At r00tz, a camp that takes place each year during the Def Con convention in Las Vegas, children learn to pick locks, hack smart TVs and, most important, how to take apart and understand the technology that surrounds them.
The scene inside the camp a couple weeks ago was a bit of a madhouse — controlled chaos. Little kids everywhere. Brendan Herman was trying to program a machine to draw pictures on ping-pong balls, wearing a tinfoil hat.
As one of the world's largest gatherings of hackers, the Def Con conference has long welcomed experts from the security industry and the U.S. government, along with academics and hackers. But this year, Def Con's leader is asking federal workers to skip the event, due to recent revelations about U.S. electronic surveillance.
The request was announced Wednesday in a message titled, "Feds, we need some time apart," which was posted at the Def Con site. It reads: