Q: What is H2K2?
A: H2K2 is the 2002 Hackers On Planet Earth (HOPE) conference, a gathering for hackers of all types.
Q: When is H2K2?
A: The conference starts Friday July 12, 2002 in the morning and ends at night on Sunday July 14, 2002. You can show up to buy tickets or pick up prepaid tickets during the day on Thursday as well.
Q: Where is H2K2?
A: At the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City.
Q: What's a hacker? Isn't that some sort of computer criminal?
A: Hackers are curious, motivated and intelligent people who like to experiment with systems. H2K2 is mostly for computer hackers, who like to experiment with systems involving computers, telephones and networks. "Hacker" doesn't mean the same thing as "criminal," even though some hackers engage in criminal behavior. At H2K2, the focus is on helping hackers to hone their skills, share experiences with each other, and have a great time among people with similar skills and interests.
Q: Will I be able to learn to hack at H2K2?
A: Maybe not in a weekend, but there are workshops and speaker sessions to find out all about it.
Q: I'm a minor / disabled / strange / self-conscious / annoying. Does this mean I shouldn't come to H2K2?
A: H2K2 is for anyone with a strong interest in hacking. The conference is friendly to people of all ages, abilities and dispositions.
Q: Don't you people have a Web page or something?
A: Yes. h2k2.net. It has lots of links, and during the conference will be used as the main information site with information about speakers, workshops, music and activities.
Q: I have a suggestion for a speaker or session. Who should I send it to?
A: Try firstname.lastname@example.org, but as the conference gets closer we might not have time to consider every request. At the conference, there will be opportunity for last-minute sessions -- stay tuned to h2k2.net.
Q: What's the cost?
A: Admission for the whole conference is US $50, in advance or at the door. Save yourself from needing to wait to pay by registering in advance at the 2600 online store.
Q: Is food and lodging included? T-shirts? Free computers?
A: No, admission just gets you in the door to all the events. There will be a food vendor, or you can eat elsewhere in New York City. You can stay at the Hotel Pennsylvania, or elsewhere. There will be a variety of vendors selling all kinds of neat stuff.
Q: Can I volunteer? Will I get in for free if I do?
A: Yes, email email@example.com. No, you still need to pay $50, but you will get a cool volunteer staff T-shirt.
Q: Can I bring my computer and get on the Internet at H2K2?
A: Yes, and yes. H2K2 will have full wireless 802.11b coverage, and lots of places to link in with wired ethernet. There will be an open computer area for you to bring your own gear (but please keep an eye on it!). H2K2 will have a 24-hour direct uplink to the Internet (T-1ish), as well as an active internal network, throughout the conference.
Q: I want to hack / destroy / take down / DoS / DDoS the H2K2 network during the conference. Is this ok?
A: No. If you do, you will be caught and possibly kicked out. The H2K2 network will be actively monitored for any activities that might hurt others' enjoyment of it. Treat the network nicely, and it will treat you nicely.
Q: I want to hack other machines on the H2K2 network during the conference. Is this ok?
A: If you put your machines on the network, expect them to be poked at. Conversely, poking other machines is part of the fun of H2K2, but do not be destructive (use `echo giggle | wall`, not `rm -rf /`).
Q: I don't have a lot of money. How can I get to New York City cheaply?
A: A city the size of New York offers a variety of transportation options, many of them quite inexpensive.
Q: Do you have any tips on finding a cheap airfare?
A: There are hundreds of Web references on this topic, but here are a few general tips. First, look for fares to all of the New York City area airports, not just the most convenient ones. Second, consider flying on off-peak days if you can, which are generally Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. Third, look for Web-only specials on airlines' websites. Finally, consider flying on a smaller airline such as Southwest, ATA or JetBlue. Priceline.com also often has cheap fares, especially for last-minute flights.
Q: OK, I've decided to fly. Which airport should I fly into?
A: In general, fly wherever you can find the cheapest fare. However, consider the "hidden costs" of each airport--namely transportation cost and time--when you make your decision.
