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DEF CON 23 is OVER. What did you like or hate and how have DC 24 be better?

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  • #31
    Being my first year I don't have anything to compare it to, but I will add my two cents:
    * the black paper programs were cool, but I found that I couldn't read mine without turning the light on on my phone.
    * times for movies would have been helpful
    * if your going to do a workshop that requires handouts, equipment etc, maybe presort in to a kit beforehand, the first 90 min of the pi workshop was just handing out our stuff.
    * more signage and or "you are here" maps


    • #32
      Originally posted by Abend View Post
      The existence of the "no outside food or drink" rule was annoying, but I can't fathom why so many people felt compelled to obey it at a hacker con, especially absent enforcement of any kind. I had no idea we had so many rule followers in our midst.
      Not everyone who goes is a gray or black hat. Some of us also wanted to avoid run-ins with goons because enforcement appeared inconsistent and we just didn't want the hassle.

      Something else I thought of: A place that lists where we can find unofficial badges would be nice. As someone who doesn't want to spend my whole weekend badge hunting and would rather lern at the talks or meet people in the Chill Out Lounge but likes electronic badges, having a list of where to go to get them would be great.


      • #33
        First of all, I think the Goons did a great job with all of the challenges they faced with the new location.

        I second the idea of having a more integrated conference. I really prefer being able to go from talk to village to talk and I found that with the separation, it was more of a hassle to do that.

        For the program, I think it would be helpful to have the talks listed in chronological order. This is a low priority for me though, because I use the Hacker Tracker.

        The dedicated bar was a nice touch.

        Clarification and enforcement of the vaping issue would be nice.


        • #34
          +The community for being helpful and informative
          +The Goons did an awesome job
          -DCTV website being down initially since that was the only place to find the channel information
          -The "resort fee" that was in the fine print (instead of having it in the room rate information) of the hotel reservation and that it was actually more expensive when arriving than what was indicated
          -The SE Village needs more room
          -Camera policy needs to be clearly defined. There seemed to be more photography of attendees that didn't seem to have given prior consent


          • #35
            Lots of wonderful things:
            • Amazing job Goons with Traffic flow and keeping people safe. It looked like a much harder job this year than any other. Can't emphasize this enough. Twice I came across people in distress, either through over indulgence or some kind of breakdown, and I felt safe handing them off to the Goons without issue. Plus their interactions with non con guests increased and I saw them continuously deal with courtesy and aplomb. Lovely work.
            • The increased space was fantastic.
            • The growing breadth of ideas and what is covered is phenomenal

            Things to change and/or add
            • Make the program readable for those of us whose eyes are growing old. Even with reading glasses, the program was useless.
            • Open the Napoleon on Sunday. It was a central meeting place for many of us.
            • Better coffee in the chillout room (coffee is my religion, I would definitely pay for it)
            • Agree with space comments about Social Engineering. Only was able to attend one event.
            • Figure out a way to allow small quirky vendors to participate. It feels as though many of them are being squeezed out. It draws more people in and keeps us in the hall longer.
            • Have a special place for Auctions as vendor events. The Hacker's for Charity auction made it impossible to get to any of the vendors around them.
            • Allow, or encourage Sunday after parties.
            • Elevators in Bally's. (covered above)
            • Agree with Autobahn's comment #3. (covered above)
            • Felt like the interaction with EFF was less. I miss it.

            Last edited by BlackestRose; August 14, 2015, 14:38. Reason: Added auction idea.


            • #36
              + Goons were great. Each one I asked questions of had answers. In the crowded speaking track area, all were positively engaged in crowd movement and management.
              + Seemed to be a good mix of different topics presented in the main tracks.
              + More space for the villages and chillout room was great.
              + I actually liked that there weren't power strips on the chillout room forced people to look at each other and engage in conversation, rather than all being heads-down on their laptops. I met several people by just sitting down or having others join me. Maybe have one section be power-enabled, and leave the rest alone for casual social engagement?
              + Separation between speaking tracks and villages/contest. I didn't have to dodge thousands of people in order to get from one village to another.
              + Holy shit, only $13 for a breakfast buffet? That was pretty awesome. (at the Italian restaurant) I hit up the Thai place several times too...while it was quite a bit more expensive, the food was great.

