Thursday, 11 November 2010

LHS Workshop Upgrade :D

So as a Tuesday social turned into late-night hackery at 2am on Wednesday... a few of us spontaneously decided to upgrade the workshop, we hope you like it. :D
I suppose the only way of summing up what we were aiming for was, "a place for everything and everything in it's place". By Wednesday evening we accomplished the following:
  • installed a tool board from an old metal-framed bed (see picture).
  • installed shelving for power tools.
  • reorganised the wood store.
  • printed some PLA coat hooks on the makerbot and made a rack for labcoats.
  • generally tidied the workshop.
We are really hoping that you guys like what we did and invite anyone that is good at woodwork to make and install new mounting plates and boards for the remaining tools that have not been mounted yet and are homeless! You can find them in a clear plastic box below the new tool rack.

Special thanks to Billy, Matthew Gaffen, Kaloyan Palatov.

Thanks to others that leant a hand moving stuff, taking photos and keeping morale high with choice banter.

LHS ftw

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Saturday Night in East Berlin (Kreuzberg)

I have been walking around Kreuzberg late this evening to take in the atmosphere and see what's going on. I found a theatre group doing some kind of outdoor tour with headphones at Mehringplatz, 10969 Berlin. I kept walking around until I stumbled across checkpoint charlie and then I started prowling for a coffee shop. I headed to a place called Jazz-Cafe Junctionbar. The atmosphere in here is really nice so I am just chilling here having a couple of coffees. It is open until late (it opens at 17:00 and closes at 02:00). I could really do with finding somewhere like this in London.
Also I had a chat with some guys from C-Base (a hackspace in Berlin) on IRC and I arranged a meeting for Monday at noon. I am looking forward to going over and having a look around to see what they get up to.
Just going to enjoy my second coffee and then maybe head back home for an early start tomorrow. More exploring to do!
Just been doing some research about the area, it seems that Kreuzberg has one of the youngest populations of all European city boroughs. Statistically, its population has been swapped completely twice in the last two decades. It really shows and it has a really young, fresh, arty vibe about it. I wanted to find out why. Wikipedia tells me that after World War II, Kreuzberg's housing rents were regulated by law which made investments unattractive. As a result, housing was of low quality, but cheap, which made the borough a prime target for immigrants coming to Germany (and Berlin). So in the late 1960s, increasing numbers of students, artists, and immigrants began moving to Kreuzberg. From the cafe in which I am sitting at the moment it really shows. The cafe is alive with conversation and people laughing and drinking and I have scarcely seen a person over 30 in the last few hours.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

SSH peeping through the little cracks in the Great Firewall

One of the HPAMakers has gone to China for a couple of months. We don't tolerate internet filtering. In fact we hate it- they even block facebook :'(

So we decided to help him peep through the cracks of the great firewall. We tried Tor onion router. No go. We tried PHP proxies. No go. etc...
I lost patience at this point and gave him a locked down SSH account on our server and we just tunneled the web and IM traffic through it so he could enjoy tasty unfiltered internet just like they make it back home.

Server: Ubuntu Lucid OpenSSH
Client: Windows XP, putty + firefox portable
Here is a guide that should show you how get the same system working: howto

1. The basic idea was to setup a local SOCKSv5 proxy from putty(tunnels menu), settings: port 7071, dynamic, auto
Since we chose port 7071 so the proxy will run on the client as:
When the SSH connection is made serverip:port, the tunnels are created dynamically and hey presto we have unfiltered internet. Speedtest from lhopki01's end indicates he is getting about

2. Then tell firefox et al. to use proxy server and port 7071.

Then you think: hey great I am done. This all makes sense I can get blocked pages up woohoo. Then you realise that the Chinese govenment have been poisoning and changing DNS records. So you shout: what the f^&"*"£ hell are they playing at!?!
Then you take the final step to make sure the DNS lookups happen back home too:
3. In Firefox, enter "about:config" into the address bar (Yes, it is a strange URL, just in the location where you typically would enter http://....) After click "I'll be careful. I promise" button, you will see a long list of configuration options started with Filter input box.
Enter "network.proxy.socks_remote_dns" (without quotation marks) into the Filter input box, and you will see a line with network.proxy.socks_remote_dns as Preference Name appears. Double click it so the Value field changes from False to True (and you will also notice the line becomes bold).

