Wow.. Another DEFCON has come and gone. I’m thankful for so much.

Thankful for my family who is always patient with me before I travel. The stress makes me grumpy and usually sick, although this time wasn’t nearly as bad because I’m in better shape all the way around. =)

Thankful that Jen helped me so much and her and Kenna went with me to the airport.

Thankful for a safe, uneventful trip to the airport.

Thankful for a sink and a bathroom at Entebbe even though the bathroom was nasty. But washing my face cooled me off and calmed me down.

Amazed by the smooth roads in Qatar, the clean, well maintained vehicles, the many open gates after midnight and the distinct lack of armed guards roaming the streets.

Thankful for the spacious room in Qatar and especially for the free toothbrush. It really was a quality free toothbrush.

Confused by two water knobs in the shower and the sink. Apparently one is for hot water and one is for cold. Clever.

Thankful for my breakfast including white eggs that were larger than marbles.

Thankful for my wife’s idea to take melatonin on my 16-hour flight and that it worked, giving me 8 hours of sleep.

Thankful that my bags arrived in Las Vegas even though I had check my bags out, explain to customs why I had so much leather, convince them that I wasn’t around any cows (especially not mad ones), check my bags in and run to make my Vegas flight.

Thankful that Glenn found me at the airport despite the fact that my tracfone had no credit.

Thankful for (and amazed by) 7-Eleven where I got airtime, water and  “protein bars” even though the bars have way too much sugar and way too many carbs. But wow. 7-Eleven is staggeringly awesome.

Thankful that the Tuscany got me a room even though they cancelled my original reservation as a no-show Monday night.

Thankful that they eventually got me a non-smoking room.

Thankful for the out of this world dinner at the hotel with Rob, Glenn, Justin, Chris, Ben and his wife.  

Stunned by the out of this world steak (which I couldn’t finish) and the unbelievable salad and vegetables (which I obliterated).  Blue Cheese Dressing. Oh my oh my. I ate approximately 150 fork-dips or about one-fiftieth of an ounce. What an amazing delicacy. It took a lot of willpower not to just drink it.

Thankful that I mostly stuck to my diet since I left Uganda and thankful that at least one person noticed I lost a significant amount of weight. I’m not bothered by this. I’m proud of the three months of incredibly hard work and dedication it took to get here and I’m emotionally healthier, too.. The compliments aren’t a requirement anymore.

I really felt like home at BSides and DEFCON. It was nice to be in a place where people knew who I was, who took the time to talk to me, not because they wanted something but because they cared. This is a rare thing for me.

Charlie Brown (and team of Ron, DT, Justin) did a terrific job making HFC challenge coins for the con. They turned out really, REALLY great and they completely sold out!

Met DT, and got to work with him at the booth. He was really a terrific help.

I got to see my friend Bryce Alexander. It was goof to talk to him again. He is always an encouragement to me.

Baffled by the Bsides closing keynote. I battle corruption every single day, and his stories really didn’t faze me too much. I really felt like he brought a lot of this on himself. Don’t get me wrong, I feel for the guy, but 90% (or more) of the work live under corruption of some kind. I see it every day. It’s a big problem. But you don’t stick your finger sharply in the eye of high-level corrupt officials and then cry foul when they try to kill you. I hope he gets his stuff worked out, and that he gets some healthy perspective out of this. He could be a huge advocate for the oppressed, and I firmly believe he could use his knowledge to make a difference. Just not on this path and not with the silly ideas he’s implementing right now. Have him email me if you know him . I have ideas. ;-) Yes, his name is redacted to make this not a rant. If you know, you know.

SO VERY THANKFUL for the support and love of all the Bsides staff and volunteers. Much love.

Thankful we could get into Defcon vendor area early thanks to wiseacre. This made it easy to transfer all 20 of our boxes from Tuscany to RIO. Justin, Glenn, Dave, DT and I worked our butts off Wednesday night tearing down the booth and transferring it to RIO.

Thankful for a nice dinner and time to hang out with Glenn and Justin and have some time with Ben et al.

