Chronicle of a Lab Coat Foretold

I’ve really enjoyed other Hiver76s’ stories of how they became makers, but I’m a little shy to share like that. Instead, I’m starting a new meme: How I use my lab coat.

 

Using polishing compound to shine up a piece of titanium that I'd machined on a watchmaker's lathe. Note the fetching eyewear. Damn right I rock the safety gear...usually.

 

Several of us Hive76 fashionistas have special relationships with our lab coats, from dignified appreciation to reckless abandon. I’m one of those people who shows my lab coat undying affection by using the crap out of it. Every grease stain, every paint smear, every nicked buttonhole is an homage to a project that wouldn’t have been the same without proper mad-scientific attire.

By all rights, my lab coat should have a Cult of the Dead Cow logo on it. It was 2006 and I was at HOPE SixRead the rest

Future music and full duplex love with Tek Lado

A couple months ago I thought I saw a broadsheet in a newspaper box with a cover story called “Who is the Hispanic Geek? / Quien es el Geek hispano?”.  But I figured it was a figment of my optimistic imagination.  A few weeks later a friend asked if I’d seen this new bilingual tech and pop culture magazine (PRINT!) called Tek Lado.  It took another couple looks to get the pun (get it? Teclado?) because every time I picked up the zine my head was flooded with happy chemicals and I couldn’t think straight.

But Tek Lado actually exists in the world outside my head, and although they’ve moved from print to online only, they appear to be even cooler than I thought.  I met with editors Mel Gomez and Liz Spikol (formerly of Philly Weekly) last week and it was one of those perfect meetings where … Read the rest

Sex Toy Hacking at The Hacktory this Sunday

DIY flogger, courtesy of QuixoticGoat
DIY flogger, courtesy of QuixoticGoat

 

Ever wanted to make a pair of undies that light up when the wearer hits a certain body temperature? How about a flogger made of old bike tubes? Ever wondered about reprogamming the vibration pattern in your favorite silicone friend for lots of fun and zero profit? On Sunday, Hacktory friend and instructor Maggie is leading a free-form workshop on hacking sex toys at The Hacktory and you’re invited! Registrations are filling up for this fun, respectful and creative workshop that requires no tech expertise, so head over and register for the workshop. You can also forward it around on teh schmacebook.

For some wildly creative ideas linking sex, electronics, galvanic skin response sensors, gender politics, and art, check out Elle Mehrmand and Micha Cardenas’ Bang Lab at UCSD. They do amazing things like monitor their heart rate and temperature and sending the info … Read the rest

Gender, Technology and UN Pants

Photo courtesy of FatBusinessMan

It took a minute, but I found decent pants to wear to the UN. Yeah, that UN. This Thursday, March 3, 2011, I’m part of a panel about “Women in Technology: The Past, Present, and Strategies for the Future”, which will happen alongside the United Nations 55th Committee on the Status of Women Annual Conference. The topic of the big conference is access and participation of women and girls in education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work. This event is organized by the Foundation for the Support of the United Nations (FSUN) and co-sponsored by United Nations Association, New York (UNA-NY); World Diversity Leadership Summit (WDLS) and Hitachi Data Systems. More info from the UN Association and the Foundation for the Support of the UN. It’s open to the public, so stop Read the rest

“I’d Rather Be A Cyborg Than A Goddess”: Getting a PhD in Geek

My dear friend Christina is as humble as she is brilliant, which makes it easy to overlook things like this. Dr. Christina Dunbar-Hester’s Ph.D level syllabus on technology and media at the School of Communication & Information at Rutgers was profiled in The Atlantic back in September and I only just found out about it by poking around her Rutgers bio.

Her comments start by saying that basically, everybody likes to talk about how technology drives political and social change, but it’s important to look at how culture shows up in technology itself. Her dissertation, “Propagating Technology, Propagating Community?” dealt in part with how geeks, particularly political geeks, form their identities. For example, how do you form a geek hobby group with gender equity when the people who show up and WANT that gender equity, are mostly men? Bonus: a friend of a friend called it the only funny dissertation … Read the rest

Up On The Roof: The Legalese of Green Roofs and Rooftop Farming

On Saturday Feb 12, I gave a talk with Zhenya Fomin of the Energy Coordinating Agency and a former green roofer, on the zoning, permitting, and engineering realities of green roofs and rooftop farms, at the Horticulture Center in Fairmount Park. The talk was part of the Second Saturday Gardening series, and you can check out the other great offerings here and by clicking around the Extension website here. To register for future events, call the Penn State Philadelphia Extension office at 215- 471-2200 Ext 100 or just show up. The event is $10 and the funds go back to the Philadelphia Master Gardener program.

  • Here’s a copy of the talk including a bunch of resources and links to tax incentives, how-to guides, and rooftop farms around North America.
  • Here’s a copy of Community Design Collaborative’s work for PRooF.
  • Finally, here’s a fantastic article about rooftop farming by Phil Forsyth
Read the rest

E-waste Talk from The Next HOPE

In July, 2010 I presented a talk on my thesis topic, electronic waste, at the Hackers On Planet Earth, or HOPE conference in NYC.  My main interests around the topic are environmental justice, externalized costs, and transboundary movement of commodities. Sounds a little dry, but it’s plenty juicy. Here’s a link to the presentation.
Electronic Waste: What’s Here and What’s Next.Read the rest

Site Visit with AIDG in Guatemala

Para leer esta historia en Español, por favor escribame a steph.alarcon@gmail.com y trataré traducirla!

This past winter, I spent a month in Guatemala studying Spanish, checking out appropriate technology projects, and zipping around the geologically manic country around the Western Highlands. Here’s a reportback from a visit to the offices of the Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group (AIDG). I got to check out some prototype wind and solar designs and take a peek at their new kit-built CNC machine and custom circuit board designs.  Later, I got to poke around the office and come along on a site visit to a biodigestor installation they did outside of the city.  It lets the farmers nearby turn animal waste into organic fertilizer and cooking gas while reducing greenhouse emissions.  I got to hear about the combination of technical and user friendliness challenges they encountered and saw how the system is working now Read the rest