Tag Archives: conference

IBM Serves Up Malware at Security Conference

Over the past week, heavy hitters in the computer security field attended the AusCERT conference in Australia. This prestigious conference brings together some of the most important companies and innovations in computer security – and the people who use the services and products out in the field every day. This is serious business, folks, and it’s likely a good idea for anyone attending to have their game face on.

Instead of a game face, IBM walked away with egg plastered all over their mugs. While a company representative was on stage lecturing attendees about the importance of protecting against malware, their co-workers were handing out malware-ridden USB sticks at a vendor table in the hallway.

IBM was in attendance to show off their dominance and dedication to security. A screw-up of this magnitude is going to put their future credibility in that department on the line. Those who had attended the conference were told about the problem in a warning email this afternoon, sent by IBM Australia chief technologist Glenn Wightwick. “Unfortunately we have discovered that some of these USB keys contained malware and we suspect that all USB keys may be affected. The malware is detected by the majority of current Anti Virus products [as at 20/05/2010] and been known since 2008. The malware is known by a number of names and is contained in the setup.exe and autorun.ini files. It is spread when the infected USB device is inserted into a Microsoft Windows workstation or server whereby the setup.exe and autorun.ini files run automatically.”

If someone has already inserted the USB drive into their machine, they are pretty much S.O.L. Hopefully they had an anti-virus product installed and updated which caught it. If not, they’re going to have to manually fix this little bugger. Fix instructions in the email show someone how to clean the files, and then suggests that a full backup and operating system restore should be done. Yes… it’s that important.

It is beyond my comprehension how this could possibly have happened. If you are a leader in the field attending a conference full of other leaders… aren’t you going to make damn sure that everything is in proper working order? Did no one think to test these? This only came to light after one conference-goer went home and popped the device into his computer… becoming infected, of course. The damage control on this is going to be a mess.

Yet another lesson in why you have to protect your machines. It does not matter how “smart” you are when you are online. You can – and likely will, at some point – become infected.

Affordable Technology Conferences

Via Jared Fretwell:

I think I have an idea for one of your upcoming YouTube videos. As a young technology enthusiast, I started to think of more interactive ways to get involved with the world of technology. After watching some of your Gnomedex conference videos, I started to do more research on similar conferences to yours. One of the other leading conferences I came across was the Web 2.0 Summit. However, once I saw the price tag for attending one of these events, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to afford to attend any of these conferences off my wages working at Best Buy. So with that said, why do these conferences cost so much money to attend? I understand that the planners of the conference buy all kinds of goodies for the guests, but is that the main reason? I’m guess the rest goes to paying the guest speakers? How can a 19 year old like myself get around to attending one of these beneficial/expensive events? Are there more cost thoughtful ones I can look into? Till then, I’ll just stick to watching the recordings of all the keynotes on YouTube!

You know, having been a part of the conference production process, I can tell you that it’s extremely time consuming. What you experience at a typical event happens due to months of coordination and planning by several individuals and teams.

It costs money because… well, THINGS cost money.

You have to decide (for yourself) if the value that an event provides you is above and beyond what it would cost you to attend. However, simply “watching videos online” doesn’t do an event justice – you’re getting 10% of what a conference provides.

“Expensive” is relative.

Conferences are valuable not because of the content on stage, but the connections made with the crowd. You might argue that the same “feel” can be seen in a comment thread or two, but… well, a YouTube comment thread is about as valuable as a festering bowl of dog snot.

Free events are great, too – but with no cost filtering in place, you’ll often be rubbing shoulders with bozos instead of bingos; a few dollars often separate wheat from the chaff. “Free admission” is often shrugged off as something lacking value.

My suggestion for anybody serious about making a business in the world of technology is to get the f*** out of their house. You have to meet people in real life, you have to be seen on the scene. You also don’t want to be known as the person who only sees value in free (or comped) events – what would that say about you and your business practices?

Social Media for Business in Hawaii

I was fortunate to be a presenter at Next Level Hawaii last weekend. Kelly Mitchell and her team did a fantastic job of putting this conference together.

The folks behind Believe and Succeed grabbed several excellent behind-the-scenes clips from both attendees and presenters. This particular mini-interview with Geoff Livingston is informative, interesting and funny.

