The Next HOPE recap vol. 2

So what else could one say about The Next HOPE? Well, a few things to be sure.

Interesting talks i attended/filmed

As i was working with the AV volunteers, i couldn’t be in many places at once, at times. Sometimes, i would be filming a talk, even if it wasn’t the talk i wanted to see. But luckily, i didn’t go or film a single boring talk! Sure, some may have been closer to my heart than others, but let’s face it: we had some great speakers. Some of the talks i attended were the keynote on Friday by Dan Kaminsky (that guy is a fucking rockstar, and funny as hell on stage!), the GPS talk by Cheshire Catalyst, The Social Engineering panel with Emmanuel, Kevin Mitnick (got to exchange a few words with him as well; great guy!), Not-Kevin, Bernie S. and.. a social engineering dog? Anyway.

Other hot topics included the talk by Lazlow on.. well, media, radio, freedom and all manner of subjects. Also got the chance to talk to him, and he seemed like a really cool cat. I complimented him on his work in the GTA games, where he has been making and producing the different in-game radio-stations. The talk-radio ones (often hosted by him) are fucking hilarious, and have been my favorites in all the games so far.

Of course the big controversy was with the Saturday keynote, scheduled to be held by Julian Assange of Wikileaks. He, of course, did not show up, and in his place was Jacob Appelbaum, who, against all odds, pulled off a great keynote, finishing off with a viewing of the Collateral Murder video (that started part of the Wikileaks controversy in the first place). There were no cheers, no applause when the video ended. It’s some grim stuff, i tell you. Go watch it if you haven’t. You can find it on the webs.

This talk was very interesting not only due to it’s topic, but due to the fact that at least 3 federal officers in civilian clothing attended the conference/talk. Jacob started out by saying he doesn’t know where Julian is, or how to reach him, and that there would be no point in arresting him. Despite all this, measures were taken to ensure lulz and safe exit for Jacob. Decoy Jacob was deployed and actual Jacob made it out fine, and tweeted he was on the airplane to Europe only a few hours later. Hilarity ensued.

Another great talk was the one that dealt with Trolling and internet culture. It had examples of memes from 4chan, and stuff that ‘Anonymous’ has been doing. Including a mention of operation.. Slickpubes. The content of which was undescribed during the talk, but let’s just say it involved going to various bookstores in New York and placing pubic-hair inside various religious (mostly Scientology) books.

Spot the Fed, HOPE edition?

Well as I said, there were at least three federal agents assigned to the conference. I personally saw at least one, or that i am fairly sure fits the bill. He stood out quite clearly, and picked his seating position quite precariously, as to view the entire room. He was also not interested in any of the talks, and wore iPod earbuds all the time. His clothes were so untarnished, they could have been bought that same morning at Macy’s. Also, the biceps on that guy was something a geek can only dream of.

Other volunteers reported seeing three “obvious FBI agents” during the Wikileaks keynote, and i was told later that three people were also seen following decoy Jason down to the lobby, until they noticed the ploy and split off. I can’t verify the validity of this, but, i have no reason to distrust my fellow volunteers.

Stuff i bought

During the conference, i spent most my money (actually, during the entire vacation i suppose) on conference merchandise. The things i bought include:

  • The Book of PF (OpenBSD packet filter bible)
  • The three Wizzywig comic-books by Ed Piskor (signed too!)
  • A Manga physics book for a friend
  • Several T-Shirts
  • a black 2600 mug
  • some back issues i missed because my subscription ended
  • ….and a crapload of cool stickers, some of which adorn my Thinkpad X41 at this very moment!

Conclusion

In all, i had one heck of a time, and i can’t wait to get back. Sadly, HOPE is only held every two years, and next time might have to be somewhere else, seeing as Hotel Penn is probably getting torn down. There was a petition being signed at the conference, and i hope many people did, to save the hotel. But seeing as the owner of the hotel is also somehow involved with the development company that wants to build the 67 story office building, the future of Hotel Pennsylvania is looking grim indeed.

But then, we’re hackers. Hackers always find a way to make things work, and with the people i saw; attendees, organizers and volunteers alike, i am certain that HOPE will rise again.

Next year though, i might be going to Germany, seeing as the CCC folks host their thing sometime in the summer…….

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