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What was good or bad at DEF CON 25 . Make DEF CON 26 better

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  • #16
    OK, i've read this whole thread and have some thoughts, some of which are responses to other comments in this thread. ;-)

    I have been attending since DEF CON 8. I have fond memories of the Alexis Park (and i also take OFF my rose-colored glasses and remember the problems there, too), I lived through the Riv, I loved the Rio, and remembered all of us doing out best at the Bally's and Paris. I motherfucking LOVE this venue now. I really, really, REALLY hope we stay at the Caesar's for years to come.

    As i said on Twitter... i participated in a number of jokes in the run-up to this year's DEF CON. "Whoa, we're just totally Black Hat now, eh?" many folk said. "After all, we're at the Caesar's. Birthplace of Black Hat. No shenanigans anymore, there go the 70s, blah blah blah."

    I was goddamn dead wrong. This was the best venue since the Alexis Park. It had space for chilling, it had walkable fun times between events, no one was utterly crushed in crowds, etc. Was it perfect? No. But it was also our very first year there. I can't wait to return. (Full disclosure... between DEF CON, Black Hat, SANS, ALOA, and many other security events, I'm in Vegas a number of times per year and after staying ALL OVER, the Caesar's is my favorite, so i'm biased)

    [= Venue and Geography =]

    Let's talk more about the venue and the floorplan layout.

    I thought it was GREAT to have the "open" floorplan of various rooms. This was something to which many of us objected during planning. Poor Zant and Nikita and Grifter heard a lot of grief from Lockpick, Tamper, and Car Hacking when we learned that lots of walls would be missing from the plan. "What?" we all shouted, wrongly. "That will be awful, and there will be no security, and it will be too loud!" we bellowed like idiots.

    NO NO NO, the open plan was UNREAL for energy and feeling "part" of things. Actually being in the Lockpicking area but witnessing the Rascal Scooters being broken down and hacked in the Car Hacking area was a bonus. Seeing and hearing Tamper from our tables was a bonus. I loved not being walled off. Security just was achieved by all closing down at the same hour and posting a guard. (A guard who i understand was fired for being 100% asleep and only thanks to the Mobile Party Brigade did DEF CON get notified of this fact, since they wandered in there looking for parties to rickroll. They found an unlocked door, but no party... they only found a uniformed dude asleep in a chair)

    So yeah, the layout was awesome. And i will personally masturbate to completion anyone who was responsible for the FOUR info booths this year, spread across all three levels of the con space. Great work!

    Crowds and crowd management is always hard the first time we are in a new spot. I loved the rope-and-stanchion solution but agree it needs to be up from the start of Day One. Also helpful were a few areas where someone had rigged up markings saying "this part of the floor is lava" so no one would stop there. That sort of signage (or, more accurately, floor markings) would be great in the top/bottom of escalators and where large junctions meet. Like "Don't Block The Box" signs in big city intersections.

    i loved opening up more exits and back stair exits. but, yeah, the rope-and-stanchion solutions worked the best. Having lots more of them in reserve in QM for others to use (like outside SkyTalks) would be a plus.

    the elevators were never too crowded to be useful. great work. and it was awesome that the Palace Tower was for only DEF CON folk. if you didn't know that, thank those who planned it this way. that really helped.

    Folk have already talked about the escalators. As an elevator- and escalator-trained guy, let me simply say that this was wholly a function of too many people at once. You can't overload an up-travel escalator like that. in future, i'm sure this can and will be managed. (the Caesar's had a staff member there at some point, telling people to not overload the up travel side.) NOTE - you can't use a standing escalator as a staircase. very bad things happen. don't suggest that.

    Some spots simply did need more room, badly. A few I spotted...
    Biohacking Village
    SE Village

    ...does this mean that other spots get LESS room if these are allowed to grow? Maybe. And that's a very hard call every year and Nikita gets so much stress over it so you should all rub her feet or something.

    Honestly, I'll ask... do we ever consider going back to 3 main stage tracks instead of 4? It's been years and years since we were three-tracks. Don't know if that would fly.

