Month: October 2018

"Visit to Vila Nova de Famalicão in Portugal"

I’ve just got back from a short trip to the “Textile City” of Vila Nova de Famalicão in Portugal – as it might be of interest to other members of the DoES Liverpool community, I’ve written this short blog about the visit. If there’s anything you want to know more about, get in touch – I’ve got contact details for all the companies too.

I believe the first links between Liverpool and VNF came about when representatives from VNF including Komlan Gnamasti, Isaque Pinto and Augusto Lima attended the Liverpool International Business Festival in Jue this year, and that as a result Deputy Mayor Gary Millar was asked to bring a group of people out to Portugal to find out about the textile industry there, and to celebrate international day. I went as a representative of DoES Liverpool.

The other people who went were:

  • Chris Russell from Virrata Ltd, a company that help increase efficiency of manufacturing processes
  • Chris Warren from the Fashion Hub
  • Fiona Armstrong-Gibbs representing LJMU and Baltic Creative (I was particularly interested to talk to her about a project involving 3D printed shoes she’s been involved in
  • Janice Egerton from Hope University
  • Suzy Jennions representing Try and Lily and the Fabric District
  • Mihaela Giuiu and James Darne, both fashion MA students at LJMU

We were also joined by representatives of the British Chamber of Commerce in Portugal.

Wednesday 24 October

I arrived in the evening along with Gary Millar and Chris Warren. We met up with the others in the centre of Porto and went on a quick sightseeing trip. It definitely deserves a longer trip sometime.

Clockwise from bottom left: tower of the Clérigos Church, a Porto street, and views of a street and the river Douro from the church

We then visited a shop called ‘meia.dúzia’ which sells a large range of different flavoured jams, honeys, and olive pastes in tubes – the owner was apparently inspired by the tubes used for oil paints, and the business is a successful graduate of the VNF incubator program. We tasted a selection of jams, along with cheeses and cold meats.

Clockwise from bottom: Selection of jams in tubes, group photo, olive pastes on bread

After that we went to a lovely restaurant en route to our accomodation in VNF.

Thursday 25 October

After breakfast, the coach took us to the town hall square to have our picture taken with the mayor,  followed by a visit to the offices of the incubator program for a presentation about the textile industry in VNF. It was very interesting to find out about how the textile industry was an integral part of the community and the major local employer, and also worked to involve students while they were still at school, and on pre-university placements.

Top: members of the Liverpool group with the mayor and VNF representatives, Bottom: watching presentation

Then it was off to visit the incubator businesses, which are housed in a building belonging to the Riopele textile company. Businesses can stay in the incubator for up to 2 years before moving on to stage 2 accommodation. I can’t remember what the rent was, but everyone was surprised at how low it was. There were several software companies, along with textile-related businesses including one producing streetwear  and another that acted as an agent arranging different types of sportswear manufacturing.

From bottom left: Gary Millar with t shirt (spun, woven, sewn and printed in VNF), Kortex software banner (use of OSB typical of incubators!), talking with developers, incubator signage

Following our visit to the incubator, a private/public partnership, we moved on to visit a more traditional part of the Riopele textile company, a factory employing more than 1000 people, of a type that has become rare in the UK.

Riopele was formed in 1927 and is still run by a member of the founding family. It’s a vertical producer so does everything from spinning, weaving, dyeing and applying finishes to producing finished clothes. 96% of its output goes directly to export, with the remaining 4% going to other Portuguese producers who then export their output! We were able to see the production and quality control process, before moving on to a presentation, visit to the design studio, and working lunch in the board room.

From bottom left: Dyeing machines, also dyeing machines, QR discussion, general introduction

From bottom left: part of a laser-controlled colour mixer, chief designer with fabric swatches, more fabric swathes, lunch

Group photo outside the Riopele factory before leaving

Following lunch, we moved on to  AAC Textiles, a production and development studio for high end brands. As well as interesting fabrics, finishes and embroideries, members of the group found elements of the interior design inspiring.

From left: AAC sign, inspiring quote in polystyrene, and table

Left: Embroidery examples, Right: Large flower skull hanging in stairwell

After AAC, we got back on the coach and moved on to the textile and nanotech research centres of citeve and CeNTI. These are housed in the same large building complex. After a presentation on their facilities (we’ll be getting a copy of the slides later if anyone needs more information on what they do), we were shown round both facilities.

citeve and CeNTI logos

Citeve run annual fashion design competitions on the themes of recycling and tech (maybe something DoES Liverpool could get involved in!).

Entries to a previous year’s competition involving recycling materials

Entries to iTechStyle awards

Following the presentations we visited the labs, and facilities that could be used by students – in many cases the equipment mirrored that which we’d seen earlier in the factory.

