London geekdinner with dave shea last night was fantastic

Dave Shea and Me at the Geekdinner

Ok this feels kind of weird talking about my own successes but honestly last nights geekdinner with dave shea was only one word. Yep, Fantastic! I could not have got a better more friendly crowd of geeks in a bar. Thank you to everyone who came along and made it a great success. I spoke to so many people and I can't remember everyones name. But it does not matter because Flickr will do the work for me. This women had the clever idea to get everyone to put up there pictures using the tag . You can also find pictures using londongeekdinner and geekdinner. If you're a flickr type you can also add your photos to the london geekdinner with shea group pool which I have setup.

Flickr tags go offline?

Ian has got some great pictures from the night and a pretty full transcript of the Question and Answers session with Dave Shea. I'm pretty amazed how fast he was able to put this up and that he got all the audience discussion too. Kudos to you Ian. I hope you don't mind that I stole your picture from the website but I did change the licence to Copyright (all rights reserved) and did give you attribution for such a great picture.

There were a couple of complaints but as Sheila and Jen said, Geeks may have the trait of being perfectionists. So the first thing was the venue. I forgot to say the geekdinner was actually upstairs in the crown and anchor, so thats my own fault. But although the venue was is a whole different class from the Hogs head, the space available was about the same. Sheila commented that my spacial awareness was pretty bad, which would be kind of consistent with what Sarah says too. So as you can guess we quickly ran out of room. I only honestly assumed about 50 people would turn up which is still an increase of about 20% from the last one I did with the simply amazing Molly. I counted with the help of the stickers which I ran out of really quickly (sorry to those who turned up late) exactly 68 people. And I noticed some people turned up really late, Dave Green included. So in total we may have had about 75 people but at one point we had 68 in a venue which should hold a maximum of 60. The bar staff did at one point ask me if I was expecting even more people? I have to say I lied. Because of the huge amount of people, my estimate for food to per head was off and I only got food by nicking it off other peoples plates. Someone told me there were sandwiches, spring rolls, etc. But I didn't see any of it. All I got was Chips and some nice sweet chilli sauce.

To be fair to everyone I have to explain what happened. I look at the signups on, eventful, dave sheas blog and upcoming. Then work out a rough number of people who are coming and take off about 10-12 people for last minute drop outs. I usually give the kitchen the numbers as late as possible, in this case last week Wednesday. And as luck would have it, a load of people signed up after Thursday night at the girlgeekdinner. Other things which people commented during the night. The one bar person when there was easily enough demand for two, to be fair this changed about 8pm but it was certainly easier to get a drink downstairs and bring it back up. The sound level was loud simply because there were so many people in a small venue, I think Jen Dixon said I was loosing my voice half way through the night. Was the food as good as the hogs head? someone asked. And lastly charging 6 pounds was a stupid idea (thats how much the food costs) because everyone gives me 10 or 5 pounds.

Ok end of complaints, generally I'm going to solve most of the problems by simply moving to a even better venue. Its called the polar bear and is located between Leicester Square and China town. It holds about 150 people max but I will never go for a event which holds more than 80 because it looses its personal and friendly touch when so many people are grouped into a room. Last night although being slighly cramp, the atmosphere was still friendly and fun.

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Weird seeing my name in NTK still

NTK now

This months Event queue in NTK has this block of text

…Negotiations are afoot to snag one or more of them for another London GEEK DINNER, though in the meantime Ian Forrester is trying out a slightly more upmarket venue for January’s soiree with DAVE “CSS Zen Garden” SHEA (7pm, Mon 2006-01-23, The Crown and Anchor, 22 Neal St, London WC2H 9PS, UKP6 for buffet). And for anyone who considers an evening discussing web standards “not quite geeky enough”…

Its still kind of weird although its happened a couple of times now. Cheers Dave for the heads up. I must have missed it because NTK does not do full text RSS still. Yeah I know some of the reasons why, but come on… come on make it happen.

