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The journey from K13w< N00b to '1337 [email protected] (ph room pics, lotsa con pics) ...

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by dmr, Aug 14, 2019 at 10:25 PM.

  1. dmr

    dmr Registered Abuser

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Somewhere in Middle America
    Trips to Las Vegas:
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    My Trip Report

    The Journey From K13w< N00b to '1337 [email protected]

    (Some adult language. You have been warned.)

    Foreword

    LOL, the title of this report is written in "Leet", a bit of the Lingua Franca of hackers, which I have picked up a bit of even though I'm far from fluent in it. (yet?) :) It's translated as "Clueless Newbie to Elite Hacker."

    This is my second annual trip report on Defcon, an annual "Hacker" convention in Las Vegas.

    I went in to this one knowing far more of what to expect, and what to absorb, than I did last year. For those who have not read my last year's report, please at least skim it to put things in perspective. It's on line here:

    https://www.vegasmessageboard.com/forums/index.php?threads/tonite-my-unconventional-conventionists-defcon-report-some-adult-language-lotsa-pics.154059/

    My goal for this trip was to be as techie as I possibly could, to explore things that I know little or nothing about, and to try more hands-on things that I would never (or so I thought) be doing.

    I also decided that this year I would be far less shy about using such language as F-bombs and other related vernacular. {blush!}

    For those who give a rat, I was actually a math minor in undergrad and I've taught some basic math classes, including "Logic, Sets and Functions" as a TA when in grad school, so I was groomed to be somewhat on the techie side. A lot of the stuff at Defcon is still above my head so I intended (and succeeded) to raise my head a bit. :)

    I tried to get this report out as quickly as I could, but most of the effort was selecting and tweaking the photos. There are close to 100 images in this report, selected and culled, so if any are not of interest to you, just scroll down and keep reading. :)


    Wheels Up

    I know that many do not like the prior-to-LV sections of trip reports, but one thing did happen before getting on to the plane. I'm waiting on line at one of the Southwest gates. I had a just-over-the-midpoint A boarding pass (yes, I paid for Early Boarding). As the SW people were rattling off the boarding procedure and such I heard this once-familiar voice coming from behind me to the left, obviously from the Business Select section.

    Annie?

    {turn around} OMG Mindy! Holy {expletive}!

    She is a friend and former cow-orker who I had not seen for maybe five years.

    I knew she had moved into IT Security, so I asked her if she was going out to Defcon. She said that she was not, but she was giving a presentation at Black Hat, a consecutive and more "commercial" IT security conference that (intentionally) book-ends Defcon. She said that she was going to try to, uh, "drop in" :) on some Defcon things if she could. I said that I would look over the final schedule and see what she might be able to easily do without actually paying for the full conference. (AKA "crashing") :) :) :)

    I said that I was doing Defcon but I was going out a day early in order to have a free day to just chill and have a totally unstructured day to myself.

    We agreed to get together at least for a drink or dinner or something.


    Wheels Down

    The flight was uneventful. One thing I did notice is that we were coming in for a landing north to south, and one thing that seems to hold true for me is that when that happens (maybe 10% of the time) I almost always do very well at the machines.


    The Hotel

    I took a taxi to Planet Ho, maybe a 5 minute wait on the taxi line, told the driver "Planet Hollywood" and then clarified that I wanted the rear by the hotel check-in. He said he knew it well and, without any prodding or pushback went directly up Swenson to Harmon to Audrie (or whatever they are calling it this week) to Planet Ho.

    In the registration area there was a fairly significant line, but there was one, as in singular, self-check kiosk open so I figured I would try it and if it did not work or gave me a crummy room I could always come back down and work it out.

    Surprise surprise! Maybe three minutes from walk-up-to-kiosk to keys in hand! It asked for my DL and CC, verified the dates of stay, no upselling, and then spit out TWO keys and a "room assignment" on paper.

    Sounds great, huh? I was impressed.

    Here (LOL) is my "view" out the window!

    [​IMG]

    I always check everything at first to see that things work, and everything did, except I realized that the local CBS channel on the TV was blocked, apparently due to a p*ssing contest between the network and the cable provider. I thought about phoning the desk and complaining, but I realized it would be a fool's errand, and that nobody, even senior hotel management, could do anything about it. Fortunately my Evul Librul MSNBC (can you believe that some bozo once actually PM'd me on Gas Buddy to "correct" my spelling on that one?) was loud and clear so I was semi-good on TV.

    I also noticed that there did not appear to be a full-length mirror, or so it seemed (hold that thought).

    Here are a couple of shots of the room before I messed it up very much. Basic ROTH, king bed, 4 1/2 pillows, which is adequate for me.

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    Armoire and writing desk, quite adequate for working on the netbook.

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    Artwork in the room, and I guess that makes it the "Ultra Hip" (tm) room, huh? :)

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    Safe, iron, and ironing board in the armoire, and, wait for it ...

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    Full-length mirror! (Ta-Da! You may now release that thought.)

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    Real actual mini-fridge, not a mini-bar, and (surprise!) this one actually got cold, not just luke-cool. Perfect for my wake-up fizzy caffeine fix! :)

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    Now for the bath ... Full-size soaking tub! OMG - Perfect! I love it! (Too bad that Defcon will not be at PH next year.)

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    Full-size shower as well, for those who detest soaking tubs.

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    Spacious uncluttered single-basin vanity, with great lighting!

