Posts Tagged ‘nerdnite wellington’

nerdnite wellington 5: of hardware, spaceware, brainware and wordware

UPDATE: videos available here, prezis from the talks available here.

18th April at Bodega, Wellington!

More geekery will be delivered to your eagerly-awaiting grey (and white) matter on this most auspicious of Mondays.

nerdnite #5 will cover topics such as antennae, narratives, open hardware and scrabble!

In no particular order, then (since I’m still deciding), may we present the Order of Things to Come!

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Antennas, Everywhere.
Jon Brewer

There are more antennas in New Zealand than there are sheep. Many, many more.

From millimeters long to kilometers across, these little guys touch every part of our lives: communications, electricity, entertainment, food safety, medicine, retail shopping, transportation, and more.

In this talk we’ll walk through the lot of them, with a dive in to how they work, where they’re hiding, and what we’d do without them.

Jon Brewer has spent the last seven years of his life obsessing about antennas.

 

Consciousness and Reality, Story, and Bad SF movies
Jonathan Todd

An exploration of the nature of consciousness and reality, explicated via the nature of the stories we tell ourselves, facilitated by the common nerd-language of bad science fiction movies. Also contains comic books and cosmic gibberish.

Jonathan (Billy) Todd is a writer, musician and filmmaker. No one knows if there is really a person beneath all the hair.

 

Beyond Arduino
David Zanetti

“Beyond Arduino” will be about going a layer lower and learning from the Arduino designs to implement custom embedded electronics, from the perspective of challenges and lessons attempting to a complete self-contained Stratum-1 NTP server board.

David Zanetti has been in and around IT for the past 16 years professionally, and a geek well before that. Most of the time it’s with Open Source systems, and currently as a contractor with a multinational running Open Source systems for a variety of large New Zealand customers.

 

On becoming a Scrabble® nerd
Steven Brown

What does it take to go from being a mere Scrabble player to meriting the designation Scrabble nerd? This talk will touch on a few of the possibilities, including anagrams, algorithms, intellectual property, and more anagrams.

Steven has been involved in club Scrabble for around 18 years, and has been playing in tournaments for almost as long. He has represented New Zealand in the Trans-Tasman Challenge five times (so far), but hasn’t qualified for a World Champs (yet). His day job is not important, but note that his full name anagrams to BRAW GOVERNMENTESE. (It also anagrams to SNOWMEN ABET VERGER or BROWSER AVENGEMENT, but those are not nearly as relevant.)

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Remember, new venue is Bodega. With oodles of room, so bring everyone you know! And yes, it’s still a free event. Because knowledge wants to be shared 🙂

nerdnite wellington 4: of sheep, art, sci-fi and music (or, all the good things)

UPDATE: videos available here

28 February at (new venue!) Bodega in Wellington

We’re back for another evening of geekery!

Nerdnite Wellington #4 – Of sheep, art, sci-fi, and music (or, all the good things)

When: Monday 28 February 2011, from 6pm ’til we’re thrown out

Where: New awesome venue! Bodega at 101 Ghuznee St.wendy

Sign up: Facebook page or @ us on Twitter if you can make it.

As if you needed any further incentive to refuse all other invitations to be doing something on Feb 28th, we’re extremely proud and happy to be announcing our speaker line-up for the night. And wow, but it’s a stunning one.

In a very particular order, then, may we introduce our speakers:

The hardest job in the world and how it got easier

Wendy Allison

Whether we like to admit it or not, New Zealand’s culture was founded on the back of the sheep. These days, even though they still outnumber us ten to one, you’d be hard pressed to find more than one in ten Kiwis that has actually touched a sheep, despite what the Aussies might tell you. Yet there are still people out there who make their living manhandling woolly critters to divest them of their supposedly obsolete fibre. And the burning question in everyone’s mind is “WHY?” In an attempt to answer that question, Wendy Allison will take you through historical and modern developments in sheep shearing technology and explain what manual labourers have to do with high-tech geekery.

Wendy could be described in a lot of ways and has done a lot of things due to a tendency towards being a hedonistic experience junkie. She has been known to shear the occasional sheep.

