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Tour Houston's Texas-Sized Hackerspace (Video 2 of 2)

Roblimo posted 1 year,17 days | from the every-hackerspace-should-have-foosball-and-pancake-breakfasts dept.

Hardware 45

A few weeks ago, on his way to LinuxCon, Timothy stopped by the biggest hackerspace he'd ever seen. Houston's TX/RX Labs is not just big — it's busy, and booked. Unlike some spaces we've highlighted here before (like Seattle's Metrix:CreateSpace and Brooklyn's GenSpace, TX/RX Labs has room and year-round sunshine enough to contemplate putting a multi-kilowatt solar array in the backyard. Besides an array of CNC machines, 3-D printers, and wood- and metal-working equipment, TX/RX has workbenches available for members to rent. (These are serious workspaces, made in-house of poured concrete and welded steel tubing.) There's also a classroom full of donated workstations, lounge space, a small collection of old (but working) military trucks, and a kitchen big enough for their Pancake Science Sunday breakfasts. Labs member Steve Cameron showed me around. You saw Part One of his tour last week. Today's video is Part Two.

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This is getting really retarded (1)

elloz (3382559) | 1 year,17 days | (#45074071)

They keep trying to force nerds to be social and make them feel coddled and cool. I would be willing to bet money that any code or other intellectual property that is produced in "hacker spaces" and such is owned by the people who built the space, not the coders. Read the fine print -- you may be getting conned.

Re:This is getting really retarded (2)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | 1 year,17 days | (#45074099)

Not all geeks and tinkers are anti-social.

Re:This is getting really retarded (0)

elloz (3382559) | 1 year,17 days | (#45074213)

You're right, some of them are merely misogynistic, homophobic, narcissistic dorks who learned social skills from WoW, and who talk trash about their girlfriends behind their backs. (I have witnessed this.)

This is Slashdot . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45075545)

. . . You'll just get blank stares and "Why is that a bad thing?"

Re:This is getting really retarded (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45075677)

TX/RX member here.

Yes, in any sufficiently large population, you will get such people. However, when we get people who are "misogynistic, homophobic, narcissistic dorks who ... talk trash about their girlfriends behind their backs," they find out pretty quick that we do not put up with that kind of thing. They either learn that this is not the place for them or to learn to keep that sh!t to themselves.

Our members represent just about every orientation and gender identity, all religions and races, all ages, range from devoutly religious (even by Texas standards) to atheist, college dropouts to advanced degrees, and the entire political spectrum. The thing that brings us together is a mutual enjoyment of science, learning, and/or making things.

Re:This is getting really retarded (1)

idontgno (624372) | 1 year,17 days | (#45075427)

More to the point, some geeks and tinkers can overcome personal tendencies towards toe-gazing and mumbling in order to get access to tools and hardware far beyond their own ability to purchase, install, or maintain.

Trust me. I could become the friendliest damn geek in South Texas if it got me routine access to welding booths, a full power wood shop, plasma cutters, and CNC gear.

But of course, I'm not in South Texas, so this is unhelpful to me.

Re:This is getting really retarded (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45074415)

You are retarded if you think the hacker space owns their intellectual property. These spaces are about creating things and having access to tools that you might not have otherwise, read their rules and post something relevant and stop being a moron.

Re:This is getting really retarded (1)

elloz (3382559) | 1 year,17 days | (#45074683)

Read the fine print for the hacker space before you spew your lame epithets.

You don't know, but you think you do, and that is ignorance.

Re:This is getting really retarded (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45075649)

What the fuck are you talking about? Is it in there? Where is this magical fine print that a non-profit owns the work you do in their space? Stop spewing FUD and provide some evidence.

Re:This is getting really retarded (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45074479)

Then you would loose that money pretty quickly. As a member of Tx/rx I can assure you that the lab owns exactly 0% of things done in it. The exception is things that are contracted out (which the developer is paid for, and thus far hasn't happened). We've made all sorts of exciting things there and we can do whatever we want with them. Not everything's about money you know...

Re:This is getting really retarded (5, Informative)

Davorak (3389597) | 1 year,17 days | (#45074815)

I am will to put $1,000 to your $10 that Tx/Rx does not take owner ship of intellectual property produced in its facilities or in its operations by default. Fair warning, I am the current President of Tx/Rx and helped come up with our policies on intellectual property.

Re:This is getting really retarded (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45075317)

TX/RX member here. (I'm the guy in the guy in the brown shirt, working with the concrete.)