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    On Wednesday, as I was leaving my room and walking toward the elevator, I noticed this guy standing there in the hall, holding his ear up to the wall of the hallway, appearing to be listening intently. (I thought immediately about the recent thread here on VMB about things heard through hotel room walls.) :) I assumed he was a Defcon type, black tee and such. I was curious, so I asked him what in the {expletive} he was doing.

    He explained that he was in the room next to the area, and that last night he had trouble sleeping because it sounded like somebody in the room next to him was rolling something like a housekeeping cart around in the room off and on all night. The only problem was that there was no door to what would be the room next to his.

    He opened his room to show me, and it was obvious that there was about 15 feet of space between his wall and the wall by an alcove in the hallway, with no visible doors or anything. I listened for a bit and yes, every few minutes it sounded like somebody was rolling something like a housekeeping cart inside the area. We were both stumped.

    Then (lightbulb!) it dawned on me! The elevators for our floor were a bit farther down the hall, and what he was hearing was the noise from the elevators that served the upper floors. He told me thanks and said that he was going down to the desk to scream at them for giving him such a sucky room and demand a new room. I assume they gave him one as I never saw him again.

    Oh well ...


    Room Inspections

    The every-two-day eyes-on "wellness" inspections by hotel personnel were a very sore subject at last year's Defcon, with some reporting near-Gestapo like inspections and even confiscation of such things as soldering irons and such. :(

    This note appeared conspicuously on the desk:

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    Note the inclusion of the Defcon logo (one of them, more below) on the note.

    Here's how it went for me.

    I checked in on Tuesday, immediately put on the "Room Occupied" sign, noting the change of wording from the more common "Do Not Disturb" in most hotels or "ZZZzzzzzzzzz..." at the SLS. :)

    On Thursday afternoon, as I was leaving for one of the lectures, I noticed a housekeeping cart by the room across the hall. I went in and asked if she could give me fresh towels and consumables and do the room inspection. She handed me a mega-stack of towels, looked to me like two changes worth, and a pile of shampoo and lotion and such.

    She then went to the phone, punched in a code, waited maybe 30 seconds or so, and then picked up the phone again and punched in another code.

    The first one was obviously the "I'm in the room" code and the last one was obviously the "All is ok" code.

    Had I thought about it (not yet totally thinking like a hacker) I could have discreetly placed the netbook on the bed, aimed the forward-facing camera at the phone, hit RECORD, and then asked the housekeeper to do the inspection. :) :) :)

    On Saturday, I could not find a convenient housekeeper, so I just went on my way, figuring they would intrude when I was gone, find nothing threatening or illegal or missing, and phone in the all-clear code.

    I was taking a power nap late Saturday afternoon in preparation for the festivities of the evening when {KNOCK-KNOCK} "Room inspection!"

    I asked if they could please come back after 6:30pm (excuse me, after 1830) and they said no problem.

    When I finally got back that night and poured myself into bed (more below) I did not notice anything out of place.

    However (comma) Sunday afternoon, power nap time, again {KNOCK-KNOCK} "Room inspection!"

    I thought it was strange, since the inspections are supposed to be every TWO days, but again I asked if they could please come back after 6:30 or so and did not think anything more of it at the time.

    Then I realized that the reason he was checking that day is that most likely nobody came back to inspect the room on Saturday!

    When I left, I carefully coiled the telephone handset cord to the left and around the back of the phone, so it would be very obvious if somebody used it. (See, thinking more and more like a hacker!) When I got back that night, it was in the same position! Obviously no inspection!

    Monday was check-out, so that was the end of that.

    Conclusion, when you ask them to come back later, if they note a live body in the room, they will sometimes/often/whatever not actually come back but not phone in the "all clear" signal either.


    The Casino(s)

    Although this was my first time staying at PH, I had played there countless times, and every time, this one included, I always found a fair number of the machines I like, which is markedly different from Flamingo and Caesars, even they are under the same ownership/management.

    One of the signs did catch my attention. :)

    [​IMG]

    As for gaming, I only played slots and VP, and this time only at PH, Paris and NYNY. I came out nine cents ahead at PH when I finally cashed out on Monday after recycling the same $20 countless times. I was likewise slightly ahead at Paris, and exactly even at NYNY. I guess landing to the south means that at least I will not take a bath, huh? :)

    I swear I noticed a Firehouse Hounds machine at PH one of the first couple of days there, but for the life of me I could not find it again when I was looking for it. That is a dying breed, becoming less and less common all the time.


    The Con

    Welcome To Defcon!

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    Jeff Moss, aka "Dark Tangent", founder, welcomes the gang!

    In the various photos below, you'll see many instances of the icons that represent four of the original "pillars" of Defcon, as well as the stylized Defcon logos.

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    These are, left to right, top to bottom, the smiley-face Jolly Roger (piracy - AAAaaaarrrgh, matey!), the telephone dial (phone phreaking), the floppy disk (computer hacking) and the keyhole (lockpicking).

    The logos were very conspicuously displayed all over Planet Ho, Paris, and Bally's.

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    First of all, I want to give major kudos to the organizers and volunteers (the Goons) for handling one sore spot very well! Before I went last year, I was admonished to get there early and get on line to register as there were horror stories of an hour or more waiting.

    Last year I got there maybe 9:00-ish (excuse me, 0900-ish) and had maybe a 10 minute wait.

    This year I again got there 0900-ish and was directed into the room with the long switchback queue, which this year was all but vacant. I was simply told "out that door to the right", where the main registration desk was, entered the queue, when a Goon pointed to me, raised the barrier, and pointed to registration desk number 27 (or so) which was vacant. Good job Goons! No wait at all!

