This past weekend was the once again amazing Hackers On Planet Earth conference, which I've been attending since 2002. My friend Jim J came in for the conference, which this year probably had the most attendees ever, because it featured a live video link from Edward Snowden in Russia. I've subscribed to 2600 magazine (sponsors of the conference) since about 1985, and this was my 6th hope, and I spoke at the last three. Each year it's a great mixture of tradition and new stuff.
HOPE is always inspiring, surprising, and exciting. There's a hacker village area, lock picking, vendors, etc, on the 2nd floor, and then on the 18th floor there are three main rooms of talks. This year we made it to only a few talks, and most of them were excellent. NSA whistle blower Thomas Drake was inspiring, since he and William Binney (who spoke at the previous conference two years ago) both sacrificed their own livelihoods and careers in true allegiance to the constitution. (Sorry about the crappy camera phone pictures--I didn't drag my big DSLR around this year):
This year for the first time they streamed the whole conference (they had so much bandwidth they kept urging everyone to use more--I put my phone on the secure wifi and seemed to survive OK), and checking the stream before we even left Brooklyn on Saturday they were announcing that the 18th floor was full minutes after it opened, even though Ellsberg and Snowden wouldn't appear for several hours. There weren't any other available overflow areas so Jim and I decided to spend some time picking locks, and watch the talks later. Then--showing true hacker ingenuity--someone brought in a projector and a laptop, and someone else ran out to Radio Shack to buy a little speaker setup, and whipped up an overflow area to watch the live stream on the second floor:
Daniel Ellsberg spoke first for nearly an hour. He was great, but then unfortunately kept talking through much of the time allotted to Snowden, so we didn't get to hear from him as much as I would have liked. After the crowds cleared, we went back up to the 18th floor and checked out a couple other talks, including Steve Rambam's biennial expose on the latest ways that our privacy and anonymity have been sold. Rambam is a very right-wing guy, and it's pretty cool in this conference mostly of liberals, anarchists and independents that he comes and shares his insider knowledge.
Later that day I caught part of a couple talks, and then gave my talk, "A Story of Self Publishing Success". That seemed to go well, and I now have it online here. At the end of my talk, I gave a copy of my book away and, being a hacker convention where you don't have to give anyone your real name, "Sri Swami Steve" won the book copy:
The closing ceremonies were an informative (if long) celebration, where they did thank City Tech students from the stage (I had arranged for a group to volunteer to help out our alumna Erin Grabe on A/V). Jim J and I stayed late to help strike the audio/video/lighting systems.
I thought during the overcrowding of the Snowden talk that the conference had outgrown its venue, but it seemed by the end that it all worked out, as usual.
So I'll be planning to be here in NYC again two years from now, to be exhausted and inspired....