I'm about as introverted as they come. I don't like large groups of people, especially if they are non-technical people. At the Labs, we really only have crowds during the "open houses" (like the one when timothy came through). The rest of the time, particularly during the week, it's usually just a small number people that I can have meaningful, interesting, and technical conversations with, or work on neat projects with, or just hang out and not even talk to. There is no one forcing anyone to be social, you don't have to talk, you don't have to help others on their projects, and you don't have to let anyone help you with yours if you don't want to. We are a space that provides a neat environment for people to come and do stuff. If some super-introverted person comes in and work on their stuff long enough to warm up to people enough to interact and help out, great, if not, that's OK too.

As for the intellectual property thing, I can't speak for any other 'spaces (we aren't affiliated with any of them), but TX/RX Labs certainly does not claim any ownership, whatsoever, to any code or invention produced by our members. We are a non-profit, we just want to keep the lights on, build cool stuff, and teach others how to build cool stuff.

If someone writes s cool bit of software at the Labs, it's theirs and theirs alone. As far as the Labs are concerned, their membership fee has covered the electricity and WiFi that they used. The same goes for any other inventions (a couple of our members have provisional patents for things they are developing at the Labs). If they get help with development from another member, that's between those members, the Lab plays no part.

The closest thing to fine print we have is the standard release form, and it just basically says that machines and tools are inherently dangerous and you might get hurt, so please don't sue us.

TX/RX is unethical and scammy (-1, Flamebait)

hessian (467078) | 1 year,16 days | (#45078033)

It always has been, which is why the articles lauding it are from people outside Houston.

They have lots of toys, because they've got the right donors.

But there's not any real spirit other than to emulate what's been in Make magazine.

how are they scammy or unethical? (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | 1 year,16 days | (#45078371)

TX/RX is unethical and scammy

Citation required, on both of those. How are they unethical, and how are they scammy?

aw yeh dude (0)

hessian (467078) | 1 year,16 days | (#45080899)

Citation required, on both of those. How are they unethical, and how are they scammy?

What kind of citation do you want, bro?

Re:aw yeh dude (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#45083939)

Like.... anything at all to support your claim?

Repeat Content (4, Informative)

heezer7 (708308) | 1 year,17 days | (#45074115)

Uhhh, the end was all repeated from the first video...

Tour Goatse's Texas-Sized Anus (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45074187)

A few weeks ago, on his way to LinuxCon, Timothy stopped by to visit the biggest anus he'd ever seen. Goatse's anus is not just big — it's busy, and booked. Unlike some anuses we've highlighted here before (like Apple's Steve Jobs), Goatse has stretched where-the-sun-dont-shine enough to contemplate putting a multi-cock array in the "backyard." Besides an array of fuck machines, 3-D dildos, and wood- and metal-working equipment, Goatse has balls available for members to teabag. (These are serious balls, made in-house of poured steel, suitable for teabagging even the most jaded tea party members) There's also a classroom full of donated sex chairs, massage benches, a small collection of old (but working) military waterboarding equipment, and a kitchen big enough for their Wednesday Humpday breakfasts. Goatse platinum member Steve Ballmer showed me around. You saw Part One of his tour last week. Today's video is Part Two.

Re:Tour Goatse's Texas-Sized Anus (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45074409)

Dude that is really FUCKING FUNNY. Gday mate!

WTF is the point? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45074315)

OK, I watched the video. There's no ethical aspect to anything they're showing. They don't say "X is good because it helps people".
They just say "We did X and Y and Z".
It's devoid of any motive to help anyone or to solve real-world problems. I would be willing to bet there is US army funding for this "hacker space" because it feels to me like they are hiding something.

Re:WTF is the point? (1)

firex726 (1188453) | 1 year,17 days | (#45074425)

Why do you feel it needs the specific purpose to solve world issues?
Why can't a bunch of like minded people pool their money and buy space/equipment that would be otherwise hard to come by?

Re:WTF is the point? (0)

elloz (3382559) | 1 year,17 days | (#45074641)

In my experience, the complete absence of a stated ethical goal usually means the military is running it.

Even douche-bag start-up weenies will lie and say they're trying to do good for the planet.

The only people that categorically refuse to say they're hoping to do good are those who know they're doing bad i.e. criminals, military, etc.

Re:WTF is the point? (2)

firex726 (1188453) | 1 year,17 days | (#45074699)

Conspiracy theory much?

