Monthly Archives: December 2008

Story of the GeekDinner

I was asked to do a short write up on how the GeekDinners came about for a radio interview on SAfm tonight.

The origin of the GeekDinners.. well, this my version. I think Rob first told (me) the story of how the London GeekDinners (v1.0) started. Feel free to correct me if I get the details wrong.

GeekDinner v0.0

Geeks have been having dinners for a long time. I remember going to Cape Linux User Group dinners around 2000. The key ingredient has probably always been interesting conversation (and food, obviously).

GeekDinner v1.0 : London

Enter: Graham Knox (wine marketer) and Hugh Macleod (social media strategist and cartoonist).

Wine and wine marketing is the second most competitive industry, so Hugh and Graham (genius marketers) had an idea to use the internet (blogging) and word of mouth (social media) to market wine.

They sent wine to bloggers. Bloggers wrote about the wine and the Stormhoek brand spread through social networks and became know as the blogger or Web2.0 wine.

In June 2005 the first GeekDinners were held in London. Hugh and Robert Scoble were there. They used a wiki (a web page anyone can modify) as a way for guests to sign-up.

So now the ingredients became: interesting conversation, social lubricant (wine) and open (web-based) self sign-up.

GeekDinner v1.1 : Cape Town, South Africa

The Stormhoek farm is in Wellington, close to Cape Town. So Graham, Max Kaizen, Dave Duarte and Chris Rawlinson (I’m guessing) started a Cape Town GeekDinner in August 2006.

Same ingredients and wine as the London Dinner, but in the Mother City.

GeekDinner v1.2 : The 27 Dinners

At this point Dave and Mike Stopforth had started a marketing company and chose to re-brand the dinners. They called them 27 Dinners. They would be on the 27 of each month and I’m guessing 27 hints at the +27 dialling code or SA.

The idea spread to Joburg and Durban.

GeekDinner v2.0 : The New Original GeekDinners

..”by the geeks for the geeks”

Not everybody was happy when Mike and Dave “hijacked” the GeekDinners, renamed and controlled them.

I attended the first 27 Dinner in February 2007. I was less than happy with the change, so I did what any stubborn geek would do.. picked a fight and started the New Original GeekDinner movement.

Somebody said she would eat her hat if I pulled it off, or something like that. Good motivation.. well, we’re just gonna have to see about that!

So, the next day I registered the geekdinner.org.za domain, got a logo, setup a blog,
wiki and planet.. and started planning the first in the new series of GeekDinners which would be at Barbarellas in Constantia a month later (March 2007).

A few of my memories of the GeekDinners

How it all started.. searching for CaffeNeo’s details I found a blog post by Mike. I emailed him and we had a cup of tea at CaffeNeo. I then met Max and somehow I was invited to a small dinner at Sinn’s in Wembley Square (Nov 2006). This would be my first GeekDinner or bloggers gathering. I met Henk.. I think he said something like.. “blogging is just like writing an email, but a lot more people see it”. So two days later I installed WordPress and started blogging.

The last v1.1 dinner was in Hout Bay in December 2006 aka the Summer GeekDinner. This was the first time I met Nikki (probably the only blog(s) I’ve read start to finish) and Dave. I remember taking Mia along (oops, had to move those pics, no longer public).

GeekDinners vs. 27 Dinners

These days the GeekDinner and the 27 Dinner happily co-exist. In Cape Town they alternate monthly so they don’t compete.

So, how do they differ..?

Well, the 27 Dinners tend to a attract more of the marketing types and groovy geeks. The GeekDinners attract more of a techie geek community.. but a number of people attend both. There is no dress code for being a geek.

Traditionally the 27 Dinners have followed a more centralised and closed planning model for venue and speaker selection and sponsorships.

The GeekDinner takes a more open, decentralised and democratised approach. It’s kinda like an open source software project. There is no official committee. It’s anarchy in a sense.. order without leaders. It’s more of a benevolent dictatorship model.

The new original GeekDinners have been going for almost 2 years now. As long as they remain fun to plan and attend, the model works.

