G.Hack presents: Women + Science = The Future, Saturday 27 October 2012

The Inside Out Festival (part of Creativeworks London), kicked off on Monday 22 October with an incredible programme of activities, talks, workshops, arts and music! On Sat 27 October (at Fernandez and Wells, Somerset House, London) G.Hack team presented interactive artworks and workshops under the banner: Women + Science = The Future ! Throughout the day, the visitors could get involved with some (or all) of the following activities:

  • Travel through contemporary London tea culture using a touch table navigated with a tea pot with music informatics expert Magdalena Chudy (Sound Mapping London Tea Houses)
  • Find out about physical computing and electronic textiles over an augmented cup of tea used in For Two from technologist Nanda Khaorapapong & e-textiles expert Berit Greinke
  • Put on an oven glove and have a conversation with the Talking Quilt (a hand-made textiles quilt augmented with RFID technology) with Ludic technology designer Sara Heitlinger
  • Join a playful workshop exploring temporal memory run by games design guru Pollie Barden (Firefly). Firefly will run from 14.30-16.30 as a drop-in session.
  • Schedule an appointment at the Tech Clinic with Nela Brown, human -computer interaction ‘doctor in training’A surgery for self-proclaimed non-technical types (we can’t all be geeks!) who grapple with computers/mobile devices on daily basis but end up feeling like the tail’s wagging the dog. If you find yourself putting that list of computer ‘need-to-knows’ to the bottom of your to-do pile but really want to do something about it, here’s your chance. Bring in the technology which you are having problems with or would like to learn more about (laptops, software, mobile devices etc.) and talk it through and work it out at Tech Clinic.
Fabulous drinks and food (courtesy of TCCE) kept us all going throughout the day, which turned out to be the BEST G.Hack event EVER !

SMLT fitting in well !

Magda discussing locations of the recorded tea houses ...

...whilst Sarah investigates what is underneath the tablecloth with a visitor ...

Berit and Nanda explaining the technology used in 'For Two' installation ...

which you can 'feel' and 'hear' at the same time 🙂

Visitors interacting with the Talking Quilt

I am solving technology issues at the Tech Clinic ...

...whilst Pollie is running a games design workshop ...

a super fun day indeed !

Nela’s Chair Report – 14 October 2012

EECS wins Athena Swan Bronze Award with G.Hack mentioned as a noteworthy good practice !
The new academic year has kicked-off in style ! On Wednesday 26 September, Professor Geraint Wiggins and myself flew to Belfast to receive the Athena Swan Bronze Award, awarded to the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science by the Athena Swan Charter for women in science in recognition of commitment to advancing women’s careers in STEMM academia ! It was a great day for EECS and a great day for our ‘home grown’ girls hacking club G.Hack, who’s activities have impressed the Athena Swan panel (I was told this in person) and who were mentioned at the ceremony as an example of a “noteworthy good practice” ! The audience chuckled at the mention of ‘girls who hack’ (probably thinking we were doing something illegal) but I felt very proud when my name was called and I got up to receive the award on behalf of the department. I knew how much time and effort this small group of exceptional female PhD’s had put into those activities and being publicly recognised for our humble contribution to the departments Athena Swan application meant a lot !

Receiving the Athena Swan Bronze Award on behalf of EECS

G.Hack at EU Researchers Night
Two days later, on Friday 28 September, myself, Nicola and Ilze dusted off the Sound Mapping London Tea Houses installation for the exhibition at the EU Researchers Night alongside a variety of other projects being staged at the newly refurbished People’s Palace. What a fun way to kick-start the new academic year and catch up with the girls !

Visitors searching for the perfect tea house soundscape ...

G.Hack on holiday !

