All posts by Joseph

There was a time when I did not exist. There will come a time again when I no longer exist.

Meeting Three Notes and Updates

Hey, welcome Francisco, David, Will, Helen and John!  It’s  great when new people come to the hackerspace meetings.  We’re glad to have you and we hope that you will come out to future meetings as well.

Update on looking for a space — Jen, Matt and I checked out two spaces over around the Detroit St. part of town.  Both were pretty close to CostCo down on Monument Blvd.  The first space we looked at was in our budget range — around $2000/month but not in the best shape.  Still, it serves to give an idea of what’s around the area in our budget.  Lesson learned for next time: take pictures.

Regarding places to host future meetings — E.J. Phair’s I thought was a good idea, but it turned out to be a little bit loud in there for comfortable conversation among a group of our size.  Also, they didn’t have free wi-fi.  David had a portable hotspot he was generous enough to let us use so it was all right but it would probably be better if we could meet somewhere with free wi-fi so we don’t have to use part of someone’s data plan.

Concord Adult Education center was proposed as a possible future meeting place, so was the Concord Library which Jen and I will check out tomorrow and possibly somewhere on the D.V.C. campus which Will is going to look into.  If anyone has suggestions, please let one of us organizers know and we’ll book it and post the location in Meetup.

We worked on the names and we’ve broken them into categories.  I’ll send around a Survey Monkey on this topic in the near future.  The categories are: 1.  Some variation on Contra Costa (ie: CC or CoCo) 2. Some variation on MetaSpace  3. Some variation on the acronym M.A.C.H. (Makers, Artists, Crafters and Hackers)  4.  Region based names like Diablo, Black Diamond, Concord or Walnut Creek Makers, Todos Santos  5.  leaving 5 for a wild card category.

Progress Updates

Hey all, I received some O’Reilly books and I’ll bring them to the meeting on Sunday.  The topics of the books are Java, Drupal and Raspberry Pi hacking.  They’re free for people who would like them, with the caveat that they’d like us to write a review of the books.

Also, we received a response from the California Department of State about our Artices of Incorporation!  We’ve completed the step of initially filing with them, and now I will have to fill out a Statement of Information (Form SI-200) with them.  I’ll get on that this week and keep you posted about how its going.

Also, Concord Wiki is launched.  Our first meetup is coming up on Monday the 14th at 6:30pm in the Concord Library at 2900 Salvio St.  The link to the event where you can RSVP is here.


Minutes of Our Second Meeting 3/30

East Bay Hackers Meeting – 3/30

Next Meeting – 4/13 at 2 p.m. – location tba


  • Victor Liuz
  • Arnel Comis
  • Matt Brody
  • Josh Cohen
  • Barry Weinstein
  • Bryan Siemon
  • Jennifer Bilafer
  • Joseph Connolly


Meeting Places
Zen Toolworks has offered meeting space at their facility – checking out space on Monday
University of Phoenix Entrepreneurial Program
EJ Phair
Concord Library

Hackerspace To Do’s
Members to post short bios
Come up with new name – possible have more than one brand. Name ideas:
Walnut Creek Makers
Innovation Lab
M.A.C.H. (stands for Makers, Artists, Crafters and Hackers)
C.C. Metaspace

Start Up Costs

Dale Dougherty — We Are All Makers

This is a good companion video to Mitch Altman’s.  Mitch is very good at articulating the hacker philosophy.  The Maker movement is more recent, something of an alternative to the word hacker that’s unencumbered by some of the baggage the hacker label is unfortunately stuck with.

Dale talks about how all of us make things and how a makerspace encourages that creative spark that all of us have, and how the space empowers people.

TED Talk About Hackerspaces

This is a talk by Mitch Altman.  In it, he explains what a hackerspace is and why he wanted to start one in San Francisco.  His space is located in the Mission District, just south of the 16th and Mission BART station.   Mitch is a professional inventor perhaps best known for TV-Be-Gone.


Agenda for Meeting Two (work in progress, please comment)

Great Ways We Could Promote Our Hackerspace

  • Flyers in Coffee Shops, Schools, Etc.
  • Post on Local Event Calendars, Blogs, Reddit, Etc.
  • MeetUp
  • EventBrite?
  • Reddit Bayarea
  • Craigslist
  • Local Magazines, Newspapers, College Papers, Etc.
  • Other Related Meetup Groups
  • What else?

