Rubicon 2001

April 2001: I attended my first Rubicon in Detroit, Michigan this year and it was a very entertaining event. I managed to drag along St. Louis 2600 attendee Wraith with me. From St. Louis it was a 9 hour drive to Detroit so we woke up around 4am so we could get there around the beginning of the con. The drive was more or less uneventful. We listened to lots of CDs and our average speed was 80MPH. With the time zone change (losing an hour) we ended up arriving at the con around 2:30pm. We only took one wrong turn once was got into Detroit, quickly recovered and found the Ramada Inn easily.

Everyone seems to have this horrible picture of Detroit in their minds, like it’s the most dangerous city on the face of the earth, you’ll be dodging gunfire immediately as you enter the city, you’ll get your ass beat if you get out of your car, etc. This, of course, isn’t true and Detroit isn’t much different than any other city in the States.

Rubicon’s Ramada Inn, however, wasn’t located in the nicest part of town you could hope for. And I can’t say it’s the nicest hotel I’ve ever seen. It looks like it was last decorated in the late 1970’s. Only 2 of the six elevators worked so we ended up taking the stairs a lot. The stairwells smelled like piss, the lower floors smelled musty like basements. This hotel was huge, it was just a little ghetto looking. But this was okay since con attendees spent a lot of time tagging the walls and causing minor destruction. The hotel staff probably didn’t even notice much out of the ordinary.

We didn’t do a whole lot on Friday, just kind of walked around meeting people, listened in on a few of the talks (well, Wraith listened, I mostly played MahJongg on my Palm) and hung around in the network room hooking up my laptop and playing around on the net. I felt kind of retarded for driving 9 1/2 hours to sit around and surf the net. Wraith broke open our room’s phone jack and there were an extra unused 10 or so wires inside the box. We hoped that at least one pair would give us the dial tone for another room but had no luck finding anything.

I got to meet RijilV, Jim and a few of the other con organizers and they were nice enough to pimp my lame PLA tshirts all weekend for me. Then later when we saw people walking around wearing the PLA tshirts we would laugh at them, point and throw things at them calling them stupid PLA lamers. We made 2 people cry and we got beat up once.

We had a lot of fun doing immature, juvinille things like bouncing super balls out of our 11th story window to see how far they’d bounce. After using them all up we ran across the street and retrieved most of them from the grass in front of the AT&T building. Then we duct-taped some fishing line around one and started bouncing the ball continuously off of all the other windows around us. But nobody ever stuck their head out to yell at us so that got boring. Eventually we started lowering the ball to the ground level trying to whack random people in the head but Wraith got the fishing line wrapped around some high voltage wires. We pulled as hard as we could but it was stuck for good. Wraith let the string go and the ball is probably still hanging from some lightpost wires today.

On Saturday night my room got rooted. Me and Wraith were hanging out in the room and causing the usual problems for people down on the sidewalk. We decided to go downstairs for awhile so we left our room and headed towards the elevators. As we rounded the corner about 7 people passed us heading the other direction. We hear one of them say, “Hey, was that Redboxchilipepper??” I reply quickly, “No, there’s no RBCP at this con!” and quickly press the elevator buttons to go downstairs.

One of them comes back around the corner and says, “Wait a second come with us! We have something to show you..” So me and Wraith obeyed them and followed them down the hall. They led us straight to our room and let themselves inside with a key. I was suddenly glad that I came with them. I never did really catch any of their names, but they hung out in the room for awhile and then we all left. It turns out that one of them must have gone to the front desk and said something along the lines of, “Hi I’m Brad Carter. I lost my key and I don’t remember what room I’m in.” The front desk people apparently weren’t the brightest people on Earth and happily furnished them with a spare key and my room number.

Several hours later I found out that my Yahoo email had also been compromised. Someone wrote my username and password on a wall near the network room. Throughout the weekend I’d been hooking my Windows 98 laptop to the network and checking my Yahoo mail. I realized at the time that this was a bad idea, being that I was on a network full of hackers and I was running ’98. But I did it anyway and changed my password each night. My current password was written on the wall though and a broke down in tears as I read it crying “WHY?! WHY!?!” Then I immediately called home and said, “Er, um, Colleen could you log into my Yahoo account and change my password for me?” The hackers were at least nice enough not to change my password and lock me out of the account. That would have been a pain in the ass. So anyway, I think that I hold at least one record at Rubicon – Person Most R00ted In One Weekend!

The few talks that I actually wanted to attend I didn’t get to because the schedules seemed to be all messed up or running behind or something. Hopefully I’ll get to listen to them on mp3 when gets them up there. We decided to leave rather early on Sunday since we both had jobs to be at on Monday morning. Overall I had a great time and met a lot of interesting people over the weekend and I definitely plan to attend next year.

As we arrived into Detroit this Ameritech truck passed us. One of the first things we noticed at the hotel was that the mouthpieces were ripped from the pay phones. This is the first thing we saw as we got out of our car – the hotel’s side door. Didn’t give us much comfort on what the hotel would be like on the inside. We stayed on the 11th floor of the hotel which this picture of Wraith clearly proves.
Our first order of business was to open up our room’s phone jack and see what we could find. There were a ton of extra wires inside the wall but none of them were hooked into other rooms dial tones like we’d hoped. A little floor by floor exploring led us to an unlocked phone closet on the 21st floor. A random shot of the network room.
Another shot of the network room. And one more of the network room. Wraith’s elite laptop running Red Hat. My Windows 98 laptop getting sniffed by many hackers all at once.
Here’s a view from my window as I’m using my laser pointer on the people below. A lot of people shouted at me to “cut it the fuck out” that night. A ball hanging from the power lines The AT&T building across the street from the con. Before checking out of our room we hung a half-filled bottle of Mountain Dew from a fishing line about 8 stories below our window. Here’s a picture of it hanging as we head to the car to go home.
Here’s another shot of the Mountain Dew As we were just 30 minutes from home our tire fell apart and the hubcap went flying across I-55. Wraith thinks it’s because he stole the bible from our hotel room.

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