“We reject: kings, presidents and voting.
We believe in: rough consensus and running code.”
– David D. Clark

SAfm Interview

I’ll be interviewed on SAfm‘s Evening Talk show about the GeekDinners.. between 19:45 and 20:00, Tuesday 30 Dec 2008.

Should be interesting.. I think the last radio interview I did was about SETI@Home (-;

SAfm 104 – 107,
you can take part in the on-air debate, phone: 0891 104 207

Quick Update

A Pimms and Morcheeba holiday week in Plett.. kickin back, photos to follow soon. Adventure is good for you..

  • Sunday, road trip to Plett, listened to Disintegration again.. awesome album, a swim in Vic Bay, swim in Plett, braai.
  • Monday, sight seeing run in Plett (as in.. we got lost), nice swim.. good to body surf without the need for a wetsuit, Scrabble, pizza at Carnuci, drinks at the Beacon Isle Hotel with Jess and Georg, watched A Fish Called Wanda again.
  • Tuesday, 7:00 run around Plett, swim, wine tasting, burger in Natures Valley, sipping Pimms no.1, nice nap, swim, long walk on the beach, braai.
  • Man, too many GP plates in Plett.. never thought I’d say that.
  • Wednesday, I made scrambled eggs, a day in Knysna.. to the source of Mitchell’s beer and tie-died shirts, stopped at Noetzie, The Heads tour, brewery visit.. try the 90 shilling ale, good stuff.. cinnamon and caramel, turns out Tapas (bar on the lagoon) burn down a few years ago (shock, horror).. now that was a cool place.. all the new waterfront stuff is so tourist plastic, swim, braai.. Georg’s special oil flamed steak, try Pimm’s and Tequila.. we polished a bottle of Olmeca Edicion Black Tequila with some pineapple and cinnamon.. goes down well, listened to the soundtrack of Rules of Attraction.. makes me want to read some BEE again. We spotted James Small, who had the same last minute xmas shopping ideas.
  • “A lady in need is guilty indeed” — The Cardigans

  • Thursday, drove to Rooiels at 7:00 with some Nude Girls to get us going, drove through Glentana (good memories), road trippin with the top down.. some big room tunes, pouring beer on my chest to facilitate the tanning process (only kidding), listened to the Holiday in Spain song.. good open road music, xmas lunch in Rooiels with Georg and his family.
  • I remember saying something like “I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive. . . .” And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about a hundred miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming: “Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?”
    Then it was quiet again. My attorney had taken his shirt off and was pouring beer on his chest, to facilitate the tanning process. “What the hell are you yelling about?” he muttered, staring up at the sun with his eyes closed and covered with wraparound Spanish sunglasses. “Never mind,” I said. “It’s your turn to drive.” I hit the brakes and aimed the Great Red Shark toward the shoulder of the highway. No point mentioning those bats, I thought. The poor bastard will see them soon enough. — Dr. HST

  • I kinda forgot how cool Knysna and Plett are.. good road trip country. Seems I’ve become a bit of a cruise control junky, I even use it at 50km/h, guess I’m lazy.
  • In the end only the photos matter.. on a long enough timeline the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.
  • Friday, walked down to the sea to go take out a few mussels.. got nice and wet, fetched Mia in Aryan-geriatric-ville, a day it Bettys with Cath, Parri, Georg and Petr, braai for lunch, braai for dinner, watched Equilibrium again.. maybe just because Ernst and Rachel have a thing for Christian Bale.
  • Saturday, “the city calls me home”.. drove back to Cape Town, gym, chilling.. flushed my (ever expanding mobile) notes collection.
  • “What do New York (Cape Town) couples fight about? ..I don’t wanna know ’cause I forget” — Morcheeba

