Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hacker Summer Camp and @HackerRoad

Next week is “Hacker Summer Camp”, also known as BSides Las Vegas, Black Hat, and DEF CON week.  As you might expect, I’ll be at BSides most of next week, then heading over to DEF CON when we finish hiding all the bodies cleaning up and packing out.  We have a killer lineup for BSidesLV as always, and Irongeek will be recording the sessions so you can catch up if you won’t be joining us or miss one you want to see.

I’ll be giving a talk in the Common Ground track, a decidedly non-InfoSec talk:

The Erudite Inebriate’s Guide to Life, Liberty, and the Purſuit of Happineſs

An exploration of bitters, classic cocktails and other stuff

That will be on Wednesday at 16:30 in the Tuscany room.  I’ll also be joining the all-star lineup of Davi Ottenheimer, Raymond Umerley, Steve Werby, David Mortman and George V.  Hulme on Thursday at 12:30 in Florence G for a panel discussion on breach notifications, ethics, and law.

I’ll once again be participating in DEF CON Hacker Pyramid and beard competitions, and of course providing logistical support for the FAIL Panel.  But no pink camisoles this year.  Well, probably not.  Possibly something worse, though.

And finally, for a little entertainment, follow the adventures of video guy Steve and I as we drive from Cape Cod to Las Vegas and back.  Face it, you’ll just be pretending to work until next week, either in prep for the trip, or out of bitterness because you can’t go.  So follow the adventures on Twitter at @HackerRoad as we wander the countryside cursing the latest update to Google Maps for Android, stop at distilleries, and spread cheer wherever we go. Or something like that. Maps, photos, video, etc. will be posted to or linked from that Twitter feed.  (Yes, that’s the old Shmoobus account, rebranded for a more wide-ranging set of adventures).  The road trip is made possible by my awesome employers at Tenable Network Security, who are too smart to directly sponsor something this silly, but are kind enough to indulge me taking time for such madness.

Interesting finds along the way, and of course favorite hangouts in Las Vegas will be posted here.  Maybe.




Sunday, March 24, 2013

Oakland bar crawl, part 2, Heinold’s

The night started out uneventfully, regrouping after a day of working a conference. We had the choice of several corporate parties, or ditching San Francisco and heading over the bridge to the East Bay.  We chose wisely and headed for Oakland.  The rest is, as they say, alcohol over the liver.

The night started with at Messob for Ethiopian food, then to the dive tiki Kona Club.  After leaving the Kona Club, common sense dictated that we head for our hotel and get some sleep.  So we headed downtown and ended up hitting three bars, our selection being limited by it being late and a Tuesday.  Not to fear, we hit three winners.


(image credit unknown, via Heinold’s website)

First stop was Heinold's First And Last Chance Saloon , an old school bar which survived the Great Earthquake, and much more.  From their website:

“Opened in 1883 by Johnny Heinold as J.M. Heinold's Saloon, this Historic Landmark looked much then as she does today. She was built right here in 1880 from the timbers of an old whaling ship over the water in a dock area that even then was at the foot of Webster Street. For nearly three years, the building was used as a bunk house by the men working the nearby oyster beds. Then in 1883, Johnny's $100 purchase, with the aid of a ship's carpenter, was transformed into a saloon where seafaring and waterfront men could feel at ease.”

The entire tiny establishment tilts severely due to settling and the effects of the Great Earthquake.  It’s ramshackle appearance is at odds with the nearby yachts in the harbor, but this old Jack London hangout stands proud in the face of change, a single middle finger upraised in the face of gentrification.  The place is laid back and friendly- I’m sure during weekends and boating season it is overrun with people who don’t quite fit the vibe, but it’s worth the trip.



Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A word about Oakland

When we were on our tour of Oakland a few weeks ago, I joked about surviving a few hours in the city at night.  I knew it was a joke, but some people only know what they see on TV or other generally-mistaken mainstream media outlets.

Oakland certainly has some troubled areas.  So does your town.  Oakland’s trouble areas may (or may not) be bigger or badder than yours, that’s the sad nature of city life.

But Oakland has some great communities, and a lot of great people- and I spent a couple of very enjoyable evenings in Oakland.  As with any  city you don’t know well, seek out advice on what’s safe, what’s reasonable, and what to avoid.  Local knowledge is key, if you don’t have it, borrow some.  I was fortunate enough to have an awesome friend act as tour guide, but if you don’t, ask at your hotel, ask a bartender (especially one you’ve tipped well), or ask a cop.  More than once I’ve asked a policeman for advice about their community- they tend to know them, and I usually preface the conversation with “I do not want to end up as paperwork for you…” which lightens the mood.

