H2K: Hope 2000
Hotel Pennsylvania, July 14-16.

(gwail0 may be able to say something about Friday's festivities, I was at work)

Sat sessions I attended:

Retro Computing

While hardly comprehensive in its representation (C64, Apple II, TRS-80 Color Computer II), it was quite nostalgic. NightCrawler from cDc talked (at length) about the C64 and how he still uses his. Hacking the border video buffers and playing music by accessing the floppy drive motor were 2 of the more colorful exploits.

The kid who talked about the TRS-80 annoyed me by referring to it as the CoCo (I couldn't get the Seinfeld ref out of my head), but no one objected out loud. He did a decent job at the auction of old systems: $45 for a TRS-80 Model 100, $35 for an Atari 800, etc.

Their bottom line was that older computers still have some utility. I love old things probably more than the next guy, so I'd make the case that they are just fun and nostalgic to play with, but I don't want to access the internet with them.

Keynote: Jello Biafra

Many delays and logistical nightmares later, Jello took the mic. He was smooth and effective in making the case for hacktivism, becoming the media and raising the consciousness of fellow humans. (All sessions at H2K were videotaped, so they should be available at some point, by some means, probably off the 2600 site).

Jello's rhetoric boiled down to three classic points:

1) What you do matters

* Activism helped stop the Vietnam war. It can help steer the issues today that are truly important, like global corporate power grabs and the disenfranchisement of the individual (in privacy, choice and basic human rights).

2) There are problems today that need us.

* Corporate control of channels of communication (e-commerce dominating the net), the media being co-opted by corporate mergers, increasing restrictions on free speech (hacking web sites being classified as terrorism). Take your pick.

3) There are things we can do about them.

* Become the media. Distributed news collection and dissemination is not subject to central editorial control/censorship. His examples: "if we hadn't seen Rodney King, do you think anyone would know who Amadou Diallo is?" and, from the WTO "Battle for Seattle", CNN being forced to correct a report that rubber bullets were not being used on protesters.

* Hacktivism. Do what you're good at. Help free the internet in China. Help defeat filtering software. Educate the public on these issues. The future will be digital, and now is the time to help shape the debate over what our rights will be in that world.

A couple other items were noteworthy. Jello's old bandmates have sued him, claiming authorship and ownership of his songs (despite his credits on the albums). Why? He refused to allow "Holiday in Cambodia" to be used for a Levi's ad. They won the first round in court. Stay tuned.

More interestingly, Jello risked some credibility by being equivocal on the issue of mp3 music and napster in particular. He's an artist and wants to believe his copyright will be effective. He didn't come out against napster or mp3 in general, but he did say he had yet to make up his mind. He did allow as how, should he lose the case mentioned above, that he wouldn't be averse to seeing DK material on napster ... :)

Yes, he's not technical (his closing: "I've managed to keep your attention for nearly 2 hours and I've never used a computer."), but his issues are our issues.

cDc Extravaganza

Everything was irretrievably late at this point. The schedule was advisory at best. But those who managed to get in to the kneeling room only Cult of the Dead Cow Extravaganza were treated (some afterwards by EMS) to a very bizarre passion play about the value of hacking. The group that brought you Back Orifice postulated a group of anal-raping, testicle clipping, feces sampling vixens in thrall to a steer-skull headed alien bent on savaging mankind. Our only hope was to hack them. Conventional methods failed, but a sexually transmitted computer virus (Stephenson, anyone?) saved the day. A number of cDc members got up and talked about their projects (including a series of juicy NetBIOS design faults, or is that redundant?). There was also far too much bad lip-sync rapping.

Mock Trial: MPAA v. 2600

Complete with a mock Jack Valenti, the trial was supposed to be a systematic, semi-legal presentation of the issues of the case. It got a bit bogged down and didn't live up to its potential, but was still worthwhile as entertainment. Emmanuel was wheeled in a la Hannibal Lecter and Jack spent most of the trial attempting to bribe everyone. The jury found for the defense.