              My gripes are mostly facility related...
              - Cooling in the wireless village wasn't great, it got awfully warm in there.
              - Somehow despite all the extra space, the speaking tracks/vendor area still felt packed far beyond comfort. It took me a solid 5 minutes just to exit the vendor area, slowly shuffling along in a huge mass of people.
              - Smoke. Bally's/Paris have SHIT for ventilation and filtering. Sure, there's a lot of air movement, but it's the same stale smoky nasty-smelling air circulating everywhere, including into the con areas. Yeah, yeah, "it's Vegas, deal"...other hotels/casinos do a much better job of getting the air moved out and filtered so it doesn't smell like breathing an ashtray.
              - Did I mention smoke? One thing that made the restaurant experience not so great is they apparently had air returns inside the restaurant, causing a constant breeze of smoky air from the casino floor into the restaurant...kinda gross.
              - "No outside food or beverage." Silly policy especially when people are moving back and forth between two separated con areas, and grabbing stuff from within the hotel on their way.


              • #37
                It was much better than last year, to say the least. The talks were actually interesting, there was enough space, and the event was much more appropriate given the DC Kids. The villages were awesome, huge thanks to all the people who worked hard to put them together, and the chillout area was pretty much a dream office.

                I do have a few complaints though:

                1. The way that the line for buying DCDarknet badges was handled was pretty horrible. I stood in line for over an hour before the doors opened, and was maybe 20 people in. Then, a goon walks by and says that the line was for DC101, not darknet badges, and we could just wait in front of the hacking village doors for that. I left the line and stood in front of the door. A short while later, a few goons came by and started asking people in the line if they were there for a badge, so they could count off how many would receive them. Thanks to the misinformation, I lost my place and was unable to get all the badge parts. It was even more frustrating to find out how many people bought the badges, but weren't participating in DCDarknet, but that isn't Defcon Officials fault.

                2. Knowledge should be treated like open source - someone taught you at some point, you used the knowledge, and the project only survives if you contribute back. For the most part, DEFCON is pretty awesome in that area. But the contests are another story. Something I'd really like to see next year is a few talks or workshops focused on the content in previous competitions - the kinds of ciphers in the badge challenges, the traditions, etc. Stuff on previous CTF competitions would be awesome too, and a great opportunity for some of those involved to show off the brilliant things they did to win. A "Contests 101" sort of track, in essence. Not something DC is in control of, but if anyone wants to give a talk on these subjects, I promise I'll buy you a beer or three next year.

                3. There's no problem with making money from vendors - everybody has to eat. But putting BS like "biohacking village" in the contest area, and letting them pretend their sales booth is anything but that is garbage. Keep vendors/advertisers/any booth that is dedicated to a commercial entity in the vendor area. For example, the IoT village was great - yes it had branded devices in there, but they were clearly there to be broken, not advertised. Someone selling bacterial sprays or cars is certainly not.

                4. Didn't appreciate unidentified camera crews following us around. At the very least, they could identify who they are and why they are filming, so that we can request they leave us out of it if we want.


                • #38
                  Originally posted by BlackestRose View Post
                  Figure out a way to allow small quirky vendors to participate. It feels as though many of them are being squeezed out. It draws more people in and keeps us in the hall longer.
                  Seconded. It would be pretty cool to have an area in the vendor room for small sellers with unique items, especially people who have something cool they've created or found but don't want to spend the whole con tied to a table. Maybe we could have an "ephemeral vendor" table with a pre-published schedule where different vendors would set up for an hour and then disappear.


                  • #39
                    Originally posted by 0x7eff View Post
                    I participated in demo lab this year which is a great idea, but was very poorly executed:
                    I agree. Part of this might have been due to the last-minute location change (to accommodate the DEF CON 101 move), but when I showed up another demo lab presenter informed me that a goon told them to just kick out another presenter from their table when it was our turn to present. It wasn't until much later when we found the hand-drawn table numbers by the monitors.

                    I would highly encourage DEF CON to bring back the Demo Lab again, but communication could be improved.