It’s been a busy year for us all so we are taking a few months off to catch up with our research, case studies, qualitative/quantitative analysis, experiment design/technology design, writing papers, attending conferences and of course spending time with our pets and families, which usually involves lots of sunshine, BBQ’s and sun tan lotion. So far (at least in London) we haven’t see any of the sunshine so (in order to stock up on vitamin D) we might just need to take a trip abroad 🙂

But fear not, we will be back in October recruiting new members and presenting a day filled with activities and debates around women in technology as part of The Culture Capital Exchange (TCCE) Inside Out Festival on Saturday 27 October.

Have a great summer everyone !

G.Hack xxx

To get in touch, please send a message in the bottle 🙂

Nela’s Chair Report – 14 July, 2012

Spring term was a super busy time for G.Hack troops and SMLT installation which made the appearance at quite a few events. We also delivered another workshop to staff and students of Central Saint Martins (TEXmap Afternoon Tea) as an extension of  SMLT, using textiles, smart materials and a hacked teapot ! At the same time we were also super busy with our research, publications, conferences and reviews (hence this report being soooooo late !). Without further ado this is what we have been up to:

10 March: Hack podcast recording for  QMUL communications office

Myself, Pollie and Nicola met up with journalist Nick Patrick to talk about what we do in G.Hack and show him the Sound Mapping London Tea Houses installation (the sounds of which also made it into the podcast !)

17 April: EECS Research Open Day at QMUL

We exhibited SMLT at Research Open Day and this was great fun as lost of our colleagues who only heard about the installation finally had a chance to play with it ! Also, our superstar programming guru Alice won not 1 but 2 poster awards ! Well done Alice !!!

Alice posing with 2 awards for best poster !

18 April: TEXmap Afternoon Tea workshop at CSM

Our textile guru Berit and electronics gurus Nanda and Pollie have come together to extend the idea of SMLT into a workshop for Central Saint Martins staff and students using textiles, thermochromic inks, conductive yarn and other smart materials, teacups which trigger sound and a hacked teapot which heats up to precisely 47 degrees ! This was delivered at the fabulous new CSM premises at Kings Cross where we will be back next term for another workshop. Berit also wrote an article about the workshop so you will be able to read more about it in the next issue of ee4fn!

Berit preparing MaxMsp patch

Switches connected to Arduino

Thermochromic inks

2 switches per each London borough

Instructions for workshop participants

Painting, sewing and blowdrying !

Electronics inside of the teapot ...

... and at the bottom ...

when it heats up the teapot affects the thermochromic inks ...

... to create wonderful patterns !

almost ready for Tate Modern !

15 May: London Hopper at BCS

We exhibited SMLT at London Hopper Colloquium  which took place at BCS again this year and I did a brief introduction to G.Hack and its activities. Pollie and Alice also presented the posters and Sonia and Magda were helping out getting SMLT in and out of van in the pouring rain ! According to the BCS survey 74% of the participants taking the survey gave Excellent/Good marks for SMLT and I spoke to lots of female researchers who were either inspired  by what we do and wanted some advice on starting a similar project, already had something going at their own university or indeed back home in Syria !

Introducing G.Hack ...

Alice demonstrating SMLT

Alice and myself catching up with Becky ! Yay !

17 May: EPSRC event in Swindon

Nicola and Ilze took SMLT to EPSRC event in Swindon where they were asked if the money EPSRC spends on these kind of initiatives is really worth it. I think G.Hack has proven WE REALLY ARE WORTH IT and money should be funding these kinds of initiatives across all universities on yearly basis !

22 May: Digital Shoreditch Innovation Day

We exhibited at Innovation Day (part of Digital Shoreditch festival) and I got a chance to spread the word about all the initiatives we are involved with at QMUL (G.Hack, WISE@QMUL and FLOSSIE) during ‘Women in technology: A forum for solutions’ panel, alongside some pretty incredible speakers Pru Ashby (London and Partners), Jo Twist (UKIE), Jennifer Sheridan (Togeva), Sophie McDonald (MzTEK), Evelyn Wilson (TCCE) and Al James. Just awesome !!! Sophie and Emilie from MzTEK came by to say hi and yes I wore a fab limited edition QMUL T-shirt (if there are any left in the Fusion shop go grab one NOW!).

