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  • Prepare your hats!

    TL;DR:

    Build a tinfoil hat, wear it around the con, and you could win some cool shit from SHIELD Apparel and Great Scott Gadgets. Also, the aliens will have a much harder time convincing you to walk to the next hotel over to get some food. It's fucking HOT in Vegas in July...

    What is this?

    What with aliens and the NSA, a hacker can’t always tell who's listening (or who's transmitting...). Show us your skills by building a tin foil hat to shield your subversive thoughts. There are 2 categories: stock and unlimited. The hat in each category that causes the most signal attenuation will receive the "Substance" award for that category. We all know that hacker culture is all about looking good, though, so a single winner will be selected from each category for “Style”. Finally, a single overall winner will be selected from all combined categories for “Style and Substance”.

    The Rules:*
    • These rules are subject to the judges' interpretation. In the event of a dispute every effort will be made to come to an equitable solution, but the judges' decision will be final. This is a hacker conference, so we expect some liberties to be taken, but if we tell you "no" that means "no". The point here is to have fun and maybe learn something.

    A testing head will be outfitted with a receiver. The receiver will measure signal from one or more hidden transmitters. Contestants will place their hat on the testing head, where it must remain unassisted - what good is a tinfoil hat if it won't stay on your head? - long enough to measure the signal attenuation. Contestants will not be allowed to move the testing head or to completely block the head's eyes (unless using transparent tin foil). The hat must not be in contact with anything except the testing head for the duration of the test (with one exception for the unlimited class, see below). The hat with the most attenuation for each category wins the "Substance" portion of its category.

    The "Style" winner for each category will be selected by the contest judges. This portion of the contest is completely arbitrary and may be based on any subjective factors, including bribes (especially good scotch). Bonus points may be awarded (emphasis on "may") for submissions incorporating items from past cons, use of actual tin, delivery by pirates/feds/aliens, etc. Be creative! Additionally, a finite number of bonus points will be available to be awarded to those contestants who make an effort to wear their hats during the conference. A team of observers will be watching talks, parties, other contests, etc., and will be able to provide participants with a token worth a fixed number of bonus points for the "Style" portion of the contest. Tokens will be turned in and tallied prior to final "Style" judging, and bonus points will be added to contestants' scores. Highest score wins in each category.

    The judges will then gather the top several (number to be determined by participation) hats with the greatest signal attenuation, and then rank them with the same capricious attitude described above to select a single overall winner for "Style and Substance".

    Stock Foil:

    Have plenty of tin foil but short on other stuff? This is the category for you. Using tin foil, and nothing BUT tin foil, build your hat. You will be provided with a reasonable amount of tin foil and plenty of time to build your hat. You may add tin foil at your own expense, and you will be allowed to color your hat with sharpie or suchlike for decoration, but no other materials may be incorporated. Contestants can place their hats on the testing head as many times as time allows during judging, but must not monopolize the head. Highest score (greatest attenuation) will be kept.

    Unlimited Foil:

    Have a brilliant idea for building a better tin foil hat, but can't get it done without an arduino? You're in the right place! Use whatever tools and materials you like to augment your hat, as long as the primary hat construction is tin foil. We will accept tin foil wrapped around an actual hat, but we will probably make fun of you. Unless it works really well - surprise us! You will be provided with a reasonable amount of tin foil to get you started, which you may supplement with whatever you like. Your hat must be self-contained and must be wearable on a standard head. The sole exception is that power sources (battery packs, solar panels, extension cords) may be separate from the hat, but must not support it in any way or offer any structural integrity unless it is completely incorporated in the hat above the neck.

    What's in it for me?

    The fine folks over at SHIELD Apparel and Great Scott Gadgets have donated some badass prizes. We don't want to reveal the prizes now, but trust us, it's good stuff! The admiration/jealousy of your fellow hackers when they see your stylin' hat is just a bonus.

    Sounds like fun, where do I sign up?

    Well, we don't know yet. The contest has been approved, but we don't have details on where we'll be located, how much space we'll have, or any of the other important stuff yet. As soon as we learn those details we'll update this post, and we'll also post them on the contest's twitter, so go give that a follow. That being said, there isn't any registration or anything necessary, just show up and build a hat. Spend as much or as little time on it as you want. We're looking forward to seeing what you can do!

  • #2
    While we're perpetuating ridiculous stereotypes, why don't we have a pocket protector contest?

