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Lessons learned from DC30: make DC31 even better

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  • #31
    I have been coming for many years, but the lines were just to long. I apricated when the places are more spread out as people would need to make decisions on where they go and it did not just feed lot us into one area like Creasers Forums.

    If masks are required for the next one, I will not be going. not worth it.


    • #32

      First off THANK YOU for your feedback! Constructive and well thought out feedback such as yours helps us make the changes that need to happen.

      Here is your HDA response :

      A defined date when pre-registration is supposed to start and end, I talked to alot of people who weren't really sure when pre-registration opened or closed it was just there suddenly and then not. P.S. the pre reg was the only reason my job covered the cost of Registration so please never get rid of that 🙏 10/10 was smooth af and was great as someone coming on my employers dime.

      This is usually announced, but I will pass it on to ensure that it is well mentioned next year.

      I'm not gonna lie I thought I would have to leave the con my first day... I couldn't get through the crowds, no one could hear me, few people were paying attention to me and I couldn't see anything in the villages because of the number of people standing in front of things. I went back to my hotel room heartbroken and cried. Luckily my mentor convinced me to wait until the afternoon and go back and said Friday is the worst in terms of traffic and he was right, that might be something good for HDA to mention in their documents as well. I knew I could contact a Goon for help but found that most of them were far too busy on traffic control to be monitoring the villages themselves where I faced many of my issues.

      This was noted and is being brought to the attention of the powers that be. I personally scootered around the Villages and saw some that were accessible , and some that were clogged, and both at different times. We will be working with the Village leaders to improve this issue and ensure access to all.

      When people talk about the traffic and lines I agree 1million times that we need lanes of some kind and blocking off merch and registration so that the line didn't take over 50% of the hall would massively improve accessibility. I'm not sure it would be possible but having a small side lane for those of us on scooters or in wheelchairs might have been nice too just to reduce the crazy anxiety I had that I was going to run over someone's toes (and I did on the first day 2x because people couldn't hear me)

      Current policy is that anyone with an ADA assistive device can request a Goon to escort them to the head of any DEF CON line. While many know this apparently it did not get passed down to all so I will be seeing to that for next year. If they seem too busy, just have them give a radio call for me ( Delchi ) for HDA assistance.

      Elevators! I know it's not the con's fault that we had bad weather, but if we could find out from the hotels if they could improve their operations that would be grear. I really think the hotels should have operators posted to use manual elevator controls if they're going to shut down an elevator due to one floor (i.e. the linq garages) that would be great. I decimated my battery on my scooter on day 2 because I had to go all the way out and around just to get into the linq and that was a common theme all weekend of elevators being closed. Additionally we really need to get the hotels to post clear signage when they are closed cause I sat in front of one like an idiot for a few minutes before realizing it was probably closed and I was screwed.

      The majority of the elevator issues had to do with them breaking down. The DEF CON staff from Dispatch to Goons were on top of this and I rode task on getting the hotel to expedite the issues and/or finding alternate routes. Did you get the HDA INFOPACK? The maps showed routes and paths that might have saved you some time. Check out the HDA section of the DEF CON forums. I will bring up the signage issue to the venue and look to have better communication when the elevators are out or shut down.

      Related the rooms, having a small area near power outlets, possibly near the doors designated as a "keep clear" area for people to park scooters while we traversed the villages on foot (since I think that's what I'd need to do to be able to properly enjoy the smaller villages) would be nice as well. I don't think it would need to be anything fancy, it could really just a taped area on the floor with a sign but I think it would be really helpful mainly for the smaller villages where it may be impossible to put enough space for people to get through.

      This is a GREAT idea and I will move forward with it for next year! Did you know that thanks to HDA negotiations with the venue you can recharge your scooter at ANY outlet in the venue so long as it does not create a safety hazard? ( Tripping over cords, blocking traffic, etc ) .

      It might also be helpful to remind people that they should also be a little more aware of their surroundings and to look down because there may be a scooter or wheelchair near them!

      I really really appreciate how much effort was put in to try and make this event as accessible as possible and i understand that most if the issues i saw were growing pains or hotel issues, so thank you from the bottom of my heart as someone who rarely gets to go to and enjoy events like this, it was amazing to be able to have a blast and make new friends.

      Thank you again for this feedback. Rest assured it will go into our planning for next year!

