Monday, November 23, 2020

Speaking at Conferences, 2020 edition

As you can imagine, 2020 has been a very "different" year, for a lot of reasons, and impacts of the events of the year have extended far and wide.  One of the impacts is conference attendance, and to address this, several conferences have opted to go fully virtual. 

The Open Source Digital Forensics Conference (OSDFCon) is one such conference.  You can watch this year's conference via YouTube, or view the agenda with presentation PDFsBrian and his team (and his hair!) at BasisTech did a fantastic job of pulling together speakers and setting up the infrastructure to hold this conference completely online this year.

Speakers submitted pre-recorded presentations, and then during the time of their presentation, accessed the Discord channel set up for their talk in order to answer questions and generally interact with those viewing the presentation.

I've attended (in person) and spoken at this conference in the past, and I've thoroughly enjoyed the mix of presentations and attendees. This time around, presenting was very different, particularly given that I wasn't doing so in a room filled with people.  I tend to prefer speaking and engaging in person, as well as observing micro-expressions and using those to draw people out, as more often than not, what they're afraid to say or ask is, in reality, extremely impactful and insightful.  

In many ways, an online virtual conference is no different from an in-person event.  In both cases, you're going to have your vocal folks who overwhelm others.  A good example of this was the Discord channel for my talk; even before I logged in for the presentation, someone had already posted a comment about textbooks for DFIR courses.  I have to wonder, much like an "IRL" conference, how many folks were in the channel but were afraid to make a statement or ask a question.

Overall, I do think that the pandemic will have impacts that extend far beyond the wide-spread distribution of a vaccine.  One thought is that this is an interesting opportunity for those doing event planning to re-invent what they do, if not their industry.  Even after we move back to in-person meetings and conferences, there will still be significant value in holding virtual or hybrid events, and planning for such an event to be seamless and easy to access for the target audience will likely become an industry unto itself.

Addendum, 24 Nov: Here is the link to the video for my presentation.

Other videos:
Video for Brian's RDPiece presentation 
Asif's Investigating WSL presentation
Linux Forensics for IoT

Addendum, 27 Nov: This morning, I uploaded my slides for the OSDFCon and Group-IB CyberCrimeCon 2020 presentations.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Happy Birthday, Marine Corps!


I thought today of all days would be a good time to break from tradition and share a post that has nothing to do with DFIR or Windows, one that isn't technical, nor related to computers. 

Some of you may be aware that once, in a galaxy far, far away, I was a Marine officer.  I was commissioned out of college, and served for a total of eight years.  During that time, I attended some interesting birthday ball events.  

There was the year that I was the commander of the cake detail, in charge three other Marines as we escorted the "cake" to the proper location in the ballroom. The guest of honor, and the oldest Marine in the room, was PX Kelley.  The youngest Marine was a 2ndLt on the cake detail.  That's the year that I learned a little secret, that the 'cake' isn't really cake. The vast majority of what looks like a cake is actually plywood decorated with icing.  For the 'cake' we were escorting, the second tier of the 'cake' was ringed with small USMC flags, with a small US flag marking the left and right borders of what was actually cake.

There was the year when, for some reason, the birthday ball venue included a stage, and a ramp was constructed for the cake detail to escort the cake up to the stage for the ceremony.  I'm sure that the detail practiced moving a gurney but apparently they did so without an actual cake, because when the detail got to the top of the ramp during the ceremony, the two lead Marines realized that they needed to actually lift the cake, as there was a lip at the top of the ramp.  When they did so, the gurney beneath the cake was freed, and rolled back down the ramp.  Much hilarity ensued as the two trailing Marines, being downhill, realized that they weren't going to be holding the cake for long.  Fortunately, several Marines in the audience jumped into action and rescued the detail.

There was the year when the commanding general droned on and on, as general officers are want to do. In fact, the general went on for so long that several Marines in the ceremony (who apparently had 'celebrated' prior the ceremony) began passing out.  One of the senior Marines, who was later my boss, passed out...twice.  He was caught the first time, before he completely pitched over, and took a seat for a few minutes at a table.  Then he got up, got back into the formation, went to the position of attention, and apparently locked his knees again, because within seconds he began pitching back and forth.  After the first instance, those of us seating at tables near the ceremony set up "fields of fire" and began watching those in the ceremony closely, looking for eyes rolling back, knees buckling, etc.

However, the most memorable birthday ball occurred in Nov, 1990, as units that had participated in Operation Valiant Blitz returned to Okinawa from Pohang, South Korea.  I was temporarily assigned to the USS Duluth as the billeting officer, and was responsible for the billeting of 217 Marines, as well as several officers and staff NCOs.  On 10 Nov 1990, at 23:45, the ship's platoon assembled in the mess for mid-rats and the birthday celebration. The Navy cooks had made a big sheet cake, that apparently had been subject to the rolling of the ocean; one end of the cake had about an inch of cake, and an inch of icing, while the other end had two inches of cake and just the slightest layer of icing.  For most of the young Marines on board, I don't think it mattered...and I hope that the those 18- and 19-year-olds who were there realized that they were part of a tradition reaching back more than 200 years.

So, to all past, present, and future Marines...Happy Birthday!