Upcoming London Geek Events

December 4th, 2008

I’ve been asked a couple of times to blog about the events that I’m organizing for the London Geek Dinners. So here’s a quick repeat of three of our upcoming December events:

Mini-GeekDinner: The Death of Reading

The days are getting shorter, the air is getting colder and the fleeting strains of Christmas songs are right around the corner. One last mini GeekDinner before the end of the year! 

This time our guest will be Adrian Hon, Chief Creative Officer at Six to Start. He is one of the main designers and producers behind Perplex City, the world’s first commercially successful ARG (Alternate Reality Game) and has since then been at the forefront of ARG development. This time though Adrian will give us a talk on “The Death of Reading”. 

Again the venue will be our regular Hummus Bros in Holborn at 18:30, with the talk starting between 19:30-20:00. Food will be on a get your own basis, so no need to pay online. If you’re running late and can’t find us at the Holborn place anymore, we’ve probably moved on to the pub down the street.

When: Wednesday, December 10th 2008 18:30
Where: Hummus Bros in Holborn

Speaker: Adrian Hon from Six to Start
Topic: The Death of Reading
Cost: Food and drinks on buy your own basis

Please RSVP on our signup site if you are coming, there is only limited seating.

BBC Backstage Christmas Bash

BBC Backstage is teaming up with most London and Manchester communities to hold two Christmas parties. We will be drinking, having fun, and probably make a fool of ourselves on the dance floor. Will you join us?

Tickets have been really popular and they’ve now run out of standard tickets. But don’t worry! Ticket holders have priority and a guaranteed entry, but basically if by 8pm the venue isn’t full (there’s always a certain number of people who register and can’t make it or just stay for one drink), they’re allowing people to turn up at the door.

For more information, check out the event page.

London Geek Meet 3: Cold War Modern

Again another London Geek Meet! And again something a bit different. This time we’ll be going to the Victoria & Albert Museum for their special Cold War Modern exhibition. Here’s the description about the exhibition from their site:

This period from the end of the Second World War to the mid 1970s was a period of great political tension and exceptional creativity which touched all aspects of life, from everyday products to the highest arenas of human achievement in science and culture. Art and design were not peripheral symptoms of politics during the Cold War: they played a central role in representing and sometimes challenging the dominant political and social ideas of the age.

I’ve heard a lot of good things about this exhibition, including the fun and mysterious promotion of it through The 7th Syndikate. And thanks to the guys at 1000heads we’ve gotten 10 free tickets to share with you all!

To make it fair though, we won’t be giving these tickets away. Our idea is this: depending on the amount of people who sign up, the cost of the extra tickets that have to be bought, will be split over all people who attend. So if 15 people sign up, everybody pays £3 (£9*5/15). If you are interested in coming, emailmseckington@gmail.com. This is absolutely necessary, because we’ll probably have to book tickets for a specific time slot.

Because not everyone has been to the Victoria & Albert Museum before, we thought it would be a great opportunity to also see the rest of the museum. We’ll meetup at 11:00 before the entrance in Cromwell Road. If you’re only interested in the Cold War Modern exhibition, we’ll have a second meet-up point at 14:00 inside the musuem in the hall before the exhibition. 

When: Sunday, December 14th
Time: 11:00 for main museum, 14:00 for Cold War exhibition only
WhereVictoria & Albert Museum
Nearest Tube: South Kensington
Activity: Museum exhibition
Cost: Food and coffee on buy your own basis, tickets depending on how many people sign up (won’t be more than £7 per person though)

Sign up by sending an email to mseckington@gmail.com.

It’s exactly three weeks ago that we held this dinner, but I still wanted to dedicate a short blog post to it. Cause it was the first Geek Dinner I’ve actually partly organized. I’ve helped a bit with previous events, but never anything that required too much work (or stress) on my behalf. This time I arranged the venue and food, and on the day itself kept track of all the attendees and payments. You’d think it wouldn’t be too much work, but with over 70 guests (!) I was kept busy the entire dinner.