The secret life of graff

Jan Thomas

Graffiti is highly present in our modern cities and lives, design, fashion etc, but there are many aspects of graffiti that the average citizen doesn’t know about – which is what Jan shed some light on. His talk will cover subjects such as the type of people that do graffiti, what their lives are like, how the graff community works, the legal side of things and the de facto omerta (code of honour) that exists among graff peoples.

Jan’s day job involves being a Project Manager/Business Analyst for web companies, while his night job involves, well, all sortsa interesting things. Also, he’s German: a fact about which he’s got used to being consistently teased.

The Tea Hypothesis

Geoff Palmer

Geoff will consider the hypothesis that “If programmers are devices for converting coffee into code, then writers are devices for converting tea into text”. Using his latest book as an example – Too Many Zeros, published by Penguin, January 31 – he will present detailed data on the process and include a number of escritorial insights for the algorithmically inclined.

Geoff Palmer is a freelance computer consultant and Qantas Media Award winning technology writer based in Wellington. You’ll find him in the pages of NZ PC World, blogging as Tux Love on their website, and in Wikipedia masquerading as a former Prime Minister of New Zealand.

A Succession of Repetitive Beats: The history and culture of electronic music

Will Marshall

Electronic music has been around since the early 1900s, and has become in a variety of forms the dominant type of music produced today. Will will (heh) discuss some of the technology important to the development of modern electronic music, the basics of rave/festival culture, the relationship between DJs and Producers, and the history and musicology of modern electronic music.

Will is a psybreaks and tech-funk DJ, a producer, a festival organiser and stealth raver. He’s a member of Enspiral.com and has been known to write software for money.

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Remember, all, we have a BRAND NEW venue! With space not only for your friends, families, enemies, favourite ETs and other animals, but for your kitchen sink, too! (Although that last is not an absolute requirement, of course).

And, because there is such a thing as goodness in the world, the event’s still free. Come drink with us!

Or, in the words of the unofficial nerdnite tagline, “It’s like the Discovery Channel…with beer!”

Have questions? Get in touch with us on Twitter or fill out the Contact form and our nerd monkeys will pound on a keyboard and get back to you.

nerdnite wellington 3: in which we explore tragedies, games, brains, and stars!

UPDATE: Prezis from the talks are available here.

29 November at Betty’s in Wellington

We’re back for another evening of geekery!

Nerdnite Wellington #3 – In which we explore tragedies, games, brains, and stars!

When: Monday 29 November, from 6pm ’til we’re thrown out

Where: Betty’s at 32 Blair Street, Wellington

Sign up: Facebook page or @ us on Twitter if you can make it. Or you can email us.

In a very particular order, then, may we introduce our speakers:

Finity: Confronting Limits

Colin Jackson

There’s an economic concept called “The Tragedy of the Commons”. The notion is that people will rationally use the a free common good or service rather than their own resources. It’s usually framed in terms of grazing in English villages, but a really extreme example is what happened on Easter Island. (I have pictures) This leads to some economic theory on the best way to ration resources, that essentially says privatising public spaces in the right thing to do. I will then attempt to show that this analysis misses several points about how people behave in the real world, and in particular that so-called intellectual property is the misguided bastard offspring of voodoo economics. Not that I’m taking a position, you understand 🙂 I will end with the reflection that it’s a shame that governments can cooperate to restrict access to resources that are genuinely free to copy, but can;t agree how to ration limited physical resources like atmospheric carbon or tuna.

Colin’s been around internet stuff in Wellington for some time. And he’s been on radio.

Fever Pong: A (cautionary?) tale of videogame addiction (NOTE: THIS TALK WAS CANCELLED)

Alan Bell

Alan reminisces on the impact gaming has had on him and the people around him as the two grew up together.

Alan Bell is a passionate Videogame nerd. He’s been playing them since they existed and he clutters up his tiny house with thousands of the things, as if in some sort of test of both his wife’s patience and how high you can stack the different types before they fall over. In addition to playing them, he writes about them for a living and even spend nearly 7 years making them – some of which even won awards.

