~$ I spoke at DEFCON30! (I also attended it!)

Posted on Aug. 30th, 2022. | Est. reading time: 6 minutes


DEFCON! It is an event that is somewhat legendary in the hacker community. Sure, it is a conference, with talks, and villages and sponsors, and all that, but it also has parties, and people.

So I was heading to DEFCON (with a small detour to Jamaica the week before, as one does), where I had set myself up to help run the AppSec Village's CTF event, as well as give a talk there.

As it turns out however, Vegas makes me a bit of a monkey paw, in the sense that I am quite unlucky there, and as it turns out, Vegas wasn't about to disappoint.

So I land in Vegas, and rideshare an Uber to the Flamingo, a hotel but a few steps away from the Planet Hollywood (or rather, 20 minutes, because orienting oneself in Vegas is hard).

Once I'd arrived at the hotel, the first mishap occurred, where I almost was the subject of some form of violence because I'd dared turn around and look enquiringly at the person crying behind me in the escalator, for which I got subsequently threatened. I would do my best to remember I was in the United States, where compassion is a flaw.

I then went to the hotel lobby, where my card was declined, and I had to use an alternate card and get the rest of the nights sorted on another day (pending a transfer).

The view from the hotel room.

View from the hotel room.

Well tired, I crashed in bed and got ready for

Day 1

Day 1 is a grouping of a few interesting events. The Line to get a badge. The Line to get Merch. And a few events and mixers.

One could think that DEFCON was in the UK with how much queuing was going on... thankfully I was hanging out with a friend from that region of the world, Abby.

That being said, I really enjoyed the Queercon mixer.

Day 2

On the second day is where everything really went downhill. The CTF had started solidly, and I was volunteering at the AppSec Village and helping out Eden, in between finalizing some slides for my talk.

And then, disaster: my laptop had decided to stop booting.

As it would then turn out, my laptop's power brick wasn't fantastically rated for the US power grid, and my adapter either, hence my laptop having issues.

The fix involved unplugging the CMOS and the battery and giving it 5 minutes, but at the time it took a while to find a screwdriver kit.

I got a spare laptop and was able to finish my talk by slapping my m.2 drive in it, although the time I'd allotted to finish the demo was gone.

I also met up and had lunch with Edwin, Chantal and Wietse, and also went to the DEFCON Holland meetup.

At the end of the day I did spend a bit of time at the Queercon/Gothcon parties, because that's among the best things at DEFCON.

Day 3

I don't remember sleeping that night, basically powering through the night and the morning to tweak a few aspects of the talk / partial demo.

When it was time, I made my way to the Flamingo, and showed up in time for my talk.

That is when disaster number 2 struck, as the laptop I had been loaned apparently had safeguards against using its HDMI port.

In much urgency, I then needed to use the AppSec Villages' CTF leaderboard laptop, which quickly lost power and needed an update.

If I had a demo to give, that was approximately the time that the demo would have taken, so in the end I ended up just giving my talk.

Thankfully for my very broken down sense of self, the room was packed, and I apparently made the talk enjoyable for a lot of people, so I will still call the whole experience a win.

The closing statements for the CTF also happened, after which I went to another mixer, and we saw the closing statements by DarkTangent.


I met a lot of fun people there, some for the first time IRL and some that I had previously met at other (EU) conferences, such as Jilles, Hazy, Keily and Seb.

Besides that, I met a lot of interesting people at the mixers, and the overall event was a lot of fun! (despite the lack of luck)

I also had a pretty fantastic haul of stickers:

Picture of some stickers.