Stargazing at Wild West Hackin’ Fest

Gail Menius//

The sky is clear, the air is so cool and crisp with the small dusting of snow muting the sounds of Deadwood you can almost hear the stars and how brightly they shine at the Wild West Hackin’ Fest. These stars are not the balls of glowing gasses in the sky (even though they are magnificent here), these stars are the “stars” of the infosec community. These stars shine brightly not just because they are successful in their career, they shine brightly because their character and disposition are exemplary. I was shocked because everywhere I turned was someone that had a wonderful heart and a healthy way to live that I wanted for myself. Does that normally happen at a tech conference? Here are some examples of the kind of stars I saw over the weekend:


During the closing ceremony, one woman had a Masterlock in her hand, had taken off her lock pick earrings, and was testing out her new toys. I want to be playful like Sally.



The first morning of the conference, we ran out of coffee. There was a kind woman who wanted our conference to go well and said, “The conference can be amazing, but if you run out of coffee, that’s all they’ll talk about! They’ll go home and say, ‘Great talks, but they ran out of coffee.’”She is responsible for GravWell, unexpectedly sponsoring coffee for us. I want to be kind like @Sweet_Grrl


At the hardware hacking lab, I was busy identifying the pins on a wireless router. As I turned the laminated pages and studied the JTAGULATOR® and its soldered wires, I considered the time it took to put together those labs.


 I want tenacity like BrianDavid, and Rick, Joe, Ethan, BB King, Chevy, Kent and Jordan.



One of the speakers spoke about how balance was important in life. He goes for a walk in the morning, a long walk. He also spends time with family. I want to be balanced like Ed.



Those beautiful five people who were up at six o’clock in the morning during Wild West Hackin’ Fest on Saturday morning. Those people went out for a run. They were able to see the morning like no one else at the conference that morning could. I want to be active like John, Erica, Christine, Robin, and Nicholas.


There was a woman who knew she was a part of a community bigger than herself. She considered the implications of digital currency and what it would mean to people who didn’t have access to the internet. She gave a talk about how we had the power and the intellect to understand how money works and how we were responsible for considering all those in our global economy, not just people in our country, not just people who had access to bitcoin, debit cards, and the like. I want to be considerate like Tarah.

These are just a handful examples of the kinds of stars I saw. Most people were friendly, motivated, focused, and considerate. I could go on, but I do have a job to do at BHIS! I felt very blessed to be a part of something where there was a sense of community. People were concerned with not only how they affected others in the industry, but how they effect their families and the world. Thanks, Wild West, Hackin’ Fest for showing me what it was like to be surrounded by stars in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. Now I remember who I want to be.