Libya's revolution headquarters | Al Jazeera English

Submitted by Sam Moore on Sun, 02/27/2011 - 12:25

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Here's a fascinating look at how the Libyan opposition in Benghazi have been hacking their internet access and other means of communication, in spite of the regime's efforts to create a blackout across the country.

The top-floor internet centre began operating on Tuesday, explains Sanalla, a dual British and Libyan citizen who has spent the past four years studying medicine at Benghazi's Garyounis University.

Ahmed Sheikh, a 42-year-old computer engineer who works in civil aviation, rigged the room's internet system. A cable leads from a large satellite dish on the roof through a hole in the wall to a receiver, which then connects to wireless routers. Most of the laptops connect directly to the routers by Ethernet cables, though on Saturday afternoon, the connection was hampered by heavy wind, intermittent rain and cloudy skies.

"You're getting two kilobytes a second, it's worthless," Sanalla told one of the other men trying to upload videos to YouTube.

At another laptop, 26-year-old Ahmed Yacoub was setting up an Arabic-language Wordpress blog: "The Voice of the February 17 Revolution" – named after the “day of rage” when the protests in Libya began to turn into a violent uprising.

Yacoub, who studies media and programming at Garyounis, said he and other Libyans gained "courage and guidance" from the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia. Egyptians have been assisting the Libyan uprising, not only by ferrying aid across the liberated eastern border between the two countries, but by carrying media out of the internet blackout in Libya to upload in Egyptian border towns and by sharing tactical advice on how to confront a repressive government crackdown, Sanalla said.

Between the onset of heavy fighting on the 17th and the 21st, he said, protesters in Benghazi were suffering under a total internet blackout. Then Sheikh came and arranged his ad-hoc system. On Saturday, they had just arranged to make phone calls through the satellite connection and could now conduct Skype phone calls with the outside world. Sanalla had been reaching out to international media organisations such as CNN and the BBC using the program’s chat capability.

The crew in the room also administers the “Libyans” group on Facebook and tweets from the account "endtyranny01" – Sanalla's from when he wanted to remain anonymous.

Al Jazeera post

Wireless Power Lightens Up Cereal Boxes | Advertising Lab

Submitted by Sam Moore on Sat, 02/26/2011 - 14:49

Adlabman 50x70

From AdLab comes this news about eCoupled's wirelessly-powered on-package lightup graphics.


"eCoupled intelligent wireless power is so flexible it can actually be printed directly onto packaging. A low-cost enhancement to product packaging, printed coils allow real-time communication from the package to the store shelf, and then to the store’s inventory management system. Product quantities can be identified and tracked, expiration dates monitored, and new stock automatically ordered when supplies are low to help reduce lost sales."

Wait - weren't RFID tags supposed to make that problem go away?

via AdLab

Gizmodo post


Gadaffi’s Mass text messages | Smart Mobs

Submitted by Sam Moore on Sat, 02/26/2011 - 00:30

Screen shot 2011 02 26 at 12 25 08 AMApparently the Libyan government is trying to get mass SMS messaging going:

Sources on the ground in #Libya: Mass text messages being sent to users in support of #Gaddafi. Those who forward the messages to others are promised phone credits

Twitter 25/02 11.15 ‘Reports from #Libya: Citizens of #Tripoli receiving texts offering 100 dinar credit if they send messages asking people to stay home today’ by @MAQAM.
9 minutes ago via Facebook

Another SMS from Libyana mobile phone provider. fatwa against watching Al Jazeera & other media channels #Libya #Tripoli #Benghazi via @flyingbirdies

It's not clear that this is having the intended effect, though, as messages asking people to act as if nothing happened only make sense if you're completely out of touch with the reality on the ground:

So the government is asking people to go back to work, but as I told you I don’t think that will be possible in weeks. There’s so much destruction in the city.


Google Tweaks Algorithm to Push Down Low-Quality Sites -

Submitted by Sam Moore on Fri, 02/25/2011 - 14:27


Another move in the SEO wars... and perhaps a knock against eHow and so forth.

Google has updated their algorithm (which they do all the time) - this time, coming out and saying that they're targeting low-quality content farms, splogs, etc.:

“This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites — sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other Web sites or sites that are just not very useful,” Amit Singhal, a Google fellow, and Matt Cutts, who leads Google’s spam-fighting team, wrote in a company blog post. “At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites — sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.”

NY Times

Website Magazine recommendation as to what to do next

Thuraya satellite telecom says jammed by Libya | Reuters

Submitted by Sam Moore on Fri, 02/25/2011 - 14:12

Logo reuters media africaObviously Gaddafi well understands the key role of communications in empowering resistance to despotism. Now he's moved to block satellite and mobile service, though the jamming isn't all that effective.

And as we know, there are lots of technical service providers and others looking for eays to help Libyans get around the information blockade.

