Here is a list of recommendations leading up to, during, and after this whirlwind of learning, hacking, and frivolity.
1. Read blogs/sites about the cons so you can get perspective. I recommend these blogs:
- The OCD Diaries by Bill Brenner (actually, the whole blog rocks)
- The Akamai blog by Bill Brenner (no man crush, just great info)
- The DEFCON Survival Manuel
Take what these site tell you as a grain of salt. Remember that YOUR con experience is set by YOU.
2. Follow @HackBus on Twitter. HackBus is an event in itself. Watch as a band of merry men, and women, journey from the Bay area through California and on to greatness!
3. Follow @defconparties on Twitter. You going to Vegas on a budget? @defconparties can get you free food, drinks, and entertainment!
4. Go with a purpose and a plan. Try to stick to it. If you suffer from "shiny object syndrome" this week can be exhausting. Even if your plan sucks, it is easier to deviate from a plan than it is to make one up on the fly.
5. Attend the DEFCON Toxic BBQ. During my first DEFCON (17), I met and spoke with Cap'n Crunch. Are you kidding me? Just make sure you bring some meat, sides, drinks, or volunteer to cook.
6. Attend the DEFCON Shoot hosted by @deviantollam. This is a chance to throw some lead down range with like minded individuals. Full auto guns usually make an appearance and there could even be a cannon.
7. Meet and greet. This one was a hard one for me at first but it can be a game changer. DEFCON even has a badge contest that requires human contact. Some of the greatest minds in the world attend. Collaborate!
8. Make sure you attend BSides Las Vegas. What you will find is the same level of talks as Black Hat (better in my opinion) and DEFCON. You can hear talks from the newest vulns discovered to how to properly make an Old Fashioned. No prior signup needed this year. You get your badges at the door.
9. Sign up as a volunteer at one of the conferences. You give back to the community and feel great about yourself. Some of these cons even feed you. (Remember #3 and the budget thing?)
10. Hang out at the Lock Pick Village/ Wireless Village. Heck, a couple of years ago I was hanging out at the Wireless Village when they started a training session for the Technician Class Ham license. I listened to what they had to say, took the test the next day, and got certified. Last year I studied a little, asked some of the Elmers some questions, and passed the General Class test.
11. Stop by and say hello to the staff of Hackers for Charity. They will blow you mind. You will walk away knowing that hackers do great things in the world.
Good luck to all! I hope to see you there! I am easy to spot. I will be the short, overweight guy, with stubble and wearing a tee shirt.