Geek Dinner with The Moo Crew

Photo by Craig Murphy

After our previous (regular) venue kind of screwed us over, we were forced to find a new location. Now finding a Geek Dinner venue isn’t as easy as it may seem, cause we need quite a lot of flexibility. For starters, we don’t want to pay for the venue, so it has to have free room hire. Then the food can’t be too expensive. Plus, we never are really sure until the day itself (and even then it remains a rough estimate) of the number of people that are coming. Which for a lot of venues is a problem, cause they want to order the food at least a week beforehand. Besides that we really need a separate room, not some balcony or back part of a pub, cause otherwise nobody can hear the speaker. So yeah, pretty specific. (Btw, if anyone knows any other good venues in central London, please let me know. Any suggestions are always appreciated.)

Geek Dinner with The Moo Crew

Photo by Craig Murphy

Purely by accident, I stumbled on the Thai Smile restaurant, situated above a pub, close to Holborn. And they did exactly what we wanted. They were even fine with me phoning the numbers through a couple of hours before it started. The food was about 8 pounds per person and almost everybody thought it was delicious (I at least didn’t get any complaints). We’re definitely going to go back there, cause they did exactly everything we needed.

The Moo crew talk was great; they hadn’t prepared a real presentation, they just explained the origins of their company and then accepted questions from all the guests. There were some cool little moments, like Moo was first called ‘PleasureCards’ and, while talking about the Moo.com url: ‘The cows were annoyed’. Ciaran’s got a short video of part of it up on Qik (quality isn’t that super, but it’s better than nothing). Cristiano also made a timelapse of the entire evening:

GeekDinner with Moo Timelapse from Cristiano Betta on Vimeo.

It was a great event and I’m glad it went so well. I was pretty much busy the whole time, but I guess that’s the price you pay for volunteering for these type of events. If we don’t organize it, who will? That being said though, do contact me if you want to help out; the more people that get involved, the more events we can organize!

One last question: what would you think of a GeekDinner hosted Chocolate Party (your “entrance fee” is a box of chocolates)?

London Girl Geek Dinner 19

March 29th, 2008

I’m doing this the wrong way around, aren’t I? First blogging about an event from yesterday and then about an event from two days before that. Heck, if I have time, I might even blog about Barcamp Brighton 2, even though that’s been already two weeks ago.

Anyhow, last Tuesday I made my way to the 18th Girl Geek Dinner, this time held at The Knights Templar. The main theme was SEO (search engine optimisation) with all speakers supposedly talking on this subject. Juddith “deCabbit” Lewis held a great talk explaining the basics of SEO. It was actually an hour long presentation she uses for her clients, cut down to only 15 minutes. I would have liked to hear the full talk, cause that would have been so much more interesting than the stuff that came after that.

Girl Geek Dinner 18 by Cristiano Betta

The second talk was from Sheila Farrell about Semantic Markup and Organic SEO. I don’t want to be too harsh, but seriously all I remember from this talk was “tables are bad, tables are bad, it’s geeky to use tables (??), but tables are bad”. The third presenter was McVitte, the CEO of Texperts, talking about the mobile search perspective. Texperts is a mobile search SMS service that allows users to text a question to a (human) team of experts who text the answer back. The talk was okay, but wasn’t as technical as I was hoping it would be.

The food was sponsored by Latitude and as sponsors they were allowed to give a small 5 minute business talk. I have to applaud them though for foregoing the marketing pitch and just wishing us a good time. We need more sponsors like that! There was more than enough food (mainly fried finger food) and by the end most platters weren’t even finished. The wine on the other hand went very quickly, although most people only had one glass. I shouldn’t complain; it’s better than having to pay yourself.

Girl Geek Dinner 18 by Cristiano Betta

The main problem with this event was the venue. While The Knights Templar is a great pub, it’s not quite suitable to hold an event like this. We were in two small upstairs rooms, but upstairs meant half a level higher in a sort of balcony overlooking the rest of bar with all the hassle and noise reaching us. Yeah, that’s not that great when you have an event with speakers.

Next to that, the two rooms were connected with a small dark doorway and the presenters were forced to stand somewhere in the middle, so that people in both rooms could kind of see them talk (actually from where I was sitting I didn’t see anything). The rooms were supposed to fit 50 people, which might have been able if everyone was standing and all the tables were moved aside. As it was though (with everyone sitting at the tables) there wasn’t that much space at all; I barely left my seat only because there wasn’t any room to maneuver around.

Girl Geek Dinner 18 by Cristiano Betta

It wasn’t the best Girl Geek Dinner I’ve been to, but as usual it was great fun meeting up with some old friends and some new friends. The next Girl Geek event is going to be a joint Geek Dinner and Girl Geek Dinner event with a surprise mystery speaker on April 26th [Upcoming]. Before that though is another Geek Dinner event on April 7th with David Terrar with a talk about creativity and the current education system [Upcoming]. So set the dates in your calendars, people, and I’ll see you there next time!