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    When you register at the Defcon desk, you give them $300, cash only, no checks, no CCs, no company POs, only cash.

    What you get then is a large ziplock baggie containing the following ...

    1. A conference booklet.

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    This contains a detailed hardcopy schedule, facility maps, venue listings, emergency numbers, FAQ, Code Of Conduct, etc.

    2. A Defcon notebook.

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    If you need to make hardcopy notes. (How Luddite!) No pen, though, or at least mine did not have one.

    3. A sheet of stickers of Defcon logos and icons, intended for various dissemination and mischief!

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    4. A lanyard for your badge, marked with one of the four Defcon icons above.

    5. And (Anton, a drum roll please. {tat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat!}) the BADGE!

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    My lanyard icon was the keyhole, which is very appropriate for the lock manipulation skills I developed last year.

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    For those who care, here are a few of the booklet pages, very well composed and attractively illustrated, along with links to (much) closer views ...

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    (https://ds.demare.me/10428-201908130005-h.jpg)

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    (https://ds.demare.me/10430-201908130007-h.jpg)

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    (https://ds.demare.me/10431-201908130008-h).jpg

    Hey, and you thought that the passing periods in your high school were bad! :)

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    (Note that I am not the only one doing the hail-Mary shot of the crowd.) :)


    The Badge

    This year's badge is something else!

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    We were expecting a non-electronic badge this year, as they usually alternate between electronic and non-electronic badges from year to year, but due to the fact that last year's badge was such a hit, and the fact that one of their long-time badge designers (Joe Grand, aka "Kingpin") has come out of self-imposed "retirement", this year's badge was electronic, with lots of known and unknown features.

    The face of the badge is a genuine quartz gemstone, and all of them are different. Mine (see photo above) has some obvious imperfections and when I asked a Goon about this, thinking that it may be defective or damaged, he said that it was intended to be that way.

    Here are some slides which tell the story of this year's badge much better than I can explain. Scroll down to the next section if you're not interested.

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    Sorry for the length of this. It gets better. Stay with me, please, and scroll down if you don't wanna see all of the badge stuph.

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    Almost done, I promise ... :)

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    Here are a few views of my badge, imperfect as it is.

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    It's not obvious in this photo, but some of the lights (white) toward the outside of the circle are lit, indicating my progress in the game.

    It's all powered by a small "coin" battery, very similar to that used by many 1970s vintage cameras.

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    Here's a side view showing some of the lit lights and some of the imperfections in the gemstone.

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    If you look closely at the hardware slide above, you will see four gold-plated contacts (is that anything like rose-colored glasses?) which allow you to connect to the badge and interact with it electronically.

    [​IMG]

    One of the challenges is to go to the Hardware Hacking Village (more below) and get a complimentary four-prong connector, then go to the Soldering Lab and carefully solder it, using or learning the appropriate technique, to those contacts.

    Here's mine as I was exiting the Soldering Lab returning to HHV.

    [​IMG]

    I think the guy at HHV was surprised that I came back so quickly with the connector soldered in place! I've been soldering in one form or another for many years. Jewelry making, and then camera repair. Back in the 2000-oughts I successfully rewired a Mamiya SD camera, using what the guys at work call "rework wire" (think very small insulated wire) and it still works quite well. :)

    The next step is to connect the badge to a terminal and look around. I missed out on that part at the HHV since the computer I was attempting to use did not have some of the drivers and I was short on time, but one of our techies at work thinks he has an interface that will work and we'll try it in our spare time over the next few days.

    (wheels turning) I MIGHT actually be able to do this myself using the Raspberry Pi (see below) but I am not certain and there may be some unknowns of doing that.

    Here's a shot of Jeff Moss (aka "Dark Tangent"), the founder of Defcon, and of Joe Grand, aka "Kingpin", the designer of the badge.

    [​IMG]


    The Game

    The Badge Game went something like this, and it was intended to encourage maximum interaction among the attendees.

    You "pair" or more correctly "sync" your badges with the badges of others. You want to sync with different types of badges, worn by humans, goons, vendors, press, etc. For humans, you want to, in particular, sync with those holding the icons (floppy, key, etc.) other than yours.

    You sync by holding your badges face to face, within about a foot or so, and wait for the lights to indicate that a sync has been made. You can sync in pairs or in groups of three or more, and you need some interaction with groups to make it through the game.

    The protocol/method/whatever that makes this sync possible is known a NFMI (Near Field Magnetic Induction) and is pronounced "Infamy", which is appropriate. :) :)

    There were all kinds of rumors circulating, and some intentional misinformation. One rumor was that if you synced with a Goon, your previous contacts were erased and you had to start over. This was proven to be bovine doodoo.

    Some thought that you had to closely touch "kiss" badges to sync, but no, it would work a foot or more away in many cases. Another rumor was that you had to "grind" the faces of your badges together to make them sync properly. Nope!

    You could even sync in some cases by one or more of you holding out your badge(es) without stopping. One dude got a bit snitty with me "hey! ask first!" as I held my badge close to his, without breaking stride, in Paris one night. :)

    Sessions

    There were four main tracks of speakers and seminars, 1, 2, 3 and Track 4 (nee' Track 101).

    Tracks 1, 2 and 3 were in the main Paris Ballroom, divided up into three rather large rooms.

    [​IMG]

    Track 4 was in the Paris Theater, where I'm sure many of you saw BMG.

