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  • defeatedrob
    replied
    Pros: Considering you have no idea what you're up against numbers wise, things go better than expected.
    Cons: I saw many talks, and I don't think I saw a single demo that was squared away. Furthermore, presenters seemed to be having an awful number of technical issues which results in considerable amounts of lost time.

    Personal Points/Suggestions
    Badges and Materials: I didn't get an electronic badge, and I was a bit bummed about that but I figured those would be somewhat limited. What I found unacceptable is when I registered on early Friday morning, got a paper badge, a string, and a sticker. No media CDs, no program... just a sticker. That smells of hard failure. Fire up an 80's Xerox in a basement somewhere and at a minimum print the schedule on copier paper.

    Registration: Maybe it's time to open up a pre-registration or proper registration system. The number one flaw I've seen is not knowing your audience. Everything is a gaggle and a last minute scramble to try to accommodate an unknown problem (number of attendees). This hits you everywhere, from room planning to water stations. I understand the idea is anonymity, but the truth is no one has it... not anymore. If someone wants to pre-register with anonymity, I'm absolutely certain you can figure out a way to accommodate that. The truth is the majority of your audience doesn't care about anonymity and it's causing more problems that it's worth. DefCon has outgrown being able to not give a **** about attendance numbers. You already have started pre-registration of sorts by allowing Black Hat's to gain early registration. Giving access to Group A before Group B is a registration, whether or not you collect their email addresses.

    SITREP: Unfortunately my buddies won't be attending 25. They feel the conference is continuing down a path of being underdeveloped (which I attribute that attitude to having a much larger audience than anticipated). We started attending years ago with 12, but now it's just me. I'm on the fence myself. I've booked the room just in case, but to be honest, I'm not looking forward to a convention expecting 35k people and ending up with 55k. Nothing good comes from that. I appreciate everything over the years, but this might be my first sign-in and final sign-out. Have a good year everyone!

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  • Pwncess
    replied
    There were a number of things I thought were better this year than in those past, including:
    the friendliness level of the goons,
    the ability to get in and out of talks quickly,
    and the amount of time spent in line to get a badge.

    I really only ran into two issues.
    1. The equipment the speakers were using to test their laptops and the equipment in the speaker tracks wasn't the same. That caused some speakers to be late in starting and others to not have access to their slides at all. The obvious answer to this is to make sure the test equipment and the actual equipment are the same.
    2. In one talk the speaker wore a hood the entire time making his words completely garbled and not understandable. If you're going to beat out hundreds of others for a speaker spot, you should have to take it seriously and make sure you can be understood.

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  • Deviant Ollam
    replied
    Originally posted by Tangential View Post
    Now that registration has been solved (discounting the paper badge fiasco), why does Thursday suck, and what can be done about it? 101 is too crowded, workshops fill up in seconds, no villages are open yet, and there is not enough space to accommodate the hackers that linger in the halls. What am I missing?
    The problem with Thursday is that DEF CON keeps inching more and more INTO thursday.

    if you say "the problem with [city X] is that too many folk are moving here" the solution is not to build more housing.

    not to take too strong a point against you, man, but you people are all grown-ups. you don't need every instant of your day pre-planned for you (or maybe this play date, helicopter parent, little leage 5-nights a week generation does)

    arrive in Vegas whenever (the pros arrive Weds or even Tuesday) and do the unofficial activities beforehand...

    * ToxicBBQ
    * DEF CON Shoot
    * hang out by the pools
    * try to scam your way into Black Hat
    * hang out at BSides
    * hit the poker tables
    * or, you know, it's goddamn Las Vegas... there's shit to do in this town

    ... the last thing we need is more and more and more of DEF CON on Thursday. people who do BSides and Black Hat already scream about having to miss out on some things

    not to mention the whole "stuff has to get set up" argument.

    you want Villages open on Thursday? or the Vendor room? good luck... that means DEF CON has to get those spaces open to the Village Staff and Vendors on Wednesday (which usually means a Tuesday rental to get the rooms flipped and prepped) and then all of THOSE people have to have their staff arrive a day earlier, etc etc etc.

