Energising Interest

Web_SELCElogoThe Ashmead junior school in our road at home, has recently had solar panels installed on it’s roof space by SELCE.  Cooperative entrepreneurs formed ‘South East London Community Energy’ in 2015 to ensure the mutual benefits of renewable energy and reduced operational costs for local schools, whilst offering realistic proposal for anyone interested, even with minimal funds to invest.

Best-roof-shot-by-Selim-Korycki-768x512A successful campaign to raise the initial £250k by end of 2015, made it possible for the first four installations to have been activated already. Despite reduction in the feed-in tariff for those collecting more than they use, SELCE was able to ‘pre-accredit’ a further four local community buildings before the rate cut. A second shares issue to underwrite those costs is due to start shortly and will still be able to offer investors annual interest of around 4%.

GCDA support cooperative development in the Greenwich area. They offer project development and training for catering and health initiatives, host MIG kitchens and operate WCCC community centre in Woolwich! GCDA also support community empowerment projects locally and SELCE are currently based in their incubator office.

msclusterThough our initial work with Minesweeper Collective as part of Mazi project pilot in Deptford Creek, we have talked a lot about how improvements to energy infrastructure could have a huge impact on quality of life and sustainability for those living on boats or otherwise off-grid. Wind turbines and solar collectors have long been used in these situations where fixed land connections for mains power are scarce. Harvested energy is stored in large batteries which need monitoring and management then safe, low loss re-distribution.

Boattr project illustrates some of these issues with DIY solutions to regulate energy and integrate with on board computers and sensors. Various initiatives are underway to bring these issues together and offer complimentary tool for those setting up autonomous energy systems.

Recent pressure on housing in London has put fresh pressure on city waterways to supply power, process rubbish and curb water contamination resulting from increased numbers of river users. Canals across the UK are very active for the first time in generations yet infrastructure facilities remain limited. More could be done to share the wealth of information available between these isolated communities so MAZI will focus on some of these issues to further research and promote solutions locally.

Thames Tideway is a huge infrastructure project in progress along the length of the Thames to relieve sewerage load on several key vulnerable locations not least at the Greenwich Sewerage works adjacent to the creek. Their progress west to east will effect many users of the Thames and it’s tributaries. Understanding this, they have embarked on a charm offensive which has already visited the creek on several occasions to press for acknowledgement and make its case for worthwhile disruption. During the meeting with Friends of Deptford Creek discussion focussed on practical use of 500GT barges in the creek, the effects of dredging on the structure of the river ecology and swell effect of moving large boats on the smaller vessels moored there, not least the minesweeper cluster.

 

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Vexed, hashed and ported

tmp_9818-IMG_20160502_162516-595039255Battlemesh 09 was the latest in a series of intensive exchanges organised and attended by the prime of mesh firmware developers, hardware hackers and community activists – An international movement of open wireless network innovation with it’s root in the earliest moments of net culture.

tmp_9818-IMG_20160502_11302721601660More than 80 contributors from Korea, Colombia, India, Argentina and across Europe gathered at the Faculty of Engineering in the University of Porto (Portugal) for a week in the deep code of OLSR, Babel, B.A.T.M.A.N, BMX and Batman-ADV, each contenders for eternal glory!

All use the OpenWRT operating system first issued at the outbreak of contemporary mesh networking in 2004, when discovery of GPL code in the very affordable Linksys WRT54G router triggered release of it’s proprietary sources for open re-engineering.

battleovermassiveEach afternoon lightning talks and presentations were held in a space between the busy workgroups. We listened to memorable accounts from international groups and community actions, a film première of Sarantaporo documentary (Greece) and reviewed GNUnet and netJason projects two of many others listed in the packed event schedule. Our hosts even arranged us a cruise on the Douru River with spectacular views, bridges and fresh air!

bridgemeshWork progressed on setup of the Battlemesh ‘Wibed’ testbed, itself an ambitious and complex set of configurations, to allow for easy switching between competing firmware to enable monitoring of the 30 or so wireless routers now dotted about the university. Inevitable bugs obstructed completion but we start to see results at the eleventh hour, hoorah!

Key members of the OpenWRT developers group gathered to announce it’s community reboot as new project LEDE which resolves to shake off legacy constrictions in the operational structure of the old system. There was widespread delight mixed with a sense of some trepidation this news should schism the project. battleovertripOverall it seems, this is an overdue shift toward a more flexible approach to future development of firmware for embedded devices, so good luck with that!

battlegoesonOvershadowing the event for all this year is the news that FCC have followed steps taken at EU to legislate a lockdown of firmware on equipment (RED) featuring 5ghz wireless devices, so that critical weather and aviation radar systems cannot be compromised by non standard radio uses. New hardware will not permit firmware modification and improvements by community in the future will no longer be possible! It’s hard to follow the exact conditions that have lead to this unfortunate situation, certainly manufactures have taken flight and entirely re factored their products to adhere to the rules as they understand them, in fear of heavy fines should they fail.

