Nice one, yes checking out a hackerspace is a good idea, I didnt get a chance to checkout protospace when I was in california but did get to see LA MakerSpace, they may still be doing classes for blender which might be useful. Anyway good luck dude :)
It's funny! I built a website a few year back with a url shortner script and went on and tweaked it! I ended up with my own G+ Vanity url shortner and felt very proud of myself! I was going to renew the domain this year as it was quite a popular site! But it's good Google have got these now! I got mine weeks ago and I love it!