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LAMM’s Summer 2021 Update: Lancaster Pride and Space2.

Photo credit: the Lancaster Photographer/Lancaster Pride (2019)

Space2 is coming soon!! Yes, LAMM is moving to a bigger and better unit. 👍

We will shortly be getting keys to our new and improved workshop space in Harpers Mill on White Cross Industrial Estate in Lancaster. (Same business park, different building)

Space 2 will be a much larger unit, and we are very excited that it will be much more accessible too. We have spent years looking for an affordable upgrade, and we have finally found it. There is a lift in the new building so people who can’t do stairs will be able to come and join in the fun too! We will still be easily accessible on foot from the city centre and the buses stop right by White Cross business park (opposite the RLI).

So what comes next? Well, members please watch your email for details about when to move your personal projects etc. to the new unit and to volunteer for moving the communal tools and equipment. We will have some setting up to do in the new unit but the first couple of weeks in September are moving weeks!

Space2 should be open for members general usage from Oct and to the general public shortly after that. Full details on how to find us in the swanky new space will be posted as soon as we can open Space2. And, as some of you have been waiting a while, we are happy to say that we will be able to welcome new members as soon as we are in Space2. Use the contact form on the main page to get in touch

In the meantime, we will be proudly waving our banner on Sunday 22nd August as Lancaster Pride returns. Join us from 11am for the March (Sulyard Street starting point). As you can see from the photo of the 2019 event, it’s quite easy to spot out fabulous banner!

Yay! Space mk 2… Space to make… Space squared…

No more digital donations needed for now!

We at LAMM have been overwhelmed by the community response to our request for old laptops and tablets for school kids to use during lockdown. As most pupils will be returning to school from the 8th March we are suspending donations for the time being. We still have a stack of older laptops and tablets that need repair and refurbishment and we will continue to work on these and give them to local schools. Even if all pupils are back in school, there’s still going to be the inevitable ‘bubble closures’ and periods of self-isolation, not to mention that doing your homework in normal circumstances is much easier with a laptop!

We hope that we will take in donations again in the future to support all pupils having a suitable device at home for their school learning, but for now, please use other methods for recycling or reusing your old devices.

Thank you again, love from LAMM

Digital Donations: Update!

This is a quick update for all those who have been asking how our “donate a device” project is going. The short version is: very well and we’re very busy! But read on for the longer version…

In the three weeks since first seeing Dan’s tweet asking for 10 devices to urgently help for his school (he’s school governor for Trumacar Primary in Heysham), and our first requests for donations, we have been overwhelmed by the generosity of our local community. You are all wonderful generous people!

We have now given refurbished donated devices to 6 local primary schools, and they are all very grateful for the support of their community in helping out families in need. Here are some pictures:

And this is an example of what our workshop looks like these days!

LAMM’s project has been featured in the Lancaster Guardian here and on BBC Radio Lancashire, Heart Radio, Smooth Radio and even BBC North West! We are grateful to everyone who has passed on the message to their friends and colleagues about the project and to everyone who has emailed, messaged and contacted us about making a donation.

A couple of practical updates and FAQs too:
As you can see from the photos of our workshop, we are busy working to repair and refurbish a lot of donated devices at the moment. We are a small community group and everyone one working on this project has full-time jobs and family responsibilities, and is using their spare time to do the necessary work on the donated devices.

When will you pick up my device?
We have had far more requests for Covid-secure pickups than we originally expected and so we would ask everyone to be a little patient if it takes us some days to get around to collecting your device. We are only letting our members and DBS cleared volunteers collect your donations. This is a standard safeguarding measure for community volunteers visiting private houses, and we want everyone to feel safe with their donations! We currently aim to collect donations within 7 days.

If you can use the Drop Boxes in White Cross Business Park, then please do. The Gatehouse reception has security personnel there around the clock, so anytime is suitable to drop your device in our boxes in the main reception (Gatehouse) building.