    [​IMG]

    Some of the presentations I attended and enjoyed were:

    Behind the Scenes of the Badge (see slides above)

    Intro to Embedded Hacking (finding possibly decades-old bugs)

    The TOR Censorship Arms Race

    [​IMG]

    They went into some depth as to how foreign governments have attempted to block TOR, mostly unsuccessfully. "Information wants to be free." "The Internet sees censorship as damage and routes around it."

    For those who don't know what TOR is, it's The Onion Router, which appears to you, the user, as a more or less standard Firefox browser. I was able to install this on the netbook and get it running with no handholding at all! Easy! The two main uses are for super-private and anonymous otherwise normal web browsing, and as a gate way to ("the brightest portions of") the Dark Web.


    Phreaking Elevators. OMG!

    [​IMG]

    This was probably the most hardcore talk I saw this year. Anyone who is curious and knows how to use a phone and other common tools can easily mess around with elevators and elevator phone systems, mostly by virtue of negligent design and the manufacturers' stupid choices of obvious and non-changeable passwords. They gave plenty of examples and case histories.

    They did give one very strong "suggestion" as an admonition. They said to please not {f-bomb} with the elevators at Planet Ho, Paris, and Bally's, and other places our people may be staying. Instead he put up a slide of another hotel, which elicited a chorus of BOOs, and suggested that it might be a better target.

    But wait, there's more!

    As I was stum^H^H^H^Hwalking back to my room on Friday, I was about to press the UP button for an elevator when I noticed that there was an elevator waiting there with the door open. I entered and was about to press the button for my floor when I noticed that all of the buttons were lit and numb.
    Hmmmmmm ..... :) :) :)

    Weapons of MAC Destruction

    Understanding the Difference Between Security and Reality

    Report on Wireless Monitoring at Defcon

    Hakc {sic} The Police


    Vendors

    Lots of instructional stuff ...

    [​IMG]
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    Cheat yer friends! (Yeah, right!)

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    Lock picking practice ...

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    This kit is a lot more elaborate than the one I got last year.

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    I picked up a new toy this year, what is known as a Raspberry Pi, which is actually a very physically small and inexpensive microcomputer, which is otherwise a full-powered Linux desktop.

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    They were out of the small monitors that go with it, but I ordered one and assured me that it would be delivered soon after I returned. The tracking number says that it should be delivered on Friday.

    I picked up a game controller and they threw in (they could not charge, since technically these are still under copyright) a SD card of all kinds of classic games. With the Raspberry Pi, you can play virtually all of the old Atari 2600 and old Nintendo games as well as emulate an Apple 2 and play the games for that as well.

    I also picked up a "hat" for it, a small display which is an "electronic ink" type of display which retains its image when the power is off.

    [​IMG]

    That long pin connector on the Raspberry Pi is what the "hat" plugs into. Many "hats" and "bonnets" are available for all kinds of things.

    The whole idea of the Raspberry Pi makes it super for someone like me who wants to learn about Linux and hardware but is bound to make mistakes and screw things up. If you screw up the operating system, it's almost trivial to "re-flash" the SD card on the netbook and start over. If you fat-finger something, hardware wise, as in majorly short circuit something and destroy ("brick") the Raspberry Pi itself, you can just toss it and get a new circuit board for $20 or so. (This is the new disposable model computer!) :)

    I also realized that the Raspberry Pi is also the basis of the Pi-Hole (I was calling it Pie-Hole, which is how it is pronounced, but now I know better) which is an "enterprise ad blocker" which we are testing at work. The techies at work loaned me one of those a while back to test at home, and it was literally plug-and-play into the wireless hub.

    Air Force ...

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    Wow, is Defcon going mainstream? :)

    Hack The Pentagon!

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    Hey, hackers, open invitation to find bugs and weaknesses! This was indeed official.

    Hairstylist doing Mohawks! :)

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    (This photo taken with consent of the stylist and customer.)


    Contests

    Puzzles and games.

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    Lots of competition in Capture The Packet and variations of Capture The Flag, with some incredibly skilled teams with names such as R00timentary and Mhackeroni (pronounced "Macaroni") trying for titles.

    [​IMG]
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    For those who have played the old Saturday-in-the-park game of Capture The Flag, the techie version is similar, although all digital. The object of the game is to break into an opposing team's computer, look for and "capture" their flag, digitally, and move it to your team's computer, or in some cases sneak in and plant your flag on the opposing team's computer.

    One more unusual one, which I do not think was there last year, was [email protected] [email protected], a big techie fashion show and contest. All kinds of things like LED-emblazoned couture and geekwear and such. See the photos of the electronic lab coat below.

    LOL, Tinfoil Hat Contest. :) :) :)


    Villages

    This year there were too many to count, or to visit in the time allotted.

    The Villages are smaller special-interest areas, consisting of smaller talks, lectures and demos, and lots of hands-on things. Last year I spent quite a bit of time at the Lockpick Village, but not so much this year as I had been-there, done-that, and wanted to expand.

    I went to the Hardware Hacking Village, where I first updated the firmware on my old Defcon 26 2018 badge, as the original firmware was known to have bugs. I was able to do this myself with very little coaching, only some pointing in the right direction. It worked and gave the "Complete and successful" result on the first attempt. :)

    There are SO many Villages.

    Aviation Village

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    I showed this to a couple of my cow-orkers who are airplane buffs and they are thinking of going next year just for this.

    On the other end of things ...

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    Hack The Sea.

