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++++++++ 4th Annual Rubi-con +++++++++++++++++++++

This is my story of attending the 4th Annual Rubi-Con info sec conference. You can find out more about the Rubi-Con here, www.rubi-con.org. This is the _Final_Draft of my story so do not send me corrections or updates, send them to Rubi-Con staff.

Photos will be post here soon http://c0vertl.tripod.com/digital.htm

By: C0VERTl, aka covert_one@ziplip.com

+++++++++++++++++++++

Rubi-Con Day 1 Friday April 5th 2002

I actually slept until 7:30am. When I pulled out in my dirty, black GMC Jimmy to the last half of the am rush hour, it was snowing lightly and the sun was coming up. Rush hour wasn’t too bad, I knew I had plenty of time to cruise in, I had my punk tapes to play. I also memorized the directions from Yahoo Yellowpages. The worst part of the trip was I-94 south of Detroit,, the roads so uneven, patched and unpatched potholes. It was like doing high speed 4-wheeling, flying over sections of holes and pavement.

I arrived around 9:20am, and I just knew I had the right place. The parking lot was full, some cars had linux/Unix/BSD slackware bumperstickers. Funny enough there were also many obvious ‘mom’s car’ vehicles, vans with soccer-mom decals, and baby seats. A group of ragtag teens, messy hair, carrying the components to make up a small network, a monitor, a couple boxes, a hub, and rolls of cable in to the hotel. They were unloading a 'soccer-mom' light blue voyager van. It even had a soccer team logo on the side window. The side entrance to the hotel was right where I stepped into CAT 5 cable running along the floors, more grungy teens in trench coats, black jeans, leather coats, even geeky boys that looked like mom dressed them. It was cold and snowing so I walked in wearing my black puffy Nike jacket, black sunglasses, I have on a nice black sweater, with grey dress pants. Of course, Hi-Tec Magnum boots.

I first ran in to Josh, a guy about 22, leather biker jacket, medium build. I ask "I am looking for Brian Deline." He says "So am I" So we smile and walk around looking for him. We don’t find him, so we split up. I check out the network room, its mostly empty at this time, they had the long 15 foot tables and chairs set up.

9:40am somebody put out a stack of Rubi-Con pamphlets, it had the show’s directory. From the directory I find a photo of Brian Deline, cool! I decide to check in to my room first, I had called for early check-in. It works and I get my bags and jacket in the room.

I walk around and to find Brian, instead I find trouble. As I walked from the meeting room for the rubi-con network, I found myself following a bright green CAT -5 cable. The meeting room is on one side of the building remember? I walk along the cable, pass the elevators, pass the café, into the huge, marble-tiled hotel lobby, under the feet of some more grungy teens, pass the front desk. It continues into the 1st floor hallways, by the time I hit the first hallway corner, I estimate I passed about 175 feet of cable! I go down the hallway, around another corner, to a stairwell. I figure the head honchos for the Rubi-Con must be running the cable to their room, I laugh. So I go up the frickin stairs, climb the second landing, pass the second floor, climb the third floor landing, to the cable snaking under the door for the third floor. I open the door, follow the damn green cable down the long hall way, around a corner to another long hall way. A crowd has gathered in the middle of the hallway, standing around the box that contains the roll of green cable. I did not really want to be a part of the crowd as it was a hotel manager, a red jacketed house boy, a maintenance man, and a maid standing around. They appeared to be upset. But I walked up anyway, sensing a good photo op, (see photo!) I readied the camera behind my back. The hotel group had cornered two grungy gals, one I think was pretty heavy and wore coveralls that I wish covered more of what bulged out. The hotel crew were questioning them about the cable. The girls reply "I donno, its not mine", "I donno I just got here". Each hotel worker asking the same question, getting the same answers, these girls were obvious pros at stonewalling. I walked away from the group, stopped half way down the hall, turned and took the photograph, the flash went off as the hallway is dark. Shit! Big Mistake. As I quickly walk back down the hallway, I can hear a faint "Hey", "Hey, Why you take that picture, Come Here". Fuck, I make the stairway and silent-glide-down the next landing when the tall black maintenance man and clean-cut-manager-wanna-be-house-boy, in his Red Jacket - come running down the stairs after me. I did it perfect, I stopped so they were forced to bunch up mid-stair, I bet that made them uncomfortable. I stood blocking the stairway, I smiled, the tall maintenance guy had to lean forward, off balance to ask me again "Why you take that picture man?" The Red Jacket trying to peer over his shoulder. I give a pause for effect, and said "I am writing an article about this <hold up Rubi-Con packet>" I wait. They repeat their question, "why you take that picture man?", I repeat my answer. Stoic look on my face says "and that’s all I got to say about that." Red Jacket and tall maintenance man look at each other. End of conversation #1. The maintenance guy then ask "What do you know about this cable?". I smile again, I figure I play a little, Two male, 20’s, hacker-types come up the stairs and are witnessing this. One looks stoned, red-eyed. I say "You mean _this_ cable?" The guy missed my sarcasm, said "yeah". I paused, then said "yea, that’s a category five cable." Ba-da-Bing-! No, they still missed the sarcasm, I must be too light on these guys. I look down the stairs at the other hackers, they smile back, not sure if they should worry or giggle. The guy in the Red Jacket just has to say something smart, so he says "Its a fire hazard, you can’t do that." I shrugged my shoulders and said "Its not my cable." This for some reason perplexes the inquisitive workers. I guess they were so sure I was responsible for this treacherous cable. They make the big mistake and ask "Why is this cable running here?" I smile, look back at the hackers, they know its coming. Look back at the hotel guys, they are really interested in my answer. So I give them the DigitalNomad-geek-speak "This is special cable for a computer network, it is used to connect two or more computers together. This is called Category Five cable. This cable runs down to the meeting room. But this cable does not appear to be hooked up yet." As expected, I get a blank stare from the hotel crew, it takes them a few long seconds to recover from my geek speak and they just repeat the obvious, "This cable can’t be here, you guys can’t run it here". The manager, an Arab, now stands behind the Red Jacket, who still has to stand behind the tall black maintenance guy that I have bunched on the mid-stairs. I shrug my shoulders to disrespect their combined authority, and said "Its not my cable." They look at each other, pissed, and begin to try to figure out how to punish me for this cable. I am surprised that I had to state the obvious, I said "Whose room does the cable go to?" All three of them look at each other like it was brilliant statement, the manager, starts saying "Who’s in that room?", repeat. As soon as the Red Jacket and the maintenance guy take their eyes off me, I am down the stairs like a freaking ghost. The two hacker-types take my cue and we all make like hell, fast-running, quietly down a flight a stairs and split up, I take the second floor hallway.