Spreading the word ...

SMLT quietly glowing during the presentations ...

3 MzTEK members + 2 G.Hack members = 4 gals. Geddit ?

25 & 26 May: FLOSSIE 2012

We exhibited SMLT and presented G.Hack at the first ever FLOSSIE (for women using open source software and hardware) which took place at QMUL . The event was organised by Flossie collective (which includes me and Becky) and was sponsored by Google, Sirius, G.Hack and WISE@QMUL !

People enjoy reading about tea houses we recorded at !

27 May: qMedia Open Studios, QMUL

SMLT came over to qMedia Open Studios from Flossie for one day only, but long enough to get more feedback on the installation, spread the word about G.Hack and make a short video !

It was hot, it was bright, one speaker wasn't working but SMLT kept going !

19, 20 & 22 June: CMMR conference, Wiltons Music Hall

We entered SMLT as part of the music track call for CMMR conference and 5 of us got the chance to sit in CMMR lectures, go to workshops, exhibit SMLT at the wonderful Wiltons Music Hall and listen to some pretty amazing performances!

SMLT blending in perfectly !

Nicola talking to EECS peeps !

Alice talking to CMMR peeps ! (photo by Steve Welburn)

24 June & 4 July: EECS Taster days, QMUL

We delivered a talk about G.Hack (with some colourful slides!) and demonstrated SMLT as part of the EECS taster days. The event was attended by some 120 high school students, none of which knew anything about Processing, MaxMsp or Reactivision software (driving SMLT) so we had to find ways of explaining the interaction and technology used in much simple terms (a good exercise for anyone wanting to improve their public engagement skills!).  It was all a bit nerve wrecking until we opened up the SMLT door and everyone had a chance to peek inside realising they already knew how to use all the equipment that ‘magically triggered sound when the teapot was moved across the surface’ (computer, projector, webcam). After this they started raising hands and asking a lot of questions about the stuff they could do with their own equipment at home and we knew we found a way to get through to them.


Happy (belated) B’Day G.Hack !!!

1 YEAR 4 MONTHS 3 WEEKS and 2 DAYS passed since the first meeting of the ‘Girls Hacking Club’ took place on a cold a windy Monday, 21 February 2011.

About a month before that, I was trying to organise my desk (drowning under a pile of books and publications I read for my Stage 1 report) and found an old Arduino NG I used with the first version of XBee in my undergraduate project. Aaaah the good old days when I had time to do some physical computing 🙂 I exchanged a few anecdotes about it all with my colleague Fiore who told me I should check out the London Hack Space. I though to myself why travel across town to London Hack Space when I can get something going right here at QMUL? I pondered over this thought over the weekend and on Monday, I met up with my supervisor and told him I wanted to start up a ‘Girls Hacking Club’ and refresh my physical computing skills (as I would need to design a prototype of interactive technology in the next stage of my research). He thought it was a great idea and yes, I am allowed to start up such project as long as it doesn’t interfere with my research. I said it wouldn’t. When I came back to the office, my second supervisor was there so I told him about my plan and he thought it was a great idea too ! Fiore laughed when I said it was gonna be just girls (as at the time, I was the only girl in the office) but I was confident I would find some girls in the department who might be interested in this venture! I heard that the new Media and Arts Technology PhD programme had some girls who were into the Arduino stuff and that a workshop facility for soldering and other type of ‘making’ work was going to be ready for them to use pretty soon. This was all very good news (as we were not allowed to do soldering in the office for health and safety reasons). I went to speak to the MAT co-ordinator and told him about my idea, asking if it’s going to be PC (politically correct) if the club is just for women. He told me QMUL had a history of women’s societies with WISE@QMUL being on campus for about 3 years (as it happened this society was run by Becky until she left QMUL, and myself and Magda got it all going again in January 2012!). He also mentioned I should speak to Ilze who is a part of MzTEK and if we did get the group going we would be welcome to use the new MAT workshop facilities. Brilliant ! Later on that afternoon I bumped into Ilze and told her about the ‘Girls Hacking Club’ idea and asked if some of the girls from her group would be interested. She got in touch with them and we arranged to meet for the very first time on Monday 21 February at 5pm, at QMUL library. Becky forwarded the email to girls from C4DM after which Alice replied she was up for coming along. Ahead of our first meeting I sent out an email asking everyone to prepare a short presentation about “what makes them so fantastic” so we could find out more about each other’s work, research and interests and what we hope to get out of the ‘club’. As I was writing this I started sifting through those very first emails and found the minutes of our very first meeting (taken by Nicola who went on to become our official secretary !) which state that: Alice, Sam, Nela, Ilze, Pollie, Berit and Nicola were present at the meeting 🙂

