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[post con] What did you think of the new home for defcon?

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  • [post con] What did you think of the new home for defcon?

    I was at a certain other security conference earlier in the week and stayed at the Bellagio, so my impressions of the hotel may be a little colored by that. There was a couple of snafu's early on that management took care of pretty rapidly and at least one of which was my own doing. I had made my reservation start on Wednesday for some reason (minor mental lapse I suppose), but didn't arrive at the venue until Thursday so my reservation was cancelled by the hotel because I was a no show. After some gentle persuasion the lovely young lady at the counter was able to retrieve my room from /dev/null and welcomed me to the hotel. I didn't notice it at the time but my room cost had *not* had the group rate discount applied to it. When I noticed the next day that the rooms were 369 for Friday and 399 for Saturday I went back and spoke with the front desk again. The young woman apologetically informed me that she would be unable to extend the group rate to me since my reservation had occurred after the designated dates it was valid for. I thanked her and asked for a manager, again with some gentle persuasion I was able to get the 112 dollar a night rate I had expected.

    The only other negative experience I had was when I attended Moxie's talk on SSL and had planned to stick around for Dan's talk on TCP/IP Black OPs. Moxie's talk was excellent I especially liked the pie in the face story. The idea of a "converged" authenticity system is fairly appealing to me and I plan on looking more into it in the near future. However, after that talk like in so many years prior, Priest came up to the stage (how is the ankle btw) and announced the regrettably, that the theater would need to be cleared prior to the next talk. Sadface.jpg.

    Such is life though, and I expect that the video archives (once live) will let me see what Dan was talking about this year. I took it in stride and went back to the contest area to watch tamper evident for a bit. On a side note I have to say that the Beard competition was a lot of fun to watch, and even inspired me to try and compete next year. However my genetics are such that the generation of a full beard would be nearly impossible, perhaps a well manicured partial beard and some very well placed bribes would help secure me a victory. Although the competition looked very stiff.

    The hotel itself obviously didn't compare to the Bellagio, but I didn't really expect it to have the marble appointments and luxurious surroundings I had become accustomed to in the early portion of my trip. It is off the strip and not a newer casino after all. I do find myself wondering what the typical reaction is of a new visitor who is faced with the prospect of paying nearly 400 dollars a night when they first see what their fare has purchased them.

    Overall, the con was great, I thoroughly enjoyed it and it made me realize how much I missed it last year (grumble grumble work grumble). I'm really looking forward to seeing what's in store for the 20th birthday of DefCon. I think the Rio is an excellent venue for it and it seemed to handle the crowds well, without the expected heat and smell and elbow to elbow traffic jams I had experienced in the past.

    There were some great ideas kicked around about what to do to make next year even better and I can't wait to see what happens next.

    ps-did anyone else think the wall of sheep was exceptionally short this year?
    Network Jesus died for your SYN

  • #2
    Re: [post con] What did you think of the new home for defcon?

    ) We've already out grown the Rio, and it's only the first year!
    ) I'll never pay much more than $100 a night for a room, even if it means staying at the Gold Coast across the street (which is where I am, and am quite happy)
    ) The food situation sucks. No food court and not much in the way of fast food near by. ( near = 10 minute walk round trip so I can make it to the next talk )
    ) I'm looking forward to next year! :)

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    • #3
      Re: [post con] What did you think of the new home for defcon?

      i'm sure we'll have many thoughts about the hotel and such as we all get home, decompress, and digest all of the happenings of this weekend.

      my initial thoughts are mostly amazement over the fact that it does indeed seem like we have "outgrown" the new hotel already. that said, i do not think we should be looking for a new place just yet.

      there's something of a goldfish effect with DEFCON. we will likely always grow to meet and then exceed a venue. as we hit that critical mass, however, it helps to amp up the energy and general awesomeness of the con.

      i'd much rather be out at a bar where the fire marshall is almost being called than at a half-dead saloon where 60% of the tables are empty and the rest just have some quiet drunks with their heads down.

      i realize there's a sweet spot somewhere in between those two extremes, but overall i like that DEFCON was so bouncing and slammed. clearing rooms between talks wasn't a good thing, but i personally believe this can always be solved by accepting fewer talks and thus having fewer tracks.

      for shit's sake... they had my drunk ass on a speaking stage more than once this weekend, is that an efficient use of space? (seriously, i had a lot of fun with the Shmoo guys and wouldn't have turned down the chance to sit with them on the P&T stage... and anyone who came to the Gun Safes talk will hopefully agree that it was a real treat to see so many people picking the safes open, live and on stage, including one that none of the TOOOL folk had been able to previously crack)

      still... if we can just prevent room-clearing and talk-lines (by having three huge tracks, maybe four at the very most) i like where we are.



      that said, the space is exceedingly spread out. i wish there were some ways of using additional back hallways to make alternate paths at times, since the trek from way back in the Villages around the bend to the rotunda and Vendor room was at least 5 to 10 minutes at all times.

      that's, of course, nothing compared with going back to one's room if you need something from upstairs. at least a 20 minute round-trip affair, often longer if the elevators are slammed, etc. we would routinely lose staffers for a half hour if we had to dispatch them back to our HQ up in the Ipanema tower. God only knows how some folk roomed in the Masquarade tower... that was practically in another county.

