Come see me at Defcon!

I'm speaking at Defcon this weekend in Las Vegas: my talk, "Fighting Back in the War on General Purpose Computers," is tomorrow (Friday) at 11AM in track 3, followed immediately by a signing at the No Starch Press table in the Champagne Ballroom at the Paris hotel. Read the rest

Going to DEFCON? EFF's got your back

The Electronic Frontier Foundation always has a huge presence at Las Vegas's DEFCON, but this year, we're hosting our first-ever badge-hack contest! Read the rest

Sequel to my "General Purpose Computation" talk coming up in Vegas, San Francisco

I've written a sequel to my talk The Coming War on General Purpose Computing, called "The Coming Civil War Over General-Purpose Computing," which I'll be delivering twice this summer: first on July 28 at DEFCON in Las Vegas, and then on July 31 in San Francisco at a Long Now Foundation SALT talk, jointly presented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. As far as I know, both talks will be online, along with slides (a rarity for me -- I normally hate doing slides, but I had a good time with it this time around). Read the rest

Secret history of the near-construction of a lifesized Starship Enterprise in downtown Las Vegas

Gary Goddard tells the story of the near-construction of a life-sized Starship Enterprise replica in downtown Las Vegas. Goddard successfully bid to build the attraction as part of the 1992 competition to revitalized Vegas's sagging downtown and bring back tourist traffic that had been sucked away by the strip, but the project was scuttled at the last minute when Stanley Jaffe, then CEO of Paramount, got cold feet. The Enterprise was scrapped and replaced by the "Fremont Street Experience," which stands there today.

The “big idea” was building the ship itself at full-scale. That was the main attraction. That being said, we also knew we would have to have some kind of “show” on board. So, conceptually, it was to be a “tour” of the ship, with all of the key rooms, chambers, decks, and corridors that we knew from the movie. There was to be the dining area for the ship’s crew (where you could dine in Star Fleet comfort), and other special features. There were also one or two interesting ride elements that we were considering including a high-speed travelator that would whisk you from deck to deck. But we were really just getting into the show aspects when everything came to a head. During this time, as we were working out the conceptual design and plan, a licensing contract was negotiated for Paramount Studios with the terms and conditions, including a substantial rights payment up front, and on-going revenue participation, all subject to the approval of the Studio Chairman, which “would not be a problem” if the project was approved.

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Tim Powers's Last Call: a mind-altering journey into superstition, Vegas style

I just got through re-reading Tim Power's World Fantasy Award-winning 1996 novel Last Call, which is truly one of the triumphs of modern fantasy literature. Powers, one of Philip K Dick's three proteges (the others are James Blaylock and KW Jeter), is a tremendous writer, and his whole catalog deserves your attention, but even against the field of standout Powers novels, Last Call stands out further.

Last Call's premise, at its core, is that Bugsy Siegel built Las Vegas in order to become a living avatar of the Fisher King, but that he was prevented by doing this when a French mystic named Georges Leon assassinated him, stole his head from the morgue, tossed it into Lake Mead, and set about turning his sons into mindless soldiers in his mystic army by conducting dark rituals involving a handpainted Tarot deck that could drive you mad.

One of Leon's sons survives, though he loses his eye to his father's violence, and his dying mother smuggles him away from his father and tosses him, blindly, over the transom of a passing yacht on a trailer. He is found by a professional gambler, Ozzie Crane, who raises Scott as his foster son, and later adopts another girl, Diana, and raises her as his foster sister. From Ozzie, Scott learns of the gambler's mysticisms and superstitions: fold out your hand when the smoke gathers in the middle of the table or the drinks in the glass start to sit off-level, lest you buy or sell more than what's in the pot. Read the rest

Control-freaky dress code at a boutique

From a recent trip to Vegas, a clandestine photo of a directive to employees at a boutique in Caesar's Palace from a crazy, crazy control freak.
As this is more flip flops. You cannot wear Sindys, Cintias or Ladys by themselves.This should be a no-brainer. Dark denim jeans. No Exceptions. We work for a high-end fashion company.

Your hair should be styled. You must wear makeup to work. You need to have a manicure and a pedicure. No broken nails and toenails unpolished. Do not come to work looking unkempt.

Especially piquant is the ritual of requiring each employee to sign, like a perp signing a confession that's been beaten out of him.

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