MadLab Update – and activity reviews

More frequent updates?

We promised that last time in celebration of the increase in capacity MailChimp had passed on to us. Sadly we took a silent vow that we would never, ever mail in public again, until Bin Laden was captured, or until Charles was clearly being skipped over for monarch. Then, both happen at once. Typical, eh?

MadLab Update – and activity reviews

March came and went, and with it, the MerzMan festival. We had a few lovely exhibitions as part of this, from Fiske & Kverneland’s Kanon retelling of Schwitters’ life to an installation of Snakesticks, talks by David Medalla and Adam Nankervis and a sneaky Uncuts Unconference slipped in the middle. Huge thanks to the Littoral Arts Trust, who put the programme on across Manchester, despite the Arts Council shake-ups. Merz rides on!

We lent our support to Cakes for Japan (organised by Kitty Davies) who raised of £780 to support the Red Cross Tsunami relief effort in Japan. That’s Kitty – a stack of donors – but alsoyou. Yes, you. Thanks for coming, buying, eating - it all helps!

In scientific circles, we launched our DIY BIO MCR project (twitter) with Manchester Metropolitan University. This is a year-long programme aimed at increasing access to biotech work at Universities, and encouraging people to take up the role of Citizen Scientists and not just participating in, but steering the scientific process. Our inaugural meeting culminated in @asacalow chowing down on his own DNA and Bacardi, with a salty detergent chaser. But they’re not all that nasty! Come along next time to find ways to propose projects, swab and scientificate, or get involved in data analysis and visualisation. @danhett wrote up his experiences from the second meeting. Our third meeting will be tomorrow, involving a swabfest around the city. Get in there!

We co-hosted the first Lovely Data event with MDDA, FutureEverything, Data GM, and Open Data Manchester. Lovely Data is a series of hack days themed around public data – this first one was around ways of improving information and use of transport in the city.

We’re also pleased to announce our partnership with Comma Press – they’re sharing the office with us and we’ll be working together on programmes and a number of projects in the coming year as part of their successful promotion to National Portfolio status.

We held our first Royal Wedding pa… oh MadLab Fundraising Party a few days ago. You – and people like you – contributed gifts for the raffle, donated things from our wedding list (fire blankets, first aid kits, and so on), and a convivial night was had by all. Too early to have pictures to prove it happened – as soon as we can wash the camera out – but we’d like to thank all the people who came in fantastic regally-themed fancy dress and helped us keep you in coffee, bin bags and bog roll over the next few months. Full report (with pictures!) next time.

Barney & Wini have been continuing the shutter work, which is looking damn fine, and we’ve even added a sign so it’s easier not to get lost when visiting in future! We’ll have an exciting, action-packed video of the shutter production coming up soon.

As for MadLab branded goods – we still have some of @kerrysholicar’s delightful designsavailable, or you can pick one up from Fred Aldous if you’re one of those mail-order types.

We hosted the BBC’s R&D team as part of the Edge St. Royal Wedding (legitimate) party – grab a flyer, they’re recruiting – and while no-one was looking, got shortlisted for a Big Chip award!

And finally – we’re joined by Hugo Finley, who’s been helping us shape up our administration and fundraising programmes. If you bump into him, be sure to say hello – he’s also offering his time and expertise on a voluntary basis.

And we have a couple of favours to ask of you, if that’s okay -

1. If you have a minute, fill in our annual feedback form for this year – it’s critical for us to get a better insight into how we’re doing and what you need from us to help your communities.

2. If you want to help us invest in more infrastructure here, (sign up for and) vote for us in the Co-operative’s Join the Revolution programme. It will be a real funding boon to us and allow us to invest in a more up-to-date library (periodicals, specifically) and provide for further equipment (and replacements!) to support the activity here.

Upcoming Events (and away days)

May’s too crazy for chronological ordering to constrain it – this time, we’re in freeform mode. Bring forth the action points!

FutureEverything / 11/5/2011 – 14/5/2011

Manchester’s biggest (or is it the UK’s biggest?) festival of art, music, ideas and media returns. We’ll be speaking at the conference with MMU about the DIY BIO MCR programme, and showing some new works as part of ‘Digital Handmade’ at Victoria Baths.

Blank Media Collective – User Generated Content / 2/6/2011 – 16/6/2011

Blank Media Collective are curating an exhibition investigating social media – there’s more on their posterous site.

Listening to Firefox / 15/5/2011 – 14:00 – 16:00

Open Source vs. The Big Society is the theme of this first Listening to Firefox event, providing a space for a number of practitioners to show and talk about their work leading to roundtable discussions about their critical context.

Community Events

The lifeblood of MadLab are events run by you. From Communicators to dorks to fashionistas to geeks to designers to dweebs to writers to hacks to musicans, we try to help everyone find a place to get togetger and scratch their itch, so to speak.