    In all seriousness, I like Great Scott Gadgets, but this is a terrible idea. It makes a mockery of things like the Biohacking Village, the Wireless village, and human rights websites like BiggerThanSnowden.com. It's subversive humor straight from a South Park cartoon that will also make the general public think of hackers, DEF CON attendees, innovators (Elon Musk / Neural Lace), and those talking about electromagnetic radiation's ability to affect the biological systems of humans as a joke. Electromagnetic weapons are very real, and the microelectronics revolution has made their miniaturization, and near ubiquitous deployment, a reality. Just search "CTTL" or the aforementioned Bigger Than Snowden, or read the "CIA Doctors" by Dr. Collin Ross or "Project Soul Catcher" by Robert Duncan.

    Moving from the social aspects to the scientific aspects, the notion that tinfoil hats provide any type of meaningful electromagnetic shielding is a disservice to the community and an affront to rational thinking. Fully enclosed, car-sized, industrial use Faraday cages or Anechoic chambers can only block a limited range of electromagnetic emissions. When you're dealing with different magnetic/electromagnetic power levels, frequencies, pulse rates, etc... you'd need a lot more to gain passive shielding. The cheapest shielding solution would probably be a Zero Gauss chamber within a SCIF room, running around $5,000 - $10,000 for the DIY crowd. Active shielding is another matter, and to make it mobile and legal would be quite a clever feat.

    I hate to be a kill-joy, as I have as much of a sense of humor and fun as anyone else - and I can even appreciate self-deprecating humor when done cleverly or for good purposes. However, this idea is not a good one. I urge you to pivot.

    Comment


    • #3
      Mitchell, I think you are missing the point here. Defcon is not always a "serious" conference. I entered the tinfoil hat competition, and here were the benefits:

      (a) The contest encouraged engagement by ANYONE regardless of a skill level. I am a newbie and there were very few challenges I felt capable of entering without a lot of help. This one, I could. I didn't have to first meet a bunch of pro's, make friends with them, get them to show me things, etc. I just made a hat. And a very stylish one, it was!
      (b) I wore my tinfoil hat around the Con and met a LOT of people as a result. If nothing else, it's a conversation starter.

      As for technical challenges, I finally did meet some pro's and got in a group so I could participate in these. But I had to figure out how to meet these people on my own (no instructions for newbies on this front) and it took a couple of days. In the meantime, I had my tinfoil hat to help me engage with others. As a side note, I also entered the "Whose Slide is it Anyway" contest, another one that required zero technical skills, and met a lot of people that way, too.

      I don't think it's Defcon's job to preserve the public's perception of electromagnetic radiation and its effects. Certainly there are other conferences for that. And certainly not at the expense of me, a newbie, having a good Con.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Mitchell Effect View Post
        While we're perpetuating ridiculous stereotypes, why don't we have a pocket protector contest?
        Your question may have lead to the creation of a Pocket Protector contest at DEF CON 25. A forum was created for it after I got official word from both Grifter and Nikita.

        It is possible the ideas were totally unrelated, too, and maybe parallel ideas which were unrelated, only added coincidentally.

        -Cot

        Comment


        • #5
          Asshats gotta asshat. And puppet accounts answering troll accounts are always popcorn. Flirzan, I saw the results of your contest and it was fun and looked hilarious. Nice turn out for a first time contest too. And clearly not intended to convey any message of how well they work to reduce brain wave attacks. Faraday cage hat not withstanding. :D
          "They-Who-Were-Google are no longer alone. Now we are all Google."

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by TheCotMan View Post
            Your question may have lead to the creation of a Pocket Protector contest at DEF CON 25. A forum was created for it after I got official word from both Grifter and Nikita.

            It is possible the ideas were totally unrelated, too, and maybe parallel ideas which were unrelated, only added coincidentally.

            -Cot
            Based on my conversation with Nikita on Monday, I'm fairly certain there's going to be a tinfoil pocket protector category in the Pocket Protector contest next year...

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by eris View Post
              Asshats gotta asshat. And puppet accounts answering troll accounts are always popcorn. Flirzan, I saw the results of your contest and it was fun and looked hilarious. Nice turn out for a first time contest too. And clearly not intended to convey any message of how well they work to reduce brain wave attacks. Faraday cage hat not withstanding. :D
              Eris, thanks for your kind words. I had a blast running the contest, and I spoke with several contestants who thanked me for opening up some lines of communication that may not have otherwise occurred (Gigi above is one of those people), which was a side-effect that I hadn't even considered. As someone who met the majority of the people I know at defcon through 1o57's mystery challenge, it makes me very happy to know that some friendships were formed through my contest.

              Assuming defcon will have us, we'll be back next year, with even more tinfoil.

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