Geoff said that this was his second trip to the Islands, and he absolutely loves being there. He notes (as I always do) that the people are what makes Hawaii so amazing. He felt this conference was a great tool to help coordinate the different things that people are doing socially on the different islands that make up Hawaii.

Even though people may be a part of the same state, they may not always talk to each other. Bringing them together by using social media sites can have a huge impact on the way that they can do business.

I have to thank Bruce and his team at Hawaii Aloha for helping me once again make the trip down to paradise.

Did SXSW Interactive Panels Fail to Entertain?

This article was written by a guest blogger. B. Imei Hsu is a nurse / psychotherapist, dance artist, and Yoga instructor. When she’s not in session in her private practice, she’s wondering whether her cat needs his own QR code. For more info, contact her at [email protected]. Both Imei and her cat live in Seattle, WA.

[Editor’s Note: I happen to agree with what Imei is about to lay down. That, and I’m very grateful for AMD’s sponsorship to help me get to SXSW last week.]

Are panels, workshops, presentations, and keynote addresses at one of America’s biggest web development, film, and music festivals supposed to entertain the masses? Is a part of the dollar value of our interactive passes mapped to an expectation that the audience – that I, as a n00b and newcomer to Social Media – would be engaged, encouraged to laugh, and occasionally led to the edge of tears?

With the amount of alcohol, food, and over–the-top parties, maybe I’m off on this one. Maybe we were only self-medicating with food and drink to better tolerate the bored masses of speakers, interviewers, and trade show representatives. Maybe the elaborate dinners were only there to distract us from the festival itself.

It’s been said that SXSW Interactive Is Dead – and reasons have been given Why SXSW Sucks.

I had heard rumors of outside SXSW pass groups: groups that had formed to take advantage of the convention without laying down the high price of a full pass to any formal aspect of the event. And indeed, I ran into a man who said he had formed a highly-popular fringe group for Facebook, only to have it shut down because of infringement rights. The organizer claimed that there were plenty of other more interesting aspects to attend at SXSW than the official meetings, trade show, and parties opened to pass-holders only.

But wait. I cracked open my swag bag on Day 2 and almost sliced open my bare foot with the corner of the SXSW Interactive program. Heavier than a phone book, the program guide was clothed in Bing-like orange regalia, its insides accessorized with slick ads for every tech company’s biggest parties for the week, and a listing of each registrant, volunteer, and presentation description. The “mini me” program cheat sheet was equally organized, replete with a centerfold convention map. Nothing says sexy like knowing where you’re going. Or where the blogger lounge is so you can get some bleu cheese and a plastic cup o’ wine with that last post you’re flying through.

More impressive, the QR code on the pass allowed participants to check into various locations and be easily followed by others, making communication and tracking a snap. With an iPhone, My.SXSW, Twitter, and Foursquare, it was a stalker’s paradise. On the streets at night, I kept thinking that my first iPhone app needs to be a proximity detector to prevent users from falling off a sidewalk or bumping into other pedestrians as their faces were glued to their screens, making sure they (and a few hundred others) would wind up in the same crowded bar, shouting at each other and complaining about the lack of chill places to hang out.

Here’s my problem: why go through all that administrative trouble, design, and organization, only to overlook one of the more disappointing experiences of the entire conference: boring presenters and/or interviewers?

This is by far not an official survey, but I executed my own casual query about the lack of quality presentations to nearly every person I encountered. Here were the top five answers in no particular order:

  1. The presenters were poorly prepared, or did not appear to have prepared (i.e. no microphones, no questions for the audience, quiet voices, too much personal banter off-topic).
  2. The presenters did not stick to the topic of the presentation.
  3. The presentation failed to entertain.
  4. The presenter or interviewer did not engage his/her audience.
  5. The presenter allowed the outspoken audience members to dominate and take control of the presentations, veering the topic off course to crash and burn.

Again, maybe because I’m a n00b, I am expecting too much. I wanted every panel to be as unpretentious and transparent as, “How Not To Be A Douchebag at SXSW,” and every keynote to be as engaging as Danah Boyd’s. I wished for every tech-oriented presentation to use the tools like “Wow, That’s Cool… Fun with HTML5 Video,” and every panelist to be as humorous, compassionate, and on-target as the two women at “Be Your Own Boss: Create a Life You Love.” I was not expecting myself to wonder if I wouldn’t have better luck sipping a Macallan 12 year-old Scotch as I sat through a number of surprisingly uninteresting presentations.

