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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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  • #46
    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.
    In Bally's the Junior Suites and above had coffee makers (and refrigerators; or you could get a fridge for an extra $15/day). I always bring ground coffee from home, and #4 drip filters. Even in the weird, flat-packet, disposable-tray, single-serve makers they had in my junior suite, I was able to use my own coffee and filters.

    Worst case scenario, if you bring your own coffee and filters, you can run to Walgreens (on the strip) or Fry's (about a $25/each way cab ride) and get a $10 coffeemaker. If you drink any decent amount of coffee, it'll pay for itself on the first day.

    I agree, it sucks that Bally's doesn't provide coffeemakers as a default. I'm rather disappointed with Bally's in general: The rooms are on par with the old (pre-towers) Caesar's rooms, the casino and hotel are among the more lackluster on the strip, and Bally's seems bound and determined to gouge their customers at every turn, for every little thing. The rooms at Bally's are cheaper for a reason. That reason is they're going to extort you for everything else.

    I'll add my voice to the growing chorus saying DC should either move to Mandalay Bay, or to the LV Convention Center, or out of Vegas entirely and to some other venue with ample space and low rates. More and more it seems that DC is trying to wedge itself into hotels on the strip for no other reason than tradition. This may be a tradition that's run its course.

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    • #47
      Several good points regarding coffee, noted. I did bring K-cups thinking there might be a Keurig machine (as there was at the Rio) but not found at Bally's. For next year we are moving to Paris.

      Did anyone else fall for the decoy (under construction) Starbucks in the plaza between the hotels?

      Comment


      • #48
        This was my 16th Defcon. Wow how things have changed.

        Yay:
        - Barcon. The first night I was at the bar with most other con goers and we had a fantastic time. It is smallish parties like this where fantasic friendships start. I'm glad we had a location to hang out, take over, and be ourselves. We had a few wild people show up and I guess vegas has seen it all, and they were welcomed. So far this is the best hangout place since the bar at the Riv.
        - Cashiers. The place was FULL of them. The lines moved nicely and by noon on Thursday the line was gone. Very nice.
        - Yay for big signs you can see from 50 feet away. Where is track 2? Well if you missed that nine foot tall sign you have issues.
        - The downstairs food court and the workers there who put up with us.
        - People who gave money for ammo at the DC Shoot.
        - Whoever decided to put red tape down on the floor to guide traffic.
        - Contest area room.
        - DJs. ALL the music rocked.
        - IOActive Freakshow and pool party. Best party I attended in a while.

        Nay:
        - People texting while walking. Seriously people, look where you are going and get it into second gear. If there is no one in front of you, you are the one holding up the line.
        - Elevator suckage.
        - The chill-out lounge food. $12 for cold spaghetti and ice cold fries? It wasn't worth a buck.
        - The rooms never did cool down no matter what the thermometer said.
        - No room fridge.
        - Resort fees. I guess that means they need to resort to hidden fees to keep the doors open.
        - Internet in the room. Seriously? 4 down 1 up, and open wifi? Not even WEP? No thanks, I'll use my phone as a hot spot.
        - Vendor room seemed small, or had more traffic than expected.
        - McAfee's party at the Hustler Club. He wasn't there, and drinks were so expensive I started to miss the cold spaghetti I had for lunch.

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        • #49
          For what it's worth, almost none of the strip hotels have coffee makers (or refrigerators) in their lower level rooms. I don't think that is the DC organizers fault.

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          • #50
            Originally posted by Pwncess View Post
            For what it's worth, almost none of the strip hotels have coffee makers (or refrigerators) in their lower level rooms. I don't think that is the DC organizers fault.
            Yeah, I put comments about it in a separate part of my post because its not a DC problem, but the lousy amenities of Bally's hotel rooms probably shouldn't be in this thread. Maybe I'll start a things to know about Bally's and Paris for DC 24 topic.

            Comment


            • #51
              This was my first DC and I will say it was way fun.

              On the positive:

              -Goons were amazing. There were times when scary numbers of folks in a given space. It was stressful from a crowd control POV and potentially dangerous. Goons were clear, decisive and patient.
              - Reg line was fantastic. Lay your cash down and you are done. Pre-reg would slow that way down because each person would have to be looked up.
              -folks were truly nice.