Anyway I wanted to also say before going to bed early tonight (3am) do get your name on or Eventful. I’m actually wondering if we will break the maximum capacity of 70 people with this geekdinner. I have the option of moving the venue to the polar bear near Leicester Square if we do go over 70 people. Oh and one more thing, if your around in London and not doing much before the geekdinner, be sure to check out Dave Shea’s plans to go around the Tate modern with a few geeks. I would go myself, but I have to work till after 5pm, before hot trotting it to the Geekdinner to put up signs and sort out name badges. Yep name badges are back, be afraid… very afraid… *smile*

I’ve been thinking, I should share some of the so called secrets to the geekdinners and events I’ve done so far. I’m not one of those people seeking to be a A-class blogger and am more of a sharer than holder

So first things, about a year ago I was going to events which honestly I felt could be done better. So I did. How do I get the guests which I do? Well in my own experience its friends of friends and keeping an eye on guests blogs. See if you see someones in town for a short period, its a good idea to write them a nice email asking if they would be interested in taking part in your event. I always see these emails as the start of a conversation and maybe a way to plan something next time around. Hey and theres nothing wrong with a good conversation with a good person. Oh yeah and its worth pointing out that I’m quite picky with the guests. I’m tending to lean towards people who are geeky but are interesting. Molly was the perfect guest, but Dave could be better still.

How do I sort out the money? Well I tend to have events during the week which means you can get a venue for almost free, but you need to pay for the food. Most places do buffet type food and charge anything between 1 pound and 30 pounds a head. I tend to prefer the lower end of the scale because to be honest, you can get a ok resturant meal in London for 15 pounds per head. So why would you pay so much for a buffet? I also only charge as much as the buffet costs and wait as long as possible before giving a exact figure for people eating. How do I know how many people there will be? Well I usually count how many unique comments the geekdinner blog gets, then take away about 15 people for people who may not turn up. I also check out other Eventful, Upcoming and Delicious to see how many people have added it or suggested they will be going. Then obviously I look around Google, Technorati and Blogdiggers Blog searchs to see if there is buzz for the geekdinner and see if I’ve missed anyone, A combination of these things usually works for me. This also means the money I get on the door goes straight back on the food and venue. Worst comes to worst I will only loose about a bit of money.

Whats the deal with other geekdinners? Well I dont own, actually Lee Wilkins does and he still does geekdinners but has taken a break for a while. Hugh Macleod does other ones in London like the large Robert Scoble ones and there maybe others but there not very public and happen on a adhoc base. There are geekdinners outsides of London for example Tom Simcox is planning one for Newcastle or somewhere in the North East of England. And finally there is nothing stopping you from setting up your own and doing a better job that I am doing right now. If that happens, expect to see me there sipping Redbull and Hot Sauce (my new drink of choice).

But I will keep evolving geekdinner as much as I can, talking of which dont forget to check out my two pledges which take Geekdinner in a different direction. Geekdinner nye2006 and Geekcamp

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London Geekdinner with Dave Shea on the 23rd Jan

Early in the evening

Yep the first geekdinner of this year is with the wildly influential Web designer Dave Shea.

Dave Shea is the cultivator of css Zen, a long running member of the web standards project, and runs the very successful Bright Creative. A graphic designer by trade, he writes about all things web for his daily weblog,

For more information about Dave check out his information page.

The details you need for this geek dinner is has follows…

When: Monday 23rd January 2006

Where: The Crown and Anchor, Covent Garden – 22, Neal St, London, WC2H 9PS

Nearest Underground: Covert Garden Tube

Time: 19:00 – 23:00

Special Guest: Dave Shea

Cost: £6 for buffet food [payable on the door]

Regulars geeks will noticed the change of venue from the Hogs Head to the Crown and Anchor. I've also had to up the price because the food is going to be better and the venue much quieter and more intimate. I've already posted the event to Eventful and in turn Upcoming now they have that interop working (time is not quite right however, its my own mistake). Expect a posting on the official site really soon There is post on And dont forget to check out my pledges for newyears and a geekcamp.

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