Conferences in the health care world are equally problematic for me.

Every two years, I must complete 36 hours of continuing education units (CEUs) to renew my license as a mental health counselor. Six of these units must cover the topic of legal and ethical issues – and let me tell you, they are usually some of the most boring ones out there. Most of us buy a CEU courses to meet those six CEU requirements; we simply crank out the answers, collect our CEUs, and look for the nearest painkiller.

If you attend a live conference, you could be purchasing six hours of torture on the level of emergency dentistry without anesthesia.

I’ve always wondered what would happen if we brought a highly-trained attorney together with a comedian and taught the same subject. I can only imagine my fellow colleagues laughing so hard, they wouldn’t be worrying about what scares them the most about caring for mentally ill clients in an age of litigation.

What’s the solution? I can no longer honor people for simply showing up the way I used to. I’m only going to honor those who show up with their full presence AND some training on how to engage and entertain the audience that really has come to learn.

Here are a few tips that would have made the difference for this n00b:

  1. Use the technology. If you have a microphone, practice using it. If you have a PowerPoint presentation (PPP), make it relevant, photo-rich, and free of excessive words and endless bulletpoints.
  2. Define terms. It’s easy to be immersed in your culture and language whilst estranging the very people you are there to educate: new users, late adopters, and the not-already convinced.
  3. Take a speech or voice class. Better yet, brush up on your acting. Acting is a craft that teaches you how to engage an audience, whether live or remote.
  4. Do a run-through at a smaller venue. Get feedback. Record yourself. Look for POI’s (points of improvement). Noodle with it.
  5. If you don’t think a solo has enough weight to it, see if you can’t combine with someone else who the brings the best out of you. Tandem might be better than solo. See #4. Test it.
  6. Share a telling example of your work, product, or service. Use the tools: film clips, audio, screencasts, digital reproduction, music, etc. These help your audience emotionally connect with you and your passion. But make sure it is VISIBLE and AUDIBLE in the room you’re using. Please.
  7. Don’t be afraid to entertain. The beauty of Schoolhouse Rock! was the simple idea that grammar could be fun. Find your angle. Let us laugh with you.

Getting behind the microphone and in front of the camera should be seen as a privilege, even though most of us own digital cameras and sound equipment. Maybe if we saw our roles as entertainers and educators – and not just media “rawk stars” – we’d attract the right kinds of engaging presenters and interviewers to present at SXSW 2011.

And I’d be happy to beat a path to the front of that line.

Do You Have a Question for AMD?

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I am here in Austin, Texas to attend the SXSW Conference, thanks to the support of AMD. As a part of my trip, I will be visiting their campus tomorrow!

Here’s your chance to ask a question of the folks at AMD / ATI! If you leave a comment or question (using proper PUGS!), there’s a good change we’ll get a representative to answer it in a video!

Get your questions ready, and leave them as a comment on the YouTube video that this post was created from so I’ll be sure to see it!

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SXSW Conference Tips

I will be attending SXSW in just a few weeks. While this isn’t my first time, I’ve only been able to get there once before. Since this event is so huge, I sort of feel like a newb! There is a lot to see and do while at this conference, and I know that many people are confused as heck about what to do, where to go, and who to see! This guide done by C.C. Chapman is sure to help all of us figure out what’s what while we’re in Texas!

During my last trip to SXSW, I was fortunate to be able to talk with Hugh Forest, the Executive Director of the event. It’s always good to get the perspective of the person responsible for building a show like SXSW to get a sense for where the conference came from and where it’s headed in the future. The podcast version of that discussion is still available in my archives – along with the rest of my articles from that week.

The biggest piece of advice that C.C. has for us is that if we’re going to try and set up any type of meeting, do it over breakfast. Since there is so much going on at all times, breakfast seems to be the only time of the day you can really control to your advantage. People are awake, they’re ready to go… and they’re usually willing to talk. At the end of the day, they’re tired, their nerves are shot, and you’re not going to get very good information (or video footage!).

