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  • Post DEFCON 17: thoughts, ideas, suggestions -- make Defcon 18 better!

    The lines were just too darn long for the badge. I missed several talks in line to get my temporary badge and then missed several talks waiting in line to exchange my badge. There has got to be a better way.

    Although the Riv is now a part of the Con, kinda like the Alexis Park was, we have clearly outgrown it. There is not enough seating in the sessions, the halls and bathrooms are crowded and there is no place to sit down really and get a decent meal.

    Also, the vendor area could easily be double the size. Again, it is so packed with people running and tripping over one-another, that it is kinda annoying.

    I would rather see the price go up to $200 and not have to wait in so many long lines and have a better chance to actually get a seat in a talk that I am interested in. As it is now, I sit thru some chats which are of no interest to me just because there is an available seat. The cool thing is I usually end up learning something I never thought I wanted to know about.

  • #2
    Re: Defcon 17 suggestions

    Interestingly enough, I'm pretty sure I heard DT say during the opening talk that the Riviera was considered a space for 15k people. I might have misheard, as http://www.lasvegas.net/Riviera-Convention-Center.htm says that each ballroom holds five thousand, and there are two ballrooms. I did hear someone mention in the hallway as we were talking about the crush that Defcon topped 10k this year.

    Adding up the capacities provided by the Riv website quickly results in a ROUGH total of 11k, using all of the rooms, skyboxes, and ballrooms.

    Either way, holding 10k, 11k or 15k, it does seem packed to capacity. I had to sit on the side for a lot of talks, or skip them because I did not want to find a spot in the crush. I haven't made it to the HHV yet b/c every seat is full whenever I walk by (trying again today earlier). Lockpicking village had two seats out of approx. 60 empty when I was in there yesterday. Vendor area ebbs and flows, but it was frequently packed.

    And please note, this is not a complaint, I had lots of fun without going to talks. I'm merely commenting on what the poster before me said.

    Mel
    Secretary

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Defcon 17 suggestions

      Staggered talk times FTW. 00/+30...+15/+45...whatever works.

      Yes, you might miss part of something you want to see, but you do that anyway when you get booted from a cleared room.
      "*x74*x68*x65*x70*x72*x65*x7a*x39*x38";

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Defcon 17 suggestions

        I truly appreciate all the hard work that everyone puts into DEFCON. I just got back today and am already looking forward to next year.

        My only issue is the inability to actually go to the speakers that I wanted. Yes, I know I can watch the .mp4 files in the coming weeks. But there's something especially rewarding about seeing it live.

        Wouldn't it be great to look at the schedule and KNOW that you can go to any (and all) of the talks that you wanted? That you wouldn't have to skip 1-2 sessions in order to see a headliner. And then be able to get to a talk right after said headliner.

        I'd gladly pay more money if it meant I could see all the speakers I wanted and didn't have to fight the hallway mayhem. We pay $120 for this -- and it's great! What would $200-250 get us in terms of facilities / room to move / vendor area / badge registration procedures? I don't think bumping it to that level would keep anybody away. As much drinking, eating, smoking, etc.. that we all did this weekend leads me to believe that we all would be capable of spending $100ish more on the badge.

        Surely there are other casino hotels that handle larger crowds. The issue, as always, is price for the DEFCON crew.

        With all the talk of a ligher crowd this year because of the down economy, I didn't see it at all. It was at least as big, if not bigger, than last year. Imagine the turnout when the economy is recovered by next year. Will DEFCON have 15,000 attendees? It may. I don't want to see the Riv bursting at the seams with 15K of us!

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        • #5
          DEFCON 17 Feedback

          double post.....
          Last edited by Club81; 08-03-2009, 06:05 AM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: DEFCON 17 Feedback

            I'll be merging both threads. For other people with suggestions in the planning forum, I will be cloning them or moving them to this forum, so there is no need to repost them here.

            If you have specific ideas for contests/events and there is a forum for the contest/event, then post you thought for the contest/event in its respective forum. This will organize it in a way such that organzers and fellow participants can see you ideas, contribute, and lead to a better chance for the ideas to make it to the eyes of the leader/organizer.