Bokeh_Yeah! : 05/05/2011 : 19:00 – share tips and ideas with other DSLR users

Sanctuary Gaming Night : 06/05/2011 : 18:00 – a new evening exploring board games

Geeks Talk Sexy – Flirting Workshop : 07/05/2011 : 16:00 – All welcome for a flirting showdown

Clojure Dojo : 09/05/2011 : 19:00 – more and more people are learning the potential and grace offered by Clojure

$.get( jQuery) : 10/05/2011 : 19:00 – Javascript apologises to the world in style. Learn more about this fantastic environment

SpecFic Writing Group – 11/05/2011 : 19:00 – A group for writers interested in science fiction, weird fiction or fantasy.

HacMan : (@hacmanchester on twitter) Every Wednesday : 7 – 9pm : A drop in for electronic & hacking know-how.

OMNIVERSITY

Our programme of in-demand skills from the near future marches on! There’s a number of new courses we’ve added and we’re re-running some of our older regulars to keep up with popular demand! Maria Rubin is back to teach a new Summer Horror Filmmaking course, Dave Mee is teaching introduction to Arduino, Adrian McEwan is back to teach more Internet of Things, and Chris Mills is running part 4 of his web foundations course, a masterclass in CSS and HTML. Our new courses are lead by Barney Doodlebug, teaching radio and podcast techniques, and Comma Press teaching short story writing.

As ever, we aim to keep our courses ridiculously affordable and great value for money – on top of the teaching, you’ll become a member of the omniversity social network for your group, as well as USB copies of all materials and software, a printed workbook, as well as lunch for full-day courses. Sugar and caffeine included in all courses.

Check back on our Omniversity site for new courses!

Web Design Foundations 4 : Advanced CSS and HTML topics is the final part of Chris’ web foundations course, running on 16th May 2011.

This will be building on themes introduced earlier, though there is no need to have attended those courses. Chris Mills (Opera) will be teaching a range of techniques, from fluid columns to HTML5 media embedding. This course is priced at £100. Find out more at the sign-up page.

Radio Production for Pod&Cloud casts is a one-day course run by Barney Doodlebug on June 11th 2011.

This is a great introduction to the art of interviewing, capturing, editing and mixing audio productions for radio and digital formats. Mr. Doodlebug is famous for his many projects around the country, not least of which are his ‘Words in Motion’ strand at the Big Chill and his current drive-time slot on AllFM. The course is priced at £100.

Find out more about this full-day course.

Beginners’ Guide to Arduino and Physical Computing is a one-day course run by Dave Mee on June 4th 2011.

It’s the weekend edition of our previous beginners’ arduino course, so you don’t have to bunk off work (or mow the lawn.)

There’s further information about the course which is priced at £120 for the full day and includes the cost of an Arduino development kit and components (pictured left). We’ve run this course several times and people found it a great way to learn about Physical Computing.

Building the Internet of Things – Arduino and Ethernet is a one-day course run by Adrian McEwen on July 2nd 2011.

This course is suitable for people who’ve moved on from beginner’s Arduino development and looks at connecting the device to the net via an ethernet shield. The shield is provided in the cost of the course, as well as components, buffet lunch, printed and USB materials. Read more information about this course (costing £132 inclusive) on the Omniversity website.

Adrian, the course leader, is renowned for his Bubblino and running the Howduinoworkshops. He is the current maintainer of the TCP/IP stack for Arduino.

Short Story Writing Workshop is taught by Jim Hinks, editor at Comma Press, and takes place over three Monday evenings (May 23rd, June 20th, July 25th).

The course looks at the predominant narrative structures used by short story writers, and ways to implement them in your own work. You will produce and critique 3 shorts stories of between 1,500 and 5,000 words under the guidance of Jim and your peers on the course.

Genre is not a given; the techniques covered will be as applicable to romance as much as sci-fi.

The course is offered for £70 inclusive.

Summer Horror Movie Camp – Experimental Film Courseis taught by Maria Rubin.

Maria’s documentary-making course was hugely well received – and what better time of year to prepare your horror film than summer? This seven-evening course takes place over seven weeks, and Maria will be taking you through the essentials of technique with readily-available equipment, as well as film-making theory, before forming crews to shoot, edit and screen their films at a festival in July.

The course is designed for those with no film-making experience – you can find out more here.

The course starts on the 6th June 2011 and runs through to 25th July 2011, from 6pm to 9pm on each day, and costs £70 in full.

If you want to know a little more about the Omniversity, there’s something of a manifesto here and a little video about what we’re doing (with an introduction to our Arduino course). If you have any questions, feel free to drop them in on our Omniversity Forums. Don’t forget – we hang out a lot as @omniversity on twitter too!

The Omniversity is keen to hear from you, yes, you, about what you’d like to see offered in future. If you have a few minutes, please take our survey – one lucky respondent will receive a free MadLab t-shirt for their trouble (only available to those who leave contact details, natch).

Future Events

There’s some other exciting things we have in the pipeline – don’t forget to follow us on ourwebsite and @MadLabUK on twitter – as well as our @omniversity account.

Thanks for reading! Hope to see you all soon at 36 – 40 Edge Street, M4 1HN!

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