Suspicions were voiced, that telecom interests have influenced authorities to revise controls allowing them capture pubic access spectrum for more exclusive commercial uses. Here is the joint statement from the wireless network community, more needs to be done to highlight the situation.

fingerpalaceOn  route out of Porto, YT met a group taking the ‘Worst Tour‘, visiting the islands of workers housing and gardens between the 6 fingers of city blocks spanning out from the centre. worsttourguideConcerns for neighbourhood networks prevail as the hollowing out of city and its communities continues.

These fresh insights and final adventures capped a week of many memorable contrasts some images of which can be seen here

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Mudlarking On

mazimudlarks01Before heading off to this years Battlemesh in Porto, Portugal, YT got together with 20 Deptford locals, Inurian activists and Mazi partners for a low tide walk on Deptford Creek. Our guide for the walk was botanist Nick Bertrand of the Creekside Education Trust, leading river ecology and environmental experts.

We had a splendid experience of the creek and learned a lot about how our impact on the environment, even one already so compromised and contaminated by waste and decades of abuse can have unexpected outcomes on ecology of plants and animals. mazimudlarks03When 400 shopping trolleys were removed in 1990’s it caused a collapse of fish populations! So now things a mostly left as they are.

Hundreds of school and public groups a year visit the creek and gain a unique experience and insight into the workings of Thames tributaries and an understanding of this most urban of British coastline, it’s place in history and current state of play.

southerncreekendFresh water from the River Ravensbourne washes into Deptford Creek having soaked up Spring Brook, Pool and Quaggy rivers on its wander from Bromley. Daily tides swell the Thames 7 or 8 meters, yet the creek remains mostly fresh water with very little saline effect to deter plant and animal propagation. The sea wall containment of all these rivers has restricted the opportunities for nature to gain a firm footing, yet many wild flowers and water creatures thrive in the stew of manufactured and organic rubbish the river drags along. We saw leaches, shrimp and crabs and should expect flounder and eels in abundance later in the season. Decaying timber ‘bumpers’ along the length of the creek serve alongside purpose built terraces as home to small fish and plant life, nurturing success of species variety.

mazimudlarks2Many human lives also rely on the ebb and flow of the river not least the boating community here, many of which we continue to talk to and engage with, as our MAZI pilot develops. Minesweeper Collective operate an art lab aboard the wooden triple hull 2nd world war minesweeper in the creek. A screen printing workshop and image creation lab occupy the below deck areas whilst on deck the space suits symposium and performance both of which are well used by local and visiting artists. The collective seeks energy autonomy and uses 12v throughout, currently relying on large batteries, charged by diesel generator but intent on harvesting solar and wind before long. Slow repairs to the boat following a fire in 2008 are in progress but a crowd funding campaign and or public funding is needed to complete the majors works still required.

Minesweeper logoYesterday, Greenwich Maritime Museum hosted a public consultation for those interested in artist and community collaboration projects seeking funding. The presentations from GAVS, ACE and Royal Borough of Greenwich, each explained how funding and support was available to nurture project development of public arts. Greenwich operate a Community Arts Fund which would particularly suit existing minesweeper project work and may offer a pathway to greater development funding in the future. In particular with a view to participating at the tall ships event in 2017 where a season of community arts and creative interaction events a planned to celebrate the return of the Tall Ships regatta to Greenwich . The theme for this year’ is ‘Voyaging, Discovery and Adventure’ perfect.

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Meanwhile Zone

We have begun hosting Mazi Mondays meet-ups aboard the WWII Minesweeper boat on Deptford Creek where local people can come along to meet with members of the Minesweeper Collective as they collect ideas and prepare resources to extend the Mazi Zone into their space. Join us there from 1-5pm each week – entrance on Norman Road..

minesweeperantennaviewBoats now clustered at this mooring point already share energy and information resources but seek to extend their range with a set of low powered sensors to collect and publish environmental data, sound recordings and a visual record of their day to day existence in and about Deptford Creek. [images]

undercurrentsdollsetThe Minesweeper Collective lead on refurbishment of the boat and operate the creative program on the boat with regular screen printing workshops as well as monthly Undercurrents exhibition in the nearby Birdsnest public house. This month they present ‘a doll a day’ collection of tattooed and undressed fabric doll sculptures.

karenbarnesboxcamerabirdsnestcrewforkarenDon’t miss images by Artist and musician Karen Barnes, seen here with legs out of her portable pinhole camera, preparing to capture Saturday drinkers gathered outside on Deptford Church Street. Something like this! (will swap out once we have a copy)

Refurbishment of OWN infrastructure continues with update of the antenna installation at APT on Creekside, linking back to Minesweeper and within easy range of Birdsnest.

