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ShmooCon Review

I spent this past weekend at ShmooCon. Getting there was a complete pain in the ass, as National airport was apparently fogged in for the better part of Friday. I was slated to take an 11:55 am flight down, which was delayed until 12:25 and then canceled. The fine folks at US Airways then rebooked me onto a 3:30 flight, which didn’t actually get off the ground until about 6pm. I finally arrived at the hotel around 8pm, missing all of Friday’s proceedings, which I’ll have to watch when the Shmoo release the video torrents.

Saturday was chock full of interesting sessions, starting with Jennifer Granick’s talk on FISA, CALEA and Executive “privilege”. After the room split break, I attended Fyodor’s talk on nmap. Nothing like learning tips and tricks for a tool straight from the mouth of the creator. From there I rolled into Elonka Dunin’s presentation on Kryptos and the Cyrillic Projector. Elonka is an excellent speaker and has an obvious obsession with code breaking.

After lunch, I caught Abend’s presentation on magnetic card reading and emulation. This was an awesome talk on a topic in which I’ve always been interested. Thanks to my super-smart question asking ability, I was gifted with a surplus magnetic card reader of my very own. Of course, now I have to build an interface for it.

I filled the rest of my afternoon with bits and pieces of Lance James’ talk on Trojans, Botnets and Malware, Richard Bejtlich’s talk on Sguil, and Shawn Merdinger’s talk on WiFi VoIP phones. I also spent a little time playing Galaga in the hacker arcade, but not enough to accumulate enough tickets to get a prize. Next year, I’ll have to build a game for the arcade, as the pickings were a little sparse.

Sunday was a short day with my main interest being the lock picking talk given by Deviant Ollam. The Shmoo folks were quite kind in giving him two hours for the talk instead of the usual one hour slot allocated to everyone else. It was an awesome talk, and I’m not just saying that because I won a t-shirt and a Swiss Army knife/USB memory drive. After that there was a room join and we all got to enjoy J0hnny L0ng’s gut busting talk on ‘Hacking Hollywood’, in which he reviewed just how l33t the folks in Hollywood are when it comes to all this cool computer stuff. After that I had to bail, as I had a 3:30 flight back home. I probably could have managed to stick around for the last half hour, but then I would have been fighting with everyone else for a cab to the airport.

Thoughts for next year. Fly down the day before and bum around the city instead of getting stuck at the airport all day on the first day of the Con. I’ll also plan on staying an extra day so I don’t have to rush out before everything is over.