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London Hacklabs Collective Benefit


Yesterday the London Hacklabs Collective had an afternoon of workshops at RampART followed by food, films bands and DJs. The purpose was to try to get more people involved in the collective and raise some money to maintain Internet connectivity etc. This is my very brief report on the day's events.

First there was a guy who gave a good intro to the history of computing in terms of hardware (cogs, relays, valves, transistors, ICs, Microprocessors) and an idea of the (environmentally destructive) technology that goes into producing a modern CPU.

I then joined a workshop on "the politics of open source". Here we heard about how Microsoft and the hardware suppliers have a cozy relationship going whereby new hardware ships with the latest Windows, which causes users to produce files that can not be read by people with older versions of Windows, which causes them to shell out for the latest Windows, which runs like a dog on their existing hardware because it is so bloated, so they end up buying new hardware. This rapid hardware turnover is particularly damaging to the environment.

OK, so a strong environmental thread in both workshops so far. The Linux Ecology-HOWTO is a good starting point to learn more.

Next there was a talk about BSD by a guy who has a clear preference for FreeBSD over GNU/Linux. He knew loads about the history of Unix (like he could reel off facts that I know I have read but he actually memorises it all!). Part of the reason he prefers BSD is that it is an integrated system, as opposed to Linux distributions where the distro is a load of stuff which uses the "external" Linux kernel. He also sang the praises of the BSD "ports" system (which is basically what was then used for DarwinPorts). There was a slightly heated exchange on the relative merits of BSD licencing and the GPL:-)

The last workshop was on Open Softwear. That is "wear" not "ware". The basic idea is a sytem for sharing designs/patterns for clothing using a copyleft licence system with the intention of getting "fashion" out of the hands of big business. This was an interesting workshop because most of those present (myself included) had clearly not thought about the idea before. If you are interested you might want to check out Conscious Fashion.

At this point we went downstairs to eat. There was a band setting up, but I went back upstairs to watch an excellent film about Kevin Mitnick called Freedom Downtime. Unfortunately I had to leave before it finished because I needed to catch a train.

On my way up to Kings Cross I had the audacity to get in the way of a car on the Old Street roundabout. It came from behind on my right and for some reason the driver decided to take an exit regardless of my trajectory. Well my puny bike was no match for half a ton of steel, and after rattling briefly against his pasenger door I dismounted as gracefully as possible (to the casual observer it probably just looked like I was knocked to the ground). Lying there in the road I was aware that a following car had stopped and I was in no immediate danger. The driver of the car that cut me up stopped (to his credit) and came back to ask how I was. I made a quick self assessment and declared myself fit. My bike was also undamaged so I let him get on his way with an appeal to be more careful in future:-) Ian Gregory 2010