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  • HHV Perspective, post-con

    This was my first DEFCON. Overall, I enjoyed meeting new people, catching some interesting talks, and the general atmosphere.

    However, I was rather disappointed in the the hardware hacking village. It was far more disorganized and uninviting than I expected. I helped several people repair their badges on Sunday with nothing more than a pencil bag full of tools, a multimeter, and one of the public soldering irons.

    I certainly have some suggestions and think there is much room for improvement. I know this forum is closing soon so I will save my ideas and repost them there. Just wondering if anyone can second the opinion.
    @Six_Volts

  • #2
    Re: HHV Perspective, post-con

    Originally posted by lexxmac View Post
    This was my first DEFCON. Overall, I enjoyed meeting new people, catching some interesting talks, and the general atmosphere.

    However, I was rather disappointed in the the hardware hacking village. It was far more disorganized and uninviting than I expected. I helped several people repair their badges on Sunday with nothing more than a pencil bag full of tools, a multimeter, and one of the public soldering irons.

    I certainly have some suggestions and think there is much room for improvement. I know this forum is closing soon so I will save my ideas and repost them there. Just wondering if anyone can second the opinion.
    Only the "Planning forum for Defcon 18" will close soon. The forums for all of these Defcon 18 contests/events will probably remain open through to November or December. They may even be open for a few weeks while the Defcon 19 forums for contests and events are opened later this year.

    As for things that suck at Defcon -- these become opportunities to volunteer, help out and offer your skills to make it better. That is pretty much how everything seems to work at Defcon... find something that you think could be made better, offer to help, or help and then contribute what you think is missing. It is what we make it. Post constructive criticism for the organizers of the HHV to answer, or consider.

    Good luck!
    Last edited by TheCotMan; August 2, 2010, 19:44.

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    • #3
      Re: HHV Perspective, post-con

      Originally posted by TheCotMan View Post
      Post constructive criticism for the organizers of the HHV to answer, or consider.
      Please do.

      (And before everyone brings up the topic of power on the tables, it was something we worked on getting fixed all weekend but there just wasn't enough to be had at the hotel. We will have more power next year.)

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: HHV Perspective, post-con

        Perhaps this is a symptom of it being 'uninviting' (no opinion on that), but it seemed much, much less crowded than previous years, which was a definite plus. I was able to come in, do some work, get some great help (a big big thanks to DCFlux for trusting us not to steal his heat gun), and have some fun.
        It's not stupid, it's advanced.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: HHV Perspective, post-con

          Originally posted by YenTheFirst View Post
          Perhaps this is a symptom of it being 'uninviting' (no opinion on that), but it seemed much, much less crowded than previous years, which was a definite plus. I was able to come in, do some work, get some great help (a big big thanks to DCFlux for trusting us not to steal his heat gun), and have some fun.
          Other then having a greeter sitting at the door welcoming people in (I tried it a few times, it was fun) I'm not sure what we can do to make the village more "inviting" to first time visitors. Any ideas?

          And I think our biggest help this year with the crowds were the huge lines that kept people from getting down to the skyboxes when there were popular talks. I noticed a trend of lower attendance when people couldn't walk down the hall. It would pick right back up when things settled down on the first floor.

          We also tried to optimize the table layout a bit more this year to try to keep walkways open through the village, I think that this helped with the crowded feel.

          edit: typo

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          • #6
            Re: HHV Perspective, post-con

            If anyone comes across a Ninja Badge from last year, i.e. the one with the multi-segment LED displays on it, that has a giant burned scorch mark on the PCB board on the solder side bottom row second display in, Please let me know.

            I'd really appreciate its return.



            Otherwise, I'm glad to be of assistance to all of you who needed it. We did everything in the village from fixing the ripped off pads for the CR-2032 holder (Common problem), building FM and 40m QRP receivers, loaning out LAN cables and soldering stations.
            Last edited by DCFluX; August 2, 2010, 14:25. Reason: Added text

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            • #7
              Re: HHV Perspective, post-con

              Ok, glad to hear the forum is not closing. One of the problems I saw was that people would encounter problems soldering the aluminum PCBs, and either get frustrated and give up, blame it on the iron, etc. and the next person would have the same problems all over again.

              People were also having problems ripping the battery off and trying to figure out where they could solder jumper wires to when the pads came off. I think an at-the-con HHV/badge wiki could help. That would help alleviate the rediscovery problem. Also, I think a dedicated (and well labeled) badge repair area might help. I'd certainly volunteer to work a shift at a table of that sort.

              The SMT JTAG headers not being readily available seemed like a complete fail. It seems like it would be incredibly easy for someone to cooperate with Joe Grand and order parts like that ahead of time. Headers are dirt freaking cheap. There's no reason a stock of several hundred or more couldn't have been there ahead of time. And if someone is cooperating with joe, they could have found out about some of the gotchas (like the jumper points and aluminum problems) and had them on the wiki the moment they set foot at the con.

