Geeks, Nerds Rally at LinuxWorld Penguin Bowl

LinuxWorld's own version of the Weakest Link game show, The Golden Penguin Bowl, proves that knowing the difference between TCPIP and CPIP as well as the breed of parrot in Monty Python's Dead Parrot sketch can come in handy.

The event, featuring quiz questions accompanied by insults but not the dismissal of players, occurred at the LinuxWorld conference and expo here this week.

Much like last year's Penguin Bowl at LinuxWorld Expo in New York, the on-site game show pitted the Geeks against the Nerds in a battle of wits. This year, the Geeks were out for blood, or at least a victory, after last year's -12,250 score and loss to the Nerds.

The Geek team included Drew Stride, Sorceforge co-founder; Mike Betina, chief technical officer of Red Hat Inc.; Joe Barr, writer (wearing a "Free Sklyarov" T-shirt); Jesse Crocker, Perl and Java programmer; and two volunteers from the audience. The Nerd team members included a shoeless Doc Searls of Linux Journal; Michael Tiemann from Red Hat; Dan Quinlan, Linux Standard Base; and two audience volunteers.

This year's contestants played two rounds, answering questions ranging in difficulty about Monty Python, old-school PC terminology, cheesy science fiction movies, Star Trek, physics, acronyms, IP Tables, the movie The Matrix, PDQ Bach, Linus, Linux, and obscure topics that no one but a hardcore geek or nerd would know.

Brain Games Begin

The Penguin Bowl host set the stage from the start. Nick Petreley, founding editor of varlinux.org, held aloft one of the large penguin trophies and asked, "Do you covet this, or what?" After cheers from the audience and contestants, the games began.

Both teams answered their first questions correctly, but the Nerds soon pulled ahead, scoring with a question about the psychoanalysis program Eliza.

The Geeks volleyed back by answering a medium-difficulty question, "What does the acronym FINE stand for?" (FINE Is Not Elm, referring to the text editor and recursive acronym.) Then, the nerds piped up with the obvious answer to an easy question, "What is the essential ingredient for programming fluid?" (Caffeine.)Both teams were eluded by a vague Waggener-Edstrom Inc. question: What are Microsoft Corp.'s public relations firm Waggener-Edstrom's "owners" and "buddies"? The Nerds, and the Geeks missed the correct answer: People who are assigned to manage critical journalists.

Clenching the lead and displaying scholarly agility, the Nerds did a one-two punch with successive correct answers. One tricky question: "Can Linus play the guitar better than Jimi Hendrix?" Answer: Yes, so can you. Jimi Hendrix is dead.

Down to the Line

Round 2 brought a series of inane Matrix-related questions relating to room numbers in the movie. But The Golden Penguin Bowl took a nasty turn when Petreley's original quiz show software froze and then started skipping answers. This left the participants scratching their heads and the Nerds team 100 points short.

At the end of round two the score was Geeks 4800, Nerds 6800. The only way the Geeks could clench the title was to hope the Nerds flubbed the answer to the final question.

For the 10,000-point final question both teams had 60 seconds, a magic marker, poster board, and their gray matter.

In the end, both teams answered correctly and received 10,000 points. Victory went to the Nerds and Petreley vowed to fix his game show software before next year's Golden Penguin Bowl at New York's LinuxWorld show.

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