    Temperatures were well-managed and the hotel has fine amenities and quality in most of its areas. (Yes, it's a touch expensive... more on that below)

    People love to bitch about LineCon/HallCon... it wasn't all that bad for me. Chilling in halls is part of the con itself. Or it has historically been for me. ;-) Other folk complained about the lack of "hangout" areas. There were two Chillout areas officially, plus lots of space in the Contest room, plus even space in the CTF room, that I saw. Other unofficial chillout areas functioned like them... Villages were places that folk met and chatted, the InfoSecUnlocked room served as an AMAZING quiet and safer space for noobs who didn't feel like they fit in just yet, etc.

    Also, basically every attendee has their own chillout area, it's called your hotel room. Now, of course, this gets to the heart of another topic area that folk spoke about a great deal...

    [= Audio/Video Matters =]

    I'm betting that a lot of the LineCon/Chillout/crowd stress would be relieved if the streaming and/or DEF CON TV functionality was improved. I personally didn't watch the streams this year, but I recall them being a REALLY important part of my old DEF CON experiences, particularly at the Alexis Park when it was getting too crowded. I would like to hear from more attendees, from VideoMan, and others about what can be done here. Hell, we have the budget and the technology, don't we?

    Separate from the "audience not in the room wishing for better A/V solutions" it seems there were problems with seeing and hearing talks from actually within the rooms? That is interesting to me. Any talks I saw ran smoothly and were good there. However, other simple solutions would alleviate much of that...

    1. have A/V staff right the fuck there at the stage as each new speaker sets up.

    2. use HDMI for everything. no VGA. no 1/8" audio. Video over HDMI, audio over same HDMI cable. no fuckery.

    3. SO CRITICAL, DO WE DO THIS???>>> have the exact same HDMI hardware in every talk room and have a duplicate of it in the speaker ready room. We already require speakers to be present in the green room like an hour before their actual talk, right? Can we have Speaker Ops demand that they connect their laptop to the projector and HDMI hardware right there in the speaker ready room so that we all know it works, the screen resolutions and refresh rates are fine, etc?

    I don't have a dog in the fight when it comes to microphones... handheld or lavaliere, meh whatever... just as long as there is a dedicated A/V technician right at the stage right at the start of the talk.

    Good A/V tech can be the ultimate key to relieving SO MUCH of the stress that folk are feeling about the crowds, etc. If people know that there's for sure a reliable means of viewing the talks from their hotel rooms or other chillout areas (hell, i could imagine folk with a large laptop at the circle bar across from Payard) then that will cut down a lot on folk complaining about LineCon.

    UPDATE: after more talks with some of the people affected as well as the people who work this issue in the background, it appears that something like 90% of this problem is Union-related.

    The fact is that Encore is a union shop and (unless I'm wrong) mandated by the Caesars to be used. No other shops have the contract or are permitted in.

    So it sounds like that has made them lazy and ineffectual and generally suck a lot of ass. Shocker.

    Iam not DEFCON's lawyer, nor on the core team who negotiates with a hotel, but I could definitely support putting much stronger language into our contract with Encore saying that they are responsible for making the shit actually fucking run right.

    [= ZOMG Expensive Blah Blah My Wallet =]

    Yes, DEF CON 25 costs more than DEF CON 20 did, which costs more than DEF CON 10 did. News Flash: Life continues to get more expensive over time. That's life. If you think that this year's price wasn't INSANE value for what you paid, I can't help you.

    I will admit, however, that many of the amenities at the Caesar's were expensive. It's a top-tier Vegas strip hotel. My wife and i had breakfast in our room one morning. It cost (i am literally not joking) $147 total. For all of you who were bemoaning the cost of dining at the Caesar's (and I wholly agree, their con floor food sucked while at the same time being too expensive) i can suggest the following...

