Our little hacker conference that usually draws about 400 people is happening again on 4-21 and 4-22. If you want the song and dance about all the things we have planned, you can check out the website. I want to cover all the internal changes.
We’re getting old. What can I tell you. The longer you run something like BSidesROC (and Interlock and 2600 for that matter) the more likely your core people are going to have different priorities and interests. I think that if any organization wants to keep itself going, it should plan to phase out its core organizers. I’ve always had this plan for Interlock Rochester and for BSidesROC. This year we can really see those changes. People aren’t able to put in the time they once were able to and BSidesROC isn’t a priority. And that’s ok. Others pick up the slacki and I actually think this year is been running the smoothest… dare I say… ever.
I’m putting a big priority on getting new faces into organization and letting old faces (like me) get out of the way. All of those folks that have volunteered this year are basically doing an internship with us with the hope that one of them appreciates what we’re doing and wants to be an organizer next year.
This year, Joe Testa and I have been sharing the responsibility of revamping BSidesROC from the organizational perspective. No longer are we run by some shared LLC, we are now a 501(c)(3) Non Profit Corporation.
Why? Good question. The main reason is we have volunteers with experience about doing the appropriate paper work and what’s involved with the books so we know exactly the level of effort required and that effort has a pay off by keeping costs to a minimum.
What doors does this open? None. Don’t get me wrong, there are new opportunities out there with groups like Wegmans who would not even talk to us unless we were a non profit. But there is not going to be this sudden stream of money that was just waiting at the door for us. If you’re thinking about being a NFP, make sure you quantify that. We did, we’re happy with the decision, but I don’t want to oversell it.
A lot of the organizers are really into the idea of supporting local artists along with the con itself. That’s actually been hard to do because hackers don’t often run in the same circles as artists. So I’ve resorted to stalking people on Instagram and Twitter hoping that they’ll see my comments. That’s how I got Spaceman last year and Justyn Iannucci the year before that. We also had our first artist design posters for us which is going to be a thing going forward.
My favorite part is not showing anyone what the artists have done and just drop it on them. In the past, none of the organizers had seen any of the shirts until day of the conference. My favorite thing is meet people at conferences that are wearing our shirts. I’m always surprised and a little disappointed that they’re at a event with me but we’ve never met before.
Our Resumelee program last year sucked to be blunt. It wasn’t planned, it wasn’t implemented it fell through. This year we’ve got a lot of new plans to make that a cool subevent and I have high hopes.
Our CTF is the most stressful thing for us to work on because it was this idea where you had a 7 x 7 grid which required 49 challenges! That’s like 40 more than I have time to do and the quality deteriorated as we got closer to the event.
This year, we’ve dumped hacker battleship and replaced it with a stable scoreboard, hosted the infrastructure in the cloud, and are doing to be running in like a jeopardy style board where different challenges have different weights.
I’m excited about this and about getting organizers and volunteers involved in making the challenges. I have big aspirations that I don’t want to mention because I may run out of time.
The hacker store was very popular last year. We’re keeping it of course. I think the idea isn’t to sell gear that you can get on Amazon, but to have stuff available that people have been thinking about purchasing and just pull the trigger while they’re at the event. This year you can expect the same type of selection except I’m hoping whatever you buy will actually last until BSides 2018.