So I've spent far more time than I should have this past December playing HACKvent hosted as always by hacking-lab.com
I must say it was again excellent fun as always, and although real life intruded a fair bit towards the end I had a good crack at the first 19 days worth, and got a little time to play with some of the later days too.
It was a great mix of challenges, including some custom assembly languages, PS3 reversing, and even a little block chain action for good measure.
However I've desecrated the challenges by adding an extra layer to the competition this year, something I've been promising (threatening?) some of my fellow WhiteHatters for a while now.
See I have a reputation for using Excel to play with crypto challenges, while I do use python and all kinds of other tools, I do a fair bit of dealing with Excel monstrosities in my day job. This has left me with the habit of throwning data in Excel if I ever want to visualise it, or break it out in a bunch of different ways.
So in order to prove my Excel chops (No I don't know who I'm trying to prove it to, or why they would want me to, or why anyone would stand for me doing it. But it's done now and way too late to be asking those types of questions...) I solved and wrote up as many of the challenges as I could entirely using Excel Cell formula.
OK, so some of the days I've used python, or C# or what ever language came to mind when it clearly wasn't going to be Excel's day, but I've written those days up in Excel too.
Also I feel the need to confess that I messed up by having the Excel file be too big to submit to Hacking-lab.com as they have a 5Mb size limit, and this one which I managed to cut down to under the limit only existed 1 minute past the final submission deadline, so I guess they won't be posting it in their roundup.
Hey Hacking-Lab guys, if you're reading this next time would it be possible to leave the write-up deadline open longer than the challenges (maybe an extra week?), those of us who aren't clean sweeping the board (Yes, Retr0id I'm looking at you!) will almost always be bias in spending time playing more challenges than writing them up if it's a choice between the two.
[UPDATE!] So it turns out I was wrong, or there was a glitch in the matrix, or I was too anxious to follow things properly, but I didn't miss the deadline after all. I think that maybe the site closed it all when the challenge closed, and then someone fixed the issue by re-opening the documentation submission until Jan 4th.
So that gave me a little more time to do a little more write-up, so without further a-do here's write-up v2 now with three extra days of write-up.