PANO_20160316_115216This view from APT roof of this spring 2016 shows the remnants of Faircharm Estate, all part of the rapid changes sweeping Deptford and so much of South East London.

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Swept overboard

wp-1454401204898.jpgYesterday a few of us from the Wireless Wednesday workshop visited the Minesweeper on Deptford Creek to meet with collective members and take a few photographs in advance of their fundraiser this weekend and Mazi workshops on the boat in Spring. This coincided with a visit from three representatives of Thames Tideway to meet up with concerned residents of boats moored in the area, all seeking more information. There was a tentative yet friendly exchange and a good deal of information about the timetable and nature of work surfaced as a result.

Thames Tideway is a private company working with Thames Water to build the London super sewer network. Tideway is owned by a consortium of investors that comprises Allianz, Amber Infrastructure, Dalmore Capital and DIF. The construction site in the east end will be delivered by a joint venture of Costain Ltd., Vinci Construction Grands Projets and Bachy Soletanche. This contract is known as Tideway East, with work taking place from Bermondsey to Stratford. Here is a short film showing each of the construction sites

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sea wall and iron bridge

Groundwork for the main shaft at Greenwich Pumping station opposite Creekside Education Centre has already begun. The plan is to dig an 18m diameter shaft down to a depth of 65m for the tunnel. The ha’penny hatch pathway on the Greenwich side to Norman Road will be rerouted and then possibly closed during the work, despite appearances at the moment. Mined materials will be pumped across or under the existing pathway and railway line, into the Jewsons site for processing.

Material from related shafts and tunneling construction between here and Chambers Wharf, will also be extracted here to be loaded onto 100 trucks a day or more likely, river barges for removal. By August 2016, the sea wall at Jewsons requires reinforcement to enable installation of a mooring cradle, to support the 500 GT barges, leaving little space for existing moorings!

tidewaySometime before early 2017 a channel 0.5m (from lowest riverbed level) and 8m wide will be dredged at low tide to enable large barges access at high tide. Such huge earthworks could well destabilise the riverbed for any boats normally in contact with it most of the time. Once the dredged channel is ready, the ‘cradle’ is in place and processing plant for the mined materials is operational, then there will be at least two barges per day for further five years!

So, “are you all ready?”

A ‘Greenwich Pumping Station Community Liaison Working Group’ meeting was held in September 2015 at Creekside Education Trust but unfortunately no public were invited nor attended due to communication error! Further meetings are being planned so all are advised to attend and find out more about the scale and duration of the plans already underway. In the meantime neighborhood bloggers are busy tracking the situation, improving awareness of the complexity and compromise at the scale of such intensive civil engineering. Perhaps this is a good moment to invoke DNA the recently acknowledged Deptford Neighborhood Action group!

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Olympia aspirated

image

YT just returned from a round trip around Greece for MAZI-kickoff meetings. Starting out in Thessaloníki for a couple of days to acclimatise and explore the city on foot, caught the bus with Mark Gaved (Open University) south to Volos.PANO_20160112_144507x1000

On the eve of the sessions we joined the other consortium partners for first of many lovely feasts in the re-animated service quarter adjacent the port and marina, where we all enjoyed first principals of Volos catering; drink tsipouro and eventually great food arrives at the table, keep drinking and the selection and frequency increases! IMG_20160115_225327Great social exchange and a wealth of information and insight on these new relationships was gathered and a sense of fun and inquisitiveness established.

Our meetings at University of Thessaloníki set out to unpack the many layered project package of the successful bid to EU. Ahead are three years research, application and monitoring of MAZI toolkit development, which begin in earnest now. PANO_20160114_094342Their Nitos lab offers a grand facility for prototyping and testing a wide range of sensor components, wireless options and engineering of suitable interfaces we will need for the successful establishment of the MAZI toolkit at the pilot sites in Berlin, Deptford, Zurich and in the wild from Athens to Edinburgh.

volos-tripPartners introduced their respective organisations, listened to each others proposals and considered the scope of collaboration together. We examined how to begin the processes of examination and annotation to best serve the needs of wider public communication and consultation with one another throughout the project. This intensive and somewhat testing experience, articulated some gaps in our assumptions and reinforced the sense of confidence and enthusiasm in one another for the tasks set.

