Nerd Nite already has a dedicated crowd in Wellington, but for this writer, it was my first experience of the event. The venue was changed, due to recent quakes, and moved from the Hotel Bristol to VK’s Comedy and Blues Bar on Dixon Street. This was met by approval of veterans of the affair as it seemed to allow for sole focus to be on the talks without outside influence creeping in. The crowd was full and latecomers struggled to find a seat. Nerd Nite usually has three speakers who deliver a talk followed by a Q & A, breaks occur in between speakers for those attending to discuss amongst themselves what they have learned.
Jess Russell, a Masters student from Victoria University, spoke first on saving New Zealand’s bees. We learned about Argentine ant infestations in hives which are leading to an increase in deformed wing syndrome. This, in turn, is having catastrophic effects and causing rising numbers of bee deaths. Jess speaks confidently and easily delivers the information in a way that is understandable and clear.
Josh Davies followed. A comedian and writer within the Wellington scene, I had seen him on stage before but was interested for his take on a more lecture style performance. His talk came from a place of understanding, being a gamer himself and mostly dealt with the benefits that come from game addiction while not ignoring the negative effects. He provided laughs for the audience that went much appreciated.
The hacker duo g0ldfisk and follower finished the night with a talk about data collection coming from the most surprising places. They pointed out that any modern device or appliance that can connect to the internet can send information back to its manufacturer providing details about when or how often you use the item. One example was for the adult intimate device the We-Vibe. The user can control the device through an app, and in doing so must be connected to the internet. What g0ldfisk and follower discovered was that the We-Vibe was sending back data to the company without consent of the user. Their question and answer section posited a good amount of debate between security and privacy and they dealt with these practically and without bias, judging the merits of both sides.
– Laura Ferguson has three walls of her living room dedicated to flyers and ticket stubs documenting her first year of Wellington and its wealth of culture. She hopes to cover her ceilings and bedroom next.