Toronto, October 2010

This post was originally entitled “SecTor 2010”, however I never actually attended the conference, so it’s not really about the conference but rather my short stay in Toronto during the SecTor 2010 conference.

The Monday after ToorCon 12 I boarded a red-eye flight at 9:30 PM bound for Newark and then took the connection from Newark to Toronto at 6:45 AM. I was honestly really surprised when I arrived at my hotel at 9:30 AM and they actually had my room ready. I was afraid I would have to check my bag and find something to do for a while until it was ready, but luckily I was able to go up to my room immediately. Having my own space as soon as I arrived helped quite a bit because I actually had a fair amount of work to get done and since landing in Toronto I had a somewhat severe atmospheric-pressure-change headache to deal with. After working for a few hours I decided the only way to kill the headache was to take a nap, and when I woke up it was 4:30 PM. As I’m sure you’ve guessed at this point, I missed the entire first day of the SecTor conference due to unexpectedly needing to work and the headache.

After waking I continued to work for a bit while most of the SecTor attendees were at the reception and speakers attended the speaker dinner.  I caught up with a few people at the Pub following the dinner and was fortunate enough to be introduced to Eric Boyd, the creator of the North Paw project which I intend to build from one of his kits at some point in the near future.  We had some great conversation about sensory and haptic feedback technology and discussed some of his upcoming project ideas.  If you’re interested in that sort of thing, you should definitely follow the Sensebridge site’s RSS feed or subscribe to the Body Hacking list where he will hopefully be posting updates and information on new kits that will become available.  After hanging out at the Pub for a while I headed back to the hotel to work some more before crashing out around 5 AM.

On Wednesday I woke to continue working a while and to participate in some conference calls, and by the time I was finished with that there was no point in even attempting to attend the conference any longer.  Once the conference was over I headed over to the Rapid 7 Metasploit One Year Anniversary party, celebrating the anniversary of Rapid 7‘s acquisition of Metasploit.  I spent a lot of time talking about the ExploitHub at that party, imagine that…

After the Metasploit party I headed over to the first Quantified Self meeting for Toronto which I had found out about the night before.  The format of the meeting was nearly identical to the AHA! meeting format, which ironically enough was happening at just about the same time as the AHA! meeting back in Austin.  This meeting was excellent.  There were lots of people sharing their own experiences and questions with personal tracking and statistics with the group, lots of group participation, and I learned about a number of interesting projects and resources such as CureTogether, which is an online community for people with chronic and not easily identified conditions where the site’s tools assist in potential diagnosis and visibility into what treatments other similar sufferers are trying and how well they are working for those other people.  There was also someone at the meeting with a haptic feedback sonar system which allows the user to detect physical objects at range via modulating the frequency of a haptic feedback pulse.  Another attendee introduced us all to an Android app called KeepTrack, which I’ve been using ever since to keep track of all sorts of things.  You can even have KeepTrack alert you to enter values at specific times with it’s reminder feature.  Overall this meeting exposed me to some really cool stuff and has somewhat inspired me to be a better scientist when performing experiments with and on myself by recording and tracking more personal data during such experiments than I have been.

After the Quantified Self meeting some of the group walked a few blocks to a Pub for some food, drinks, and further discussion, and then I headed back to my hotel as I had to check out of the hotel and head to the airport at the wee hour of 4:30 AM in order to get through customs and catch my flight back to Austin.

Overall, other than actually missing the conference that I was in Toronto for in the first place, I had a really good time.  Toronto is a beautiful city even though it was a little on the cold and rainy side.  Fallen maple leaves everywhere made me smile more than once.  I had a chance to catch up a bit with my local friend and met lots of new and interesting people.  I hope to have the opportunity to visit Toronto again when I have more time and there isn’t so much going on with conferences and unexpected work so that I can spend more time with my local friend and really explore and enjoy the city.

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