BarCampMilwaukee6 Happened…

Cupcake CNC>
Photo by ethercycle

I survived BarCampMilwaukee6… just barely. (Maybe that’s what the t-shirt should say.)

Somehow I did what I never did before, and that was: stay awake from the beginning to the end. And yes, as the old saying goes, I’m getting too old for this shit. Next year, someone point me to this post and tell me I should sleep a few hours.

OK, on to the recap… How did things go? They went great. In fact, I still can’t figure out if all that time I spent freaking out about things not getting done was necessary or not. I mean, there were a few hiccups, but much of BarCamp really is self-organizing, but only after the event starts. There is still a lot of prep work to be done in the weeks (months?) before BarCamp. Wrangling sponsors is one of the big ones, and I’d really, really, really like someone else to jump in next year. I have some ideas, and I would love to advise on it, but I need some help. That said, I’m really proud of the fact that we tend to have mostly smaller, community-owned organizations as sponsors. We don’t have large, faceless corporations throwing tons of money at us (should we?) but we’ve got people who come every year, and see the value, and have their company (often one-person shops) toss some money our way. It’s pretty damn grassroots if you ask me. And if you feel like sending more money our way, please, please just send it to Bucketworks. They’ve hosted us for 6 years, and really don’t get much out of it from a monetary standpoint. Help support what AccordionGuy called “the best venue ever for a BarCamp.”

@accordionguy style=
Photo by ethercycle

As for the “self-organizing” part, once people are at BarCamp, and see what it is, and see what is needed, they step up and do what needs to be done. It’s that whole “doing things ahead of time” thing that is tough. How do we get more people involved in the planning? I don’t know… was Atrium really what prevented people from voicing their opinion? Do we need to return to a Google Group to get people to volunteer for things? (Of course, some folks hate that tool too… you can’t please everyone, right?)

Well this post has turned into a jumble. I’m sure I’ll have plenty more to post about, but for me the highlights were the “3D Printing Village” in the Workshop. That’s where we stayed up all night printing crazy stuff. (Yes, there will be video.) Besides that, the Lightning Talks were fun, and I learned a lot about silicone mold making, met some new folks, got to see old friends, and generally had a good time.

BarCamp Cookies
Photo by ethercycle

Another great thing was all the makers who showed up, not just from Milwaukee Makerspace, but also from Pumping Station: One, and Twin Cities Maker. It was awesome to hear someone say it was well worth a 6 hour drive to attend, and that they’ll be back next year.

We also had a ton of new people. First time Campers! I thought this was great to see… not just because I want more people to come to BarCamp and get excited about it, but because I remember what it was like before I found a tech community in Milwaukee, and how great it is to find a place/group/event where you fit in, and feel like you’ve found your tribe. Welcome new people! We hope to see you next year. :)


BarCampMilwaukee6 (Almost!)


Whew, check it out… it’s nearly time for BarCampMilwaukee6!

I’m sure a lot will happen before then, but there’s already a lot that’s happened in the last few months.

So I’d like to take this chance, before BarCamp even happens, to thank the people who got us this far.

All of these sponsors!

And all of these people!

There’s probably more people and organizations I could list… but I actually wanted to finish this post before BarCamp. :)

If you show up and take part next week, I will personally thank you. Well, maybe not personally, but if you hear me says “thanks” to anyone, just assume it’s meant for you and we’ll be all good.)


MadCamp ReCap: Sessions

Duct Tape Crafts

(This post is Part 2 of my MadCamp ReCap. See the first post as well. In this one I’ll cover all of the sessions I attended)

How to make duct tape crafts
The first session I attended was led by Quinn, the 9 year old daughter of Andy Lester. She showed us how to make a pen and some duct tape into a flower. So in a room of 9 adults, none of us could make one as awesome as hers. This was a fun session, and would be perfect for KidsCamp at BarCampMilwaukee6.

Photo by tronathan

Introduction to the Egg-Bot
Hmmm, I don’t know that I can review this session, as I was the one who led it. I basically gave an Egg-Bot demo, and talked about what it does, and what I’ve learned, and showed some designs I’ve printed, and I threw some eggs. I then attempted to print a Bendyworks logo, and an Athmapolis logo. I guess this session went well, people seemed interested, but hey, who doesn’t love an Egg-Bot!?

Jason asks... What's Next?

How I made a CNC laser with junk from the basement
I got to know Jason earlier this year, and he may be Beaver Dam’s most prolific maker. (But hey, it’s Beaver Dam.) Anyway, I think I helped convince him to attend, and even lead a session at his first BarCamp. He walked us through building a CNC laser device out of scrap (mostly old CD/DVD drives) and some parts that had to be bought. Great session! I love hearing makers talk about their projects.