                    • #40
                      Originally posted by Tectus View Post
                      Another village-related issue, not necessarily related directly to the DC organization, but to those running the villages: If you're going to sell badges, particularly badges that are necessary for contest participation, it would be nice if demand were estimated a bit better. I tried to obtain both a Crypto/Privacy badge and a DarkNet badge. The Crypto/Privacy badge was sold out within the first 30 minutes or so of the villages opening on Friday, and the DarkNet badge had sold out of all but the basic kit in the same time, more or less.
                      I got roped in to do the Crypto and Privacy Village firmware at the last minute, so I wasn't involved in the actual badge production process, but I imagine there are a number of challenges that the unofficial badges have in estimating demand. For the Crypto and Privacy Village, this was our first year doing a badge, so there were definitely some learning pains.

                      First, since we are independent, we can't fall back on DEF CON if we screw up. If we over-estimate demand (like DEF CON did for DC20), then we'll have a ton of extra badges that we have to eat the cost of. Last I heard, the Crypto and Privacy Village is running at a (small?) loss.

                      Second, DEF CON has more data that it can use to estimate general badge demand than the unofficial badges do. They can ask the hotel(s) for registration stats, etc. They know that people registered under the DEF CON room rate will likely be attending. Even if we could estimate how many people will be at DEF CON, we don't know how many attendees will both stop by our village and be interested in our badge. If this is your first year doing an unofficial badge, this is especially hard to predict.

                      I am sad that people who wanted our badge couldn't get one. Hopefully we will be better at estimating demand in the future. One thing I'd like to note is that while parts of the Crypto and Privacy Village challenge did rely on the badge, it was not necessary to purchase one complete it. I believe we had at least one on display, and any information that you could get from the badge is now on the challenge website (which still remains unsolved!).


                      • #41
                        These forums are dead. No one wants to use them anymore.

                        Organizers must either be too busy, tired, or have their head completely up their ass, to not realize how bad this conference sucks.

                        Let's agree that DEF CON Suites was a complete disaster. Of all the boasting organizers did about all of the suites they had. Only the WP suite was ever open and it was like open house night at the Tri-Lambs (/\/\/\ / Lambda Lambda Lambda(I'm not complaining, I liked it, WP proved they need more support and room from DC, but a long line to get into something like that? It just made people sour)) The only other suite that would open its door was DC801, mostly so they could collect money/fees (Don't even get me started on a DC group that has membership fees..)

                        The setup for the parties was good. The entertainment completely fucking sucked. Look, stop getting your line up from people off the streets and other con attendees. Find someone that can put together a proper entertainment lineup and book the talent. That way when IOActive does throw a proper party, they aren't completely overwhelmed by the entire conference.

                        My room was on floor 25 of the Indigo tower, some goon ran up on us regarding the elevator. You are sending these college age kids out there, with no training, to do "security," and it is going to be your ass, when one of them gets hurt.

                        Everyday of that weekend was a repeat of the above. Forget trying to get into any talks. All of the villages were completely slammed. All of the contests completely sucked or had no prizes worth winning.

                        So I guess I'm supposed to hang out in a room all day, with about 5 of my friends, watching talks on TV. Mostly the same assholes I see monthly. Oh and DEF CON wants $230?

                        Someone called DEF CON Comic Con 2.0 and I have to agree.
                        Last edited by Sand; August 16, 2015, 10:25.


                        • #42
                          It was more expensive than ever and even with more space it felt more crowded than ever because of the way the venues were split.

                          The amount of time wasted waiting for elevators, stumbling between venues and sitting through talks A and B just to be able to get a seat for C in the same room all seemed pretty stupid, especially in a place like Vegas that caters to much bigger conferences than DefCon.

                          DCTV was better than last year but still marginal with ongoing auio issues. As far as I know it was only available in Bally's & Paris rooms, not very useful when the talk you are trying to get into fills up just before you get to the front of the line.

                          Closed captioning was sometimes OK, often terrible.

                          Vaping == idiotic in a crowded area (all of DefCon), FFS can we get rid of this?

                          Having it on the strip made for a higher cost for a smaller room.

                          In Bally's there was no coffee in the rooms and one small place to get coffee in the lobby, this was less than brilliant with long lines every morning.

                          The record badge was retarded. The white on black "film noir" program was extremely hard to read. The wireless network was very unreliable.