              Negative:

              - there were scary numbers of folks at times in cramped spaces. This did improve on Friday as far as flow goes. Bless the Goons who bellowed for folks to keep to the right.
              -the inability for a newb to learn on the spot about contests that were happening and the rules.
              - Hacker Tracker was not as effective as one would have hoped. It worked Friday for me but was useless afterwards. Perhaps time will improve it.
              -I had a heck of a time reading the program. The color didn't bother me but the font size was brutal for my old peepers to read. I am a day or two older than 18 and the tiny font made me want for a magnifier. Or a microscope. Have mercy next year, I beg of you.

              Suggestions:

              - I totally second the folks who would like an "end of line for X room" marker. Folks seemed to queue for the sake of queuing with no firm information. It felt very British at times.
              - power strips in the chill out lounge on each table. Bonus points if there is an espresso machine attached also.
              -Ada Fruit kits to solder would be very fun and would be a good secondary thing to learn on when the electronic badges run out.

              Comment


              • #52
                Originally posted by Pwncess View Post
                For what it's worth, almost none of the strip hotels have coffee makers (or refrigerators) in their lower level rooms. I don't think that is the DC organizers fault.

                Originally posted by rogue.neutron View Post

                Yeah, I put comments about it in a separate part of my post because its not a DC problem, but the lousy amenities of Bally's hotel rooms probably shouldn't be in this thread. Maybe I'll start a things to know about Bally's and Paris for DC 24 topic.

                Thanks to both of you on this. I'll happily include complaints about the hotel rooms too. We've gathered complaints about the hotel/casino and their support of the convention when at the Rio, and there were issues with insufficient trash containers, and spaces to refill water bottles ran dry without refill for long periods of time. We also like to hear how the hotel is treating our attendees. I'm not saying that anything will come of complaints and constructive criticism, but since the hotel does business with DEF CON, it is something that may come up if you all let us know about it.

                Thanks to both you you for bringing this up. :-)

                Other issues with hotel rooms at Paris or Bally's? What about the venue and hotel-provided convention spaces? If you could fix the problems you saw, how would you fix them?

                Comment


                • #53
                  what a great thread, summarizing feelings after such a great con.

                  I'll reply to some of the thoughts I've seen here already, briefly, then add my own...

                  Thank Yous
                  the Goons
                  my volunteer staff with TOOOL
                  my volunteer staff with the DEFCON Shoot
                  the DEFCON shoot attendees
                  everyone who came and picked locks or ran the Black Bag course
                  the other members of the Goon Band \m/
                  DT, Nikita, Russ, Grifter, Panadero, WiseAcre, Neil, CJ, LosT, MajorMal, and the rest of the DEF CON inner circle and principle staff... tireless efforts from all of them and i know i'm forgetting lots of folk

                  Best Moments / Gatherings
                  The DEFCON Shoot
                  The Lockpick Village (sharing with Tamper was fucking AWESOME!)
                  DC303 Party
                  DC801 party
                  Pilgrim's suite
                  Sully's Bar a.k.a. "the new Shutters"
                  PepperCon / other 26th floor hallway hangouts
                  dinner at Batista's across the street

                  DEF CON feedback chatter

                  crowded talk rooms - this can be alleviated/improved a lot with improvements to DC TV. we need a dedicated person running it in each talk, getting feedback from outside viewers on issues like volume, focus, etc. especially awesome would be some means of folk up in the rooms asking questions down in the track ... "we have a question from one of the guest rooms!" kind of thing (last part is probably unfeasible)

                  elevators - yes it was a mess. well, some of us just used elevators a little differently, heh. but in general the 26th floor of the Indigo tower was a zoo to get to. DEF CON already knows this. the hotel was supposed to set two elevators in that bank as "Lobby and 26th floor only" (locking out all other floor calls and hall calls) which would do a TON to alleviate this problem. the top floor was awesome for what it was and i don't want to see that go away. the suggestion that the hotel "open the stairwells" is a great idea in theory, but very unlikely to happen.

                  long trek between Ballys and Paris - you're high, or fat, or just crazy. the Rio had much longer walks, especially around the bend to the P&T Theater. The Bally's and Paris is a great layout, in my view. my TOOOL staff and I trekked back and forth between both sides CONSTANTLY and it still felt better than the Rio. get better shoes or something.

                  firearms - this can (and likely will) be a whole other thread elsewhere, but NO mainstream casino hotel in Vegas is going to knowingly let guests have firearms in their rooms. the policy is "we will do our best to not notice, you do your best to not be obvious" and that's the way of the world. some of us checked in our guns (and it was totally painless, BTW) and most of us kept them in the rooms anyway. trying to change this policy with any major hotel in Vegas would be like trying to kick water uphill.

