No, not the Clash song, but I spent the last week with other Sunbelters at InfoSec Europe in London. This trip followed on a trip to DC the week before, and a week in San Francisco for the RSA show at the beginning of the month. I’ve barely been in the office as a result.
Unlike the InfoSec shows here in the US, InfoSec Europe is pretty much ground zero for the security business in Europe (akin to our RSA show in San Francisco, but different than RSA’s historical industry-centric, incestuous flair, where you’re more likely to do a deal with a rival than with an actual customer).
The show is very active and there’s a lot going on there. But in the story-telling tradition of this blog, I’ll expand on the particulars.
I flew in Tuesday morning on the red-eye from Atlanta. My first meeting found me crashed on a couch by my visitor being, in typical British fashion, quite polite at my unshaven, shabby, smelly form.
After that, Charles Arthur at the Guardian was nice enough to meet with me, where he was also, in typical British fashion, quite polite at my unshaven, shabby and smelly form. Arthur is exactly what you’d expect from a Guardian journalist — polite, gracious, and intellectual. Better, he is good listener, and endured my sleep-deprived, caffeine-induced ramblings. In the end, he followed-up with a blog post about porn.
After that, off to the show for another meeting, then walking the show, and then another painful experience attempting to get through a dinner which needs to be purged from memory. The next day I spoke on a security panel at, of all places, the Sophos booth.
The panel was the brainchild of Sophos PR mavens Carole Theriault and Graham Cluley. Fellow panelists were Paul Ducklin of Sophos, Tony Neate of Get Safe Online, Bob Burls, Detective Constable at Metropolitan Police Computer Crime Unit and Ed Gibson, Chief Security Advisor, of Microsoft UK. (Apple was invited but, err, declined.) All the panelists brought their own perspectives to the various security issues. If you were there, drop your comments.
The show itself was a solid mix of security companies, with European stalwarts such as Kaspersky, Sophos and BitDefender intermingled with US counterparts like McAfee.
Is it Florida or London? At Holland Park, with Sunbelters Chad Loeven and Juan Vasquez.
At the end of the day, the folks at Sophos were kind enough to invite the panelists to dinner at Babylon at The Roof Gardens. Wow. The food was spectacular, the company great and the setting beautiful. And, as one would expect from a company based near Oxford, the Sophos folks are polite, gracious, and intellectual. Is there a pattern here?
And, yet invariably, the conversation leaned to the naughty. You see, the restaurant has a peculiar bathroom setup. Everything is normal until you go to wash your hands. Instead of a normal sink, there’s a waterfall. Yes, a waterfall. It’s kind of an odd contraption, where water drips down from a long bar. You put your hands underneath it and attempt to get the soap off (there’s not exactly a high flow of water). However, where things get interesting is that this is a co-ed waterfall — the women’s bathroom shares the same sink, so your fingers sometimes find themselves intermingling with restaurant patrons of the opposite sex (the waterfall isn’t at eye level, so you can’t see the other bathroom unless you really tried). Of course, when I went, Carole discovered I was on the other side and proceeded to splash copious amounts of water on me.
At any rate, the following day was taken up with meetings until finally, we were done and decided to go out to dinner after a typically crowded ride back on London’s Series of Tubes. A pleasant excursion to beautiful Holland Park found us at the Belvedere, an outstanding and reasonably priced French restaurant right in the park. Highly recommended.
The next day I had something close to a Chris Boyd experience (but not nearly as bad). My flight was cancelled, and I had to spend a night in a local hotel at Heathrow. No biggie, I made some great friends (the old “solidarity of shared discomfort” thing) and Delta handled the situation quite well.
Some closing thoughts on London in general: Yes, as I’ve reported extensively on this blog, there really are cameras everywhere. Everywhere. Yet I’m not sure everyone really even notices it. Perhaps it’s the “light-dimmer”/”how to boil a frog” effect I’ve written about before. For Americans, the cost of London these days is simply staggering. No news there, but it really hits you when you pay for a cup of coffee with practically a week’s wages. London streets are immaculate due to copious street cleaning, a nice change from other big cities. And, the London cabs continue to make me envious. Cramped into a beaten-up police auction cab in New York compared to a spacious London cab… I’ll take a London cab any day.
A great city and a great time. And now, I hope to rest my weary frequent-flier legs for a bit.