Yesterday Jaela and I went to Ace Monster Toys, a non-profit hacker-space in Emeryville, for their meeting and a tour. It is an awesome smallish warehouse space that is home to woodworking equipment, sewing machines, several 3d printers and the coveted laser cutter. Everyone was friendly and happy to see new people. Everything is free to use for members and non-members alike, accept for the laser cutter which is a reasonable $1 a minute for non-members (counting only while it is running) and $.50 a minute for members. It is reasonable because the thing cuts FAST. To use the laser cutter one must complete a training class on how not to break the machine, cut your fingers off or burn the building down. One must also learn how to prepare files for the machine to accept them. While we were there it was cutting/ etching these nice little wooden keychains to serve as a cooler version of business cards.
Here is a demonstration of a similar laser cutter presented by Mythbusters’ Adam Savage:
I also browsed the free courses at Udemy.com, which has free and paid courses. Udemy has its pros and cons. There is no interactive element like in Udacity or Codeacademy, it is just lectures. Some of the paid ones are quite expensive, and it seems like just about anyone can design a course and sell it on the site without necessarily being an expert, so buyer beware. However there are great resources too. I signed up for the course on Bitcoin and listened to the lectures while playing solitaire for about 3 hours last night. I know a whole lot more about it and how it works and I look forward to listening to some of the 9 more hours on the subject. There is a video element too, but I just listen and do something else or else it would be boring. If you want my opinion, Bitcoin is a brilliantly conceptualized invention and a totally new kind of money. I understand people’s resistance to it, but why wouldn’t you want your money to be untraceable, un-taxable, un-freezable, not subject to run away inflation, not have spooky illuminati graphics on it, and not be controlled by the modern feudal lords that are the worlds wealthiest banking families? Think about it, right now everyone on the planet pays some kind of tribute in the form of interest, fees, etc. to banks. How much better of a place would the world be if money managing, lending and printing were all decentralized? It seems like Bitcoin is not going away and will continue to increase in value forever. Some people worry that it is hackable, but it uses the same encryption as the NSA, which is essentially unbreakable. I’m no financial planner, but I would recommend investing and/or setting up your business to accept Bitcoin. But don’t take my word for it, check it out yourself.
I want to give a quick shout-out. As I write this there are brave citizens protesting #UrbanShield, which is a urban war games training op happening in Oakland right now. It takes guts to protest while the security industrial complex are toting around their new toys designed to squash protests. I take some comfort in the fact that their are way more good nerds out there fighting the good fight than their are evil nerds spying on them. Stay safe everybody!