Network/Cross-Promote with Other Spaces

  • Benicia Hackerspace (opens in June?) — Joseph and Jen going to Nicci’s meetup on April 7th
  • Noisebridge, TechShop & Other S.F. spaces — visiting March 23rd
  • Sudo Room, Ace Monster Toys & Oakland spaces — visiting soon
  • Liberate Ourselves Locally (Oakland)
  • East Bay Makerspace (edit — unfortunately now closed)
  • Hay Hackers — they’ll be at Maker Faire in May
  • Hacker Dojo & South Bay spaces
  • Hackermoms Mothership
  • Hacker Scouts Guild (Lafayette)
  • Techliminal
  • The Crucible (Oakland industrial arts school)
  • Hack the Gallery (Berkeley)
  • Counter Culture Labs
  • NIMBYspace
  • Liberate Ourselves Locally (Oakland)

Let’s Borrow Good Ideas from Other Hackerspaces

  • Ideas I Like:
  • Nerds for Nature
  • Hacker Scouts
  • Linux/Computer Classes
  • City of Walnut Creek/Concord Wikis (based on Davis Wiki, Santa Cruz Wiki, Oakland Wiki)
  • What else? and

Okay, I’ve got and set up now to point at open LocalWiki projects.  For Walnut Creek wiki I went with one that has been open but inactive for quite a few years.  The city of Concord did not have its own wiki previously, so I created one for it but it’s presently empty except for some links to other nearby cities.

I am going to spend some time learning the ropes of using LocalWiki and adding some free content to the wikis.  At the next meeting I will plan to have a fact sheet to pass out explaining the project and giving links to content on the subject.

Edit:  I’ll start posting helpful links here as I come across them.

This is  a link to the LocalWiki Community Toolkit for helpful “getting started” information.

This is a WikiMedia picture of Concord Square that I plan to use to represent Concord on the front page of the wiki.  If anyone has a better, non-copyrighted, recognizable picture of something famously from Concord please let me know or just feel free to add it to the wiki yourself.

Posting My Hackerspace Notes

For a while now, I’ve been reading up on hackerspaces around the United States.  I’ve been interested in the different purposes they’ve found, the things their members do, the different reasons people have had for starting them, etc.  As time permits, I’ve made an effort to communicate with their founders to ask them about their stories.

This is a list of hackerspaces I’ve looked up, and a little about each.

Hay Hackers in Hayward, CA — Not exactly local to me, but not terribly far away either.  This hackerspace is something like a STEM education program for young people.

Hacker Lab in Sacramento, CA — A huge space over in Sacramento.

Interlock Rochester – Interlock ROC is Rochester’s oldest hackerspace.  Their site also says “only” hackerspace which would probably be news to their neighbors.

Rochester Makerspace — Rochester’s other hackerspace.  These guys are pretty cool and actually answer their phones unlike Interlock.

Ace Monster Toys — One of Oakland’s hackerspaces, I’ve dropped by but it seems like no one is ever there.  Now, they post scheduled open houses but they only seem to run them during times when I’m at work.

Sudo Room — This is my personal favorite hackerspace in Oakland.  It’s in a walk-up space just off Broadway in downtown that’s also used as a church.  The location is right near BART.  Everyone I’ve met there is extremely friendly and cool.  The culture of the space seems very civic and activist oriented, which is something I like about it.

Hacker Scouts Open Lab – Okay, so I just called Sudo Room my favorite Oakland hackerspace.  Maybe I was being hasty but in my defense this one is close enough that I sometimes think of it as being in Berkeley.   TL;DR — It’s like Boy Scouts but for hacker kids.  Hacker Scouts just an ingenious idea and you should go to their site and read about it right now if you haven’t.

Hack the Gallery – Hack the Gallery is a newborn Hackerspace located at North Berkeley’s Open Fine Art Gallery.  I have not been to it as of this posting, but it sounds like a good idea.

Hacker Dojo — This is a very big, well-equipped space near where I used to work in Mountain View.

Hackermoms Mothership — Another Berkeley/Oakland hackerspace.   Hackermoms is oriented towards female hackers.  Their space is pretty close to the Ashby BART stop.  It’s fairly easy to find decent parking over there, which is also nice.

SLO Hackerspace – Hackerspace in San Luis Obispo

East Bay Makerlabs — This was an experiment with a retail hackerspace in the Bay Fair Mall.  It was open for a while, but closed this past December (’13) because it did not do very well financially.

The Crucible –  This is a huge industrial arts school in Oakland.  They teach things like blacksmithing, metalworking, etc.

Einstein’s Workshop — This is a youth-education oriented hackerspace over in Burlington, MA near where I used to live in Arlington.

CT Hackerspace — This is a hackerspace based out of Watertown CT.

MELD Workshop — This is Fargo North Dakota’s hackerspace.  They offer a ton of open space and machines.  It sounds really nice and the founder was helpful when I called to ask him questions about his experience in starting it.

I’ll post more from my notes later.

New hackerspace forum

I added a forum to the site this morning.  It’s a fresh installation of Drupal at the moment of this posting but we’re working on it.

If you’re reading this in the future (relative to 3/19/14), please head over there and introduce yourself.  We’d love to know about you, what you’re interested in, and what you’d like to see in a Contra Costa hackerspace.


East Bay Hackers logo; my first try



The logo is based on the constellation Einstein’s Cross.  It was named after him because the phenomenon which creates the pattern is gravitational lensing, evidence that Einstein’s theory of gravity was correct.  The four lights are images of a quasar which from Earth’s perspective lies behind the galaxy which is in the center of the constellation.  The light is bent by the gravity of the galaxy so that from Earth we see four images of the quasar positioned around the galaxy forming the shape of a cross.