1 YEAR 4 MONTHS 3 WEEKS and 2 DAYS later, the 6 girls who attended that very first meeting are still part of G.Hack: myself (Chair), Ilze (Treasurer), Pollie (Communications), Nicola (Secretary), Berit and Alice, and were later joined by Nanda, Kavin and on occasion Magda and Sara. Sam joined us for a few skill sharing sessions in the beginning but got too busy rehearsing and gigging with her band to be fully involved. Looking at the ‘wish list’ at that very fist meeting I think we accomplished more than we ever dreamed we would and as the Chair of the group I am so very proud of what we have achieved in such a short space of time! BIG LOVE & RESPECT goes out to my G.Hack ‘comrades’ who have contributed their time and expertise beyond what was reasonably expected of them and hopefully got a lot out of being part of the crazy G.Hack roller coaster ride! I am looking forward to continuing this amazing journey with you all !


ps below are the first ever G.Hack club meeting minutes (No 1) and some pics I found from those first G.Hack gatherings!

First ever G.Hack meeting minutes !

Choosing the name ...

First hacking sessions took place in room 105 as workshop wasn't ready ...

Alice teaching advanced LaTex session


Nela’s Chair Report – 4 December, 2011

Christmas is around the corner and there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in a day to tie up all loose ends before 2012 comes knocking on the door. The workshop is currently closed for refurbishment so skill sharing and planning G.Hack activities for 2012 continues at various other spaces around the QMUL campus. At the moment, as long as there is heat and power we’re a happy bunch. Come January the soldering withdrawal symptoms will become a bit more acute and so will our desire to get stuck into designing a new workshop or indeed a new installation. One thing is for sure, we can’t go into the new year without a blog update (I already received one nudge email this week) and a few photos from the first two official G.Hack workshops of the 2011, Just a switch at V&A and T-Hack with G.Hack at the Space. They were the first but will certainly not be the last !

‘T-Hack with G.Hack’, 19 November 2011, Space

Ilze presenting SMLT, Alice printing fiducials and myself (erm ... my laptop screen) printing sound recording tips

Alice explaining how Processing, ReacTIVision and MaxMsp work together ...

and doing a quick intro to Logic so participants can edit sounds they recorded earlier that day around Hackney

Nic taking the participants through a simple example of Processing code working with ReacTIVision

Magda making sense of it all for the first time 🙂 Go Magda !


‘Just a switch’, 3 November 2011, V&A

'Just a switch' mastermind Berit, showing us how to 'prepare' 110 wires for switches ...

and how graphite can be fun and messy !

Pollie is teaching participants about the concept of 'switch'

Nic is making a 'masterpiece' ...

out of paper, graphite, conductive yarn, conductive foam and copper

'Prepared stylophone'


more switches made with paper ...

rubber ball ...

textile ...

and conductive foam 🙂

'Just a switch' poster

'What goes up must come down', G.Hack troops clearing up the V&A whilst Berit is catching a flight to Berlin to do the next workshop, busy girl !



