Lost Packets

Hackstock hits Holland

In a scene that was reminiscent of Woodstock, the 1960s music festival that took place on a farm in upstate New York, thousands gathered on a similar field in Liempde, Netherlands. Instead of music lovers congregating, techno-geeks were pitching their tents for the Woodstock-inspired “What the Hack” convention. The event, held every four years in the Netherlands, attracted more than 3,000 visitors on its opening day last month. The three-day convention is a self-styled computer-security conference that deals with such issues as digital passports, biometrics and cryptography. Workshops during the event included such creative titles as “Politics of Psychedelic Research” and “Fun and Mayhem with RFID.” Even though the conference was around the subject of security, organizers couldn’t help but poke fun at its anarchic reputation with its own security arrangements, which asked attendees to screen their own belongings at an unmanned baggage scanner.

E-mail’s for the ice age, say IM-tuned teens

About 21 million teenagers in the U.S. are using the Internet on a regular basis. But what is not hot for teens in this day and age is e-mail. This is according to a recent survey conducted by Pew Internet and American Life Project. It found that nine out of ten teens use the Net, which is up from 74 per cent in 2000. When it comes to staying in touch with friends, teens prefer instant messaging. Overall, three quarters of the U.S. respondents said they have used IM, while 97 per cent of teens between the ages of 15 and 17 have used the popular messaging tool. The survey found that girls in that age range are the power users of the online teen world. A total of 1,100 teens between the ages of 12 and 17 and their parents were interviewed by phone last year.

Back to school with custom new cellphones

Just in time for back-to-school, Nokia and Rogers Wireless are offering two new phones targeted at kids and students. The Firefly is what Rogers Wireless is calling the mobile phone designed for pre-teens and their parents. Unlike a normal cellphone, Firefly has only five buttons where parents, using a PIN, can program up to 22 outgoing numbers and set up speed dial keys to directly reach mom and dad. Over at Nokia, the company has launched the Nokia 6101, available for the first time in Canada also from Rogers Wireless. The 6601 with its fold design has a built-in VGA camera, two bright colour displays, extra large buttons and FM radio. For more information on the Firefly see www.rogers.com/firefly. For the Nokia 6601, visit www.nokia.ca.

Uncle Sam enlists hackers for enlightenment

While hackers gathered on a field in the Netherlands, top U.S. federal officials over at a similar conference in Las Vegas, Nev., entitled Defcon, were hoping to recruit hackers to help work on cutting-edge problems and talk about the glories of being a hacker. It may seem strange that departments like Defense or the Pentagon are actively enlisting these troublemakers instead of putting them behind bars but, despite appearances, the hackers and the government have enjoyed a symbiotic relationship. Many hackers first learn the ins and outs of computer security through military service before moving on to private-sector jobs.

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