bjepson (Brian Jepson)
I got my start in IT as an undergrad doing desktop support and application development for the URI Memorial Union. At the time, I did all my development with FoxPro, which turned out to be really hot on Wall Street. So that led me to a brief career in New York where I managed to move into Perl, SQL, and HTML development (there's a good chance that the web app I worked on was one of JP Morgan's first Intranet applications--a Smalltalk to Perl/SQL/Netscape Enterprise server conversion). But my heart's always been here in RI, so in all of my out of state jobs, I managed to eventually arrange a telecommuting setup.
Writing a series of books led me to my current job, as an editor for O'Reilly Media's Make Magazine, where I head up Make's book publishing program, covering everything from the O'Reilly Hacks series to books about Astronomy, microcontrollers, and more.
Even when I've wandered as far away as NYC or the DC metro area, the tether that kept me connected to Rhode Island has been AS220. I was one of the people who built AS220's first web sites, and have always worked hard to make sure technology helps the staff and volunteers there get their jobs done. Now, along with several other people, I volunteer to keep AS220.org running, which is home to the AS220 web pages as well as web sites for many local artists and arts organizations.
Since co-founding Providence Geeks with Jack Templin, I've become even more energized about my home state, and have realized that this community will do something amazing with info tech, digital media, and art... on a level that has never been seen anywhere, any time.
The original Maker Faire (which is put on by my employer, O'Reilly Media) started in 2006 in San Mateo (right near San Francisco International Airport), and gets better every year. With about 20k attendees the first year, Maker Faire Bay Area has grown to 100k attendees in 2011. It's huge. And on top of that, Maker Faire Detroit and World Maker Faire New York are in their second years.
These tens of thousands of attendees come to see robots, life-sized games, science projects, kinetic art, human-powered rides, electronics, but also to think about reuse, sustainability, and education.
And now, it's easier than ever to make your own Maker Faire. In the true DIY spirit, MAKE has created a guide to making a Maker Faire, which includes lots of planning tips, ideas for what works, and information on the (short) licensing agreement you need to agree to in order to use the Maker Faire name.
This year, Mini Maker Faire Rhode Island takes place on September 10, 2011, on Steeple Street during that evening's WaterFire. It's free to attend, and it's free to exhibit. If you have a project that you'd like to exhibit, please use this form. Maker Faires are made of makers!
And if you have any other questions, comments or suggestions, please contact me.
We're just over one week from Maker Faire RI, and the online buzz is really picking up. Kipp Bradford and I are thrilled to be working with WaterFire and the City of Providence to bring Rhode Island's own Mini Maker Faire to downtown Providence for a second year in the row.
But what exactly is a Maker Faire? The original Maker Faire (which is put on by my employer) started in 2006 in San Mateo (right near San Francisco International Airport), and has been going strong ever since. In that first year, there were probably about 20,000 people in attendance: they came to see robots, life-sized games, science projects, kinetic sculpture, human-powered rides, music, technology, art, and so much more. At the last Maker Faire (2010 in San Mateo), about 80,000 people came. And now Maker Faire has expanded to Detroit and New York City.
It's reasonable to describe Maker Faire as the world's largest Science Fair. MAKE describes it as: "A family fun festival to MAKE, create, learn, invent, CRAFT, recycle, build, think, play & be inspired by celebrating arts, crafts, engineering, food, music, science and technology."
Maker Faire Rhode Island is one of several Mini Maker Faires (including North Carolina, Boston, Ann Arbor, Aspen, and Kansas City. Mini Maker Faires are a bit smaller than the (last year we had 40 exhibitors and several thousand attendees), and they are put on by the local community, who is responsible for fundraising, planning, and executing the event.
This year, Maker Faire Rhode Island takes place on August 28, 2010, at the Bank of America Skating Center, Providence RI, from 3pm-11pm. It's free to attend, and it's free to exhibit. If you have a project that you'd like to show off, please visit the web site and click the Submission Form link there.
What's more, Maker Faire RI is happening at the same time as Maker Faire Africa, which will be represented by Steve Daniels who is launching his new book, Making Do: Innovation in Kenya's Informal Economy at Maker Faire RI.
If you'd like to volunteer, we could use your help too (you'll find a link to register as a volunteer at the Maker Faire RI web site). But there are plenty of ways to help as well; we've set up a Kickstarter project where you can donate (and we have some cool rewards for people who donate at the $10 or $50 level). But above all, you can help the most by coming and exploring the projects and makers we'll have exhibiting. You can see the list of confirmed makers right here. But keep checking back because we are still adding exhibitors.
I know a few Providence Geeks will be out at Maker Faire (myself, Kipp Bradford, Shawn Wallace from AS220 Labs). Anyone else going out there? We should make a point to meet up. I'll be either in the Maker Shed or the O'Reilly booth, but I'm going to make a point of getting out to see more stuff this year. All work and no play, etc.
This looks like fun; my friends Brady Forrest and Bre Pettis, founders of Ignite, are putting one on in NYC on 7/29: Ignite NYC: Soldering, Guerilla Knitting, & Bomb Shelter. I'm not sure I can make it, but it may be too much fun to pass up.
Given that Joe's speaking, and that my employer puts the event on, it would be super lame of me not to go. Anyone else from RI going up? Anyone else from RI speaking there?