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Molin A0 Architects Drawing Board

Just found a beautiful A0 architects drawing board. I cannot wait to get my first large schemaitc prinout up there for inspection.

Specs as follows.
Molin A0 Architects Drawing Board

Height: 920mm

Parallel Motion Ruler
Adjustable Height
Adjustable Tilt

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Thursday, 27 May 2010


Could this be our future? Discuss.
Check out HPAMAKERS\#26-pop-up-hackerspace for 3d models and other files.
Gazebo (provide shade, bit of rain protection)
USB Oscilloscope
USB Microscope
Laptops (Ebooks, CAD, ECAD, Programming, Excel, Music etc)
Low power router: Internet Dongle/Wireless Tether (g1?)
Parts Drawer
Soldering Iron
Several Large Battery Packs (vis. Kal's)


Post up photos, code, prize info, ideas etc...

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Why Repeal sections 11-18 of the Digital Economy Act?

Here is a copy of the letter I wrote to my local MP. You should do the same!

Dear Mr Dowd,
please find enclosed web links to the results of independent security research that I have conducted into some of the issues I raise in this communication. Also please ensure you are up-to-speed with the technical aspects of the issues raised and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me for clarification or explanation.

My intention is to inform and ensure that you are fully aware of the ramifications of this bill to our constituency and the importance with which I personally regard this issue.

You are probably aware that the Digital Economy Bill was rushed through the last Parliament on 8 April during the so-called "washing up" phase without giving MPs the chance to scrutinize this complex and controversial piece of legislation. We live in the information age and the issues raised by this legislation go right to the heart of our development as a digital society in this new age and, in so doing, demand appropriate consideration.

I believe that the Act has very serious flaws, one of which is the provision to disconnect citizens from the internet which I believe to be a fundamental breach of human rights. Our society relies and will increasingly rely on the internet as a gateway to services, both public and private, goods, information and education. It can be argued that the internet has now become of critical importance, especially those members of our community that are vulnerable, frail, disabled or otherwise disadvantaged for activities ranging from working from home, keeping in touch with loved ones, managing bills or just doing the weekly shopping.

The Act allows the implementation of the 'three strikes' provision that could see families being disconnected from the internet for a minor civil offence, infringement of copyright. Furthermore, the Act holds the account holder liable, not the infringer. As a result people could have their work or education disrupted through no fault of their own. What about the case where the infringer, without the consent of the account holder, gains access and makes use of the account holder's internet connection through an unencrypted wireless network? I believe that around 12% of your constituents are currently exposed to this scenario based on data that I have collected (a passive wireless site survey of 317 networks). Should the account holder be disconnected because of their failure to fulfil their role to enforce the correct security scheme on their wireless router or enforce their own wireless network security policies? In what setting or on what occasion has the government helped or attempted to educate the wider public about this issue? Why should the general ignorance of the public on this matter be punished in this way.

I have conducted my own wireless site survey of my local area which took me about an hour, the results of which can be downloaded in google earth KML data form here:

Please open this 'KML file' with google earth software to allow you to see the distribution of the wireless networks which are at risk:

The wireless networks in red are unencrypted and those in green are encrypted. You can see how widespread the problem is by the ratio of red to green dots (please zoom in and pan around to ensure that you see the full dataset). 317 wireless networks were surveyed of which 38 were found to be entirely unencrypted and no doubt many of the remaining 279 encrypted networks will be 'cryptographically weak' because they employ the WEP scheme; which is ‘easily crackable’. I am a fully trained electronic engineer (recently graduated from Durham University) and an independent network security consultant so please take it from me, if an individual really wants to get into your wireless network then not a lot can stop them, no matter what security scheme you use.
By unnecessarily criminalising and penalising the use of the internet in this way we will see a rise in the incidence of home network security cracking and invasion by people that have been disconnected or people attempting to evade their own disconnection.

