When BSidesSATX started in 2013, there was no way to know what it would grow into or if it even would continue. 2018 marks the third year that we have been at St. Mary’s University, the sixth year of the con, and our best year yet. Best because, with all told, over 400 people were in attendance. It’s the first year that we added a Hardware Hacking Village. The first for having an ice cream social, our first at offering a mentorship program for new speakers, and the first time for having a Blue Team Village. In response to the positive feedback received, we plan to go even further in 2019 with the addition of some form of wireless village and potentially a podcasting village for those who are looking to learn more about media production.
The Hardware Hacking Village has extra meaning because we have always had the benefit of Longhorn Lockpicking Club providing their assistance, but we never knew if there would be enough interest in people learning how to solder and tinker with projects at our small event. When discussing this late in 2017, the decision was made to order only a small number of kits that would be easy for people to work with, beginner grade only. Only 20 kits were initially ordered, however the village coordinator thought better of it and ordered an additional 30, bringing the total to 50. Every single kit sold on the day of the con. Three tables were initially set aside, however seven tables ended up being needed and were very crowded, all day long. The original idea was to have the hardware hacking village take up one corner of the room, it needed almost half of it, the response was so overwhelming.
This is no small feat. The original badge design which had a simple PCB with our logo silkscreened on it, hanging from a lanyard. Thanks to SANS, we had very nice lanyards with clips. The clever coordinator and volunteers who ran the hardware hacking village devised a way to add blinky lights to the badge and make it look like something we had planned all along. The credit goes to them for coming up with the idea, working out how to mount things to the badge, and making it one of the most desirable items from our 2018 San Antonio BSides conference.
This has nothing to say about the very well attended tracks, of which we had four. From deeply technical, to how to get started in your career, we had a wide range of topics covering many interests. Every single track was full to overflowing most of the day. If we had larger rooms, we would have had to use them. The attendance of the conference alone is remarkable in that we had visitors ranging from local to international in attendance. At least one of which was a fellow event coordinator having come all the way from Chicago. This community never ceases to amaze with their willingness to show their support, step outside of their comfort zones, present, volunteer, or help to coordinate. Our career track is coordinated and curated by the same person who takes care of BSides Las Vegas', Recruit DC's, and so many other recruiting events. It goes without saying that we owe Kathleen Smith more than can be expressed in words.
Thanks to SANS we also had bags to give every single attendee. Through a show of support and willingness, every single bag was stuffed with materials, packed, stacked, organized, and loaded up days ahead, so that everything would be ready for the big day. Throughout the day, people would call me aside to offer a word of encouragement or positive feedback about the event itself, or an opportunity that came out of their willingness to participate in some way. One person stopped me to express their appreciation for the chance to mentor first time presenters at a conference.
All in all, this was a phenomenal day that will be difficult to top. Yet the community continues to ask us to grow and encourages us at every turn. We’ve already picked out a date, June 8, 2019, for the next event and will be trying out a new layout to help provide more foot traffic to our on-site sponsors as well as make our attendees and participants feel more connected. The entire BSides San Antonio team is excited about the future. Things are only looking up, can only get better, and we cannot wait to see what tomorrow brings.
A very special thank you from,
Steven and the BSidesSATX crew.