                  food and drink - hotel food and drink is expensive in Vegas at an on-strip hotel? wow, Rick Romero... i sure hope there's more details at 11, because that's some number-one A+ reporting of an important news story there. seriously, who the hell opts for the hotel food and drink expecting it to be good or reasonable? get your own cheap food and drink elsewhere like we all have been doing since DEF CON 8. and all this about "no outside food or drink" signs? really? who in their right goddamn mind obeys that? who was even enforcing it, actually? you people are hackers, for fuck's sake. if you can't hack your way around "put my Gatorage and Slim Jims from CVS into my backpack or cargo pants" then you're too hopeless for DEF CON, i fear. or just, you know, walk the fuck right past anyone who tries to tell you otherwise because what are they actually going to do? never dismiss that as a real option in most situations.

                  water - yes, refilling the water was a mess this year. DEF CON knows and i'm sure they'll be on the hotel about it next time. whenever i run cons, that's actually in my event contract, actually.

                  "more room for X" (LPvillage, SEvillage, PacketVillage, talks, etc) - this is a common refrain, but look how broad it is. guess what, DEF CON is just crowded now. it's big. ALL the cool things are popular and crowded. the Lockpick and Tamper Villages could fill the Silver room 100% and Hardware Hack could fill ANOTHER room of equal size. but name for me where all this extra room is going to come from? Someone mentioned moving people to "areas that were not fully utilized" but I can't imagine what those areas were. thoughts?

                  rides to airport, etc - the simple truth is that, in Vegas, cabs are the best way to get anywhere. any kind of bus or shuttle service or ANYTHING else like that is a fucking disaster. it always takes longer, costs more, and is generally stupid. until Uber can finally break the goddamn back of the cab companies in this town, taxis are it. know the right route for them to take you (not the highway, not the strip) and you'll be fine.

                  talks in villages - some folk mentioned volume or crowding or whatever... our version of the Village this year was fucking top choice. Tamper, Lockpick,and Hardware Hacking all shared a long room and in the very middle we had a "teaching stage" which was flanked by pipe-and-drape to help manage noise and crowds. it was ideal. you could whoop it up in the main hangout areas, but the stage talks were easy to follow and hear.

                  Separate Vendors from Sales Drones

                  This is such a near and dear topic to me that i'm just going to paste in most of an email I sent to others after DEF CON this year. I'd like to hear the community's thoughts...

                  The most common thing I heard when the old-guard of DEF CON would talk about the "feel" of the event changing was people saying "it's all so corporate now."

                  This is almost 100% due to the change in atmosphere in the Vendor room. Let's face it, the talks are still just talks. We don't have commercial talks. The Villages? We aren't sponsoring the Villages. (Except the Tesla craziness and possibly the Bio-Hacking area, which i didn't see but heard was kind of blegh.) The Badges don't have lanyards saying FireEye or Veicode or Facebook. The "commercial" feel of DEF CON is almost entirely coming from the Vendor room... because LOTS of the "vendors" now are not friends we know selling products we want but rather corporate boothdroids selling services or simply selling themselves.

                  There's a very lively post-con discussion on the 303 mailing list at the moment, and one point that is getting good traction is the notion of "the Vendor area should be for people selling tangible goods." If you are selling services (read: basically just advertising yourself or your company) then that is not what most con attendees want. And this can be fixed. Make all Vendors actual retail vendors again.

                  This doesn't mean BigConsultantCorp, Inc. gets a table but "sells" t-shirts or some small think-geek bullshit item. Only true hard-goods vendors belong in the Vendor room. Soft-goods vendors (and straight up sales drones) could be in another area... call it an "expo hall" or whatever you want.

                  BSidesLV has a "careers" track or something similar. We could have that. Are you a school or institution that trains? Are you hiring hackers? Get in there. Leave the "vendor" room to people selling stuff that goes in hackers' hands and then their backpack when they walk out.

                  (issues of space, of course, are a thing. still, the "vibe" of the room and therefore of the whole con is at issue on this one)
                  Last edited by Deviant Ollam; August 18, 2015, 14:09.
                  "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

                  Comment


                  • #54
                    2nd DefCon, so don't have the depth of some.