    1. the Grand Bazzar Shops, the CVS, the Bally's/Paris, and the Flamingo are each a 10 minute walk FROM THE CON FLOOR. We timed it. Multiple times. This 10 minute walk involves 5 minutes of being outside, but no street crossings (well, no waiting at lights or being near cars... there are sky bridges) and you get considerably cheaper options.

    2. if you have a car or a friend with a car, by all means, get ALL your food off-site (have one person do a run for 20 people in a mass food pick-up which takes maybe 30 minutes) and eat like kings for mere dollars per day. Yes, i know you're not supposed to bring in outside food. But you all do realize that NO ONE checks for this, right? DEF CON can't actively encourage this behavior, but you really don't have the right to bitch about not being able to afford food.

    3. Imma just leave this here...

    ]= Dumb Ideas =[

    These ideas are dumb. Stop suggesting them.

    Presentations using conference laptops - LOLNOPE. way way way more hassle than you'd imagine. Just standardize around HDMI for absolutely all projectors and audio systems and have the exact same HDMI setup in the speaker green room and make testing it mandatory before someone takes the stage. "conference laptops" are a source of WAY more inconsistencies and problems (font failures, live demo code, VMs, etc)

    Pre-registration or capping attendees to a max limit - then DEF CON wouldn't be DEF CON. you are literally talking about a change in the way they do things that would be on the order of moving DEF CON to a city that isn't Las Vegas. Which should also never happen...

    Trying DEF CON elsewhere - hah, this is mostly me just poking fun at Jeff, and I'm honestly more on the fence here. The idea of "DEF CON in Bejing" is very bold. I would be interested to see what happens. Personally, i really would have thought that Taiwan or Hong Kong is a better option, because so so so many of us just aren't permitted to enter mainland China. But the idea of bringing our dissident knowledge to that audience would be feasible in Hong Kong since the Chinese don't need a visa to enter Hong Kong, just like Americans don't.

    Overall, I love the DEF CON continues to thrive and this year was the best in a while for me. I look forward to seeing where things go from here.

    Here's to a marvelous quarter-century of hacking, everyone!
    Last edited by Deviant Ollam; August 2, 2017, 16:33.
    "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


    • #17
      The efficiency of the line to get my badge was awesome, I seriously thought that I was going to be there all day, it was an hour and a half tops, VERY impressed by this.

      As queues started to line the halls for different tracks or even villages I think it would be beneficial to make it more clear what the queue is for. I actually kind of liked the whole get in a random line and see where it goes but I could imagine this would bother a lot of people.

      Obviously the escalators will be fixed :)


      • #18
        Overall, I thought DC25 went off better than a typical first-year-in-a-new-casino DEF CON.

        The one big annoyance for me was the AV situation. (I know this has been covered already, but I want to talk about it again anyway.)

        The speaker room did indeed have a projector that was supposedly identical to the ones in the tracks, and I made sure that my laptop worked with it over HDMI before going up on stage in Track 4 on Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, the speaker room setup was not an accurate representation of the reality in Track 4.

        In Track 4, HDMI connections simply did not work. Per the goons in Track 4, the only thing that was working for anybody in there was Display Port. Apparently, the speaker prior to me had tried to make a go of it anyway before eventually giving up and using the AV guy's Display Port-equipped laptop. After verifying that HDMI was indeed unusable, I too failed over to the AV guy's laptop using a copy of my slides and demo videos that I'd brought on a thumb drive. Unfortunately, even that approach had problems: the AV guy's laptop would work with the projectors only in "extended" mode, not "mirrored" mode, so it was difficult to switch between my slides and demo videos during the talk.

        Other annoyances:

        - The lavalier mic had disappeared, so it was handheld mics or nothing
        - The house lights were never dimmed

        Good things:

        - The speaker goons were professional and as helpful as they could be given the situation
        - The audio guy apparently was pretty quick with some equalization during my talk to smooth out some highs, which was good because I couldn't hear myself at all.

        I think the talk turned out reasonably well, all things considered, and I am glad that there was at least a usable backup option (the AV guy's laptop) available.

