Category Archives: GeekDinner

GeekDinner #5 : Eccentric Eggplant

I suspect just about everybody that reads my blog already knows about the next GeekDinner venue, but I figure I’ll announce it anyway.

I managed to track down the bookings manager for Ferryman’s Tavern this week so we now have a booking for the whole top floor area of their restaurant in the Waterfront.


Event Details:
Wednesday 28 November
19:00 for 19:30
Ferryman’s Tavern, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town

Go add your name to the GeekDinner Wiki and tell all your (geeky) friends.

We’ve changed the general vibe of the talk topics a bit.. the policy is now : Geeky, not Nerdy. So all the people that were cautiously avoiding the previous dinners because the topics looked very technical, please attend and try the original and authentic GeekDinner experience.

See you there.

GeekDinner Number 4

My pics from GeekDinner #4 are here.

It was a fun evening. Nice venue. Good food. Bright people. It was nice chatting with an old friend (since 1996 days) and meeting a few new people.

I think it’s safe to say that by number 4 we’ve created a bit of an institution in the Cape Town geek world. The distributed (chaotic) GeekDinner planning model works well, with the help of a few dedicated people. Thanks to everybody that helped organise and support this one. At the end of the night somebody asked about the origins of the GeekDinner and it was nice to have a laugh about how we forked from the 27 Dinner scene. By the Geeks for the Geeks.

On a bit of a sad note, I was disappointed by the number of people who put their names on the wiki but could not make it to the dinner.. but, I guess this is Cape Town.

Planning for the next event should start soon. It seems we already have a name for #5: Eccentric Eggplant. Join the planning mailing list.

See you at the next one.

ps. To the 10 people who won the green frog pirate shirts, Arrr! Frogspeed! (-:

Cape Town Wiki Party

I attended one of the 50 Wiki Paries on Saturday at Deer Park Cafe in Vredehoek. I really enjoyed it.

Nice venue. Nice people. Nice snacks. Nice playground just outside for Mia. Could not stay very long but it was good to see the regulars and meet some new people… Hi Melanie!

See you soon at the GeekDinner.

Today I managed to get a Brother Printer/Scanner working with Ubuntu. Not too painful.. it works well.

September GeekDinner and PBX


Go sign up for the September GeekDinner: a.k.a. Dangerous Drumstick. It’s on Thursday 27 Sept at a very nice venue for spring / early summer overlooking the sea.

Looks like we could be showing off our new Blio PBX at the GeekDinner.. “The first locally manufactured low cost IP PBX”.

We have a meeting to sort out the front panel tomorrow. The device is very close to ready, we’re busy with the EMC testing and the ICASA type approval process at the moment.

I’m off to go listen to a CLUG talk on Open Street Map now.

27 Din Dins

I just returned from the 27 Dinner.

Busy and buzzy. Almost did not get a seat. Some familiar faces, some new faces. Food was OK.
Bit sad there were no new ideas from the speakers, but I’ve realised it’s more about making friends and new connections.

For two 27 dinners in a row I feel like I’ve made new connections at the event. It’s easy to just sit and eat your food, but it takes a bit more effort to find new people you really connect with. The kind of connections where you remember names and you’ll go say Hi if you see them somewhere.

I guess my point is.. it’s a busy room with lot’s of variables, but if I only make one new solid connection I’m happy.

I have a friend who labeled this process of narrowing the variables: “social fly swatting” (-;

One other revelation from tonight.. be nice. You deal with lots of people, sometimes you never meet them but negotiate deals, sometimes there are hiccups, you get annoyed, you act like a brat and give somebody the cold shoulder… the next thing you know you are sitting next to that somebody at a 27 dinner. Small world. Oops.. and I only discovered this right at the end of the dinner while the other person knew exactly who I was right from the start. *grin*

The first thing I did when I got home was read though my (extensive) email archive to see how much of a brat I was and why. I think it rates about a 3/10 on the potential nastiness scale.. so I think I’ll manage to get some sleep… but I’ll try to be nicer to sales people in future.

There was one very painful part towards the end of the talks for the evening.

It’s a good thing I was not drinking.. (though I tasted some of Graham’s new wine designed to be enjoyed with ice).. or I would have had a lot more to say. I’ll limit myself to a quote and one comment.