Whew. I make it down to the first floor, take a ‘before’ photo of the elevator. I exit, and walk pass the café where I recognize Brian DeLine from the Rubi-Con handout. He is sitting with another Rubi-Con core member in the café of the hotel. I call out "hey, I am looking for Brian DeLine!" and he waves me over. I quickly introduced myself and related the hotel/cable situation with him, as my first assignment of doing his security survey assignment. Just in time, the Arab manager and Red Jacket have traced the bright green cable to the meeting room. Now, you can understand why the hotel is upset, someone has run a damn cable all the way across the hotel, up three flights, and halfway through the building again. It doesn’t help that at 10:00am, the meeting room and hallway is now beginning to come to life, filling up with all sorts of computer equipment, and there must have been 100 miles of different color cables piled here and there. The amount of geeks and freaks in raggity, black, grungy clothes was getting to a shocking level for this elegant hotel. When the hotel crew started to run the same question game by Brian, Brian a bit blindsided, just said "Whatever, it doesn’t belong to us". I interrupted and suggested that I could gather up the cable, Brian agreed.

Shit, 275 feet later, I retrieved the cable from the meeting room, pass the elevators, pass the café, through the lobby, up the hall, to the stairway where mercifully the offender had beat me - he had cut the cable and ran with the other end. Problem #1 solved, I humped the shoulder full of cable back to Brian and smiled "They just donated this cable to the Rubi-Con!"

The hotel crew left Brian with one more message, passed on to me, "Smoking is prohibited as well as alcohol in the hallways, and lobby." A tall order as just about every other hacker was puffing away, a few cloves here and there. You could walk through any part of the hotel and smell cloves, how trendy. Alcohol was not really a big problem, at least not during the day, but this was a fancy-smancy hotel. The Arab manager, "Amin", is serious. He could work for the Mossad or something.

More hoards of grungy teens, a few adults. No spooks a-spying a-spooking, just geeks wanting to learn something. Black is the color of the day.

By 11:00am we get tables set up in the hallway for registration and T-shirt sales. Josh works hard to get the audio and visual system up, I hear him complain, "I got no power!", "I must have power!", visions of an old Startrek episode. All is fine, he just needs to locate another power cord. The meeting rooms are pretty decent sized, about maybe 20’ by 30’, speakers podium at one end, maybe enough chairs for 150-180 or so in each room. Well-lit. Standard Hotel Meeting room. That seating count will be important as later, many speakers fill up the room to standing room only. The Network room is appropriately a high ceiling 14’ and it is about 25’x 40’, this was meant to be a ballroom, so it *had* nice carpeting. Hubs were taped to several of the tables for plug-in, cables duct-taped on the elegant, ballroom floor helter-skelter down the center of the room.

By 11:30am the network room is still being worked on, the network volunteers get pissed at the heavy traffic of people trying to get into the room to set up their computers - they duct tape the doors, "Stay out!" for now. RijilV and his volunteers battle away in there. Or they are still drinking, smoking, and eating a stack of pizza.

Brian DeLine is a great guy, he took me in right away and had me work the registration table with him. He deserves a lot of credit for the idea and running the show, he has such a positive, bright attitude about everything in general. He is very easy to talk to because he talks like a man with an education background, calm, and comfortable enough to share information. I had to run off to find a box to keep the money in, then Brian had me sort through the preregistration attendees. We start registration early, the line gets to be about 40 feet long, and stays that way until about 4pm. All the people were respectable at sign in, polite, sober. They had waited patiently in line. But as other hotel guest walk by to enter the lobby, or to the pool, they would stop and stare. A Mix of geeks and freaks is indeed a sight to behold, a totally opposite mix of people to see together. Some polo shirts, dress pants, dress shoes, then some torn clothes, black/dark color, t-shirt, jacket overflowing like a homeless, bag-person. I register my first Speaker, Donald Glass. I was almost speechless, stunned, Mr. Glass was a lean, overwhelming tall, about 6’7" or something. He had a scraggy beard, not to be unshaven but actually trying to sport a beard. A long oval face. He wore the glasses, the standard haircut, and clothing of what one might profile a true computer geek. Yea, the unkempt, pocketprotector wearing guy is a good image. He gives a pretty good presentation on Win2 security that day. Read more about Mr. Glass on the Rubi-con site.