            In 1 to 2 months, I will close pre-con forum.

            (If there is little or no activity in the pre-defcon 17 forum, I may close it sooner, and move any active threads forward to post-con wrapup before it is closed.
            Last edited by TheCotMan; 08-02-2009, 09:33 PM.
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            • #7
              Re: Post DEFCON 17: thoughts, ideas, suggestions -- make Defcon 18 better!

              Having been an attendee for many years now - I gotta say I agree very heavily with what the others on this thread have posted. The wait times and absolute MAYHEM in the hallways this year was just ... no. I'll put in my two cents and say that adding an extra hundred bucks to the badge to contribute to a larger venue is definitely something that the organizers might want to take into consideration.

              Especially with the way the Riviera treated the con in general this year. I had some brush-ins with staff that were none too cordial.
              -Vy

              I've never been to prison in the US. Could be fun...

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Post DEFCON 17: thoughts, ideas, suggestions -- make Defcon 18 better!

                Defcon was a blast as always! Suggestions / observations / complaints below. But don't let the following fool you into thinking the overall experience wasn't freakin' awesome. It was.


                - Crowds. Wow. Friday and Saturday were shoulder-to-shoulder the whole time. The rooms weren't SO bad, but the halls just plain weren't wide enough to support all those people.

                - Supplies. I was lucky enough to get a badge, but plenty of people didn't. I didn't get a CD or schedule, either. They were just all out. And it's not like I was late or anything.

                - Goons. They did their job, hats off to them. But I sometimes felt that we needed more.

                - Directions / signs. Need moar. Friday was pretty crazy. I would be walking to a talk, go into a traffic jam, and before I know it I'm standing in a line for... something. The line goes off into the direction of the Tracks, but nobody knows what it's actually a line TO. Just that they don't want to leave in case it's what they want, lol.


                Things that were awesome and need to stay:

                - Staying at the Riviera was way better than staying elsewhere. It's hard to beat the convenience. Plus, the Riv messed up my reservation and gave us a suite. :) It was as big as my apartment! Awwww yea.

                - Breakout rooms for Q & A. Every speaker likes Q&A, but nobody likes to take 15 minutes from their 50 min talk just for it. Plus not everyone is interested in listening to Q&A. So using the breakout rooms for Q&A seemed perfect. More talk time, more intimate Q&A, more profit.

                - Joe Grand's badges. Needless to say. Epic.

                - Music. Damn, I liked all the DJ's I heard. I will proceed to search around to try to find them online as soon as I recover from everything.
                A picture is worth 1024 words.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Post DEFCON 17: thoughts, ideas, suggestions -- make Defcon 18 better!

                  Increasing the price without moving the venue might be sufficient -- presumably, demand for DEFCON isn't totally inelastic, so less people should show up at a higher price. How many less is an open question, especially since the difference between $120 and $200 probably won't make a difference for people whose employers are paying for them to go. (If this notion offends you, you'll probably also have to argue against increasing the price "just" for a larger venue, since the value to an attendee is probably based on venue space *per attendee*, not total venue space.)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Post DEFCON 17: thoughts, ideas, suggestions -- make Defcon 18 better!

                    Space and Fee:
                    In person, I have joined DefCon in 2007 and 2008, I agreed with the problem about the place and capacity, of course, larger room and revenue would be great, however, we still need to consider the fee. I am not agreeing increasing 120 to 200 in general. I still remembered that many are students and kids are interested in security and hacking when I talked with them, we could consider to have student discount and practitioner prices. For people with work, 200 USD is good.

                    Short Workshops
                    In addition, I am quite looking forward for any short workshops like CTF, reverse engineering, exploitation, etc I could see the success like Lockpicking and WiFi. Again, as you know, in Blackhat, the minimum entry fee is 2000 per training, and don't know whether it is another good way for raising some funds and, at the same, we could get some fun :)

                    I do appreciate all of your efforts and time, and even I am in Asia, my spirit for and concern over DefCon never vanishes!