              I had no idea how hobbyist oriented the HHV would be. As such, there's no reason someone shouldn't have got ahold of Sparkfun or someone similar and had them show up to help and sell parts. I certainly thought about emailing them before the con, but since I'd never been I didn't think it was my place. They've showed up to most of the makerfaire things and that seems like small potatoes compared to DEFCON.

              I'm full of more ideas, but I need to get on my plane now. Tell me what you guys think. I'm not trying to complain, I genuinely want to help improve the HHV and I'm willing to put quite a bit of work into helping.
              @Six_Volts

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: HHV Perspective, post-con

                Originally posted by lexxmac View Post
                Ok, glad to hear the forum is not closing. One of the problems I saw was that people would encounter problems soldering the aluminum PCBs, and either get frustrated and give up, blame it on the iron, etc. and the next person would have the same problems all over again.

                People were also having problems ripping the battery off and trying to figure out where they could solder jumper wires to when the pads came off. I think an at-the-con HHV/badge wiki could help. That would help alleviate the rediscovery problem. Also, I think a dedicated (and well labeled) badge repair area might help. I'd certainly volunteer to work a shift at a table of that sort.

                The SMT JTAG headers not being readily available seemed like a complete fail. It seems like it would be incredibly easy for someone to cooperate with Joe Grand and order parts like that ahead of time. Headers are dirt freaking cheap. There's no reason a stock of several hundred or more couldn't have been there ahead of time. And if someone is cooperating with joe, they could have found out about some of the gotchas (like the jumper points and aluminum problems) and had them on the wiki the moment they set foot at the con.

                I had no idea how hobbyist oriented the HHV would be. As such, there's no reason someone shouldn't have got ahold of Sparkfun or someone similar and had them show up to help and sell parts. I certainly thought about emailing them before the con, but since I'd never been I didn't think it was my place. They've showed up to most of the makerfaire things and that seems like small potatoes compared to DEFCON.

                I'm full of more ideas, but I need to get on my plane now. Tell me what you guys think. I'm not trying to complain, I genuinely want to help improve the HHV and I'm willing to put quite a bit of work into helping.


                Thanks for stopping by this year as you noticed it seems to be disorganized and a strange place. But as a 3rd year HHV volunteer vet I have come to see that DEFCON defines how events will unfold and no amout of planning will change that. So please keep the comments coming as they help and make sure you contact A next year to get your name on the vol list as it takes dedicated people to pull it off each year.

                The only real thing the volunteers do is keep people from burning the place down, keep people safe (crowd control) and provide some guidance. The real activity is going on on the tables and I think that makes it a great place as most people are willing to share their into with others and this makes the HHV great as a melting pot of ideas. Without the HHV where would these activities take place...

                As for the Badge its always a secret and that is kinda what makes it like I heard someone say "A Iron Chef" event (I think that was solder guy that said that) So its a little bit Gonzo and a little on the chaos side but its DEFCON and one should never know what to expect when they show it.. it would be boring that way.

                Lex I look forward to working with you next year. Just take notes and decided what you will bring to the tables next year and we will chat later on when the planning starts.

                Thanks to all the make the HHV their home at DEFCON as I love being there as I learn so much just talking to the people that pass through.

                Thanks to Russ, Lost and A and the goons and vols and CV-ORG. for another great year.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: HHV Perspective, post-con

                  ask around about headers n stuff next time, i had bags of them with me and we were there most of the con. lots of stuff was traded and given away

                  we had a blast, even though one of the badges broke at closing time and we were attempting to fix it in the hallyway/end ceremony. bit of irony that we fixed so many broken badges for others, only to have one of ours fail when it was too late :)
                  - Null Space Labs

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                  • #10
                    Re: HHV Perspective, post-con

                    I had no idea how hobbyist oriented the HHV would be. As such, there's no reason someone shouldn't have got ahold of Sparkfun or someone similar and had them show up to help and sell parts. I certainly thought about emailing them before the con, but since I'd never been I didn't think it was my place. They've showed up to most of the makerfaire things and that seems like small potatoes compared to DEFCON.
                    That sounds like a great idea, in my opinion. A vendor area for parts, nearer to the HHV, would be a great idea.