As far as Oakland, a lot of it feels like San Francisco used to feel.  Maybe that’s part of the East v. West Bay thing that happens there, I don’t know.  But I know I’ll be back.



Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Kona Club, and Messob, Oakland, CA

You may have guessed by now that I like tiki bars, and that I also like dive bars.  Imagine a tiki bar worn comfortable by the passage of time (and alcohol), with real tiki decorations and style, but with a laid-back dive vibe.

Welcome to the Kona Club.


(image credit: Kona Club website)

The Kona Club is on Piedmont Ave, near (but not in) the city of Piedmont (a small city within a city, Piedmont is completely surrounded by Oakland).  Tiki drinks and Hawaiian shirts. or t-shirts and beers, either way, Kona Club has you covered.

It is worth mentioning that a wander down Piedmont Ave. will take you to several good restaurants, we found Messob Ethiopian just a couple of blocks away at 4301 Piedmont and packed in enough outstanding Ethiopian food to steel ourselves for a bar crawl night in Oakland (yeah, a few more spots to add to the “should blog about” list).  Great food, and lots of it.  The ambiance at Messob is nothing special, but when you get your first smell of their food from about a block away you won’t care if it looks like a generic restaurant- the food is outstanding.



Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Dear liver, I’m sorry. (Louisville, Kentucky)

Kentucky is where bourbon comes from.  This makes Kentucky a happy place.  This past fall I was in Louisville for a couple of InfoSec events, DerbyCon (a fantastic hacker-esque, but grown up event, with an great community vibe) and the Louisville Metro InfoSec Conference (a very good event, very professional, and I was humbled by the overwhelming hospitality of the Kentuckiana ISSA team).

I stayed in Louisville for eight days, and between the events and working from my hotel and coffee shops I was able to sneak in a little roaming around the city.  It is a diverse place, with more funky corners than I had expected.  Most people think of the Kentucky Derby and the Louisville Slugger if they think of Louisville at all.  If they think of food and drink, much of the attention goes to Fourth Street Live, which is OK if you want a college drunkard chain restaurant experience.  For me, I prefer to venture a bit.


Let’s start with a bit of coffee, and while the ubiquitous Starbucks are easy to find, the local  Quills Coffee is a better bet for local flavor.  The Baxter Ave. location is in the Highlands district, an artsy/hipster area of town, but the hipsters aren’t too bad and the artsy-ness of the area is pleasant.brand


Just down the road from Quills is a funky former church turned gastro pub, the Holy Grale serves up good food, and great beer from their 26 taps.  But no bourbon, for that we’ll have to head elsewhere.

There are plenty of places to enjoy bourbon in Louisville, many think that Jockey Silks at the Galt House is the best, and it certainly is nice- but the selection is overwhelming with over 150 bourbons to choose from.  Also, Jockey Silks isn’t cheap, and it is a bit fancy for my usual (lack of) taste.

headerWhich brings me to my favorite place in Louisville, Stevie Ray’s Blues Bar.  (Warning: I love the place, but the website auto plays music, which no one loves).  Stevie Ray’s has open mic nights, blues jams, local and national acts, mostly blues, but also some rock and R & B.  I was surprised by the great performances I heard on the open mic and blues jam on nights I visited, there are some seriously talented folks in the area.  Oh, and they have about a dozen higher-end (but not crazy-expensive) bourbons, a manageable selection for just chilling and listing to music, or chatting with the bartenders (who are real bartenders, not just people who sell booze for a living).  It is a bit of a dive, but I mean that in the best possible way.  One note: they do not serve any food, but there is occasionally a BBQ truck out front, and the staff can hook you up with info an a variety of nearby dining options (including ones who will deliver to you at Stevie Ray’s).  The drinks are reasonably priced, including some downright cheap beers- so tip well and you can still leave without spending a lot.

A final suggestion: Saffron’s Persian Restaurant.  Saffron’s is very nice restaurant serving great Middle Eastern food, and has a fantastic staff (who were welcoming of a bunch of late evening diners showing up with no reservations, as the staff was starting to think about cleaning up for the night).