Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

17 Feb 2011, 14:28 p.m.

QuahogCon 2010, & 2011?

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2011 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

chandelier near Providence waterfront

According to its main website, the QuahogCon security/DIY convention has not yet opened registration for this year, which makes me slightly nervous. There does exist an Eventbee ticket-sales page but I don't trust it yet, since the main site doesn't link to it. So here's hoping reg starts soon.

I'm planning on going. I enjoyed last year thoroughly.

I arrived in Providence via train of hilarity and proceeded on foot through the picturesque and confusing downtown to the hotel. They checked me in early without any fuss, and were generally helpful. Bedbug check: clear! Some shopping (pint glass: bought) and a great sandwich later, I sat by the water reading when Leonard's friend Jake Berendes called. He and his gal pal Sukiko took me to White Electric, where we discussed James Bond, whether I am as "con crazy" as Leonard alleges, and the Providence art and music scene. Evidently show flyers in Providence are hella cryptic, to keep fratboys and the cops away. Security through obscurity can really cut down on attackers, however you perceive attacks.

chandelier near Providence waterfront

Then the con began and my note-taking time completely disappeared.

Convention registration at the hotel: I got the flashiest badge ever, a programmable circuit board with flashing LEDs. (Of course the badges at an infosecurity conference don't have names on them.)

The introductory session: let me just say that I hope this year's geeky standup comedy is geekier, funnier, and less sexist. (I've volunteered to perform, and am waiting to hear back from the con organizers.) But at the con as a whole, if I recall correctly, I was almost never the only woman in the room, and I don't remember being scorned or harrassed due to my gender (other than general misogyny by some of the stand-up comedians). Woohoo!

chandelier near Providence waterfront

Dan Kaminsky's keynote was gripping and prefigured his Interpolique work. Other edifying talks (slides available!): Dan Crowley on Windows file pseudonyms, Joe McCray on SQL injection, Larry Pesce on SIM card forensics, and Matthew Borgatti's "Art to Part" keynote. I'd been looking forward to Joan Pepin's Gender Hacking talk, but it turned into Trans 101 because attendees in the room seemed to need it.

I enjoyed the dealer's row, the lockpicking instruction table and the kits for sale, and the constant conversations in the lobby and the bar. My team won its first round of Hacker Jeopardy, and losing to Dan Kaminsky's team in the final round was still fun. Also, it's fun to hang out with Dan. I met some fun people, ate yummy food at several area restaurants, and hung out with Jake and Sukiko (you know it's a good barbecue when you go kayaking for the first time and lose your eyeglasses in a reservoir).

chandelier near Providence waterfront

When I go this year, I hope to bring Leonard along, to visit the Culinary Arts Museum at Johnson & Wales University, and to see the Roger Williams memorial.


26 Feb 2011, 8:33 a.m.

QuahogCon has now announced that they're postponing the con to 2012. A bit disappointing, but I'm glad they've decided to uphold quality, "[r]ather than try to rush a substandard Con out the door for 2011," as they put it.