A few months ago some friends of mine asked if I wanted to head to NYC for a conference. At the time, I knew very little of HOPE (Hackers on Planet Earth), the biennial hacker conference put on by 2600. Honestly, I had no idea what to really expect, I was just told to show up at the Hotel Pennsylvania and prepare for a long weekend.
Midway through the first day, I'd already decided that this would not be my only HOPE.
It's exactly what you want out of a Con: an eclectic mix of people from all over, brought to one place by their love of hacking, here to share what they love with each other. There are panels for Makers, panels on web security, panels on telecommunications, panels on whistleblowing, and even some cool "look what I made!" panels. Given the recent revelations about government surveillance, much of this year is devoted on how to properly maintain confidentiality and privacy in communications. And of course, topical as ever, the keynote began with Daniel Ellsberg and finished with a teleconference with Edward Snowden.
So far, the panels I've seen have been interesting and enlightening. The people have been open and friendly, always excited to share and learn from each other. The one complaint I would have is the hotel itself; while it's historic, it seems barely maintained.
The best part? If you'd like to play along at home, all the panels are available online via live streams. I highyly recommend them.