        EDIT: Ok, I might be misremembering the Display Port thing; maybe it was actually HDMI that was working from the AV guy's laptop. In any case, things were working in the green room, and they weren't working on stage, but at least the AV guy's laptop was usable.


        • #19
          First, I'd like to thank everyone involved in the con. It's been my third year and my first with my son and it was the best yet.

          The good and better:
          - The space was better than Paris/Bally's so thanks for switching
          - The workshop registration system, electronic is much better than the lines we had in defcon 24 - thanks
          - The 2 chilling areas
          - HackerTracker App

          The could be better list:
          - Speaker AV needs - having sat through a few talks that started late because of AV issues, it might be better to have speakers upload the presentations to a presentation repo and have them present from an already setup machine.
          - More space in the SE village - it's seems there's always not enough room in there and always a line every year.
          - Villages were in different locations across the con. Bally's single location for villages seemed better organized and easier to navigate since everything was more focused.

          One last feedback - the SCAPY workshop I participated in was great.

          Again - seems like the con is getting better and better every year, so thanks, thanks, thanks. 2018 would most likely have 30,000 attendees.


          • #20
            On the topic of A/V issues and HDMI, one thing to keep in mind is that HDMI is pretty unforgiving with long cables, whereas VGA will normally degrade semi-gracefully. If the speaker ops room doesn't duplicate the *exact* setup, including exact cable lengths and types, splitting the signal into a projector and capture box, etc., then you'll probably get some unexpected surprises on stage.


            • #21
              The big achievement for dc25 in my mind:

              There was a lot good about this def con. The badge line in spite of record turn out was well managed and probably as good as it has been since the first E-badges. That's worth a special shout out.

              Also want to shout out the speakers... and the CFP review panel. I gave one of my better presentations ever ( probably ) and I still felt like I was the worst speaker at def con by far. The quality of talks was above any prior year. I was thoroughly impressed.

              The big let down for dc25 is two fold:

              1. the badge was shit. we get it, lost bailed, no time to do a real e-badge etc. but you still charged for the badge like it was an e-badge. that's not cool. and the badge hacking room was almost insult to injury. if not for the non def con badges that room would have been best served providing a place for doing macaroni art on your rubber ( or plastic ) placard. i am not the only one who felt that way. And that's why I mention it. Not to sound like I was wronged. And I don't wish to sound petty, obviously the con matters more than any stupid badge. But... I heard a lot of that. And it resonated. And that means it's an issue. And to be frank I can't say I don't agree.

              2. the size of the conference has finally gone well over any survivable amount of people. caesars sucked. the beers were 12 bucks at the poorly laid out and poorly ran bars. the hallways were beyond over crowded. vendor area was 4 stores and a mosh pit. and the talks weren't available on the in room feeds for most of the conference... leaving folks who did want to attend a talk to contend with what felt like a line for the last life boats on the titanic. this murdered what little remained of the old defcon culture. if not for dc949 being willing to attempt to keep the defcon spirit alive and a wealth of friends ... i'd have just left the con entirely and went elsewhere.

              def con... is too big.

              it could be cut to half of it's size this year, and STILL be too big.

              you simply cannot have 22k+ attendees and still call it def con. because... it's not.

              I know deviant disagrees. And I'd gladly debate the matter. But, I think there's a size where community fails. And Def Con no longer has the openness I recall. It simply doesn't. Especially in a hotel whose size forces folks to separate into their cliques. It's fun to spend time with friends in private suites etc. But it's also fun to hang out in the 'con bar' area. This def con didn't have that area. And that didn't afford an opportunity for veterans and newbies alike to hang out and form that unique bond that only def con can produce.

              So... if I were DT. I'd start with an apology for the badges, and charging full price for em. Too late to do much else. I'd then promise to leave caesars. I'd cut the con down into manageable levels. And let people know that next year there will be a defcon badge lottery. If you want to avoid the lottery... enter the cfp. run an event. etc. but no more free badges for blackhat. no more 22k+ people. You enter the lottery and you get a barcode for a badge. You turn that bar code in at badge reg. Done. It's not perfect. But it's SIGNIFICANTLY better than what is currently going down.

