Saturday was a windy, rainy day in Vancouver. But as the afternoon ended, the dark rainclouds parted, and the sun began to shine through. In front of the Kingston Taphouse & Grille in downtown Vancouver, Canada, a group of TR readers from all corners of the Pacific Northwest began to gather.
There were folks from Vancouver. There were people from other parts of British Columbia's lower mainland, Americans from Seattle, Washington, and even one guy who'd driven the five hours from Portland, Oregon. There were students and sysadmins and geeks of all stripes and backgrounds. We'd expected a dozen attendees, maybe a few more, but I counted at least 19 people there. That made for a crowd of 21 once Geoff and I arrived. Pretty incredible.
Once the pub staff had made room for the extra guests, we all filed inside. Four tables were occupied, and many drinks were ordered. And so began TR's first Vancouver meetup.
It's not always easy to meet strangers from the Internet. Many us are more comfortable behind our keyboards than in large crowds, and finding yourself surrounded by 20 other geeks can be mildly terrifying. I was a little unprepared myself. But after a few awkward hellos and handshakes, it became clear why we were all there. TR readers are an uncannily bright bunch. We all have a shared passion for science, technology, and gaming. If given a chance to get to know each other, it's amazing how well we can get along.
So, while beers were drunk and food was eaten, the noise of the chatter grew. Tense faces loosened, people leaned across tables to talk, and laughter broke out over the low roar of the conversation. I sat next to a nuclear chemistry grad student who entertained us with stories about Canada's first atomic power plants in the 1940s. I heard others tell horror stories about PC maintenance. One guy bragged about teaching his cat to use the toilet. When prompted, I shed light on the mysterious inner workings of The Tech Report.
Around 10 o'clock, the food and drink were just about gone, and we started to distribute prizes to the attendees. Corsair supplied AF-series fans, an H80 water cooler, and a GS600W power supply. Kingston Technology donated HyperX solid-state drives and quad-channel memory kits along with MobileLite media readers. (You can see a picture of everything here.) The first prizes went to those who had driven the farthest to get to the meetup. We came up with other ways to distribute the rest of the loot, including a trivia contest where Google use was encouraged—even required.
The meetup was also an opportunity for Geoff and me to get rid of old test hardware.
We had crammed the back of Geoff's car with six PC enclosures, stacks of motherboards from past roundups, loads of beefy PSUs, and a cornucopia of old graphics cards and miscellaneous odds and ends, including mechanical keyboards and CPU coolers. We had a whole trunkload of it. In fact, Geoff had to fold the rear seats of his hatchback to make room. Our attendees gathered like hungry gerbils around the loot, and they made short work of it. Everything except for a handful of old motherboards was cleared out.
Which, as it turns out, looked highly suspicious.
As our giveaway drew to a close, one of the parking garage rent-a-cops arrived. He told us he'd received a frantic call from his boss. "There are people selling stolen stuff out of the trunk of a car! Go, break it up, and call the police!"
And on that note, our first Vancouver TR meetup came to an end. Hands were shaken, shoulders were patted, piles of old hardware were picked up off the floor, and our attendees made their way out of the parking garage, leaving Geoff and I to explain ourselves to the security guard. Thankfully, after a brief exchange, it was decided that we weren't crooks. The guard allowed us to go on our way, although he insisted on jotting down serial numbers from the remaining motherboards in Geoff's trunk. You know, just in case.
It was finally time for Geoff and me to head home. The time was 11:30 PM. Four-and-a-half hours had passed since we'd arrived at the Kingston Taphouse & Grille. We'd met and gotten to know a lot of dedicated readers, given away loads of hardware, and had a near-run-in with the law. As we pulled into the rain-streaked street, I took off my glasses, rubbed my eyes, and told Geoff I needed a drink. He laughed and said he could use one, too.
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Thanks to everyone who came. You guys are amazing, and you're a huge part of why we work so hard doing what we do. Thanks to Corsair and Kingston for supplying the giveaway gear, too.
See you all next year!