Spying: Everything you never believed but wanted to ask

Certainly one of the most engaging speakers, but I'm not sure all that interesting. Former CIA "case officer" Robert D. Steele (don't call him an agent, "agents" have betrayed their country), gave a rollicking performance answering any and all questions about the CIA, NSA, FBI, Pentagon, you name it, he had a soundbite for it. His bottom line: the government is far too disorganized to spy on its own effectively.

Eschelon, sure it exists, but the 70s era computers can't keep up. The Pentagon is too heavily (har) invested in 70 ton tanks that can't be used in 99% of the world. We don't have decent maps and won't buy them from the French, b/c, well, you know, they're the French! And so on. People who were skeptical of govt malfeasance were smiling. Others didn't buy it. The guy is a legit patriot, but his credibility on any particular issue is indeterminate. Disinformation is his business. That said, he'd be a lot of fun to drink with.

Sunday Sessions:

Social Engineering

Emmanuel, Cheshire Catalyst and v1ru5 talked about talking your way into things. Emmanuel started by calling AT&T security to ask about a memo sent out warning about social engineering attempts being likely during the H2K conference. Jim the security guy gave a description of the conference to a clearly incredulous Emmanuel. He warned Goldstein about giving info to anyone on the phone w/o verifying their identity. About this time, Jim figured he aught to follow his own advice and got the name Armand Goldstein from Emmanuel. We were put on hold and when he came back:

Jim: You say your name is Goldstein?
EG: Yeah, Armand. A-r-m-a-n-d.
Jim: I don't show you here in the directory.
EG: No, you wouldn't.
Jim: (pause) Why, why is that?
EG: Because this is our first call ...
{dial tone}

v1ru5 gave ever-increasingly audacious examples of getting into places using only a hardhat, clipboard and a suit. Standard misdirection and confidence tricksterism are key. Practical jokes are also possible.

Cheshire Catalyst had a panel that I missed, titled: "How I got my own Area Code". He lives on the Space Coast and decided that the area needed a new area code, 321. How he did it I never learned, but I'm still smiling at the thought.

Internet Radio

Teen hacker Fearfree led the discussion of how to set up your own internet-based radio station using SHOUTcast. Lots of details, and the standard caveat about copyrights.


Lockpicking for sport is a reality in the Netherlands and Germany. Two experts from lockpicking.nl gave a good demonstration of locks, picking technique and a discussion of the issues of lock design. They went to great lengths to point out that this was sport, and not for illegal activities. Their clubs have special ids that allow them to carry lockpicking tools. The German clubs have competitions and a championship. Even the so-called "computer" key locks, marketed under the name (I think) "Securi-T" (or something close) aren't really that secure.

Hackers of Planet Earth

Andy from Chaos Computer Club in Germany, Rob from the Netherlands and CyberJunkie from Britain discussed the legal environment in their countries and how hackers should be aware of such differences. One of Rob's dreams was a database/ai that could guide/advise on where best to center a project based on variations in law. E.g. reverse engineering is much better protected in the EU than the US.

CyberJunkie painted a grim picture of the situation in Britain. The police have bungled nearly every high-profile case of late and the new legislation is so broad, it will result in highly effective selective prosecution (much like Capone finally getting nabbed for tax evasion). Most troublesome was his report of new free speech restrictions that classify anyone criticizing the govt as a terrorist, and thus subject to forfeiture of property and imprisonment. The Brits apparently didn't learn the lesson a couple centuries ago about the backlash to sedition laws...

Rob pointed out that nearly all the problems we see as hot today were contemplated in the recent past. The time is now to address those we can see and anticipate. The price of liberty and all that.

Epilogue -- I went on down to the Federal Courthouse ...

There were plenty of people on hand for the NYLUG-organized protest on the opening day of the actual MPAA v. 2600 trial. We got lots of media attention and had productive conversations with passers-by, including one congressman. Even the cops reading the flyers were shaking their heads ...

A Dutch guy hanging out with us was composing songs, including "DMCA" to the tune of "YMCA". That was wicked funny.