It is interesting to go to different conventions with hackers. Even within the states, each convention is a bit different. While you may see the same people at different conventions, the environment can be unique to the convention. When I was asked to speak at HackCon in Oslo, Norway, I jumped at the opportunity. Visiting Oslo and meeting the people at HackCon was a great and unique experience.
Let me start by saying that the people at HackCon (@hackcon) are some of the most gracious and accommodating hosts I’ve had the privilege of working with. They literally went out of their way to ensure that everything for my trip was taken care of and planned. I was blown away at how much they did for me to speak. My deepest gratitude and regards for them!
This was my first trip to Europe. Thinking I had everything planned, I started my 12 hour journey with a car ride to the airport through a snow storm, a delayed flight to get de-iced, a 8 hour trip across the Atlantic Ocean, another hour flight to Gardermoen, a 50 minute bus ride to Oslo, and 15 minutes walking around trying to find my hotel. Unfortunately, due to the icing delay in Chicago, my luggage didn’t arrive until the next evening. Note: Always bring an extra outfit as a carry on.
I was honored to have Kai Roer (@kairoer) as a gracious host who showed me around Oslo as well as making me an authentic Norwegian dinner at his home. The sausages were amazing! I was also able to try out some local Norwegian beers. Some of which caused the immature side of me to giggle as I had a nice can of Aass… 🙂
The next day, we visited the Vigeland Sculpture Park. We saw the famous Norwegian “Angry Baby” statue as well as the myriad of other statues. We also were able to visit the Akershus Fortress in Oslo. It was neat to see all of the history there.
HackCon started on Wednesday. There were some amazing talks! From defense talks by myself and @scriptjunkie1 to email and phishing talks by @insidetrust and @hacktalkblog to offensive talks by @carpenter1010, @Percent_X, @paulacqure, and @hackhunger. There was an amazing talk given by @winnschwartau about information warfare. There were talks given in other languages as well, but as I only speak English I have no idea what they were saying. Regardless, I enjoyed every talk I attended and was able to find practical ideas to implement things when I got home.
The best part of the trip was hanging out with the guys from the US that I hadn’t had the opportunity to meet previously. Seeing each of them speak, you knew that they were very skilled in what they did. Yet, when you sat down to a meal they were some of the nicest, and often self-deprecating, people you could meet. I learned a lot from all of them and if you have an opportunity to see any of them speak, do not pass up on it!
I’ve been to many conventions. HackCon was an extremely warm and welcoming environment. I was honored to speak and while I am very happy to be home, I will miss being in Norway and learning from a group of very skilled people. I hope to return soon to visit.