Cackalacky 101

An introduction for first timers
By: Threlfall and CackalackyCon Staff

If you're thinking of going to a hacker-con for your first time, what a great idea, welcome.
There are a few things you should know before you go.

Introduction to CackalackyCon

For those of you not familiar with the event and surrounding culture, you can expect to see broad range of people in attendance from all walks of life. You will interact with passionate enthusiasts, students just starting out, and seasoned professionals from all kinds of disciplines and interests.

It's a 'hacker con' which means a lot of things to a lot of people, but generally this means it's pretty informal, talks are centered around practical and actionable things versus being more academic in nature, and are often quite entertaining. Expect to see a lot of counter culture and see it celebrated.

We have a wide range of events, a 'Capture the Flag' (CTF), and a WiFi CTF, Lockpick Village, Cryptography Challenge, local group meetups, Trivia, and more! Join the Discord for real time info. You can find the full schedule and events by clicking on their respective tabs above. We only run one track of talks at a time.

We also have a great video with guests and organizers sharing their stories:

Social Stuff

This event has a code of conduct, you should read and fully understand it. Reach out to the team on Discord if you have questions.

The talks are just one facet of the conference, don't stress yourself out trying to watch them all (almost all are recorded), some of the best things you'll learn will be offhand comments in a group discussion as people talk shop and the relationships you form.

Getting to know people

If you're coming to your first con and you don't know anybody, that's awesome. You can reach out to others in the same position on discord and you'll find people to be very welcoming. If you're coming with others, keep an eye out for people on their own and bring them into the fold. If you’re talking with friends in a circle, try to leave an empty spot for someone to join in.

The fastest way to get to know people is to immerse yourself in the event. Interact with people, go to parties, participate in competitions, capture the flag, and villages. No need to stress yourself out about it, and do everything, just do what you enjoy. CackalackyCon is small enough that you won't have trouble checking out all the things in your own time.

Some people hang out in the hardware village basically all day and are always looking to meet new people (hence why its become the official chill out area).

If you see a speaker outside of their talk, ask them questions! Many of them are excited to talk to people about their research, and make sure to allow others time to ask their questions too.

Many people you come across will go by their "handles" (usernames), and you're welcome to do the same. There are many reasons one might do this, with privacy and anonymity being near the top of the list. Do you want to be known by your username or real name?

Show respect to all

Read the code of conduct. Crossing these kinds of lines could alter the trajectory of your life and somebody else's.

Respect the venue

Remember that besides the attendees and others in the hotel, consider the physical hotel space, as well as the hotel staff, to be an important part of our larger conference community and we require that both be treated with respect. Without a venue, there is no conference.

Also, there are other guests at the hotel besides conference attendees. Be considerate.

Photography etiquette

If you're going to take a picture, get consent from everyone in the frame, or don't take the photo.

Do not try to record the talks. We are handling that with our setup and videos will be available online later. Also some speakers do not want to be filmed, those talks will be labeled on the schedule.



If coming from RDU airport, the con hotel is just a 10 minute rideshare or cab away.

The conference takes place in a hotel, if it is within your means, try to stay here or close by so you can come and go from the conference with flexibility. It's pretty common, and fun to split a room with some people and a great way to lower your costs.

We have a room block which discounts the price of the room, and supports the conference in getting consideration from the hotel for 2025's event and beyond.


The hotel has an on site restaurant and bar, a breakfast buffet from 6:30AM to 10:AM (7AM -10AM Sat/Sun). Within a 15 minute walk are numerous options to suit all budgets.

There are not any electric scooters or such for rent at the hotel.

There's a bar open from about 5:00 PM till late.

Hotel's generally don't like it when you eat outside food in their lobby and conference spaces, so please try to avoid that.


Wear what makes you feel comfortable and happy (pants/tshirt/hoodie/kilt/tshirt/dress/suit/ceremonial robes, etc), this isn't a business event, so don't feel like you need to dress for a job interview (even if that's your goal). You might even see some that engage what can be best described to normies (regular people) as hacker cosplay, or rather use the con as a place to display their cyberpunk/goth or unique fashion sense.

Please, maintain your hygiene for the entire trip.

Saturday night features an optional HackerSwan event where people can choose to dress up in fancy attire. It's a chance to wear that bridesmaid dress or suit from the back of the closet. Dress as fancy as you're comfortable with.


Your threat model for CackalackyCon shouldn't really be any different than somewhere like an Airport. Keep your stuff close by, and think about what WiFi networks you're joining. Participation in villages with your computer, like a CTF would be best done through things like a Virtual Machine such as 'virtualbox' on Windows, 'UTM' or 'Lima' on Mac, or 'QEMU/KVM' for Linux. This will make it easier to 'clean up' your computer after the event and make it more secure. Download the install media for your favorite OS (e.g. Kali or ParrotOS) ahead of time and even create your VM before coming to save yourself time and to allow you to get right into the activities.

What to bring

  • Your Usual travel items, e.g clothing, toiletries, medicine, etc.
  • Light jacket for AC. Room temps and NC can have wide temp ranges.
  • Water bottle, snacks
  • Laptop or other electronics you might need for participation in villages. Most commonly this might include a WiFi or Ethernet network adapter, an ethernet cable, portable batteries and chargers.
  • Cash, registration if you didn't pre-register online is cash only. You might also want to purchase merch like T-shirts from villages and the like.
  • Ethernet network adapter and cable for the CTF competition
  • (Optional) Lockpicks if that's your thing (do not mess with the hotel). Basic picks will be available to borrow in the village.
  • (Optional) FTDI Programmer for hardware hacking the arduino badge
  • (Optional) Fancy clothes for HackerSwan
  • (Optional) Swag, small items, books, stickers to trade with others or drop at the swap table. This conference doesn't have sponsored swag.


Enjoy the con!

The CackalackyCon Staff
(Thanks to threlfall for putting all this together.)

Additional FAQs

Isn't “Cackalacky” Derogatory?

We don't think so. For those that are looking for more information, we invite you to consider the following:

In the 1940s, “Cackalacky” was used in a somewhat derogatory way by outsiders. For example, servicemen assigned to rural bases in the state in the 1940s referred to their environs as “Cackalacky,” deriding the rural ways of native North Carolinians. Though it may have been intended as an insult, over time the term was reappropriated by natives, and it is now embraced affectionately as a positive reference to state identity. The positive use of North Cackalacky is spreading, and the pin-back button that reads “I speak North Cackalacky” is one of the most popular items given away at our annual exhibit on languages and dialects at the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh.

Source: NCSU

What's with all the limes?

It's an inside joke harkening back to our first year as a con. That's right, our con has lore…especially if you get to talking to the right people.