              Otherwise, I fear that Def Con is finally beginning the slide into failure.

              Just my opinion. I think that Def Con goons, volunteers, attendees even were amazing. As they are every year. Especially under the huge glut of people that's been the hallmark of dc25. But... in that ocean of people, it's hard to feel like anything other than cattle. And that was never what def con was.

              Figure some folks will still take that commentary badly. I'm fine with that. I stand behind what I said.
              Last edited by openfly; August 5, 2017, 12:17.


              • #22
                Thanks to everyone for your ideas so far! Complaining about what sucks, describing why and what can be done to fix them is really good!

                This is a note:

                I am expecting to finish the post-con summary and report for DEF CON Department heads by the end of next weekend.

                If all goes well, any and all comments included in this thread will be included with other resources I use in describing what worked, what didn't, what should be changed and what should stay the same, and all of these will be included in the report to help with planning for next year.

                So the deadline:
                To have the best chance at getting your thoughts and ideas on what sucked, and what worked in DEF CON 25, and have those ideas help to plan DEF CON 26, get your thoughts posted by August 15, 2017 at noon, pacific time.

                Planning for DEF CON 26 in some departments already started before DEF CON ended. For the rest, planning will likely start this coming week, or the week of the 14th.

                Keep your thoughts and ideas coming!

                Last edited by TheCotMan; August 17, 2017, 11:15.


                • #23
                  So here goes:
                  I have been through the Riv and queuing around the pool outside to the gridlock of the Rio to the horrible elevator access at Ballys for the top floor villages and I thought Caesars was the best yet. I guess I was lucky that I didnt get caught in any of the crowds described above but I scouted the place out Thurs and was able to move around with relative ease. My actual biggest gripe was people walking 4 across slowly ambling along when I was in a hurry to get to a talk! I think the concern about signage is valid though. I knew where things were in general but trying to scope out other places could prove tricky and you ended up stopping in the middle of hallways to check the maps which causes blockages.

                  Badge reg was awesome, I woke up hungover as fuck on Thursday and struggled to get out of bed but I simply walked straight into an empty(!) room around midday and got the badge. I liked the idea of the badges through history but something a little more exciting than the first would have probably gone down better. And to those bitching about the lack of e-badge, this was an off year, you werent getting one even if 1o57 was doing it and you pay for the con, not the badge.

                  What the hell happened to swag? First thing I noticed was the increase to the cost for anything above XL. Was this a contributing factor to the stock levels initially purchased as everything above that size was sold out by mid Friday? Dont think I have seen this before so I can only conclude there just wasnt the higher stock levels to begin with. Oh and bring back cuff links, mine have busted and I need replacements!

                  Vendor are was another poor showing. I really dont think we need 4 vendors selling just lockpicks, 5 if you count Toools booth in the LP village. Was this in lieu of HackerStickers? As someone else mentioned their presence was missed. This meant there was one alt for t-shirts to official swag (and the only place I could get one my size). I know its usually crowded but putting No Starch where you did meant it created a huge bottle neck in that corner. Not sure Hak5 needs ALL that space either, 4 lines for their products and just production line that stuff. Oh, and does anyone actually buy those Gunnar glasses? They have been coming back a while but is there a market for them at con? (This isnt a gripe, truly want to know).

                  I reckon Packet Hacking, SE, Recon (which I heard was awesome) villages are probably never going to have enough space but I will add myself to the list of pushing for it. Does the lockpick really need all that space (along with a selling booth?)

                  I thought that talks were really good this year, SHA-1 collisions stood out for explaining something technical very well, thumbs down to the EDNS OPT talk, didnt need 25 mins of the history of DNS RFC's.