Here's a cool way to get an invite to Foo Camp and get your idea in front of OATV:
We're making space at OATV Startup Camp (and at Foo Camp to follow) for two people from each of six to eight early stage startups that we select from those that apply. Once we select the startups, we’ll tailor the sessions to their issues, but we're planning to cover things like fundraising, PR and viral marketing, and working with investors and a board of directors. And of course, you get to interact with all the people who'll be there at Foo Camp as well.
Some areas of interest include cloud computing, mobile, location-based services, open source hardware, physical computing and new materials, the future of manufacturing, tools for information management and open data, open source (especially as used to create Web 2.0 data assets), rich media and the future of creativity, cleantech, braintech (applied neuroscience), and personal genomics. Even better, surprise us with something you see that we don't.
More information at the Radar blog
We just launched the RI Mini Maker Kickstarter project, and could use your support. Your donation, no matter how big or how small, will keep RI Mini Maker Faire free to attend: Rhode Island Mini Maker Faire 2011 on Kickstarter.
I have Cox in RI, but FIOS in my Arlington, VA apartment. I'm pretty sure it's configured the way you describe; the fiber comes up to the ONT inside the building and is distributed over coax and a dry copper line that seems to be a mini DSL system right inside the building. So I have three boxes: a DSL modem, ActionTec router, and set-top box.
The only thing that I still hate about it is that they misconfigured it; packets bleed across the coax somehow: I'd associate with my Wi-Fi router, but actually get a DHCP address and routing from some other person's router (the more I think about it, the more my head hurts).
I wasn't able to make Verizon's level 1 or level 2 people totally understand what was going on, and couldn't get further. So I went into my ActionTec router and added a firewall rule to block packets coming in over coax.
Took me forever to realize what was going on. I originally noticed it when I was changing the SSID on what I thought was my router, but the config screen was showing a different SSID than the one I'd associated with (they all use the same admin password by default). So I probably briefly broke some random person's network. I put it back to where I found it, though, and let the Verizon folks know when I spoke to them. To be fair, I think the techs got as far as understanding what was happening, but they had no idea how to deal with this misconfiguration.
I was confused as to why I needed both coax and the single-pair copper, but apparently, the set-top box gets channels over coax and TCP/IP (for widgets and some part of the channel guide) via a coax connection to the ActionTec (so there's a splitter, and this is probably where the packet bleeding is coming from).
I have thought about getting FIOS here in RI, but I think I'll stick with Cox because every time I've had a problem, they've been good about sending techs out, and they have either known what they were doing or were willing to work with me on the diagnosis. The Verizon techs aren't bad, but at least in Arlington, they seem to do whatever they can to avoid rolling a truck.
The thing I used to hate about FIOS was that the ActionTec would freeze all the time, and is notorious for this (something to do with a limited NAT table size). At some point it fixed itself.
This may sound boring, but my favorite mobile app is K-9 Mail for Android. I use it all the time to read my work email. The built-in Gmail client only handles Gmail, and the built-in IMAP/POP3 client on Android is pretty awful.
But because a lot of Android is open source, Jesse Vincent (@obra) was able to take the awful built-in mail app, create K-9 Mail, and share it with the world! Check it out, source and all:
I hear you; it can be tricky. I'm temporarily dividing my time between RI and the DC area, and I make a trip (train or plane) back each month for the geek dinners. I'm going to try to catch a couple of RI-Nexus Open Coffees, South County Edition during the summer as well, if I can swing it. But it's tricky to schedule my time, especially since I travel for work occasionally as well.
But if you can't make it to one of the events, why not start one of your own? What do you like to hack/make/create? Come up with an idea for a meetup, and throw out some ideas on the forum for location and time, and see what happens. You'll find that a lot of folks have good ideas, and you should be able to get something fun happening.
Here's something that one of my colleagues just participated in; an overnight coding challenge to build websites for non-profits in Minneapolis. http://www.f1webchallenge.com/
"ten teams of volunteer web pros to create free websites for ten nonprofits."
I'd agree with Matt's suggestion to keep it focused on Ruby or programming. However, there are a couple of groups that are doing hardware hacking if you'd like to check them out:
DC401 (monthly--a mix of security and hardware)
AS220's Make and Break Wednesdays (every week where there isn't a Geek Dinner or DC401 meetup)
I'm really glad to hear you found it. You should also poke around and see if they left any back doors. Check out any PHP/ASP/Perl/etc scripts you have on the server, check to see if anything funny is going on. And if a script has mysteriously appeared that wasn't there before, it's certainly suspect.
I think the most likely way they got in is through a software vulnerability. When there's a vulnerability, malicious hackers (I say malicious to distinguish from hackers like myself who aren't out to get you) will use that vulnerability to trick your web server into running some program that then grants them access to your server (effectively, they are able to use the vulnerability to run programs under your own credentials). Then they do their deed, and often will leave a back door so they can get back in if you find what they did.
To reduce my exposure to such problems, every time I install a new software package (Wikipedia, WordPress, Django, etc) on a server, I subscribe to the mailing list or RSS feed where the software project announces new releases. Then when a new version comes out, I drop whatever I'm doing and perform the update.