Valleywag correspondent ConFonz raced out of Silicon Valley to hang at DefCon, the daddy of all hacker conventions. Here's his report, grisly as a post-mescaline Hunter S. Thompson piece.
The city of Las Vegas pops up out of the desert with a bitch of a perspective. That disorienting distant din is doubled by descent from above of a vicious time distortion. Then, the oxygen enrichment machines kick in when yer wandering, dumbfounded, through Caesar's Palace. The shiny things, the constant randomly generated tones of slot machines, and the flashing neon then pound your senses. Fuck drugs, the ConFonz was far more intoxicated by the input overload.
The confusion only serves to wrench the money from your pockets with such speed and ferocity that it is unrivaled anywhere else on Earth. The Las Vegans (who actually eat meat!) have already forgotten far more about human behavior than most other people on Earth know. They have to. Those other people attend the city in order to unleash their guarded inner lizard.
But this week, the hackers took up residence. They checked into totally gay suites in Caesar's, cut rate leftover rooms at the Excalibur, and any available 4 foot by 6 foot by 4 foot block of floor space at the Riviera.
Blackhat was absolutely terrifying. The things some folks can do with virtual machines is not conducive to confidence, especially when the hardware itself is the weak link in the chain. Joanna is the sultry seductress of pills, both red (white) and blue (black). H to tha D TO THA MUTHA FUCKIN Moore is still a god. And the feds are actually very nice and friendly.
Though some would say that Microsoft was wooing Mr. Moore, there were, in fact, 200 other talented people at their Sands party on Thursday night. The Wednesday night party was courtesy of Caesar's Palace, thanks to the casino's 40th anniversary. David got a new toga for the event, but you could totally see all his junk.
And then... Oh, and then. Moving down the strip with great velocity and an intensely destructive streak, the script kiddies attacked the Riviera. Here they found soul mates in the national dart tournament, courtesy of Budwiser. Captain Crunch was on hand bright and early to search for virgin teenaged manchildren, and the Cult of the Dead Cow press relations team was prettied up and looking for reporters to woo. Time was, the Death Vegetable would have been the first to respond to a media inquiry with his ample form. Now, the PR has business cards that don't even say CDC on them.
The bar for talks is so low at DefCon, that even the lamest of talks was rendered mediocre by those around it. And a two-hour hold up on day 1 ensured a frustrated day for most everyone involved. Come on, Slashdot, the war rocketing talk could have been done in 5 minutes. And how many possible times can you see someone explain how to use Ethereal in one weekend? Six, evidently.
Mrs. Hargett's rant on agile and tdd may have influenced some hacker cliques into more productive cycles, though most will likely continue to beat off into a jar. Valsmith and Chamuco are fucking 31337 to the nth degree, and offensivecomputing.net will conquer the malware world. Maybe they'll finally put the last nail in the antivirus softwares bloated and vomit filled skull. The ConFonz can only hope.
And speaking of Hope, that conference suffers from the same problem DefCon does: too many scene whores, not enough coders. There were plenty of talented folks around, esspecially on the capture the flag floor and in the Metasploit suite. But most of the chatter revolved around how many people had made the walk across the street to Circus Circus to reenact Fear and Loathing: the Movie. Unfortunately, that particular casino is far more terrifying in person than anyone could have imagined.
-Your Local ConFonz