“I’m tryin’, Ringo. I’m tryin’ real hard to be the shepherd.”
— Jules, Pulp Fiction

Keep the clown on a shorter leash.

ps. Thanks for the cupcake Uno.

Update from the life of Joe

This is one of those bullet point update posts. Seems I’m only really getting time to blog on Sundays at the moment.

  • Amobia and Frogfoot Joburg Office

    We have office space and data-center space in Joburg now and we are busy setting up our network. We’ll start with two /23 networks and the usual recipe of border and aggregation routers, netflow probe, switches and Xen servers. All that remains after that is to setup some VoIP phones and we have a “shake and bake” office ready for the first three or four people.

  • Teraco

    The Teraco data-center project is moving forward. Most of the infrastructure planning and shopping is done. This week involved mostly some spreadsheet jockey work on the financials and finalising the switch fabric design and purchasing. We have some cool 3D rendered views of the floor plan.

    Parts of the design have a bit of theatrical flair (:
    Picture the view walking into the reception area, looking past the plasma screens with all the environmental stats, past the stylish seating, through fire-proof glass (that’s only made in Belgium at about R8k/sqm or something like that) down the main corridor with a uniform view of row upon row of black server cabinets all the way to the back wall. The room is dark and the only light comes from the aircon floor grills. You get the space ship landing-strip picture, right? Now all we need is that movement sensor suspense effect from Aliens. (;

  • Teraco Switch Fabric

    I’ve been spending a fair amount of time looking into Ethernet switch fabric options for the Teraco data-center in the last three/four months. It’s been painful. Most vendors still want to sell you 10yr old technology, ugly spanning tree solutions, mixed layer2/3 complexity for redundancy with very few giving any thought to solid redundant and rapid failure convergance layer2 (only) switching (which you would think is obvious). I consider myself a semi-expert all all the Metro Ethernet lingo and features at the moment.

    I looked at HP, Huawei, Cisco, Extreme, Juniper, Foundry and some lesser brands.

    We have not finalised the switch fabric purchase, so I’ll not say too much, but Extreme has some pretty cool kit. I’ll restrain myself from commenting on the state of the other brand’s offerings.

  • Adobe CS3 Launch

    I attended the launch of Adobe’s new Creative Suite software a week or three back. It was supposed to be some Rock concert theme. They had to go stuff it up with hip hop acts. Why can’t they put a warning on the invite saying: “extremely lame music involved”.

    I did not stay long… but I can say two things..
    1. I’m a bit worried about the monopoly created in the design software world (A+Macromedia)
    2. You get the idea the Apple + DTP/design market is not that big judging from the reseller stands.

  • GeekDinner

    The last GeekDinner at the Wild Fig was a great success. We’re busy planning the next one. The date is set and the venue should be announced soon. Go add your name to the list.

  • Amobia Wireless School Connectivity Project

    The wireless schools project is moving forward. 75 schools have equipment installed. We are in the process of commissioning all the VPN links, adding email services for all the Tuxlabs and adding content on the WAN (like Wikipedia). The last step will be to add Internet access.

  • Looking for Beta testers for our Amobia hotspot product

    Amobia currently has a number of Wifi Hotspots at our Potchefstroom franchise. We recently improved the system with quick signup tools, much nicer looking web interface, credit card and debit order payment options.

    I think we have an interesting business model. It supports franchising, non-variable cost to the end user.. which I think is cool, I don’t want to be guessing which hotspots are ripping me off. It uses a profit sharing model with incentives on traffic usage and sales transactions.

    We have a roaming agreement with Uninet who has about 800 hotspots in Cape Town.

    If you are in Cape Town or Stellenbosch and interested in the hotspot game, contact Amobia.

    I think the Wifi hotspot business is going to be fun in the next few years. Lots of room to innovate with interesting challenges and problems to solve.

  • New Blio FXS/FXO modules

    Blio has completed the design and manufacturing of it’s FXO and FXS PBX modules.
    Yes, they are compatible with the Digium cards, made locally and much (much) cheaper. They will be on the Blio online shop very soon.

    blio module

    The modules are designed for our Blio 1U IP PBX project, which is moving forward nicely. We are currently waiting for the final version of the (primary) “motherboard” PCX to be manufactured. We’ve already sold two PBXs (-:

  • My first Ubuntu install

    You would think that I would have installed Ubuntu before now, but I’ve been a Debian man for the last 10 years. Two weeks ago I was pondering my options for a home PC (not for me).. Apple or Linux. Apple may have resulted in less “Joe the tech support guy” work.. but let’s face it, Apple just don’t have the moral high ground.. so Ubuntu won.