Another piece of advice that he has is to leave your laptop in the hotel, and pack for the day as light as you can. The conference center itself is unbelievably HUGE. There is going to be a lot of walking, and you don’t want to bog yourself down. Do your back a favor – don’t lug around a lot of equipment today. Keep your phone on you, yes… and perhaps a small video recorder. Beyond that, just be comfortable!

Make sure you take the time to say hello to everyone you see. You never know when the woman standing off by herself for a few moments may be someone who could greatly impact your future. At SXSW, there are musicians, actors, startup companies and everyone in between in attendance. Take the time to smile and just say a big howdy! Talk to the person next to you in each session. If there’s someone you want to meet, go say hello. You may feel they are too busy for you, but just take a chance.

Make sure the address book in your phone is up-to-date. If there are people you have contact information for that may be attending… make sure you have them in your phone. It will be much easier to find them come conference time!

Most of all… have FUN. Enjoy every moment of your time at this amazing conference.

I will be recording interviews during my time at SXSW, thanks to my awesome sponsor, AMD!

Daynah, iPhone Girl Geek!

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Traci Toguchi was in Vegas last week, covering the CES conference for us. While, there, she hooked up with Daynah, who was kind enough to help record some of the videos. Daynah is a hard-core Geekette to the max, boys… She’s a PHP coder, a gadget junkie and a WordPress guru!

Daynah works for iProng Magazine, where they write about anything and everything related to iPhones. Daynah has been to CES in the past, and was duly impressed this year. As a gadget geek, she was excited by all of the awesome things she got to play with on the floor this year.

Being an iPhone fanatic at heart, Daynah was ecstatic to see all of the goodies on display at CES that all related to the iPhone. She picked up several new things, including something to do with Hello Kitty. I’m not so sure I want to know what that is all about, Daynah!

This year, Daynah is looking forward to Macworld, which is coming up in just a few weeks! Knowing Daynah, I know she’ll be seventh Heaven while she’s there!

Thanks to Creative for sending Traci the awesome Vado3 to use for recording purposes. It made things much easier on her!

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Natasha, Art Girl Geek

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Traci Toguchi was in Las Vegas during this past week, covering the Consumer and Electronics Show for us. While attending an after-party hosted by Robert Scoble, Traci ran into Natasha Wescoat, who happens to be a friend of mine! Natasha is an Art Geek in the true sense. Not only is she an amazing artist… she’s also a true techie Geek! What more could you ask for? I have to give props to our friend Daynah for the camera work during this video… using an awesome Vado 3 that Creative sent to Traci for this purpose.

Natasha loves attending conferences, especially CES. She is obsessed with gadgets in general. She was also chosen to be a Ford Fiesta Agent. This involves spending 6 months behind the wheel of their own Fiesta, lifestreaming their experiences, and completing monthly missions to show you what the Fiesta is all about.

At one point, she created a unique – and amazing!! – art print of my dogs, Wicket and Pixie. The print was auctioned off, and the proceeds were given to a local animal shelter. That was an amazing experience for me, and we had a lot of fun trying to get the dogs to cooperate! I’m not sure the pups will ever lose the ego boost they gained from being turned into something that will be appreciated forever.

Natasha states that she is always inspired by whatever place she happens to find herself in. She manages to find something beautiful everywhere she looks. Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if everyone could do that?

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Who is iJustine?

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Traci was in Las Vegas last week to cover the CES conference for us. While there, she was able to catch up with none other than iJustine while attending Robert Scoble’s Blogger Party. Justine was, as always, fun and insightful. It ws the first time that Traci and Justine had met in person, which was apparently icing on the cake for Traci! Thanks so much to Daynah for working the Vado 3 that Creative provided to Traci for this conference.

Justine feels that this year, CES was ramped up quite a lot from what it was last year, and was having a great time. When she attends conferences, she doesn’t normally have an agenda of any kind. She just prefers to keep her options open, meet people she’s only ever talked to online, and reconnect with old friends!

Traci was asked to find out what Justine’s favorite snack is. When you guessed the answer, were you even close? I know I wasn’t!

Thanks again, Traci, for handling things so well for us during the conference!

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