26c3 Backstage

26c3 is over. Go see what you missed – it’s all there. During the last hours I went to see what the people behind the stages thought of this year’s congress.

A group that is hardly noticed by the general public is the kitchen crew: they prepare food for some 350 ‘Angels’, approx. 10% of all participants. ‘Angels’ are the helpers of the CCC events. They still have to pay for their ticket like everyone else and trade their work for food and a conference t-shirt. When asked what their goal was the kitchen crew said: we make the angels happy! And they believe that they succeeded by about 80%. Mostly this is done by preparing sandwiches – cooked food is prepared only for putting everything up and taking things down. Next year the kitchen crew would rather not share a room with the press group, they said, because it’s hard to reduce preparing food to non-interview times. While everyone in CCC says there really in favor of having the congress at the bcc also most everyone complained about space really being a problem…

Next to kitchen and press in the back of the ground floor is C.E.R.T., the Chaos Emergency Response Team. They, too, are satisfied with the general health and fire emergency situation, no serious injuries at the congress and one or the other burning ash trays, that was it. Most common problem are people who don’t sleep, don’t drink enough water and eventually start not feeling well at all. CERT also are the people who make sure that the aisles are kept free when talks are happening and seem quite confident about this role. But “We’re not genuinely evil – there’s reasons!”. Their wish for 2010: more showers. Both for others who get smelly after a while and for the CERT team members who don’t really get to go home:

“This year everyone was peaceful and cooperative and also they didn’t blow anything up.”

Speakers Room Across the hall is the speaker’s room where speakers can relax, leave their stuff and find all kinds of technical assistance. I’ve greatly admired the speaker’s room team for keeping perfectly calm in any kind of situation before. Also for them this year has been easy – no serious trouble except for one talk on day four that had to be cancelled because someone pulled the power plug from a old IBM machine that needs two hours to boot. They were happy to have had a sofa for the first time, about the friendly speakers and would appreciate less problems concerning ticket sales: sometimes speakers bring people who like to see that specific talk and then can’t get in – unpleasant for everyone involved.

Radioraum Also widely unnoticed is the radio group, hidden behind the stairs of the top floor. Their recorded interviews are broadcast by different independent radios across Germany.

Much more visible is the Phone Operation Center, or POC. They run both a DECT phone network and – for the first time – a GSM (mobile phone) network, made just for the conference. Anyone who registers either their cordless or mobile phone can make calls to other registered conference participants free of charge. Numbers can be pre-registered at eventphone.de and there’s even a phone book. This year approx. 900 DECT phones were registered plus some 500 GSM phones. To the POC team it felt as if less people attended the congress – maybe due to less tickets that were sold? (This was contradicted in the closing event when an announcement was made that this was the biggest congress ever). They didn’t have the impression that the fact that both DECT and GSM phones can be listend in to had an influence during the last four days. The option that phones can be tapped isn’t all new. The phone people, generally 5 – 10 at the different CCC events, always come early because DECT phones are needed already to set everything up: These phones that are used for general organisational purposes, have four digit numbers starting with a 1, while everybody else gets numbers from 2000 on upwards. It is also possible to register EPVPN numbers that can be taken home to be used via Voice IP. All in all the POC crew was happy and has no wishes left to fulfill.


There’s many more people who work behind the scenes – couldn’t talk to them all, but there’s always a next congress. See you at SIGINT in May..

By Anne Roth, who was guest-blogging for the CCC