Controversy '96 - GivingThemDrugsTakingTheirLivesAway
Controversy '96
What happened etc.

advanced technology
I spent the day before the 6pm kick off wandering around town and Manchester Uni's computing department (by the way, sort out your Novell security, it's shit). Apart from poor Netware security, the computing department is also notable for having big computers. Very big computers. In fact, very very big computers indeed. They have one particularly large computer (a Fujitsu UPX240-10 - mmm, catchy) which kicks out 2.5 giga FLOPS and has 2 gigs of RAM. Needless to say they politely refused my request to speed test Crack on it. Anyway, if you get the chance have a wander in and press your face up against the glass (they are enclosed fishtank style) and try not to dribble on the carpet. And no, none of them would fit under your jumper, maybe not even one of CyberJunky's.

The venue was the Cyberia Cybercafe in Manchester. I must admit, at first the prospect of staying up all night in a cybercafe appealed to me as much as a night at a Micro$oft sales conference, however Cyberia turned out to be a well suited venue. We had the place to ourselves, lots of connected machines, and an all-night bar, which even served food. The staff on the whole were pretty cool, although they got a bit annoyed at people smoking large reefers in their shop, but after a while gave up and let us to it (like they had a choice :) They also don't like happy hardcore, especially when it's played through 3 watt PC speakers. Then again, who does ?

Controversy was organised by CyberJunky (big respect, nice one mate !) and the under-rated and over-hyped Agents of a Hostile Power. Most of the usual crowd from the UK's computer refugees were there plus DarkTangent (DefCon)and Emmanuel Goldstein (2600 Magazine) from America (the home of lagged net connection). It's good to see our culture becoming more global, and it was good to see some US interest in one of the smaller and more underground hacker meetings.

narcotic influence
After the first hour some people I knew started to turn up. This is where things get slightly fuzzy. So I'll write up things that happened and I'll let you put them into your own order :)

I'm not a great CellFone hacker, I just like to tinker but the CellHeads turned up in force. While I was busy getting impressed by new and unusual varieties of P3 test ROM's (we sure know how to party) there was some serious cool going down. Some bloke turns up with killer shades, a sharp black briefcase and some damn sexy blonde girl. He takes a slim notebook PC and a chipped Motorola 4800 from his briefcase and proceeds to take apart the cellular airwaves. He stays for an hour at the most. I nearly applauded when he left. However, I thought better of it and skinned up instead.

Cyberia has the least Linux-able PC's in the world. In the end we fell back on the old addage "What God can't fix, FDISK can". However, we were politely asked to restore this particular PC back to it's original state. Which proved more tricky than it might seem. We needed to restore Windoze '95 on the Linuxed PC. Where is the least likely place you're likely to find a Windoze '95 install CD ? Yep, at a hacker party. So, one of the better public relations experts among us had to ask Cyberia if they had one.

Hi, I'd like to borrow a Windows '95 install CD off you...
Is one of the machines not working ?
No, no, it's just that we want to see that CD rainbow effect...

Well, however he did it, a copy was blagged and the machine restored. Personally if I owned a Windoze '95 machine I would be grateful to find someone had wandered in and Linuxed it. Philistines.

At about 3am lots of people headed out to rifle through BT's skips. I didn't go I was too 'busy' at the time. But at about 4am the same people came back with the largest amount of BT documents I have ever seen in one room. Thank God that BT didn't shred all those important customer files. It's good to know Inland Revenue have their PBX up and running after the minor faults after installation. That's what I call service and value for money.

The hackHull mafia managed to do a damn good job of rigging the raffle. Don't invite them to your village fayre. I mean it.

I left at about 10am the next day. No-one got any sleep and as a result I missed my stop on the train and several corporate web sites became art rather than advertising. All-in-all I had a great time and thought it was a well worth the loss of sleep. Their were a few gripes. A few people thought the VIP room smacked of eLiTiZm, personally I didn't care, I was just happy to see people and abuse the anonymous net connections. But maybe 'VIP' was a bad choice of words. Perhaps 'Vice Den' might be slightly more politically correct.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who was there the Cyberia staff and especially the people who organised it. See you all at Access All Areas III.

Stay Frosty, Stay Free

My report has lots of references to an amazing techno CD that was played at Controversy '96. 10 points if you can name it. 20 if you buy it.