Where will you pick up from?
We are following lockdown regulations and can pick up up only from the Lancaster and Morecambe area. Postcode areas: LA1, LA2 (West half only), LA3, LA4, LA5, LA6 (West half only). If you live outside of these areas we suggest you use this link to find a nearest scheme to donate to: https://techforuk.com/donate-your-tech/

Is my device suitable for donation?
In order of preference, we welcome the following donations:
1. Working Laptops which originally ran Windows 7 or later.
2. Tablets less than 5 years old (unpaired from your Apple ID if iPads)

Please note, we cannot unlock iPads ourselves unless we have an original proof of purchase and a signed receipt transferring ownership to LAMM. This is because only Apple can unpair a device from the original Apple ID if it is locked, and they (quite naturally) want to make sure it was legally acquired!

Finally, thank you again to everyone supporting this project. We are working hard to process all the donations from private individuals as quickly as we can, and get them to the children who need them. For any local companies wishing to make bulk donations, please visit this page: https://www.ltfk.co.uk/lancaster.htm

Lancaster and Morecambe Makers says:

Donated Data Destruction

With LAMM recently taking on the task of revitalising and preparing laptops for schools in the local area, one of the first things we are doing — before anything else — is securely wiping all data on them. This lengthy process writes random data (using the same techniques as the US’ Department of Defence) across the whole disk, ensuring that nothing can be recovered from storage, and giving donors the piece of mind that none of their data will be accessed.

To accomplish this, we’re using a tool called DBAN which specialises in securely erasing hard disks. Normally, you’d write this to a USB drive, plug it in to the ‘destructee’ computer, and boot off of it, but I didn’t really fancy buying 25 USB sticks for the current stock of laptops in the Space. So, a better solution was needed…

Many Laptops at the Same Time

Thankfully, I’d brought my laptop with me, which I could run a PXE netboot server on – this would allow any devices connected to the same network to boot from anything I liked, as long as I had it on my laptop. I went about setting up a PXE server (configured as a proxyDHCP server pointing to a DBAN boot image on a TFTP server), tested it out, and was ready to roll. This solution meant that no USB drives were needed at all. All that I’d have to do is plug a to-wipe laptop into ethernet, and turn it on. (Perhaps also configure the boot options to use PXE.)

5 laptops of varying ages, one of which is in the process of booting from the network and the other 4 are wiping their disks.
PXE booting

We’d been (and still are being) given quite a range of laptops at this point – everything from this extremely pink laptop:

Very pink Dell laptop (closed) with blue sparkly feather stickers.
Pretty snazzy

…to this teeny tiny little machine:

Small (10 inch or so) white laptop on top of a black round bin with wood cuts inside, with a white ethernet cable plugged in

But thanks to how widely adopted PXE is, all the laptops (bar 1, boot password) were as simple as ‘plug in, power on, data gone’. The first stage of a thorough process to get these laptops to in-need school pupils.

The boot server running on the host laptop (and an iPad for music of course):

MacBook running a PXE/proxyDHCP/TFTP server under Windows 10 on Parallels connected via WiFi to the network, with an iPad on the same table.
PXE/TFTP/proxyDHCP server running under Windows 10 under Parallels on a MacBook connected to the network over WiFi. Luckily the boot image is only 17MB.

There were laptops everywhere, from on top of the laser cutter:

Two modern laptops on top of a laser cutter in the process of wiping their disks

To on top of the fridge:

A black laptop on top of the fridge in the process of wiping with a white laptop on top of it separated by two wooden blocks also in the process of wiping. A small white laptop on top of a folder in the background in the process of wiping.

There were even a few that had decided to sit around and have a meeting.

Three laptops on chairs accidentally positioned as if they were three people having a meeting together, in the process of wiping
Not very socially distanced… Hopefully they don’t get a virus.

In the end, around 20 laptops were wiped that day. They’re good and ready for the next stage of cleaning up, and then installing an operating system to. Check LAMM for updates!

Supporting Local Schools: Digital donations!

It doesn’t need us to say that we are all living in rather exceptional times. Recently LAMM was approached by a local school, via a governor, to give help to some of the pupils.

The Government has an initiative whereby Secondary Years pupils can apply for a laptop to work from home and maintain some connection to their education. However, there is very limited provision for Primary Years children.