  • Realised I’m in a bit of a strange loop.. been having the same December holiday since 2000.
  • My E71’s little speaker freaked out on me.. it’s making this weird distorted sound.
  • Seems I finally managed to get my number removed from and SMS spam list, thanks WASPA, it only took a bit more than a year.
  • If you only have one new-years resolution this year.. give back the things you borrowed from your friends.
  • Next full moon if you want to do a Lions Head walk:
    Sunday, Jan 11 2009 at 20:32 ..or maybe a full moon picnic at the Taalmonument on Paarl Mountain.
  • I’m such a sentimental fool, I keep finding a pair of Mia’s socks in my trousers, but leaving them there so I can find them again.
  • Sunday, yes this week’s post has two Sundays.. breakfast with Jaco in Blouberg.. a good friend from Stellenbosch days, he seems happily married, nice nap, drove down to the Labia for a beer (and a movie), watched Mamma Mia!.. rather entertaining for a movie where people randomly burst into song, a walk on Glen Beach, phoned Mia to say goodnight as the sun was setting, listened to The Stokes drinking cheap Chardonnay to lit up Table Mountain views.
  • Laugh of the day.. “Cappuccino with foam please”.. I’m no coffee connoisseur, but this is a Mug and Bean culture evil.
  • Seems I’ve picked up this habit after Suicide Gorge of ordering two beers to start, waiting for the second one when it’s summer is such a drag.
  • Upgraded to WordPress 2.7, I like it.
  • I managed to exchange exactly zero xmas presents this year.
  • Thanks for the stay in Plett Jessica.

Have a fun holiday crazy kids.. and an awesome NYE party, I’m planning an interesting one.

Quick Update

End of the year..

  • Monday, dropped Mia at school, tea at Will’s house, Lions Head walk.
  • The worst form of citizen.. people that cruise in the fast lane.
  • Tuesday, 5th Suicide Gorge walk with Will, Jess, Rachel, beers at Peregrine farm stall, braai at home with Rachel. Awesome day.
  • Wednesday, could feel I did a long walk the previous day, updated my /me and /about page, managed to flush a few pending blog post ideas from my notes file, Amobia meeting in Stellenbosch.
  • Thursday, tea with Edward, pool party at Ernst’s place in Newlands.. nice Longridge Chardonnay, Mainstay party in Llandudno with Cath, Lindi, Georg, Jess.. a wild party, they played The Time is Now (Moloko), jacSharp album launch, chilling at home above Cape Town.
  • Friday, a few embarrassing memories to process *grin*, long swim, Mia time, drove to Kalkbay, lunch with Ernst and Michelle, Boulders beach to see the penguins, nice drive home.. top down.. listening to Groove Armada.. down Ou Kaapse Weg, drinks and pizza at home with Ernst, Rachel and Georg.
  • I know what you are thinking.. 😛
  • Texas Ranger turned out to be a girl (cat).
  • Saturday, gym, swim, I was asked to give a talk about Lifestyle Design at Doppio Zero (St Georges Mall).. only about 6 people showed up, nice nap, olives at the deli. Watched some Family Guy.
  • Sunday, off to Plett and Knysna for a few days.

Taking a break.. I may not be updating this blog for a while. It’s been a fun year. Have a fun 2009.

Your editor in chief: Joe

The Fucknut Report

A few weeks ago Tristan and I were at an SA|UX meeting standing on the balcony outside Asoka sipping a beer.

Tristan commented on how (and why?) people buy mobile (GSM) content. Random crap of no real value.. like ringtones, premium SMS services etc. Boggles the mind.. but we kinda concluded that there are many feeble minded bored souls in this world.. the kind we should consider using instead of doing animal testing, barely smart enough to step on a lever to get a food pellet.

Ok, let’s not get nasty, yet.. *haha*.

Then I remembered an interesting story. A story that gives you some insight into the mind of the consumer we are talking about here. Pure genius.

A few years ago a good friend was working as a sysadmin for one of the bigger mobile content companies in SA.

I think they had some trouble with the volumes of SMS messages for the Big Brother show at the time. In the process of debugging this he found and interesting pattern in the server log files.

He found a strangely regular user of their quote-of-the-day service. How many times a day do you want to pay for a random quote from a simple database of quotes, right? I’m guessing he must have received the same quote a few times by then.