    I paid about 1/4 of the price of an entry level Mac and got more memory and disk space.

    After a minor initial setback with some dodgy Kingston memory I installed Ubuntu 7.04 in about 1 hour (while doing other things) and everything “just worked”.

    Over the weekend I played around with Ubuntu. I’ve never been a Gnome fanboy, but it’s not bad. You can pretty much configure anything with a right-click.

    Oh, and I can report the user(s) are also happy. I’m impressed.

    I think the time has come for the Wintento users to stop bitching and jump ship. If you look back in ten years and you can say “I switched to Ubuntu/Linux in 2007” you may just save a bit of face. Like looking back on very bad fashion choices.. Windows people will have to deal with their children thinking they were complete retards for running Windows after 2007 :-P

    If that statement annoys you no end then I can only grin.

  • My opinion on (not so) recent hype events

    Bullard has half a clue, at least he knows what a blog is. The rest is noise.

    De-Lille is not as far off as you think. I don’t agree with her ideas for fixing the problem, but “digital crack” is a concern. MXit, crackbook, 2nd life, world of warcraft. They all suck up lots of (possibly) productive time.. I guess it’s no worse than a generation of TV addicts, but I don’t think we should ignore the risks. I spent a good part of my life playing Civilization, looking back, I was pretty addicted. I’m not going to comment on her ideas for censoring blogs, ok, I will, she must be smoking socks with high polyester content.

    The aggregator wars… who cares?. Muti is pretty cool, I don’t really see the point in the others.

  • Contemporary music sucks

    Maybe I’m getting old, but my head hurts from the music on kfm and 5fm. Why do they have to play this hip hop crap?. I just picture The Rat dancing to anthems of mindlessness.

    Thank goodness for the sane people at Radio 2000 who still have a clue.

    I’ve realised I can’t listen to the music in the Stellenbosch bars/clubs anymore, I think it’s part of the reason I stopped drinking. It’s just too painful.

  • Google encyclopedia salesmen

    Now that we have Wikipedia, you don’t get door to door encyclopedia salemen anymore right? Kinda, but now we have the Google recruitment army contacting you two or three times a year to offer you jobs. They must have contacted the whole of CLUG by now, but I don’t see anybody flocking to Google. I have my reasons, but I wonder why none of the people I know are interested. I guess in some ways they have attained (do no) evil empire status.

  • Metro Ethernet and Neotel

    We had a meeting with one of the technical people at Neotel last week. They seem to be doing good things. The Metro Ethernet market seems like an exciting ride over the next few years, SNO, municipality projects, more and more interest in digging up roads and putting down fibre. Interesting times for the Internet industry in Cape Town.

  • Trip to, Sweden, England, France, Spain and maybe Prague and California

    Textbook midlife crises stuff.. go run with the bulls in Pamplona.. we’ll see, it’s not my idea, but it could be fun.. I’ll need to get a bit more running fit. I’m trying to plan a trip around my 30th birthday (in July). The catch is combining it with some business trips and nailing down some of the many variables for booking dates. Nothing confirmed yet.

  • Endeavor

    I have a meeting with two people from Endeavor tomorrow morning. They seem to find and support “high impact entrepreneurs” in developing markets. No idea how they tracked me down, but it seems like a bit of an interview of sorts.

Must go to sleep now.

40 Bars of Beer on the Wall

A summary of what I’ve been busy with..

A few bars here, a few bars there.. and pretty soon we’re talking real money.
— Paraphased, Donald Trump