Unraveling the brain one step at a time

Fabiana Kubke

Why do some scientific ideas take off and some don’t? Many times it just has to do with what technology is available at the time to explore them. While rummaging through old issues of the scientific literature it is not hard to find many questions that just sit there waiting for the right technology to show up.

In neuroscience, developments in optics and electronics were crucial to advance our understanding of how the brain works. And as new technologies emerge, they continue to challenge the way we think about the brain. I will explore how microscopes, electrodes, chips and brain machine interfaces make us change our understanding of the brain.

Fabiana Kubke is a neuroscientist at the University of Auckland where she studies brain evolution. She blogs in at Building Blogs of Science, and exists as Kubke pretty much everywhere else around the web.

The Art of Astronomy in Aotearoa

Paul Moss

Paul will discuss the transition of sharing historical astronomical spaces to creating new astronomical spaces to share. The talk will cover traditional astronomy events and the explosion of new astro style eventing brought about with social networks, music and video, art, culture and environmentalism. Moving from the cave, stone circles, the observatory with telescope, planetariums, astro societies, to the art gallery, the street, the south coast, music and cultural festivals, the world, to the Forest, and finally to Stonehenge Aotearoa.

Paul Moss is a ‘New Media’ artist, specialising in astro-photography and astro-video, for entertainment and illustrative purposes, art gallery installations, and has been published in many newspaper and magazine articles, CD covers, posters, calendar’s/almanac’s, including the NZ award winning book, ‘Astronomy Aotearoa’. Paul organises events with telescopes on the street and live music performances, runs camera crews for video screens at major music and cultural festivals, and performs on occasion as vj, dj and dubmaster moza. Paul was awarded a global gold medal for ‘Most Outstanding Individual’ for record breaking astronomy events IYA2009.

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The event’s free, and we urge you to bring your friends, enemies, pets and favourite extraterrestrials. Come drink with us!

Or, in the words of the unofficial nerdnite tagline, “It’s like the Discovery Channel…with beer!”

Have questions? Get in touch with us on Twitter or fill out the Contact form and our nerd monkeys will pound on a keyboard and get back to you.

nerdnite wellington 2: in which we explore geoengineering, stories, witchcraft, and food

20 September at Betty’s in Wellington

We’re back for another evening of geekery!

Nerdnite Wellington #2 – In which we explore geoengineering, stories, witchcraft, and food!

When: Monday 20 September, from 6pm ’til we’re thrown out

Where: Betty’s at 32 Blair Street, Wellington

Sign up: Facebook event or @ us on Twitter if you can make it. Or you can email us.

In a very particular order, then, may we introduce our speakers:

Geoengineering — What could possibly go wrong?

Dr. Jez Weston

Climate change looks to be a hard problem to solve, thus numerous technological fixes have been suggested to control warming by engineering the entire global weather system. Some of these fixes have been proposed by engineers who were mildly drunk; some have been proposed by engineers who were very, very drunk. I will be reviewing several proposals and suggesting a framework for assessing the degree of inebriation of the proposer.

Dr Weston used to be a rocket scientist, but the rocket exploded. He now works for Al Gore’s secret communist conspiracy to set up a One World Government and crush all of your hopes and dreams by making you insulate your house. He has been described as part of a “harem of whores, substituting politically correct theology for science” with an agenda of “not enlightenment and progress but a return to the pre-industrial Dark Ages”.

In space, no one can hear you sing

Leonie Reynolds

Traditional Hollywood storytelling structure explained with reference to Alien and The Sound of Music.

Leonie Reynolds writes words that turn into pictures, and others that don’t. She agrees with Jean-Luc Godard that cinema is truth at twenty four frames a second (except for the truth part).

The history of modern witchcraft

Polly

Once upon a time in the 1954, a man named Gerald Brousseau Gardner wrote a book Called “Witchcraft Today”.  In this book Old Gerald posited that witches had existed throughout the ages and that, while they had been pretty much suppressed by the Church, a strain of this ancient witchcraft had survived down through the ages, and, further, that he had discovered the remnants of  a living coven in the Black Forests of England, into which he had been initiated. He was wrong! But he is responsible for the ‘revival’ of witchcraft and the Modern Pagan Movement, sort of.

