So, today I reexperienced that picking out talks that are more or less above my skill level in combination with a lack of sleep is not an ideal situation here. Nevertheless i am sure i can draw a picture of what has happened, even if not too extensively.
Number crunching with FPGAs
I made it just in time to this talk (problem: with only one consumed cup of coffee). I was rather curious on how things go ("for the masses" in the title gave that impression), but if you have no real knowledge in electro-technics it is a bit like magic. So, what Felix Domke did was to show how a DES cipher could be brute forced in a certain time (~1 week) with a certain budget (~1k €). Usual ways of doing so (e.g. with CPUs, GPUs) are too expensive as loads of them are used to achieve the goal in the specified time. So, what he did was to buy some used boards with FPGAs on ebay and program them. Therefore he made use of the project Copacobana - short for cost-optimized parallel code breaker. Furthermore he is interested in sharing the calculation power. An opportunity is the Dreambox receiver which is fitted with FPGAs and can be used while on standby.