    Not to mention work shifts for manning booths, etc. TOOOL runs the Locpick Village. it MURDERS us every year, and that's with something like 20+ volunteers. DEF CON doesn't pay for their travel, their hotel rooms, or most of their badges. suggesting an opening of the Villages on Thursday would entail bumping up everyone's workload (and thus likely our staff numbers) to 133% of current levels. and all associated costs.

    again, i'm not trying to rag on you (or anyone else) here... but for fuck's sake, keep DEF CON a Fri/Sat/Sun event only, at least in the main con spaces. now, something that would NOT entail a whole lot of difficulty in terms of staff levels and logistics would be: DEF CON Pool Party. that is, we block off or somehow reserve the whole hotel Pool area (or at least get a permit to have DJs, etc) and encourage folk to hang out there and meet one another. Just like the old Alexis Park days!
    Last edited by Deviant Ollam; August 11, 2016, 21:25.

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  • bon
    replied
    HHV - I was looking forward to hanging out in the Village. Last year we met folks working on all kinds of stuff: badge hacking contest, drones, things...it was inspiring. We traded ideas and materials. This year, I couldn't get a spot because every seat was filled with the darknet badgers. I would like a Maker/Breaker spot with good lighting and soldering iron - in the conference area as opposed to our hotel room ;-)

    Hacker Jeopardy: I like it. So does my husband. And our teenage son. HJ is irreverent, nerdie, and politically incorrect. So is John Oliver. We like him too. There's plenty of [other] things to do at night. IMHO if you don't like it, don't go...

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  • plore
    replied
    Adding some thoughts:

    1. The flow of people seemed better managed this year. It was so much smoother than last year that I thought perhaps attendance hadn't changed much. I was surprised to hear it had increased significantly. So, well done.

    2. Regarding speakers having AV/projector problems, that was 100% on the speakers in my opinion. (I spoke this year.) I'm not sure that Speaker Ops could have done much else to make that go better. They had a projector in the speaker green room for testing, they had sent out multiple emails asking people to make sure their presentations would work ahead of time, they made it very, VERY clear which video interfaces would be available, and so on. In every talk I attended where people had projector problems, two things were true: first, they were using either Linux or a Mac; and second, they were trying to project something different than was shown on their laptop screen. Either way, those issues should have been sorted out when they practised. (They DID practice, right?)

    3. The badges looked cool, but I agree that it would have been nice to have them be more easily hackable. The DC22 badge was great in part for that reason. Sure the Propeller was an obscure MCU choice in 2014, but at least the dev tools were easily obtained and easy to use, and you could plug it right in to your computer without scrounging for a JTAG adapter. I felt like we saw many more creative things being done with the DC22 badges during DC22 perhaps in part for that reason.

    4. I'd like to see more 20-minute ("30 minute") speaking slots. Although some speakers made good use of their 45-minute ("one hour") slots, many seemed to get off into the weeds or appeared to be trying to fill time. Having only 20 minutes forces the speaker to keep it tight and on-point. That, of course, assumes that the speaker prepares and practices properly -- and as we saw with the projector problems, that might not be a realistic expectation :(

    Leave a comment:


  • D4rthDebug
    replied
    This was my third Defcon. For the most part I stuck with Skytalks since all of the other talks at the con were being recorded. As a result, I have very little feedback but here it is:

    Positives:

    1. The musician line-up was good for the most part
    2. Adding arcade machines to the lounge areas
    3. Registration happened very quickly compared to years past
    4. Using the service elevators to take Con attendees up to the 26th floor in Bally's was a great idea and I'm sure hotel guests were much happier than they were last year
    5. In general my experiences with goons were more pleasant and social than last year. May have just been which goons I happened to interact with, though.

