[Noisebridge-discuss] Soda Machine

Josh Juran jjuran at gmail.com
Tue Feb 21 10:19:18 UTC 2012

On Feb 20, 2012, at 6:47 PM, Jeff Tchang wrote:

> Is it still working? Does it need to be stocked?

Early Sunday morning, I emptied and unplugged the soda machine, after  
consulting with three other Noisebridgers.

Chris was opposed to selling sugared water (which as a side note I  
find amusing because it reminds me of Steve Jobs), and stated a  
preference for offering healthier fare like (plain) water and  
something else I've forgotten already (probably juice).  He also  
waxed a little dramatic (or at least melodramatic), ranting slightly  
about poisoning members of the community.

Lief rated the vending machine Off-Topic, since Noisebridge is not in  
the business of selling soft drinks, although providing drinks on a  
donation basis (as we've done with kombucha) is acceptable.  Lief  
also questioned the financial benefits of running the machine.  On  
January 16, Rob, Evan, and I spent $59 on 148 cans of soda, expecting  
a profit of $89.  Lief suggests that it costs about $100 per month in  
electricity to run the vending machine.  Even if we refill the  
machine promptly and take advantage of sale prices, we're more or  
less breaking even.

That's assuming, of course, that money doesn't go missing from the  

On Feb 19, I counted the money in the machine and there was a  
shortfall of about $90.[1]  Rob reports that about a week ago, he  
noticed the vending machine key in the right area but the wrong spot,  
and Amber informed me on Thursday that she was aware that someone had  
taken money from the machine.  After accounting for unsold cans and  
purchases in quarters, that leaves 120 cans bought with dollar  
bills.  If $90 is missing, then the theft occurred about 3/4 of the  
way through the time period, which is consistent with the timing of  
Rob's observation.

I'm going to go out on a limb and speculate that the money was stolen  
by one of the undesirables recently in the space (and even more  
recently out of the space, thanks to the Rooster Brigade).  In this  
scenario, the perp observed someone close the vending machine, walk  
into a small room, and immediately leave again -- thus revealing the  
location of the key.  Lief offered the theory that perhaps someone  
hacked his/her way in without a key, and asserted that anyone who  
successfully steals money from a hackerspace is by definition a  
hacker and that such actions should be applauded.  I stated that  
Noisebridge is not DefCon and accused Lief of trolling.

Despite taking exception with Chris' and Lief's delivery, I agree  
with their basic positions and (some of) their supporting reasons.   
Rob, originally in favor of restocking the machine, also agreed with  
taking the machine out of service.  I moved the five remaining cans  
(after consuming the last Sierra Mist) to the refrigerator, unplugged  
the vending machine, and emptied it of all cash, amounting to $123.   
I will either hand it over to Kelly or deposit it into Noisebridge's  
bank account.

I'll be at the Tuesday meeting, in case anybody wants to discuss  
this.  I for one would be in favor of stocking Hansen's canned  
smoothies.  Get them shipped from Amazon for $1/can, ask for a  
donation of $2.


P.S.:  If you want to talk about "poisoning" people or equate  
stealing with hacking, please add a "[drama]" tag.

[1] Amounts are not exact because the machine keeps some coins  
slotted in the change dispenser, and these weren't counted on Jan 16.

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