Sharkfest 2014 Recap

Sharkfest 2014 is over, and once again it was an amazing conference. It was probably the best of them for me, for a number of reasons:

  • The location was just awesome. This year the conference moved from Berkeley University to the Dominican University in San Rafael, and while Berkeley had the advantage of everything being really close (so you could jump sessions easily), the San Rafael location had longer distances but through some sort of a sunny forrest type of area that smelled like I was on vacation. I mean, seriously, have you ever been at a technical conference where you ran into a deer looking back at you from a few meters away on your way to a session? 🙂sharkdeer
  • I had many good talks to many of the other presenters as well as to many attendees, and got a lot of good feedback for my sessions. A lot of them told me they read this blog, so thank you all for that – I didn’t know it was this popular. I’ll try to post more regularly from now on, but I can’t promise. Sometimes other things get in the way, and I will still continue working on improving Tracewrangler.
  • While it is hard to beat the event location that Gigamon sponsored at the Lawrence Berkeley Hall of Science we had in 2012 and 2013, the events at Sharkfest 2014 were still very good. The scavenger hunt was a lot of fun (check out the photo gallery, and Robert Bullens “Sharkfest Jeopardy” was a blast (even though it might not have been fair to put Landi and Betty in a team together – I wasn’t surprised they won 🙂 ). Imagine yourself sitting in a big room with three teams battling each other over (mostly) Wireshark related questions while the audience is having great cake and ice cream for dessert!
    Oh, and Robert even included yours truly in one of the questions, in the “What’s in a Name” category, where I was in good company with Janice and Gerald “Combover”: Jeopardy Kudos to Robert for all the work he put into it!
  • The SharkBytes session was very interesting. 5 minute talks that should not have any relationship to Wireshark or Packet Analysis, and there were many great speakers. Did you know Gerald could juggle? 😉
  • I spent some time with the core developers again, going over topics like the PCAPng file format and some Wireshark improvements. It’s amazing how quietly and concentrated these guys work hard to improve Wireshark. You can thank Evan and Jörg for adding Initial RTT to the TCP expert (right now it’s only in the “bleeding edge” builds), just to name one of the great achievements during Sharkfest.
    The following photo was taking at the Hackathon, with Landi sitting next to Gerald pretending to code as well (just kidding, he was probably just going over his slides)devroomAnd yes, these are nuns in the paintings on the wall. They make sure the developers only write clean code 😀
  • One morning I found a blog post by Bálint Réczey on how to install Wireshark on a rooted Android phone, so I had to try that with my Samsung Galaxy S3 in the hour before leaving the hotel for Sharkfest:

    The tweet I sent about that had the most retweets I ever had – thanks to Bálint for the good job! He also posted about how to make the “old” GTK version of Wireshark look good on Mac OS, so if you don’t like the look of Wireshark on your Mac you can either try the new QT builds or use the instructions on how to make the GTK version look nice.
  • We had a couple of pretty good late night session back at the conference hotel (Sheraton Four Points, in my case), where we sat at the hotel pool next to the fire and killed a few beers with other attendees. We should get more attendees to book the official conference hotels – Sharkfest isn’t over just because you left the conference grounds!


I had three official and one ninja session this year: “Defending the Network” (together with Landi), “TCP Analysis: First Steps”, “Understanding the Wireshark TCP expert”, and the impromptu “TraceWrangler – Whats New” talk. The TraceWrangler talk was supposed to be a “Birds of a Feather” session where you sit together during lunch and talk about certain topics, but after talking to Janice she made it possible to have a “secret” (well, public announced at the morning introduction) session after all other sessions were over, where I could use a laptop and a projector to show the new features. There was some confusion about where the session was going to be, so if you missed it it was probably my fault.

Defending the Network

The session slides and can be found at the Sharkfest retrospective page.

Final words: if you haven’t been to Sharkfest you should consider the join us at the next one. It is a conference like no other, and it usually has a limit of 300 attendees. The locations are amazing, since you’re not spending the time in some huge generic conference hotel but at locations carefully selected by Janice and her wonderful team that have their own positive vibe and provide all the energy you need to survive all the sharks coming at you 🙂


Discussions — 2 Responses

  • Tim The Oldcommguy June 30, 2014 on 9:36 pm

    Jasper, a super review! I agree that if one is in the Packet Analysis business/technology they should attend the next Sharkfest.
    The Developers continue to move Wireshark forward towards V2.0 which will allow Wireshark to continue to be THE PACKET ANALYSIS TOOL!
    To you and all the Developers – Thanks for all your work!
    Thanks to Mama Shark for another Great Event! – Janice Spampinato
    See everyone at Sharkfest 2015!

    • Jasper Bongertz Tim The Oldcommguy July 1, 2014 on 1:32 am

      Thanks, Tim, it was great talking to you!

      It’s weird, but I’m already doing mind maps for possible talk topics for Sharkfest 2015 🙂