Computer equipment I saw was about 60% laptop, 30% digital cameras, and 50% desktop. Some guy sits in the hallway holding a WLAN attenea attached to his laptop. I see he is running a packetsniffer, so I ask "You see anything interesting yet?" The geek excitedly replies "I am getting some pretty good traffic, some interesting packets." I said "Thats interesting, because Rubi-Con does not have a WLAN set up yet!" We both agree that other guest in the hotel maybe using WLAN for personal business, something worth keeping an eye on. Some guy runs from the network room and shouts out, "Anybody have any floppy disks?", he corrects himself, "Anyone have any 1.44mb, 3.5" floppy disk?" The crowd in the line have a laugh, one guy says he does have some blank disks. Some people preferred to use their Internet handle for registration, paying in cash. Some government people check-in, given away by their governmental preregistration form, or their clothing and plastic ID badges on their hips. Btw, it seemed like only 3 gov people attended as attendees. Brian is so cool, that when two ladies from a governmental agency, dressed smartly in a business suits, one wearing a governmental pin, (was that DoD?) come up to register, Brian would not let them pay full price as they were paying out of their own pockets - their costs were not footed by the USGov.

The day goes on, its busy, people everywhere. At the registration table, I register attendees off the preregistration list, Brian collects cash by the handfuls, his front pockets of his tan pants bursting. I think by 2:30pm We first run out of Rubi-Con packets, the packets that detail about the speakers, the show, and lists the events. Someone runs out to get huge printouts of the speaker events to post by the doors, that works. By about 2:45pm, we run out of the yellow Speaker-pass circuitboard Rubi-con 4 attendee badges. At 3:45pm we run out of the green Attendee circuitboard Rubi-con 4 badges. These 3"x4" badges were color coded, and had "RC4 April 2002 Detroit" printed on them like an actual board, they were worn around the neck by a cord. After we ran out, we began to issue junk circuit boards left over from some automobile dimmer switch that we had a stack of. Rubi-con did not expect to run out of 300 of those green badges. By 4pm it was easy to say that we had registered 330 attendees and almost all of the speakers. A Speaker gives a large, really cool map of the Internet as a gift for Brian DeLine. Brian posts it up near the network room for display. Remember this poster/gift for later in the story. At that time the line for registration had dropped to the occasional, wander-in. People had cleared the hallway for the speaker rooms, the speakers started on time at 1pm. The network’s traffic was peaked by 4pm when I left the registration table to wander. Brian leaves to take a break. I identify Jim Tantalo, a lean, dark-haired guy. He is also a really cool, easy guy to talk to. But he is serious about this, I see him running around, making sure volunteers are supposed to be where they are supposed to be, he complains when volunteers get too cocky and smoke and drink alcohol in the hallways. Hotel management have zeroed on him as the guy to complain to. Brian, RijilV, and Jim worked their asses off and deserve a lot of good credit for putting on this show. I believe I met other important people part of the Rubi-con but at this time their names escape me. I was a very exciting event for me, sorry. Dennis Baldwin also deserves a lot of credit too, but you can also email all your complaints to him as well. Dennis was cool as well, a laid back kind of guy. He will also talk freely with you. Read his version of Rubi-con somewhere, displaying all the pictures he took with a large 35mm that stuck out from his larger chest.

Brian and I agreed that I would not wear a badge, Brian was serious about getting an evaluation from a physical security and organizational-function perspective from me. Not sure what kind of problems to expect, from either volunteers, staff, or attendees, I wanted an all-pass-all-areas access without rank or identity. So while everyone was required (and honored) to wear their badges, when I was asked for a badge I just covertly, with a deadpan look, replied "I don’t need one", and referred complaints to Brian to smooth over. I am mostly regarded with suspicion. Thanks for a great time again Brian.

After Brian and I left the table at 4pm to some volunteers, he splits somewhere, probably to deal with the pockets full of cash.

I go back to my room to take notes about the morning events, change my clothes from a dress sweater, pants, and darkglasses to urban-blue, night time camo BDU pants, a dark grey long sleeved shirt, combat boots, and regular glasses. I shower, as it was a very busy 4 hours at registration, busy and sweaty. I realize that I haven’t eaten all day since 7:30am, I run out to a McDonald’s down the street. I lose my parking space and had to drive around for a few more minutes to locate another, the lot is about 99.7% full. I must have parked two football fields away from the hotel. It is fucking cold and windy.

