Report from ESC Silicon Valley 2010

Ah, the heady aroma of damp engineers! It’s raining in Silicon Valley, where the 2010 Embedded Systems Conference is getting off the ground at San Jose’s McEnery Convention Center.

ESC is primarily an industry event. In the past there’s been some lighter fare such as Parallax, Inc. representing the hobbyist market and giant robot giraffes walking the expo. With the economy now turned sour, the show floor lately is just a bit smaller and the focus more businesslike. Still, nestled between components intended to sell by the millions and oscilloscopes costing more than some cars, one can still find a few nifty technology products well within the budget of most Hack a Day readers, along with a few good classic hacks and tech demos…

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The 2009 ShmooBall gun

larry

The registration desk hasn’t opened yet at ShmooCon 2009, but we’re already running into old friends. We found [Larry Pesce] and [Paul Asadoorian] from the PaulDotCom Security Weekly podcast showing off their latest ShmooBall gun. ShmooBalls have been a staple of ShmooCon from the very beginning. They’re soft foam balls distributed to each of the attendees who can then use them to pelt the speakers when they disagree. It’s a semi-anonymous way of expressing your dismay physically. [Larry] has been building bigger and better ways to shoot the ShmooBalls for the last couple years. You may remember seeing the 2008 model. This year the goal was to make the gun part much lighter. The CO2 supply is mounted remotely with a solenoid valve and coiled air line. The pistol grip has a light up arming switch and trigger. The gun is fairly easy to transport: the air line has a quick disconnect and the power is connected using ethernet jacks.

ShmooCon registration opens

November 1st means that registration for ShmooCon 2009 has opened. The DC hacker convention is entering the fifth year. They’re releasing the tickets in blocks; after today’s are gone the next won’t be available till December 1st. Today is also the closing of first round consideration for their call for papers, but you still have another month before the final deadline.

We’ve always enjoyed our time at ShmooCon. In 2008 we saw talks on cracking GSM encryption and recovering data from SSDs.

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.

ToorCon preregistration ends today

Preregistration for ToorCon San Diego ends today. The current price is $100 and it will be $140. This is the 10th year for the San Diego hacker convention which will happen September 26th – 28th. The schedule for ToorCon X has already been posted. We highly recommend this convention. We’ve attended the last four years and it’s always been a favorite.

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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Defcon 16: MIT Boston transit presentation gagged


[Zack Anderson], [RJ Ryan], and [Alessandro Chiesa] were sued by the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority for an alleged violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act after copies of their presentation slides were circulated at Defcon 16. The slides give an eye widening glimpse into the massive security holes present in the Boston subway system. There are at least 4 major security flaws in the subway, which allowed them to get free subway rides by finding unlocked, back door routes into the subway, spoofing magnetic and RFID cards, and attacking the MTBA’s network. Judge Douglas P. Woodlock has issued a gag order, stopping the trio from giving the presentation at Defcon or disclosing sensitive information for ten days. However, the MIT school newspaper, The Tech, has published a PDF of the slides online. The research culminated in the trio warcarting the MTBA’s headquarters and being driven off by police.

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