      - Delchi


      • #33

        Wonderful to be back in-person this year! So good to see you all and to explore & interact & learn.

        Feedback off the top of my head:
        1. The Goons continue to be great!
        2. DCTV continues to be great!
        3. Having enough space for all main talks was great
        4. Villages need more space, and need to be closer to the main floor space. Not sure how to do that - perhaps *some* more space could be borrowed from main tracks to squeeze in a couple villages, and the other villages could be in Linq/Harrahs meeting areas, pushing workshops further away?
        5. Workshops need more power outlets - the old laptop I was using only lasts a couple hours on battery.
        6. Regarding masks, I understand the desire to make our space as safe as possible for as many as possible - but how about for those with breathing difficulties (asthma) or anxiety/panic attack issues that make it much more difficult to wear a mask? Any provisions or accommodations to include them would be welcome.


        • D4V1D
          D4V1D commented
          Editing a comment
          RE: Forum ….I attended a few workshops, each in different rooms. I found they had power extensions running under the tables with outlets every few feet - noticed this on my second workshop. As for waitlist, each workshop I was in let addtl people in (goons asking the instructor first) after most registered ppl came in. Two workshops had plenty of room for more. I do think a small standby online (if people dropout) or in person for the larger sized rooms might be helpful for future.

      • #34
        My two cents, 1) it would hsve been nice if there was more to do on Thursday after after getting the badge. If I recall correctly, there were DC101 tracks and a few other things to do on Thursdays. The hacketracker said the chillout room was open, it was not.
        2) The workshops are sold out within seconds to minutes, no surprise there, but in the past you could get in a standby line and possibly get in. That was not the case this year, I was told one of the Goons that they werent doing that this year. So i left. Not sure why that was the rule, but I was told later by friends that their workshops were half full cause not everyone who signed up showed up.


        • #35
          Originally posted by darkprince View Post
          Keep the online web store open for merch to avoid 10,000 people lining up for merch and blocking the hall.
          I would suggest multiple merch shops to help distribute the "cattlecon"; would have been nice to have merch possibilities while at the villages in the Flamingo or Linq or Harrahs. Maybe even include an online store open before and during the con to get the swag.


          • #36
            Here are some thoughts on D3FC0N and some suggestions for dealing with the issues.

            This comes from the perspective of a four-time Defcon Human, who has (mostly) enjoyed the time at Defcon in 2018, 2019, 2021, and 2022.
            . . . . . . . . . .


            Years ago, decades ago, actually, when I onboarded for a job once, my introductory meeting with my new boss began thusly: "Rule number one. When you come to me with a problem, I also want you to come to me with a solution!"

            As an aside, this turned out to be the only boss in my entire career who I regard as a board-certified jerk, but this was one of the things he had that made sense and worked well.

            I'm going to offer some constructive criticism plus my thoughts on various possible solutions to help alleviate said issues.

            This comes from the perspective of a now four-time Defcon Human attendee. I have very few clues as to how things really work on the back end, so this is strictly an inward-facing type of thing.
            . . . . . . . . . .


            Linecon! CattleCon! OMFG! This year's was NASTY.

            The first time I attended, the wait on line was maybe 10-20 minutes or so (LOL, not sure, it was not annoying enough to time it) from joining the end of one of many queues to badge in hand. Beachballs were a-flying and the ambiance was "up" and festive.

            This year it was HOT, frustrating and fatiguing. Oh? Did I mention that it was HOT and icky-sticky?

            I figured that I would not go at opening time, but maybe 1/2 hour later to let the initial rush dissipate. Yeah, right! I joined the line-to-join-the-line-to-join-the actual line at about 7:30am (excuse me, 0700 in Defcon-speak) :) and it was just after 0900 when I actually had the badge in hand, after a slow crawl from close to the Track 4 hallway, up the south side of the Conference Center, through the Track 1-2 queue, and finally through one of the actual check-in queues.

            Yeah, beachballs were provided (and balloons, and buskers) but this year, the punching of the beachballs seemed to be less enthusiastic than before. The comment I remember hearing at least three times was along the line of "Jeff and his BFFs do not have to go through this line."

            There's gotta be a better way! And no! The solution is Not more beachballs! :)

            Let me float two possible types of solutions here, a rigorous approach, and a more intuitive approach.

