Category Archives: GeekDinner

TrustFabric GeekDinner Launch

Last night I gave the first public presentation about TrustFabric at the GeekDinner. I think it went well. A number of people asked to join our alpha service and there were some good questions after the talk, which makes me think people “get it”.

Slides are here.

It was a fun GeekDinner. The Royal Cape Yacht club was a nice venue. Very good turnout.. pretty much exactly the number that was catered for (75).

At first I was a bit worried that this month’s GeekDinner planning just did not want to gain momentum but, living up to it’s name (Spontaneous Sprout) it spontaneously all just fell into place at the end. Interesting talks, good food and some quality geeky networking.

Thanks to Delheim for the wine sponsorship.

Thanks to TrustFabric for the AV sponsorship (-:

See you at the next one.

Safe as Houses

Just before the GeekDinner I was thinking about somebody (ex-friend of a friend kinda thing) who recently lost pretty much everything.. a whole string of properties included. He now pretty much spends his days crying. It’s messy. I used to think this guy was very wealthy.. though I knew he had questionable ethics.

If there is one thing we learnt in the last six months.. it’s that there is something wrong with the way banks score and trust lenders.. especially property speculators. There is something generally wrong with the way banks “create” money, but that’s another story.

Banks allowed this guy to heavily gear his property portfolio because they could again in theory borrow against the collateral he provided.. which was actually just loans on top of loans. A big card house.

A few months ago most people would have said this guy was a smart investor, but it turned out that his “assets”, which looked so good on paper were a major risk.

If it’s too good to be true..

Remember kids, try not to do what all the other kids are doing.

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

November GeekDinner and The Hub Project

I attended the November GeekDinner at Adesso in Rondebosch on Thursday night.

Nice evening, good food and a fun group of people at my table. I met Matthew and Frerieke.

We missed our regular sound engineer and MC. We had a projector, but no mic this time, which made it a bit tricky to give a talk since I had a mild cold.

I gave a talk about peering and The Hub Project.. an internet exchange project (starting off) in Cape Town. This was also the first public announcement of the project.

Jonathan asked something like.. if peering is 90% politics, how do you know the project will not fail again? My answer was: well, it’s cheap (close to zero cost).. all the initial peers have a presence in the building already and I’m hoping it will gain momentum from there. Three things I though about later:

  1. The playing field has changed. Soon we will have more ECNS operators. Soon we will have vendor neutral data centres. Soon we will have many more MetroE and dark fibre connectivity options.. and soon we should have much more traffic flowing around South Africa.
  2. I’m an optimist. I believe this project is for the common good and it has the “moral high ground”.
  3. ..not on my watch (-;

Slides are here. I received positive feedback and I hope a few more people will get involved in the project soon.

A big thanks to our hosts: George and Vanessa and our wine sponsor: Perdeberg.

Quick Update

This weeks’ update seems to have been delayed.. I blame the awesome weather.

  • Monday, gym, swim, ISPA mancom meeting, watched Perfume.. good movie.
  • Tuesday, gym, swim, uber-juice, Tamboerskloof steps run, beer and pizza at Carlisles in Vredehoek.
  • Wednesday, Lions Head walk with Andy, WAPA admin and PR, eStrategy workshop in Bishopscourt.. which turned out to be a royal waste of time.
  • Thursday, walk above our house up to Military Road, ISPA general meeting, Teraco CPT site visit.. DC1 is starting to look good, January GeekDinner planning at Yum, SA UX meeting at Asoka, drinks at Asoka. Met Tristan from MyVideo.
  • Brandon told me I seem to be a very proud parent, I guess that’s true.
  • We named Andy’s two new kittens: Walker and RT.. from Talladega Nights, “Ricky Bobby: Dear Lord Baby Jesus, I want to thank you for this wonderful meal, my two beautiful sons, Walker and Texas Ranger” (-;
  • Friday, updated my homepage (front page and history), cocktails on the Camps Bay strip, added my first Wikipedia article about Vendor Neutral Data Centres, braai at home, watched Crank.
  • Fri 21 Nov.. Celebrations! The VANS won. “Many pioneering independent networks are already operating and the high court ruling will allow them to attract investment and expand their networks.”
  • Saturday, Mia time, gym, swim, kids party at our place, sundowner drinks and pizza with Cath, Parri and Jess.
  • Sunday, early Clifton 2nd session with Georg and Mia, braai, afternoon nap, Camps Bay.. Primi, Baraza, Karma, Baraza.. to watch jacSharp and Pierre-Estienne play.

I’ve been invited to the U.S. Bloggers Tour dinner this week. Makes me think people actually read the rants I publish here.

Have a fun week.