                  AV, yes there were problems but not entirely sure it warrants the vitriol going on. Track 3 had that persistent sync problem which I really think should have been addressed much quicker (it actually looks like it took until closing ceremonies until it was figured out). The TV streams had their problems but I got to see the majority of what I wanted on there. Does the AV soc have a TV (or 4) watching the streams coming through? If not, it might pick up on problems quicker. I think someone mentioned putting the streams into chillout or something, could maybe broadcast sound via radio so people could tune in to listen and not disturb others who want to talk, etc but then if they are online now you could just do that. Is the streaming server inside the con network? If you are on con wifi are you hitting something local or something hosted external?

                  Why was the exit to 101 track through chill out, kind of killed the point of the room!?

                  Food in con area. How the hell to they get away with pricing small bottles of water or soda so high. They are just gouging when you can go downstairs and get more for less price (and even then its higher than normal). This really does smack of Harrahs being dicks, they would probably make more reducing the price but selling more volume. Whilst this is beyond the control of con organisers it would be good to pass on.

                  Lack of IOActive/Pool party. This is a tricky one as the cost, etc involved would seem prohibitive but I wanted to highlight how important these were to me in my early con days. If you werent 'cool' enough to get into the big parties at least there was somewhere you could go, feel a part of the festivities and get to meet people and usually listen to Dual Core! No idea on logistics but for first time con goers these would be good to try and slot in somewhere.

                  Lastly is the overall con feel. This was 25, supposed to be a big thing but it sort of felt people were just going through the motions. There was no real 'buzz', nothing over-the-top crazy that made you go 'wow, thats what a 25 yr celebration is about'. Maybe things are too big for that now, maybe everyone is getting old, I dont know, just lacked a bit of spark. That isnt to say I didnt have a great time though.

                  Oh and how come no one got The Who to come play closing, I mean they were right there, not doing anything, couple of free beers and I reckon they would have done it :)

                  Or maybe Cee-Lo Green

                  Or maybe not.


                  • #24


                    -Hallway traffic control was a very evident lessons learned from the Bally’s hallway last year. Good job!

                    -The many information booths were awesome

                    -Goons were super nice and patient even when you could see they were tired as hell

                    -Hacker Tracker was rad (I know you can only do so much with the information you are given with updating it)

                    -Having food at Chillout as an option to the $ Caesar’s restaurants - it wasn’t really great, but still sort of edible. (Still of course, bring as much of your own food and snackage in as possible to avoid this option, but I’m glad it’s there!)

                    -Hallway bars - few and far between, but super glad to see them!

                    -Palace tower only for DC was awesome!
                    -keep doing hotel DC key art

                    -Grifter offering open party spaces for parties before con

                    -Fun bands and DJs in Track 1 (And holy cow it sounded good!!!)

                    -Temperature was good

                    -Elevators went a lot smoother than I thought they would be

                    -Zebbler and his crew has AMAZEBALLS art! Please keep them coming back!

                    -“i loved opening up more exits and back stair exits.” Agree with deviant here!

                    -Skytalks is great

                    -I liked the badges. They were super fun. I know they were super easy to copy and had no security (which made them pretty terrible from a security standpoint), but I loved having something that was lightweight, not easily breakable, and something that BENDS when you wear it. (As you can see, I’m not quite an electronic badge fan for all those reasons.)


                    -If you are handicapped (or have a giant handcart full of stuff), how are you supposed to get through the Appian Way? Yes, there are 2 little elevators: however, you have to have hotel security operate them for you. My experience helping and talking to a 1st time DC attendee waiting for like 15+ minutes before she gave up to get someone to operate the elevator, proved that this is kind of not really a compliant way to go. (I know this is on the hotel, not DC.)

                    -I missed seeing all my friends somehow in the madness

                    -Tables and some more seating in Chillout (I’m sure that seating didn’t happen in the Soma stage area due to fire code...but if it wasn’t fire code, can we get please some chairs and stuff in there next year?)

                    -Is there any other way to do SWAG--- what if there were 2 SWAG booths? (at least for the beginning of con, then go to 1 later on on saturday afternoon or something)

                    -I know that it’s Caesar's and to expect huge prices--- but the food at chillout was hugely unaffordable. $4 for an apple was rough. (I know you're all squinting at me saying chillout food was a plus now!)

