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  • #46
    Re: Post DEFCON 17: thoughts, ideas, suggestions -- make Defcon 18 better!

    I think we need to find a hotel without a casino. The AP was more flexible with us because they didn't feel we were taking anything away from them.

    Private events = people not in the casino. Free food and drink = loss of sales. At least that's what the Riv thinks.

    In reality their draconian attempts to force us to only buy stuff from them and use their services is pushing people to go off site. The Riv was dead the nights that there were off site events.

    They are slitting their own throats with this crap, and now a lot of people don't even want to stay in the hotel.
    "There are no failed experiments, only more data"

    Comment


    • #47
      Re: Post DEFCON 17: thoughts, ideas, suggestions -- make Defcon 18 better!

      I miss is The Splash Bar, that used to sit where that big hole is now (between the shops by the pool and the main casino). It was a great place to buy a drink and talk with/meet a fellow DEFCON'er.

      A Riv emlpoyee told me that there were health violations that could only be fixed by rebuilding the whole bar. Apparently, they still plan to do that.

      --BC,

      Comment


      • #48
        Re: Post DEFCON 17: thoughts, ideas, suggestions -- make Defcon 18 better!

        As a first time Defcon-goer, here are my thoughts, opinions (and we all know what those are like ), and constructive critism. It was a fun con to go to, but I'm not sure that I'll return...

        Now, please accept my apology for the following wall of text.

        1) The hour-long presentations were great for the most part. The information provided was worthwhile and most of the presenters I saw seemed pretty prepared and "with-it". I particularly enjoyed Joe McCray's presentation as he was both entertaining and really knew his stuff.

        2) The half-hour long presentations were far too short. I sat in Sumit Siddharth's presentation and he had to speak so quickly to cover the information, it was hard to follow. In addition, it was such a rush to get through the information he had to present, it turned pretty meaningless. Either have hour-long presentations or nothing at all. Don't try to cram 2 presentations into 1 time slot.

        3) It seemed like it really tried to be organized but failed massively at it. I understand that many of the con-goers want to be free form, but it was just plain chaotic at times. I haven't been to many industry conventions/events, but the ones that I have been to were truly organized and it was easy to get where I wanted to go and see the information that I wanted to see.

        One thing in particular that might help is to have the "track" rooms truly "tracks". It seemed like the rooms where assigned almost randomly and at random times. For example, Sumit Siddharth and Joe McCray's presentations were on similar subject matter. Why not have them back-to-back in the same room? If someone is interested in one aspect of a given subject, they'll likely be interested in another aspect of the same subject.

        4) Presenters need to be prepared. I sat in the RFID Mythbusting presentation and watched the presenter struggle for 15 minutes to get his laptop connected to the projector. Once someone gave him a different laptop, he still had to switch back to his previous one that didn't display correctly. As such, that was 15 minutes of time wasted and then he had to rush through the presentation.

        5) Axe the celebrities...or handle their presentations differently. I really wanted to see Adam Savage. I also really wanted to see the RFID Mythbusting presentation, which was in the same room right before. Rather than allowing the people interested in RFID to stay in the room, they ushered everyone out after the presentation was over (a little before it was actually finished, I might add). I understand that they didn't want people just taking up space to get a good seat, but because I wanted to see the RFID presentation, I got screwed out of seeing Adam Savage.

        I did see someone else's suggestion of having all track rooms simulcast his presentation, which is a great alternative. I would have been happy to watch his presentation like that if it meant I didn't have to stand in line for an hour.

        If the powers that be decide not to do this, then don't bother having a celebrity come to speak. Either do it right or not at all.

        6) Lines. It seemed like the two things contributing to the lines were the badges and Adam Savage. It sounds like there are some really good ideas on how to handle the badges. I'd also like to suggest making an additional fee for the badges to curb demand a little bit and also generate that much more revenue to either donate to the EFF or spend on other con-related things. I bet 95% of the attendees waiting for the hardware badge just wanted it to increase their e-peen size and did no hardware hacking on it. Those who really want the badge would likely pay extra for it.

        Or, if the hotel allows this, have people register for the con at the same time they check into the hotel. Of course, a registration area will still have to be open for people not staying at the Riviera, but it would reduce the crush of people converging on the same place.

