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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