    I went back to the Hardware Hacking Village (see above, or is it below) to get the interface connector for this year's badge, and to the Soldering Skills Village to attach it.

    Another village I visited briefly was the Car Hacking Village.

    [​IMG]

    I learned what a CAN (Controller Area Network) is, and how, exactly, that magic box that the guy at the garage uses to figure out why the Check Engine light is on and such works.

    The one lecture I referred to on Facial Recognition was a "Village" lecture. Smaller than the main tracks, but informative and authoritative.


    Skytalks

    This is the only image that you're gonna see of anything close to Skytalks.

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    On the left is my Skytalks Blue Badge, indicating that I am a Skytalks Associate (translated: donor and supporter) and I got preferred seating and such at the Skytalks sessions.

    Skytalks is a semi-independent track of lectures and presentations. I went to several of them and enjoyed all of them.

    The thing about Skytalks is that the entire series is totally off the record. No recording, no photos, no video, no electronics, no reporting, no nothing! I was even asked to remove the batteries from my Defcon 2018 blinky-badge when I entered. They want the presenters and the audience to feel totally comfortable discussing anything without fear of retribution of any kind.

    Several times they cited a case where in a previous year, a Defcon presenter from a country that is not as information-free as ours was immediately arrested when returning to his home country on the grounds of what he revealed at Defcon.

    The one presentation I spoke of in another thread about defeating facial recognition was part of Skytalks. Therefore I could not take any photos of it.

    Another of the sessions I attended was quite the surprise. This was on hacking and law enforcement, given by a sworn LEO, who turned out to be local to me at home. He wanted to be free to speak totally freely, thus the Skytalks track. What was really a surprise to me is that he revealed his background and how he got into the field of technology. He was apparently arrested for hacking (or attempting to do so, he was caught) a local ISP and I was surprised to see the business card of a friend and former cow-orker displayed on the screen, and cited as one of the "good guys" who suggested that he turn his desire for hacking into something that would do some good.


    Hacker Jeopardy

    This one is deserving of its own section!

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    I'll take The Rapists for 400, Alex.

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    The Referee (needed for this game, trust me) and the "Sister", who I do not remember from last year, but back then I was only a N00b.

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    Intro to the game ...

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    LOL, we will either card you or else offer you an AARP brochure. :)

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    Beach balls before the game!

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    These, unfortunately, ended up being verboten after one unfortunate incident. :(


    Topics

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    Game play

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    Throw it out to the audience, in the case all of the teams are stumped.

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    Next game topics

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    One "topic" which I did not get a photo of was an awful pun, which I did not "get" until it was too late.

    It was a topic on the various versions of Windoze and was titled "See You, NT", say that fast! :)

    Daily Double.

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    Audience: Don't f*ck it up! Don't f*ck it up! Don't f*ck it up! Don't f*ck it up!
    Team: What is {whatever}.
    Referee: That is INCORRECT!
    Audience: You f*cked it up! You f*cked it up! You f*cked it up! You f*cked it up!

    The audience

    [​IMG]

    Overflow! SRO!

    [​IMG]

    For the second game on Friday, one of the pre-qualified teams did not show. They called for any of the other pre-qualified teams that may be present, but none were, so they said that any group of three from the audience could try for it. The guy to my left kinda pointed to me and the guy to his left and we both nodded affirmative, so he raised his hands, but some other group of three closer in had already been selected. So, I guess I *ALMOST* got to play Hacker Jeopardy this year. :)


    Here's a stumper fer ya! The Final Jeopardy answer:

    [​IMG]

    For those who can't make it out it reads "hex(Mama Mia Band) ^ (XOR) hex(Back In Black Band)"

    C'mon gang! I know many of you studied this stuff back in college.

    If we work this out on our Handy-Dandy Uber-Techno-Geek calculator we get ...

    [​IMG]

    "What is 0x0766?" Remember, it has to be in the form of the question and the referee did NOT allow any do-overs.

    What amazed me was that there were a few questions which were so amazingly simple which totally stumped all of the teams of "techies" on stage. I actually knew the answers (or in this case the questions) to both the Telnet port number (What is port 23?) and what colors are reversed in the standard cross-over cable (What are orange and green?). I raised my hand when they threw those out to the audience, but somebody else got them before the Referee even looked my way.

    After the Telnet one, the Referee had some SWAG prizes, discounts for technical training, which he was going to throw to the audience members who answered questions, but he threw them in front of the team that really blew the question saying "Here, you need this more than anybody else!" :)

    There was a cash bar in the game area, kind of off to the right of the SRO area above, and it is usually PACKED with a major line, so before Hacker Jeopardy on Friday I bought a bottle of Bud Light Lime at the gift shop and brought it along. As I was about finished with it, the guy in front of me turned around, handed me a bottle, with the instructions of "Hey, take a swig and pass it on" so, well, I took a swig. NASTY! UGH! It was some brand of malt liquor which I had never heard of and it tasted kind of like a mix of beer and Listerine! I capped it back up and turned around and passed it to the guy behind me with the "Hey, take a swig and pass it on" instruction. (Hold that thought!)

    LOL, kinda reminded me of decades ago when we kids would sneak bottles of Boone's Farm into basketball games and we would pass the bottles back and forth. :)

    Anyway, after Hacker Jeopardy I wandered downstairs, hoping to find some REAL live music (see below), which I did in the Extra Lounge, so I got a beer at the bar (Holy fsck! $12 and change! Really!) and watched from one of the stand-up tables for a while.

