Defcon 15: Undercover Reporter Flees

I’m guessing this was pretty widely reported, but an NBC undercover reporter fled after being outed in the opening session. NBC Dateline associate producer Michelle Madigan refused press credentials on four separate occasions, choosing instead to pose as a normal attendee in order to covertly film other attendees. Defcon has a long running tradition of playing”spot the fed”, where attendees out people they think are federal agents. The feds play along and it’s all good fun. This was entirely different though: the game “spot the undercover reporter” was announced and she fled immediately, only to be filmed “To catch a predator” style.

I may just be a blogger, but I’m wearing my press pass proudly.

Defcon 15: Robot Challenge

Hack-A-Day reader [Colin] brought this machine to the robot challenge. He’s by himself, but managed to get this thing through airport security and it fit inside a single suitcase. He used a serial controlled eight channel servo controller, a usb-serial adapter and a hub to bring the wires together. Power is supplied by a pc supply and the system controlled by his laptop. The challenge was pretty popular and the teams were busy, so I’m light on the details. The gun just behind was servo operated, and performed pretty well in the tests I saw.

Defcon 15: Beer Cooling

When I checked it out, only two teams had appeared for the cooling contest. The method of choice? Rubbing alcohol and dry ice. The dry ice cools the alcohol, but doesn’t freeze it. [Team Hebrew] was my favorite – they used a vinyl hose to carry the beer into the cooling liquid. They managed a 45 second run at one point, and used a simple electric blower to evacuate the beer from the cooling line. They found that it was a bit easier to just blow it out the old fashioned way.

Mod Chip Crackdown In The US.

I got quite a few emails about this, but didn’t have a chance to check it out until now. It seems that the feds have been raiding various mod shops and individuals who’ve been doing mods for others. I’m a fan of open, moddable and repairable hardware, so this is sad news to me. There’s a first hand account from one of the raided individuals along with a decent commentary on the issue sent in by [xantium].
This might sound a bit strange, but take the time to let your congress critter know what you think about this issue. Don’t expect them to understand the technical background, but letting them know that you’re unhappy with the execution of the DMCA and that labeling legitimate uses for mod-chip technology as illegal is the equivalent to outlawing home car repair might make a difference.