Also they have a stated goal:

Our goals are to bring creative people together, to serve as an incubator for imaginative solutions for everyday problems, to make opaque scientific and technical concepts accessible to everyone through education, and to provide much-needed services to our community, made possible by the skills and passion of our membership. []

To quote Ed Byrne (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45074973)

In my experience, the complete absence of a stated ethical goal usually means the military is running it.

... are you KIDDING?

Re:To quote Ed Byrne (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | 1 year,17 days | (#45075161)

We all wish he was kidding.

That's the kind of mindless derp that passes for critical thinking in liberal arts circles. There are dozens of regular /. posters with the same attitude.

Re:To quote Ed Byrne (3, Funny)

Java Pimp (98454) | 1 year,17 days | (#45075257)

Oh the Humanities!

Re:WTF is the point? (1)

Davorak (3389597) | 1 year,17 days | (#45074911)

> I would be willing to bet How much are you willing to bet, what odds? I am the current president at Tx/Rx and I know that we have not received any grants from the US army or DoD and finding out that they have been anonymously donating would be worth losing some money over.

Re:WTF is the point? (1, Insightful)

AlphaWoIf_HK (3042365) | 1 year,16 days | (#45086879)

Your rancid bayer aspirin hole just granted my fetid cock access to the deepest reaches of your rectum by opening up for it like a circular door from a science fiction movie. Maybe I should use my dippysack to dippy-dippy-do your foul asshole, and then smooch your disgusting bowels! What say you?

Re:WTF is the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#45077367)

If you wear that tin foil hat too long you may go mad from heavy metal poisoning, although I can't tell if you were already loony to begin with.

What is the poooooint? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45074373)

Seriously, there is no ETHICAL aspect to this hacker space.
They aren't HELPING anyone.
What is the point of their existence? None.
I expect the US military is secretly funding them... they're hiding something for sure.

Hackerspace? (2)

Princeofcups (150855) | 1 year,17 days | (#45074813)

It's a workshop. We don't have to keep inventing new words when there are perfectly good ones available.

Re:Hackerspace? (4, Interesting)

Davorak (3389597) | 1 year,17 days | (#45075107)

We choose to use it for several reasons some of which are:
* The term seemed to growing in usage and how it was being used described a reasonable chunk of what we were trying to do. I dislike new terms for the sake of new terms, though I am not 100% sure that is the case here, and it would have been going against how the terminology seemed to be evolving.
* Workshop and similar words invoked images of a for profit business(Tx/Rx is a non-profit).
* Workshop correctly invoked thoughts of metal working, wood working, CNCs, but did not invoke thoughts of programming, soldering, circuit design, or a tight knit community. At least to the small number of people I asked when we were trying to decide what we would call ourselves.

Re:Hackerspace? (1)

idontgno (624372) | 1 year,17 days | (#45075525)

I agree that there's enough novelty that "workshop" isn't a strong enough word. And I agree that any word beginning with "work" isn't really very appealing. But for a lot of people, the social angle is somewhere between "irrelevant" and "frightening". Let's face it. A lot of hackers treat social interaction as just another tool, and the kinds of social interaction you're talking about in the hackerspace social concept doesn't solve any problems they have right now. Or, maybe more fairly, any problems they recognize. Obviously, the social compact behind hackerspaces solves a lot of logistical problems by concerted group effort in Getting Expensive and Difficult Stuff Done, but I think a lot of hackish folks would just wait for someone else to solve those problems and then take advantage of the results. In this specific case, I'm pretty sure I'd be one of the ones at some corner bench using all the equipment provided by the hacker activism and organizational efforts, but not reaching out to get involved in the next round of tool acquisitions or funding outreach... unless I had a concrete and specific need that I'd have to work with others to solve.

Re:Hackerspace? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45076071)

Yes, many of us do consider social interaction as a tool. And, just like the lathes, mills, laser cutter, 3D printers, etc. our members are free to use or not use that tool. Some members love using the 3D printers, some love talking and interacting with other members, to each their own.

As for your "take advantage of the results" thing. I'd be cool with that, and I'm one of ones that's usually involved in the group projects. If a bunch of us were to work to get a new milling machine running, I would have no problem with someone who didn't help with the project use the mill. As long as you were paying you membership dues, I would much rather you use the machine than for it so sit idle.

Also, I'm a member at Tx/Rx, and I'm in these videos building the concrete work benches that I will probably not personally use much, or at all (my work area is out in the machine shop/welding area).

Re:Hackerspace? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45076123)

I think the situation you describe works out fine. We all pitch in enough to keep the current tools and materials we personally use available (I assume there are some upkeep/usage fees even in the form of memberships). Then, when somebody or a group decides they really NEED a new tool, they work out how to fund it and you can join in if you want to help, or just use it once it's there.