    I noticed one guy standing at a nearby slot machine, wearing a white lab coat with the back facing me, under which was an illuminated alphabetic "crawl" with the (in)famous Hacker Jeopardy chant of "Don't F*ck It Up" (but without the asterisk) displaying over and over. I tried catching most of it. Here it is, it was hard to catch the whole thing but you get the point. :)

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    When the band went on break, I figured I would wander over to Paris and watch the band there, at least until they went on break, and then wander on to Napoleon's and see what was going on there.

    Anyway, I wandered out the northwest entrance of PH and I noticed a group of Defcon guys hanging out right outside the door. They motioned me over, obviously noticing my Defcon regalia.

    He: Hey, you wanna try some {whatever}? (Holding a bottle of what looked to be nasty malt liquor up.)
    Me: Is that the sh*t they were passing around upstairs at Hacker Jeopardy?
    He: Yeah, and we're trying to get rid of it!
    Me: That stuff is fscking nasty!

    Then all of a sudden, the one guy to my left exclaims "Hey, were you the one in front of me who passed it back to me?"

    I said probably, and all of us kind of agreed that it was nasty, so we all synced badges and I went on my way.

    (You may now release that thought.)


    Entertainment

    There were lots of items on the schedule featuring "live music", but alas, what they call "live music" is more like a deejay playing house or electro music.

    Hey gang, let me DCC you a clue!

    This:

    [​IMG]

    Is live music.


    This:

    [​IMG]

    Is live music.


    This:

    [​IMG]

    Is **NOT** live music! Sorry!


    Chilling

    Lots of areas just to sit and chill out.

    [​IMG]

    Comfortable seats and power provided. Wifi (Feel lucky, punk? Well, do ya?) provided as well. :)

    [​IMG]

    Napoleon's was ours exclusively for the duration of the Con.

    [​IMG]

    This was the only official chill-out area where smoking was allowed.

    Lotsa Defcon logos inside and out of Napoleon's.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    Afterword

    One word: Overwhelming!

    I felt very much on the outside looking in, and this year I was confident that I would be on the inside looking out, but it was still very intense and again I only scratched the surface.

    At the Closing Ceremonies they were quite honest and transparent about the various issues and incidents that happened.

    [​IMG]

    (Sorry about the crummy fone pic. I forgot to take the Real Camera to this one. Yes, I know that "crummy" and "cell phone pic" are redundant!)

    One of the medical incidents and the cited ceiling tile incidents had to do with beach balls at Hacker Jeopardy knocking the tiles loose. One of them also caused an abandoned box knife to fall, giving one attendee a minor injury. From then on, beach balls were verboten in that room. As the Referee said Saturday night:

    "If I see anyone trying to blow up a beach ball, your entire row is disqualified!"

    A few of the media reporters were screamed at for violating the photo policy. One crew was ejected for violating the rule that it is one person with one camera only for each media outlet. They apparently sent a crew of photographer, talent, MUA, sound technician, etc., and were confronted and had their media creds yanked.

    One of the volunteers (Goons) was ejected for, as I was told, just being a d*ck.

    Lotsa stickers were given out. Here are some of them ...

    [​IMG]

    They say that next year, Defcon will be at the Bright And Shiny New Caesars Event Center, to the rear of Linq (or is it Quad?) and Flamingo.

    For those who care, Mindy and I did get together on Wednesday evening and we had a great time. She was over at Mandalay and I was at Planet Ho, so we figured that a good half-way point was NYNY. It was relatively cool on Wednesday so it was a quick easy trip.

    We met at the bar and had a few drinks, and then decided to do dinner at Gallagher's.

    We talked about the usual things, our former cow-orkers and who was still in touch with whom and how everyone was doing. We did some mommy-talk as she has a new (to me) toddler-age son. She looks great and has lots weight. (Envious!) :( I, on the other hand, have gained! :( :(

    I was shocked and surprised when she insisted on picking up my dinner tab at Gallagher's. I was very touched when she said that she was paying me back for when I kind of took her under my wing when we worked together. She said that I was always very approachable, always told things the way they were, and never talked down to anyone under me. This meant a lot.

    We agreed to both try to make the Ladies Of Defcon meet-up on Thursday night, and I said that I was already signed up for it, but neither of us made it. I overslept most of it doing my power nap and she had an incredibly intense day and just decided to skip it.

    On the negative side, however, Saturday night I realized that I am getting no younger, am seriously out of shape, and I have limitations that I did not have in my younger days. On my way to Hacker Jeopardy I picked up a wino-size beer from the gift shop, as I knew the line for the cash bar would be nasty. When I finished my beer, the guy to my left pulled out a bottle of rye whisk(e)y and offered me some. Of course I accepted. Seconds and thirds were offered and accepted.

    After HJ I wandered down to the PH bar, listened to the band, and had a couple of drinks. Then to the Paris bar, listened to the band, and had a couple of drinks. Then on to Napoleons, again, a few drinks while chatting with one guy at the bar and whoever came up. I took off maybe 1:00am (or in Defcon speak, 2500 hours) and thought of stopping at the bar by the band stand but as I was walking down the passage I realized that I had more than enough and should call it a night.

    As I was walking back to PH, I was thinking it might be a good idea to ask security to walk me to my room and make sure I got in OK. I was thinking of the recent report here on VMB of somebody observing a passed-out lady outside of her room and phoning security to have them come and pour her into bed.

    However, when I got to the casino I felt like I could easily make it up and to bed.