                    The good:
                    * Everyone I dealt with was friendly and the vibe was quite good.
                    * Line to get badges wasn't as bad as last year (though I guess that doesn't say all that much)
                    * Aside from Thursday (which I will talk about below) I had no issue getting into anything I wanted to see
                    * I did like that Skytalks and WiFi were on the 26th floor. Things weren't as hectic and I really enjoyed what I saw and learned up there.

                    The bad:
                    * Thursday talks should be in larger rooms, or there should be more going on to spread people out. I was stuck in line and missed 2 talks just waiting in line. No TV to stream the content on either at the time. I am not super upset (it is Thursday) but it would be nice to do something other than stand in line.
                    * The move of DC101 was a really good idea. It would have been nice to move CTF over to the Track area where DC101 was. There shouldn't be as much traffic moving in and out of CTF, and move DC101 to where it ultimately ended up at was a great idea.
                    * The Packet Capture Village and Car Hacking Village talk areas were quite loud from ambient noise. I will be interested in seeing how the audio turns out in the videos. I don't know how to do it, but the talking areas might benefit from someplace that is quieter. The Lockpicking village appeared to have a better set-up for having both working area and talking, Packet and Car did not.
                    * I really don't know as much about the tools as I would like to. Perhaps the workshops would help more, but I had difficulty finding a place to really learn some of the tools (metasploit, cain & abel, etc). I suspect there are places to learn the tools, but I couldn't find them last year (though I really didn't look) and didn't find as much this year (and I did try a little harder this go around).

                    r3b00t

                    Comment


                    • #55
                      Originally posted by TheCotMan View Post

                      Thanks to both of you on this. I'll happily include complaints about the hotel rooms too. We've gathered complaints about the hotel/casino and their support of the convention when at the Rio, and there were issues with insufficient trash containers, and spaces to refill water bottles ran dry without refill for long periods of time. We also like to hear how the hotel is treating our attendees. I'm not saying that anything will come of complaints and constructive criticism, but since the hotel does business with DEF CON, it is something that may come up if you all let us know about it.

                      Thanks to both you you for bringing this up. :-)

                      Other issues with hotel rooms at Paris or Bally's? What about the venue and hotel-provided convention spaces? If you could fix the problems you saw, how would you fix them?
                      I didn't actually stay at Paris or Bally's, so I don't have any complaints. I just happen to know that the coffee maker/frig thing is a common issue on the strip. I will say that I had only pleasant interactions with the casino staff while I was at the convention.

                      Comment


                      • #56
                        Originally posted by epicmustache View Post
                        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.
                        I think it is hilarious that the lines at DEF CON were so fucking ridiculous that attendees didn't even know why they were waiting in lines. I guess waiting in lines is like the thing to do at a hacker conference.

                        I also think it is bullshit that DEF CON's organizers always fall back on blaming the venue for the shittiness of their conference.

                        Comment


                        • #57
                          I think a large part of it boils down to not having pre-registration (and for good reason) as well as keeping the costs down. If you want to spend big bucks to get into a con then I'm sure BlackHat would be glad to have you. If you want to pre-purchase your attendee pass then you can always donate/sponsor BSides or pay nothing and take a gamble of not getting in.

                          Defcon strives to keep content plentiful, anonymity and welcomes all who show up.

                          ~L0g1c

                          Comment


                          • #58
                            It boils down to not having jack shit to do at the largest hacker conference in the world but stand in line. Seems like the only people who had any fun were the weirdos shooting guns in the desert.

                            Comment


                            • #59
                              Overall, I think this was a huge improvement and especially over the first cons at other venues (first year at Riv, Rio, etc). It was a bummer not to have everyone in the same space, as it makes it hard to socialize, and lessens the immersion, but it was still a blast. I'd like to see better separation between the villages, although I'm sure that's a tradeoff - better separation == less space. Have slides and speaker on DefconTV was fantastic, but there were several times the video cut off early, sound was muddled, or it didn't start until after the talk did. Growing pains, most likely, but something to be aware of.

                              Comment


                              • #60
                                Originally posted by Sand View Post
                                It boils down to not having jack shit to do at the largest hacker conference in the world but stand in line. Seems like the only people who had any fun were the weirdos shooting guns in the desert.
                                Why are you here? Because this thread is meant for constructive criticism and you seem to have nothing but bitchy complaints. Don't like Defcon? Don't come. It will make the lines you hate so much shorter for the rest of us.

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