I check out the speaker rooms, both are full, standing room in some areas, some sit on the floor with their laptops. I catch the last half of Taramina’s presentation on his Mobile GPS Demonstration Platform. He has a Radio-Controlled Vehicle, a mini-SUV equipped with cameras, radios, and GPS devices. The projector in the room works very nicely, clear picture, and the sound is good, the rooms are working. Not many people smoked in the speaker rooms, so it was very bearable.

By 5:00pm I am in the network room, tons more cable has been brought in, I suspect people are dumping junk now, miles of old cable, old hardware, obsolete, crap, we must have about 5+ miles of assorted cables. No one else has tried to run a cable from the meeting room to their rooms anymore. A small card table with a old computer has been setup outside the network room, in the hallway by Reconfigured.com for display, this was about 3pm or so. The marketers for Reconfigured.com hand out free KMX energy drinks, but I couldn’t understand their logic of publishing a computer/network advisory on paper, delivered in snail mail. Remember this computer for later in the story.

I wander around the network room, questioning some of the friendly computer users. I interview people like Kat-Atonic (see photo) on the floor using a laptop hooked up to the network. There were a few old Commodores with tape drives for play, some older non-working computers, parts of old stuff to rehash old memories. I met all kinds of people, mostly it was male and 17- 23 oriented. There were enough old people like me, so I didn’t feel bad. Many seem competent, some came in groups, some in pairs, a few alone. There was a mostly white crowd, a few Asians, and fewer blacks. I figured for about 100 guys there was maybe 2 girls - and I mean girls that had their own computers, not attending as a ‘girlfriend’ or haxor groupie. As far as the girls, it seemed that the attendees either had a girlfriend they were loyal to, or they were loyal to their computers. I mention the racial/gender to point out diversity. Some people looked like they had money, spend on clothes and boxes. Some people look like they struggle to make bills, probably could not afford nice, trendy clothes, but they did spend wisely on their laptop or box. I asked a few people about the network traffic, I was told the internal network was indeed up. The internal network traffic was ‘heavy’, and it was difficult to access the internet. No one could tell me much about the Rubi-con Contest server, it may have not been up or not much was known about it at that time. They did issue IPs, and post a Gateway IP. No DHCP. The room was smoky, pizza had been delivered in several times so pizza boxes were piling up. Beer bottles were growing, mostly from outside sources, good Rubi-con location - the Liquior store was less than a mile away. I check out what software is being run by some users, I see Ettercap, Ethereal, and some other packetsniffers. Plenty of windows, win2k, XP, of course Linux and its flavors. A lone Macintosh. Many people seemed to have configured and logged on to the network with no problems, some I see they are still playing with network settings, running diagnosis tools, pings, error screens. But those were few. By about 6pm when I leave the room, more people are coming in to set up their computers - the speakers will break for an hour. The network room will fill up until every table is used, every square inch covered with a computer, peripheral, beer/soda/energydrink/water bottle, ashtray, fast food waste, a million miles of cable, and people. DJ Froggy techno-rocks the room spinning some homemade LPs. There is a lot of positive energy in the room, everyone is charged, focused, and buzzing. Red Jacket and Amin, the hotel manager pop up here and there to present a uptodate list of complaints against Rubi-Con. (see photos!)

I wander the hotel, I take ‘before’ photos of the elevator and stairwells to document damages expected afterwards. I run in to a lean, young guy with a videocamera, Red Ballcap on backwards on the third floor near my room. The third floor is not only my floor, but also the floor where management had the problem with that green cable remember? Well, the guy with the Red Ballcap is acting as a look out for this even younger, lean kid who they called ‘RAM’. So I stand and chat with Red Ballcap at the end of the hallway, while RAM is trying to break in to a closet door. They have isolated the possible doors that could be for telephone/cable access. Since the door opens outward, the old credit card trick is not going to work. Yet, RAM persists at this for about 10 minutes. The Redball Cap guy and I talk about how this is our first visit, why we came, and how he was documenting it on video, and me writing. It gets exciting when we have to pretend to walk away several times when people and staff come around the many corners. We get bored of RAM, so in a camera position that only showed my hands I explained how a hook tool was going to be needed to ‘exploit’ the doorlock with my Gerber Tool. For Educational Purposes Only. RAM is enlightened and wanders off to find the appropriate tool, as I was not going to let him use mine for this crime. The door is secure for now. Redball cap and I look at the holes punched in the ceiling, perhaps from the party the night before. We talk some more and I find out that these guys are the ones responsible for running the green cable down the stairs. We joke about how they beat me to the cable in the stairway when I was collecting it. They are relieved to know where they can retrieve the rest of their cable, the 275 feet I had collected. These guys also admit they did this at last years Rubi-Con, the hotel had windows you could open, so they ran over 300+ feet of cable outside the building to the network room. They agreed not to run the cable that way, disappointed that the windows here do not open. I could have discussed dismantling the air-conditioner in the room to access the outside of the building from their rooms, but we discussed the roof. By this time an older guy, about my age shows up, he is a part of the group (yes I have forgotten all their names except RAM’s, which could be just a handle). Now, these guys are intelligent, maybe just full of honest, harmless pranks. The idea of entering a hotel closet was harmless, they could have a vertical tunnel to drop the CAT-5 cable down to the first floor. When we discussed the roof access, it was logical - the cable would be run directly across the roof of the hotel to minimize distance, remember we were on the third floor, on the opposite side of the network/meeting room. No 4th floor access, it was a penthouse level that required a keycard or key for the stairwell or elevator. Next year they promised to use Wireless access points. They just wanted their own room link to the internal rubi-con network. A haxor girl and another lean, tall guy in black shows up, a part of the group as well. I wander off.