            For a more rigorous approach (and yes, I know that hackers deplore having formal methods foisted upon them), this might be the time to dust off and apply some of that queueing theory that all of us had to study back in undergrad (and promptly forgot after the exam). :)

            I'm sure that data are available on the various items such as arrival rate during the peak hour, badges sold during the peak hour (queue exit rate), number of servers (cash stations), etc.

            The maximum acceptable wait time on the queue (thus the maximum queue depth) will need to be defined. I'm suggesting the methods, not the numbers. :) (However, I'm sure that most would agree that 90+ minutes in a hot sticky hallway is beyond the bounds of what is acceptable!)

            Likewise, things such as the maximum acceptable abandon rate (those saying "f*ck it" and dropping off of the line) will need to be defined.

            This will allow the number of servers (cash stations) to be set up to keep the queue at or under the maximum acceptable queue depth during the peak hours. The number of active servers (cash stations) can be varied throughout the badge sales time according to the demand, reflected in the queue depth.
            . . . . .

            Now, for a more intuitive approach.

            Let's assume that the majority of the Humans checking in only have the need to exchange cash for the goodies (bag of goodies, badge, etc.) and that's it. Let's also assume that a good percentage of these will have exact change in US bills, are able to count said cash, and are able to "fan" the bills for easy counting.

            Then break off these easy-to-serve Humans off into a special "express" line, for cash only, exact change only, have your bills out and fanned, no questions, no holding up the line for ANY reason, no nothing else.

            There should be only two actions required to serve this express line. One to count the $$$ and place it in a cash box, and another to hand the Human the goodies, nothing else.

            We don't need any formal time-motion studies here (and yes, I know that hackers *HATE* time-motion studies) to see that a team of two, one to count the cash and the other to hand the goodies, can do such in a moving line in only a few seconds, average, of clock time.

            Got questions? Go to the Information Booth and a Friendly Goon will help ya. Need change? Go to the full-service line where the wait will most likely be longer.

            Each team should probably have a third person, for relief for bio-breaks and such, to be sure that the back-end crew dilligently empties or exchanges the cash box and replenishes the supply of goodie bags and badges, to remind the Humans to please have the cash out, bills fanned, and to please keep the line moving.

            One of the above methods would be what I would try, if I were Jeff, who I am most definitely not. :)
            . . . . . . . . . .

            Lines, deuxième partie:

            So? Tell me here? Clue me in? What's the logic with this one? What requirement drives this? Please, tell me, 'cuz I sure can't figure it out!

            Why, when a room is TOTALLY empty (I'm mainly talking about Hacker Jeopardy on Friday and Saturday here), is it necessary to make attendees line up outside the room in a crowded, hot, and icky-sticky hallway instead of letting them casually wander in, sit and wait, play beachball, consume adult beverages, etc.?

            I sure don't get it!

            Please, ash-can any "Doors open at this time" policy for the sake of policy and let the Humans in to sit and enjoy the wait!

            And again, the solution is not more beachballs! :)
            . . . . . . . . . . . .

            Lines, troisième partie:

            One thing that was quite frustrating was not knowing what line was what! Besides, some of those waiting on said lines also were mistaken as to which line it was.

            As an example, I wanted to visit the Red Team Village, and there was a horrendous line, and I asked some random d00d waiting on line which line it was, and he said it was for Adversary Village. I then asked a Goon where the line for Red Team Village was, and he said (like I was on drugs or something) "Right here", pointing to the line. I then told him that someone on that line said it was for Adversary village and he laughed and said that Adversary Village was waaaaaaayyyyy (pointing) down that way.

            Signs, even makeshift ones like sharpie on paper towel and duct-taped to the wall would really help! "Track 2 Line Forms Here." "This line is for the Red Team Village."
            . . . . . . . . . . .


            I really don't know what the answer is here, but I sure know what does NOT work, and that's the way it was done this year!

            I was one of those who finally said "F*ck It!" after joining a slowly-moving Merch line three times! I know I was not the only one. Sales were lost due to this!

            I'll run some ideas up the flagpole here, which Jeff and the other PTB can either salute or flip the bird to. :)

            My first thought is to fold the Defcon Merch sales into the vendor area, making Defcon Merch one of many vendors and letting the combined space in the vendor area buffer the people waiting to buy a Defcon tee and such.

            If you think that this would overload the vendor area, then add more volunteers at cash stations and/or increase the overall space allocated to vendors. Remember, vendors and merch constitute a positve cash flow, so planning for adequate space and minimal wait times for all will be cost-effective!