T-Hack with G.Hack workshop, Saturday 19 November, 2011

T-Hack with G.Hack

Following the successful Sound Mapping London Tea Houses installation at the V&A in September 2011, G.Hack is running a workshop in which the participants will learn the basic techniques involved in the construction of an interactive table top including simple programming using Processing, MaxMsp and reacTIVision software, sound recording and sound editing.

Participants are required to bring their own laptops preferably with preinstalled sound editing software, Processing, reacTIVision and MaxMsp (demo licence is fully functional for 30 days) and if they have it, sound recording equipment.

Tickets are £25 (and selling fast !)

Register here: https://mztek.eventwax.com/t-hack-with-ghack

WHEN November 19th 2011 10.30am – 4.30pm

WHERE SPACE 129 -131 Mare St London E8 3RH

Part of the Chi-TEK project by MzTEK.


G.Hack workshop at V&A, Thursday 3 November, 2011, 12-5pm

G.Hack is back at the V&A on Thursday 3 November from 12.00-17.00 doing the first ever G.Hack workshop as part of INTERWEAVE.
Below you can find more details about the event (and how you can book your place) so do join us for an afternoon of collaborative music making using DIY switches built with conductive yarn, foam, graphite and paper!
Awesome fun or what ???
Go G.Hack !

INTERWEAVE: exploring society through technology, tools and textiles

Thursday 3 November at the Victoria and Albert Museum 

Join Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and the Victoria and Albert Museum to discover how researchers are using technology, tools and textiles to explore and affect far-reaching changes in society.

As part of the ESRC’s Festival of Social Science, this event provides a series of revealing presentations, hands-on making sessions with artists and engineers, an engaging bespoke ‘walkshop’ through the museum’s collection, and more. The day offers an opportunity to learn how social science research methods are used directly in the design of materials and products, and the varied ways in which important and complex current issues are being explored.  Key to the day are the ideas and energy of the Interweave audience – whether you wish to actively participate or have a more contemplative experience.

CSM, Arup, Microsoft Research Cambridge, Queen Mary University of London, V&A, PostlerFerguson, and more, are all taking part.

Interweave aims to be an insightful, dynamic and convivial adventure – all curious people welcome!

Booking required, all sessions are free.
V&A bookings and information service: telephone +44 (0) 20 7942 2211, or email: leanne –  l.manfredi@vam.ac.uk


Nela’s Chair Report – 30 November, 2011

Bloomsbury Festival weekend was great fun !

After testing the electronic components for the Threads & Yarns artwork in the workshop, Kavin, Nanda and Pollie joined CSM team for the installation on Friday evening at the Brunei Gallery, overcoming some interesting challenges (let’s just say that next time the modular structured artwork is retrieved from the storage, the number of panels and the legs going into the van will be counted at least 7 times !).

Over the weekend, the exhibition attracted an interesting bunch of visitors of all ages and occupations. Pollie and myself  had lots of fun polishing our flower-making skills with the assistance of wonderful CSM team, whilst talking to visitors about G.Hack and its involvement with the project as well as exchanging tips on what to do when you get a bicycle puncture, how to survive summer holiday in Italy without air-conditioning and where to recycle old shoes so they don’t end up in a landfill. It’s fascinating what you can learn from complete strangers whilst  threading a piece of paper yarn through a complex looking double flower loom !

Until the next Threads & Yarns event, I will leave you with some photos !

Brunei gallery outside ...

and inside.

All buttons working ...

lighting up the black flower ...

the red flower ...

the white flower ...

and the green one too !

Visitors taking photos ...

listening to sounds ...

talking to Rebecca ...

and admiring the artwork 🙂

Pollie keeps on going with a little help from Diet Coke 🙂

and (for the first time ever !) we have a few men handling yarn and needles ! Brill !

Having a nice poster on the wall makes all the difference !

I snapped away for two days and run out of battery when Nanda came to help us de-install. Miaow ! Next time Nanda I promise to catch you in action with wires and screwdriver 🙂