Having never attended a hacker con before I wasn't completely sure what Hope was going to be like, I'd attended 'professional' tech conferences before though and my initial impressions were similar but as the conference got into full swing (by Friday night really) you could start to see the big differences. Mainly it's that everyone at Hope is there because they love technology and they love sharing what they know, there were people of all ages - parents bringing kids (which is awesome), security professionals, interested locals and even the odd law enforcement type standing out like a sore thumb!
The Next Hope 2010 logo
Vintage Computing by Bill Degnan and Evan Koblentz - the talk brought us from ENIAC, through the first mobile computer (built in the back of a truck) and up to the home 'micro' era from kit-computing to ready made systems. The enthusiasm of the presenters was infectious and if you're into your history it's well worth downloading the talk.
Cats and Mice: The Phone Company, the FBI, and the Phone Phreaks by Phil Lapsley - a great history of phreaking from the 50s to the 80s with some very early recordings and accounts of the major lessons learned by phreakers over the years.
RFID badge tracking site
Despite the awesome quality of the talks the coolest part of the con was the mezzanine, there were people teaching basic electronics and playing with a 3D printer in the Hackerspace Village, a whole load of vendor tables (I picked up an Arduino starter kit), an area where you could ride on a Segway (it's easier than you might think) and the infamous Club Mate stand selling the bizarre but oddly compelling German energy drink. Also on the mezzanine was the Lockpicking Village where I learned a few basic picking techniques and the Mid-Atlantic Retro stand where I spent nearly an hour talking to Frank O'Brien about the Apollo guidance computer, the CPU of which he had on display - the idea that man landed on the moon using 36K of ROM and 2K of RAM just seems crazy to me.
Other small highlights included Marco Figueroa finishing his talk by challenging Dual Core to a rap battle with rhymes about C and Assembly, Robert Steele's 8-hr talk that started at midnight (I only made a couple of hours), a screening of by Jason Scott's GET LAMP documentary about text adventure games and social engineer Mudsplatter getting a whole room full of hackers to Rickroll themselves by singing Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up. The closing ceremony was fittingly crazy with Johannes of monochrom standing on the tables at the front of the stage singing The Last Unicorn as part of 'Wikileaks: The Ballet' and then within just 3-4 hours the entire con was torn down by a crew of volunteers and I left with sleep deprivation, a few souvenirs and some great memories.
Event site: http://thenexthope.org/
Posted on behalf of Ash.