Kiwicon 6 descended on Wellington on November 17, 2012. Approximately 750 hackers, non-hackers, and wanna-be hackers congregated in Wellington’s Opera House until November 18, 2012.

Artwork by Lisa
Artwork by Lisa

28 presentations by Kiwicon veterans and newbies had the audience captivated. In the evening there was more entertainment planned than ever. And now who says that nerds can’t be social? Drinks flowed freely, games were on, clubbing was organized as well as a movie night. The Opera House ushers – if they hadn’t already been working at Kiwicon 5 – certainly had a different experience than with their usual opera crowds.

The Kiwicon Crüe outdid itself again this year (is there a word beyond superlative?) with awesome name tags and lanyards. This year we all had floppy disks: from 3 1/2″ ones for regular attendees to 5 1/4″ ones for speakers to huge 8″ ones for The Crüe. The high rollers received hard-to-get backup disks. These are definitely worth keeping and nothing like your regular conference-grade boring name tags.

High roller name tag and disk: a lot of bling
High roller name tag and disk: A lot of bling

As usual, some presentations were way beyond my comprehension, others were easy to follow, then there were the ones where I just stared open mouthed, and the last but not least category was the ones of the awesome humor. Now, I don’t want to give a recount of each presentation because you had to be there to experience it, but I just want to highlight a few of them.

I got your number

Nick von Dadleszen is a regular Kiwicon speaker, and this year he continued frightening us with news from the Mobile NFC hacker world and gave a demonstration of his latest tool which he could also persuade a bunch of people to install (hackers trust each other, right) and test during Kiwicon.

If you have a RFID chip – and you most likely will have one on a credit card, Snapper card, or your passport – you better get some RFID blocker so people with simple smartphones can’t read them. Nick presented his latest tool for Android with which you just need to put the phone onto the card with the RFID chip, and it reads all its information. It works like a charm and over 370 cards and Snappers and passports were scanned during the 2 days.

You could have heard a pin drop

Cartel, another Kiwicon regular, was asked to give his presentation early swapping with another presenter. That gave him about 5 minutes to polish his slides and go through his demos again. For some reason, the demo gods weren’t in a good mood and almost all of his demonstrations failed. While he was trying to troubleshoot his commands to run the demos, you could have heard a pin drop in the audience because nobody moved (except to the front of their seats), and everybody was glued to the screen. The audience made it their mission to help Cartel figure out the problem and possible solutions were shouted out at intervals, and everybody held their breaths to see if it worked.

Normally, when you are at another conference, the audience gets impatient when something doesn’t work, people start talking to each other or even leave. Not so at Kiwicon. Here it seemed like a a code of honor to stay put and help the presenter figure out the problem. The problem became a challenge for the entire audience.

Hacker on the road

Hackers don’t just sit in front of their computers in dingy and dark rooms, but they can be found out in the open participating in sports. Denis Andzakovic combined his two passions of hacking and riding motorbikes by sniffing out WLANs around the country simply by riding his bike. His gear fits into saddlebags, and he collects the data while he enjoys the landscape. He mapped his data and showed us the impressive result of whee WLANs can be found across New Zealand, and he could zoom in on each.

WLAN mapping with a motorbike
WLAN mapping on a motorbike

Honor your ancestors

Hacking is not a new profession and viruses etc. have been around for a considerable time. Metlstorm took us back to the 1980s when New Zealand’s first virus, Stoned, was created. He took us on a tour and brought history to life uncovering the truths and half-truths and lies. His presentation was the funniest hands down besides being informative and insightful. He also sported the most ancient equipment seen at Kiwicon. The computer didn’t even have a VGA cable that could be hooked up to the projector and thus a video camera had to be employed.

Metlstorm retelling the history of
Metlstorm retelling the history of “Stoned”

Thank you, Crüe

A big thank you goes again to the Kiwicon Crüe for putting on such an amazing show which didn’t just start on the conference days, but already when you went to the web site to read up on it and when you registered.

And another big thank you for the Raspberry Pi I received during the closing session. I should have all supplies together soon to set it up over Christmas.

Kiwicon 7

Although Kiwicon 6 just finished, I am already looking forward to Kiwicon 7 and the multitude of interesting, challenging and mind-boggling presentations and discussions. It’s a conference that is not to be missed.

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