Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bypassing Blogger Bans

Living in Turkey is great. The lifestyle is good. There are markets where you can get almost any gadget conceivable. There's broadband and wireless. But...

The Turkish courts have a habit of banning whole websites such as YouTube, GeoCities and now Blogger because a minority complains about a small piece of content that offends them.

YouTube is usually blocked after complaints about videos that insult Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey. GeoCities and Google Groups and other sites were apparently blocked by a Muslim creationist claiming to be defamed by a prominent evolutionist.

Blogger is apparently blocked because a soccer matches broadcast on a Turkish TV service are being captured and streamed through Blogger.

Instead of banning just the offending content, the courts ban the whole sites.

So how to get around it? Many Turks are using proxy servers and tunnels websites. This works OK for viewing, but when Javascript or seamless access to the sites is required it gets messy and you need to copy/paste URLs a lot.

To access Blogger and the other blocked sites, I have a SSH tunnel localhost connection to a server. I connect FireFox to this tunnel using the socks layer with FoxyProxy. My server provides DNS for the affected URLs as well as routing the content. Going through the server slows the connection so I have FoxyProxy using pattern matching to connect the socks proxy only for sites that are banned. When I see the dreaded "This site has been banned by blah..." message, I can add the URL pattern and continue browsing.

While this is a workaround, I would prefer that the censorship would stop or at least be done properly - only blocking the offensive content - not whole sites. I invite you to join the Facebook cause to Stop Internet Censorship in Turkey!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Triphod-like plantbot

THE PLAY COALITION has designed PLANTBOT - a robotic planter that moves plants to catch the sun.
project image name

Sunday, October 19, 2008

High tech buses

I caught one of the newest buses in the city yesterday. It had a GPS screen, a voice announcing stops and news, weather, speed, time and location on the screen.

[Edit: added tags. Original posted from mobile blogger.]

Friday, October 17, 2008

MacGyver episodes on YouTube


MacGyver - Pilot

MacGyver - Pilot
48:14

A mysterious explosion demolishes an underground lab.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Gadget lab from the amazing personal library of Jay Walker


Gadget Lab
A brand-new One Laptop per Child XO, far left, sits next to a relatively ancient RadioShack TRS-80 Model 100.
In back, a 1911 typewriting machine and a 1909 Kent radio. The large
contraption at center is the Nazis' supposedly unbreakable Enigma code machine. The book to its left is a copy of Johannes Trithemius' 1518 Polygraphiae, a cryptographic landmark.
On the right is an Apple II motherboard signed by Woz. An Edison
kinetoscope sits beside an 1890 Edison phonograph (along with three of
the wax cylinders it uses for recording). Nearby is a faithful copy of
Edison's lightbulb. The gadget with the tubes is an IBM processor circa
1960. In front of it stands a truly ancient storage device, a Sumerian
clay cone used to record surplus grain.

Jay Walker is an internet entrepreneur and founder of Walker Digital. His collection of world changing books and historical objects is impressive. The massive library includes a Sputnik, the chandelier from Die Another Day, an instruction manual for the Saturn V rocket and many more interesting things.

See more at http://www.wired.com/techbiz/people/magazine/16-10/ff_walker?currentPage=all

Turning-drawer wooden safe

I stumbled across this from MAKE: Blog: Turning-drawer wooden safe

bandsawsafe01-full.jpg

My pal Alex Schlegel writes:

The 13 drawers of this band-saw box rotate rather than open outward. Objects for safekeeping are placed into the large, central drawer through a hole in the bottom of the box. Since the arrows on the front of each drawer point toward the drawer's open side, objects may be moved from one drawer to another by first lining up the arrows on the two drawers and then rotating the entire box so that the objects fall from the first drawer to the second.

The Band Saw Safe is great for storing all those loose gemstones you've got lying around.

It is a low tech gadget but looks cool. I suspect it would be a lot of fun to make and if you don't have a band saw lying around I guess you could always use a laser cutter.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Laptop Backpacks

BUILT has these cool looking laptop backpacks made from lightweight neoprene and mesh. While it looks like a wetsuit for computers, its probably not a great idea to go diving or surfing with them.

My latest mobile gadget: SonyEricsson P990i

I got a SonyEricsson P990i mobile from one of the MuzGadgets brothers when I visited them recently. It does pretty much all I need a pocket device to do:
  • internet access including via wireless
  • still/video camera (I must buy a bigger memory card)
  • MP3/media player/radio (I really must buy a bigger memory card)
  • ebook reader (the PDF viewer's interface is a bit annoying sometimes)
  • contacts/calendar/tasks manager with synchronization to my PC
  • emergency modem while waiting for the ADSL guys to connect us
  • oh and it works as a phone too
I've installed fring on it too so I can Skype from the phone. I've tried it a couple of times - it didn't show the live Skype video and one of the MuzGadget sisters couldn't understand anything I was saying - might have been a low bandwidth issue.

It might be second-hand and not quite as cool as an iPhone, but I'm very happy with it. It is a lot more useful than my old monochrome voice & sms only Siemens A70.