Geekzone 06 draws tech-savvy crowd

Stunned audience watches succesful Vista speech recognition demo

The Geekzone 06 meeting in Wellington last Saturday was a sell-out event featuring speakers such as local technology entrepreneur Rod Drury of Aftermail and Trade Me fame and Jay Templeton of home entertainment and IPTV boutique start-up Mabode.

It was the second annual Geekzone meeting, organised by Mauricio Freitas, who is the webmaster and developer of the eponymous website. Held at Wellington's oldest cinema, the Paramount, the event was characterised by deep geek topics, live demos and lively audience participation.

The speakers were grilled thoroughly by a knowledgeable audience, and generally kept on a short leash. Amongst the more fascinating issues presented on the evening was Mabode's conundrum of how to transport roughly 2TB of data from a house to a car and then from the car to a boat, and from the boat to a house on the other side of the Cook Straits.

Open Source got an outing as well, with Jethro Carr from Wellington's Linux Users Group providing insights into the Penguin OS.

Computerworld was represented at Geekzone 2006, with Juha Saarinen talking about legal issues that are increasingly cropping up for online forums and bloggers, as well as getting the third degree on what it's like being a tech journalist.

Nathan Mercer of Microsoft was the bravest speaker of the day. Despite having a cold and Microsoft's previous disastrous attempt at demonstrating speech recognition in Windows Vista, Mercer fearlessly donned a headset and succesfully commanded Microsoft's forthcoming OS with his voice.

Overall, Geekzone 06 was characterised by the largely tech-savvy audience interested in the practical aspects of what was being presented — sales talk and advocacy was mercifully absent.

Next year, Freitas hopes to draw a bigger crowd but says the challenge will be to preserve the good atmosphere of this year's meeting.

(Saarinen's own Techsploder blog can be found on Geekzone — Ed)

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