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PhreakNIC 18 Speakers

  • ZhuangZi is a physicist, engineer, firearms enthusiast, and champion of human rights big and small. He has a background in quantum optics, material science, machine design, biochemistry, and beer. ZhuangZi was dabbling with home-built (3D-printed and otherwise) firearms when Cody Wilson started DefDist - an organization created to decentralize firearm design and manufacturing. When Cody got cold feet, turned DefDist into a private company, and stopped firearms development, FOSSCAD was spun off and ZhuangZi jumped in head first.

  • The Crimson Fist is a costumed crime-fighter working and residing in Atlanta, Georgia. For 8 years, he has donned the identity and symbolism of a superhero and taken to the streets in an effort to reduce crime and poverty in the city, and to show others that they don't have to be victims.

    More information about The Crimson Fist can be found at

  • As a teenager, Alex Berta spent several years as a high-value member of select hacking collectives around the world, which gave him rare insight into the methods and goals of the criminal black hat hackers. Today, Alex uses everything he’s learned to educate and protect users and networks across the country.

    In addition to the technical brilliance he puts to work for NSG clients every day, Alex is an acclaimed advocate, educator and speaker for groups ranging from the Nashville Technology Council to the US Government. His ability to clarify the murky world of online hackers is forcing policy makers and business owners to rethink their approach to information security for the benefit of their clients, employees and overall business strategy.

  • Game developer, author, and cryptographer

    Elonka Dunin (@ElonkaDunin) is a professional game developer, writer, and cryptographer. She is webmistress of two popular crypto-related websites which contain information about the world's most famous unsolved codes. As of 2014, her website has had nearly five million page views. In 2000 she was awarded a prize for being the first person to crack the 1999 PhreakNIC v3.0 Code. In 2003 she led the team that cracked the famous Cyrillic Projector cipher, which turned out to contain extracts of classified KGB documents. In 2006 she authored "The Mammoth Book of Secret Codes and Cryptograms", which has been published internationally with multiple re-printings. Bestselling author Dan Brown honored Elonka by naming one of the characters in his Da Vinci Code sequel The Lost Symbol after her: "Nola Kaye" is an anagrammed form of "Elonka". She has also been featured by the popular webcomic Penny Arcade, where she created a cipher that dovetailed with the daily comic. In other hobbies, Dunin is an avid Wikipedia editor, was elected as an administrator in 2007, and has been a significant contributor to over 500 articles, especially in topics related to the Crusades and medieval history.

    When not in front a computer, she's probably out geocaching.

  • Steve is a US Army veteran (Aviation, former Major) with a background in financial information systems (no, not the ones your bank uses). Besides his time in uniform, he was a defense contractor supporting the US Navy, US Army, Missile Defense Agency, and the Defense Information Systems Agency for over 15 years. On the civilian side of things, Steve has written for the Reason Foundation, The Foundation for Economic Education, and the occasional online column here and there. You can find links to most of that at Austrian Anarchy.

  • Alan Fay is a Director of Freeside Atlanta, a 501(c)3 non-profit hackerspace.  He's been helping to run Freeside for over two very long and very weird years.  Professionally, he is a software developer with 12+ years of experience in all sorts of technology stacks and platforms - he even wrote in MUMPS once and lived.  His interests include: strong cryptography for freedom, information security for a free press, building big art for regional Burns, and cycling.

  • Drew Gilmore is Assistant Director of the Sudekum Planetarium's Judith Payne Turner Theatre at Nashville's Adventure Science Center. In 1993, Drew found the single best student job on the University of North Carolina campus presenting shows at the planetarium, and has been exploring space (and the tech required to show it on the inside of a big dome) ever since.

  • Arnie Holder has been part of the chipmusic community since 2008 as a label founder, performer, and event organizer (BRKfest 2013 and 2014).

  • Les Johnson is a science fiction author for Baen Books ("Back to the Moon," "Going Interstellar" and "Rescue Mode") and popular science author for Springer Books ("Living Off the Land in Space," "Solar Sails," "Paradise Regained" and "Sky Alert"). He is also the Senior Technical Advisor for NASA’s Advanced Concepts Office at the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

    While at NASA, Les managed NASA’s Interstellar Propulsion Research Project, the In-Space Propulsion Technology Program, and the Science Programs & Projects Office. Les is the co-investigator on the T-Rex space experiment that flew in August 2010, the Principal Investigator for the ProSEDS space experiment, twice received NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Medal, the NASA Exceptional Technology Achievement Medal, and holds 3 space technology patents. He is currently the Principal Investigator for the Near Earth Asteroid Scout mission which will launch in 2017.