There are many children in the local area, and nationally, below year 7 who are being left behind in these times. We have started an initiative to collect unwanted digital devices (Laptops and Tablets) that have the ability to connect these children to their schools. We have gained the support of a number of people.

In the past few days the initiative has started to take hold and Kay (a director at LAMM) will be appearing on the local Heart radio. Local businesses and Erica Lewis (leader of the Council) has given vocal support to our efforts.

We have a drop off point at the Gatehouse in White Cross (White Cross Industrial Estate, South Road, Lancaster, LA1 4XQ) and we can also do a doorstep collection of your device if that is required (especially for those of you who are vulnerable or shielding. Please note we can only pick up from LA1, LA2, LA3, LA4, LA5, LA6 areas.

We are taking any machines that can be made to use a modern browser which is the requirement needed to run the software that connects children to their teachers. We will even take machines that need some repair as we have a growing number of parts and members willing to volunteer their time. Note that because we are volunteers we may take slightly longer than expected to respond to any communication.

All machines will have their data wiped using a secure wiping program before the system has a new operating system installed ensuring your data is safe. If you can donate then please do so. We are also interested in any parts such as RAM, hard drives and essentially laptop chargers. These can help revitalise an old machine by adding more physical memory of a bigger/faster disk and by having a safe power supply.

The first of the laptops are being prepared this week for delivery to school next week. Please note that we are not taking desktop machines at this time as they are too cumbersome and need a separate devices to be functional.

If you can donate please fill out the form here. We will keep any information you submit safe and will ensure any personal details are only used by directors or those tasked with collecting machines. All personal data will be deleted after the minimum legal period required by a business to hold data or on request.

Thank you for your time.

Open Space

Today we are officially opening the LAMM Space at White Cross for use by members. The Space has been closed during the Covid pandemic for the safety of everyone but we have now been able to procure supplies and formulate a procedure for the safe use of the community workshop.

At this time the Space will only be open to paying members. We will not be opening for public open days for the foreseeable future. Once the crisis is fully abated we will publish a schedule for public opening times.

There are a few rules for the use of the space. All members must follow these for the safety of everyone:

Using the Space

  • Only one person in the Space at any time. Please make sure to announce in the LAMM Telegram channel if you are in the Space and when you leave. Please check the channel before going to the Space to ensure it is free. If you live in the same house as another member then it is safe for you to both be there at the same time.
  • Use the sanitation station provided by White Cross and follow all guidelines for public spaces.
  • Gloves, masks, wipes, hand sanitiser and surface sprays are available in the Space. Please make sure to use protective covering to reduce the chances of infection and remember to dispose of them waste in the bins provided. Please make sure to wipe down all equipment with the cleaning spray provided even if you are wearing a mask and gloves.
  • Please respect other members property. Please clean all tools and equipment away after yourself.
  • Do not remove any cleaning or protective equipment from the Space for your own use without permission from the Directors.
  • Please let us know if any replacement cleaning or protective equipment is needed.

If you show symptoms…

  • Do not come to the Space if you have had any symptoms in the last 14 days.
  • Do not come into the Space if anyone you live with has, or has had, symptoms in the last 14 days.
  • If you show symptoms after visiting the Space please let the Directors know immediately and let us know when you were at the Space and what equipment you used.
  • Keep monitoring the Telegram channel for any up-to-date information. Also to request times and to communicate with other members.

We want you all to have a safe return to the community workshop. We apologise that there are measures in place and rather dictatorial rules to follow about usage.

A big thanks has to go to Kay Kempers who has made the Space safe for us all to visit and has secured all supplies and made all the signs.

2019 AGM

Last night (Wednesday 6th March 2019) Lancaster and Morecambe Makers held a very successful 4th Annual General Meeting of all members. The event is a statutory duty and a pleasure as we get to discuss our previous year and hopes for the coming year.

As a member of the board I wanted to make a quick blog post to thank all those who attended and all our members for the year 2018-2019. Published on this blog below is the official Statement from the Board.


2019 LAMM AGM

Report from the Board

Hi LAMMers

The past year has been a stable one for LAMM, I think we all needed to take a deep breath after the first few years of starting the Space and let it find its feet.