                    [EDIT: ignore this part, listen to TheCotMan, he actually knows what he is doing]
                    As for 'not your place': as I understand it, Defcon really is an attendee-organized event. Go out there, email and talk to people. If what you have in mind requires staff help or floor space, talk to DT, post it as an idea on the forums (CotMan will separate it out into a new section for you), and just do it!
                    [you can stop ignoring now. if you've ignored this line too, well, yeah.]
                    Last edited by YenTheFirst; August 2, 2010, 22:53.
                    It's not stupid, it's advanced.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: HHV Perspective, post-con

                      Originally posted by YenTheFirst View Post
                      If what you have in mind requires staff help or floor space, talk to DT, post it as an idea on the forums (CotMan will separate it out into a new section for you), and just do it!
                      Get the space from the person in charge of the space and an OK and I'll make a forum for this. (This requires me to verify you have the OK, though.) You can try to do this now, but most of the goons probably don't want to hear about plans for Defcon 19 now. Your best bet is waiting for December but no later than to April to get the OK. Until then, you can work on generating support and interest for the idea to see if others are willing to help you and if others are interested in participating.

                      If this is a vendor thing, Chris is the guy to talk to and you should memorize the FAQ for vendors (which may change for Defcon 19) before bugging him, and again, wait until at least December but no later than April to contact him about your interest. There are fees for running tables in the vendor area, and IIRC (If I Recall Correctly) there are issues with selling things outside the vendor area or the swag booth, but I don't remember what the problems were or why they were problems.

                      Why wait until December? A few reasons:
                      * Lots of people show up after Defcon with great ideas they want want to run with, but when it finally comes down to the time to do them, they can't be found. Ideas that are still driving people to act in December as much or more than there drove them in August have a better chance of being around in July.
                      * Goons often decompress over the next week to several weeks while others may still be busy packing up, or moving stuff back, or updating the website, or dealing with bills/paperwork, or accounting.
                      * I don't make new "Defcon 19" forums until DT posts something on the main site of makes an announcement on the forums shortly after things from Defcon 18 settle down a bit. This would include contests and events.
                      * Some goons don't even call for your info until one to several months into the new year
                      Last edited by TheCotMan; August 2, 2010, 23:15.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: HHV Perspective, post-con

                        Originally posted by TheCotMan View Post
                        There are fees for running tables in the vendor area, and IIRC (If I Recall Correctly) there are issues with selling things outside the vendor area or the swag booth, but I don't remember what the problems were or why they were problems.
                        We (and by we, I mean someone involved with the HHV) tried to do a one off vendor area inside the HHV for exactly what you are talking about: parts, small kits, perhaps some tools. The idea was shot down and now there is a table in the vendor area (far away from the HHV this year) that sold some things.

                        With that said, tons of things will be changing next year with the new venue. We might be right next to the vendor area and you could get a table to sell your wares. Perhaps the idea of a vendor or three inside the HHV might even be an option again.

                        Post a thread in December (and please hit me with a PM if you don't see a reply) and we can see what the powers that be think of the ideas you have.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: HHV Perspective, post-con

                          I made it up to the village to teach a class- I hope it was well received.

                          The village was designed to be helpful for entry level people, and not just a "hack the badge only" place. I am disappointed in those that look for the HHV to be purely a hack the badge room, because that's not why I created it.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: HHV Perspective, post-con

                            It was great to see LosT, Amanda and Brandon from the Ninja Networks, Joe Grand, Freescale, and all of the participants in the HHV this year. We had a lot of contributions in time, equipment, and knowledge throughout the weekend from all of the above, plus the input and assistance from A, and the legion of volunteers we have assembled. It's great to work with all of you.

                            I second A and bombnav's comments about how the HHV runs itself in many ways. As much as we may hope certain things happen, it's generally the will of the people and the community that dictates the atmosphere and mood in the HHV.

                            This year we were also put at a slight disadvantage due to the Vendor area being a considerable distance from the HHV, so not only were kits a further distance away, but the crowds not interested in talks were also slightly less likely to come up to the skyboxes. It is our hope that this can be alleviated next year with the new venue. Location, location, location.

                            Come by next year. You won't be disappointed.
                            #ut2600 / #dc-forums | EFNet

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                            • #15
                              Re: HHV Perspective, post-con

                              Originally posted by LosT View Post
                              The village was designed to be helpful for entry level people, and not just a "hack the badge only" place. I am disappointed in those that look for the HHV to be purely a hack the badge room, because that's not why I created it.
                              I for one - being an entry-level person myself - was VERY grateful to have a space to go to with questions! My badge randomly stopped working and 3 random people stopped what they were doing and helped me It was awesome! Another group (the group that came in second for the badge hacking contest) shared with me the finer points of flashing and resetting the badge!
                              All in all, the people at DefCon were really awesome about answering questions and helping out - both the organizers as well at the atendees! I do like the idea stated above about a Wiki for badge problems.... you know the saying though... if you bring it up... then you are responsible for making it happen!

                              Hope to see you all next year!
                              "Do not remove a fly from your friend's forehead with a hatchet" ~~ Chinese Proverb.

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