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Shmoocon report

By stretch | Sunday, February 8, 2009 at 7:30 a.m. UTC

I had every intention of writing this post last night, but was dead tired after the first official day of Shmoocon. I'll start my recap from Shmoocon Labs on Thursday.


I arrived at the Marriot Wardman Park early in the morning on the day prior to the official start of the conference to help setup its network, an event known as the Shmoocon Labs. There were around thirty people working on the project in total, and the Shmoocon staff divided us into groups by either interest, experience, or blind luck. Naturally, I fell into the networking team along with a couple other guys of varying backgrounds and experience.

Other teams included: the wireless team, which was in charge of access point deployment and configuring the wireless LAN controller on loan from Aruba, the IDS team(s?), packet capture team, firewall team (a Cisco ASA5510 is used to enforce separation between all the independent subnets and VLANs), network visualization team, and probably one or two others I've forgotten (sorry!).

As far as the network team was concerned, most of our duties involved VLAN and subnet assignment, port allocation, a bit of physical cabling (though thankfully we were mostly able to rely on the hotel's cable plant), and configuring SPAN/RSPAN for the packet-collecting boxes.

Things went pretty well; admittedly, better than I expected for a random group of people who had never worked together before. The Shmoocon staff did an excellent job picking Labs attendees who were personable and genuinely interested in the tech they worked on. The staff also radiated a calm and confident attitude which I'm sure helped everyone else stay focused. By 2200 just about everything was set, or at least functional, and we were all getting excited for the con to start.


I spent a good chunk of the morning back in the labs, refining configs and doing some last-minute prep work as it was needed. Shortly before noon the crowds began to form around the registration desk; supposedly around 1500 people were in attendance this year, more than for any previous Shmoocon.

Bruce Potter's keynote was at 1500, followed by a number of short talks. I spent the afternoon and evening hopping between talks, labs, and wandering the many miscellaneous side events which litter Shmoocon. These include Hack or Halo, Hacker Arcade, Lock picking contests, and a Team Fortress 2 LAN party.

One of the coolest parts of the con was meeting people who had read this blog at some point. Some people recognized me as Stretch, others as "packetlife" (also my Twitter alias), but nearly everyone commented that they had somehow recognized my head or (lack of) hair. Go figure.

Friday night was the Podcasters meetup, during which a bunch of independent 'casters met up for a collaborative broadcast, hosted by mubix. Many prizes were also given out; fun times. The podcasters meetup was followed by a new event known as "fire talks"; the idea is to provide a forum for people who would like to give some sort of presentation but aren't quite ready for mass public speaking or weren't selected for the main conference tracks. Three talks were given Friday night, with more to follow on Saturday.


I missed the first hour or two of the conference Saturday since I opted to sleep in (readers of my Networkers recap, but did manage to attend a couple more talks. I also met with Johnny Long of ihackcharities.org who introduced me to a great charity initiative involving bloggers which I hope to talk more about in the coming weeks.

Saturday night featured Hack or Halo and more fire talks. Attendance was pretty good but I think with a bit more publicity the fire talks can really take off next year. The night wrapped up with a party at a club down the street from the Marriott, and a painful reminder that I'm not a very fun guy. I suppose with all the uncertainties in my life at the moment, I should at least be glad for that little bit of consistency.

Shmoocon wraps up Sunday; hopefully I'll know prior to the closing talk where I'm headed next week.

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February 8, 2009 at 2:11 p.m. UTC

You may not be a fun guy, but achieving god-like status among Cisco professionals ain't too shabby now is it?

Nice recap.


February 8, 2009 at 4:18 p.m. UTC

Hey Stretch,
First of all, i so wish i could be there at shmoocon!...:(
Which talk did you find the most interesting?

February 9, 2009 at 2:28 a.m. UTC

Come to Australia and we'll show you the meaning of party ! D:

February 12, 2009 at 2:31 p.m. UTC

Thanks for the write-ups on Shmoocon! Those of us who couldn't make it but wanted to appreciate the little slice of experience we can get through you! :)

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