  • Teraco is in a final budgeting phase, it turned out to be an expensive project. Trying to build a fully n+1 redundant switch fabric with about 8000 GigE ports using no spanning tree for less than 10 bars is an interesting challenge. We’re busy with an exercise of knocking off a few bars on the project.
  • Frogfoot and Amobia are planning their Joburg offices
  • Amobia completed it’s Southern Suburbs ring and we have a very cool 3D signal GIS map of our coverage area now
  • Frogfoot’s new 7 seat call-centre is up and running using Ubuntu and SIP soft phones. We have very nice Asterisk and RT (ticket system) integration now. CallerID based ticket generation and ogg voice recordings attached to each ticket
  • It’s crunch time to get our wifi hotspot product finished. It’s a case where the beta product is live and the final touches are needed urgently. We have Radius-proxy/roaming working with one other ISP already
  • WAPA’s new websites are very close to launch
  • We are working on Frogfoot’s new super-duper WordPress driven website with integrated online shop
  • There is a WAPA braai on Friday 25th
  • Frogfoot got more IP space from AfriNIC,, about 8000 IPs
  • Frogfoot’s Portal (web management system) now has all kinds of cool AJAX search features
  • Frogfoot network upgrades.. we have a new Core2Duo Netflow stats server and we’re planning the move to a full Gigabit network for our routers and core switches.. not that we really need it, we move about 10Mbps of traffic trough the day, but it’s nice to have. We also dumped OSPF and we’re using iBGP again.. which is rock solid
  • Figured out how to mass deploy SNOM VoIP phones
  • We had an office lunch on Friday at the Brass Bell in Kalkbay to welcome three new frogs
  • Mia is running around at full speed
  • Don’t forget about the May GeekDinner
  • Pics are at the usual place
  • And lastly, I’ve given up drinking alcohol.. shock, horror. It’s been more than a month now. Interesting social experiment, most people think I’m a bit crazy. My official reason is that it breaks my forward momentum. My one worry is that I’ll end up as a complete neurotic goody-two-shoes.. no McDonnalds, no drinking Coffee, Coke or Alcohol, no TV, no Smoking, no SMS, no Voicemail, no QWERTY keyboards, no Microsoft products.. is this normal?

PS. If you have a few spare bars lying around, we are looking for investment in our projects

PPS. For those who don’t know, 1 bar = R1million, when the big dogs talk money they talk about bars (-;

After some quick Apache tinkering and generating a (free) SSL cert.. we now have:

The idea is to create a shared calendar for social media and geeky events in Cape Town.

There is an iCal calendar file called “cpt.ics”.. for Cape Town geeky social events/meetings. There are only two events in the file at the moment.

If you are an organiser of geeky events in Cape Town, contact me, and I’ll give you access to

You may want to look at my previous post about free software for iCal on Linux and Mac.

Unwinding after the GeekDinner

Sorry Andy, another post about the GeekDinner, well kinda.

At about 17:30 today I figured I needed to get off my Herman Miller cushioned bum and unwind while summer is still here. I walked up Lions Head listening to Amplitude 10 and back down with some Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust ending up on Glen Beach just after sunset. Spectacular sunset. “Cape Town in the summertime and the livin’ is easy”.

Had a four bean salad while reading the new GQ. Very nice illustration work in GQ by the same people who created the FrogPirate Dog.

The usual photos of hot woman, but no hot woman in datacentres. *grin*
Maybe we can write to them about that.

So.. I had some time to think about the GeekDinner since last night.

Mike phoned me this afternoon asking how the GeekDinner went and for some reason he was still a bit unsure if we had completely made peace after our little online food fight. He’s had a bit of a bad innings with criticism of the 27 Dinner and the Blog Awards recently.

Mike.. peace. Keep up the good work. You’ve done a super human amount of good work for the ZA blogging community.

This is a very long build-up to my point.. which is, I think I’ve experienced a bit of negative and lukewarm feedback today.. a path Mike has already walked. There was also plenty of good feedback.. so I figure the people who really like something and the people who really don’t like something will speak up, for the rest it’s just business as usual.

I guess the yapper dogs in the peanut gallery can change the world and start their own revolution or get involved in the movement and shape it. You can’t please everybody and the important lesson is that you should not expect to.

I think the essence of social media is community. You can give the ball the initial momentum but you have no way to control where it goes. Social media seems self perpetuating in some ways. Distributed effort, rough consensus and running code. A very interesting and dynamic system of how ideas rise and fall to feed conversation and inspire action.

The GeekDinner Wiki is now getting a life of it’s own. The GeekDinner planet is active and I think the idea to have a point of aggregation is working well.

Jump in and lets see what evolves out of this. The next GeekDinner should be at the end of May. See you at the 27 Dinner CPT in April.

I wanted the GeekDinner to be Inclusive and Interactive. Based on these very simple goals, I think it was a success. Thanks for showing up.

ps. My pics are here.