GeekDinner, Johannesburg June 2008
I attended my first GeekDinner (the second one in JHB) this weekend. It was more of a "GeekLunch", starting at 14:00 in the afternoon, although some people hung around until late that night. The venue was Yusuf's house, with his wife Shehnaaz providing the awesome food. I arrived just after 14:00, one of the first to arrive, and the others trickled in over the course of the next hour or so. Yusuf was up first, speaking about the pervasive problems with CSS, and how in many ways it represents a step sideways or backwards relative to what came before it. I went next, slidelessly rambling on a bit about the history of scale in computing, before moving on to a more detailed description of the scaling architecture we've chosen to employ for our application. We broke for lunch then, and then resumed with Dominic talking about CSRF/XSS attacks, browser hijacking, and ways to protect yourself against the aforementioned. That brought the presentations to an end (they were each about 30 minutes long), but everyone stayed for a while, hung out / chatted, and generally had a good time.
The atmosphere was very relaxed and friendly, and with such a small group it was easy to take questions from the audience, so none of the presentations turned into a complete monologue. This was my first time presenting tech-related material like this, and I hadn't really prepared (I only volunteered on the mailing list a few days before the event); I don't think I did too badly, but some pretty slides and more preparation would have been nice. Answering questions from the audience was awesome, though; it's always good to know you haven't completely lost everyone.
All in all, it looks like we're definitely on-track for a thriving GeekDinner JHB event; I think the key will be to let things evolve naturally, rather than trying to shoehorn things forcibly into a canned recipe provided by someone else.