W h a t a J o k e !
The Trip to Las Vegas and Back -- overall
I had a terrible experience at DefCon7. There I said it.
It was not cool. It was not interesting. It was not informative. It was just... stupid.
Now, admittedly, it was partly due to unusual circumstances that I had such a terrible time. But, nonetheless, the DefCon conference/get-together/gathering/whatever lacked intellectual appeal and I'll probably never bother to waste my money again.
I didn't really want to go
I was not real excited about going to DefCon to start with. However, I had never been to Las Vegas and was looking forward to Christian showing me around the "city that never sleeps."
Christian had said he has a nerve in his back that gets painful when he drives because of the way he's forced to sit. Thererfore, he wasn't up to driving to Las Vegas. I volunteered to drive and he seemed happy about that.
A day or so before we left, a couple of health concerns cropped up and I was concerned about leaving without seeking medical attention. I went anyway, because without me, how was Christian going to get there?
Driving to Las Vegas
Christian and I left Logan around 1:00 p.m. Thursday (July 8). We stopped in Salt Lake City to pick up an ethernet card for my laptop. Our next stop was an Arbys in Provo for some late afternoon lunch.
We arrived in Las Vegas around 8:30 p.m. (Vegas time).
The first bad news
After transporting our crap from our car to our room on the fifth floor, I realized I did not have my day planner with me. The last time I remembered having it was in Provo at the Arbys.
I did some calling around and discovered it was, in fact, at Arbys in Provo, Utah. They were keeping in the store safe until I picked it up. I needed my day planner because it had my money, credit cards, identification, and other information in it. So, I was in a rather bad situation. On top of that, the health issues I was concerned about before became a problem as well. So... I was faced with the possibility of needing medical attention without any kind of identification or money.
My next task was to figure out how I was going to get my day planner. After looking through the phone book, I discovered Greyhound Bus Lines has a package express delivery service. I called Arbys in Provo and asked them if they could deliver my day planner to the bus station in Provo destined C.O.D. to Las Vegas. The manager said she would do that and called me back a little while later and told me it was on the bus to arrive in Las Vegas 5:30 a.m. the next morning.
I woke up at 5:30 a.m. Friday morning and went to the Greyhound station. It took 30 minutes for someone to tell me they couldn't find my package. Both buses from Utah had arrived and had been searched twice. They suggested that my package did not make it onto the 11:20 bus from Provo and it would arrive later that afternoon on the bus coming in at 4:30.
I went back to to Hotel and had breakfast and then Christian and I went over to the Alexis Park to get into DefCon. AFter standing in line for about an hour, we got into the exhibition floor. The exhibition consisted of people selling t-shirts, old computer and telephone switching hardware, and books on hacking, cracking, phreaking and tax evasion.
Right away, I felt a negative vibe from the gathering. As I attended speaking events, this became more and more obvious. There was a lot of ego-bashing, infighting, and general attitude of contempt among most of the attendees.
On top of this, there was the immaturity. I knew there would probably be a significant number of script-kiddie types at DefCon, but I would estimate half the crowd was under the age of 20 years old. And a large number of them were too "elite" to have anything to do with anyone else.
Pranks started getting pulled- the hotel's environmental control system was hacked into and the temperature in the meeting rooms soared. Pay phones disappeared off the hotel walls. Hotel room phones were sabotaged to get free phone calls.
And then, there was the smoke. I can respect a person's right to smoke and in Las Vegas they are legally able to smoke inside public buildings (unlike in Utah). But I feel a person should smoke responsibly (that seems like a contradiction in terms) and not dispose of ashes and spent cigarettes on hotel carpets. That was just ridiculous.
I've been in a lot of smoke-filled places before, but there were several times at DefCon where the amount of smoke in the meeting rooms made me nauseous.
DefCon is about glamorizing illegal acts against the information superstructure. DefCon is a adlibbed script-kiddie celebrity fashion show. DefCon is a free-for-all bazaar of paranoia-hype entepreneurs. If these things are enough to draw you to Las Vegas, then go for it. I personally have much better things to do with my time.
There was a lot of hype about representatives from the federal government attending DefCon to learn how to protect their computer networks and to spot those who may be on "wanted" lists. But after attending, I don't understand why any federal government employee would bother to waste their time.
I finally did get my day planner on Sunday morning. I had considered driving back home Friday night when my planner had still not arrived, but decided to stay so Christian would not have to find another way home. The ungrateful bastard treated me like crap the whole time. He criticized my driving (which he expected me to change just because he was in the car) incessantly. He complained repeatedly when I requested we leave at 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon to get back home at a decent hour. He insisted we eat expensive, hotel casino dinners that took forever to arrive (we didn't leave Las Vegas until after 4:00 on Sunday because Christian insisted we stop and eat at the MGM Grand). He left me alone all day Friday without food or money to purchase food with and acted put out when I finally found him at 9:00 p.m. and asked him to load me some money for food. And what about the sights of Las Vegas? I didn't get to see anything because Mr. Yuck was too involved learning the handles and nicknames of the black-clad script kiddies and getting drunk off his ass.