Current Project – Concord Hacker Scouts (or similar) Child Education program

My post about this one might be less informative than the post about the wiki – check back and this idea will be more fully baked for public consumption and participation in a future post but I wanted to post something up about this.

We are going to start up an after school program to teach STEAM education type stuff to kids.

We are currently checking out Hacker Scouts because they’ve done an amazing job of starting up a project like this over in Oakland.

What we need:

1.  A place where we can meet up after school, on weekends and during the summer to teach stuff to kids.  It’s going to need to have convenient parking.  If it was within walking distance of BART that would be perfect but if not that’s okay too.  Also, we’d love to have a secure place there where we could leave things.

2.  Related to us not having #1 — we could really use a list of educators who teach shop classes and computer classes in the Concord area.  If you are interested, we have a start on this so I’ll create a partially filled-in Google document which I’ll share with you.

Really, this is still in the early stages and as the volunteer coordinator I’m not totally in the loop right now.  If you are interested please get in touch with me at and I’ll fill you in.  Or just come to the next meeting and you can hear about this first hand with me when we’re there.


Proposed Project — City of Concord Wiki

Here are a couple examples of great city wikis —

Oakland Wiki

Davis Wiki

Vacaville (smallish, hosted on LocalWiki)

Vallejo on LocalWiki

Rochester (New York) Wiki

Anyway, I’ve long thought that Concord should (and could!) have something like this.  It would be a site where people could post about the neighborhoods they live in, groups in our area, events taking place, local history, restaurants, businesses, local companies and government, etc.  A whole wiki filled with great stuff about the city where we live.

What do we need right now to get this project going?

I’ve got the domain names registered for this project — and

Full disclosure — if this gets some legs I really want to dive into Walnut Creek next!  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Concord first.  LocalWiki already has a stub for Walnut Creek and I don’t think they’ve got Concord at all yet.

Doing this well is going to take a lot of work.

I could use volunteers who would like to do the following –

1.  Create a Web Site for the Concord Wiki Project — simply explain what it is, what we’re doing, who we are, etc.

2.  Create a Flyer for the City of Concord Municipal Wiki Project — same as above, but we’ll print it on dead trees

3.  Begin work on the actual wiki — I can hand off the domains when you are ready and we’ll have them go over to a blank wiki.  There’s a site called LocalWiki that does stuff like this.

4.  Start researching what’s going to go into the wiki.  Your deliverable will a list of what you’ve discovered.  What belongs on the list is anything about the City of Concord that deserves to be written about in the Wiki.  This could be historical events, current events, businesses, famous residents, local urban legends, Concord culture and … well … I guess you’ll probably figure this out as you go.

5.  We are going to need lots of people who know how to edit and work with a wiki and can teach other people how to do this.

Brainstorming. What’s In a Name?

I like the name hackerspace but I’ve found that it comes with negative connotations and baggage that make it more difficult when you’re having to explain what it is to people.  I’d rather just call it something else that would pique the interest of people who would enjoy it but who might not think they’d enjoy something if it was called “a hackerspace”.  I’ve found that most people who already know what a hackerspace is are Early Adopter types who already know what it is and are going to be looking for their community’s hackerspace.

So … the name … important to get right.  I was thinking:

Makerspace?  It’s got no baggage, but it’s also got more of a connotation of being about tools and building physical things.  That’s cool if it’s what people are into.  Personally, I’m more of a UNIX geek / software guy so it speaks less specifically to my interests.  That’s probably fine though.

Community Lab?  I think it gets the idea across that it’s a place where people can get together and work on group projects.  I wonder if people would think “lab” and get the idea that it’s a group of biotech hackers or something.  Innovation Lab.  Idea Lab.  I think something along these lines might work.

Idea Workshop.  I think that name maybe does a better job of conveying the idea of what “hackerspace” speaks to along with “makerspace” and “community lab”.

Hmmm … I think someone else is already using the name Idea Lab in the area for something else.

FIRST MEETING SCHEDULED! 3/16 2pm in Concord at Todos Santos Starbucks

Arright, I’m not in love with the text here or anything, so feel free to suggest something better or improvements and I’ll change it.

We are creating a hacker/maker community where residents of all ages in Contra Costa County and neighboring areas are encouraged to teach and learn new skills and knowledge, to invent using a variety​ of technologies assisted by mentors in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Design, and Mathematics, with the goal of having a good time, educating people, fostering creative thought and incubating new businesses.

“The future is already here. It’s just not very evenly distributed.”
—William Gibson

Meeting People

I was able to speak on the phone with the founder of Hayhackers for a bit.  She had a bunch of positive suggestions, and some contacts to pass along.  I also checked out a Hackerspace business plan that I found on Rochester Makerspace’s site.  Rochester is my old home town — I graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology and like a lot of Rochesterians, I’m a former Kodak employee.