I find the hotel looked to be in really good shape. This was a really nice hotel, elegant because it was constantly maintained by the staff. You leave a beer bottle or cigarette in the hallway, and its gone in a blink of an eye. I swear they had people working 24/7, hiding in the walls to pick up trash. Maybe this hotel was too classy for just a Rubi-Con. I had heard from Dennis Baldwin that the Rubi-con was almost kicked out Thursday night from hotel complaints about several parties. One room had lit off fireworks, girls flashing their tits, loud-drunken or otherwise excited guys. Noise could be heard from one end of the building to the other. These were the volunteers working the Rubi-con.

I continue to wander, monitoring the registration table and T-shirt tables. Fast-food containers, soda cans, and booze is a creeping, rapid growing presence. Dennis is tipped back in his chair, looking confident, relaxed. He is drinking a tumbler with two-fingers of Bushmill’s whiskey. He is really a nice guy also, very friendly, he asked me if I wanted a drink. I am honored, but I decline. About four or five people are gathered around the table, some standing, some sitting. What I would find is there would be many small groups like these scattered all over the hotel. These groups would be a discussion group, sometimes intense technical discussions, or maybe a light over-view discussion of a technology. People would be seriously interested in listening or providing helpful, useful information. These groups were scattered everywhere, in the stairways, the hallways on every floor, the café, the bar next to the large lobby. The membership to these groups was diverse, it could be hackers of all ages, levels, standing around a speaker. Owners of fancy, expensive digital cameras or computers were more than happy to discuss technical details with anyone who asked. It helped that the people asking questions were polite. And of course, that the speakers also had experience handling foolish questions that nervous geeks would ask too. I was impressed that Speakers like Dan Kivel, Richard Forno, Jason Scott, and many other professionals or esteemed speakers that showed up to share their time. Remember these guys sometimes charge $100+ an hour! Some great people met, I was not able to catch their names. I did not have time to write down or memorize in the excitement and haze of many people I met. Perhaps I can apologize if I see them next year.

By around 6:30pm, the excitement begins to gravitate to Speaker room A, for the expected Keynote Speaker of Rubi-Con. The population of the network room even drops to about 60% capacity, gaps in the beer/alcohol/soda/ashtrays/computers can be found on the floor. I am lucky to sit up front - next to the video projector that has been running for about 6.5 hours, its vents spews hot air 12" directly at me. It must be 130 degrees I shit you not. RijilV, Jim, Brian, and David gather at the microphone for the Rubi-Con Welcome. They seem hesitant, and nervous, they all stand by the microphone, covering it at times during their private discussion. David prefers to stand off in the back, holding his huge 35mm camera like a machinegun. After some light banter and welcome by Brian and Rijilv, Jim Tantalo comes on. The answer to their nervousness comes to light, Jim has to introduce the Keynote speaker of the 4th Annual Rubi-Con, Dark Tangent, otherwise known as Jeff Moss. Jim starts off, "Well, I bet you all are wondering where our keynote speaker is.." Jeers and clapping from the audience packing the room. Oh shit, the rubi-con staff knew about this since Tuesday. They should not be blamed though, as they suffered through the loss of expensive plane tickets in the attempt. Any complaints should be directed at the speakers that did not show.

They interrupt the speaking to allow a representative from the hotel to speak to the attendees. The hotel was wise to choose a good-looking, English lady to review the rules. I should point out that this hotel was predominately Arabic, you know, like those restaurants and stores that are family owned, only Arab, Italian, Jewish people are allowed to work there. Let me also point out that the staff work hard at their jobs, the hotel looked as ‘damage-free’ as it did because of the staff’s diligence. Anyway, due to the problems hotel management had with the drinking, smoking, and loudness, the cables, and even disdain for people dressed in grunge clothing, they had this hotel representative speak to everyone. Jim introduced the hotel representative admist more cheers, jeers and a loud round of applause. She had humor and positive attitude about everyone, reminding them about avoiding property damage, being considerate of noise, and such. She also pointed out that the hotel wishes that items for the Rubi-Con scavenger hunt exclude the items from the hotel lobby. Also the hotel would like the hallway lobby furniture to be returned to their respective locations. Apparently people have moved the furniture in to their rooms. This brought on a good laugh and a round of applause from the crowd.

