Defcon, What happens in Vegas goes on YouTube

This was my first year at Defcon (The Worlds Largest Hacker Convention) and while I had said that I would blog, twitter and message people from Vegas, it just didn’t happen.. I’ve been to many “hacker Cons” around the States but this one took me by surprise and hit me with a bat.

I arrived in Vegas on Friday morning at 10am, Talks had begun, so I quickly checked in, dropped my bags off at the room and headed to get my badge. Luckily, one of my friends was doing a talk and had 2 extra badges, which ment I could buy one from him at 100.00 instead of 120 and also I didn’t have to wait in line with the 8500 others waiting to get their badge. After getting my “temp paper badge”, I went to see the line for the real badge, ahhhh this line was about 1000 people long, I’ll wait.. I ended up waiting till Saturday afternoon when there was no line, but many people ended up not getting a badge, I just lucked out.

Every Con I’ve gone to I spend almost every moment in talks while they are going on and have never understood why someone would just hang out other places while so much knowledge is being shared in the next rooms, Well it was friday, noon and I still hadn’t seen a talk, Yes I was interested in some but now it’s lunch time and I ran into some friends I hadn’t see since the last CarolinaCon, so we went to lunch… More Lines.. you get the idea..

It’s now almost 3pm and I still hadn’t seen a talk, a friend wanted to see “Playing with Web Application Firewalls” so I had finally made a talk, but I wasn’t completely interested in it and the speakers heavy Brazilian accent sent me to do some walking around the Con. With a Con this big you not only have 5 different talks going on at once but also things like: Capture the Flag, Hardware Hacking, lockpicking and just areas to hang out and show your skillz.. Capture the Flag was interesting but I didn’t get much of a chance to actually see some of their technics and The hardware village was cool, people adding usb ports to their badges, reprogramming the chip that was on them and creating what ever they could imagine.

Saturday Ended up being about the same as Friday, I missed most talks, I saw old friends, hung out with new friends, I now understand the talk skipping that happens at Cons now. I also think I understand what DefCon is about, it’s about networking, meeting friends, people that you only see at defcon each year. Yes, the talks are there and their great talks, but they are just another activity to go to with your like minded friends. It’s a nerd social! There’s a reason the halls don’t start to get full till around 4pm, and it’s not just because everyone partied to hard the night before (ok not completely). As the talks are slowly winding down each night, everyone starts making their plans for the evening, grab some dinner and let the games begin. This is the real DefCon!

Friday while walking around, I had met up with some friends from Phreaknic a Con that happens in Nashville, TN each year and was given a couple invites to a party given by “the HackerPimps” I was also given an invite to the “Spiders are Fun” party (no idea what that’s about) and lastly a friend of a friend gave us passes to the FaceBook party, all going on Friday night. I’ve been told that people their first year NEVER get into the parties, let alone having the amount of invites I had, it’s good to have friends. The Facebook party was fun, all drinks free, a white nerd rapper but closed at 10, but 2 hours of free capt’n and cokes rocked, then we headed over to the HackerPimps party, cash bar and strippers.. bye bye cash ;), the spiders party ended up all moving over to the hackerpimps party (at least when I checked they did) and it was one wild night. Saturday night was more of the same, many invites, free beer, free shirts and me falling in the middle of the strip while parents warned their kids of see what drinking does to you (I did save my drink but my ankle is messed up). These parties and get togethers are what I think DefCon is really about, which made it hard to leave all my old and new friends and head home, where I had to try to recoup from a great weekend, Thanks DefCon! see ya next year!

Defcon 2008 Highlights:

  • Me falling in the middle of the strip
  • SkyDog dancing on a table with strippers
  • My Pirate mug everyone loved
  • helping do a talk where 2000 people showed up
  • eating at Quarks before it closed after 10 years
  • Goatse on a payphone screen at 3am at the Riv

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