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Hackers at DefCon Toxic BBQ

I went to my first “Toxic BBQ”  which takes place on DefCon Eve. There are all kinds of characters at DefCon 18 – every shape, color, size, hairstyle, and skill. Some hackers cook on the grill. Others juggle. And still others drive the big old jalopy of a vehicle now known as the beloved HackBus.

And there are more than just hackers here. I met Internet security professionals, systems architects, wives,  software developers, graphic designers, creative geniuses of all varieties.

A stranger offered me a hot dog. Another offered me a veggie burger and I partook. People I didn’t know made room for me at the picnic tables, on the grass, and they would have even let me rest in the Hackbus if I needed. I found them warm, sweet, brilliant and fun – quite the opposite from the terrifying picture of evil-doers so often painted in the press.

The Mohawk chef is getting a little love here. Thank you for your grilling skills, dude. Rar!

The juggler was A+. He tuned out the buzzing world around him and kept those objects rotating in the air in artistically complicated ways. His tattoos were hypnotizing too. I fixated on them. I felt like a baby cooing and blowing spit bubbles while staring at the colorful fish swimming in the aquarium.

Paper, scissors, rock?

This is Toor. My guide. Just kidding.

Orange, blue, green. Green grilled me the yummy veggie burger.

See the orbs? Paranormal beings are either attending or guarding the event. Either that, or someone has hacked the spirit world. Now that’s taking it a bit too far guys.

I must write about hacker hair. You can look forward to that.

Salem.  I did not give him this shirt. No no.

The Hackbus

After learning of the affection so many have for this amazing moving contraption, I will always refer to The Hackbus in capital letters. Like the White House.

Meet Kitty. She is a treasure. She is scary smart, bursting with original insights and I’ll definitely be writing more about her soon.

John Draper, of course, still eating as the event is winding down.

Tia Marie from San Francisco. Her business card says “Community Czar.”

Meet Z3RO from Arizona.  His business card said – “Hardware: The parts of a computer that can be kicked.”

Video Man. He hacks beer.  Kitty told me that beer-making is a part of hacker culture.

I’ll tell you what I learn, stay tuned – if I can find him again.

Derek behind the bottle. He does Defcon TV, or DCTV, which he describes as sort of a video Twitter.

Nightfall. On the way out something catches my eye.

Aha!  I see Kitty wearing bunny ears which are twinkling and flashing with lighted sparkles of love.

“Wait! Just one more pic please!” I yell.  Kitty pulls Video Man into the picture.

The girl geek and the beer hacker are a couple.

On the way home, I see The Hackbus in the rearview mirror.

I let it get closer and pass me. I could see arms and heads flailing out the windows. The dang thing is filled with men yelling all kinds of colorful things to rude drivers that don’t know the rules of the road. You don’t mess with The Hackbus.  And the bus driver is clearly a protected entity. Almost sacred, like the pope. When Hackbus Driver needs room to merge right, 100 hackers will use ensure that Hackbus Driver gets what he needs.

That’s the thing about hackers. They always figure out a way.

I laugh as I watch them, secretly sort of proud of their bad behavior. They have no idea I am watching.  Bad boys.

And last but not least, my final hacker interaction of the day comes at 7-11 when Captain Crunch is transferred from a carpool with Philadelphian hackers in it – to my car. In the process, I realize there’s another thing about hackers I never saw before.

Teen Hacker Feet

What next?

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