Spacefem (spacefem) wrote,

Spacefem at DEFCON: Conference Lectures and tame activities

I am back from DEFCON.

I haven't updated my journal since Friday so I have to do my best to remember everything that happened since that morning. Egads. I'm going to do this in a series of entries, starting with this first one about conference lectures.

After my journal update I decided to go do the conference, even though everyone else in my hotel room was asleep. I sported jeans and my black boom box t-shirt, grabbed my badge and a schedule, and went forth. Most people were hanging out in the "chill-out" room, so I roamed around for a bit not thinking about time, expecting that when the first lecture session started there'd be this massive movement of geeks out of there. Not so. I checked time around 10:25 and realized I'd missed the first session by a lot. Damn.

So I walked back to my room, and on the way some random guy made eye contact with me, held eye contact with me, and said, "You should come to our room party tonight." What room party? What's a room party? He showed me where his room was and there were ten people in there sitting in the dark, watching the first lecture session on TV, smoking a substance of questionable legality. I watched with them for a while and then said I'd like to try to see the conference live, so I left.

Made my way to the largest room, The Tent, for the 11:00. As luck would have it, Phil Zimmerman had missed the first session, too, and was doing his presentation on his new secure VOIP project then instead of at 10. Score! Really interesting presentation, not because the demo worked (it didn't, until attempt 15 or so!) but because zimmerman is a geek god who can get a room fired up just by showing up and saying, "I'm Phil Zimmerman."

Next was Paul Vixie's presentation on how the internet and folly... interesting comments on how bad we are about forseeing issues, but since I was hung over and had only slept two hours last night, I fell asleep in the third row.

Bruce Potter had a very popular lecture on why Linux sucked more than Windows or Free BSD (God's Operating System, according to Potter). He said that Linux had no clear direction or vision and the relationship between kernel developers, application writers, and distribution companies lead to nothing but finger pointing. The only reason Linux won't go away is due to its millions of crazy militant supporters. He had a point. He also had quite a following... I had to wait in line for this one, and since he's the founder of the incredibly cool shmoo group (I am SUCH a shmoo groupie after this weekend!) everybody who was anybody came to his lecture. There were times when he cited well-known studies and added his own comment, and a voice from the back would say, "Hey, I'm so-and-so, I authored that study, here's what we meant..." So cool.

By then it was 2:00. I went back to our room. The rest of my hotel-mates were just waking up. 2:00! I was like, "guys, we paid for this conference, what are you doing?" They felt bad, but lazy and hung over. Whatever. I hit the lectures again.

Tom Holt introduced a research project that had to do with gender imbalance among hackers. Every woman at defcon was there, I think, so that was cool... what wasn't cool was his speach. When I say introduce, I mean introduce. He had some statistics for us about the IT profession and wage gaps, but no viable reasons (I thought) as to why women weren't into hacking, except for the fact that hacking is aggressive and women aren't, which other lecturers seemed to disprove in later speeches I went to. Hacking isn't about agression. But I'll get to that later. Bottom line is that I was really dissapointed... he didn't apply any feminist theory to the issue, just had some comments from talking to girl hackers and speculation about harrassment issues. I could have done a better presentation.

NMRC showed off some warez, joked around, and gave spankings to questioners using hard objects like the USA PATRIOT act. Funny stuff.

I waited in a LONG line to see the shmoo group, who did not dissapoint. They ranted for two hours about exploits, rainbow tables, people who are stupid, people who get owned and deserve it. rock on. it was hysterical. Some of us are actually talking about going to DC for shmoocon in January... we want more.

Spacefem Crashes Out
Went back to the hotel, where the mates were just getting up and showered and dressed, at 4:00. Great. We went out to eat and hit some casinos, but it was bad... at the restaurant, I started feeling really sleepy, and had coffee, but it didn't do anything. We were on Freemont street (sp?) where the Golden Nugget and all those casinos are, so we stayed and watched the canopy light show which was interesting but very advertise-y. Then we talked about hitting some clubs up but needed to go back and pick up our DJ friend, so we drove back and I fell asleep in the car. I told the group I felt terrible. I couldn't go out to a club, I needed a pre-party nap. It was 11:00. There were a hundred people gathered in a hotel two doors down from us, being loud and crazy, but I didn't care... I was sleeping.

And that's what I did. First night of DEFCON, the best party night, I couldn't make it. I was exhausted. I slept.

Spacefem Comes Alive
I woke up in the morning, showered, and snuck out. It was barely seven and no one was awake. There was evidence of all the partying I'd missed... the pool by our room was dark purple, there was trash everywhere, lights broken, the whole bit. I got a cup of coffee and sat in the chill out room, where two tables were occupied: one with three goons (read: defcon workers) and another with two laptop surfing guys. I sat at my own table, and one of the goons taunted me about not wanting to sit with them, so I sat down. One of them did a breakfast burrito run and grabbed me one (cool!) and we chatted for a good long time. Really nice guys. I told them about Wichita and they told me about the Wall Of Sheep, this display that they keep up featuring sniffed usernames and passwords of people who do stupid stuff on the DEFCON network. They told me that the secure livejournal login was secure enough to keep me off the wall, but people are dumb enough to login through the non-secure page, so they get plenty of lj passwords. nice.

Went to Steve Dunker's guide to search and arrest, where he outlined when you have to let cops search you, when it's okay to dumpster dive, how to avoid being spotted by cops. Awesome.

Saw Patty Walsh, a poor young college student journalist, try to do a presentation on media perceptions of hackers. She choked and died. I wanted to stay because I felt really sorry for her, but finally it was just too painful to witness and I had to leave.

The big issue by then was that the printed schedule had nothing to do with the actual schedule, and new schedules weren't being posted or advertised, we were just told to check and print a new one, as if we all brought printers. I didn't even have my laptop, I'd been afraid to bring it. So I gave up and went back to the hotel room.

The guys in the hotel were watching the three-hour seminar on lock picking, which was interesting. I also got an update on the partying last night, which had been awesome, and I was so mad that I missed it. The DJ and I decided to get lunch. We walked outside and were on our way, when I spotted a tall guy wearing white chuck taylors... hey! it's the california guy from two nights ago! I said his name and his friend turned around, then he did too, and I gave him a hug and the group of us went in the shade and talked.

while we were talking, we had a random meeting with Fyodor, author of nmap. that was cool as hell. There were all sorts of cool meetings like that, you run into the coolest people at DEFCON, and here's the other cool thing: you totally go by handles there. Several times, I met people, said my name, and they were like, "Okay no really, who are you?" But if I said outright that I was Spacefem, they were just like, "Oh, nice to meet you, I'm dark centipede." funny stuff.

Eventually it was me, california guy, and a friend of his, and his friend went off and got us all a beer. I kinda thought it was early to start drinking, especially since my goal in life was NOT to crash out like I had the night before, but I did anyway, and it was fantastic. Screw the conference, we decided, let's get drunk and go swimming.

And that's where I'm ending the public entry.
Tags: defcon
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