The Town Hall, February 2013

The entire Farset Labs membership were invited to the Town Hall meeting on Saturday the 16th of February, 2013, and a total of 7 active members turned up, with some additional people turning up out of interest. Among the matters of business was one vote and a discussion on all other issues, as detailed below.

Code of Conduct Review

As mandated in the Code of Conduct, the document is to be reviewed at least once a year, but may be changed at any time given the approval of the membership. The review for 2013 was held at the February Town Hall meeting, and it passed with a vote of 7 ayes, 0 noes and 0 abstentions. The changes outlined were mostly wording changes, but some new clauses covering the use of specialised equipment, the use of VPS, VPN and Web services provided by Evorack and Tibus, and a clause governing member representation of Farset Labs (to protect the members from any legal liability).

These changes will be made available soon and the online versions of the Code will be updated appropriately. If you have any issues or wish to change or add anything in the Code, please bring it up at the next Town Hall meeting, or get in touch as outlined below.

Other Matters of Business

In other news, investigations are ongoing to price reversible (fleece/waterproof jacket) coats branded with the Labs’ logo and member names/handles, plus some other apparel options. A “common sense” ideology for use of the 3D printer and other specialised, easy-to-wreck equipment was stressed, and a tally of the workshop tools to date, both installed and incoming, was taken.

The store’s indexing system to make things easily to find and return is complete, with the allocations changing as the best practice becomes apparent. In the next while, truly useless items will be disposed of. They will be left for a period of 1 week and will be advertised on our social media outlets if you are interested in taking them yourself.

After our first birthday (more on that soon), two new Director positions will be open to voting for the membership body, with any member not disqualified from holding a directorship to a UK Limited Company being eligible. After the first elections, there will be subsequent elections every year for all five positions.

The state of the Labs’ finances was reviewed, with an overall positive result. However, as our utilities and equipment use grows, we will need more income, and could do with some more members.

The series of events scheduled for the upcoming month was laid out, with comments made on future Gathering of Lightening talks regarding presenting. Our GoL talks are open to members and the general public; admission is ticket-based because it is usually a very popular event.

Open discussion to the floor quickly turned jokey, but one non-member who attended commented that we should consider buying lots of canned air.

 The next meeting

The next Town Hall meeting will be scheduled for March 2013 and will be published widely with good notice. Comments, complaints and questions can be sent via email (anonymously or not), but voting matters are open to members only who attend the meeting.

See you then!

You did it! Our 3D printer is in the post!

Our long and exciting Sponsume campaign is finally over, and there is evidently plenty of support for a 3D printer within the space Рwe raised over £100 extra by the time the fundraiser was finished. In the time that it ran, we saw very evident spikes and patterns, which coincided nicely with various announcements and media publishers.

Breakdown of rewards
Breakdown of donators by which reward they chose

We’d like to thank everyone who helped get the word out about the campaign, and would especially like to thank every single person who backed the Sponsume appeal. Even now we are getting occasional offers from people who want to chip in a little more towards consumables. We hope that everyone that donated enjoys their rewards, which will be sent out in the following weeks after they are all organised and produced.

Once the custom print rewards are finished, the 3D printer will be open for every member of Farset Labs to access whenever they wish. Significant quantities of PLA and ABS plastic have been ordered, and this is open for all members to use in small-scale production. Anyone wishing to make lots of models or make very big items is requested to play fair and buy their own plastic, or donate towards getting more for the space. Apart from that, there are absolutely no restrictions on use, and we look forward to seeing what people make with the machine.

The Ultimaker is now in the post, and is expected within around a week. Announcements will be made when it arrives, and everyone involved in the fundraiser and purchase will be invited down to build and be the first to use it.

Once again, thank you to everyone that helped. Thanks to you, we now have a fantastic tool to make Farset Labs a much more useful and interesting place.

Farset Labs’ Legal Encounter

UPDATED: The original letters sent to Farset Labs have been linked to throughout the article for context and transparency. Further questions will be answered via email at admin@farsetlabs.org.uk

Farset Labs has gone from strength to strength since opening its doors in April of this year, and the community has grown and matured quickly, but our summer progress was slower than was hoped for. Our entire model and ethos is built on transparency and democracy, so we publish this document to explain to our membership and supporters the difficulties placed in our path due to litigation launched by Latens/Pace plc.

Out of the blue, on the 14th June, multiple copies of a letter were hand delivered to Farset Labs by Pinsent Masons, legal representatives of Latens/Pace, as well as emailed to several different accounts of the Directors whether they were Farset Labs related or personal, work and university inboxes. One of our members had been accused on their last day of work of stealing sensitive Confidential Information from their employer and transmitting it to Farset Labs. The letter explained that we had possession of their property, and that it it was on our equipment. It demanded that we exclude an allegedly-involved member from the premises and cut all communication with him pending completion of their investigations. Two of the Directors have known the member for almost a decade, having gone to the same school, and so for a demand to come through to sever all contact was seen to be unreasonable. Continue reading Farset Labs’ Legal Encounter

HacksHackers with Bobbie Johnson

The October HacksHackers event at Farset Labs played host to Bobbie Johnson of Matter fame, who also regularly contributes to the popular GigaOM site and is proprietor of the brilliant @ifyouonly. Bobbie flew over from Brighton specifically for the two-hour event, and landed mid-morning in the George Best Belfast City Airport. After some breakfast, he and those at Farset settled into setting up for the event.