Turns out this intellectual giant of a muppet was having a romantic relationship with quote-of-the-day.

What was he thinking?

“roses are red
violets are blue.. you are an idiot, but I still love you”
— regards QoD Service

So, this friend did what any self respecting sysadmin would.. he wrote a script that would grep for any SMS messages from this smart guy and mail a batch to their tech mailing list every morning… it was called: The Fucknut Report.

Many mornings of laugher and tears over mugs of coffee I’m sure.

Damagement found out about this. They phoned the guy and explained that he was only getting randomly selected quotes from a database and that there was no cute girl of his dreams involved. Guaran-friggin-teed.

The messages stopped. The tech team was very sad. But then.. the messages started again.

He sent something like “if you really love me you will let me know”. And somehow he randomly received a quote that in his warped mind somehow confirmed that the QoD service loved him.

Yes, it’s a true story.

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the the universe.”
— Albert E.

Woolworths Juice for Kids

This is a bit of an experiment in keyword monitoring… and just putting an idea out there.

I have this problem you see.. the hippy mother is on my case about giving Mia those little (tetrapak) juice cartons. They are very handy on outings and Mia dearly loves the Woolworths apple/grape/rooibos Spiderman branded ones.

The hippy claims pure fruit juice is too sweet, too much sugar, bad for their teeth.. basically not good for kids. I’ve been asked to dilute all Mia’s juice with water.

I buy the story and I’m happy to do this.. but I miss being able to just drop two juices in the cooler bag and hit the beach.

I’ve looked around for other brands of juice cartons. No luck.

So, I need.. the same Spiderman juice, but with ~25% water. Help.

Lite Licencing as a Spectrum Allocation Model

I met Jack Unger at iWeek in September this year. Jack is involved with WISPA.. kinda like the US version of WAPA.

He shared some ideas on how the US independent wireless operators have been working with the FCC (their regulator) to find some middle ground in frequency spectrum allocation.

Something in between the free-for-all ISM model and single/dedicated allocation.. a shared but regulated model.

Frequency spectrum is a finite (scarce) national resource… you can only chop it up and assign so many 20Mhz chunks… well, that’s true in the traditional (often static) dedicated allocation model.

This model works if you have 1 or 5 “big” (~monopoly / protected) telecoms providers, but in a deregulated and open telecoms market you need another way of assigning spectrum.. making sure it is used efficiently.. for the common good of the market and citizens.

Enter: Lite Licencing

“Lite Licensing” is a novel and progressive frequency allocation model where network operators (ECNS licensees) would pay a relatively small fee for a nation wide, non-exclusive license. They then pay an additional nominal fee for each base station they deploy. All their stations must be clearly identifiable and in the event these stations cause interference which cannot be mediated by technical means, licensees are required to resolve the dispute between themselves.

With a bit of luck (lobbying, PR, clenching of fists and grinding of teeth) I hope industry bodies like the ISPA and WAPA can work with ICASA to implement the same model in South Africa soon.

Spread the word.

Swimming

I was in the pool last week.. swimming about 2km, next to a pretty lady thinking:

There is something very sensual about a woman that swims well and enjoys swimming.. kinda like Nicole Kidman in The Peacemaker.

What is it that I like about swimming? Well, I can swim, that helps (-:
but mostly.. the flow, calm isolation and immersion.

Swimming seems to turn down the volume of the world around you.

Suicide Gorge Dec 2008

I walked Suicide Gorge for the 5th time yesterday with a group of 12 people.. “Tour-guide Joe”. I only knew 3 of them at the beginning of the day.. so I made a few friends in the process.

It was an awesome day, perfect weather, cool people, lots and lots of fun.. good way to spend a public holiday.

This must be the best day-trip you can do in the Western Cape.. the kind of thing you really need to do if you live in Cape Town. Nice exercise.. man against nature, with a bit of adrenalin to keep you sharp.

As Richard said, he really can’t figure out why people live in Cape Town if they don’t go on adventures like these.. they could be in London making much more money with crap weather to make sure they don’t feel guilty about staying indoors. We feel for all the mouse-clickers that will never experience this.

