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- Jul 17th, '01

DEFCON 9 - Part I

For those of you that don't know, DEFCON is an annual "hacker's" convention. It's gotten more mainstream over the years, but originally it was a gathering of some really nasty types, and the folks trying to stop them. These days it's more of a casual thing. Fewer underground, black hat hackers and more "grey hat" hackers and sys admins. Basically it's a edgy security conference.

Federal agents always show up. But it's pretty friendly mix.

It's three days, but I only got one and a half this year. To much stuff to cram into one month.

But I'm getting a head of myself. The trip actually started back in San Diego.

So DEFCON is Friday, Saturday, Sunday, but the Xfest concert was Friday night and I didn't want to take an extra day off anyway. So I figured I'd go to the concert and then hit the 15 about 10:00, getting to Vegas about the time I usually get out of bed. Along the way somewhere I decided I was really tired of not buying the Sony notebook I'd had my eye on for months, so I just went and bought one.

This thing is tiny. It will almost fit in my front pants pocket.

The main point is to be able to update the site from anywhere. Which will require a wireless modem. Which is pricey. Anyone have any tips about that? I don't really want to pay $60 a month. And I'll probably only be using it on weekends. Let me know.

The X-Fest concert was pretty good. A mini riot started during the Social Distortion set. At least 150 people jumped the barriers and overran security. Then everyone stated tearing up the chairs and tossing them in a pile at the back of the pit. It got pretty wild. Not really violent, but certainly a problem waiting to happen.

I decided to bail before the Offspring set. With a six hour drive ahead of me, I didn't want to spend an extra 45 minutes sitting in the traffic jam trying to get out of the arena. And it seemed like a safe bet a few hundred more people would charge the stage once they started. Not that I mind some good-natured shoving, but with a small, walled in pit, and piles of chairs all over the place, I really didn't want to be around when people got seriously hurt.

It was the first time I had seen Social D live. They kicked ass. I'd go to another one of their shows in a heartbeat.

Lit was great also. Lifehouse was just okay.

So I headed off into the night. Leaving the paradise of SoCal for the desertified, filthy, crowded streets of the Las Vegas wasteland. The drive up was not unpleasant. I guess the way to avoid the traffic is just to leave San Diego at 10 pm. Almost no traffic. Something tells me I wouldn't be so lucky driving back at 5:00 on Sunday. The traffic between Vegas and LA / San Diego is absolutely the worst. 320 miles of really impatient people who seem to have absolutely no regard for safety or courtesy. Every trip I see at least a half dozen wrecks. No kidding.

I ended up getting to my hotel about 2 am. Not bad at all. But I usually go to bed at 8 pm, and the only way I was able to stay awake was by taking large amounts of diet pills. But that's just life.

I wanted to stay up all night and play with my new computer, but I crashed instead. I was expecting a long line at registration for the conference, and driving back on Sunday in a sleep deprived state didn't seem wise.

Tomorrow - Hackers!



I've got nothing to say, just killing time before I leave the apartment and face the world. Shit, it's always the world. I hate facing it. Anyway, howdy. Glad you had a weekend thing. Weekend things are good. This brought to you by Matt's tired brain, and the letter Y. Y? Because it kicks Z's ass all to hell.

But the world loves you Matthew. And we know that inside that gruff exterior is a happy, cuddly teddy bear. So get out and breath deep from the wonderful Bay breeze, smile and wave to the passing crowds, and swim in the happy, friendly vibe that surrounds you. Aaahhhhh...... [smiles] Doesn't that feel good?

Jesus, Jon, are you high? You're high, aren't you? You're hopped up on goofballs! Well, at least you're in a good mood.

Jon is all out of goofballs. If anyone has some extra, and feels like sharing, I am seriously in the mood for a good goofball right now. Seems like years since I last had one. Where does the time go?

It's all those goofballs you used to do. Wrecks your sense of time.