                          The tiresome tradition of interrupting first-time speakers to drink continues.

                          Content ranged from mediocre to excellent but with very poor access, logistics and provision for the number of people attending.

                          Very disappointing.
                          Last edited by Snapshot; August 16, 2015, 10:44.


                          • #43
                            This is my third year at DEF CON, with DC21 being my first.

                            + Having more space from the two hotels helped a lot.
                            + The line for con swag was much faster as promised.
                            + I got my badge from a speaker friend, but those do not come with welcome packets. I started to explain this to a goon at the reg desk and he just handed me a packet. Thank you.
                            + Separation of talk tracks from villages and the contest area worked well. I think this helped keep the traffic down in the hallways.

                            - The 'No outside food or drink' signs. I did not obey. This was not an enforceable rule because everyone had backpacks and not practical since the con was split between two hotels. It also caused some traffic jams when a group had to chug their drinks or try to eat food quickly.
                            - Using an off the shelf style lanyard for the record badge was a fail. I saw many creative solutions that would have been cheap to implement. The size of the badge did not actually bother me once I worked out an attachment method.
                            - Info on which channels were used for DEF CON TV was hard to find.
                            - Vaping in con areas should be banned.

                            Other takeaways and observations:
                            ~ Bally's does not provide coffee makers (I just wanted one to make hot water as I brought my own coffee gear) or fridges in their rooms like Paris does.
                            ~ Coffee in both hotels sucked. I love coffee so I made a point of trying several places and not only did their coffee suck, but it was way overpriced.
                            ~ All the unofficial electronic badges were a nice addition.
                            ~ The looks from regular hotel guests not brave enough to ask what was going on = priceless.


                            • #44

                              - Expanded venue and along the strip is very good. Walking distance to many things of interest. Monorail in Bally's helps as well

                              - Expanded Registration speeds up the line

                              - Turning Napoleon's into a DEFCON Lounge of sorts was brilliant


                              - Elevators were a nightmare. Need to ensure that at least two of the elevators are set aside specifically to ferry individuals from the ground floor up to the 26th floor with no stops in between. All other elevators are for the remaining floors. Convince Bally's to open the stairwell and allow access that way as well.

                              - Stagger talk schedule to preclude repeat of "The Great Stampede of DEFCON23". All the talks getting out at the same time led to a very dangerous situation, especially if an emergency such as fire and/or medical had arisen.

                              - Program was simply unreadable. Black background with white lettering in size 6 font or smaller was impossible to read without bright light and a magnifying glass. Need to ensure next year's program undergoes a thorough review to ensure this silliness does not happen again.

                              - Drop the "No Food or Drink" Signs. More silliness. If I buy my food or drink the hotel, I should be able to move above freely without having to worry about being stopped. This is especially true as you have people moving from one side of the Con to the other.

                              - Turn Up the Lighting. Hallways were dim and made the place look bad.

                              - Food Cost in Chill Out Lounge was outrageous. I spoke to the Rep and found out it was not an outside caterer, it was the Hotel charging the grotesque amount. A small plate of French fries and a few min corn dogs was $12.00 alone. If you went to the Italian Buffet in Bally's just down the way from the Chill Out Lounge, you could get the buffet for $12.99. I know the hotel has to make margin, but this was ridiculous.

                              - Kidz Con: Every year there is little info put out about Kidz Con and every year there are confused adults trying to find out what is going on and where to go. This needs to worked out so there is clear and distinct information on how to register, where to register, where to go for sign up, etc. I don't know what the issue is, BUT SOLVE IT.


                              • #45
                                Originally posted by Snapshot View Post
                                In Bally's there was no coffee in the rooms and one small place to get coffee in the lobby, this was less than brilliant with long lines every morning.
                                There was a breakfast place along the wall in the back left corner of the casino floor if you're facing the strip as well. The places in Paris that served coffee were also a really short walk from Bally's, though the lines for those were rather long at times. The Def Con lounge also had coffee and was open in the morning.

                                This year I couldn't bypass the "No food or drinks" signs with coffee because I wasn't willing to risk spilling it in my bag. Next year I'm bringing a thermos that I can safely tuck away without worrying about a spill.