    Negatives:

    1. Skytalks was given way too little space. Last year it would get over half full and its space was cut in half. I was leaving talks midway through to get in line for the following talk because they had to flush the room.
    2. Some goons were uninformed about official events and locations. I encountered goons who didn't even know where the vendor area was supposed to be or when it was supposed to open. I think I asked 3 goons before I got an answer on when it opened. I also encountered a goon who didn't know there was an official Defcon party and only knew Tiaracon was happening that night. This was especially unhelpful as there was no indication that it was in the DC101 room that night instead of Track 2 as had been mentioned elsewhere.

    Suggestions:

    1. Add as little as possible to next year's Defcon. Caesar's Palace is one of the biggest venues in Vegas and probably the biggest which can support Defcon's format. Instead of trying to use all of that space next year, try to use as little as possible so you can grow to fill it more slowly and avoid having to find a bigger place. Since there are more move-able walls, maybe try organizing the rooms so they can be expanded if more room is needed.
    2. Do something special for the Defcon 25 badges. I know it's not an electronic year, but it should be something really cool and possibly electronic.
    3. Give Skytalks more space. As you've probably heard by now it was standing room only for most of the talks. The only times it wasn't absolutely full with a line were Saturday and Sunday mornings when people were hung over and sleeping in.

    Leave a comment:


  • DJ Jackalope
    replied
    Originally posted by Gigs View Post

    There's no elevators, just two banks of ridiculously long escalators. When I visited the other day one of the escalators was broken. There are 4 in a bank, two up two down.
    There's some elevators on the sides, but just like 2 IIRC. I'm curious about the BH head count vs the DC headcount. But that's a convo for another day. This will be the start of escalator con!

    Leave a comment:


  • TheCotMan
    replied
    Thanks everyone for your discussion and rational arguments with constructive criticism! Lots of good ideas have been brought up so far.

    Things are winding down in other spaces with respect to DEF CON feedback.

    Get your ideas and thoughts added to this thread before Aug 19, 2016 . After that, I will be building the report.

    You are welcome to suggest ideas after Aug 19, 2017, but they are less likely to be included in the planning for next year.

    Why a cut-off date? Planning for the following DEF CON begins after DEF CON ends. People have already had discussions on use of space at Caesars and some department heads tweeted in public they have been on a tour of spaces at Casars. Issues, ideas, thoughts, what worked and what did not should get added to this thread so they can then be discussed in the early stages of planning.

    Thanks again!
    -Cot
    Last edited by TheCotMan; August 11, 2016, 15:16.

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  • fiveatoms
    replied
    Originally posted by t0x0 View Post
    Anyway, I think you made some really good points. Thanks for engaging without taking too much offense to my rant.
    Civil discussion is possible on the internet! <3

    Originally posted by t0x0 View Post
    I don't think diversity and inclusion lead to "beigeness" [I really shouldn't make up words] but rather that they're the shield behind which people hide who want to eliminate everything that's offensive. I think diversity and inclusion are great, but that's not the same as removing anything that could cause offense to anyone. if you destroy everything that offends you, you will soon live in a very boring world without much creativity or change. If that goal is accomplished with Defcon, we'll end up with something more like TedX, not Defcon.
    I get where you're coming from. Getting rid of anything that could possibly offend someone would lead to things getting boring quickly. How would we ever exchange new ideas under that type of mentality? I would want to retain the quirky and crazy nature (speaking of the whole con, including HJ) minus the hostility to women or anyone seen as 'others'.

    Originally posted by t0x0 View Post
    Personally, I don't love the whole atmosphere to begin with (which is why I don't go). It seems forced and makes me a little uncomfortable. I also don't like high audience participation comedy shows for the same reason. So I don't fit into your poll demographic for people who are fine with such things, but I'll answer anyway - I would be equally uncomfortable with folks of my own gender involved as I am with the status quo. Having said that, if Queercon wants to be involved in HJ, then sure. It would be shitty to shun them and more people might be interested in attending the event, which would be great. In my opinion your suggestion has far more merit toward diversity and inclusion than others. Would HJ be less sexist if it a female were involved in asking the questions instead of just being perceived as being the eye candy? Also perhaps a way to make it more inclusive without destroying it...or a little of both (men stripping and women MCing)?
    The 'you' in my thought experiment was meant to refer to anyone reading that comment. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it. If anyone else has thoughts, I'd be interested to hear them. Having QUEERCON involved was just my hare-brained idea, I doubt they would actually do it. :) And I have to admit, I like seeing women up there being sexy and stuff. But the message it sends is that *only women* are welcome to be sexy, and women are *only there* to be sexy - these are what I find offensive.