If you choose not to interact on a deep social level with the other hackers/makers, that's fine too. As long as you respect the space. You might even end up being "the microcontroller guy" or something similar where people leave you alone, but come to you with really tough specific questions because you spend time on tech and not socializing. You might leave some cool projects lying around for others to improve on when you get bored with them. Whatever. Groups like this take all kinds, social people, tech people, planners, dreamers, makers, investors (those who enjoy the environment but don't use a lot of the equipment), etc. As long as you're being fair in you interactions with others and use of the equipment/materials I feel you're still adding to the community/hackerspace.

I don't think I see hackish people as having "social problems" they just have different priorities. You go to a bar to have fun, get drunk, and shoot the shit. You go to a hackerspace to have fun, learn things, and make some cool shit. They're both tools for having a fulfilling personal life, but diferent kinds of people are fulfilled by different things.

Re:Hackerspace? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45076165)

It is interesting that you would acknowledge a strict objectivity and selfishness in monopolizing equipment. And to a certain extent every hacker space has to deal with leaches and those who leave equipment in worse condition than when they started, but really the expected contribution to most spaces isn't huge, it can be as simple as taking out the trash.

Looks like a great facility (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45075109)

Totally jealous of what looks to be an amazing facility. Here in Portland Oregon, the makerspace / community workshop movement is struggling to take off. There is one nice facility with good equipment, but the pricing is on the high end ($130/month for a full membership allowing workshop / tool access), which makes it hard to join up just to drop in once in awhile. I'm guessing the economics are challenging given current commercial rents here.

The cyclekart is not electric (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45076141)

Don't know why they captioned it to imply it was electric, it was made very obvious that it was powered by a 6.5 HP Honda gasoline engine with a Comet torque converter (which is a pretty standard gokart setup). If you want to see more little karts like this one just google "cyclekart", there are quite a few people around the world building them lately.

Re:The cyclekart is not electric (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45076609)

Not to say that there aren't any electric vehicles around TX/RX, Bill Swann (briefly mentioned in the video) has done some conversions of some vehicles to electric, and there's an electric Art Car currently being worked on there, and a little electric van that was recently donated, which is used to haul things about, most recently used to get things to and from 3DCamp in the architecture building at U of H this past weekend.

Why the vitrol and hate? (2)

FlynnMP3 (33498) | 1 year,17 days | (#45076353)

I simply don't understand where the hate is coming from. Here is a space where a group of like minded people can get together and share creative ideas and/or create their own stuff without having to own expensive equipment. Is it the old adage that people fear what they don't understand? Good on this place for doing the Sunday breakfast thing. A good non-threatening way to introduce the community to what you are all about.

Re:Why the vitrol and hate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#45077079)

Obviously you've never been to Metrix:CreateSpace. They make-up prices and rules as they see fit at the moment. If you're Asian, you're going to pay more. Plus management is just hateful. These sort of "hacker" (not that a hacker would ever go to one of these places) spaces need to die. The hacker ethos is not about hate and discrimination. People that pay money to these places are just as guilty as the hateful, horrible people that run them. Also, by defending hate, you Flynn are just as guilty.

Re:Why the vitrol and hate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#45078049)

You ever walk into a REALLY weird conversation where someone is just yelling and it doesn't make sense in the context you heard it? Then it's all awkward and you don't know what to say because in a different context you could see why they're upset but it doesn't at all match this context?

Consider this the thought one has in their head but is afraid to say out loud.

Re: Why the vitrol and hate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#45079217)

None of this has been my experience with these kind of places. I have been to two.

Obviously, if you were treated that badly and the management was that corrupt it is a horrible thing. I would hope the one you are talking about is the exception rather than the rule. Again, my experience has been nothing but positive - so I was completely baffled how anybody could dislike anything like that.

Of course, any group of people are not immune to corruption but the bylaws should be written in such a way that would discourage behavior like that. Most geek type environments I've seen are meritocracy based and race, sex, or religion plays zero part in that.

Cyclekart...Blue (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#45080065)

That was a very nice Cyclekart i saw at 3.10min of the second film.
Its a 200cc petrol powered replica race car.
To see more on cyclekarts visit

Re:Cyclekart...Blue (1)

Davorak (3389597) | 1 year,4 days | (#45186633)

I know that the maker of that cyclekart is looking for more people in houston who want to build and race if you happen to be in the area.
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