Providence — the one in Rhode Island

I am thrilled that I was accepted to speak at the Layer 8 conference in Providence, Rhode Island on Saturday, June 8th! If you are unfamiliar with this event, the Layer 8 conference is the only one that is solely dedicated to social engineering and open source intelligence (OSINT) discussions. We will have two tracks of presentations on these topics from world-renowned social engineers and investigators. (from the conference website)

My talk is entitled, “Lawyers, Guns, and Money: An Introduction to Legal, Government, and Business Research.” I will be drawing from my experience as a librarian to show attendees the ropes, tips, and best practices for obtaining that kind of OSINT information.

Once upon a time, in the year none of your business, I briefly lived in Rhode Island as a college student. I’m looking forward to visiting some of my old haunts. I will share some of my own tips for getting the most out of your visit to Little Rhody during your Layer 8 conference attendance.

Yes, Rhode Island is the smallest state in the U.S. Some residents are sensitive about that, so don’t rub it in. What they lack in size, they make up for in character. Fun fact, their name is State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

The state flag of RI

Here are my top ten Rhode Island experiences that you should enjoy:

(1) Coffee. Rhode Islanders do not mess around when it comes to coffee. I think I read somewhere that they consume more coffee per capita than most places in the U.S. or the world. Or, that was just a Rhode Islander bragging. Either way, I experienced first hand that they take coffee very seriously. The first time I ever had iced coffee was at the McDonald’s on Broad Street. At that time, iced coffee wasn’t as prevalent as it is now so it was a big deal. Just trust me on this one.

(2) Coffee Milk. Yes, it’s different than just coffee. There’s coffee syrup that you put into milk, so you know, the kids can get their coffee fixation started early on. You can also use it to make coffee milkshakes, which at one point were called cabinets or cabs in Rhode Island. I have learned more recently that this term has gone away. But, back in my day, it was perfectly normal to go into an ice cream shop and order a “coffee cab” and you’d get a delicious coffee milkshake.

It’s like delicious liquid crack.

(3) Grinders. Before that word was best associated with a dating app, it was better known in Rhode Island as a type of sandwich. With the Rhode Island accent, it delightfully sounds like “grine-dah.” I have fond memories of getting grinders from the Edgewood Market on Narragansett Boulevard in Cranston. (Pronounced with a real nasal A for the native sound.) This article has an explanation of the history of the name grinders. Basically, it’s a hoagie or a sub, or whatever you call a delicious sandwich on a long roll.

(4) Federal Hill. There’s a film from 1999 called “Outside Providence” that gives some insight into this neighborhood of the city. Also, if I recall correctly, in the 1970 film “Love Story,” the character Jenny is from Federal Hill. Essentially, it’s your old school Italian neighborhood that is now a mix of old and new. They have their own website, You need to see the famous “pineapple” (which is really a pine cone), the fountain, and stuff your face on all the good food that’s there. Purely on sentimental reasons alone, I always visit Sicilia’s Pizza on Atwells Avenue. Also for sentimental reasons, I think you should try Scialo Brothers Bakery just down Atwells from the pizza place.

(5) East Providence. Not to be confused with the “East Side of Providence,” (which I will get to next), East Providence is kind of a suburb and it’s where you will find many Portuguese establishments. I went to Madeira once a million years ago and it was amazing. On a more recent trip to East Providence, I ate at a restaurant that I’m pretty sure was in a church basement. It was so authentic that the waitresses only spoke Portuguese and we had to point at the menu to order. It was called the Phillips Street Restaurant and it doesn’t get more authentic than this.

(6) East Side. When I lived in Providence, the East Side was the epitome of the coolness. My roommates and I used to flock there every chance we could get. The East Side is where you will find Brown University, the Rhode Island School of Design (aka RISD, pronounced like “riz-dee), and beautiful stately old homes that are just visually pleasing. Unless you are a billy goat or have really strong legs, your best bet is to take a car around the East Side because parts of it are super hilly. There is a really good lookout point on the East Side where you can get nice photos of the city. Thayer Street is the main drag and that’s where you’ll find your typical college campus stores and trendy food places. Be sure to check out the RISD Museum. Fun fact: Seth MacFarlane of “Family Guy” fame (or infamy, depending on your point of view) attended RISD, as did other famous people whom I cannot recall at this time (and don’t feel like looking up.)

(7) Culinary Arts Museum. Welp, I was going to recommend this place on the campus of Johnson & Wales University, but I just learned that it is now closed to the public. That is a shame because it was a fantastic collection of food, dining, and restaurant history and design. They have digitized their collection and it can be seen here. Fun fact: I once worked in this museum!

(8) Newport. Did you know that Rhode Island is known as the Ocean State? There are lots of beaches in Rhode Island, but Newport is where the gigantic old money mansions are. You can see them by going on the Cliff Walk. Newport is about an hour from Providence, depending on traffic. If you want to explore a little bit more, you can take the ferry to Block Island.

(9) WaterFire. Full disclosure, this attraction was not around when I lived there and I haven’t seen it on any of my more recent trips. But, it’s a big deal and I have to mention it. Something like they uncovered a river that ran through the city and created a park and nice urban space around it. They have these flaming bowls on the water and it looks pretty and stuff, from the photos I’ve seen. Just check it out.

(10) WBRU. The now-defunct radio station could be found at 95.5 on the FM dial. It was part Brown University college radio and part professionals. It played the best music from the so-called “alternative” genre. It’s where I first heard bands like the Soup Dragons, The Connells, Belly, and Aztec Camera, to name a few. They live on as a digital being here. To me, WBRU will always be the sound of Providence.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to participate in Layer 8, a great conference for those interested in Open Source Intelligence and Social Engineering information. Get details and purchase tickets here. It will be held Saturday, June 8th in Providence, Rhode Island. See you there!

P.S. Bonus points to you if you recognized the song I referenced in the title of this blog post. Stumped? Find the answer here.

#Librarian turned #InformationSecurity professional. Your guide up a mountain of information!