We noticed a few more frogs than last time.

I’m a bit stiff today and I’m sure everybody slept well last night… babies don’t sleep this well.

This was freedom. I felt more alive than I’d ever felt. I wasn’t host to cancer or blood parasites; I was the little warm center that the life of the world crowded around.

And I slept. Babies don’t sleep this well.

Every evening I died, and every evening, I was born.

— Fight Club

Suicide season is open 1 November to 30 April, so I’ll plan another trip early in 2009.

Pics are at the usual place.

Quick Update

Just a week in time..

  • Monday, WAPA exco meeting, finally got my credit card back, ISPA mancom meeting, Lions Head walk, Daily Deli (Tamboerskloof) for olives and Moussaka, bumped into Gerald and Gabby (neighbours) and had a nice dinner with them.
  • Tuesday, gym, swim, stroll down to Justin’s house for his wifi-radio launch, Henk and Ian were there, drinks at Dizzi’s for Lyle’s birthday, bumped into Matt on the way home.
  • Lesson of the week, kids.. do not drink and respond to online dating messages..
    the whole online dating idea lasted about a week. Real life is more fun. You see.. I’m one of those “drowning in a sea of love” kinda people.. online dating is a nice idea, but it’s just not up there with the levels of infatuation I’m after.. dog chasing cars remember (-:
  • My little idea of introducing Lite Licencing for SA saw the light.
  • Wednesday, gym, swim.. getting fit for Suicide Gorge, DSLR shopping, haircut at B’s, tea with (all new Apple toys girl) Cath at Le Petite Tarte in De Waterkant.. nice place, concluded the Standard Bank saga, Heavy Chef at 24.com with the marketing geeks: Nikki, Andrew, Bev, Chris, jacSharp press and media launch at the planetarium, briefly met Cokey Falkow, Asoka with Lindi, Georg, Romy and Mischa.
  • “Simple, concrete, unexpected, emotional stories” — Dave Duarte

  • “Ten more reasons why I need somebody new.. just like you” — RHCP, Can’t Stop

  • Weird.. I keep bumping into the jealous sunset girl.
  • Thursday, encrypted file system troubles, watched 1408.. pretty lame, seared tuna burger with sweet potato fries at Royale, figured we should go support our neighbour Scott and visit his sushi restaurant.. Kyoto Garden Sushi in Tamboerskloof, we had authentic grated Wassabi, eel and Japanese beers, try the Dirty Ninja Sakitini.
  • I think I suffer from TMTTT.
  • Friday, gym, swim, uber-juice, TT-S test drive, Full Moon Lions Head walk.. 7 people showed up, Chinese take-aways with Will and Jess.
  • Do you ever get the feeling (fear) that you are not taking in the moment?.. those perfect moments, just ticking it off the todo-list is not good enough. How do you make sure you suck it in?
  • Hmm.. things are just not that cool when they are popular, I much preferred my die-hard windy Thursday full moon Lions Head mission to the popular Friday crowds.
  • Truly amazing the amount of stuff I can buy at Woolworths without buying anything that needs to be heated above room temp.. is there a name for this diet?.. room-temp-snack-etarian.
  • Saturday, sleeping late, Mia time, uber-smoothy, picked up some Gemsbok fillets and wors for a nice afternoon braai, nice bottle of Becksberg Chardonnay, afternoon nap, Beta Beach, drinks at Cappellos in the CBD with the Pink-23 girls, watched Lost in Translation again.. while blogging and drinking beer with two kittens on my chest.
  • I think I should start wearing Issey Miyake again.. move past the memories.
  • HTF can anybody be 2.5 hours late? even a hippie? ..total sense of humour failure, I’m not a nice person when you mess with Mia’s swimming time. RFDOAB! (from Aliens)
  • Sunday, tea + rusks, Nemo, Mia manicure and pedicure, gym, swimming until we had raisin fingers, Knead bacon, eggs and earl grey tea, Sinns ice cream, bumped into Frerieke, watched Monsters, Inc. again, nice nap, Glen Beach sunset walk, watched some Family Guy.
  • “Say hello to the scream extractor” — Monsters, Inc.