Q: Where in New York City is the Hotel Pennsylvania?
A: New York City is separated into a number of areas called boroughs, and Manhattan is the island borough containing the central business district. The Hotel Pennsylvania is located directly across the street from Penn Station at the corner of 7th Avenue and 32nd Street in midtown Manhattan.
Q: What are "uptown" and "downtown"?
A: "Uptown" and "downtown" are synonyms for "north" and "south" respectively, which are not really compass directions but are used relative to Manhattan's grid-like system of streets.
Q: How do I use the subways? How much do they cost?
A: The subways are easy to learn. Subways cost $1.50, and transit police are seriously hardcore about enforcing fares. If caught jumping turnstiles or otherwise avoiding fare payment, you will probably be arrested, and will always be fined, and we'll all laugh at you.
To get to H2K2, the 1, 2, and 3 trains come to 34th Street at 7th Avenue, right across the street from the Hotel Penn. Or you can take the A, C, E to 34th & 8th, or the B, D, F, N, Q, R, or V train to 34th & 6th, both of which are just one crosstown block away. The MTA's website has maps and other good information. You can also get free printed maps by asking in any station, or at H2K2. Note that, while the subway is open 24 hours, 7 days a week, some lines change service or stop running late at night. Pay careful attention to the box at the bottom of the map, especially if you are travelling late at night or to some of the outer boroughs.
Subway fares can be paid either with tokens or with the MetroCard, a plastic card which can store money for use at subway terminals and on MTA buses. Especially of note is the stupidly-named but very useful FunPass, which costs $4 and is good for unlimited rides all day on the first day you use it until 3am. This, then, is a good deal if you are going to take three or more rides on the same day. (NOTE: For some reason you can only buy FunPasses from machines in the subway system and from some newsstands that carry them. Subway token booth clerks cannot sell these passes to you.) There are also weekly passes for $17, which is then cheaper than FunPasses for five days. Don't use a MetroCard if you're going to commit a crime and want to be able to deny that you were at a certain location; they've been used as evidence before. The paranoid, or those under government surveillence, will never buy a MetroCard with anything but cash.
Q: How do I use MTA buses? How much do they cost?
A: The bus system is probably too complicated for a tourist to learn in a weekend, and you can get everywhere you'll need to go on trains and subways. We don't recommend bothering with buses. Like subways, MTA buses cost $1.50. Ask in a subway station for a bus map if you're truly interested.
Q: I'm 16, and the Hotel Pennsylvania won't rent me a
room. I can't get anyone over 18 to rent a room for me. Am I totally out of
Q: I just lost my job at e-MyCyberDisco.com and can't afford the Hotel Pennsylvania's prices, but I still want to come to H2K2. Am I totally out of luck?
A: Yes, you're out of luck, at least where the Hotel Pennsylvania is concerned. That's the bad news. The good news is that there are a number of other youth-friendly accommodation options in New York City, all of which are less expensive. Probably the best of these is the New York City International Hostel, which is part of the Hostelling International group and is located at 104th & Amsterdam, about 25 minutes from the convention by subway. More information is available at http://www.hinewyork.org/. Here is a list of other hostels in the city.
Q: I want to sleep in my car/on the street/in Central Park/anywhere I won't have to pay for a room. Is this a good idea?
A: It's a good idea if you want to be harassed by police, robbed, mugged, assaulted, and otherwise get no sleep. Find a safe place to crash; whatever you might save by doing otherwise isn't worth the hassle and risk.
Q: How can I pay for things in New York?
A: Cash (US dollars) and credit cards are widely accepted. Small stores might not want to accept traveler's cheques, and many stores won't accept $50 or $100 bills especially at night. Personal checks are seldom honored in New York City, especially from non-local banks.
Q: I'm from out of town or another country. How should I get cash?
A: Banks and most automated teller machines will give you a cash advance or let you use a debit card to get cash. If you are coming from overseas, this might be much cheaper than a money exchange at the airport or traveler's cheques. The Hotel will probably cash a personal check for up to $50 if you are staying there. There is also a Thomas Cook currency exchange office a block away at 32nd Street and Broadway. They're open until 7 pm.