        Personally, I got a paper badge which I was ok with. My friends got just the circuit board badges. We happened to walk by the registration area when there was no line and apparently they had found a few more badges so we lucked out. But I would have been perfectly happy with a plain plastic thing (I was worried that the paper one would tear).

        7) The presentation notes/slide decks on CD is a *brilliant* idea. Thanks for providing it! Maybe next year, they could be posted on the Defcon website.

        8) The Meet the Feds presentation was really fun and interesting. Except for the obnoxious dude who finally walked out after asking his completely loaded question which they obviously wouldn't answer. It would have been nice to have seen a goon showing him the door sooner.

        9) The booklet was really hard to read. Between the font being super small, using an impact font (letters close together), and having the artwork behind the letters, I had a hard time with it. I'd suggest either using a larger font, one with fixed letter space, or have the text portions always black print on white background (or some other contrasting colors), and leave the art for the margins.

        Thanks for listening. I'll step down off of the soapbox now.

        Edit: I forgot a couple other points I wanted to make...sorry to further add to the wall of text but it's in the interest of improving the con for future years.

        10) Did the TF2 and CTF rooms really need to be so huge? It seems like that space could have been used by something else. I saw fewer than 20 people in each room every time I walked by. Maybe those groups could share a room...

        11) The vendor area was really lacking. I saw the crowd in there and thought to myself "Self, if there are so many people in there, it must be good!" Well, I wasn't interested in buying old surplus hardware, lockpicks, t-shirts or a kinky outfit for my wife so it definitely was dissapointing. I guess I expected more commercial vendors to be there. Aren't companies like F5, Riverbed, or Cisco interested in displaying their security products?
        Last edited by e_dogg; August 5, 2009, 13:34.

        Comment


        • #49
          Re: Post DEFCON 17: thoughts, ideas, suggestions -- make Defcon 18 better!

          Originally posted by Abby_Normal View Post
          I think we need to find a hotel without a casino. The AP was more flexible with us because they didn't feel we were taking anything away from them.
          <SNIP>
          Easier said than done. Check out this list:
          http://www.vegastodayandtomorrow.com/meeting.htm

          The Riv is tied with The Rio as the ten largest (existing) conference spaces in Las Vegas.
          With the exceptions of the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Sands Convention Center, all the rest have casinos. Those two are also about 15 times larger than The Riv.

          BTW: The Riviera has 160,000 sq feet of conference space, Alexis Park has only 50,000!
          Imagine how cramped we'd be if we were still at the AP?

          --BC,

          Comment


          • #50
            Re: Post DEFCON 17: thoughts, ideas, suggestions -- make Defcon 18 better!

            9) The booklet was really hard to read. Between the font being super small, using an impact font (letters close together), and having the artwork behind the letters, I had a hard time with it. I'd suggest either using a larger font, one with fixed letter space, or have the text portions always black print on white background (or some other contrasting colors), and leave the art for the margins.
            I second this.

            Also, when schedules ran out, they started handing out schedules photocopied from the book. However, the transition to black and white rendered those . . .difficult . . . to read. It may have been better to just print out a schedule (minus CSS, perhaps) from the defcon website, and photocopy that.
            It's not stupid, it's advanced.

            Comment


            • #51
              Re: Post DEFCON 17: thoughts, ideas, suggestions -- make Defcon 18 better!

              My suggestion for places to go is the Hilton, which I now see has 40ksqft more than the Riv. And more importantly, their hallways are bigger, AFAIK.

              Comment


              • #52
                Re: Post DEFCON 17: thoughts, ideas, suggestions -- make Defcon 18 better!

                Originally posted by big chopper View Post
                Easier said than done. Check out this list:
                http://www.vegastodayandtomorrow.com/meeting.htm

                The Riv is tied with The Rio as the ten largest (existing) conference spaces in Las Vegas.
                With the exceptions of the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Sands Convention Center, all the rest have casinos. Those two are also about 15 times larger than The Riv.

                BTW: The Riviera has 160,000 sq feet of conference space, Alexis Park has only 50,000!
                Imagine how cramped we'd be if we were still at the AP?