    Up the elevator, down the hall, pulled out my key card, and ("Oh f*ck) dropped it on the floor by my door. NBD right? Just bend over and pick it up. WRONG! I realized that if I tried to bend over and pick it up I would lose balance and fall. I figured the only way was to squat and sit, pick up the card, and stand back up. Well, I could not get myself back up. My balance is not what it was years ago and I am overweight and out of shape. I finally grabbed the door handle (which was loose in the locked state), wrapped my thumb around the shaft, grabbed my wrist with my left hand, and was able to pull myself up.

    That scared me! Lesson learned!

    Next time I need to watch my EtOH input, as well as to ask security to escort me if I feel at all uncertain!
    More importantly, I need to (REALLY) lose weight and exercise more. For someone "59 and holding" I think of myself as being still very agile, but I do need to take better care of myself! :(

    That, the self-realization, was really the only negative of the trip.

    Overall, I had a great time! Too great of a time, learned a lot, met countless people of all persuasions, and really enjoyed the thing. I can't wait for next year! Hopefully I will have a better fitness level then!

    That's it, gang! Hope you enjoyed.
     
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  2. ardee

    ardee It's only money.

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    Wow. Lots of interesting and informative content. Thanks for taking the time to write up this report, @dmr. Great photos too.
     
  3. Multifarious5

    Multifarious5 VIP Whale

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    I have an ironclad "NO WORK" rule in Vegas. I don't even let myself THINK about work, much less even consider attending a conference. Even a free work trip? Hell no. Vegas is my "me time, no work" sanctuary.

    But DEFCON? That's the one conference that intrigues me. Why?
    A) I don't like "look how important I am" conferences. DEFCONERS are truly there because they LOVE it.
    B) Cybersecurity's golden rule is nothing is impenetrable. If it hasn't been broken/hacked, it's a matter of time, not breakability.

    @dmr!! Thank you so much for taking the time to do such a detailed rundown, both on your writing and your pictures. You did an amazing job, and I loved it!

    Sidenote: I was grinning on your strategy on seeing if they did your wellness check, and I'm going to use it!
    "When I left, I carefully coiled the telephone handset cord to the left and around the back of the phone, so it would be very obvious if somebody used it. (See, thinking more and more like a hacker!)"

    I rarely stay at CET. The wellness checks make me even more hesitant. Not because I mind someone being in my room, but because I sleep WEIRD hours in Vegas, and the whole point of Vegas for me is to de-stress, and getting woken up does not soothe me. If I know someone has done the check, due to the phone cord? I'll sleep more soundly. Great idea, and great TR!
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019 at 1:09 AM
    First MGM stay...I keep hearing the Jeopardy! timer in my head!
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  4. Film-Noir

    Film-Noir High-Roller

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    Nice TR,
    But Wow DMR, what a sausage fest!

    Leet!
     
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  5. Multifarious5

    Multifarious5 VIP Whale

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    *duplicate*
     
    First MGM stay...I keep hearing the Jeopardy! timer in my head!
  6. Horseplayer1

    Horseplayer1 Low-Roller

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    Omg your hotel door entry story is hilarious and reminded me of my last trip in February. After meeting friends at Cosmo and consuming far too many cosmos (probably 3 or 4 but hey-Im in your age group), I walked back to Bally's and proceeded to try and get into my hotel room with my Blue Cross medical insurance card (which looks NOTHING like the room keys at Bally's,btw). After trying it for probably a couple minutes and many expletives, I realized my mistake. LOL.
    (note to self: Don't drunk-text your escapades to friends back at home...still haven't lived that one down)

    Great report-my brother in law was at Defcon. How was the food at Gallagher's?
     
    Next trip-Can't wait!
  7. dmr

    dmr Registered Abuser

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    Thanks everyone, glad you enjoyed it! {blush} :)

    This was a topic of some conversation. My guess is (they do not ask or record gender on registration) about 20:1, pretty much the same as last year.

    I saw no incidents of what I would call harassment or "hitting on", but a few harassment incidents were reported, but not broken down into sexual vs. general jerkishness.

    I felt safe, welcome, and an accepted member of the "gang" there.

    Here's what I might suggest for a win-win here. Many business meetings and trade shows will start on a Monday and/or end on a Thursday or Friday. I always try to "bookend" these with 1-2 extra nights, at my expense, of course. I **LOVE** having a free weekend in LV!

    Make friends with your office travel department, if they have one! They will be the ones who "OK" air/hotel paid by PO or voucher, and, if you say the right thing, fly you in 1-2 days early or out 1-2 days late at no additional cost to you. Ask them to place you at an acceptable casino-hotel instead of one of the "usual suspect" business hotels. Any corporate TA (excuse me, "travel counselor") :) can book corporate rates at many of the major Strip places, which are on par or cheaper than the rates they get at the Hampton and such. "Money talks and nobody walks!" :) If they are cool, they can book you extra nights at your expense which (often, not always) do not have the "Resort Fee" listed as a line item.

    OMG! Don't get me started. Corporate d-bags can be more annoying than El-Lay twentybopper d-bags! :( Media people (think NAB) can be major jerks, particularly after so many drinks.

    Defcon folks, however, are, with rare exception, amazingly cool. You can address the lead organizer as "Jeff" (or "Dark" or "DT" LOL) and he will not bat an eye and he will chat peer-to-peer with you.

    Well, trust me, it was not hilarious in the first person! :( It scared me, more so thinking about it after. :(

    It was eye-opening! I'm not getting younger and I need to get in better shape and watch the alcohol! I was a target for a mugging or worse in the elevator and hotel hallway.

