The most notable talk was, I think, from the herbalist naturopath who passed out this stuff that killed one's sense of tasting sweet. It made honey taste like mineral oil, coke taste like weak vanilla, mentos taste like aspirin, and chocolate taste like wax. It was a fun form of sensorium hacking, kind of like notch filters for the ears or darkly colored lenses over the eyes, but for your tongue.
The other good notable speech was from a Marine just back from Iraq. He had run big chunks of the Martines' fielded IT system. The system he described was was pretty damn cool, hyper mobile, virtualized, hot redundant. It's major day-to-day operational threat was... overheating.
Part of his talk was about he himself spending 14 hour days, 7 days a week, for several months, writing a web app that coordinated the dispursement of billions of dollars of reconstruction money for all of western Iraq. Dozen of hospitals, hundreds of schools, thousands of housing units, built via coordination thru his app. How's that for software that touches lives and changes the world? He was understandably a little annoyed at the media and the cut-and-run-ers whos only interest was how many IEDs detonate each week. I got to talk shop with him, from my experieces working on CICS at Ampersand.