Wednesday, August 05, 2009

how to go to vegas without gambling a cent...

wow, it's been a while. but, then again, that's become my modus operandi here, right? it seems the more i get into computers, the less i blog. chew on that for a while...

anyway, i'm just now getting to the point of having recovered from defcon. that was last weekend, and i was in vegas from tuesday, july 28 until monday, august 3. it was a madcap week of con after con...defcon went on from thursday through sunday, but there was also security b-sides/neighborcon vegas as well as black hat going on wednesday and thursday. those first few days were extra-madcap since i was staying at the riviera (where defcon was happening), and it involved lots of random cab rides, car rides, and general finagling to get out to the sites where everything was going on.

all in all, it was a fabulous weekend. :) both of the talks i was involved with went really well.

the first was a panel i was on during b-sides, a discussion of women in the information security industry. i was a little nervous at first to do the panel...since even though i have a lot to say as far as feminism is concerned, i'm not exactly in the information security industry yet. (yes, i would like to end up there, but i'm only in the stage of basic planning for my first computer job.) however, i ended up fitting right in, and both the pre-panel discussion that we had the night before as well as the panel itself ended up being fantastic discussions. what made it so interesting is that we all had a common goal of increased respect of and participation by women in information security, but we each had different opinions as to how best the goal would be achieved. the panel was videotaped...so, as soon as it's up online, i'll link it here.

the second was a talk i gave on my own at defcon about legal considerations of starting a hackerspace. i was a lot more nervous going into this than i was the panel...since at the panel, it was a smaller crowd, and it was in the form of a discussion with a bunch of people. the talk was fifty minutes of just me talking, plus a question and answer session afterwards...so i was afraid that i'd either forget what i was saying, become too dependent on my notes, have my talk run far too short, have my talk run far too long, or come off like an idiot when someone asked me something i had no idea about in the question and answer session. turns out, absolutely none of that happened. despite the fact that my notes were meticulously marked and highlighted, i hardly referred to them. i didn't lose my place while i was talking--i had my slides up to guide the way, and what was on the slide was just enough to jog my memory about what topic i needed to flesh out. i had a fifty-minute slot, and my talk clocked in at 47 or 48 minutes. i knew how to attack all of the questions i was asked...i wasn't broadsided by anything, or accosted by some tinfoil-hat type who wanted to ask me about stuff that didn't pertain to hackerspaces at all. in other words, everything went as well as i could have hoped for ! this talk was also videotaped...and i'll put a link up here as soon as they post it.

of course, the talks were a pretty small part of the weekend, timewise. i went to a handful of interesting talks both at b-sides/neighborcon and at defcon. (i made it into black hat for a while thanks to a certain awesome attendee lending me his badge, although i didn't end up going into any talks...i attended the hallway track there instead.)

i participated in a couple of contests at defcon, including scavenger hunt, gringo warrior, and 10,000 cent hacker pyramid. i didn't win either, but did some fun stuff anyway. i think my favourite item of the scavenger hunt that i did was the one that just said "a cannonball". i think they wanted a metal cannonball, but i put on my swimsuit, did a cannonball into the hotel pool, and then we submitted the video to the judges. it wasn't what they expected...but they laughed and gave us the points. :) the "shotgun a can of brawndo" item was also pretty entertaining...i showed my ineptitude at shotgunning, and covered myself in fluorescent green, but it was funny. gringo warrior was weird since the blow-up guard had been popped before i got the chance to do my run--and i can't quite be as brutal to a real-life person as i normally am to a blow-up doll. however, i did have my best score to date, 455 points. :) as for hacker pyramid, i only did the first round, since it conflicted with hacker jeopardy, and i was signed up to do that. however, the first round was awesome, and me and my "celebrity partner" (none other than the awesome Deviant Ollam) kicked ass. we got ten points in the first round...four for "what's in a name", and six for "hacker kryptonite." i'm really sad that it overlapped with jeopardy--and, in retrospect, i really should have stayed at hacker pyramid, since i had a lot more fun there.

i went to parties just about every night, as well, and of course some were more awesome than others. the black hat speakers party in the Caesars Palace penthouse was fabulous, as well as the IOActive freak show party on saturday night and the EFF shindig on Thursday...i think those were my three favourite parties of the weekend. all three of those parties had completely different vibes, but were all ones i'll gladly attend again if they are thrown next year. on the other hand, the Ninja Party was a total debacle...it was overly crowded both right outside the bounds of the party and inside them, and the douchebag at the door wasn't allowing +1s. (that was, of course, a problem...since Rob had a badge to get in the party, and i was his +1.) i will, however, say that those Ninja Party badges were the coolest party badges all con, and i'm kind of sad i didn't end up getting one.

speaking of parties, there was no pool party after the con like there usually is. why? BEES. LOTS OF BEES.



yep, you read that right. all those bee references on twitter on Sunday evening were not a joke--sunday evening there was a bee infestation at the riviera's pool deck, and they closed down the entire pool area, and put security guards to block all the doors to enter it. that was really sad, since i had been looking forward to the telephreak pool party all con. i ended up at the ad hoc room-party-with-lots-of-telephreak-people instead, which was a lot of fun...but it still was not a pool party. :( stupid bees...

of course, the best part of this week was the same as the best part of every other con i've been to--the chance to hang out with everyone. Rob got into town on tuesday night and was there through monday, so it was awesome to spend a week with him. <3 i also had plenty of other fun social shenanigans like going to Zumanity (the sexy cirque du soleil show!) with Rob and Tiffany, a saturday night hotel room pillow fight with Tottenkoph and Tyger...i had a blast, and i'm already looking forward to defcon 18.

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