Jon: I put another wallpaper from your site onto my computer at work (St Mary's). I like this one better then the rose from Balboa Park. Feel free to add more to your site :)
Posted by Regina at 1:28 PM EST on Jul 17th, '01

Regina - My comment from May 14th Wulfgar! May 14th 9:50 AM "p.s. I just changed my wallpaper and I've already had two people ask me what that pretty mountain is." I can't even describe how fantastic it was grow up on the feet of that hill. The Salish thought that the mountain had a magical power, but considering what followed, I guess not. It is really pretty. 'Course you'd have to ask Jon what it looks like on speedballs. Jon- I concur. Feel free to add more (pictures) to your site. I'm sure that many of your readers don't understand that you were once a hairball wildman from the backwoods, just like some of the rest of us. Heh heh ...
Posted by Wulfgar! at 2:55 PM EST on Jul 17th, '01

"So get out and breath deep from the wonderful Bay breeze, smile and wave to the passing crowds, and swim in the happy, friendly vibe that surrounds you. Aaahhhhh...... [smiles] Doesn't that feel good?" I agree with Matt - Jon must be in an altered state. Could it be the food, or Vegas, or could it be that he's really REALLY been wanting that cute lil Sony gizmo?

Wulfgar ! I remember Jon during his days up here as a demure and gentle individual. The "hairball wildman from the backwoods",must be someone else. His time in Bakersfield made him into the introverted , camera obsessed ,bearassed individual he is. His mother could be called a " hairball wildwoman from the backwoods ". I could be called the garden growing even tempered founder of the hairball.

Wulfgar! I just noticed on my spellchecker that your name should be spelled Vulgar. Heh. Heh.

"Feel free to add more to your site" I will in time. It's a pain though. It would help to know which ones people want. (hint hint) "Jon must be in an altered state." Ahhhh...... What a wonderful time to be alive! Can't you feel the refreshing breeze of wonderfulness blowing through the world? Everyone smiling and happy. Wow. What a great world we live in! "His mother could be called a " hairball wildwoman from the backwoods ". I could be called the garden growing even tempered founder of the hairball." Is it just me, or is my gene pool starting to frighten anyone else?

Jon, you do not want to get into a weird gene pool discussion with me. It's like asking William Faulkner if he's ever thought of any odd little stories set in fictional southern counties, or Thomas Paine anything.

The "hairball wildwoman from the backwoods"? went for a drive from the garden (where we harvested 150 heads of garlic and picked our dinner today) through the refuge beneath "that mountain" and back home...There are more momma and baby deer cavorting along the ditch road than at the refuge...I don't know what it is, Jon, but that refreshing breeze of wonderfulness blowing through the world seems to be up here too...Maybe Matt can breathe in some of it from S.F., grab some from S.D. and St. Mary's, mix it all together, and send it around to all of us to share...p.s.: your gene pool is just fine, thank you--We think you both turned out better than we could have imagined...sort of 2 genepools to the 6th. power or something like that !!!

Ya, I'll be writing about that tomorrow. I'm very pissed. Adobe Corp used the FBI to shutdown someone who found security flaws in their product. Adobe seems to want to pretend the security holes don't exist and arrest anyone who proves they do. These are scary times. It's now a federal crime to find flaws in software. I'm not kidding.

So is it considered a positive thing to be a hacker, or has it become a completely negative term? It used to be a good/cool thing when I hung out with friends from MIT in the early 90s. (It's all their fault that I'm a Mac person.) Or is there some new slang term to use since the mainstream media seem to have translated hacker as "someone that should be in jail?"

Well, first of all you need to have a better definition of terms. Among those who actually do this type of thing a distinction is usually made between "hackers" and "crackers". A more wordy definition is here, but in general, hackers are people who tinker around, find problems, and interesting new uses. Crackers break into things, foil copy protection, and generally break things. It is my personal opinion that hackers should be encouraged. In today's world, ignoring security and privacy vulnerabilities is a very bad idea. If there are holes, they should be found and patched. Hackers are the people who will do this. Perceptions need to change. Hackers are good. Crackers are usually bad.

Those that want to dig into this case a bit before I give it a sound thrashing tomorrow can find to lengthy discussions about it on Slashdot. In particular, this comment sums up my opinion.

Looks like one of your DEFCON buddies ended up in gaol.... News at yahoo And the world holds it's breath, Is Mr. Sullivan next???

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