            Expanding on another idea (I think above), have some satellite Merch stations for the most popular items. One right in the exit path of Human Registration would be very conducive for sales!

            I could see a satellite Merch booth in the Flamingo Chill-Out (burn-in? sweat-in?) area also working and increasing sales.

            If it's too much of a volunteer load to adequately staff the Merch area, consider outsourcing it. (Yeah, I know hackers tend to deplore outsourcing, but this may be one case where it makes sense!) Have a vendor do the Merch sales for a percentage of the take.

            And, as suggested, again, do on-line sales (Ebay? Amazon?) prior to the Con to shift the demand and increase sales.
            . . . . . . . . . . .


            I realize the New Caesars Forum Conference Center (tm) is new and is bound to have bugs, but I know the HVAC was (should have been) spec'd to be able to hold the temperature and humidity to comfortable levels at rated capacity in the hottest days of summer.

            Include in the contract that temperature and humidity in the areas will be adequately controlled, and that there will be professional HVAC technicians (not just maintenance staff button-pushers) on site at all times during the con.
            . . . . . . . . . . .


            I'm hoping, expecting, actually, that by next year the Covid situation will have finally cooled down to the point that renders the topic moot!
            . . . . . . . . . . .


            OMFG! $11 for a bottled domestic! Can anything be done, contractually, about this? (Remember, Defcon is now large enough to have the upper hand in negotiations!)

            Yeah yeah, I know, prices are up all over Las Vegas. One d00d told me he paid $16 for a (well brand) rum and coke at one of the Linq casino bars!

            And, please go back to having the cash bars in the larger halls, as opposed to being out in the hallway. You can then go get a (another) :) beverage and still hear what is going on while doing so.

            Also, the lines in the hallways for beverages did occasionally block traffic.
            . . . . . . . . . . .


            I was sure that for this year, the New Caesars Forum Conference Center would certainly be able to handle the entire Con, but nope, it spilled over into nearby facilities, like it did at Planet Ho, at Bally/Paris, at Caesars Palace, etc. ...

            Has Defcon already outgrown the New Caesars Forum Conference Center? (I don't know, I'm asking.)

            Might it be wise to consider a larger facility which can REALLY hold the entire Con, such as the LVCC, with the newly-opened (are they actually open?) West Halls, or Mandalay, or Sands/Venetian or whatever they are calling it this week? I know all of those have far more space than I saw at the New Caesars Forum Conference Center. Again, remember, Defcon is now a large event and should have many options for conference space.

            I know it was SRO for Hacker Jeopardy on Saturday, and "Track Full" signs were staged, so it may be time for more space to handle the demand.

            And, please try to right-size village space!
            . . . . . . . . . . .


            I hope this is taken not as me bitching to hear myself bitch, but as constructive criticism intended to make a good thing better.

            See everybody in 2023! :)


            • #37
              Feedback is a gift-

              First I would lengthen the online registration time frame and make it more clear on the website the end date. I was having a card issue, didn’t realize I only had a few hour available to actually purchase, and missed registration it by a few hours.
              I’m generally not a fan of walking around with so much cash between the ticket prices and merch purchases.

              Second, I would figure out a way to have a merch pickup area for online purchases. If someone wants to pay cash and stand in line, let them. The other possibility is to do an appointment system, where you order and come to the merch booth at an appointment time or something.

              Third, some of the villages really needed more space. Getting into red team village included it’s own line con, with hardly any room to move around once inside. For a lot of the villages like this, if you weren’t already sitting down in the village, it was literally just a quick look for you before rotating out. Not a whole lot of room for engagement.

              Fourth, I would swap the escalator directions to match the flow of traffic.

              Fifth (and maybe first priority) I would try to find a way to offer more water for purchase in more places.

              Sixth, include the mental health talks as part of the regular defcon talks.

              seventh, continue being awesome. What you have is great (you already know that), these things are small.

              can’t wait for next year!


              • #38
                Merch quality this year seemed to take a hit. Shirts were undersized even when sizing up for amply-provisioned hackers was taken into account. The shirt weight and fabric quality was also not up to par. Felt like cheap vendor booth swag rather than $30 quality. Even the slip on the black mugs are already wearing down. Hoodies are lasting, at least.

                I understand logistics was hard this year. Maybe next year will be better?