I don't know how good Jeff Moss would have been as a keynote speaker, but Richard Forno graciously accepted the offer to be Keynote, even busting his ass to prepare his speech within 1.5 hours. He opens with a few jokes, asking if any 1811’s are present in the audience. No one raises their hands, but Forno explains that some times he catches some body absentmindedly raising their hands. 1811 he explains is a Federal Agent code. The crowd laughs. Mr. Forno, gave a quick introduction of himself and explained his topic, "The Red Pill Briefing on Information Operations and CIP (Critical Infrastructure Protection). Not to go over his speech in detail, that will likely be available on his Infowarrior site or the Rubi-Con site later. The speech discussed the evolution of networks, the stage of Brilliant computing and Subscription-ware. He also talked about the security catch-22 the government has with dealing with network security, duplicate offices of the DoD and DoJ. The description of the two government areas that blur together in their policies of "providing a common defense" for our country, and another trying to ensure "domestic tranquility" inside our country. He also talked about how security goes outside the network, to consider the building, gas, electricity, telecom, and water. This was a "holistic" approach to network security. The theme of the speech, the Red Pill? That was a reference to the movie Matrix, you take the Red pill if you want REAL security, or do you want to take the Blue pill for the ILLUSION of security? Great Speech, the crowd applauded in favor of the ‘replacement’ keynote speaker.

I wander around for a bit, the crowd either gets ready for a beer run, to go back to their rooms or the network room. A large portion of the crowd gets ready for the next round of speakers. I run out for more McDonald’s for dinner. The restaurant reminds me of Jamaica, the people are very slow. I have to rudely interrupt them to take my order, after they take it, I wait ten minutes for a lousy Big Mac meal. They weren’t trying to be malicious, they were just slow, a lone, female manager is trying to run all the employees like hand puppets. I get back, and decide that I must get my old 233 PC out of the truck and up to my room on the third floor. I take my food up to the room, wolf it some of it down and go to the front desk. I ask the lady for the luggage cart, she doesn’t know where they are. I ask the guy in charge of them, he is pissed, he can’t find them either. Some motherfu-ker has left them in their rooms. I walk around, run in to RedBall cap again, he is chatting with a new group of grunge looking haxors, some intoxicated now. He tells me how he can access the maintenance side of the elevator by stepping into the hotel service hallway/doorway and hit the button. Nice hack, not. I do spy a beer dolly down the service hallway though, cool! Red Jacket from earlier today, the manager/cop-wanna-be from the cable/stairwell incident is still working - he yells at us to step out of the service hallway. Redball Cap issues standard insolent comments, and takes his time to aggravate Red Jacket. I wait til Red Jacket wanders off to steal the beer dolly from the service hall way. I get the busboy/old Arab guy in charge of luggage to watch the beer dolly while I get my truck. I say "don’t let anyone steal this" and leave before he asked where I got it. I go back up stairs and finish my Big Mac and fries. I then trudge out 200 yards in the parking lot to get my truck and drive it to the front entrance. 20 minutes later, the old Arab luggage guy is no where to be found, but I find my dolly hidden by his booth. I duct tape the monitor and box to the dolly and cart the mess up stairs. I leave my truck in the 10 minute parking zone for 30 minutes while I finish my dinner and hook up the computer. The computer works after all the time I had it left in my truck since I was laid off November 27th, 2001! I go back to the lobby, get my truck and drive around for 2 minutes, already convinced the lot is even fuller than full could describe Full. I parked on the side of a curb, where you are not supposed to, but everyone did anyway.

I spend the next four hours in my room, I took a shower, and got to writing out the events from day. I would occasionally peer out the peephole of my door at some strange shout or thump. I took a break to photograph some Phone Loser of America stickers some fuck-o had plastered on the polished, stainless steel elevator doors, nice going - shit that the Rubi-con promoters don’t want. Someone also has flipped a few of the hallway "exit" signs upside down, a more harmless prank in my view. But I drank an energy drink, a large lemonade, and a bottle of Evian while I typed on my computer. Midnight means it is now Saturday, April 6th.

I changed clothes to tiger-stripe BDU pants, a yin-yang with Mickey mouse ears T-shirt, unlaced combat boots. I am not sure of the time, I think it was about 12:30am because when I went down to the meeting rooms I get stopped by Red Jacket (yea, he is Still working since I saw him at 10am with the green cable incident!) Red Jacket says the hotel is going to shut down the meeting room due to noise, its the "Win NFF’s T-shirt contest". The crowd is packed in the room, standing room again. Any space left has beer, empty or otherwise. The crowd would cheer and jeer, enough to be heard on the first floor anyway.

I had to run in and warn Brian and Jim, they tell everyone to shut the hell up, more loud cheers and jeers. I shrug my shoulders at Red Jacket and we joke about his ‘overtime’, he happily tells me he will be back tomorrow too.

The network room is busy, same general mess of bottles, cans, junk food, cables, and computers. At 12:50am I figure there must be at least 40 people on computers. I sit out in the hallway at the registration table, a group of 6 people sit, like usual three talk while the others just listen (sort of like the digital nomad group). I hang out with Dan Kivel and some unclean, funny-eye, overweight kid. Dan Kivel has his equipment belt on, with even a lineman’s phone. We talk about employment, and jobs, he tells several great, funny stories about work experience. The weird fat kid, who identified himself (after a pause) as "James", while I spied a id tag that said Paul, would interrupt us to tell us how he stole shit from his last job, destroyed equipment. I could see Kivel cringe. A Korean guy also has to jump in the conversation, but he would have his sentences trail off to nowhere. Uncomfortable silences. Some of the conversations got painful between the speakers and others. Not sure if it was just a geekiness, or a lack of skillz. After about an hour of great discussion we split up.

