23C3: General impressions

01.01.2007 11:41

Note: I was writing this in very early morning on 30 December.

I'm currently on train to Munchen. Unfortunately I haven't been able to stay in Berlin for the whole duration of the Congress (this year it's also one day longer - the closing talk will be later today). So far I've mostly posted photographs and didn't write much about my general impressions of 23C3. Now I have several hours to waste on the train and I intend correct that.

Comparing with 21C3 I can say that there were fewer really interesting talks. From the titles and abstracts in the Fahrplan I must say that I expected more. However this may be just because 21C3 was my first visit of such an event and I was mostly amazed at everything I saw then. Anyway, here are some of the most interesting talks I've attended:

Detecting temperature through clock skew by Tobias Gruetzmach was a quite impressive demonstration of how the minute effect of the temperature on the resonant frequency of quartz oscillators can be exploited to track machines on the internet, detect honeypots and even communicate between machines in a rack (defeating the so-called air-gap security).

In the talk How to build a complete FPGA-based DVB-T transmitter Tobias Gruetzmach and Thomas Kleffel also presented a DVB-T (terrestrial digital video broadcasting) system they designed. It was a very interesting introduction into how DVB works and they also showed how relatively simple transmitting equipment can be made for much less money than the cost of professional equipment.

I've already mentioned the Sputnik project in one of my previous posts.

In Console Hacking 2006 Thomas Kleffel presented the state of the art in game console hacking. It's an interesting topic because consoles like XBox are systems that are designed specifically to prevent any tampering and employ a number of intriguing hardware features to achieve that. The talk unfortunately left an impression that the manufacturers are beginning to get more successful - none of the last generation of consoles can currently be modified in a convenient way to run home-brew code.

Finally, Functional body modification by Quinn Norton also deserves to be mentioned. Although not exactly my field of interest, it was impressive to listen about her first-hand experience with a magnet implanted in a tip of one of her fingers. Although I'm a bit skeptical whether this will become a normal thing for people working with electronic circuits in the near future I can certainly agree that it would be quite useful if you could sense electromagnetic fields with your bare hands.

Some notes on the hardware I saw around the conference: two years ago I was surprised at how many people had Apple laptops. This year I believe other brands of (x86) laptops were again more common, however I would estimate that approximately one quarter were still Macs. On the other hand I was surprised at how often I saw Nokias 770. Obviously all that excitement of Gnome developers over this little Linux-running computer had some results.

The theme of the Conference was Who can you trust? remember? Well, at least one participant had some advice to share on that topic. He had the following text written on the back of his T-shirt: Who can you trust? Trust us!

Posted by Tomaž | Categories: Life

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