Thankful for Dragorn, Phil, John and Christine at black phone for the signed donated blackphones. Wow!

Offsec blew me away. They have been so generous, and truly like family to me, even though I haven’t been that good to them. They brought BOXES of Kali shirts to the booth and they sold out. They were far more popular than our own shirts! I have an email I’m posting later about Offsec.

Lost came by and once again BLEW MY DOORS OFF. HE’s donated black badges in the past that typically sell for $5,000+. But he brought unbelievable news this year. As of this year, black badges are NON-TRANSFERABLE. However, Jeff Moss and Lost decided to make the HFC black badges TRANSFERABLE. That’s a huge benefit and a great selling point for our auctioned badges.

Hak5 was kind enough to offer us the tactical Pineapple kit for auction. It was a huge draw in the auction. donated a lot of great gear for the auction, some practice locks for my kids and was kind enough to have me on the podcast. I had great fun!

“Val” has always been so generous to our family. She goes the extra mile to find and buy stuff for our kids. This year she really outdid herself, and brought a sketch tablet for my daughter, lots of digital cameras and a projector for use in Uganda, all packed in to a really nice suitcase which she let us keep. I was so blown away by her generosity!

I was really surprised to see the CSC Strikeforce at DEFCON. As many long-time followers know, I and a couple pals started the CSC StrikeForce nearly twenty years ago as a premier (and one of the only) professional high-caliber penetration testing teams. I was stunned to find out that the StrikeForce is still running after all these years. It meant a lot to meet these guys and was yet another validation that those years at CSC weren’t wasted. CSC was good to me, and I am thankful to have played a part in their current success. It was a humbling and exciting meeting for me!

Rob Fuller has always been a good friend. This year was no exception. He was kind enough to go on some gear runs for us, and bought an item from my kids wish list as well. We are going to really enjoy WatchDogs! I can’t wait to play it with my sons, or watch as they play it. :-)

Brian Blankenship has been another faithful supporter over the years. This year, he really surprised my by hitting a lot of items on our “beg” list. not only did he donate a used but recently refreshed 15” MacBook, but he also donated a load of digital cameras. As if that wasn’t cool enough, he also donated a 10” nexus tablet for our center. Wow! I explained that the laptop would likely go to one of my kids, as their laptops aren’t sufficient for their school work. He was more than ok with this, and excited to help.

Sparrows was our neighbor at the conference, and they were gracious enough to donate several kits to our auction. They sold really well!

Serepick was another of our neighbors and they donated kits for our auction, too. Their kits are always an auction favorite. But Matt did more than “show up” for the auction. He just kept giving and giving, donating locks and sets one after another, especially gear that my kids can use. He was also very gracious (again) with his time, giving me tips and techniques that were really worth while.

Eddie “the Yeti” Mize is such a talented artist and such a nice guy. He’s really blessed us this year, not only with the Faces of Defcon, but also with his Art For Charity fundraiser that generated a monster donation to HFC. I was stunned by the donation, but just as stunned by his talent. I bought a wicked cool steampunk violin print at his booth. Photos to come when it’s framed.

MohawkCon really put in a lot of sweat and hard work supporting us and EFF this year. Those gals work so hard making the con fun and interesting for so many folks. Our own Rob Dixon took part this year with a green mohawk! He looked great! Thank you all for the time, effort rand donation!

Mary Connely really put in a lot of effort on the new HFC shirts and flyers. The shirts did really well, and were a great hit, even though Muts insists that the Yiddish for “i hack charities” came out having something to do with “gynecology”. Oh dear. That was not our fault. I swear.

It was good to catch up with my friend Kevin Mitnick at the booth as well. We never seem to have enough time to catch up. He is gracious as always, funny and generous. He donated and signed copies of his books and his signature lock pick business cards for the DerbyCon auction.

