Geek gatherings span Bitcoin to 3-D printing in Vancouver

Five intriguing events celebrating technology this summer

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      Whether you’re into 3-D printing, cryptocurrencies, or gaming, this summer offers plenty of opportunities to geek out. So leave the laptop at home—or, if you must, take it with you—and check out the fun stuff happening in Vancouver’s technology community.


      Crypto Block Party

      Sunday (June 15) on Main Street between East 13th and East 14th avenues

      Yes, that’s a Dogecoin ATM.
      Stephen Hui

      Andrew Wagner loves Bitcoin, and he thinks you should too. That’s why he’s throwing the Crypto Block Party as part of Car Free Day Vancouver’s Main Street festival. “Anyone who’s interested in learning about Bitcoin should come to our block party,” Wagner, a director of the Bitcoin Co-op, told the Georgia Straight by phone from East Vancouver. “We’ll have lots of cool stuff to show off.” For the curious, there will be cryptocurrency mining equipment, a few Bitcoin ATMs, and maybe even a Dogecoin ATM. and Quadriga CX are among the local Bitcoin businesses slated to participate. The Main Street festival will run from noon to 7 p.m. The block party’s location is no accident: Vera’s Burger Shack (2922 Main Street) accepts bitcoins.

      Admission: free.



      Northwest Fan Fest

      June 27 to 29 at the University of British Columbia

      Cosplay is coming to Northwest Fan Fest.

      What happens when you combine three events—Anime Evolution, Cos & Effect, and the Vancouver Gaming Expo? “You get the latest and greatest summer con in Vancouver,” Gregory Neher, director of communications for Northwest Fan Fest, told the Straight by phone from his East Vancouver workplace. Neher expects 6,000 to 8,000 people to come to the collaborative convention at UBC’s Student Union Building and Student Recreation Centre. The fest will host Vancouver’s largest costume contest, featuring a $1,000 grand prize; Cosplay Idol; and the Gauntlet, a multigenre, multigame competition with a gold-painted Nintendo Power Glove trophy. There’ll be tons of board, card, console, LAN, role-playing, and tabletop games to try. Special guests include Sailor Moon voice actors Linda Ballantyne and Toby Proctor.

      Admission: $30 to $35 for a day pass, $55 for a weekend pass.



      WordCamp Vancouver Dev 2014

      July 26 at the British Columbia Institute of Technology’s downtown campus

      This year’s WordCamp Vancouver is for developers.
      John Bollwitt

      If you blog, there’s a good chance you do it using the open-source publishing platform WordPress. According to Flynn O’Connor, the events known as WordCamps offer users the chance to join the “supportive” WordPress community. O’Connor is the head organizer of WordCamp Vancouver Dev 2014, which will focus on what developers can do with the software. “We’ve got some really good local speakers already voicing interest, so I think it will be definitely an engaging tech conference,” he told the Straight by phone from the New Westminster office of the web-design agency Forge and Smith. “But it will be for people that are interested in more of the development and design side.” Speakers will address such topics as JavaScript, REST APIs, and web accessibility. O’Connor expects 300 people to attend.

      Admission: $20 until June 25, $25 thereafter.



      SIGGRAPH 2014

      August 10 to 14 at the Vancouver Convention Centre

      Technical papers are an important part of any SIGGRAPH conference.
      Vitor Pamplona

      When the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques brought its annual conference to Vancouver in 2011, it was heralded as the largest convention the city had ever seen. Dave Shreiner, conference chair for SIGGRAPH 2014, hopes this year’s event will be even bigger, with 17,000 to 18,000 attendees. “If you have interest in colouring pixels on a screen, SIGGRAPH is a great place to go,” Shreiner told the Straight by phone from San Jose. Technical papers and courses constitute the core of the conference, but there will also be an art gallery, a computer animation festival, an exhibition, and a job fair. Shreiner said 3-D printing and augmented reality will be among the “cutting edge” technologies in the spotlight.

      Admission: $50 to $75 for an exhibits-plus pass, $1,320 to $1,445 for nonmembers for the full conference.



      Hacked: Festival

      August 11 to 14 at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre (postponed)

      3-D printing will be in the spotlight at Hacked: Festival.
      John Biehler

      Are you intrigued by 3-D printing, biohacking, cryptocurrencies, the Internet of Things, robotics, and wearable tech? Vancouver’s inaugural Hacked: Festival promises to cover these subjects and more. The “disruptive innovation festival” will feature a conference, an arcade, exhibits, a film night, hackerspaces, a market, parties, and workshops. Plus, a tech crawl will highlight the city’s “revolutionary” companies. “The Roundhouse is going to be turned into a visually stimulating experience unlike what anyone’s seen before,” festival producer Anne-Marie Enns told the Straight during an interview at the community centre in Yaletown. “So we’re pretty excited about it.” Enns hopes to draw 500 to 1,000 people. The final day will feature $10 talks that are open to the public. Day passes will be made available if festival passes don’t sell out.

      Admission: $200 for a festival pass until June 30, $500 thereafter.