By Sharon Fisher | March 17, 2022

After two years of canceled, scheduled, and virtual events, Sean Wakeley is looking forward to having a live Hackfort again.

“It’s the most work I’ve ever put in one of these events,” Wakeley said, who’s been running Hackfort since 2018. Noting that this year marks the tenth year of Treefort, “All the Forts have been, ‘let’s go for it,’” he said.

To do that, Wakeley went back to Hackfort’s roots, including reaching out to Boise State University (BSU) and getting its participation in a number of events, as well as helping him line up speakers. “It’s the largest Hackfort we’ve ever had,” with more workshops, more interactive sessions, and more than 49 people presenting and speaking, he said. “I’m really happy with what we pulled off in a short time.”

Tech Challenge

The highlight is the Hackfort Tech Challenge, another of the Idaho events intended to encourage students to get involved in entrepreneurial activities. For that, Wakeley is partnering with the BSU Venture College he said.

With the finals to be held on Saturday at 2 pm, any on-campus student can apply. “It’s for students to come up with an idea they’re trying to solve using technology,” Wakeley said, adding that he wanted to keep it open to encourage more participation. Three finalists will be presenting their ideas to a panel of judges, and the winner will be awarded prize money from the sponsors, he said.


A number of events are related to security, whether it’s physical security or cybersecurity.

A session called “Offensive Security for Business Leaders” will be hosted by Reid Tokarz, customer experience delivery lead for Cisco Systems Inc., on Friday at noon. “Reid comes from a bunch of projects at Cisco, and he shares a bunch of stories about ethics and good things to know on how to save money and protect your business,” Wakeley said. “It should be really cool.”

And every day, starting on Thursday at 1 pm and also held at 11 am on Friday and Saturday, will be the popular Lock Picking lounge, headed by MacKenzie Brown, an incident response consultant for Microsoft. “It’s a really popular hobby for people who work in security,” Wakeley said. “Physical infrastructure is a big deal. When they’re not working, they hang out and pick locks and drink beer.”

‘Making’ events

There’ll also be plenty of events for the “makers” in attendance. “Discover 3D Printing with 3D Printcess,” held at 1 pm on Thursday and 11 am on Friday and Saturday, is a walkup workshop hosted by Sierra Sandison, a BSU mechanical engineering student who also happens to be Miss Idaho. She will be bringing a set of 3D printers and teaching people about them, Wakeley said.

At 1 pm on Friday there’ll be a session called “Handheld Validation,” on the hobby of Game Boy modding, hosted by an electrical engineer from the University of Idaho. “He mods old game handhelds into art, but they still work,” Wakeley said. “He’ll be talking about that hobby and showing people resources.”

Another session will be on building your own custom keyboard, using a kit. “You’ll solder it together and bring it home,” Wakeley said.

“It’s the largest Hackfort we’ve ever had. I’m really happy with what we pulled off in a short time.”


Hot takes on hot tech

Several sessions and panels are being held on interesting new technologies, Wakeley said. Past presenter Kathleen Cohen will be hosting a session called “The Little M, Metaverse 101 for Beginners,” about augmented and virtual reality, while there will also be a panel on the metaverse, called “Dropping into the Metaverse”, on Saturday at 2 pm, with presenters who work in that industry, on online economies and online marketing.

Aaron Sagers, who hosts the Travel Channel show Paranormal Caught on Camera and Ripley’s Believe It or Not Road Trip web series, and Chris Longo, director of partnerships for Den of Geek magazine, will be hosting a panel on the future of streaming on Friday at 2 pm. Sagers will also do an episode of his Talking Strange podcast from Boise, discussing “haunted Boise,” Wakeley added.

Ken Brook, CEO of MetaX, will be coming in from Los Angeles to host a panel on non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on Friday at 3 pm called “Purpose Driven NFTs and Wild DAOs,” referring to decentralized autonomous organizations, which are used in blockchain.

Professionally speaking

As in past years, several sessions cover business topics as well. Thursday at 3 pm will feature a session on user experience called “Using UX to Build a Better Web Through Empathy and Accessibility,” while Friday at 1 pm will feature a session on remote patient monitoring.

“Anson Moise, a doctor from New York, will be talking about new rural clinics,” Wakeley said. The point is to give people the ability to talk to a doctor remotely who might not have a computer at home, he said. “The ability to do these remote places allows them to connect more people to doctors.” The session will also discuss physical devices like wristbands that monitor patients and let health professionals remote in and check their vital signs in real time. “It’s like Star Trek,” he said.

And Brendan Dunne, a blogwriter and YouTuber who hosts Full Size Run, will be coming in from New York to host a panel called “Robots are Buying Your Shoes and Graphic Cards.” It’s how resellers are using bots to go in online and buy scarce items like graphics cards and collectible shoes, and then selling them at double the price, Wakeley reports.

Finally, we all know what they say about all work and no play. The local gaming community will be hosting BoiseLAN so attendees can bring their computer, set it up, hang out, and play video games all day, Wakeley said.

Hackfort starts March 23 and is free with a Treefort band, or you can buy a ticket to just Hackfort for $30. Some events require separate tickets.

Sharon Fisher is a digital nomad who writes about entrepreneurship.

This article was created as a collaboration between Boise Entrepreneur Week, Built in Idaho and Trailhead