The tools for wireless hacking are widely available and well known about, please go have a look:

Please do not be mistaken about why these tools exist. These tools have been developed and popularised by technical enthusiasts, white-hat hackers, academics, computer experts and programmers from all walks of life in the hope that industry will address the underlying failure of the available wireless encryption schemes (WEP, WPA, WPA2, etc...)to provide adequate protection to all of our home networks. Also please do not be mistaken and the effectiveness of the governments proposed solution to the problem. They are only raising the technical barrier by a very small amount so the resulting fallout will be that families are disconnected rather than tackling illegal downloading. Computer experts have already innovated around the detection schemes which will be at the governments disposal. The technical community knows how to avoid detection and how to achieve plausible deniablity. So in the same way that all other technical arms-races have panned out (just think about 'viruses and spyware' against the 'security industry') the establishment or 'the authority' of the day has already lost.

This is a VITAL issue for me as my civil rights are threatened by this law!

I would greatly appreciate a meeting with you or a personal email or written response to this letter.

Yours Sincerely, Samuel Carlisle BEng (Hons) Dunelm MRI

Monday, 17 May 2010



we have ordered the electronics. Things are moving!

We are compiling information to make our reprap:




If you do not have access but would like to get involved then get in touch.

-- Can't stop the signal.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Oh what a cracking weekend lies ahead!

#BBC #digin
It is a lovely sunny friday and I am working from home. No rushing around or commuting, tea and toast in the garden and generally chillaxing. La vie est belle. What better day could my seed pack from BBC dig in have arrived? I have just finished watering the garden and having a poke around trying to figure out where I am going to put all the vegetables once they are ready to go outside.
Summary of reasons to be happy:
-Friend staying the weekend.
-Seeds have arrived.
-New G1 Phone =)
-Beautiful weather.
-Fun webdesign project nearly finished.
-New IT support contract.
-New Intranet and collaboration development project.
-New website maintenance and development contract.

So for now I have a friend coming to stay from Sheffield and some fun webdesign work to do. Have a nice day wherever you are!

Sam the Techie FTW.

Google Wave Brainstorm Tips

Some rules of brainstorming
Defer judgement: Don’t dismiss any ideas. Nothing can kill the spirit of a brainstorm quicker. You can even delete negative feedback.
Encourage wild ideas: The whole point of brainstorming is to come up with new and creative ideas
Combine and improve ideas: No “buts”, only “ands.”
Go for quantity: Aim for as many new ideas as possible. Defer judgement: Don’t dismiss any ideas. Nothing can kill the spirit of a brainstorm quicker. You can even delete negative feedback.Encourage wild ideas: The whole point of brainstorming is to come up with new and creative ideasCombine and improve ideas: No “buts”, only “ands.”Go for quantity: Aim for as many new ideas as possible. "

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Epic Win for Ipod Hackers

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

[Linux] Do you Ubuntu? LiveCD Howto

Ubuntu has grown from strength to strength over the years and linux is fast becoming, if not already, a viable alternative to windows or mac for the average user.

How do you spend most of your time on the computer?
89% Facebook/Social Media, 7% Email/Chat, 3.7% Browsing and 0.3% Excel/Word/Powerpoint... Linux can do that.

Tinkerers should not be Linux haters.
Hack away! Just don't fail. That having been said, if you like to hack and tinker then your Linux system is going to need some extra love when you have borked it. Hackers and tinkerers you have been warned- no names *cough* Ro, Kal, Phil.

If you are interested in Linux but have not yet given it a go then now might be a good time to head on over to and have a look.

Live CD
The live cd feature boots Ubuntu on your laptop or desktop without having to install over your current OS.

