Americans protesting corporate greed and inequality faced down authorities in parks and plazas across the country ahead of what organizers describe as 24 hours of public action planned for Saturday in cities around the world.
Thanks to everyone on #OccupySF for their contributions and hard work!
Update: many more pictures added.
The events of the Iranian election in June had us unrepentant Twitter addicts enthralled. With traditional media controlled by the government, the opposition organized using mobile phones and the Internet. As never before, the whole world could cheer alongside protesters demanding their rights while sharing in the terror and heartbreak of seeing them brutally crushed — all in real time, on Twitter and YouTube.
Outraged at seeing a movement and a generation muzzled, a group of us got together and started developing anti-censorship tools. We believe everyone, everywhere should be able to freely communicate. The system we designed, “Haystack,” provides completely uncensored access. There are no more Facebook blocks, no more government warning pages when trying to read BBC news — just unfiltered Internet. It’s an improvement to the state of the art in anti-censorship technology. It’s a necessary one too: Iran’s filtering is quite advanced, and it’s one of two countries to censor the Internet using domestic hardware and software. (The other is China.) Imagine a postal service that opens each piece of mail and uses machine learning algorithms to detect subversive correspondence. That’s Iranian digital censorship.
This kind of filtering is called “deep packet inspection.” It allows the government to block, read, and even change messages sent over the Internet, including emails and tweets. Iran purchased equipment from Western companies like Nokia and Siemans for this censorship, and is rapidly deploying homegrown equivalents over which it can exert more control.
Still, we were able to identify weaknesses in Iran’s approach and develop countermeasures. On a tecnología-e-tecnología basis, censors will always lose as long as any information at all can get out.
After coding night and day since the election we tested a beta version of Haystack in early July by bouncing traffic through Iran. It worked. When we saw that the government had improved its filtering methods in preparation for the Qods Day celebration in September, we were briefly worried. But we couldn’t help but cheer as Haystack cut through even the improved filtering. We couldn’t have been more excited.
In retrospect, we shouldn’t have been surprised. Traditional anti-censorship systems divert blocked traffic to servers located outside of the country. Haystack goes one step further: it uses innovative techniques to make blocked traffic look benign, rendering a user’s activity virtually undetectable. Haystack also has a cryptographic component which ensures that our users’ communications remain safe even if detected. The only way to block Haystack, we like to say, is to shut down the internet.
Deploying Haystack has hardly been a walk in the park, however. The problems are not merely technical. Under United States law, one can be put in jail for ten years just for sending an iPod to Iran. The legal clearance necessary to distribute Haystack has been a tall hurdle to jump. We’ve shuttled back and forth to Washington, D.C, and from coast to coast. We’ve written dozens of pages worth of legal forms and, because we’re committed to a sustained effort to end censorship, we’ve even founded a non-profit, the Censorship Research Center, through which we hope to tackle the filtering schemes of other countries as well.
There is something strangely ironic about the events that brought us to this point. We learned about Iran through Tweets, YouTube videos, and photos posted on Facebook. These same media which we are told pull people apart, away from the personal contacts that make life meaningful, brought us closer to a people, and a movement that we would have not otherwise known. These same media that were supposed to create a generation of apathy, in fact, gave a generation its voice. The courage displayed by the Iranian people inspired us to help them, and to help others. We refuse to allow their courage and the courage of those like them to be in vain.
That’s what has ravished my apartment: 20-freaking-thousand gallons of water. The casscading (lol?) effects of the flooding have ended in our apartment building being condemned, fuzzy mold creatures growing everywhere, and bio-hazard signs all over the place.
It all started three weeks ago when the owner of our building decided to have the roof replaced. At the end of the second day of roof construction, the workers covered the roof with some flimsy pieces of tarp and, low and behold, it rained that night — something incredibly rare in San Francisco. All of the rain water ended up getting caught in the tarps until they burst, flooding the top floors and a few floors (including ours) below it.
Fast-forward a few days: the flood repair people have moved in, there’s huge, industrial dehumidifiers all over the place, and they’ve torn out the ceiling in many of the apartment units to inspect for water/mold damage not visible to the lignomat non-invasive scanners. Great, things are moving forward.
It’s late one weekend night and all of the sudden the fire alarms go off… and so do the sprinkler systems. One of the machines the flood repair people had brought in had inadvertently set off the entire sprinkler system.
Right now we’re just trying to figure out what all was destroyed, dealing with f($&@%)ing insurance companies, and trying to put our lives back together. Needless to say, this has put a damper (lol? again?) on everything else I’m working on. I’ll be a bit less active while we pack up, move, fill out all these insurance forms, find a new place, unpack, etc etc etc…
Our unit is by no stretch the worse of the bunch. Some of my neighbors had to vacate immediately, some have no beds (’cause they’re now sponges) and are sleeping on the floor.
I’ll be rejoining the online world soon, just need to take care of stuff in meat-space first.