                    Regards,
                    Anthony Lai, Hong Kong

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Post DEFCON 17: thoughts, ideas, suggestions -- make Defcon 18 better!

                      Originally posted by swolchok View Post
                      Increasing the price without moving the venue might be sufficient -- presumably, demand for DEFCON isn't totally inelastic, so less people should show up at a higher price. How many less is an open question, especially since the difference between $120 and $200 probably won't make a difference for people whose employers are paying for them to go. (If this notion offends you, you'll probably also have to argue against increasing the price "just" for a larger venue, since the value to an attendee is probably based on venue space *per attendee*, not total venue space.)
                      I don't support this. If prices are going to be increased, then do it for a few basic reasons:

                      1. Larger rooms so you don't have to wait in line for 90 minutes to see a speaker.

                      2. Larger hallways so you can get around during the peak times without chaos.

                      3. Larger vendor/contest/swag/other areas.

                      4. Larger bathrooms or at least more of them.

                      A higher price could presumably be used to make these four (and other) points happen. I do NOT support raising prices to limit the number of attendees! I support raising prices so we can meet 1-4 above and encourage even more people to attend DEFCON. I think you can get just as good of a turnout for $250 -- and a new venue with "wide open spaces" may entice more to come.

                      We took 10 people this year. 8/10 had never been to DEFCON before. All 8 of them were shocked at the crowds and we discussed this very premise of supporting a higher registration cost. 10/10 of us supported it and 7/10 were college students. Yes, a very small sample size, but one that I think would be pretty universal.

                      Of course I have no idea how easy it is to book a convention facility in LV. That is also part of this whole dilemma. Is it something you have to have in place many months in advance?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Post DEFCON 17: thoughts, ideas, suggestions -- make Defcon 18 better!

                        Originally posted by anthonation View Post
                        Space and Fee:Short Workshops
                        In addition, I am quite looking forward for any short workshops like CTF, reverse engineering, exploitation, etc I could see the success like Lockpicking and WiFi. Again, as you know, in Blackhat, the minimum entry fee is 2000 per training, and don't know whether it is another good way for raising some funds and, at the same, we could get some fun :)
                        I am not authoritative on anything at Defcon but I do have experience and have seen how things work. Jeff and others would likely discuss any ideas related to venue and cost, but the good news is that he does read the forums, as do other goons. Even if you get no reply on this from a senior goon or Dark Tangent / Jeff Moss you should know they will almost certainly read about it.

                        As for the suggestion on workshops:
                        You propbably know that Defcon is a community effort or a collective of volunteers providing help with what they enjoy. The hardware hacking village, lockpicking village, and previously, the wireless village, and even sky talks are all about what people are willing to donate. In this way Defcon is a production-based *pushed* conference, much more than a consumer-driven *pull* based conference. People provide offers to the organizers of services they would likle to offer, and if the Defcon organizers and various goons like the idea, the volunteer is provided opportunity to help improve Defcon.

                        I'm not telling you to stop requesting workshops, or other improvements. These suggestions are good. What I am saying is that this will only happen if someone is willing to step forward to lead workshops and then follow through with organizing the workshop after getting the ok from the goons in charge of the space they want to use.

                        Many villages/workshops started because people willing and able to offer a service saw a request for such a service. So, how would you generate interest in workshops that you liike, in such a way that people will step forward to lead them?

                        A quote from a us president echos this and paraphrased, 'ask not what defcon can do for you, ask what you can do for defcon.' Literally, we can't apply this absolutely, because we do like to hear what people want to see, but change happens when people 'do' more often than when people 'want' :-)

                        Hope thid helps.

                        [Typed using a phone. Sorry about fat-fingering keys. I'll fix it later.
                        Last edited by TheCotMan; 08-03-2009, 10:08 AM.
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                        • #13
                          Re: Post DEFCON 17: thoughts, ideas, suggestions -- make Defcon 18 better!

