We've just spent this weekend at DEFCON, a first for us all, and it was amazing.
I'm no hacker; I don't even have a compsci degree, and my "coding" stops at HTML, so the sort of talks by hacker superheroes like Moxie Marlinspike make me go slightly slackface. But that didn't stop me from having a complete blast: not only do DEFCON-goers have the best selection of nerdy-humour tees I've ever seen ("Non-flammable? Challenge accepted!") ...
... but there's so much to see and do: networked Team Fortress, lasersight shooting games. The Wall of Sheep, where those sniffed over the DEFCON wifi are ritually humilated on a giant wall in the vendor room. A vendor room where you can buy NSA mugs and caps, though "of course the agency doesn't even exist", etc. (The Director was there, doing a keynote.)
And movies, demos, gatherings, and some big, joyful parties, to boot.
I was amused at all the movie-esque hacker stuff that 2012 has turned out; blinky lights everywhere, and techno, light-up toys, ELwire. Plenty of (spiky / tattooed / fun-coloured-hair) ladies there, too. Maybe Hackers wasn't so off, after all - that, or what goes around comes around. My highlight: Katy Levinson's Sunday-morning, vodka-drinking robotics comedy-rant, a must-see. I'm waiting for a video to turn up of this. She was brilliant.
But back to the title - I post this mainly for DEFCON KIDS, hands-down the best kids' programming at a con I have ever seen, and by an overwhelming order of magnitude. Nico, the organiser, made sure that all the big names from "DEFCON Grownups" also came along to do a Kids talk.
From the "Top Secret Keynote" by General Alexander, Director of the NSA - YES, RE-READ THAT - to lockpicking demos and practice, to Moxie Marlinspike discussing privacy tips with 9 year old girls... oh it was just so, so damn excellent.
Zoom in on those and check out the detail, it's really boggling.
They screen movies and have a special kids party on the Saturday night, too. iPads, Nexuses and other devices were lying about for kids to play and hack with, as well as toys like Snap Circuits:
Poesy went to a lockpicking class. I don't think she picked up much on this occasion (BUT I DID. Muahahah).
DEFCON & DEFCON Kids. If you get the chance, I couldn't recommend it more.