      I think the contest area was terrific and we loved being on the mini-stage in there for Gringo Warrior. the "live cam" setup was fucking awesome (thank you, Kyle!) and i look forward to what fun we will have up there in future years with the game that will replace Gringo eventually.

      Other than loads of walking (i cant even imagine what sort of mileage was logged by the Goons in this space!) which a lot of us could afford to do, i think the new space is alright. Many of the folk who are merely just attendees will never know some of the impact the new venue has had on organizers with respect to equipment, etc. (Harrah's properties are all Union houses, so getting rooms arranged and getting crates moved around are serious ball punches and wallet grabs) but i like where we are (and i like not having to cab ride to Penn & Teller on Sunday nights now!)

      Next year i'll seriously try to make the pre-con party at the Alexis Park because i do still miss that venue, but i'm ok if DC 20 takes place at the Rio hotel again.
      "I'll admit I had an OiNK account and frequented it quite often… What made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world's greatest record store… iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me. I don't feel cool when I go there. I'm tired of seeing John Mayer's face pop up. I feel like I'm being hustled when I visit there, and I don't think their product is that great. DRM, low bit rate, etc... OiNK it existed because it filled a void of what people want."
      - Trent Reznor

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      • #4
        Re: [post con] What did you think of the new home for defcon?

        We had a few security goons wearing pedometers, I think the average was about 50-60 miles for the weekend. We have extensive planning threads about footwear every year, with good reason :)

        Kallahar
        --- The fuck? Have you ever BEEN to Defcon?

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        • #5
          Re: [post con] What did you think of the new home for defcon?

          While I will make a much larger post on this subject later, I would like to call out that I really enjoyed the relationship I had with the hotel this year. The convention services director is some sort of dark wizard with his ability to make shit happen on less than a moments notice.

          I also had a great working relationship with hotel security. I was able to get a sitrep every morning from whomever was on duty, as well as ready access to hotel security when I needed to reach out to them. Everyone I worked with was friendly while at the same time remaining professional. I interacted with everyone from the director of security right down to the uniformed guards in the hotel and each and every one of them was great to deal with. My team meshed in with their team and there was absolutely 0 static at any point.

          Yes, we eventually had that relationship with the Riv, but it took some time to build whereas this was almost immediate.

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

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          • #6
            Re: [post con] What did you think of the new home for defcon?

            From an attendee point of view I liked the Rio significantly better than the Riv. I felt like cattle being shunted around the narrow hallways of the Riv but the Rio addressed that easily I felt. I didn't stop at the Rio so I can't comment on what it was like as a hotel but for the conference it seemed to address the issues I had with the Riv.

            I actually liked the fact that everything seemed a bit spread out, I certainly can appreciate that for Goons that might not have been the nicest thing but it helped keep congestion down I think.

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            • #7
              Re: [post con] What did you think of the new home for defcon?

              From a staff perspective I can't say enough good things about the Rio convention services people. They were extremely easy to deal with on site (especially Joseph Parkes) and really made my life easy. Even when we (my staff) screwed a couple of things up that could have made both his and our lives more difficult he was extremely cool about it and helped us fix it proactively so that there wouldn't be a delay in opening DEF CON on Friday morning.

              The hotel (lodging wise) is a Vegas hotel and as such does things the way they do. I didn't notice them to be significantly better or worse than any other hotel I've stayed at there. I had no issues, but didn't expect any. People need to remember, pretty much every hotel in Vegas has a 2 or 3 PM check in time. If you weren't able to check in before that, it's their policy. If you weren't able to check in after that, well, that is something that can be taken up with the hotel.
              perl -e 'print pack(c5, (41*2), sqrt(7056), (unpack(c,H)-2), oct(115), 10)'

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              • #8
                Re: [post con] What did you think of the new home for defcon?

                One thing I did notice is that the water in the pools was too damn cold, these are recreational pools, not lap pools, they should be kept warm

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                • #9
                  Re: [post con] What did you think of the new home for defcon?

                  We had some issues with the room(s) quality (leaking AC, mildew, strange pills under the couch) and with some of the non-even related staff (bad attitudes, general assholeishness). However, they straightened most things out quickly. The even staff and security were AWESOME. Distance... yeah... I logged around 62 miles gooning. It was .51 miles from P&T to the SOC and back, which means from my room to the SOC was a little over half a mile. But, it did cut down on congestion... Maybe we could locate the SOC a little more central to the convention (since we have to walk so damn much already). Just an idea.

