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    Defcon '00

    Aug 1st, '00
    Okay. Here's a bunch of stuff from Defcon 8. I'll have to do more tomorrow. Here's the short attention span FAQ:

    • Yes, I had a great time.
    • The panels where very good.
    • Yes, I learned some stuff. (gotta patch that..)
    • I'm definitely going next year.
    • The drive sucked. Hard.
    One of the Seahaven engineers (Octal?) gave an interesting talk. Everybody is very impressed with all this, but the general attitude seems to be, "Okay, but what's the point?" They won't help political dissidents because they can't pay, and everyone knows they'll cave-in and turn off servers if someone threatens them.

    "Spot the FED" was totally lame this year. The ones I saw them catch were almost all Air Force and Navy Officers. No NSA, no FBI. I suspect next year they'll all just wear badges.

    Here's the "capture the flag" contest. I always get nervous taking pictures of these folks. If you are from the FBI, please go get your own photos. I've digitally altered all of the faces here.

    Not as many freaks this year, which was no fun. I thought one of the best things about Defcon was all the hackers trying to out do each other with fashion statements. It made spot the fed much harder. Most of the attendees this year seemed to be from the dot com world. "How much are you paying?" was a frequent question.

    Coke World in Vegas. I always stop here. Until recently they didn't have any Diet Coke stuff at all, but this year they had a few shirts and hats. It's a start I guess.

    Dude, Coke World rocks! I got a couple shirts and a hat. They still don't have any extra large Diet Coke stuff. It's like some twisted conspiracy. What the hell? Coke drinkers are fat and Diet Coke drinkers are all thin?

    Here's a real blurry picture of Jon next to a giant bottle of Coke. I always get the urge to tell people, "Now remember, hold the camera steady." But I never do. So I have dozens of blurry pictures of me and hundreds of clear pictures of other people. I'm not this blurry in real life.

    Sure, you're smiling now, but when they drop you from 20 stories you're going to mess yourself and swallow your tongue. Does anyone else just not think this is a good idea? I watched one girl become hysterical and beg to be untied. No dice. They dropped her. Screaming from shear terror. To quote a swell movie, "It won't just scare you, it will fuck you up for life."

    I keep telling Erik that dozens of people die on this thing every year, but he insists it's great fun. The harnesses are well padded so that they'll soak everything up when you pee your pants. No, I'm not ever going on this thing. Rides that are designed to make me piss myself aren't really my thing.

    Erik and Chris took the traditional ride on the "big swing." It's hard to get a picture of people zooming through the air, but I did get a nice picture of them flipping me off. Then we went to Morton's for steaks. Good stuff. We hadn't done the booze and hookers thing yet, but we still had a couple days.

    Here's the motel we stayed at. Embassy Suites. Very nice. Notice the swans in the pool. They had a really good free breakfast also. 50 cent local calls which I used to connect to the net for hours at a time. Unfortunately Erik insisted that I "snored." This is silly. I don't snore.

    The line to register for the convention. It actually didn't take very long at all. They had things very well organized. Everyone delt with the overcrowding quite well. Rather surprising when you realize that a good percentage of these people are IT criminals of one variety or another. The venue is way too small, and hot. But everyone seemed to be having a blast. I know I did.

    This was at the King Tut museum at the Luxor. Sort of cool I guess if you have an hour wait for dinner and $5 your really want to spend. Otherwise.... I think not. If you don't listen to the boring tape they give you, the whole thing lasts about 2 minutes.

    The recreation of the King Tut sarcophagus was rather interesting. I always thought of it as being much smaller.

    Here's the entrance to the main convention area. Notice the demographics here: Three women and 60 guys. Educated guys probably all making over 60K a year. I would think this place would be a bigger attraction for women. Sure they're all nerds, but they're the uber nerds. The nerds with the best stories. "So the buffer overflow was getting me nowhere, but then I noticed they'd tweaked the kernel in such a way that I could re-write SSH. Bang! I'm in."

    One of the problems with taking pictures in Vegas is that you don't really get a good idea of how big this stuff really is. Notice the two people down in the lower left. They used to have a different lion here where you would walk into the lion's mouth to get into the casino. But then they found out that this is considered bad luck in some parts of the world. Let me get this straight: some cultures actually have established social rules involving WALKING into a lion?

    This is Richard Thieme (www.thiemeworks.com) who is a professional speaker. This wouldn't usually go over well with a crowd of "doers", but I found the things he was saying to be both provocative enough and thought provoking enough to be very much worth listening to. I'm also sure he's a bit of a loon. One of the things he was saying was that hackers were really on the leading edge of a social revolution. Everyone seemed to buy this idea.

    The reason people here are standing on their chairs is that this is the part of the convention where they throw donated computer hardware into the crowd. Processors, PCI cards, cameras, hard drives. No one was seriously hurt, but I did get the impression that a properly motivated CD could be used as a weapon. Unfortunately they didn't throw the SPARC workstations. Maybe next year.

    Here's the winning team from the "capture the flag" contest. The idea here is that one group sets up a bunch of computers and then a bunch of hackers try to take over those machines. If this group wants in, they'll get in. In one case they couldn't root a machine remotely so they talked a security guard (whose only job was to keep them out) into giving them unsupervised access to the machine room. The rule is: no one gets in without clearance and a photo ID. They convinced the guy that rule wasn't suppose apply to them. This sounds silly, but I've actually been able to get into a locked machine room and walk out with an Ultra 10 by telling security, "I'm here to pick up the Ultra 10."



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