Quick Update

The weekly dose of me, me me…

  • Monday, dropped Mia off at school, tea with her mom, since I always drive by the place and wonder what’s inside I stopped and visited Lady Chatterley’s Chamber on Kloofnek ..most interesting, burger with Georg and Christo at Da Vinci’s.. try the Milan burger, watched Saints and Soldiers and The OC.. end of season one, finally.
  • 300th crackbook friend, 300th blog post
  • Figured I need a detox week, this lasted 4 days.
  • Tuesday, Long Street Baths swim with Andy, CLUG talk at UCT, CLUG dinner at Adesso.. to arrange Nov GeekDinner logistics, watched some James Randi youtube about spoon bending.
  • Wednesday, Cape Town’s finest taxi service, installed new x350 Extreme switch for The Hub project (new website due soon), Teraco CPT site visit, brunch at Cocoa Wah Wah in Rondebosch, 1km swim, bumped into Lyle at the pool, Amobia Exco meeting at Da Vinci’s (again), jacSharp Electro at FTV.
  • Thursday, gym, WAPA committee meeting at my place, drinks at the Radisson for The Training Room Online launch, full moon Lion’s Head walk… on my own. I think I need to write a (nasty) blog post about people that say they are going to show up but don’t.
  • Friday, killer abs class, made an uber-healthy-juice with my new juicer, emergency party gift shopping at Tinka Tonka Toys in Gardens, they were very helpful, chaired the WAPA AGM at Eikendal and I was elected to the WAPA management committee again. Mia and I attended Belle’s 6th birthday party.. island girl theme. Had home made burger’s at Will’s house.. some Springfield Wild Yeast Chardonnay (must be my fav wine at the moment) and authentic Mexican Mezcal with a worm in the bottle, Mia passed out on the couch and we slept over.
  • Do you ever get the feeling (fear) that you could be missing out on a revolution.. a cool hobby with an interesting evolving history?.. one of those windows in time that people look back on and say.. those were the days. New oceans to navigate.
  • Some days I wonder if maybe I’m just trying to progress (regress?) to a student lifestyle.. maybe I just miss the mountain biking and the crayfish diving.
  • Saturday, Will smoothies, gym, swim.. Mia now goes under the water and doggy paddles, had to drag her away from the pool, Clifton 4th with Mia and Will, perfect night for a braai at our place, this time Will ended up sleeping over.
  • Sunday, early’ish Clifton 2nd session, watched The Big Lebouski again, jacSharp at Karma – Camps Bay.. try Tanqueray and cranberry juice.

Idea of the week: Don’t try too hard, often it will come to you.. just need to find the right channel.

Have a fun week.

Quick Update

Busy week, kinda lost track of what I as up to.. mostly because I was moving and it was school holidays so Mia was around Thursday-Sunday..

  • Monday, signed the new lease, gym, swim.
  • Tuesday, moving, figured out the electricity and water, moving, wine on the new deck, unpacking, pizza at Rafiki’s, entertaining story of how Miki started Rafiki’s.
  • Wednesday, gym, swim, plumbers, Amobia internet install at the house, Mia time.
  • Thursday, gym, swim, Stellenbosch visit to help Georg move.
  • Friday, had to keep Mia, three plumbers and two carpet cleaners entertained.
  • Saturday, Rocking the Daisies, jumping castles and JacSharp, thanks for the ticket Bev.
  • Sunday, Waterfront outing to see the USS Theodore Roosevelt, walked down to the Daily Deli for brunch with Andy, gym, swim, Chardonnay and pizza at Adesso with Vanessa and George, I think it could work for the November GeekDinner.

Idea of the week.. You can’t please all of the people all of the time.

..off to go walk up Lion’s Head. Have a fun summer kids.

September GeekDinner

A few people asked me to upload my slides from the GeekDinner at Asoka.

A bit overdue, but I was moving house.. so I’m writing this in the new place sipping a glass of Chardonnay, looking out over the city and watching Scrubs. Home sweet home.

Here you go.. Joe’s version of Lifestyle Design.

It was a nice dinner.. cosy, reminded me of the original 2006 geekdinners.

Had some good feedback from my talk. Nice to know I’m not the only crazy one.

Quick Update

Just a week in the life of Joe..

  • Monday, interview with The Times about the VANS>ECNS mess, house shopping in Tamboerskloof, cable car run, R29 burgers at Jamaica me Crazy, OC s1 d2.
  • Happy Banana Republic day.
  • I now have a free subscription to Sports Illustrated. We concur: it’s pretty lame.. not even a few pics of hot woman.
  • Tuesday, lunch with Jonathan, OC s1 d3, Asoka jazz night, JacSharp at Bambu, William Wallace moment.. got a phone number, whoot! Bumped into JC.
  • Wednesday, Red Herring (Noordhoek) for pizza and beer, drinks at Monkey Valley, try Malibu and Appletizer.. ok, I know it’s a bit girly but it tastes like summer, drinks at Carlisle’s with friends, Graham is back from Aus, played the Nails game.
  • There’s something about listening to Mr Jones at a nice pub with a cold beer.
  • Track of the month, Mind Circus by Way Out West, Cream 15yr album, disc 3.
  • September’s been a month without internet at home, guess I took a break, I noticed a bit of a drop in productivity, but I was looking at my September photos and it’s been a fun month.
  • Thursday, gym, OC s1 d3->5, a few glasses of wine with Andy back from London.
  • Thursday was odd in the sense that.. I’ve been wishing to just be bored for a while now and I managed that on Thursday for about an hour.
  • Friday, Mia and I went to Lourensford to buy some wine and chase a few peacocks around, dinner at Will’s.
  • Had a tough (emotional) day, but Mia and a random dinner with a good friend reminded me how lucky I am and cheered me up.
  • Saturday, met up with family at the airport, lunch with Debby at Mimi’s, nice afternoon nap, gym, swim, dinner with Cath at Fabulous, drinks at Asoka. Thanks for the suggestion Jono.
  • Sunday, slept late, gym, swim, got some sun, Neo moussaka for lunch, worked on my GeekDinner talk, walk by the sea, Clone Wars movie.. it was OK’ish, Kauai snack.
  • I’ve been challenged to write a blog post / list (?) defining my perfect match (woman).. that could be tricky.
  • Idea for the week.. sometimes it’s just easier to do the right thing.
  • Somebody pretty close to me called me a hedonist.. (pure pleasure seeker).. Some days I think I’m the only normal one.
  • The three men and a little lady have a new pad in Tamboerskloof, moving in on Tuesday.. “Cape Town in the summertime and the livin’ is easy”.. can’t wait for summer.

See you at Asoka tonight crazy kids..