    He was the technical consultant for the movies "Lost in Space" and "Europa Report." NPR, CNN, Fox News, The Science Channel and The Discovery Channel have all interviewed him about space and space exploration and he will appear in at least two Discovery Channel programs in 2014. He was the featured Interstellar Explorer in the January 2013 issue of National Geographic magazine, spoke at TEDx Huntsville and was the “Making it Real” speaker at EVE FanFest 2014 (in Iceland).

    Les earned his Master’s degree at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN and his Bachelor’s Degree from Transylvania University in Lexington, KY. He is also a graduate of the International Space University.

    He has numerous peer-reviewed publications and was published in Analog. Les is the Chairman of the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop. He has been a frequent contributor to the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society and a member of the National Space Society, The British Interplanetary Society, The World Future Society, and MENSA.

  • His name is Mog, he is a six-foot tall ape descendant.  He is a father of 2, hacker at makers local 256, and generally a free software hippie. Ask him about erlang, gpl, emacs, gEDA, GNUradio, or really bad movies and he will talk your ear off.

  • Morgan Phillips is a software engineer who has a masochistic fascination with ops and operating system architecture. Her foray into software began while studying physics as an undergraduate, when she found that it was more fun to write code than journal articles. Since then she's worked on network analysis tools at the Army Research Laboratory, Data Warehouse Operations at Facebook, and SaaSy startups. She spends her free time writing poetry about the Linux kernel at, reading science fiction novels, and roller skating.

  • Computer scientist, roboticist, and garage based nuclear physicist

    Chad Ramey is currently a senior at the Georgia Institute of Technology where he is majoring in computer science. While in highschool, he designed and constructed a inertial electrostatic confinement fusion reactor in his garage. So far in his career at GaTech, Chad has interned at NASA's Johnson Space Center and will be beginning an internship at Google in January. In his free time Chad serves as the president of GaTech's Invention Studio, researches for a few labs, and builds things (mostly race cars and nuclear apparatus).

  • Brandon is a security researcher at Lancope. He wanted to make a joke about studying other people's malware to better write his own, but he wasn't sure that it'd be clear that it was (kind of) a joke. He used to be new to the south but he slept through a real life tornado about a month ago which completed the transition

  • The Mystery Taper (or “MT”) has been taping and collecting live concert recordings for over 30 years. Focusing on his own personal enjoyment while fulfilling an honorable desire to preserve music history, he has seen the practice evolve significantly over the years.

    Update: 24 Oct
    Alas, the Mystery Taper will not be able to attend PhreakNIC, as work will take him out of town the weekend of the con. Fear not! The Mystery Taper will record his talk this weekend, Oct 25th - 26th (via the same gear he uses for live concert recordings ), we'll upload it for all to enjoy on the 26th or 27th, and he will attempt to call in Saturday evening, Nov 1st, for live Q&A. If he cannot call in, PN18 organizer jonnyX will relay attendee questions & Mystery Taper's answers, and post both to the website.

    Update: 27 Oct
    The Mystery Taper's talk can be found here:
    via dropbox direct link

  • Amateur Constitutional Scholar, Professional Information Security Researcher

    Decius has been talking about Constitutional rights at Phreaknic since it first started 18 years ago. He has also spoken at Hope, Defcon, Summercon, Blackhat, BSides, Electronic Frontier Forums, Source, RSA, CyCon, and probably a lot of other conferences we've long since forgotten about.

    "Decius is also one of the people who started PhreakNIC. And se2600. And Nashville 2600. And Atlanta 2600. So ultimately, it's all his fault." - jonnyX

  • Information Security Manager, Georgia Tech College of Computing

    Keith has been hacking for a really long time (carbon dating may be required). He has done contract work reverse engineering automotive control computers and was a submarine qualified electronics technician doing cryptography and signals intelligence for the U.S. Navy during the Cold War.

    Keith has been working at Georgia Tech for 26 years. He is currently Information Security Manager for the Georgia Tech College of Computing, sponsor of Grey H@T the Georgia Tech College of Computing information security student organization, and mailing list moderator for DC404.