                --BC,
                Of course we can't go back to the AP, we've grown too big.

                I really think it's time to think about leaving Vegas, but I know that won't happen.
                "There are no failed experiments, only more data"

                Comment


                • #53
                  Re: Post DEFCON 17: thoughts, ideas, suggestions -- make Defcon 18 better!

                  Originally posted by evel aka matt View Post
                  My suggestion for places to go is the Hilton, which I now see has 40ksqft more than the Riv. And more importantly, their hallways are bigger, AFAIK.
                  I don't think they'll have us. There are a lot of hotels we are black listed from, and then there is the cost to think of.

                  I'm really surprised the Riv wasn't treating us better this year, they must not like money.
                  "There are no failed experiments, only more data"

                  Comment


                  • #54
                    Re: Post DEFCON 17: thoughts, ideas, suggestions -- make Defcon 18 better!

                    Originally posted by Abby_Normal View Post
                    Of course we can't go back to the AP, we've grown too big.

                    I really think it's time to think about leaving Vegas, but I know that won't happen.
                    Sure, either Reno or Atlantic City would be good choices. :-)
                    --BC,

                    Comment


                    • #55
                      Re: Post DEFCON 17: thoughts, ideas, suggestions -- make Defcon 18 better!

                      We're at an awkward size right now. The hotels with meeting space are too small for us, but places like the Sands Convention Center and the LV Convention Center consider us to be too small. Realize that 7000+ people is huge for a hacker convention, but there are shoe salesmen conventions and consortiums on molecular biology that get higher numbers.

                      The new hotels that are being build really don't have much in the way of conference space as they dont want to get into the business of competing with The Sands, LVCC, The Rio, and The Riv.

                      This last weekend I just kept hearing people talk over and over about this magical location we should move the conference too. This location has tons of convention space, cheap drinks/food (but are of very high quality), dirt cheap rooms (that are luxurious), bends over backwards for us, and can grow with the conference. It should also be in the middle of everything and have tons of stuff going on around it to keep people occupied.

                      I forgot the name of the place, I think it was the Doesn't Exist Casino & Puppy Store & Ice Cream Shoppe Resort..

                      In all seriousness, the crowding is an issue, but I don't see the easy out here. In the short term at least, we're going to have to figure out alternatives for where we're at.

                      (for the record, despite being senior staff, I have no involvement in any sort of hotel/venue research. Most of the time when stuff like that gets announced its as much news to me as it is to you)

                      I return whatever i wish . Its called FREEDOWM OF RANDOMNESS IN A HECK . CLUSTERED DEFEATED CORn FORUM . Welcome to me

                      Comment


                      • #56
                        Re: Post DEFCON 17: thoughts, ideas, suggestions -- make Defcon 18 better!

                        5) Axe the celebrities...or handle their presentations differently. I really wanted to see Adam Savage. I also really wanted to see the RFID Mythbusting presentation, which was in the same room right before. Rather than allowing the people interested in RFID to stay in the room, they ushered everyone out after the presentation was over (a little before it was actually finished, I might add). I understand that they didn't want people just taking up space to get a good seat, but because I wanted to see the RFID presentation, I got screwed out of seeing Adam Savage.

                        I did see someone else's suggestion of having all track rooms simulcast his presentation, which is a great alternative. I would have been happy to watch his presentation like that if it meant I didn't have to stand in line for an hour.

                        If the powers that be decide not to do this, then don't bother having a celebrity come to speak. Either do it right or not at all.

                        6) Lines. It seemed like the two things contributing to the lines were the badges and Adam Savage. It sounds like there are some really good ideas on how to handle the badges. I'd also like to suggest making an additional fee for the badges to curb demand a little bit and also generate that much more revenue to either donate to the EFF or spend on other con-related things. I bet 95% of the attendees waiting for the hardware badge just wanted it to increase their e-peen size and did no hardware hacking on it. Those who really want the badge would likely pay extra for it.