London Girl Geek Coffee 1

March 28th, 2008

The idea of a London Girl Geek Coffee had been spinning in my head for a couple of weeks, but I never had the time or effort to actually organise it. While talking to Emma during the Girl Geek Dinner last Tuesday, she took matters into her own hands and on the spot created an event on Upcoming for two days later aka: yesterday.

So yesterday in the late afternoon the first Girl Geek Coffee took place at the Starbucks inside the Espirit on Regent Street. It was a small gathering with 5 Girl Geeks, including Emma and me, showing up. For a good two and a half hours we chatted and sipped our Lattes, Mochas and Espressos. The topics covered a wide range of things, from TV shows to university life to geek chic clothes (I’m thinking of cutting up conference swag T-shirts and turning them into minidresses).

Girl Geek Coffee

The coffee was lovely, but the location this time wasn’t that great. It’s normally quite nice (I’ve used it as a work cafe a couple of times), but now they had turned up the heater quite high and it was just too warm to sit there comfortably. Next to that there was another group (of about 6 people) who decided to meet up there and they were as loud and as annoying as you can get. Next time we’ll have to find another location (if you have any suggestions, email me).

All in all, the first London Girl Geek Coffee was a succes and we’re definitely going to hold more in the future. I’m thinking we should hold this event every other week, so the next one would be Thursday over two weeks (April 10th). In the future we’ll have an actual Girl Geek Coffee site (maybe something together with the Geek Dinners, Geek Werewolf and I’d like to see Geek Poker), but for now if you want to join us keep an eye on this blog and Upcoming for the next event.

London Girl Geek Dinner 16

September 27th, 2007

I just got back from the 16th London Girl Geek Dinner and as the previous times it was great fun. Now this is the 5th time I’ve been to a Girl Geek Dinner, but the first time I’m actually blogging about it. Why? Well, mainly because I’m too lazy or too tired when I get home from such an event. Then by the time I remember I should have blogged about it, we’re a couple of days further and the specifics are quickly fading from my memory. This time, however, I’m forcing myself to take a couple of seconds minutes to sit down and write about it.

At this evening’s event the sponsors and speakers were from Astraware and fancyapint.com. We were told beforehand to bring along any Windows Mobile or Palm OS devices to get lots of lovely free games. So, I dusted off my old Palm Zire 31 (including 6 brilliant scratched areas on the screen from playing too much TextTwist) and brought it merrily with me. Only to discover that (ofcourse) all the games they had were too “new”. In other words, the resolution of my poor old Palm was way too low. We did manage to beam one game over, so I at least got one freebie.

The speakers mostly talked about how many women were working within Astraware and how it was for a woman to work there. One of the female developers told us how she got the job and what she does within the company. They also gave away a cool VIP pass for their website (=lifetime free Astraware games) for the person with the most gadgets, which unfortunately I didn’t win, because I didn’t want to lug around a heavy bag today. FYI, the gadgets I had with me are: laptop, Palm, Nintendo DS and iPod Nano. The ones I didn’t have with me, but I usually do: 2 mobile phones (one with English Sim card, one with Dutch), external harddisk and camera.

Next to that, I met (and re-met) quite a couple of fellow girl geeks and had some great geeky discussions with them, covering social networks and programming languages to the more serious stuff as fanfiction, scifi/fantasy books, films and Doctor Who. One more thing to note: the food. There were 10 large platters of food, for “only” 40 people. Did they really think that all that food would be eaten? I’m not complaining, just observing that the amount was kind of overestimated.

As always it was great a evening and (as always) I’m looking forward to the next one. It’s planned for the 9th of October and will be sponsored by HP. If you’re interested, you can find all the details on Upcoming.

London Girl Geek Dinner

February 22nd, 2007

Yesterday I went together with Cristiano to my very first Girl Geek Dinner. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but it turned out to be really fun. It was held at the Balls Brothers bar near St Paul’s Cathedral, a very cute old-fashioned bar that was situated underground. When we arrived, there were already quite some people. The first half a hour I kind of just stood there, looking around, sipping the free wine and talking only to Cristiano. I’m not really the type to just go over to strangers and start talking to them!