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!

Luckily the wine does make you loosen up a bit and after a while a Japanese girl, called Yoshime, came up to me and we started talking. We found out we had a couple of stuff in common; besides of course being girl geeks, we were both interested in artificial intelligence and more specifically emotion recognition. I hope we’ll stay in contact, because she was really nice.

Then the speaker of that night, Jinesh Varia from Amazon, came over to me and Cristiano. We told him about the Virtual Bookshelf program that we once made for the course Design of Highly Interactive Systems. It was a program to orgranize your books in actual visual bookshelves. All you had to do was enter the ISBN of a book and the program would collect all the data (title, author, bookcover image) from Amazon. The Amazon guy was quite interested and said he would like to see it one time. Before we could reply that the program was never completed and should be re-implemented (we used Java + Jogl, which wasn’t really a success), it was announced that the presentation would start.

It was quite interesting; the guy explained about the new Web Services that Amazon provided. It only went on a bit too much. I think, he was talking for more then an hour, while he should have stopped much sooner.

After that, I spoke to a guy from Google. Turned out, he was also an Australian, but living here for almost two years. I tried to explain my weird nationality/parentage/whatever (Australian + Indonesian blood, officially only Australian, but just got the Dutch nationality), but I don’t think he really understood it all. Then two girls came over; one was the friend of the Google guy and wanted to introduce the other girl to him, because she was also Australian. Then two other guys from Google came over and one of them also Australian. Well, only half. He was kind of like me; he only lived 7 years in Australia, the rest of his life in Germany. I started talking to the other Google guy about what I was doing now for my research. He then asked if I would be interested in working at Google once I was graduated. I explained that at the moment I really don’t know what I want to do, but that I could have the possibility of doing a Phd. He answered that a Phd is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and that if you can do it, do it. Afterwards I got his business card, which was definetly quite cool.

By then is was already 22:45 and a lot of people had left. The only problem was we still hadn’t had dinner. I’m not sure if we just didn’t see the food or if there wasn’t any there. I think there was though, otherwise they wouldn’t call it a dinner, right?

I’m definitely going to the next Girl Geek Dinner. Let’s just hope they do have an actual dinner next time!