I wander the network room, the speaker rooms are still going, at least until 3am. Now the speaker rooms were about 60-70% capacity, maybe 80 people in each. The network room now has maybe 35 people tinkering away, some fool with digital cameras or games, not really on the network. No results were heard about the rubi-con hack-me network game. By 1:20am someone has written graffiti all over the reconfigured.com computer left on display. It says hack me, with an IP, the monitor is dead. A drunken group wanders over to the machine to discuss it. It has a 5.25 floppy and a live network connection. Someone wants to open it, other group members helpfully assist, and the computer is now open. Parts start to get removed, and soon the computer is raped, defaced and left empty. The crime scene is hastily covered up and the group departs. Oh well, if reconfigured.com was serious about network security and their "hack me" contest, they should have remembered the basic element of computer security - Physical access. Remember this computer for later in the story.

I save a ¾ full bottle of Bushmills that Dennis left under the registration table from Red Jacket who is cleaning up. Do not remember this bottle for later in the story, as I ‘forgot’ to return it to Dennis, Thanks! Dennis!

2:00am I am interviewing some people, I meet an older lady, a mom-type who works assembling electronics, she has had a personal interest in computers for a while. She is her with her son, an interest shared between mom and son. We talk about employment, the hacker personality. Her email is Jaelle, thanks! I also interview another female, Kat-Atonic, see red head in photo. I interview a few others, but nothing really to add, people are either tired or intoxicated.

2:20am I find room 254, this would make a great photo op of the Rubi-con parties that occur. (see photos) I manage to convince someone that I need to return the bottle of Bushmill to Dennis Baldwin. I am told that Dennis could be found in room 254, but "don’t go up there now as security is up there". I wander around and meet up with the guy a short while later, and we try the room again. We knock on the door, and a unnamed Rubi-Con core member answers the door, he is pissed because some drunk fucks were answering the door, letting people in. "Whatdiya want? No you can’t come in", "security is hassling us". He recognized the guy with me as a volunteer, but he looks at me, "Who are you?" "Aren’t you the guy with the fuck-ed up dark glasses?" I joke back and say "Well I can go and get those fucked-up glasses if you like." We all laugh, and I am in.

Shit, it was a single bedroom, small, with one single bed, connected to the room next-door. The room was in the middle stages of a two day hotel party, that bad, bottle caps all over, cigarette butts galore, about 20 empty beer boxes, stolen property required for the Rubi-con scavenger hunt, and at least 22 people in a room barely comfortable for 8. The bathroom was also trashed, butts everywhere, bottles, cans, caps. The best part was the Iced Bathtub, it was filled to the top with decent beer like Samuel Adams, Heineken, etc as well as fifths and half-gallons of liquor. Two guys have a small network up, the game of the evening is playing with a recorder app to record funny sounds or comments from the people in the room. Everything from human, modem sounds, hotel operator sounds, and such it came out to be a great, funny recording that last about 30 seconds, it might be on the Rubi-con website. I had the distinct pleasure to ‘party’ with Walter Ligon III, and Dead Addict. We got in to lively explorative discussion of more out-side of the box thinking, and it certainly gets lively when the speakers have a few brewskis. As usual many silent types crowd around to listen intently, as drunk as they were. Then as usual, somebody had to interrupt the speaker and try to sound intelligent, while drunk. Or at least I think that was the excuse for their senseless talk. We have excitement as everytime someone would knock on the door, we'd be thinking "cops?" By 3:30am everyone is winding down, the recording of funny sounds on the computer was complete, more party goers arrived in the room, which probably now held at least 25 people, girls show up. It gets loud again, Walter looks like he is trashed and ready to sleep, all red-eyed. Dead Addict is chatting away with a girl, so I split. I wander the hotel a bit, I see someone has graffiti’ed all the posters in the hallway for the Rubi-con, mostly "Mob Sucks, Mobsters suck, etc" "PLA", "room 360" (which had the lamest room party that night). They wrote on everything, defacing posters made by Rubi-con with lame childish crap.

These lame dumbasses fucked up the cool poster that was given to Brian by a speaker. Yea, that nice Internet Map, some fucko wrote "Mob likes little boys", good going dumbasses. Remember this mess for later in the story.

On the way back to my room, I pass ‘RAM’ and another digital commando, ‘RAM’ is wearing a combat utility vest, carrying tools, dressed in black. I thought I could tag along for a story, but decided that I was allergic to jail.

I get back to my room and write a little bit, drink some water. I think I crashed about 4:30am.

I am unable to awake until 10am. This is SaturDAY. Prepare the coffee provided in the room, nice buzz. I do a little more writing on the computer, then start packing up my stuff. I shower, and head out to McDonalds, missing the 10:30am breakfast. I get a double quarter pounder for the days energy. I have to start the same search for a damn luggage cart. I find a food cart someone left out in the hall, for delivering breakfast, I run off with it to my room. (see photos!) I pass some hackers who chuckle at me fleeing with the cart. I stack my stuff on it, take it down to the lobby. Go 200 yards out in to the parking lot to get my truck, and load it up, park 200 yards away from the door again.