Greg Tracy

Twilio Magic – building phone apps with a simple web service API
I actually only attended a few minutes of this session, which almost didn’t happen until I pointed out to Greg that the flyer mentioned a Twilio session. Well, I caught some crap from Greg because I cut out of this session to hit up the Hackerspaces talk going on 10 feet behind me. (To be fair, I finally got around to digging into Twilio the day after MadCamp, and I’ve already written some fun sample code.) Anyway, I’m familiar with Greg’s Twilio projects, and we even used one during the day, the MadCamp Notifier. (Note that the photo above is not from MadCamp, but a photo I took of Greg at BarCampMilwaukee5 last year.)

Chris from Sector67

An Introduction to Hackerspaces, Makerspaces, and Coworking
This one was interesting. It was so interesting I left the Twilio session (sorry Greg!) because I was pulled in by what I was hearing. My disclaimer: I’m a member of Milwaukee Makerspace, but I am not an officer, or a founder, or in charge of anything. Anyway, the Sector67 guys led this, and talked about how they run their space. I brought up a few points about how Milwaukee Makerspace does things (or at least how I understand they are done) and I sort of felt like there was a little tension about the differences between how the two places operate. In talking to other later, people were not surprised, stating that almost every space will operate differently, and often one space will thing they are doing it exactly the right way. :) I’m really hoping that at BarCampMilwaukee6 we can have a talk with people from Milwaukee Makerspace, Sector67, Pumping Station: One, and Twin Cities Maker, since all groups will have people present. I should probably propose this to all of those folks. It could be a great learning experience.

Joe from Sector67

Introduction to 3D Printing (MakerBot/RepRap)
This one was simply awesome. I’ve been in love with the MakerBot for some time now, and wanted more info. Joe from Sector67 gave a great overview of 3D printing, and also talked about (and had present) a RepRap machine. We saw a bunch of samples that had been printed, and at some point Chris did get the MakerBot talking to the laptop he had and we got some printing done. It sounds like Joe and at least one printer might also make it to BarCampMilwaukee6 as well, so get ready for more 3D printing fun.

Photo by Clint Thayer

Lightning Talks
The Lightning Talks, just like last year, were a lot of fun. I just wish more people would do it! I think if you didn’t lead a session, you should jump at the chance to do a Lightning Talk. If they didn’t stop me, I’d probably do 5 of them. Seriously. It’s just 5 minutes, talk on any subject, I tend to go pretty fast, so I hope it’s not boring. (I did the Time Lapse Bot again, and showed the raw footage from earlier in the day.) I have some favorites, but I also have an audio recording of them all to publish, so I’ll wait until I do that before I get into those…

So that was MadCamp (aka BarCampMadison the 4th.) I enjoyed it, and I await the next one. In the meantime, BarCampMilwaukee6 is coming up soooooon.


BarCampMilwaukee… Six!


Remember when you first heard about BarCamp? In case you forgot, the first BarCamp was held in Palo Alto, California, from August 19–21, 2005. Good old Wikipedia has a BarCamp page we’ve pointed many people to.

Back in 2005 I was pretty heads down and wasn’t really involved in Milwaukee’s technology or web communities. (I really don’t know what communities existed prior to 2006, so I’ll just say I wasn’t involved.)


So in 2006 I found myself in need of some networking, and community, and so on, and ended up going to the Milwaukee Web Design Meetup in May and June of 2006, and just after that, I wrote a blog post titled BarCampMilwaukee? Which, unless anyone wants to dispute, may have been the first seed of the tree that grew to be what we now know as the mighty oak that is… BarCampMilwaukee.

Lots of people helped along the way, including Justin Kruger, who ended up finding James Carlson and Bucketworks, which ended up being the venue for the first BarCampMilwaukee.

BarCampMilwaukee Introductions

Bucketworks also hosted the third and fifth BarCampMilwaukee, and for the second and forth, we were unable to use their building (moving, floods, occupancy issues, etc.) they got us venues to use. Bucketworks also acted as the fiscal sponsor for BarCampMilwaukee, allowing us to operate as a non-profit organization. In my opinion, Bucketworks (and their parent organization, The School Factory) have been more than just a venue over the years, they’ve been a great partner and a significant reason why BarCamp happens here in Milwaukee.

Bucketworks has had its share of ups and downs, and they ain’t perfect, and they don’t always get everything right, but for six years now, they’ve been a part of the BarCampMilwaukee experience. With BarCampMilwaukee6 coming up, it’s nice to know we have a solid venue with tables, chairs, an Internet connection, WiFi, a kitchen, lots and lots of space, and the things (and people!) we need to put on a user-generated conference.

BarCampMilwaukee2 Buttons

So, BarCampMilwaukee6? Yup, it’s happening October 1st-2nd, 2011 at Bucketworks in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I just renewed and at some point the updates will start flowing, and shirts will be made, and meals will be planned, and we’ll do it all again, for the sixth time.

I hope to see you there! :)

Update: I mentioned Justin above, but I also should have mentioned Bob Waldron! Take a look at his blog posts from July 2006 and you’ll see that he and Justin were sort of running parallel to my initiative, and once we found each other and joined forces, things started to happen. Thanks Bob!