1. Following steps 1&2 on this page to download and burn linux to disc:
2. Ensure BIOS is set to boot from CD as the first entry otherwise the CD will not be checked before your OS is booted.
3. Insert the disc and on the ubuntu boot menu, select "Try Ubuntu without any change to your computer".
4. Enjoy.
Note: Although a LiveCD session is a good way to demo Ubuntu without making changes to a machine, a LiveCD will always be slower than a proper installion that runs directly from a hard-drive (because a CD will always be physically slower than a hard drive). LiveCD sessions are good for:
-a quick 'demo' on a machine before installing/upgrading Ubuntu
-checking if the hardware works as expected
-seeing if you like the look & feel of the distro

More info on LiveCD:


Linux is far more secure than windows.
Linux is free:

It needs a little bit of love to get going properly but then so do all computers.

Any questions or comments? Give me a shout.

Friday, 2 April 2010


Take some old Pallets + unused space + soil + seeds = raised bed!

Materials Needed:
Soil, Volume (m^3) = Area of raised bed (m^2) x Depth of bed (m)
Wooden Planks
Wooden Pegs

The most practical design I know is:
1. Put a plank of wood (ripped off the old pallet) long side along the ground like standing on its edge.
2. then you put pegs either side to hold it upright
3. then fill with soil.

looks good, works great
takes like 2 hours tops

Old Pallets:
Proposed Site:

Monday, 1 March 2010

CFLs are fine in my hallway after all!

You may also have heard that CFLs use a lot of energy when turning on and off. While there is a brief surge in energy use when a CFL is turned on, with today's starting technology, that surge usually lasts about a tenth of a second and consumes about as much energy as five seconds of normal operation. So, even when turned on and off frequently, a CFL uses less energy than its incandescent equivalent. But because turning a CFL on and off more frequently can shorten its life and CFLs are more expensive than incandescents, we recommend consumers use CFLs in applications where they are on for at least fifteen minutes.


How to Reuse Toilet Paper Rolls to Start Seeds |

Just made 6 or so of these from old toilet roll. Now...what to plant?
How to Reuse Toilet Paper Rolls to Start Seeds |

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Sachsenhausen Day Trip

Two friends and I took a day trip to Sachsenhausen on our recent holiday to Berlin. It was, to say the least, a chilling and sobering experience.
It was also quite a random day. My friend found a digital camera on the floor, we ended up in an over 25's Lonely hearts night at a club (in a large old church) and I saw this on the way to the camp:

When dealing with evil random computer something equally random and evil

Here are a few of pearls of wisdom derived from many years experience in repairing computers. When a laptop, hard drive or AC adaptor is being a pain in the a** here are a few seemingly random options to keep up your sleeve:

"The freezer routine"
-For HDDs: Pre-freeze your hard drive to recover data (when you get that clicking noise).
-For Laptops and Chargers: Reset any 'Temperature Cut Off' (TCO) device or Thermal Fuse this should allow the device to function normally.


"Clearing the internal static charge"
-For Laptops: Take out the battery and unplug the AC power supply. Then hold the power on switch for 60 seconds. Then put the battery back in and/or connect the power supply. All better?

Some old college emails

A couple of excerpts from old college emails:

Could the Colleges circulate to students requesting the
return of the dummy Heron removed from the pond on the Science site. We have some excellent CCTV footage of this and would rather have it returned to it's location than take the matter further.

While we all accept that lighthearted pranks and banter are expected at the start of term, things are beginning to get out of control. Serious incidents have occurred at both Chads and Castle this weekend which put at risk the right of all our members to visit these bars.In addition, the abuse of Hatfield students including singing anti-Hatfield songs in the wee small hours of the morning has got out of control as has general noise along the Bailey on the way into town.There have also been complaints about noise very late at night in Brooks. You are reminded that "trophying" is not condoned by the Society and if it does happen, it is tradition that if the trophied item has any monetary or significant sentimental value it should be returned to the college concerned, via the Society President if preferred. To start with, the tiger from Castle's Bar must be returned before Wednesday to avoid futher action.