DUBAI, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications Co's services are being jammed by Libya, the UAE-based firm's chief executive said on Thursday, as a revolt continued against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

"Unfortunately there is deliberate jamming by Libya ... which is illegal," CEO Samer Halawi told Al Arabiya television.

"Jamming started on Feb. 17 and it continues today. Our equipment is reducing the effects of the jamming so that we have coverage in 70 percent of Libya," Halawi said.

Reuters post

Indiana Official: "Use Live Ammunition" Against Wisconsin Protesters

Submitted by Sam Moore on Wed, 02/23/2011 - 17:29

Jccentcom 0

Careful with that axe, Jeff...

An Indiana Deputy AG, Jeff Cox, has been fired for sending chilling messages via twitter and elsewhere, suggesting that riot police fire upon peaceful protesters at Wisconsin' state capitol building.

On Saturday night, when Mother Jones staffers tweeted a report that riot police might soon sweep demonstrators out of the Wisconsin capitol building—something that didn't end up happening—one Twitter user sent out a chilling public response: "Use live ammunition."

From my own Twitter account, I confronted the user, JCCentCom. He tweeted back that the demonstrators were "political enemies" and "thugs" who were "physically threatening legally elected officials." In response to such behavior, he said, "You're damned right I advocate deadly force." He later called me a "typical leftist," adding, "liberals hate police."

Only later did we realize that JCCentCom was a deputy attorney general for the state of Indiana.

Cox obama joker 8 9 09

This isn't trivial - the union-busting effort against those who serve the public is spreading to other states.

The incident seems all the more troubling now that the public-sector union fight playing out in Wisconsin is now headed to other states—including Indiana, where GOP senators Tuesday passed a bill that would abolish collective bargaining for state teachers. (Indiana's Republican governor walked back his support of the measure Tuesday after taking stock of the opposition.)

Mother Jones article, with screen captures of Cox's blogs posts and tweets

Libyan city dubbed 'Free Benghazi' as anti-Gaddafi troops take control | World news |

Submitted by Sam Moore on Wed, 02/23/2011 - 11:40

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Looks like Gaddafi's strategy of making war on his own people is beginning to backfire. There's very clear evidence that the Libyan military is rejecting his rule, based on his use of mercenaries and his commands to use heavy weapons on civilians.

Soldiers brought rockets and heavy weapons which had been used in an assault on citizens in central Benghazi on Saturday as Gaddafi tried to keep control of the city. Doctors in Benghazi said that at least 230 people were killed, with a further 30 critically injured.

There was also the clearest confirmation yet that Gaddafi's regime used outside mercenaries to try to suppress the rebellion. Adjoining the police station a large crowd gathered in another courtyard. Upstairs, the Guardian saw a number of mercenaries, allegedly flown in the previous week, being interrogated by lawyers and army officials.

An air force officer, Major Rajib Faytouni, said he personally witnessed up to 4,000 mercenaries arrive on Libyan transport planes over a period of three days starting from 14 February. He said: "That's why we turned against the government. That and the fact there was an order to use planes to attack the people."

Guardian piece on Benghazi

Guardian's live updates on the whole Libyan situation

Al Jazeera's coverage

Libya air force jets in Malta, pilots seek asylum - AP

Submitted by Sam Moore on Tue, 02/22/2011 - 12:28


Apparently two Libyan Airforce Colonels have sought asylum in Malta after refusing to fire on their countrymen from their jets. From the AP story:

The two Mirage jets landed at Malta International Airport shortly after two civilian helicopters landed carrying seven people who said they were French. A military source familiar with the situation said the passengers had left in such a hurry that only one had a passport.
The source, who insisted he not be identified further, said the jet pilots — both Libyan air force colonels — had communicated from the air that they wanted political asylum. They had left from a base near Tripoli and had flown low over Libyan airspace to avoid detection, the source said.

New chron green Houston Chronicle's AP Stories page

Opération Lybie - Refuse

Submitted by Sam Moore on Tue, 02/22/2011 - 12:09

Screen shot 2011 02 22 at 11 39 39 AMOpération Lybie has organized a bunch of dialup numbers for Lybian citizens to use in case the government cuts off their internet access (see the similar effort at using POTS lines for Tweeting in Egypt).

I'm relaying a message from a Libyan citizen, who came on IRC channel #FDN to talk about opération "Libya White Fax".
The idea is to send a PDF document to the Libyan population via FAX (using traditional FAX or SIP) to a given list of Libyan phone numbers.

The faxed document contains a list of international phone numbers for dialup users to access so they can get back on the Net. Obviously this will be expensive, but it'll get around the "Internet Kill Switch" strategy.

One dialup service donor is France's FDN. Here's their statement (they started offering dialup during the Egyptian crisis).

Now I kind of wish I hadn't trashed all my old modems... who knows when we'll need these again?

Opération Lybie (scroll down for English)

Screen shot 2011 02 22 at 12 04 51 PM We Rebuild's Libya page has broader information on infrastructure and counter-censorship.