                    -Missed pool parties

                    -Giving up part of Vendor for packet hacking

                    -DCTV just flaking out because of overheating. I ended up in my room hoping to see closing ceremonies and did not get to see them. (Sad Lope)

                    I'm sure I'll think of some more before the deadline, but that's what I have so far!

                    DJ Jackalope
                    dopest dj in the galaxy. *mwah!*

                    send in the drop bears!


                    • #25
                      * Thursday badge line was one of the most efficient I have ever experienced
                      * Workshop registration (pre-con) was handled in one of the most fair ways possible. I may not have gotten into all the workshops I would have wanted to, but it was fair, and everyone knew what workshops they were going to be able to go to prior to the con
                      * Hotel rooms in the Palace tower being able to take an elevator to the conference was nice. Knowing how to use the elevators rather than escalators also helped
                      * Information booths around the con with knowledgeable goons
                      * The arcade machines continue to be a nice touch

                      * The one workshop I was in was only half full. It was on Thursday and in the morning, so I can't comment on other workshops, but it would have been nice to let others that may not have made the reg, or the wait list in if they wanted to
                      * The official Swag line was rather long. I can't complain too much, I met some interesting people. As efficient as the badge line was, the Swag line was that inefficient
                      * I only attended SkyTalks on one day, but they had to clear the room between talks due to demand. I really do like SkyTalks, and would love to see them get some more space. I don't know what would have to be given up
                      * The AV system in the main track (Track 2) had some issues that were not resolved during the talks I sat through. At least one speaker had no slides (though he manages quite well without them) during the whole talk


                      • #26
                        Goon saturation
                        Information booths
                        quick adaption to foot traffic (adding lines)
                        Skytalk room was good size
                        Workshop sign up was easy
                        Workshop that showed how to compromise AND how to fix (red and blue)
                        Blackhat Defcon badge pickup

                        No DCTV to Flamingo, the literal sister hotel to Caesars (yet could to Bally's)
                        Online streaming didn't work
                        A/V for Hacker Jeopardy and other events. Caesars dropped the ball.


                        • #27
                          As DEF CON grows, crowd management is becoming increasingly difficult. It sounds like registration went quickly, but villages still had long lines for talks, etc. It might be interesting to explore some sort of Disney-like "FastPass" system, where you can reserve guaranteed entry to a future event/talk, but you can only have one active reservation at a time. Perhaps some villages could try it out? It would likely require (scannable?) serial numbers on the official DEF CON badges to avoid people gaming the system.


                          • #28
                            Originally posted by supersat View Post
                            As DEF CON grows, crowd management is becoming increasingly difficult. It sounds like registration went quickly, but villages still had long lines for talks, etc. It might be interesting to explore some sort of Disney-like "FastPass" system, where you can reserve guaranteed entry to a future event/talk, but you can only have one active reservation at a time. Perhaps some villages could try it out? It would likely require (scannable?) serial numbers on the official DEF CON badges to avoid people gaming the system.
                            I've seen this discussed. There are two major issues brought up with this concept:
                            1) This kind of breaks a past historical cultural theme to not promote elitism. In order for something like this to work, a limited number have to be produced which are well under the max occupancy for any rooms that would use it, which creates scarcity, and increases value. Then once there is greater value what criteria are used to distribute these? If done by free market, then only the "rich" will have them. If done with "while supplies last" online then those really good with scripting and "curl" or other tools gain an advantage at a disadvantage to the newbies. If done by lottery, then it might be like FCC bandwidth lotteries where the winner immediately sells to the highest bidder. All of these issues (and more) stem from the requirement of limited quantity.
                            2) Technical implementation: assuming this is for all villages and talks, and the smallest village has max occupancy for 30 audience members plus speaker and camera crew. This then becomes the limiting factor. If you set a max of 30 of these badges, then 30 people can deny access to this village to everyone else. Another technical issue is that of abuse in duplication. If the badge has a unique ID, which somehow could be tracked per room, what is to stop someone from duplicating that unique ID, and handing it our for each friend that wants to be in a different room? Is there going to be some sort of cross-device synchronization of data to ensure only one unique ID can be used at a time? Can the system of communications for ID restrictions be enforced if the media used for inter-device communication and synchronization if DOS-ed? What happens when you ID is stolen? Going to move to an electronic device that has a time-based rolling ID like some smart-cards?