My Board talked me into getting a laptop on this trip. I have been plugging along on donated equipment for quit a while, and it’s starting to cause multiple problems, especially with my power demands as I start to get back into Pen Testing. I’ve also been struggling to figure out how to get laptops for my kids as the approach college. The solution the Board proposed was to buy a laptop and trade down my existing laptop to the kids. They literally talked me into it as I couldn’t justify the expense initially, but in the end it made sense. I’ve never had such a nice laptop (13” MBP Retina 512/8) and I’m dedicated to being a good steward of it. It’s also great to have a “clean start”. I’m so thankful. I’m also thankful to Paul and Ric at the Fashion Show Apple Store. They were absolutely terrific, spent extra time with me and helped provide out-of-warranty replacements for other Apple gear I lugged in from Africa. Real professionals, and hurray to Apple for AMAZING customer service time and time again!

W.J Davis is a name I honestly didn’t remember, but we met many many years ago at Blackhat and he was struggling. I prayed for him in the wings at that con and God answered that prayer. W.J really has turned around and God worked a miracle in his life. IT was such an encouragement to see him at DEFCON.

I’m thankful to DEFCON for the donated table and all the AMAZING support year after year.

I got to see my friend Jack Daniels, although I wish it was under better circumstances. I’m really praying for his wife, and the challenges they are facing together. Expecting a miracle.

Thankful for William Pribble who was kind enough to respond to our wish list and our beg list in multiple ways, and also to Joshua Richard who donated several flash drives for the beg list.

I’m thankful for Steve Topletz who brought over a dozen (!) android phones and a pile of SD cards and USB sticks for our training center’s new Android development course, and also put in a ton of work on the DEFCON counterfeit badge contest, which produced some amazing results.

James Bray, who has been a major hardware contributor in the past, stepped in again with another killer donation of iPads, a projector, a hard drive and more for our computer training center’s new iOS developer program. He also donated two 7” android tablets for the Android development program. Wow!

Jamison was also kind enough to send us some USB drives for the training center as well. Super cool!

Phil over at BRCK was kind enough to send a BRCK to DEFCON for us to demo. We had a lot of discussion about the BRCK and found lots of interested volunteers who want to start helping out with the BRCK projects.

We were also blessed by many many folks who donated to our auction, including Nova Hackers Badge from NOVA Hackjers, BlackPhone from BlackPhone, Badges and hat from Renderman, US navy crypto coin from haxorthematrix, Defcon 22 video stream, thotcon framed shirt from thotcon, skate deck from jackalope, Security weekly bundle from Security Weekly, H.O.P.E badges from Renderman, Metasploit book & t- shirts from Dave Kennedy (trustedsec), vendetta mug from ronin, offset coin / poster / t-shirts from Offensive Security, Tactical Pineapple from Hak5, Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking book from Chris Hadnagy, Owl lot from OWL, Survival backpack from Almost Human, SE CTF banner from SE CTF, ”Nickerson Bag” from “Anonymous”

Last but CERTAINLY not least, I am thankful for Glenn, Sam and Ben who do so much between and during the conferences to make all this happen. Sam really shines with the 501(c)3 cover, the finances, and the “Chief Responsibility Officer” who keeps things stable when I’m off “having all the fun”. Glenn has always been a presence at the booth, to help organize, and when energy allows, doing all sort of other things that most of us don’t consider at all fun. He also takes care of the T-Shirts, and this year drove to the con, hauling all our boxes and even picking up the T-Shirt order. These guys are indispensable and I can never thank them enough. David Vaugn has also been a huge help, arranging transport for our cases, and helping to organize them. We simply wouldn’t have stuff if not for David. It’s too much to haul.

I’d also like to thank Justin Brown, Charlie Brown, Llew Browne, Ron Brown, Georgeann and Keith Pachulski, Jp Dunning, Karthik Rangarajan, Ben Huey and Dt Holder who basically gave up their DEFCON experience to help at the booth. They worked really, REALLY hard, and things got so crazy but they kept at it. I was really humbled to have their help and presence. Thank you guys!

Overall, I was humbled and surprised at the overwhelming show of support at DEFCON. Everyone really pitched in to make it a super-successful show. I’m usually just worn out when I travel, but I’m energized after DEFCON this year and excited to get back to work here in Uganda.

Thank you all again!