26c3 was a blast, as was Berlin. It’s a good conference in the olde school hacker style: mostly younger people, mostly wearing black. There weren’t a lot of women, but Carolyn, Isabella, and Meredith tried to even out the ratio a bit.
Some of the best lectures included one by some German engineers working on the lunar x-prize. They had their prototype rover with them and gave a great talk about the various challenges.
Another great one was Dan Kaminski’s talk on PKI. I don’t agree with the premise that SSL should be a reliable method for identifying the owners of websites as people just can’t tell the difference between bankofamerica.com and bancomerica.com and so it doesn’t make anyone safer if the bankofamerica site is super green if bancomerica.com is also super green, and so the complexities of getting an accepted certificate simply reduce the use of secure connections and the overall security of the internet. But he had some pretty great attacks on the security of SSL that causes problems no matter what.
We enjoyed fuzzing the phone as well. It was a very entertaining talk on attacking phones with crafted SMSes. The method of creating the attacks was very clever – rooting the phone, redirecting the radio to a wifi link to a CPU so they could try zillions of SMS and see what would happen. In the process they discovered they could remotely root the communications manager (which runs as root). And %n to specific windows phones and they’ll crash and fail to reboot until the SMS is cleared out of the inbox.
Berlin is a great city and it was fun working in the shadow of the TV tower.
We made reservations for lunch but we could tell it wasn’t going to be a great day. In the end it was a very intimate lunch with pretty clouds pressing against the glass.
The fog lifted but was replaced by snow, which is a lot of fun in a city when you don’t have to drive.
Robodock started tonight. La Machine was playing, interesting music but very typical of this sort of event. The kind of arty, house music inspired, alternate instrument playing thing.
One of our neighbors and new friends is an Australian guy with a flying ring. Apparently he makes a living going to events like this and flying around. He knew more about the history of SRL, who is in it and when, and what machines they had worked on than any of us did. And he knew it all from Australia and watching the movies over and over.
We spent some time just sitting around talking about the jet engine I’m working on bringing up while I was working on bringing up the 5th of these little ignitor boards to light various pulse jets and flame throwers.
Turns out our land lord from Cambridge is at the show. He’s helping a guy I met in Berlin more than 10 years ago build a giant explosive pipe organ. They’re doing an original composition for 7 tubas and tuned explosive pipe organ. It’s a bit like the tuned mice sketch on Monty Python except instead of mice and mallets there are gas filled pipes that produce variable amplitude, tuned, musically timed explosions.
So far I’ve spent time here on various details on the hovercraft, the shockwave canon, the jet engine, and the pulse jets. I still have to test the pulse jets, get the jet engine back together with it’s newly rebuilt ignition system and new flame thrower, and then build a recoil absorbing shoulder mount so I can shoulder fire the 3″ air canon without breaking bones.
The whole thing is the SF expats show – we constitute between 15-25% of the entire artist roster, and that’s bringing people from all over Europe and as far as Australia.