                            The cultural and technical issues are both large in scope especially when considering the crowd at DEF CON. The culture changes over time, and maybe elitism will take over as the new culture. Maybe a trend of taking power away from those that have it and giving it to those without will cause special interests to take over the culture? Maybe some other culture will take over like one based entirely on capitalism or an Oligarchy?

                            Suggestions and feedback on these technical and cultural issues are welcome.

                            Outside of this, DEF CON *kind-of* has this. Goon badges allow for access kind of like this, but it is something earned through work and volunteering. There are still elements of the older cultural goon system of a meritocracy. However, just because you have a goon badge does not make you part of a team; you can still be an outsider/imposter with a goon badge. Even as a Goon, DEF CON is what you make of it. :-)


                            • #29
                              OK, this was my first con (and tyrip to Vegas) and part of a 10 day birthday present in Vegas, including first class flights from the UK.

                              I have followed the con for years from the UK and was super stoked to be eventually going to defcon!!!. I stayed at Ceasars in the Julius tower, which wasnt far from escalators to the con....awsome...

                              I have to say, what a dissapintment it was...I agree with the above comments 22k+ people was way too much....

                              I registered for the defcon shoot run be deviant (kinda hero of mine), the guy who offered me and another guy a lift didnt show so I missed out on that...really pissed...ended up shooting at the gun club on the strip...

                              I started queuing at 5am on Thurs for my Badge...

                              - Speed to go through registration approx 1.5 hours
                              - SWAG Goons (in my case a girl) were super helpful with getting right sizes
                              - SWAG was good quality..loved the poloshirts I bought..price wasnt an issue and sterling to dollar conversion wasn't to bad when I exchanged my money

                              - SWAG area closed early on Thursday...maybe they ran out of stock
                              - Nothing much was available for the rest of Thursday so I sent my time at the pool, after the pool closed I came through doors from the pool and walked into the car hacking village, where they seemed to be setting be met with a tirade from a goon who demanded to know how I had got in. (At that stage I didnt realise they hd cordoned off the corridor ends) made things worse when I told him through the door (meaning pool door)...more tirade and being called a smart ass...all the time the goon never got off his chair...(so if you are securing some where..make sure you know where the entraces and exit are) apology from him just told to get out...even after explaining I came up from the pool and the pools were closing so expect more people...after that my experience of goons was great..very helpful....
                              - AV in Ceasars was also very flaky...
                              - Registration badge sucked...
                              - Badges sold out in no time at .the time I had got to car hackingvillage the next day badges had gone..same for all the other electronic badges..seems these guys were under prepared...I now see some of these badges on ebay going for $200-$300.....
                              - vendor area was like Janury sales when the door just opened.....someone above described it as a moshpit...quite apt...
                              - Didnt get to do any hardware hacking/car hacking the demand for the stations were well over subscribed same for the IoT village, could just watch
                              - Lots of over priced basic lock pic sets on offer
                              - No many vendors
                              - Spent more time in line than actually doing...

                              Seems to me con is very commercial....not surprising really with 22k+ captive audience...

                              Big thanks to Darren and Shannon from Hak5 for spending some time chatting with me,I know you were in great demand!!

                              If it wasnt for the company of the guys I knew from having worked with them from the UK I would have changed my flights and gone home...

                              I must confess..... I dont think I will be coming back....


                              • #30
                                how about just NOT PINK swag for women next year.... seriously.... purple, red, blue, green, yellow, hell..... I'd take TAN..... please just not the "PINK" we're not Susan G Komen.... MAKE IT STOP.