I have a new Android smartphone, and I was recently looking into options for anonymous browsing on  it. The Tor Project offers an app called Orbot that enables using the Tor network, but at the moment it only works on Android 1.x because the 2.x OS doesn’t have a way yet for you to set the proxy. While digging around into some phone hacks, however, I discovered that you can use the Voice Dialer app to run certain commands. By saying “proxy,” for example, you get a proxy configuration screen. Interesting enough, this enables you to set a proxy and run Orbot to use Tor on your phone.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Install the Orbot app
  • Pull up the Voice Dialer app, and speak the word “proxy”
  • In the proxy configuration screen, put 127.0.0.1 and port 8118
  • Fire up the Orbot app
  • Your browsing session will now be anonymized via Tor (test it here)
  • When you’re done, pull up the Voice Dialer again and reset the proxy to return to regular browsing

This works for unrooted phones. This only seems to work via the cell’s 3G connection, not over wifi.  It also only anonymizes your browser traffic. For more info, read up on Tor.

DIY Bio FAQ

July 15, 2009

A new FAQ is being put together for DIY Bio questions. Check it out and/or add to it (it’s a wiki).

The_gridGiven the increasing number of countries and corporations that are seeking to censor or control the internet, it is fantastic to see an initiative to establish a community-based wireless mesh network as a free alternative. Introducing the autonomous internet, or auto-net:

How? Advances in wireless technology such as ubiquitous wireless routers, community mesh networks which are easily expandable and self-healing as well as long range wireless efforts such as HPWREN indicate a possible future for a community based internet free of the centralized control of telephone corporations and governments. While this is definitely a fork, more forks are to come and we can only hope that a few networks will emerge which can be broad enough to span most of the globe.

Imagine if all of the hacker spaces around the globe started contributing to this?

Read more about it. Sign up to support it.

(Via HackBloc)

Catching Up, Magazines

June 23, 2009

I can always tell that I’m behind in updating this thing by how many tabs I have open in my browser. I seriously have over 100 tabs open right now, which is just ludicrous. Some of these tabs have been open for weeks. So time to catch up on my reading and blogging!

New issues of two recommended PDF magazines came out … umm, recently:

Both look interesting, though I haven’t had the time to fully absorb them yet. Possibly expect some commentary on them later.

This Monochrom critique of hacker spaces and hacklabs takes these alternative/cooperative spaces to task for straying from their dual power roots, losing their  radical politics, and not taking a more antagonistic stance towards the status quo:

The idea of having a revolution (of whatever kind) was domesticated into good clean reformism, and the only revolutions that lay ahead were the technological semi-revolutions of the internet and its social web sprouts.
Without former political agendas hackerspaces turned into small places that did not really make fundamental differences. Comparable to the fall of squat houses becoming legal in status and turning into new bourgeois housing projects where the cool urban bohemians live their lives commuting steadily between art world, underground, IT-business and advertisement agencies.

It also takes them to task for not doing enough to counter white privilege or strive for gender parity:

Plus, we need to reflect and understand that the hackerspaces of today are under the “benevolent” control of a certain group of mostly white and male techno handicraft working nerds. And that they shape a practise of their own which destines most of the hackerspaces of today. (It is hard to understand that there are hackerspaces in certain parts of the US that don’t have a single Afro-American or Latino member.
But we’d like to keep our European smugness to ourselves. We have to look at our oh-so-multicultural hacker scene in Europe and ask ourselves if hackers with a migrant background from Turkey or North-African states are represented in numbers one would expect from their percentage of the population. Or simply count your women representation and see if they make 50% of your members.)

So what do they suggest? To start, they want to see more workshops on political theory and history and what the purposes of these spaces should actually be, in the hopes that radical politics can once again be embraced. They also want to see these hackerspaces make serious efforts to include more marginalized and oppressed people in order to overcome the entrenched white nerd technocracy.

Never before in the history of bourgeois society has everything been as fucked up as it is right now. But what is lacking amongst all the practising going on in hackerspaces is a concise theory of what bourgeois society is like and what should be attacked by us building and running open spaces within that society.

This is just the start, of course. I’d also suggest that efforts be made to develop more radical hacktivist projects, particularly aligned towards ongoing social struggles. What if an Anonymous-style movement went after the Minutemen and nativist anti-immigration groups rather than the Church of Scientology? Hacklabs should also be connecting to these ongoing social movements and offering their technical expertise and support. Imagine if a worker-occupied factory was able to continue production under worker control thanks to the adoption of reprap machines or other open source 3D printers, facilitaed by hacktivists? What if DIY robot hackers assembled fleets of drones to aid in Copwatch programs, using sousveillance to keep abuses of authority in line? Even better, what if these hackerspace users took their politics back to the labs, factories, and offices in which they work, enabling a new movement of radicalized scientists and techies to counter the corporate uses and abuses of their research and intellectual labor?

What are we waiting for?

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