Polly has a degree with honours and most of a masters in Religious studies.  Her topic of geekyness is about the modern pagan movement from the 1950s to the present day, and she is also a practicing Witch (after 15 or so years you’d think she would have it right but yes, she’s still practising).

Tuesday Night Dinner: People having dinner together

Mike Eastwood (aka Tuesday Night Mike)

Tuesday Night Mike has opened his home, every Tuesday night, for a ‘pot-luck dinner party’ since 1999.

You will hear how Tuesday Night Dinners accidentally started, why they are still happening 11 years on, and what could happen from here. Mike will share stories about food, martinis and people who have contributed to this random and magical phenomenon in Wellington.

In the real world Mike Eastwood is a web geek who runs a small web design and development company. When he’s not cooking, eating, drinking and telling stories he’s probably still doing dishes with a smile on his face.

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The event’s free, and we urge you to bring your friends, enemies, pets and favourite extraterrestrials. Come drink with us!

Or, in the words of the unofficial nerdnite tagline, “It’s like the Discovery Channel…with beer!”

Have questions? Get in touch with us on Twitter or fill out the Contact form and our nerd monkeys will pound on a keyboard and get back to you.

nerdnite wellington 1: in which we explore past and future, politics and transport modes

UPDATE: videos available here

Nerdnite Wellington 1 – In which we explore past and future, politics and transport modes.

Nerdnite has finally gone Southern Hemisphere, and Wellington’s proud (and not at all terrified, honest) to be its hosting city.

When: Monday 2 August, from 6pm ’til we’re thrown out

Where: Betty’s at 32 Blair Street, Wellington

Sign up: Facebook event or @ us on Twitter if you can make it. Or you can email us.

For our inaugural event, we offer to you, our guests, a heady mix of politics, space, history and futurism.

In a very particular order, then, may we introduce our speakers:

Motorised Vehicle Technology and Trends, 1910 and beyond

Daniel Spector

Though the first so-called “Automobiles” were imported to New Zealand in 1898, it is only in the last few years that self-propelled motor vehicles has truly passed out of the experimental stage and into practical reality.

Freshly back from the motorcar race season of 1912 and the opening of the world’s first “brick track” at Indianapolis in the USA, Mr Spector of Thorndon (Ex San Francisco) will spend a few minutes discussing the current technology regarding motorcars and motorcycles and possible future directions for self propelled vehicles.

Mr Spector also promises to be equipped with pictures to be displayed via a projection scope.

Daniel Spector is an adventurer, raconteur and eccentric gearhead from a previous century.

Achieving orbit with style, verve and imagination

Chelfyn Baxter

Riding atop an enormous, barely controlled explosion is a very brutal, inelegant solution to the problem of achiving orbit. I will be looking at a few more creative ways of getting things into space.

Chelfyn’s career has been a verb, not a noun. He animates, codes, writes and plays music, though usually not all at the same time.

<<a treatise on copyright in New Zealand>>

Matthew Holloway

<<details to come>>

Consciousness, AGI, and the Singularity

Joel Pitt

Can computers think? Can they be conscious? This talk will hopefully convince that yes they can, or at least: if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then debating whether the duck actually exists is mostly pointless.

Artificial General Intelligence is a branch of AI that focuses on creating agents that can reason an act in an uncertain world (a bit like we do). OpenCog is an open source AGI framework that Joel has spent the last several years being a lead developer on. He’ll share some of the stuff he does and explain the ideas of the technological singularity and the challenge of AI friendliness (AKA “how to avoid SkyNet”), as well as share how learning about cognition has shaped the way he lives his life.

Joel Pitt is a crazy mad scientist, software engineer, hacker, DJ and transhumanist. He contributes to a handful of OSS, got his PhD from Lincoln University, and is the board secretary for the worldwide transhumanist association “Humanity+”.

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The event’s free, and we urge you to bring your friends, enemies, pets and favourite extraterrestrials. Come drink with us!

Or, in the words of the unofficial nerdnite tagline, “It’s like the Discovery Channel…with beer!”

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