A Visit to 25C3

My son Josh and I made a trip to the Chaos Communications Congress today (aka 25C3). It’s a hacker conference that takes place in Berlin in late December every year. Here’s the schedule of today’s talks. We had our choice of hearing about hacking rich internet apps, flying in unpowered aircraft, and exploiting the Symbian operating system. Josh was curious if he could hack into Facebook but we quickly realized that the hacking rich internet apps talk was way above both of us. The unpowered aircraft talk was easier to take in but it was mobbed and we couldn’t get a seat.

There were some cool things to play with. People were hacking locks in the cafeteria, there was a huge lego project in the back of the cafeteria, and a bunch of electronics projects to look at.

Josh was into the rotary phone that was connected to an old mechanical switch. When you dialed the phone, you could see how the old mechanical phone sytem worked. That was an eye opener for him.

Mostly, however, the conference was about hanging out with other hackers and working on stuff. I’ve never seen so many laptops opened at a conference before. I think Josh and I were the only ones there without one.

I was hoping to hang around long enough to see my friend Christophe who had suggested we go to 25C3 in the first place. But wihtout our laptops and some real hacking to do, we lost interest after about an hour and hopped onto the subway and to the Gendarmarkt for some lunch.

I’m a huge fan of hacking and hackers and it warms my heart to see so much passion and energy for "breaking and rebuilding things" as one of the presenters described the hacking phenomenon. I hope some of that rubbed off on Josh today.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Dan Ostermayer

    Fred, social networks are receiving more and more attention in terms of education. I know your interest in the subject so here is the link http://www.upi.com/Health_N…I’ve written some thoughts on the subject as well http://lightlycaffeinated.c… and simply wanted to share

  2. fredwilson

    I realize that but the talk was about browser security holes and such. Fascinating stuff, but we didn’t really grok it

  3. Facebook User

    “Josh was curious if he could hack into Facebook but we quickly realized that the hacking rich internet apps talk was way above both of us.”The sad part is ‘hacking’ into these types of applications is not above either of you or your average 13 year with lots of time on their hands.(posting this using an facebook link at an attempt at irony)

  4. Geoff

    He’s one lucky lad, Fred! Its so neat to see how old electro / mechanical systems work. At his age we were visiting tips to find old TV’s to rip out the transformers so we could make huge arcs and flashes in our secret shed (kept well hidden from our fathers)

  5. Justin Yost

    Sounds like a great conference, hope I can go sometime.

  6. Loic Le Meur

    Livecrunch, it is less about the pipe supplier than the network settings.And that can be made by a team coming from anywhere.

    1. fredwilson

      Loic – almost everyone was using a wired connection. There were tons of jacks with ethernet wires everywhere. And people bring switches with them and share the connectionsNot ideal, for sure, but more reliable

      1. Loic Le Meur

        thanks Fred, interesting. Happy new year to you.

        1. fredwilson

          Same to you Loic. I’m writing this from paris where I’m spending new years with my family. I’m really wondering how you could leave this place!!

          1. Loic Le Meur

            Fred, me too, sometimes I am wondering 🙂

    2. @JoeHobot

      I build VOIP with 2 other guys in Midwest .Took us 4 months to test, buy equipment, configure and market it. You think few guys that can be paid 5K to do the job can’t do it? 🙂 If I were you, that succesfull…my strategy would be not to depend on others but your self.It minimizes your cost and less stress + you have professionals do the job for less what other companies would change you.PS: Equipment you (borrow, buy) can be reused! so next year cost would be even less because you don’t need another wiring.

  7. Loic Le Meur

    Hi Fred, it may help me tremendously if you try to find out their wifi supplier: how many participants? who is their wifi supplier? Thanks! I am trying to find a solution for next years’ LeWeb. Talk to you soon.

    1. @JoeHobot

      Well berlin and france I bet it’s a bit different Loic. My guess is to do bit research on wifi supliers in Paris or you might just build your own untill then, it will cost you 50% less! With few net switches some good highspeed ISP (possibly fiberoptic) wifi will work just fine…..

  8. @JoeHobot

    That;s great that you took your son out to conference like that, wish I had that opportunity when I was his age. Well at that time I could only hack with Comodore 64? lol.Great post, I think every tech person as I am…starts with newbee hacking and than advances into networking, software developing etc….at least that is my story.

    1. fredwilson

      I am sure some of this will rub off on him. At this point, he’s more into writing video games than hacking into facebook, thankfully 😉

      1. @JoeHobot

        If he is interested let him use computer knowledge for advance, I hate seing kids using pc only to chat via FB or MSpace… :)U good u!

  9. CLaRGe

    I’m inspired. My children, especially my oldest son, never get enough of my talk about being part of “The Scene” back in the day. I tell them about Tran and the guys who now make the most powerful consumer software on the planet now (PayPal, Amazon, Gears of War) and how the cool stuff we used to do “just for fun”.Might even plan a trip for next year.

  10. Mark

    I am very jelouse.. I was stuck out in the freezing cold of minnesota myself.Ive compiled a list of as many as the conference videos as possible.. hopefully the last few will be online soon.http://hackerblog.net/paper