29C3 Review

Hi there,

I have been to the 29C3 between the 26th and 31st of December 2012 and it was awesome. Talks, workshops, people… we have planned to attend it in October as a group of 3 people. Even though I am not into IT security that much, I wanted to attend this event because in the past I was listening to many Chaosradio [Express] episodes and hacking is not only about security. So I kind of identify myself with this community and presenting there is really one of the greatest honors in the german-speaking soft- and hardware hacking community (which means the average talk is of high quality). To keep things short: The organization was perfect, the talks were okay, the assemblies were nice and the people were interesting.

The 29C3 was held at the CCH for the first time. Despite 6604 sold tickets (according to heise, german article) it took me only half an hour to receive a wrist band at a time most of the people came to the event.

Jacob Applebaum (“Not my department”, Keynote) is really a great speaker. I don’t think his talks have a great technical impact, but his words are motivating and keep the community together. “Not my department” as rationale is not helpful. We have to keep developing free software which helps us to expand our freedoms and have to consider the overall impact of our software to humanity, society and environment. It was a great talk. Attended talks at :

  • “Die Wahrheit, was wirklich passierte und was in der Zeitung stand” (Kai Biermann, Martin Haase)
  • “HOWTO Hack the law” (Rejo Zenger)
  • “The Grand EU Data Protection Reform” (Jan Philipp Albrecht, Katarzyna Szymielewicz, Kirsten Fiedler)
  • “Hinter den Kulissen: Der NSU und das V-Leute-System” (Heike Kleffner, Katharina König)
  • “The Ethics of Activist DDOS Actions” (Molly Sauter)
  • “Time is NOT on your Side” (Sebastian Schinzel)

I was too tired to attend the Googlequiz and thought I was able to watch it as live stream in the hotel. Sadly it was not streamed, but I recognized positive feedback on the next day. :

  • “We are all lawmakers” (Gregor Hackmack)
  • “Lightning Talks 1”
  • “Was ist, was kann, was soll Gender Studies Informatik?” (Britta Schinzel)
  • “Many Tamagotchis Were harmed in the Making of this Presentation” (Natalie Silvanovich)
  • “FactHacks” (djb, Nadia Heninger, Tanja Lange)
  • “Hackers As A High-Risk Population” (Violet Blue)
  • “Hacker Jeopardy” (Ray, Stefan Zehl)

In the “morning” I missed to attend the talk by Alexis (“EveryCook”); a talk with positive feedback via twitter. My personal highlight of this day became the talk by Natalie Silvanovich (“Many Tamagotchis Were harmed in the Making of this Presentation”). She describes her hack to modify the program logic in Tamagotchis (those little gadgets with virtual animals inside you have to take care of). As an electrical engineer with an interest into software she presents her steps to modify the program logic in a very entertaining way. My personal favorite geeky/technical talk of 29C3!

The day ended with the annual Hacker Jeopardy I am a big fan of. This event became the stage for an intense discussion about sexism at the event. I don’t want to discuss my personal opinion about this issue now and just want to add “It’s good to discuss this topic just like many others at the event”. Sadly the Gender Studies lecture was really bad in terms of structure and rhetorics. Hacker Jeopardy itself was not that funny like the years before. :

  • “CCC-Jahresrückblick” (Konstanze Kurz, Dodger, Erdgeist, Frank Rieger)
  • “Lightning Talks 2”
  • “Sind faire Computer möglich?” (Sebastian Jekutsch)
  • Podcaster Workshop (Tim Pritlove)
  • “Men who stare at bits” (nuit, Rena Tangens)
  • “Fnord-Jahresrückblick” (Felix von Leitner, Frank Rieger)

I don’t think the talk by Sebastian Jekutsch (“Sind faire Computer möglich?”) is for everyone, but I think he did a good job in showing us that there is almost NO hardware provider which focuses on fair/conflict-free products. Unlike many other people his talk was without much emotion and personal opinions. I think discussing this issue at the event is important. This was my highlight of the day 3!


  • “Millions of Lessons Learned on Electronic Napkins” (joern.loviscach, Sebastian Wernicke)
  • “Lightning Talks 3”
  • “Page Fault Liberation Army or Gained in Translation” (Julian Bangert, Sergey)
  • “Closing Event” (bios, Frank Rieger)
  • After-Show Party

“Philosophy in python” (Sebastian Wernicke, 29c3)

The talk by Anatol Stefanovitsch (“Sprache, Ungleichheit und Unfreiheit”) is another talk I did not attend live, but is awesome. He shows that language (specifically: German) is inherently not gender-neutral, but does not forget to make it understandable to software geeks. I attended the lecture by Joern Loviscach and Sebastian Wernicke (“Millions of Lessons Learned on Electronic Napkins”). During my time at school I watched a lot of videos of Joern Loviscach and became a fan of his approach to modern education. The strength of this talk lies in the summary of the current state in online courses (or “massive open online courses” as he calls it) and those entertaining quizzes in between. I started to think a lot about his reference to Sal Khan‘s idea to get students to watch the (recorded) lecture (including explanations of concepts and secondly quizzes/exercises) at home and transform university lectures to a place of personal, face-to-face tutoring. Basically I am akin to this idea. Sadly Joern’s English is not as good as his german. So I am unsure whether or not I can recommend this talk to everybody, but it was a highlight for me. Thanks guys!

Yeah, I attended all Lightning Talks because often you hear inspiring visions (eg. yes, there are still people out there learning conlangs!) and different styles of rhetorics and those short time slots make sure that they don’t get boring. In difference, I have never watched lightning talks excessively (recall that there were 71 LTs) ever before.

Whenever I was not at a talk I was either eating or looking for the assemblies. I met some people from local communities in Austria, looked into Lockpicking, ate candy floss for the first time in my life and drank {Club Mate, Power Flora Mate, Fritz Cola}. Sadly I missed to eat crèpes, to start a discussion with the guys from the LISP assembly and participate the the Austrian net politics discussion, the soup io meetup, the Feminism discussion and the LISP workshops. Concerning the topic of workshops: There were plenty of them and probably it’s a good idea to participate ONLY in workshops during the 29C3. However, I also wanted to see some talks. I was only interested into the SQL injection workshop beforehand, but it was already full when we got there.

Just for the archive: I wasn’t able to get my WiFi running at the laptop. Even though I was connected to the WiFi, all packets seem to get lost right after the router. I don’t think I got on a blacklist, because besides my webserver no service opened sockets. Therefore I have used my mobile phone to access the internet and did not care reporting it to the NOC.

I think it was pretty cool and you are free to watch the 29C3 recordings now. My personal list of talks you should watch:

Further information:

29C3 Review