Month: October 2018

"Festival of Maintenance slides: Culture and Tools"

Recently I gave a talk at the inaugural Festival of Maintenance. It was a day-long celebration of all things fixing and maintaining, organised in part by DoES Liverpool community members Jackie Pease and Ross Dalziel. It took place down in London, but thanks to help from Matt Croughan and Alex Lennon, it was also live streamed at DoES Liverpool.

My talk was about how we (ab)use Github issue lists to help with communication and management of all the maintenance tasks that need to be done in order to keep the space running. You can read through my slides and the notes of what I planned to say here…

Or if you’d rather watch me (and see what I actually said…) then watch this video.

The talk immediately before mine was from the Guerilla Groundsman, a civic-minded individual who has been fixing up things around Cambridge. As a result, at the end of my talk I briefly mentioned the experiment I’ve been running to take the Somebody Should issue list idea and apply it to all of Liverpool.

Afterword

After the talk there was an interesting discussion on Twitter about whether Github is too geeky a tool and so a barrier to entry for non-software-developers. I didn’t get chance to join the conversation at the time, but figured I’d add some of my thoughts on it here.

I can totally understand that Github isn’t very user-friendly. I’m not especially wedded to Github itself, but I do think the issue list has some big advantages over tools focused more as to-do lists (and I say that as someone who spent a couple of years failing to build a business around a web-based to-do list tool, but thinking lots about it as a result).

We chose Github because a sizeable chunk of the community already had accounts, which reduced one of the barriers to entry during bootstrapping, and we already had some code hosted there. However I think most issue trackers would work – the Labels feature is an important one in the way we organise things (unsurprisingly that—although called “tags”—was a big feature of my to-do list app). Ditto an API for building custom scripts on top of it.

Github is far from perfect, but I think there’s a risk of the perfect being the enemy of the good enough. I also think that we should be applying the same attitude to our software tools that we do to our other tools and enhancing, reworking or replacing them where they don’t suit our particular needs. We’re taking a first step in that to improve the granularity of email notifications.

I also think there’s a balance to strike between making the system easy for non-geeks and helping the non-geeks get to grips with the system. Again, we have a culture of helping people learn how to use tools they’re not familiar with, be that a 3D printer or a hand plane. Software tools shouldn’t be any different. It’s 2018, needing some help and guidance to familiarise yourself with digital tools is fine, refusing to “do digital” is not.

"Week 383 – Embedded Bonanza"

Each week we’ll endeavour to publish some details of the interesting things that members of DoES Liverpool have been up to over the past seven days. You can find out a bit more about them in our introductory post.

And remember, if you’re involved with DoES Liverpool at all, let us know what you get up to so we can include it here!

Things of Note

Coming Up in the Next Week

Monday 08 October, 7:00pm-9:00pm Wearable Tech Group
Tuesday 09 October, 7:00pm-9:00pm Digital Self-defence: Reduce your Facebook footprint
Thursday 11 October, 9:00am-6:00pm Jelly Liverpool
Thursday 11 October, 6:30pm-9:00pm Maker Night
Friday 12 October, 2:00pm-6:00pm Making It conference
Saturday 13 October, 10:00am-4:00pm Kerbinator Hackday – The inventors club at Little Sandbox are creating a crowd sourced map of drop kerbs across the city to help wheelchair users navigate. They’re creating an app and a physical device that can both feed data into a database, accessed through an online map. If you’d like to contribute they’re looking for help from, web developers and UX, hardware engineers (ESP, GPS), designers to shape the case of the device, app developers and data experts to help collect existing data and look at ways to ensure the quality of any new data.

We’ll be in the event space at DoES between 10 and 4, it’d be great if you could join us!

Saturday 13 October, 10:00am-5:00pm Maker Day

Somebody Should

The DoES Liverpool to-do list is stored in the issues of our Somebody Should repository on github. Head over there if there’s something you’d like to report, or if you want to help out fixing things.

See all the issues…

Issue counts: 302 open, 637 closed

3 new issues:

Featured issue: do a major service on Gerald. Can we move this on or close it?

1 issue closed:

Thanks johnmckerrell!

Community Content

DoES exists to support the community that uses DoES. If you use DoES, then you are part of that community. If you would like to publicise something related to DoES, you can email hello@doesliverpool.com with the formatted content for us to use as a new blog post. Tell us what you’re up to, and we’ll show the world what epic stuff happens at DoES!

"Week 382 – Stretching People’s Sensor Skills"

Each week we’ll endeavour to publish some details of the interesting things that members of DoES Liverpool have been up to over the past seven days. You can find out a bit more about them in our introductory post.

And remember, if you’re involved with DoES Liverpool at all, let us know what you get up to so we can include it here!

Things of Note

Coming Up in the Next Week

Monday 01 October, 6:30pm-9:30pm Hack the Space Evening
Wednesday 03 October, 7:00pm-9:00pm Liverpool Linux User Group
Thursday 04 October, 1:00pm-2:00pm RSA Livestream: Remaking Post-Industrial Cities
Thursday 04 October, 6:30pm-9:00pm Maker Night

Somebody Should

The DoES Liverpool to-do list is stored in the issues of our Somebody Should repository on github. Head over there if there’s something you’d like to report, or if you want to help out fixing things.

See all the issues…

Issue counts: 300 open, 636 closed

10 new issues:

Featured issue: Order more sublimation printer cartridges. Can we move this on or close it?

2 issues closed:

Thanks ajlennon, amcewen!

Community Content

DoES exists to support the community that uses DoES. If you use DoES, then you are part of that community. If you would like to publicise something related to DoES, you can email hello@doesliverpool.com with the formatted content for us to use as a new blog post. Tell us what you’re up to, and we’ll show the world what epic stuff happens at DoES!

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