London Geek Dinner

Tonight was the "Paul Boag" Geek Dinner. I went to it, and had a great time. Before you read on, I must warn you that this is mainly about me and the people I met, and unless you're one of them, or you're slightly interested in me personally, then there probably won't be much to interest you here. You're free to go.

I met some great new people, and a couple of people I met a year ago at a previous geek dinner. I arrived early, as did a chap called Ryan, and we had a good long chat before the others got there. I didn't catch the name of the guy who is in the position that I was in recently, of being in a job for quite a while, and the role branching off the desired career track, to the point that changing jobs is actually quite hard. Fortunately I found an ideal job, so hopefully he will too. It was interesting talking to Shannon, as she's free to choose anywhere in the world to go to next, settle into and get a job. My life-choices (which I'm totally happy with) mean that I'm staying in Uckfield until further notice, so it was good meeting someone with the exact opposite situation. I'd like to know how that turns out.

The event was superbly arranged by Ian Forrester; who secured us a bar to ourselves, with a tasty-yet-reasonably-priced buffet. The buffet was a great idea, as it was a lot easier to chat to a range of people than it was at previous, sit-down geek dinners. Thanks Ian.

Two people I met briefly at the last geek dinner were present tonight. Last time I was sitting near enough to Nick to hear that he was an ASP.NET developer, but not near enough to have a conversation with him, so I was glad to have a chance to meet him again. We have a slight overlap in interests, as his brother works in the car industry too. I also spoke to Rachel briefly last time, and was very interested to find out that she once was involved in a kangaroo autopsy! I joined Nick and Rachel whilst they were talking with Henry, and the conversation had traversed the what-do-you-do stage, and had moved on to the group-banter stage, so I didn't find out much about Henry.

Paul Boag took the mic and spoke intelligently about the conflict between web standards for accessibility and real-world web developers (i.e. beginners and people who haven't been told that table-based layout isn't accessible). He was humorous and humble, and answered all manner of questions from the floor.

Next was the prize draw, with the fantastic prize of a pass for the SXSW Interactive conference in Texas, with hotel and flights thrown in (by shopzilla). We put our name-tags into a receptacle, and Paul pulled out the winner. Having won a really good book last week from Andy Budd's blog, I knew I wouldn't win this too. Turns out I was wrong. I did win. I'm jolly well going to Texas. Really! This is so exciting for me, as I have a desk job, so I never get to travel to interesting places. I've only spent 3 days in the States before, so being there for nearly a week will be a bonus too. Thanks Ian and Lee for arranging such a great prize, and Paul for picking my name out.

After that, I was in shock, and wasn't much of a conversationalist, so sorry to Ed, Bru and (I think his name was) Mark for not paying much attention to what you were saying. Actually, I did find out that Ed is a youth worker with an organisation that I'd heard of, and used to live in Sussex.

It turns out that Rachel has already booked to go to SXSW, so I'll know someone there too.

I learned some things tonight:
  1. That I'm Microsoft to the core. I saw my very first laptop from a new startup called something like Apple, is it? Anyway, it's got this different operating system right, and the Alt-Tab icons are much nicer. I'll have to look in to this further.
  2. The inside of a kangaroo pouch is skin, not fur.
  3. The guy who I was speaking to a while ago about AJAX, and pronounced it eye-axe wasn't mad, just referring to the football team of the same name (and pronunciation, for that matter). It wouldn't be right if I didn't pick up on a pronunciation.
  4. Geeks look like famous people. There was a Gerry Adams, Kiefer Sutherland and one other who escapes me for the moment.
  5. The geek world is smaller than I thought, and I'm starting to find my way around, and linking areas together.

Anyway, it was a really good evening, and it still would have been good without winning such a fabulous thing. I grinned all the way back on the train. If that wasn't enough, Stephen Fry was on Radio 4 whilst I drove home from the station.

[As an aside, for those that care about this sort of thing, this is my first post using the performancing.com FireFox extension. It's good because it has a Technorati tag box, but bad because I can't find the spell checker (if it has one).]

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24 February 2006