IMG_20160117_123538 Those left standing continued on to a trip up the Olympian mountains in central Greece, a unique opportunity to visit community wireless project Sarantaporo.gr. We met it’s key protagonists and heard first hand, from locals about their hopes and fears for the future.  Improvements in the interlinking of settlements has already animated relations and revealed more ancient rivalries of village life. The children and more specifically grandchildren of longest lived residents are the most enthusiastic adopters of the new services in place, now much more willing to visit from nearby towns and cities than ever. IMG_20160117_132232Further promotion of mountain existence and wider expansion of the impressively well distributed quality broadband is underway. . Quality broadband access has been granted by regional university in Larissa and the project has already delivered to eleven of the many dislocated villages. Population depletion of recent decades now shows strong signs of reversal as a consequence of economic turmoil and these homegrown successes. The sense of goodwill and courage demonstrated was an inspiration and energis for the MAZI we now embark on together.

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Ice scraper

block-chain_C_sludgeOur block-chain research group have begun work on an experimental project to scrape Bitcoin block-chain, understand the data stored and learn how to facilitate recording of new information there in the future. This week, SPC commissioned a dedicated multicore server to begin the work of unpacking and mapping the millions of Bitcoin transactions that have already been recorded.

block-chainC-detailWe are using an 8 core 3ghz Xeon server with 32gb ram, running linux and Spark Apache. Following Jeffrey Thompson’s excellent example, the script loads Bitcoin blocks into Hadoop for exploratory analysis.

These extraordinary images are the first rendered outputs we have from the script, showing the stack of bitcoin block-heights, relative to one another – as of December 2015.

Using iPython and Jupyter notebook to step through, it operates on an off-line Bitcoin block-chain, reporting on each block, collecting some vital statistics and helping us improve on information extraction procedures.

blockchainBdetailNext step is to process the binary hash arrays we have already extracted which make up each block, into a more malleable  database format. The resilient distributed dataset is a logical collection of data which can be partitioned across machines and optimised for massively parallel access to ‘big data’ librarys.

Block-chain mapping will help with our ongoing work to reward peer to peer drive sharing, first described in August 2015 as Shards of Sharing. Later this year we still hope to have your torrent wallet tracker ready for use, but until then, the mapping work goes on!

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reMem.or/ized

bookscannerEarlier this week Maydayrooms hosted ‘Militant Technics‘ a fascinating string of critical interactions and introspection over three days at the cafeteria on the top floor in their Fleet Street den. The aim was to develop tuition modules, extend understanding of respective library projects and explore opportunities to improve on in house archive ‘activation’ practices.  We started with beer and a great mushroom risotto, thanks to Rosemary !

Sean Dockray of (Aaaaarg/Public School); Marcell Mars and Tomislav Medakmemorybook (Mama/Memory of the World); Sebastian Luetgert and Jan Gerber (Pan.do/ra /Pirate Cinema) joined friends and members of MayDay Rooms collective on Monday for ‘Back to the future‘ a public discussion on the legal challenges to open access distribution in an age of ‘takedown notices’ and other proprietorial threats posed to online information sharing.  (audio recording was made)

pandoraYour local library is also under threat, but this has ever been so! Act now, to protect you collections, share books and be the media, challenge hegemonic assumptions protecting commercial control over access to information, your quality of public life and freedom rights.

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reCirculate

Now as December starts there are several threads to lead us into 2016 that we have been discussing with friends and associates.

tidewaysiteThe shaping up of Deptford Creek pilot for Mazi has already resulted in a series of encouraging exchanges and outline planning with local projects. Creekside Education Trust, Minesweeper Collective and Birdsnest Pub have all expressed interest and we are looking forward beginning work with them and others as we go along. Mid January YT will meetup with project partners in Volos to sort out details for the first phases.

notcollossas YT also traveled up to visit Open University to meet with Mazi partners there and made a short visit to the National Computer Museum at Bletchley Park with Mark Gaved.  Mark has been working on Salsa a system of bluetooth responders which we like very much..

During 2012 we worked on research project DeckspaceTv and then up to early 2014 adopted emerging data synchronization tools during operation of reSync which are now both again available in report form. YT will return to Transmediale in Berlin this year as we are collaborating to present a day of offline network development presentations and talks from it’s leading exponents.

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Dada the People

titandisobeycroppedcontrastDisaster struck SPC hosted domains this September, when the entire virtually hosted drive array at Redraw Internet vanished ! To keep things rolling in the interim we refreshed Slacktivist.co.uk to direct traffic and more accurately represent it’s umbrella role for SPC.

90% of the damaged data has been recovered but it has been a lengthy and painful experience for all. Special thanks and appreciation to Garry Beale our long suffering connection supplier and web host. Ellis Melman was also vital to the process and without whom, repair may never have been possible. A restructuring of the hosting infrastructure, backup process and disaster recovery plan have now been completed to help us avoid a repeat performance. Jeez!

Some domains have been entirely lost (eek), with only six month old backups available. Faced with this reality in the past, we have all experienced the emotional sense of loss which quickly passes. Some things just can’t be replaced and this is most regrettable, so level out those stress points and distribute the load, back up often and practice recovery.

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