Sunday, August 07, 2011

Inside the Exhibitors Ballroom at Black Hat USA 2011

Day One at Black Hat USA 2011

80 plus vendors, waiting for seminars to end, so that the Black Hat attendees will come through Exhibitors Ballroom at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The first day ran almost 12 hours (including the drinks/appetizers for the last couple of hours on day one).

The doors open. The rush begins. For knowledge? Well, almost. For the prime tchotchkes, primarily tee shirts. McAfee was also doing a book signing on Day One. That, a motorcycle and tradeshow women in biker garb and phishnet stockings… Strike that, fishnet stockings, helped create traffic around their booth.

A zombie wandering the floor caught people’s attention. As did a booth having a drawing for a chain saw. A real chain Stihl® saw. Courtesy of Solera Networks. Interestingly enough, they weren’t the company sponsoring the zombie walking around. Explain the chainsaw to security at McCarran International! “Sir, you’ll have to check that.”

Breaks in the morning and afternoon. Security catching someone who put a piece of yellow paper into an official pass holder hoping that security wouldn’t notice that there was nothing on it. One of the top sellers at the Black Hat store – lock picking kits.

Lines for food and drinks at 5:30. Pasta, pizza, and more…. Later, Crystal Meth at one of the Wednesday evening functions. Absolut Vodka as a sponsor for one event. People moaning about having to get up at 5:30 in the morning to try and buy a Defcon pass being held at another casino immediately following the end of Black Hat.

The booths aren’t set up for sit down presentations, so vendors are able to have one on one discussions with individuals coming through, demoing SW, etc.

Day Two

Quite a few bleary eyes when the Exhibition Ballroom doors open. Quiet compared to the day before. In one corner of the Ballroom, people working with soldering irons to make their own robots. Some traffic around the Symantec booth for the energy boost/caffeine gum. Line for popcorn at one booth.

Many people walking around with their heads bent downward. Checking their mobiles? Nope, looking at the card they were carrying to see which booths they had to go to get stamped and be eligible for drawings.

One o’clock hits – another line forms. Qing Li autographing copies of “IPv6 Advanced Protocols Implementation” at the Blue Coat booth. 300 signatures later, they’re gone. More than a few handfuls of people wearing a black tee from a vendor. If they’re seen by that vendor walking around, they become eligible for drawings.

People seemed to be generally pleased with the talks, keynotes and the education tracks. There was a blend of highly technical to not so technical. The mix appears to change slightly from year to year. One person wasn’t pleased that one presentation began with the presenter explaining what a virtual appliance was.

As the end of the day approaches, and before the make your own sundae break (yes, more food), the exchanging of the tchotchkes begins, when competitors briefly become friends, long enough to trade for t shirts, in situations where there are extras.

4:45 hits, attendees are ushered out, and the sponsors begin teardown. Until next year….

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