    Leave a comment:


  • fiveatoms
    replied
    Originally posted by t0x0 View Post
    I'd suggest an airport style solution - large screens (projectors?) with the day's schedule in a few places throughout main areas.
    Maybe use one of the DC-TV channels (maybe the chillout one playing SomaFM) or livestream for this and have monitors throughout the casino and convention areas tuned to it? Downsides - it wouldn't necessarily be near the track rooms, and I'm not sure how hard it would be to get live updates through from goons to DC-TV.

    Leave a comment:


  • Gigs
    replied
    Originally posted by t0x0 View Post
    The downside to this solution is capital cost.
    Yeah, that's the only downside to a networked signage system prominently displayed at a hacker conference. :)

    Leave a comment:


  • Gigs
    replied
    Originally posted by fiveatoms View Post
    Not sure what Ceasar's would look like, but hopefully traffic flow has been or will be evaluated prior to dc25 to see if such a procedure would apply.
    There's no elevators, just two banks of ridiculously long escalators. When I visited the other day one of the escalators was broken. There are 4 in a bank, two up two down.

    Leave a comment:


  • t0x0
    replied
    Originally posted by TheCotMan View Post
    The issue with changes to the schedule last-minute have been a problem for decades.
    ...
    "Sandwich Boards" and "A-Frame" with paper were tried, but quickly defaced, altered with bad information, or went missing. Similar with dry-erase boards. As for availability, these were not effective.

    One of the better ideas that was created to help with this was the Information Booth, but not a great way to announce changes to all ~22,000 people.
    ...
    The rest of the options leverage an assumption of access to a smartphone.
    ...
    There is also following several key account on twitter, but that also requires a mobile device capable of getting twitter feeds and accessing them while at con.
    ...
    Paper signs on doors announcing last-minute changes risk the same issues of A-Frame/Sandwich boards.

    We have not yet found a really good solution to this issue that is:
    * Easy
    * Accessible to all
    * Easily accessible to all
    * Low risk for defacement
    * Available to people without people enabling or using tech
    * Cost effective
    * Time-effective (in human/goon hours)
    I'd suggest an airport style solution - large screens (projectors?) with the day's schedule in a few places throughout main areas. It doesn't need many details, just something like

    [earlier times looped above]
    1500
    T1 - Title of Preso - Presenters - On Schedule
    T2 - Title of Preso - Presenters - Full
    T3 - Title of Preso - Presenters - Canceled
    T4 - Title of Preso - Presenters - Delayed

    1600
    T1 - Title of Preso - Presenters - On Schedule
    T2 - Title of Preso - Presenters - Full
    T3 - Title of Preso - Presenters - Canceled
    T4 - Title of Preso - Presenters - Delayed
    [later times looped below]
    [horizontal ticker]1200 T1 "Presentation on shits and giggles" - MOVED TO 1300 T2[/horizontal ticker]

    This could scroll through the times for the day, and have a ticker at the bottom noting any talk location changes. Perhaps near the line to every track, in primary hangout areas and onscreen before the talks begin?

    The downside to this solution is capital cost. It probably wouldn't be too difficult to build, maintain, or use and I think it would accomplish the goal well, but there's definitely a cost for equipment. Up to management to decide if it's cost effective. :)

    Leave a comment:


  • t0x0
    replied
    I was gonna let it go since Cot was nudging that way, but this seems like a productive discussion - I'm probably not going to continue it past this though.

