As returning visitors may note, the look and feel of IndieBiotech.com (and CathalGarvey.me) have changed drastically. Closer inspection yields it’s no longer Wordpress at all, and all of the content is being delivered over HTTPS. That’s because I spent an inordinate amount of time converting my two Wordpress blogs to Hugo / Markdown format, and they are now hosted through Caddy, which means automatic HTTPS. The upshot: Hosting of the sites is now done through my own hardware, specifically a Raspberry Pi 2 about a meter from me as I write.
Since posting here about Deadlock, I’ve kept hacking away at new stuff. I haven’t posted all my recent work yet; some things take a while to test privately before they’re ready to go. Expect dedicated updates for some of them. Meanwhile, here are some things that I’ve done since Deadlock that are already on Github: Listless, a mailing list manager built around SMTP/IMAP, written in Go and scripted in Lua. I built this because, besides Mailman (which requires an actual mail server), there was nothing anymore for running a basic discussion list except to register on Google Groups.
So, this isn’t private news and it’s already known to many, but there’s some stuff I’d like to share here in the near future which may seem confusing or surprising unless I first officially come out with it on my blog. Since several weeks ago, I am officially the Scientific Director of IndieBio EU, the accelerator formerly known (and mentioned here) as Synbio Axlr8r. This is a pretty exciting shift for me; it closes a chapter where I worked under the umbrella of Glowbiotics, my open biotech start-up, and a stint as a mentor at Synbio Axlr8r 1.0 (a volunteer position).
Update: Since writing this, I have two things to add. Firstly, Linux Mint are terrible custodians of a distro and should no longer be trusted; they end-of-life’d LMDE mid-cycle with no upgrade/escape path to Debian, which is simply sloppy, and their packaging system for stock Linux Mint has come under scrutiny for being amateur-hour BS. Secondly, all of the below is now outdated, because Ubuntu works perfectly out of the box on this laptop, without any further hax or modifications.
Update: In addition to implementing miniLock in Python (below), I have since also implemented it in Go, the library and tool for which can be found in the go-minilock repository. It’s been over a year! I have written the occasional blogpost on indiebiotech.com in that time, but even that blog suffers. If I’m honest, and to provide flavour for the rest of this article, every time I was sitting at my keyboard and might otherwise have been motivated to write a post on something, I wrote programs instead.
In the considerable time since my last update, much has changed around our biomakerspace project. All for the better, thankfully, though things remain a bit precarious (as ever). Firstly, as hinted in the title, the Cork biomakerspace project has a name: “Forma”! This name was inspired by that of La Paillasse (“The Bench”) transliterated to Irish. Given the choice between idiomatic but Anglicised “Bínse” or the probably Latin-derived “Forma” we chose the latter because the spelling is more obvious to non-Irish speakers and it sounds exactly as it is spelled in most English dialects.
So, I gave a talk at the Synbio Future conference in Cork, which was organised by SynbioAxlr8r and brought in some top talent in Synthetic Biology to speak about their work and the prospects for the future of the field, and Ireland’s role in it. My own talk was in the “translation” block, so I tried to discuss my experiences making a business out of Synbio. At the time, I was trying to raise money for IndieBB (an effort which failed), but I tried to keep that out of the talk except where it was relevant.
Let me share some extraordinary news with you. After years of watching the biohacker movement rise to prominence around the world, my home city of Cork is suddenly and rapidly becoming a hub of Synthetic Biology, and as part of this transition will soon have a biohackerspace modelled upon the success of La Paillasse, Paris. In case you don’t want to read more, here’s all you really need to know: there’s an assortment of people and supports nucleating rapidly around a biohackerspace in Cork City, very possibly in a unique and curiously appropriate location.
As I am redesigning the main pitch-page for IndieBB in order to appeal more to the currently-untechnical audience, what little technical detail I’ve reserved for the main page will have to be stripped out; I’m taking this opportunity to write up a “Frequently Asked Questions” post to address the more technical queries I’m seeing in the survey, tweets, comments and other correspondence. I will soon also post a less technical FAQ, but given that “Less Technical FAQ” is now the design goal for the main IndieBB crowdfunding page, I’m considering it a lower priority.
IndieBB stands for “Indie Biotech Backbone”. When I started this blog, I had intended “Indie Biotech” to be a phrase that could be generally used, not a “trademark” for my own work, yet people sometimes still refer to my project/company as “Indie Biotech” (I do have a company for this, and it’s called “Glowbiotics”, not “Indie Biotech”!). With the same spirit in mind, I named my plasmid backbone “Indie Biotech Backbone” because I wanted it to be something that could be used by “indie” genetic engineers worldwide to make their own stuff.