Q: I'm coming in from out of the US, do I need any kind of insurance?
A: Some sort of health insurance is necessary to be treated in a hospital (except for life-threatening circumstances), so you should definitely have traveler's health insurance or proof of insurance. Before you leave home, find out whether your health insurance will pay for treatment in the US. Health care is extremely costly: a single visit to a hospital emergency room can cost thousands of dollars.
Q: How expensive is food in New York City?
A: In general, tourists spend double in New York City what they would at home on similar items. That said, there is an incredible array of dining options ranging from $10 or less per day to $100 per meal or more. Be sure to try the excellent bagels, and discover the delights within the many neighborhood delicatessens.
We've been told that the tremendous variety of pizza places with "Ray's" in the name (Famous Ray's, Ray's Famous, etc.) should all be avoided. But there is some excellent pizza in New York---try Famiglia's, with several locations throughout the city, or Nino's on Aveue A at 8th Street in the East Village.
Q: How expensive is everything else in New York City?
A: Although public transport in the city is the world's greatest bargain, other forms of transportation and real estate are very expensive in New York, and anything having to do with either of the above is expensive. In particular, parking, gasoline and hotel rooms are outrageous. You will also see higher prices than you're accustomed to even at large retailers such as K-Mart, due to the higher transportation and rent expense.
Q: Some guy walked up to me, opened his trenchcoat, and offered to sell me a Rolex! Should I buy one?
A: You can buy a surprisingly wide variety of merchandise, with correspondingly wide variations in quality, from street vendors in New York. The fake Rolex watches are of very poor quality and often don't last a day. Although slightly better than the watches, the fake Oakley sunglasses are definitely not as durable as the real thing. T-shirts are very cheap, and often fall apart after the first time you wash them. It's fun to negotiate with the street vendors so by all means do; just don't harbor any illusions of product quality, especially in "touristy" areas like Times Square. You may be able to find some surprisingly higher-quality merchandise in Chinatown and other areas.
Q: Is crime really as bad in New York City as it is on TV?
A: First, drop whatever you're doing and kill your television. All right, since that's out of the way, New York City is fairly safe, relative to other US cities--according to the FBI, the safest large city in the country. Street crime is less of a problem in New York City than in London. That said, be aware of your surroundings and personal effects, and avoid flashy displays of money, jewelry, or other expensive items. Being out alone after dark in an unfamiliar area is inadvisable anywhere, including in New York City.
Q: Why is everyone so rude?
A: They're not, you are! You're in a different culture. New York City is very fast-paced, and delaying people is considered to be extremely rude. If you linger in a doorway, you deserve to be shoved out of the way, though most New Yorkers are really too nice to actually do the shoving themselves. If you arrive at the counter without your order ready, the clerk might say "Back of the line!" In all fairness to New Yorkers, many of them will bend over backwards to help visitors and make you feel comfortable, if you just ask nicely for a moment of their time.
Q: Can I visit Ground Zero?
A: As of this writing, there are some viewing platforms available, with tickets required. But, as they finish up work clearing the site and there are correspondingly fewer things to see there, this may change.
Q: How do I get to New Jersey to visit the Statue of Liberty?
A: Yes, the Statue of Liberty is actually in New Jersey. The statue itself is a national monument and operated by the NPS. There is a ferry from battery park city, so you absolutely do not have to go to NJ. The ferry stops both in Battery Park AND Liberty Park, NJ. See http://www.nps.gov/stli/ and http://www.nps.gov/stli/pphtml/basics.html for more information.
Q: Are there any good museums in New York City?
A: There are a number of wonderful museums in New York City, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History (which has a new planetarium), the Guggenheim, and the Cooper Hewitt Naitonal Design Museum, which is a branch of the Smithsonian Institution. The Museum of Modern Art is all but closed for renovation, although they're supposed to have a location in Queens opening in June, and their PS1 space is supposed to be very good.