                          Originally posted by Club81 View Post
                          Of course I have no idea how easy it is to book a convention facility in LV. That is also part of this whole dilemma. Is it something you have to have in place many months in advance?
                          Try "1-2 years in advance". Be assured that the Senior Staff and Goons -after resting and sobering up - will already be hard at work on planning for DC18 in the next few weeks. They are probably already looking forward in a general way to DC19.

                          I don't know where the current contract(s) stand, not being privy to them -so take this with a grain of salt- but DT has posted in the past about the number of years DefCon has a contract with a given hotel. Sometimes those contracts are for 3-4 years.
                          Thorn
                          "If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning." - Catherine Aird

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Post DEFCON 17: thoughts, ideas, suggestions -- make Defcon 18 better!

                            Originally posted by mzkatt View Post
                            The lines were just too darn long for the badge. I missed several talks in line to get my temporary badge and then missed several talks waiting in line to exchange my badge. There has got to be a better way.
                            Those who stayed for the award ceremony know that DT got that message loud and clear. I lucked into showing up a good time Thursday morning. I got my badge swiftly once they arrived (along with a whole lot of happy hackers) and had great time overall. This was my 10th Defcon and it was by far the best yet, IMO. Overall it ran as smoothly as a Swiss clock dipped in KY. Or something. Hella good.

                            Originally posted by mzkatt View Post
                            Although the Riv is now a part of the Con, kinda like the Alexis Park was, we have clearly outgrown it. There is not enough seating in the sessions, the halls and bathrooms are crowded and there is no place to sit down really and get a decent meal.
                            Gotta politely disagree about having outgrown the Riv - and not just 'cause I finally know my way around the place! The number of attendees seemed to throw the Goons for a loop early on, but they adapted their strategies and had a handle on it very quickly. From DC8 to DC17, this one was the most professionally organized YET! Having multiple platoons of Goons with specific missions appeared to work really well.

                            Originally posted by mzkatt View Post
                            Also, the vendor area could easily be double the size. Again, it is so packed with people running and tripping over one-another, that it is kinda annoying.

                            I would rather see the price go up to $200 and not have to wait in so many long lines and have a better chance to actually get a seat in a talk that I am interested in. As it is now, I sit thru some chats which are of no interest to me just because there is an available seat. The cool thing is I usually end up learning something I never thought I wanted to know about.
                            The vendor area "could" be bigger, but I eventually got all the goodies I craved. After all these years I remain vaguely sad that nobody blasts Skinny Puppy or KMFDM in the chillouts any more but like the Rolling Stones said, "You can't always get a Chihuahua." Apparently You Damned Kids today just don't want to listen to my Cranky Old Guy toons!

                            Rotsa ruck guiding the Invisible Hand o' Economics to shove away the people you'd rather not have attend by adding $100, or $200 or more. The cost sure doesn't keep people away from BH ('cept for me, for a 3rd consecutive year...)

                            Ouch... an idea w.r.t. The Adam Savage Problem! Perhaps if you have a sure-fire huge draw like a MythBuster, or Brittney or something, they could be a "Keynote Speaker" ala BlackHat - that is, the only thing going on at that particular moment and simulcast to everyplace you're capable of simulcasting.

                            Now I really must go to the casino to lose more money before my flight.

                            Surreal

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Post DEFCON 17: thoughts, ideas, suggestions -- make Defcon 18 better!

                              I'm kind of blown away that everyone is so stoked to raise, or even double the price of the conference. I mean, yeah, there are crowds, but this year didn't feel like any more of a crush to me than the last two years have. Maybe for Adam's talk, but that's to be expected & was planned for, having the overflow room (great call) and piping it through all of the TVs throughout con.

                              I'm not saying that DC isn't a great value for the money, it absolutely is, but the fervency of belief that doubling the price of con won't have a backlash from ANY, if not the lion's share of attendees seems naive to me. Fact is, this forum is a small sample size & likely consists more of the deeply committed attendees, not the casual sort who make up most of the humans at con.

                              I think a huge part of the draw for DEFCON is that it is affordable to everyone and offers a ton of value. I'd hate to see that equation changed too dramatically from one year to the next.

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