The talk kicked off at 4pm with an interested crowd engaging in the two-hour-long interactive talk, with many asking questions, particularly on Bobbie’s challenges he had faced. Specifically, Mr Johnson spoke about his Kickstarter success with Matter and the process that shaped it, particularly the viral nature of the fundraising campaign. He spoke of how the majority of the money was raised in under 36 hours, leaving much more time to work on the final product.

Matter is a soon-to-be-released online publication for long-form journalism and in-depth reporting. Hopefully pumping four stories out per month eventually, it aims to replicate the investigative meat of a print magazine but with a more granular purchasing mechanism allowing readers to buy what they want to read and no more; signal-to-noise improvement, as it were. It is set to launch soon with one long story, with more being added regularly to produce a regular stream of content.

The talk continued with more questions probing the need for such a service, to which Bobbie answered that he and his team had decided to do it just because no-one else had, and to test the model. Questions continued for around an hour afterwards and the group broke up shortly afterwards, after several one-on-one discussions and some networking.

Bobbie will be talking at several venues in the near future about Matter to promote its upcoming launch, and the Belfast chapter of HacksHackers will likely be returning in the near future to Farset for more events.

Roles, the new Farset Labs Membership Model

Farset Labs is adopting a new membership model in the next few weeks to adapt to the different needs of the different types of members in the space. This both helps students and those of low income by significantly cutting the costs of membership, and provides a bed for more wealthy people to get access to more expensive features at a very low price compared to for-profit ventures.

The Current Model

As all members will be aware, the current model of membership operates at a fixed amount payable each month, with a £5 discount for people with valid student cards at recognised academic institutions. At this time, the membership fee is £30 per month, making it £25 per month for students.

Reasons for the change

A lot of people have approached Farset Labs with the intention of joining, only to be discouraged from signing up due to the relatively high costs involved. This is most noticeable in students and those with lower incomes. These are precisely the kind of people Farset Labs needs to be vibrant, so we need to tailor to them first. Similarly, more professional members have expressed a wish for more business-like features and high-end features, which will be made available at a premium.

These changes were discussed at the Town Hall meeting this month and the community who attended accepted the plan.

Current Limitations

Some of the listed advantages (specifically the job board and Asterisk-based phone systems) are not¬†available¬†yet, but we’re pushing these¬†administrative¬†changes for new members out as quickly as possible to give Freshers coming to the Belfast area to study, and recent grads coming to work here, an even greater incentive to join the community.

Roles

The membership model will now be modelled with four distinct levels, each with different levels of access and varying features, and a proportionate price to match. These roles will cover from basic student membership up to ‚Äúhonorary‚ÄĚ membership for those who wish to financially support Farset Labs or with to provide extra monetary help on an ongoing basis.

Our Membership page has been updated to reflect a summary of these roles

Student Membership

Student membership for Farset Labs will be priced at £15 per month and is available to all members with a valid student card at a recognised academic institution, and those attending a recognised school.

This level of membership offers:

  • Access to the space while it is open, but not 24-hour access#;
  • Use of all equipment and tools in the space;
  • Access to the Internet and public network resources using both WiFi and the wired network;
  • Access to all events organised by Farset Labs;
  • The ability to use the event space and other rooms for meetings if they are free at the time;
  • Voting rights at Town Hall meetings and in all community polls.

Enthusiast Membership

Enthusiast membership is priced at £25 per month and is aimed at hobbyists and enthusiasts, as well as students who want a higher level of access, particularly when it comes to online resources and access to the space 24/7. It is available to all members.

Enthusiast membership offers, in conjunction with the benefits of Student membership:

  • 24 hour access to the space, the ability to open the building and work on your own (with reasonable exceptions for renovations, etc);
  • Access to a VPN service at all times from outside the space;
  • A Project Box for storing equipment and tools belonging to the member;
  • A 3GB allocation for web space, email and NAS storage;
  • The ability to book the lounge, and workshop if they are free with a week‚Äôs notice.

Freelancer Membership

Freelancer membership is priced at £35 per month and is aimed at young professionals, freelancers and startup founders looking for more professional features and tools at their disposal. It is available to all members.

Freelancer membership offers, in addition to the benefits of Enthusiast membership:

  • An increased quota for web space, email and NAS storage to 5GB;
  • The ability to book the event space if it is free with a week‚Äôs notice, but not the workshop;
  • A telephone extension on the main Farset Labs number;
  • A print quota of 60 pages per month;
  • A public profile on the Farset Labs website;
  • Posting rights to a job board in the space advertising services or the need for services.

Angel Membership

Angel membership is aimed at those wishing to support Farset Labs financially by giving a bit more than usual, perhaps because they like the idea or want to seed success.  It is available to all members.

The price of Angel membership is £75 per month and up; members paying £75 per month are deemed Angel members, but those wishing to give more are more than welcome to.

Benefits for Current Members

To thank current members for their early support for the space, current student members paying £25 per month will be grandfathered into the Enthusiast membership plan. Likewise, existing personal members paying £30 per month will be grandfathered into the Freelancer membership plan, saving them £5 per month.

This discount will apply for as long as they maintain their current membership; changing down to a lower level and switching back to Freelancer membership will incur a £35 per month membership cost as usual.

Concessions for Starving Hackers

At Farset Labs‚Äô discretion, non-students may be offered a student rate, with the same access rights as Student membership, minus voting rights. This will be offered to those known to be in genuine need only and will not be overtly advertised. (Other than this blog post I guess…)