Maker Faire Austin is this weekend

Maker Faire Austin is happening this weekend, October 18 & 19, 2008 at the Travis County Expo Center in Austin, TX. Maker Faire is a showcase of all things DIY. You’ll see robots, sculptures, live performances, and other wonders including many of the projects we cover here every day. We enjoyed our time in San Mateo earlier this year and the show keeps getting better and better. You can see photos from previous events on Flickr. If you’ve got a chance to go, take it.

SIGGRAPH 2008: The quest for more pixels

Long before we started reporting on [Dan Kaminsky]’s DNS chicanery, he contributed a guest post about one of our favorite sources of new technology: SIGGRAPH. The stars have aligned again and we’re happy to bring you his analysis of this year’s convention. [photo: Phong Nguyen]

So, last week, I had the pleasure of being stabbed, scanned, physically simulated, and synthetically defocused. Clearly, I must have been at SIGGRAPH 2008, the world’s biggest computer graphics conference. While it usually conflicts with Black Hat, this year I actually got to stop by, though a bit of a cold kept me from enjoying as much of it as I’d have liked. Still, I did get to walk the exhibition floor, and the papers (and videos) are all online, so I do get to write this (blissfully DNS and security unrelated) report.

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Black Hat 2008: FasTrak toll system completely broken

FasTrak is the electronic toll collection system used by the state of California. Motorists can purchase a toll transponder for ~$26 and link the serial number with a debit account to have their tolls deducted automatically. Today at Black Hat in Las Vegas, security researcher [Nate Lawson] presented not just the privacy problems with FasTrak, but why absolutely no transaction from the tag should be trusted.

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More Defcon 16 events announced

Defcon keeps announcing more and more interesting events for next week’s conference. A free workshop is planned for the soon to be released DAVIX live CD. DAVIX is a collection of tools for data analysis and visualization. They’ll be running through a few example packet dumps to demonstrate how the tools can help you make sense of it all. [Thomas Wilhelm] will be driving out from Colorado Springs in his Mobile Hacker Space. He’s giving a talk Sunday, but will be giving presentations a few hours every day at the van. Some researchers from NIST will be setting up a four node quantum network and demonstrating some of the possible vulnerabilities in the system. Finally, as part of an EFF fundraiser, Defcon will feature a Firearms Training Simulator. Conference attendees will participate in drills designed to improve their speed, accuracy, and decision making skills.

HOPE 2008: YouTomb, A free culture hack

YouTomb is a research project designed by the MIT Free Culture group to track video take downs on YouTube. To succeed, the team needed to track every single video on YouTube… which is close to impossible. Instead, they built several “explorer” scripts to track what videos were interesting. One explorer tracks all of YouTube’s lists: recommended, featured, most active, and more. Another explorer picks up every video submitted to YouTube, and a third crawls Technorati.

The explorers just find the videos; a separate group of scanner scripts checks the current status of videos. It checks both the new videos and ones that have been killed to see if they return. YouTomb archives every video it finds. They display the thumbnail of the video under fair use, but they’re still determining whether they can display each video in full.

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The Last Hope schedule finalized, preregister now

The schedule for this year’s The Last Hope conference in New York City has been finalized, and there’s still time to preregister. Today is the last chance for overseas attendants to preregister, and the rest of you have until July 6th. A/V volunteers are still needed, so step up if you have the desire and skills.

The three-day conference will feature three tracks of scheduled talks, plus one track for unscheduled talks by registered attendees. You can view the full schedule interactively, in wiki format, or in conventional format. It takes place between July 18th and July 20th; hurry up and snag your tickets now. We’re interested in all the talks, but [Chris Seidel]’s talk on biohacking, NYC Resistor’s presentation about collaborative hardware hacking, and [Ray]’s demonstration on escaping high security handcuffs have us waiting in rapt anticipation. So who’s going? What are you looking forward to? Let us know in the comments.

Defcon 16 schedule finalized

If you were waiting to finalize you travel plans, now’s the time; Defcon has published the final speaking schedule. The conference starts Friday August 8th in Las Vegas, NV and continues through Sunday with four separate speaking tracks. There’s quite a few talks we’re looking forward to: Silicon guru [Christopher Tarnovsky] from Flylogic will be hosting a breakout session on smartcard security. [Gadi Evron] will talk about the security implications of biological implants in the future. [Thomas Wilhelm] is going to cover building a mobile hacker space and the vehicle related hacks it requires.