    Originally posted by fiveatoms View Post
    No, but you seem to be implying that diversity and inclusion necessarily leads to what you call "beigeness".
    I don't think diversity and inclusion lead to "beigeness" [I really shouldn't make up words] but rather that they're the shield behind which people hide who want to eliminate everything that's offensive. I think diversity and inclusion are great, but that's not the same as removing anything that could cause offense to anyone. if you destroy everything that offends you, you will soon live in a very boring world without much creativity or change. If that goal is accomplished with Defcon, we'll end up with something more like TedX, not Defcon.

    Originally posted by fiveatoms View Post
    To the other people who are fine with these things - would you also be fine if a guy or person of ambiguous gender were doing them? My guess is, probably not. They would get flamed right off the stage. So I guess what I'm getting at is, I want QUEERCON to take over hacker jeopardy next year. ;) They are inclusive and diverse and about as far from "beige" as you can get (no offense to the color beige).
    Personally, I don't love the whole atmosphere to begin with (which is why I don't go). It seems forced and makes me a little uncomfortable. I also don't like high audience participation comedy shows for the same reason. So I don't fit into your poll demographic for people who are fine with such things, but I'll answer anyway - I would be equally uncomfortable with folks of my own gender involved as I am with the status quo. Having said that, if Queercon wants to be involved in HJ, then sure. It would be shitty to shun them and more people might be interested in attending the event, which would be great. In my opinion your suggestion has far more merit toward diversity and inclusion than others. Would HJ be less sexist if it a female were involved in asking the questions instead of just being perceived as being the eye candy? Also perhaps a way to make it more inclusive without destroying it...or a little of both (men stripping and women MCing)?

    I suspect part of the issue you mentioned (men not being welcome onstage) may be addressed by this seemingly unattributable quote: "Men's magazines often feature pictures of naked ladies. Women's magazines also often feature pictures of naked ladies. This is because the female body is a beautiful work of art, while the male body is hairy and lumpy and should not be seen by the light of day."

    *shrug*

    Anyway, I think you made some really good points. Thanks for engaging without taking too much offense to my rant.

    Leave a comment:


  • fiveatoms
    replied
    Originally posted by t0x0 View Post
    Face it, you don't want diversity and inclusion, you want homogeneity, uniformity and beigeness
    No, but you seem to be implying that diversity and inclusion necessarily leads to what you call "beigeness". Dude, have you seen QUEERCON? (<--- foreshadowing)

    The hacker jeopardy thing was a problem, but IMHO *not* the "dicks" thing. Yes, there was a category called "DICKS" to which the answers had some form of "dick" in them. I personally thought that was clever and made the answers accessible even to those with minimal security background. The reason this was pointed out by some people as offensive is because it is a concrete example. When someone says "sexism exists at defcon" nobody is willing to take that person at their word; they always demand proof. For some, this is proof enough. Set against the tableau of scantly clad women serving beer to a panel of neckbeards, the image doesn't sit well with some people.

    To me, though, HJ has a bigger problem, and that is the double standard. Take two examples: 1 - The women who were serving contestants on stage were stripping at each daily double. 2 - The same women were apparently wearing strap on dildos at some point. To the other people who are fine with these things - would you also be fine if a guy or person of ambiguous gender were doing them? My guess is, probably not. They would get flamed right off the stage. So I guess what I'm getting at is, I want QUEERCON to take over hacker jeopardy next year. ;) They are inclusive and diverse and about as far from "beige" as you can get (no offense to the color beige).

    (NOTE: I'm actually fine with 1 & 2, anything goes as long as it's their free choice to do it. This example is not intended to be a judgement on the women or their choice to help out the HJ event. They are badass people too, and their antics definitely add needed character and spice to the contest.)

    One more observation RE hacker jeopardy: After all these things mentioned above happened, the emcee made a comment about getting more women up there as contestants. Frankly, I could not physically roll my eyes hard enough at how tone-deaf that was. I'm glad that a woman ended up winning (part of the winning team?) but that doesn't erase the sexist nature of the event.

    Let's keep the constructive discussion going.

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