Since I had attended one day of the 22rd Chaos Communication Congress last year and was in Berlin between Christmas and New Year's this year, I decided to do a day of the the 23rd Chaos Communication Congress. The topic was "Who can you trust?" and there were some great-sounding talks planned.

I chose the first day because there were so many interesting talks:

  • Keynote by John Perry Barlow which was interesting, even though he seemed either stoned or jetlagged (or both). He tried to light a fire under people's backsides to get them to police ethical actions on the Internet and fight spam and viruses. He gets 30.000 emails a month, 98% of which are spam....
  • Joshua Ellis rambling on and cursing in his "The Grim Meathook Future - How The Tech Culture Can Maintain Relevance In The 21st Century" which seemed more of a self-presentation than a good talk, but I had a seat at a table, and electrical outlet and WLAN, so I let him ramble.
  • A trio from Bremen talking about "Privacy, Identity, and Anonymity in Web 2.0" which was interesting, but the slides went by too fast for me to follow and I type fairly fast.
  • Ulrich Wiesner on "Hacking the Electoral Law", explaining why he thinks e-Voting and e-Counting is illegal in Germany. He lost a petition to the German parliament just this month to have e-voting with Nedap machines thrown out, he is continuing on to the constitutional court. If you are a German citizen, consider joining his case.
  • Rop Gonggrijp from the Dutch group wijvertrouwenstemcomputersniet (We don't trust voting computers) telling "The story of the dutch campaign against black-box voting to date". He had a Nedap machine with him and told some amazing stories about the system. It is based on an M68000 chip, heck, I learned to program Assembler on that! The company does have problems obtaining chips, as many are no longer produced. He used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain documents showing, for example, that the "extensive testing" the system was subjected to consisted of making sure it could survive a glass of water being spilled on it, the buttons being the proper size, and people not getting an electrical shock when they touch the screen. There are NO specs for "keeps vote changers out". Germany wants to use this system in the next election (see previous bullet point).
  • I wanted to hear another Identity talk, but the speaker was a no-show, so I went to the Wikipedia session on the quotability of Wikipedia articles. MaHa and a young computing professor from my former school thought this was a good idea, I begged to differe in the discussion. I want students to use the WP for a first step, but to go beyond this, reading web sites, getting books (gasp!) and magazine articles (what's that?) to read, analyse and comment on. WP should not be quoted, in my humble opinion, except for perhaps in a glossary. There was a good discussion on this.
  • Annalee Newitz on "Revenge of the Female Nerds" (see previous blog entry).
During her talk a young man wearing a Norsk Data T-Shirt walked across the front of the room. Now, I spent four years of my life working for Norsk Data, and they went broke 15 years ago, there is no way this kid had ever worked for Norsk Data on account of child protection laws. So after chatting with Annalee I went for a prowl throughout the congress center. I don't need RFIDs, I found him in a dark room full of loud music. He came out to talk with me - seems there is this group of Norwegian hackers who are into retro-computers.

They have running versions of DECs and such, and of course, being Norwegian, Nord-10s, ND-100 and ND-500s. This guy has some in his bedroom, he showed me a picture! We had a nice chat, he was very knowledgeable about the history of the company. Heck, he could program in PLANC and use the SINTRAN operating machine! Tore Sinding Bekkedal is his name, and he has a home page with many relevant Norsk Data links. What a hobby! I'll have to dig around, see if I still have some ND stuff around. No, I will not part with my ND cup or bottle opener or rock watch (made of real Norwegian granite).

Coming home took quite some time - waited in the freezing cold at Bahnhof Zoo for 26 minutes because the night bus left just 2 minutes before the train from Alexanderplatz got there :( I don't often take night buses....

It was a great day, I spent some time at the Wikipedia Lounge, sold some T-Shirts and books, shot the breeze with the usual suspects, finally met SJ in person (He is working on making the "One Laptop per Child" machine and had one with him that we could play with, that was fun). I bought a nice clip-on RFID tag with a Blinkenlight and an RFID detector bracelet and a Haeksen button.

Unfortunately, I really must get all of my exercises corrected, so I can't attend any of the other days. But my head is spinning after one day, how do people survive 4 - and that on very little sleep?

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