Geek Dinner Feedback

So I did go after all and it turned out to be a rather interesting event. There was a great turnout of about 60 or 70 people. The venue, The Wild Fig, was great, wine was sponsored by GETWINE (very generous of them), and WiFi hotspot by SkyRove. The talks were well timed, not too long or short, with a good mix of socio-political-technical chatter. The format was perfect: Quick intro to everyone, orders placed, 2 talks, starters, 2 talks, main course, 2 talks, desert, open mic. Just perfect!
Antoine van Gelder did a silent (self-inflicted-ducktape-on-mouth) talk on the One Laptop Per Child project. The point: children are taught to learn in silence, without expression. But expression online cannot be silenced. Very noble cause which I hope will get the time/publicity it deserves amongst the other fundamental challenges (hunger, health, etc) that children and families in Africa face daily. And he brought one of the laptops along for us to play with.

Bryn Divey did a well timed Python-bashes-PHP bit. If you ever liked PHP, you’d wish you didn’t. Very convincing argument against PHP, but I am still not convinced about Python. His delivery and style reminded me a lot of Dan North.

Tania Melnyczuk did one of the best project management flyovers I have seen. Nice to see that she touched on agile methodologies relevance in project management. At least I know one more project manager that I do not have to explain what a user story is and why I need to do a release planning session.

Nick Coyne did a really nice intro of Ruby on Rails and managed to evade the obvious Ruby-is-better-than-Python-is-better-than-Perl-we-all-hate-PHP dissidents. What was great to see was his pitch for having fun again and writing beautiful code. Something I relate to a lot.

Alan Levin spoke about the lack of socio-political endeavour attributed to lack of caring. In this instance, caring about bandwidth costs in South Africa … we all want more bandwidth cheaper but we really do not put our energy to make it happen. Very true. Are social and consumer causes dead in the post-apartheid South Africa? Or is it that only fundamental human rights violations warrant the mass protests of the 1980’s in which I grew up? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will most likely pose the simple questions: What is your responsiblity and for what are you responsible?

Ian Gilfillan  did a bit on emerging mind games such as Go and Marabaraba (sp?).  He reckons that checkers, chess are dead ever since Deep Blue overpowered the great Gary Kasparov.  It was nice diversion.

The open mic spot was seized by Robin Ronne who chatted about the Ripple project.  I did not get the low down but it was something along the lines of a social network where the trust relationships have credits attached so that you can cut out the evil banks for all your money based transactions.

Neil Blakey-Milner mentioned that he will like to pull together an event in September over a couple of days.  Sounded like an Open Spaces style event even if he did not use those words.

Overall: Interesting event.  Was a bit disappointed initially with the lack of detailed technical content.  Upon reflection, I reckon that the content suited the format.  Highly recommended.