                        Or, if the hotel allows this, have people register for the con at the same time they check into the hotel. Of course, a registration area will still have to be open for people not staying at the Riviera, but it would reduce the crush of people converging on the same place.
                        Having seen so many posts on this I felt I need to jump in, a lot of the time the lines were due just to people seeing other people already inline and felt they needed to as well (same when queues start for boarding a plane). I stood at the chill out doors and watched the whole Adam Savage queue go past and joined the end and still go in 2/3 back from the front. At the start of his talk the spill over area wasnt even being used. If people had a bit more common sense and didnt follow the sheep of getting a inline an hour and a half before a talk starts then it would be ok and you wouldnt get a group of people taking up half the corridor. Even in the crowded corridor I never had more than 5 mins shuffling to get through and that was before the 'keep right' rule came into play. The only major flaw was the ticket line, having the ticket booth in the middle instead or where the swag booth was like last year I think was a flaw and halfway through the goons making the queue change sides was only going to cause a blockage, should have made everyone queue out the doors going directly outside, am sure waiting in the sun would have discouraged many to stand for so long and wait until the queue died down before getting on the end.

                        If the need really came about for crowd control you could make each hour talk have an hour and 10 mins and stagger start and finish times by 5 mins, would make the day longer or cut out 1 hour of talks though.
                        "Well, cyberterrorists may be difficult to capture in the act, but from what I know about people who are highly skilled with computers, they should be easy to beat up."
                        Ernest Cey, Speechwriter

                        Comment


                        • #57
                          Re: Post DEFCON 17: thoughts, ideas, suggestions -- make Defcon 18 better!

                          Originally posted by e_dogg View Post
                          As a first time Defcon-goer, here are my thoughts, opinions (and we all know what those are like ), and constructive critism. It was a fun con to go to, but I'm not sure that I'll return...

                          Now, please accept my apology for the following wall of text.
                          No apology necessary. I am going to try to address some of these, others, I'll leave to someone else to address if they want.
                          Originally posted by e_dogg View Post
                          1) The hour-long presentations were great for the most part. The information provided was worthwhile and most of the presenters I saw seemed pretty prepared and "with-it". I particularly enjoyed Joe McCray's presentation as he was both entertaining and really knew his stuff.

                          2) The half-hour long presentations were far too short. I sat in Sumit Siddharth's presentation and he had to speak so quickly to cover the information, it was hard to follow. In addition, it was such a rush to get through the information he had to present, it turned pretty meaningless. Either have hour-long presentations or nothing at all. Don't try to cram 2 presentations into 1 time slot.
                          Fair enough, I don't have any control over scheduling speakers, but those that do are regulars on the forums and I'm sure they'll read this. Thanks for the input.

                          Originally posted by e_dogg View Post
                          3) It seemed like it really tried to be organized but failed massively at it. I understand that many of the con-goers want to be free form, but it was just plain chaotic at times. I haven't been to many industry conventions/events, but the ones that I have been to were truly organized and it was easy to get where I wanted to go and see the information that I wanted to see.
                          Fair enough, but it's important to remember, this isn't really and "industry" convention, it's a hacker con. Most industry conventions are going to cost you FAR more than the $120 that DEF CON costs. They have paid staffs, we have volunteers busting their butts for a spiffy badge and two red shirts we get to stink in all weekend. I'm not saying we don't try to provide the best possible conference or that your input isn't valued, just that it's a different atmosphere than you'll find at a more expensive industry sponsored conference.

                          Originally posted by e_dogg View Post
                          One thing in particular that might help is to have the "track" rooms truly "tracks". It seemed like the rooms where assigned almost randomly and at random times. For example, Sumit Siddharth and Joe McCray's presentations were on similar subject matter. Why not have them back-to-back in the same room? If someone is interested in one aspect of a given subject, they'll likely be interested in another aspect of the same subject.
                          Again, i'll leave this to those that do scheduling.

                          Originally posted by e_dogg View Post
                          4) Presenters need to be prepared. I sat in the RFID Mythbusting presentation and watched the presenter struggle for 15 minutes to get his laptop connected to the projector. Once someone gave him a different laptop, he still had to switch back to his previous one that didn't display correctly. As such, that was 15 minutes of time wasted and then he had to rush through the presentation.
                          Couldn't agree more. Presenters need to be prepared. I have been to many DEF CON presentations over the years and some of them were incredible and some were very poor. Not that I am excusing the poor presenters, but there is really no way to know a person's public speaking skills from the CFP. We can only tell if the material appears to be of interest to a large enough percentage of our attendees that it is worthwhile to select them as a speaker.