    However, the next morning I did not have a hangover of any kind. I seldom get hangovers anymore, for some reason. After my wake-up fizzy caffeine drink and throwing myself together enough to be more or less presentable, I was ready to go again. :)
     
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  8. pressitagain

    pressitagain High-Roller

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    @dmr sounds even MORE interesting than the other thread. You obviously are getting the hang of it all with the do’s and don’t s.

    What’s the one venue that most hackers were drawn to?
     
  9. dmr

    dmr Registered Abuser

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    Venue? As in most popular things to do at the Con? About all of them, really. Everything from the deep-deep-deep uber-techie lectures to the games and events, to the chill-out areas, to ...

    There was one lecture that I was very much looking forward to which I did not get in on. It was a 20 minute talk by Senator Ron Wyden on privacy and the phone companies, starting at 4:30pm (excuse me, 1630) on Friday. I went in that direction at about 4pm and grabbed a beverage and sat down in Napoleon's and figured I would get on line at maybe 20 after or so. I wandered down there (about a 90 foot walk) and the line was snaked up and down the hall and into one of the dividing hallways! I asked a Goon if that was for the Wyden talk and he said yes, and I asked if there was any chance to get in and he said that I could join the line, but they expected that they would have to cut it off (pointing) LONG before the end.

    I intend to listen to it on the Media Server, but it was so popular that the demand majorly exceeded the supply of seats. That would be the most popular item I saw.

    Hacker Jeopardy was standing room only on Saturday. Probably the most popular evening thing.

    Closing Ceremonies on Sunday drew a major crowd, but there were still empty seats. They opened up the Track 1-2-3 area for that one, into one big hall.

    Is that what you meant?
     
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  10. bubbakitty

    bubbakitty Doing retirement again and happily so....

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    Great insight to something I am fairly ignorant about.
    Could you post a survey and let us guess how man vmb member’s passwords you already have?
    1-100
    200-300. etc. .
    The small compact computer with older games looked good too. You could sit in the airport next to a 10 year old with a tablet and let Mario amaze the little booger.
    Thanks for the report.
     
  11. dmr

    dmr Registered Abuser

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    LOL, the only passwords of others that I know are those that are written on the little yellow sticky notes on their monitors! :)
     
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  12. bubbakitty

    bubbakitty Doing retirement again and happily so....

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    THAT’s why they told me to use blue stickey’s.
     
  13. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    Another great write up of this interesting event! Thanks for sharing with us!
     
    MyVegas lets us stay again? Okay!
    Thanks Wynn slot app! M's birthday in style!
  14. alanleroy

    alanleroy Click my avatar

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    An interesting, informative and well written report. Thanks for writing it!
     
  15. ffejry

    ffejry #1 Bears Fan

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    @dmr your room inspection story left me wondering...

    I am deaf. When in the room, I don't wear my cochlear implant. I enjoy silence when by myself in a room. Otherwise I might hear shit that befuddles me like that guy with the elevator.

    Anyway, I hear NOTHING when I don't wear it. I always lock my doors too. So I wonder what would happen if they tried to inspect my room? Scare the shit out of me? I had a maid come in when I was taking a bath once. She was shocked while I was scared shitless.

    Should I have the hotel note on the account that im deaf for the future? Or would it not matter?
     
  16. bubbakitty

    bubbakitty Doing retirement again and happily so....

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    Ok (he naively asked—-how long is the memory on a cars camera(s)? None? A tracking device? The clueless want to know!! Or has that not been discussed at the conventions yet? Every time you back up or change lanes much less info SiriusXM collects. :cool:
    Yikes!!!
     
  17. dmr

    dmr Registered Abuser

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    Do you get a regular room or one with the blinky-light and the doorbell? I think it would certainly be helpful to have the desk note that you were hard of hearing.

    As an aside, there was one side-track of Defcon entitled Deafcon, which was for those who were hard of hearing.

    I have no clue, and we didn't discuss the cameras. The guy at the Car Hack Village mostly did stuff like debunked the story that some kid with a cell phone in the next lane could "hack" your vehicle and take over the steering and such.

    The only "camera" on my car, if you can call it that, is the back-up camera, and I don't think it really records anything, just projects the rear view on the screen when driving backwards.

    One thing to consider is that to "track" any movement, whether it's visually or by GPS or by what, takes a LOT of memory. Yes, some cars do record movement to some degree, but a detailed record over the years of life of the car would take lots of memory.

    It is my distinct impression that XM Radio is one-way only, as in it's not sensitive enough way up in the exosphere to receive anything from your car's radio.

    I didn't attend any lectures where XM was discussed, but it was a frequent topic of casual discussion, as in how do you get "free" SXM, or how do you extend that free subscription when you buy a new car or radio. The only practical answer I heard was to buy a new car every six months. :)

    Here's the Readers Digest version of what I've been told. The satellite sends an "activation" signal when you subscribe, which enables the radio to play things other than the demo channel. It also sends periodic (nobody seems to know how often) "go/no-go" signals, as in each subscribed radio is given the "go" and a default "no-go" is sent to all others. The "hacking" discussions were along the line of how do you spoof the "activate" and "go" signals for your radio and even some very hardcore technogeeks were totally clueless as to how to do it.
     
  18. jpw711

    jpw711 VIP Whale

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    The curtains/blinds in the hotel room looked like they really let a lot of light in along the edges. Are they really that bad?
     
    your degen when you book your flight ON the flight home.