Welcome a New Director of Farset Labs and Some Parting Thoughts from an Old One

Presidential letter on Resolute desk
A passed note from Incumbent to Incoming.

With my imminent departure for Nicaragua looming, I have the immense honour of welcoming Conor Robinson as our new incoming director, having been voted-in by the community. Conor, congratulations and welcome to the fray. I did a little air-punch when I saw that Conor had registered for election. Now Farset is getting an upgrade: replacing its most aged part with a new, faster, more functional one.

I have for years referred to myself as a “wannabe geek” to avoid anyone thinking that I actually know how to do anything technical. And, well, Conor’s one of those guys who does. But directing an experimental organisation like ours needs much more than tech credentials, and I think Conor brings the full set of tools to the table. He’s calm, friendly, organised (or at least he looks like he is because he’s always carrying a notebook!), and damn smart.

As Conor steps-up, I am stepping, well, kinda sideways. Quite a way actually. 8,341.14km in fact. I hope you will forgive my self-indulgence at taking this opportunity not only say hello to our new director, but also to offer some thoughts from a parting one. You know, like the private note the old president traditionally leaves for the new one… except it’s public. And not in the White House. And probably not as useful.
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Still Alive

Fast Times at Farset Labs
Fast Times at Farset Labs

The launch day went, in our humble opinions, fantastically.

As in, really fantastic.

We’ve met our targets and everything passed smoothly, but, far more importantly, we had an awful lot of fun.  A range of projects were attempted by those in the space over the 24-hr period, some of which were unexpected, all of which were cool. We can only mention a selection of the activities, but some of the most notable follow.

Andrew Sheppard learnt the ropes on an Arduino Uno and got some guidance on some of the low-level aspects of microcontroller interfacing. He also went nuts with a labeller in the kitchen. Ben Bland and Conor Flanagan, among other things, did the necessary measurements and are well on the way to creating a 3D model of the building. Eoghan Murray and Conor Robinson set up an amateur radio station in the Event Space, with an antenna running nearly the length of the building. It was illegal for around two minutes when one non-licensed member decided to try and chat to someone. Sighs were heard all round. Then David Kane joined them and they went numbers station hunting, successfully tuning into UVB-76 from Russia on 4625kHz.

Meanwhile, in the lounge, Niall Bole masterminded a gaming system with an Xbox 360 and projector that kept everyone entertained when they weren’t working. Likewise, the library and the vintage hardware were used both for amusement and for serious reference, with copies of Wired and Teach Yourself Electricity and Electronics (Gibilisco), to name a couple, taken off the shelves and used. The ancient CRO was connected to…er…something that Conor Robinson built in the Event Space, with William Cully looking on, vaguely confused at the erratic waveform. The Portege laptop also disappeared with Chris Murray and was booted and explored.

The kitchen proved to be a good social hub, with people taking a break around coffee or a beer, leaving the gamers and their spectators at peace in the lounge, though cheers and lamentations could be heard constantly through the open door. We thought heating may be a problem (and had electric heaters at the ready), due to our lack of gas for the boiler at the minute, but attendance was so good that body heat (plus the heat from our servers) warmed the building comfortably.

The atmosphere was brilliant, with a party mood blended perfectly with a work ethos and several people mucked in to get the network infrastructure upgraded and humming along even faster than before. All of this was fuelled off snacks, soft drinks and some harder ones provided by Farset Labs, as well as a pizza order organised by the Prince of Pizza, Niall Bole. Rachel Gregg provided the most awesome cupcakes ever tasted by exhausted hackers, giving a taste of what the Bakerspace will be like.

We can’t mention everyone of the 30+ people who came to the space and their projects, mainly because I (David) didn’t even get the time to go around them all, despite wanting to, but there was a wide variety of awesomeness being attempted.

The 24-hr event thinned out on the Saturday morning, but, after people got a few hours sleep, several members (and the directors) came back and worked in the space together, with the Tron soundtrack providing the backing music. It was great to see people eager to come back right away and everyone worked until around 10pm on the Saturday night. The space (at this time on a Sunday night) has six people currently in it…and we’re about to take a break and educate three of them in the wondrous series that is Firefly.

And so closes Farset Lab’s first weekend. We’re all wrecked, full of junk food and haven’t been seen by significant others in too long, but, damn, it was good.