                          Originally posted by e_dogg View Post
                          5) Axe the celebrities...or handle their presentations differently. I really wanted to see Adam Savage. I also really wanted to see the RFID Mythbusting presentation, which was in the same room right before. Rather than allowing the people interested in RFID to stay in the room, they ushered everyone out after the presentation was over (a little before it was actually finished, I might add). I understand that they didn't want people just taking up space to get a good seat, but because I wanted to see the RFID presentation, I got screwed out of seeing Adam Savage.

                          I did see someone else's suggestion of having all track rooms simulcast his presentation, which is a great alternative. I would have been happy to watch his presentation like that if it meant I didn't have to stand in line for an hour.

                          If the powers that be decide not to do this, then don't bother having a celebrity come to speak. Either do it right or not at all.
                          Fair enough. Again, not making excuses, but this is the first time we've had a celebrity like Adam Savage since I've been on staff (10 years). The closest we've come was probably CDC at DEF CON 8. As I have mentioned before, we tend to learn from our mistakes and do better the next time around. We knew Adam would be popular, we had no way of knowing that the lines would form hours before his talk.

                          Originally posted by e_dogg View Post
                          6) Lines. It seemed like the two things contributing to the lines were the badges and Adam Savage. It sounds like there are some really good ideas on how to handle the badges. I'd also like to suggest making an additional fee for the badges to curb demand a little bit and also generate that much more revenue to either donate to the EFF or spend on other con-related things. I bet 95% of the attendees waiting for the hardware badge just wanted it to increase their e-peen size and did no hardware hacking on it. Those who really want the badge would likely pay extra for it.

                          Or, if the hotel allows this, have people register for the con at the same time they check into the hotel. Of course, a registration area will still have to be open for people not staying at the Riviera, but it would reduce the crush of people converging on the same place.
                          Unlikely, it would be next to impossible to do this. We (DEF CON) are not the Riv, they are just a venue where we hold our party. They aren't going to collect money for us, keep track of it, hand out badges and all the hassles associated with that, and then write us a check for the registrations. Just not feasible.

                          Originally posted by e_dogg View Post
                          Personally, I got a paper badge which I was ok with. My friends got just the circuit board badges. We happened to walk by the registration area when there was no line and apparently they had found a few more badges so we lucked out. But I would have been perfectly happy with a plain plastic thing (I was worried that the paper one would tear).
                          Being happy with the paper badge makes you the exception, not the rule.
                          Originally posted by e_dogg View Post
                          7) The presentation notes/slide decks on CD is a *brilliant* idea. Thanks for providing it! Maybe next year, they could be posted on the Defcon website.
                          The will be posted. Later. We have gotten much better at getting the website updated after con.

                          Originally posted by e_dogg View Post
                          8) The Meet the Feds presentation was really fun and interesting. Except for the obnoxious dude who finally walked out after asking his completely loaded question which they obviously wouldn't answer. It would have been nice to have seen a goon showing him the door sooner.
                          I wasn't there so I don't know the exact nature of the question, but DEF CON is all about allowing dissenting viewpoints to express themselves. the Fed panel knows this. This isn't a national convention for a political party where everyone agrees on a platform. If the individual was being belligerent or profane I am sure he would have been escorted out. Just disagreeing with the panel is certainly not reason to remove someone from the room. Again, I wasn't there and don't know the details so feel free to provide more information on this if you'd like.

                          Originally posted by e_dogg View Post
                          9) The booklet was really hard to read. Between the font being super small, using an impact font (letters close together), and having the artwork behind the letters, I had a hard time with it. I'd suggest either using a larger font, one with fixed letter space, or have the text portions always black print on white background (or some other contrasting colors), and leave the art for the margins.

                          Thanks for listening. I'll step down off of the soapbox now.
                          The person that does the program posts on here and should read this and take your suggestion under advisement.

                          Originally posted by e_dogg View Post
                          Edit: I forgot a couple other points I wanted to make...sorry to further add to the wall of text but it's in the interest of improving the con for future years.