  • I think I’m not allergic to cats anymore.
  • Tunes of the week: Saving Grace : jacSharp, Closer to You : The Wallflowers
  • Dr. Ernst is in Cape Town this coming week.. with his shake-and-bake family.
  • Tuesday is Suicide Gorge day. Hooah!

Have a fun week.

A jacSharp Story

Last night I was lying under the Cape Town ~stars listening to music by jacSharp.

Lindi and I attended the press and media launch of their debut album at the planetarium. Very cool idea for a venue, especially if you want people to listen to your music. Nice visuals in an otherwise pitch black room, good sounds and commentary from the band between songs.

We were hoping they recorded the event.. would make for a pretty cool podcast.

I guess I was invited because I’m such a groovy independent citizen journalist (haha). Turns out Lindi and Jules are related. We had nice wine and sushi and received a copy of the new album: Technicolour. I had to take two copies (sorry guys), one for Mia.

Going back a few months..

In September Georg and I had a random wild evening at Asoka and Bambu. I bumped into Carl (the guitarist) at Bambu. This was the first jacSharp Electro evening. I liked their music.

I always liked “intelligent” dance music.. things like: Moloko, Roisin Murphy, Morcheeba, Groove Armada, Goldfrapp, Massive Attack.. only later did I figure out jacSharp were also a rock band.

I think I met Carl on rooftops of buildings in Cape Town. We worked together in the wireless industry. I met Juliet that night (and asked her for her phone number *grin*). Ben and Emelio I met at Rocking the Daisies and Nikki (the photographer+) a bit later in Camps Bay.

Then there was that little vote (massaging) thing, I dragged them up Lions Head one Sunday morning, had a nice braai, I attended their Wednesdays sessions at FTV and most of the Sunday sessions at Karma.

Mia (the backseat DJ) often says: “I want to watch Juliet’s music”.. this is because Juliet took Mia up on stage once. I think she wants to be a rock star now.

The story of Tonight

Their most afro-pop sounding track is: Tonight. I guess it’s the song most people like instantly. I couldn’t really figure out the lyrics, so I asked Nikki about the song one afternoon sipping Mojito’s at Caprice. Turns out Jules wrote the song for Nikki, her sister. Then, the lyrics made sense.. it’s a song about sibling love, caring and support.

“and if you ever cry, your tears will fall from my eyes”, “this questioning that slapped you in the face”, “embrace it”, “hold your head up high”, “if they try to take your pride, then I’ll be there”..
–Tonight, jacSharp

The background, (hmm.. not sure if I should share this so I’ll keep it short).. Nikki was in l love with a musician who died. This left her pretty broken. An indecent with the authorities, questioning and rumours followed. I figure Nikki went overseas soon after this. Jules wrote the song to help her through a challenging time.

What a cool song.. almost makes me wish I had siblings (-:

 

Their Music

Let’s just say it’s a diverse sound.. jazz, rock, afro-pop, trip-hop and electro. This kinda requires a longer attention span from the listener. They have two really cool pop singles at the moment.. and bucket loads of potential for more.

I’ve been know to send them emails with friendly suggestions (mostly for the Electro stuff). It’s really cool to see their music and their stage act evolve.

Their Angle

The band is a mix of personalities, wide eyed optimists, realists, big-picture and here-and-now people. They are smart, wise and ambitious. They talk about their “ethical empire”.. a movement behind their brand. Nice idea.

They see value in online marketing and are very clever in leveraging social networking. Independent.. they do all their own branding, marketing, PR, and events planning, which makes them very busy people.

Interesting time to be in the music business, but they seem to have it waxed.

Good to see cool people follow their dreams, be brave and succeed. I just like the way they roll.

Tell me More

Have a look at their Facebook page for events. See you at their Plett and Knysna gigs crazy kids.

“Use the rhythm. Kick it. All around the room.” — Saving Grace, jacSharp