When I get back to the rubi-con registration desk, I think it is about 12pm as I deal with someone that is requesting a refund. Apparently the speakers for MySql and a 802.11 speech did not show. I find Jim who gladly refunds the guy’s money. You, know, its not their fault when a speaker does not show, the Rubi-Con works hard to set up the shows and work out times for all the speakers to fit in. If you got a problem with a speaker no-show, take it up with the speaker. The guys of Rubi-con busted their asses to put on the show.

I try to give Jim Tanalo a hand, you see, after the night of partying, there were almost no volunteers to work the registration and t-shirt tables. One volunteer at the registration was red-eyed and tired. He wandered off quickly after I showed up, not really knowing who I was. The T-shirts, badges, and money were left unattended. I worked the T-shirt table by myself, and I managed to make $140 for Rubi-con in an hour. Jim is pissed as he has to find and ‘order’ people to staff the registration and T-shirt tables. After he does round up some volunteers and put them in position, half of them were useless, tired or still wasted from the night before. So Brian and Jim have to do this. Rick Forno hangs out behind the registration table, so I get to talk with him for an hour, cool! I find that we think alike, he tells me I am doing the right thing, to keep moving. Lots of positive, hacker- spiritual feedback. Walter Ligon III from last night comes down, we joke, he says he left the room shortly after I did. We laugh as he explains how he was glad his room was only a few doors down, easy to find.

1:00pm Reconfigured.com people show up, they are pissed someone has raped their computer. It sits exploded in parts, graffiti scrawled all over the box and monitor. I remember I had seen someone taking parts off it earlier this morning too. I was not very sympathetic with their loss as they only ran the table for a few hours before running off to party. I say "computer security starts with physical security" to the leader of the group, he storms off saying "Bunch of fucking lamers that don’t know how to hack did this." Rick Forno and I both shrug our shoulders. Scavengers quickly vaporize the rest of the computer crap.

1:20pm, Hotel management ask that we take down the items with graffiti on them, the "No smoking, No booze, No fireworks" signs, the fucked up internet map poster, all vandalized with "Mobsters suck" , "Mob =sucks", "PLA", and "room 360" (which I heard the party sucked). This dumb idea only hurt Rubi-Con, nice going, so I help take down the damaged posters. I can see management preparing a bill for the Rubi-con, Jim tantalo is not happy as he knows this. Brian DeLine though is relaxed about it. I find out that the biggest expense to Rubi-Con is damages and hotel cost. People that enjoy the Rubi-con should remember that if they want a Rubi-Con next year - damages piss away the money to support this program. I tell them that the Rubi-Con has to distance themselves from what guest do in their rooms after hours. Volunteers need to stop fucking around and work the T-shirt, registration/information table so people don’t vandalize it. The hotel also complained that people drank alcohol from outside sources instead of ordering from the hotel bar. I bet no one from the Rubi-con brought hotel beer, so what.

I see Dead Addict, the real lean, blonde, bespectacled, black leather-trenchcoat dude I partied with last night in room 254, he is alive, he says he also split the party soon after I left.

I go catch Jason Scott’s presentation on "BBS: Always and forever", He is writing a documentary on BBS, claiming fame as he interviewed the guy that created BBS. Jason is a wild looking mother. Long hair and heavy beard, a geek and disorganized. I thought I saw him writing his speech on the back of an envelope about an hour before. He was good though, funny. You can check Scott out at www.bbsdocumentary.com. Jason was so enthusiastic, maybe misdirected at times, that he ran over his hour. Rubi-con made time to schedule him for "BBS part 2".

2:20pm I wander the network room, it is dark as the lights are turned off. The internal network seems to have been fixed since this morning by another switch, so as impossible as it seems, the network room was busier than yesterday. The bandwidth meter on the switch read 90-100%. I have to step carefully as hardly any trash was picked up by the hotel staff in the room, garbage piled up here and there. Cables are everywhere. I think there will be a lot of abandoned hardware and cable left behind for someone to clean up. Yes, I was the asshole that turned the lights on much to the complaint of many in the room.

2:45pm I sit at the registration desk, a few still come in to register. I chat with Dan Kivel again, he has a group discussion going on in the hallway. I hear Dan's usual "I don’t care if they hate me, they can have my job, my job sucks!" theme. Rick Forno is leaning back in a chair, chatting behind me with another group of interested people. Sitting at the Registration table I chat with Brian and a unidentified core member of Rubi-con, we talk about the event security, organization, I agree to write the report after I get back and send it to him. Jim and Brian estimate at least 400 people registered for the event, at least. Rubi-con talked about how they want to get away from the drunken party image to attract more professionals My report will detail an organizational plan and enforced structure, which I am sure they will shit-can. They have this idea, the idea is to expose these young, misguided people to the professionals(who maybe misguided themselves). We talked about trying to get more organized, but when you consider these guys are putting on the show in their spare time, and not really for profit, it’s a pretty damn good show. I tell Brian I look forward to next year’s Rubi-con. I’ll work it again for free, or well the RBCN4 T-shirt I _forgot_ I had on. Hell yea, the show is worth the time, and certainly a big bang for your buck.

I eventually left quietly, covertly as I came, at about 4:15pm, just in time for traffic on the freeways. I made home about 5:44pm, and promptly crashed.

Story by C0VERTl, aka covert_one.

All Rights pissed away, the Internet is insecure anyways.