I’m sure some people still think hackers are internet troll-type losers who spend their days cracking codes, infiltrating databases and basically screwing up the system. Well, those people haven’t been to Quelab. Quelab, for those of you who aren’t in the know, is a local hackerspace right here in Burque. If you’re anything like me, who had no preconceived notions of what a hackerspace would entail (minus watching that terrible Angelina Jolie movie in the ’90s), then you might find yourself pleasantly surprised.
Quelab insists on breaking those stereotypes through education and innovation. Current president, Greg Moran, is intent on changing the terminology of hacking into something positive. “Hacking is basically making things out of other things,” he said.
If you’re not a member, feel free to drop by on one of their hacknights (like I did), and you will see that it is a community of like-minded individuals who get together, work on projects and help each other out. From spray-painting space scenes to soldering your own LED light system, each person at Quelab is ready to help, instruct and assist in any project that you can come up with.
And if you want to add a little bit of historical flavor to any particular lesson, you can take a gander at their Teletype (an ASR 35 to be exact), which they rebuilt and reprogrammed so that instead of sending important telegrams and wire messages to your loved ones (because who’d want to do that?) you can play Zork. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.
Quelab isn’t just a space to fiddle with your computer and watch guys build robots (though they have). Adric Menning, one of the founders of Quelab, is an artist and teaches photography classes. So, if you’re in the mood to brush up on some artistic skills, or take on bold projects, these guys not only have the tools, but more than likely, they have the know-how to help you get where you need to go.
As a novice at pretty much everything (which I pride myself on), I went into Quelab expecting a bunch of computer nerds to make me feel less-than-smart and ridicule me for not knowing how many megabytes are in a kilobyte. But no, they’re the most welcoming individuals. Bandit (yes, that’s his name) taught me how to solder; Walter (the resident liberal arts guy) taught me the value of using a hackerspace as a place to learn and make things. The light-emitting diode hanging on the wall is his creation, and he had never soldered before he showed up at Quelab.
Their hacknights are on Tuesdays and Sundays at 7:00 p.m. But, as Adric says, “if you see the light on, feel free to drop in and check out what we do.” Oh, and they’re also undertaking many projects for the coming year; just take a look at their note-cards board that has hundreds of ideas that they’re planning for 2013. Who knows? Maybe you can be in on one of the projects. A membership for Quelab is $40 a month, but that gives you 24/7 access to the space. You’ll get a key, of course. That is after they teach you how to cut your own key.