                  Overall it was better than the Riv.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: [post con] What did you think of the new home for defcon?

                    As far as being a contest host, the walk from the room which was in the closer of the 2 buildings was still pretty damn long. Every time I needed something from the room it was a 30 minute trek.

                    Contest area being open so late meant I had to completely break down and pack, then setup daily. Security prevented me from setting up early on Thursday evening even though I had a contest badge.
                    Seemed to be mass disorganization several places.

                    The hallways being half empty was nice especially since I had to use a cart to wheel a ton of crap back and forth daily.

                    Hotel security was alot tighter about people wandering around outside the building, "GeoChallenge" contestants were stopped by both Gold Coast and Rio security. They were told to "enter the casino or leave the property" "whatever your doing, you cant do that here" "your not allowed to have scavenger hunts on the property" "ohh no, not another one of those hidden things. Is it from a website? We had one removed already" (apparently someone placed a Geocache at the Rio in the past)

                    As far as space concerns the new hotel is great. However because of all the other stuff, I sit here debating if I want to host another contest now.

                    However I was amazed that I was able to bring in a full size cart stacked with 6 tupperware bins and a cardboard tube, wheel it thru the casino area and to the hotel area without security asking what was going on. Then daily to and from the convention area from the hotel room.
                    Last edited by [Syntax]; August 13, 2011, 17:21.

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                    • #11
                      Re: [post con] What did you think of the new home for defcon?

                      Originally posted by Chris View Post
                      From a staff perspective I can't say enough good things about the Rio convention services people. They were extremely easy to deal with on site (especially Joseph Parkes) and really made my life easy. Even when we (my staff) screwed a couple of things up that could have made both his and our lives more difficult he was extremely cool about it and helped us fix it proactively so that there wouldn't be a delay in opening DEF CON on Friday morning.
                      100% agreed. I had the Sunday AM Skytalks shift and the 303 party had only wrapped up in there a few hours earlier. I got in at 8am and the convention services folk had just finished setting the room back to near perfection. I walked down to dispatch to ask for a water station in the room and the buggers were already delivering it by the time I walked back.

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                      • #12
                        Re: [post con] What did you think of the new home for defcon?

                        Originally posted by [Syntax] View Post
                        Hotel security was alot tighter about people wandering around outside the building, "GeoChallenge" contestants were stopped by both Gold Coast and Rio security. They were told to "enter the casino or leave the property" "whatever your doing, you cant do that here" "your not allowed to have scavenger hunts on the property" "ohh no, not another one of those hidden things. Is it from a website? We had one removed already" (apparently someone placed a Geocache at the Rio in the past)
                        Actually these guys were doing you a solid. There's an apartment complex behind the Gold Coast thats full of nothing but thieves and gangsters. As a result, GC and Rio take the outdoor security aspect of their jobs very seriously. I know of at least one attendee that got mugged while walking between the two hotels in the DMZ area between both hotels. Their policy of not letting people mill around out in the parking lot is to help deprive the people who would try and mug you of places to lurk.

                        Yes, you're clearly not gangsters but if they make an exception for you then they have to make an exception for others, and those others might have designs on your fancy electronics.

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

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: [post con] What did you think of the new home for defcon?

                          I did have one person tell me he was approached by a random guy 2 blocks north down by china town. The guy yelled at him a few times to try and get his attention but he just ignored the guy, got in his car and left.

                          I'm considering a lot of things that happened, how I can reconstruct the event and possibly contain it within the conference. No idea where I'm going to take this event yet.

                          Im totally aware of the apartments, I avoided placing anything near them and they actually consumed most of the nearby radius I planned to use for caches.

                          Geocaching comes with its own risks, I walk thru the woods, thru what could be poison ivy, & I've had the cops called on me at least twice. But Ive also had the cops called on me for doing photography. Anytime your standing around or walking anywhere people don't consider normal they call the cops.
                          Last edited by [Syntax]; August 14, 2011, 21:15.

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                          • #14
                            Re: [post con] What did you think of the new home for defcon?

                            Originally posted by [Syntax] View Post
                            I did have one person tell me he was approached by a random guy. The guy yelled at him a few times to try and get his attention but he just ignored the guy and left. I'm considering alot of things that happened, how I can reconstruct the event and possibly contain it within the conference. No idea where I'm going to take this event yet.
                            How does security feel about items being left on hotel floors, far from the casino? GPS can work through windows, if they are facing the right direction(s.)

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                            • #15
                              Re: [post con] What did you think of the new home for defcon?

                              Originally posted by kallahar View Post
                              We had a few security goons wearing pedometers, I think the average was about 50-60 miles for the weekend. We have extensive planning threads about footwear every year, with good reason :)
                              I'm going to pay much more attention to this next year. My feet have finally recovered from the pounding they took this year.
                              I check my sanity with a wristwatch. What do you check yours with, a dipstick?

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