeshare style, and locked the door. But, since we had muffins and computers nobody seemed to mind. So we tried Plan B and simply asked people to chip in and ended up raising an unbelievable $249! This was much, much more than we ever expected and we are grateful to everyone who donated. This money will help pay off our debts to dangerous loansharks (okay, that's not true) that we already accrued by filing the articles of incorporation, the costs of registering the domain name, postage to England, and, of course, the 70 cent envelope and stamp we had to buy.

We've emphasized this in our meetings and events, but we want to emphasize it again: none of the money we're receiving through SkullSpace, not now or any time in the future, is paid to employees/administrators/members. We are, and always will be, run strictly by volunteers (in fact, even we put money in). This means any and all work people do on behalf of SkullSpace is on a volunteer basis, and any money we take in goes directly towards the benefit of all the members and the space itself, rather than any one member/director/king/etc. We feel this is important as the goal here is not financial gain, but to create a solid community of like-minded people.

So, that brings our first big event to a close, and we all had a great time! I can't wait to see what the future holds for SkullSpace, and hopefully we'll see you there!

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