On an organisational note, we have both maintained existing members (who rock) and added to the membership (with more people who rock). We have stable finances, and although we would love more enabling us to grow further we are happy that there is no volatility.

Accounts were filed as required by law, bills were paid on time (as required by serious folks in suits) and various board members have tidied up and sorted the admin tasks. We don’t name or individualise as the board works as a team. The occasional bag of cash was banked from the Snack Space and we would like to thank you all for your honesty in regards to every cash pot and the dropping in of at least (and in many cases more) than is needed to keep things afloat.

We are serious when we say our members rock. The board are merely members as well. Our task is to make sure the administration and day to day running of the org happens and to act as a guarantee for all legal and business proceedings. The job of the membership is to make LAMM.

Our Members did that this year. We took part in several local events including Light Up Lancaster and Make My Day. Thanks to all who gave their time and energy (and robots!). Thanks to those who took the initiative.

The Space has recently been rearranged (thanks to everyone who helped, suggested and came along to do the hard work) and the new layout gives a more open feel and more access to workspaces.

Thanks for a great year everyone and we look forward to the next year with renewed enthusiasm.

Furry Friends

You wait a long time for a blog post and then three arrive at the same time…basically blog posts are like buses.

I want to talk about adding a guideline for members and visitors. There is some confusion as to allowing animals into the Space and I think we should clarify.

Therefore I propose we add the following:

  • Non-Assistance animals will be allowed to visit the Space only on prior agreement from the board.
  • Any animal in the Space (except assistance animals) must leave if requested by a member.
  • Any member bringing a non-assistance animal into the Space must inform other members of their intent and times the animal will be in the Space.
  • Animals are brought at the owners own risk, must be well behaved and remain on appropriate leashes or in cages.
  • The owner accepts all liability for any issue caused by bringing a non-assistance animal into the Space.

This will clarify the position and allow everyone to be aware of what is considered acceptable and normal in the Space.

Guidelines and Rules

In the last few weeks a few different conversations have focused on how our rules for members work, as we only have the four, in regards to all the edge cases. Let me broadly refresh you on the rules for members:

  • 0. Don’t be on Fire
  • 1. Follow the Code of Conduct
  • 2. Protection of underage members
  • 3. Don’t do anything stupid so we have to make up new rules.

I personally don’t want a lot of rules, however that means that we don’t have absolute guidance on some matters such as:

  • Animals in the Space
  • Laser and other machinery usage
  • Item Costs
  • Snack Space
  • Tidying

My proposal then is to have a set of guidelines for members on this website, under a new section called, conveniently, Guidelines. I would like any guideline to be published in a format that is easy to find, accessible and able to be amended and altered. These are not set in stone, they are guides for sharing and co-operation.

I would also like to be able to vote on them, and that is what I will propose we do at AGM’s and other meetings, and via member polls. I will be suggesting this is the practice we follow at the AGM in 2019 and I will be asking for a vote on this and a couple of guidelines at that time.

Hacking the Space

a confused jumble of spider babies on acid

On Saturday and Sunday (19th-20th January) we held a Hack the Space weekend to clear down some of the clutter and change the layout of our community hack space.

It had become, in the words of one ‘a confused jumble of spider babies on acid’*.

So we gathered, at first there was Tom, Bill and I, but it quickly grew into Kay, Rob, Col and Rhiannon (and Ben the habitual vallium hound).

  • We moved a lot of stuff
  • Cut benches in half
  • Re-arranged shelves
  • Threw out unwanted, unloved or unused items
  • Cleared and cleaned
  • Re-organised and refreshed

** The end result is that our little Space looks twice as big now. There is more room to do crafting and art, to make, mend, repair and invent. It is cleaner, more logical and better.

A huge shout out has to go to Tom and Kay who had all the ideas and discussions ahead of the day to make sure we had a semblance of a plan and to everyone who took the time to come and help.

As always thanks to all the members who gave suggestions, support or even just the heartfelt thanks.

  • * That might have been me.
  • ** The pictures were all taken afterwards (we should have had before pics) by Kay.