                          10) Did the TF2 and CTF rooms really need to be so huge? It seems like that space could have been used by something else. I saw fewer than 20 people in each room every time I walked by. Maybe those groups could share a room...

                          11) The vendor area was really lacking. I saw the crowd in there and thought to myself "Self, if there are so many people in there, it must be good!" Well, I wasn't interested in buying old surplus hardware, lockpicks, t-shirts or a kinky outfit for my wife so it definitely was dissapointing. I guess I expected more commercial vendors to be there. Aren't companies like F5, Riverbed, or Cisco interested in displaying their security products?
                          Now...I do actually run the vendor area and select the vendors. It is not possible to please everyone and I certainly take your criticism seriously. That said, as mentioned earlier in this post, this isn't a trade show. This is a hacker conference. We don't want corporate sponsorship. If I have Cisco as a vendor or worse yet as a sponsor and a speaker plans to detail an IOS vulnerability, I am in a tough situation. Do I not allow the speaker to give his presentation because it might anger a paid sponsor of the con? I don't want to be in a position where a conflict of interest can arise.

                          Our vendors typically come from within the community. Many of them don't do this as a "job" year round but rather come up with ideas on how to provide a product that enough of the attendees will find appealing that they can break even or in a great case, make a little money. Many of our vendors are just happy to break even but see you back wearing their shirt next year. Personally I like the way the vendor area works and consider it to be an extension of the community, not a place to bring in corporate sponsors to hassle our attendees with sales pitches.

                          I hope this helps to address some of your concerns and I hope you'll decide to come back. Maybe my comments have helped to provide a clearer understanding of how some of these things work at DEF CON and why it is different from a typical "trade show".
                          perl -e 'print pack(c5, (41*2), sqrt(7056), (unpack(c,H)-2), oct(115), 10)'

                          Comment


                          • #58
                            Re: Post DEFCON 17: thoughts, ideas, suggestions -- make Defcon 18 better!

                            Originally posted by Chris View Post
                            Being happy with the paper badge makes you the exception, not the rule.
                            I suspect--that for most con-goers, the high tech badge is more of a hassle than a benefit.

                            I suspect that most people would trade the tricked-out badge (that they'll never hack) for a Friday morning that is actually a joy to attend.

                            Heck, this year we even ran out of speaker badges.... How can you not know how many speakers there will be????

                            Am I wrong about this?
                            --BC,
                            Last edited by big chopper; August 5, 2009, 17:05.

                            Comment


                            • #59
                              Re: Post DEFCON 17: thoughts, ideas, suggestions -- make Defcon 18 better!

                              I would be devestated if I didn't get the real badge. I have no intentions of ever hacking one; I just like it. It's the "badge of honor" of going to DEFCON. Everybody does plasticy paper badges -- I want something different.

                              We (10 in our group) all arrived on THUR at the Riv at 7AM to make sure we got our real badges. We got paper badges right away at 8AM, had a Guiness and Cheesesteak for breakfast in the food court until 9:30AM, got in line for swag (there were 4-6 people in front of us) and had our goodies by 10:15AM. We then exchanged our badges for the real deal and we were set by 10:30AM. So we went to the Hoffbrahaus (sp) to have a couple 34oz. German beers before coming back for 1:00PM sessions. It was a great day. I didn't even make it back for anything on THUR. A couple of our guys went to 101, a couple to lockpicking, etc....

                              Of course, the real mayhem started in earnest on FRI AM, but at least we had our real badges. It was at that time that we had the "maybe we should just come on WED to make sure we get our badges first thing on THUR and then just leave. We can watch the .mp4s from home......". It's really too bad that we even had those thoughts. Alas, we stayed strong and made it through 3 full days of the CON.
                              Last edited by Club81; August 5, 2009, 17:47. Reason: grammar cleanup

                              Comment


                              • #60
                                Re: Post DEFCON 17: thoughts, ideas, suggestions -- make Defcon 18 better!

                                Originally posted by big chopper View Post
                                Heck, this year we even ran out of speaker badges.... How can you not know how many speakers there will be????
                                I heard this too. The speakers right after us on Saturday didn't get speaker badges.
                                "\x74\x68\x65\x70\x72\x65\x7a\x39\x38";

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