Hawai’i is an amazing place. Absolutely beautiful. Paradise. I had a fair time of playing years ago when I went to work on <top_secrect>some things at <top_secrect>that place and my wife joined me for a week or so. So this wasn’t a pleasure trip, it was purely business. I had been invited to speak at the Chaminade University of Honolulu “CyBiz” Cyber Business Forum. However, thanks to my new friends (Ed Teixeira, Bernie Ploeger, Ron Becker, Paul Poteete, Trudy Ornellas, Deborah Mellom) the trip was not only business, it was a real pleasure indeed. This is my report of my trip. I’ll warn you, it’s rather long, but it felt better to write it this way, and I was way too busy to write every day.
My trip began with a series of long flights, thirty-seven hours total, from Entebbe->Dubai->Seoul->Hawai’i.
The trip out of Uganda got off to a decent start. This means that the three-hour drive to the airport took only three hours, we didn’t get in an accident, we weren’t robbed, my flight out of Entebbe was on time, and the power at the airport didn’t go out, not even once. I even managed to avoid food poisoning and malaria on the way through Entebbe.
The flight into Dubai got things off on the right foot. The food was unbelievable, everything was perfect. Dubai was also shocking to me. In fact, the Dubai experience warranted it’s own post, in which I actually made up words to a Little Mermaid sons to commemorate the moment. It’s clear that I was extremely tired (but giddy) when I posted it. Rather funny. Check out that post here.
Dubai->Seoul was rather uneventful, although two things in particular were interesting: the food (bibim bab, green tea porridge) on the plane and Inchon airport (completely surreal in too many ways to mention)..
Seoul->HNL was uneventful as well.
A few highlights for me, remembering that I live in Uganda.
- A crazy heat in the back of my seat. I think the in-flight entertainment system was short circuiting. I spent most of the flight sitting straight up, with no hope for relocation due to a “completely full flight”.
- Clean bathrooms. Yes, I said the bathrooms in the airport (which I remember as being the dirty bathrooms when I lived in the US) were SPOTLESS. Even the guys bathrooms didn’t smell, and I realize that takes a full-time staff. The toilets were spotless, the floors were spotless, the sink fixtures sparkled and the counters were clean.
- There was hot and cold touch-less running water, soap and paper towel dispensers. This engineering feat was marvelous .. and strange to me.
- Airport staff and travelers rely way too much on their Internet. This made me happy, and made my Pwn Pad REALLY happy. Enough said there.
All said, I got about six hours of sleep the entire trip and landed in HNL at 9:00am August 12. Ed and Paul met me at the airport with Starbucks coffee in-hand (with cream and sugar, my favorite), and they were terrific hosts.
They really spent so much time making sure I got where I needed to be, and making me feel right at home. I went with Paul (Ed had a ton to do to get ready for the conference) and he went into full-on tourist mode, telling me all about the area, and we talked a lot about all kinds of things. In talking I learned that his family was miraculously leaving HI and headed to UAE to follow God’s calling, and .. get this .. they were leaving in like two days! He really went out of his way to help me even though he was quite busy in his own life. That was really appreciated.
Paul asked if there were things I needed to get, and I wasted no time. Aside from delivering an awesome talk, I needed to go to Wal-Mart, find a Ukelele for my daughter and get a kite. Paul didn’t waste time either. He took me straight to Wal-Mart, even before heading to the hotel. Wal-MArt was so strange to me. It was so massive, and so stocked, and so shiny. But to my dismay, I realized I didn’t have the shopping list. So I got on the free wifi (!) and used Skype to call Jen in the middle of the night for the, “Hi, I’m here. What do you guys need from Wal-Mart” call. Paul wandered around while I got my list of stuff (65% pharmacy, 10% food/drink additives, 12% electronics and 12% toys, measured per dollar spent) and we talked a bit more. The shopping finished, Paul took me to the hotel in Waikiki West. “Holy cow,” I remember thinking at this point, “I’m in paradise”. But it was an odd paradise because at least in Waikiki it was saturated by tourists and well, that takes away a bit from the paradise status since “touristy” and “paradise” are mutually exclusive terms.
The hotel was comfortable and clean. I found sockets for all my gear, and enjoyed an AMAZING shower since it was my first in 40+ hours. After lunch we met with Kevin Manson, a long-time friend and co-speaker at the cybiz event. Kevin is a genuinely nice guy. He hooked me up with a sweet challenge coin, and introduced me to Daqri and the rubber daqri cube which nearly blew my mind. It’s been a long time since I giggled, and every time I use daqri and that cube, I giggle. This app makes me really wonder if the Neal Stephenson / William Gibson future will be realized in my lifetime.
Ed, Paul and I went to Chaminade for a look around and I was astonished. The campus was gorgeous with a view to match.
The Chaminade web page really didn’t’ do this place justice. It was spectacular. Here, we met with Trudy, who was kind enough to coordinate my logistics and also to accept a few packages for me, which I picked up. The first package came from my friend Mike Messick, across a wildly circuitous route: From Alaska, to Hawai’i, and eventually back to Uganda.
I opened the package and was confused. Mike had offered to send me a copy of the Khan content from Ka-lite, but when I opened the package expecting to find a hard drive, I found this:
Not only was Mike kind enough to download a ton of educational software for us (Ka-Lite full videos) but he sent it on an AES-256 encrypted drive with a built-in keypad. Wicked cool.
I also received a GREAT care package from my very good friends at Mile2 which is so big I’m saving a post just for that. I also received this beauty along with a TON of RasPi stuff frmo Sam Kinch. This, too requires a series of posts to explain. =)
The rest of the day was spent checking out the theater where the conference would take place and being treated to dinner at the beach-side Hau Tree, one of the most gorgeous restaurants I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. The food was amazing, and the view.. unbelievable. Ed was a generous host, to say the least.
That night, I stayed up pretty late working on my talk. It was a really late night. The next morning I had a good breakfast, and Paul showed us around the Hilton, which was gorgeous. We had a nice lunch later, and the talk in the evening.
I was giving my No-Tech Hacking talk, but I wanted to include some “High-Tech” attacks as well. I brought my PwnPad (generously donated by PwnieExpress), a mouse donated by Ronin, a ducky donated by Hak5, and a few other goodies to demo for the audience. The talk was a great success. The audience was really involved, and we had a great Q&A afterwards. I think there’s a future for more security cons in Hawaii. There’s certainly an interest.
Overall, the con was a terrific success. I am so thankful for the opportunity to speak again. I miss public speaking so much. I’m also thankful for all the equipment donations. This gear will go such a long way in Uganda. I’m thankful to all the Chaminade staff that made this trip extra-special, and I’d like to say a special thank-you to Ed and Paul (who I didn’t get a single picture with.. send one!) and especially Dr. Fassiotto. I didn’t get a chance to meet Dr. Fassiotto, as he sadly passed away three weeks before I arrived at the conference. However, he was instrumental in getting me to Chaminade, and I really must let his family know that his worked blessed me and my family, and made a real difference in our lives. Speaking engagements support my family (along with personal donations) and this type of work really goes a long way for us.
Thanks again to all who made this an amazing trip.