While it might seem that I only ever blog about infosecurity and BSides London, the truth lies elsewhere (I blog a lot for non-public blogs etc.). But in this case, yes, it is another blog about those wonderful events from 2019.
Where to start? If you have ever been to Olympia when infosecurity was on, you know how loud, crowded and overwhelming it can be. A lot of folks, and I think I've already written about that in a previous blog, a lot of folks do not like to be there. Quite a few of the people at the stalls describe it as stressful and draining. A lot of visitors are complaining, too, and yet it is one of the best opportunities to learn about the state of the industry.
Vendors are a funny bunch. From the big and well-known to the one man show disguised as a startup, everyone who is known or wants to be, is there. But still, visitors and vendors are often enough slightly introverted tech nerds, which makes for awkward milliseconds of eye contact, followed by a smile and quickly moving away. Except for the wonderfully trained sales people, who sometimes compliment my hair, glasses (which I broke this time, so no positive comments there) or clothing.
And to be fair, I found out about a lot of new products addressing the many problems we face in our industry, but very often it just looked like the stuff from the previous years, freshly painted in a 2019 colour. Still, I am a cynic and until I have the tech in my hands and can fiddle around with it, I can't really tell how effective and cool it is.
Speaking of which, one of the vendors - and no, I won't name and shame - told me he needed an NDA if he were to tell me about his product. Which I found sheepishly funny coming from someone at a trade fair, talking to potential clients. I guess he needed me to believe in his magic problem-solving product without wanting to know how it worked. Just trust him, it'll be all good.
Unfortunately this is not how stuff works in my reality tunnel, so asked him about a whitepaper or any kind of information. "Why do you want to use this produc, how and what for?" he replied. I wish it had turned into some kind of interesting fairy tale here, but basically I don't have time for this and went off, telling him more or less politely that all of a sudden I had lost any scrap of interest I might have had.
It was a funny day. I've met a lot of old friends and even a few people I've never met in person, and I had a good time at infosecurity, as nearly always.
Before meeting with the BSides crew in the evening, I went home to Hotel Construction Site to grab a shower and get into new clothes. There is a story behind Hotel Construction Site, obviously, but I'll just leave you with a picture of the "curtains" they used in my room. Funny thing: the hotel provided me with credentials for the WiFi, but they didn't work.
They had a BT home router in my room, and I took the liberty to use the credentials that were printed on its back - obviously they had never been changed.
I was mentoring at BSides (poor @sailingbikeruk ) and joined the crew and speakers for the evening before the conference.
At this point I apologise to all of you because I don't mention you personally, and each of you has deserved that! But I am afraid that I will forget someone, and that this would be interpreted as being intentional and then someone would bear a tiny grudge just because my brain is too riddled and remembers IP addresses better than names. But, please! Be assured that I was happy to see you, to chat, and that in most cases I'd like to talk more.
The next morning was my favourite part of the whole London trip. I spent something like two hours catching up with everybody and missed quite a few talks due to hall con; but thanks to Cooper and his crew the talks can be watched online later, too. I spend a lot of time in the Rookie Track, every now and then making sure Ian was still there, content and happy. As every year, the content in the Rookie Track is fantastic; sure, the talks are only 15 minutes and presented by people who classify themselves as rookies. Most aren't, at least not in regards to their topics or presentation skills.
Ian's presentation was good, he even employed me as a stage prop. Well, with a talk called "The Definition of Madness" it was to be expected that he'd point at me at some time. The talk went well (in my eyes), although quite a few people who had promised to show up had been missing from the audience (you know who you are, and again, no grudges held, of course!). We went up to the pub to have a pint and met a few other nice people there, too.
In my age (23), I get tired more easily than, say, when I was young.
Since there was no official after party and all my friends had other plans to hang out with me and have dinner (sob) I returned to Earl's Court and had dinner in a wonderful Sri Lankan restaurant called Cave of Lanka. The owner was emptying his wine cellar and offered me a free glass of French red wine. From 1982.
It was a great end to an amazing time in London - see you again next year!