Clockwise from bottom left: long corridor (lots of labs on either side), view through window of lab, room with fire testing dummy, cork coated cotton fibre

Equipment available for use by students

We were able to see some of CeNTI’s work with screenprinted conductive and electroluminescent materials. These produced flexible and unobtrusive circuits that could be used in car textiles, for example. CeNTI works with companies, including startups, to produce small volumes of product, for proof of concept etc.

Flexible and screenprinted circuits produced by CeNTI

The two Fashion MA students who were with us were very interested in getting placements in CeNTI, AAC or Riopele and it looks like they might be able to.

Once we’d finished at CeNTI, we went back to the town hall for International Day celebrations: in addition to the Liverpool contigent, there were representatives from the town in Galicia, Spain where Inditex (owners of Zara) are based, and a large group of French students.

People who had moved to VNF from other places talked about their experiences, as well as those who had moved away but still had good memories.

Komlan, who arranged our trip, is from Togo, and put on a traditional shirt. He’s married to a Portuguese woman and has a Languages company in VNF. Sandy from East Kilbride, also moved to be with his wife. He was involved in the Manchester music scene before moving to VNF and performed several songs.

Komlan and Sandy

There were more speeches; from the Spanish mayor (in Spanish), from Gary Millar, and from the mayor of VNF, then all the members of the partnership got up to take a bow. Then there was one more group photo opportunity for us (I don’t think I’ve actually included all of them here!) and Gary presented the mayor of VNF with some music produced at Parr Street Studios, before we left for another great restaurant meal.

Last group photo of the trip

Gary making a presentation to the mayor of VNF

Evening meal

Friday 26 October

On Friday morning we left early to get the flight back to Manchester (several people made the sensible choice to fly back to Liverpool later and had time to do some more sightseeing in Porto).

Definitely a worthwhile trip, and with several possible areas of interest for DoES Liverpool. I will try to follow up the flexible, printable electronics at CeNTI.

Although there was a lot of textiles-related equipment available to students, there didn’t seem to be anything like a maker space with a wider range of equipment and available to more people (at least we weren’t shown anything like that).

As several members of the Liverpool group pointed out, it would be difficult to implant something like DoES Liverpool, which has grown organically over quite a long time, in a new location, but maybe we do have experience that could help others.

A group from VNF are likely to be visiting Liverpool in February, so maybe we can come up with some interesting ideas for collaborations before then.

 

"Week 386 – Factories and Freebies"

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

Tuesday 30 October, 10:00am-3:00pm Private Booking
Thursday 01 November, 9:30am-5:30pm Axon Vibe
Thursday 01 November, 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: 302 open, 654 closed

3 new issues:

Featured issue: Review registered business addresses. Can we move this on or close it?

4 issues closed:

Thanks magman2112, amcewen, johnmckerrell, goatchurchprime!

Community Content

DoES Liverpool 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!

  • weeknotes
  • Weeknotes
  • Comments Off on Week 385 – More streaming, and a small step towards tidying the space
"Week 385 – More streaming, and a small step towards tidying the space"

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 22 October, 7:00pm-9:00pm Wearables Group
Wednesday 24 October, 6:00pm-8:00pm Ladies that UX
Thursday 25 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: 303 open, 650 closed

10 new issues:

Featured issue: Build a rack to store vinyl. Can we move this on or close it?

11 issues closed:

Thanks johnmckerrell, amcewen, magman2112, goatchurchprime, zarino!

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!

  • weeknotes
  • Weeknotes
  • Comments Off on Week 384 – Food, (Inside-out) Furbys, and the MakingIt Conference
"Week 384 – Food, (Inside-out) Furbys, and the MakingIt Conference"

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 15 October, 11:00am-5:30pm Private Booking
Wednesday 17 October, 6:30pm-8:00pm Friends of the Earth
Thursday 18 October, 1:00pm-2:00pm Community Meeting
Thursday 18 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: 304 open, 639 closed

4 new issues:

Featured issue: Install baby-change facilities in the accessible toilet. Can we move this on or close it?

2 issues closed:

Thanks johnmckerrell, goatchurchprime!

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!

"Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems"

What a difference a year makes. When I wrote last year about DoES Liverpool’s finances we were celebrating six years in business, we had ten thousand pounds in our bank account and were expecting to make a profit for the year. We were also in something of a precarious position regarding our lease in the Gostins Building and were considering a move that could be a great opportunity but would also be a bigger outlay. We also seemed to find ourselves in a real downturn in terms of desks being rented and were unsure of whether we could get ourselves out of that hole. So, where are we now?
Read More

  • amcewen
  • Slides
  • Comments Off on Festival of Maintenance slides: Culture and Tools
"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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