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The Day We Fight Back Against Mass Surveillance

headerOn February 11th 2014, many activist groups, companies, and online platforms will hold a worldwide day of activism in opposition to the NSA’s mass spying regime. Thousands of websites are protesting online but they’re also going to be on the streets. Events are planned in cities worldwide, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Toronto, Chicago, Copenhagen, Stockholm and more.


Swartz protesting against SOPA
(2012 – Photo by D. Sieradski)

“The Day We Fight Back” was announced on the anniversary of the tragic passing of well-known Internet activist Aaron Swartz. He was a computer programmer, writer, and political organizer involved in the development of RSS, the organization of Creative Commons,, Reddit, and his own company, Infogami. In 2011, he was arrest by MIT police after systemically downloading academic journals stolen from JSTOR. After JSTOR and MIT decided NOT to take the case to court, or hold him responsible, US Federal prosecutors took action, charging him with two counts of wire fraud and 11 violations of the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). This resulted in $1 million in fines plus 35 years in prison. After being denied a plea bargain two years later, Swartz was found in his New York apartment, where he took his own life. Continue reading

Live Streaming Video using AVConv and the Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized $35 computer that can be used to accomplish many tasks similar to what a desktop PC can do. This includes spreadsheets, word-processing, games, and even…live video broadcasting! By connecting a powered USB Hub and webcam to your Raspberry Pi, you can broadcast live video to an unlimited audience for free. I’ll show you how this is possible.

Please be patient and read through the entire tutorial before attempting.

What You NeedCredit:

Getting started requires a few peripherals. To start up your Raspberry Pi and do initial configuration, you will need an HDMI cable, USB keyboard, and USB mouse. In addition:


  • Use the raspberry pi “headless”. Do not run the desktop version of Rasbian on your Pi (xwindows). It uses an excess amount of RAM and precious CPU power that you need to reserve for your live video compression and streaming. Instead, use the command line interface or access via Secure Shell from another computer. (optional)

  • Assign a static local IP to the Raspberry Pi. (Configuration can be found in: /etc/network/interfaces). This is useful when accessing the Pi remotely. (optional)

  • Don’t use a Raspberry Pi enclosure that limits heat transfer and airflow.


Update your software repository to the latest version by running the following commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

Plug in your devices.  Webcam –> Powered USB Hub –> Raspberry Pi

Install Screen (optional):

apt-get install screen

Restart your Pi device:



To transcode and broadcast the video, you will need to use a Linux application called AVConv (similar to FFmpeg). It is a command line program for transcoding multimedia files using the Libav Multimedia Framework. FFmpeg will give you the same result, but I personally prefer AVConv for ease-of-use.

To Install AVConv, run the following command:

sudo apt-get install avconv

Continue reading


Spyware is a program that is put into someone’s computer to secretly get information about a person or organization. These data collecting programs are installed without the user knowing. They may have received this program on their system by a ‘drive-by download’ , the result of clicking something on a pop-up, or from many other places. Spyware is not usually a nice program to have on your computer.

Spyware may invade your system by being secretly installed to search for personal information  on your system. A ‘cookie’ is a well known mechanism for storing information about a user on a computer. If a cookie has information about you that you do not know about, it can be considered spyware because other programs could gather information from the cookie.

Aside from something or someone gathering information about you, general annoyance is the most common complaint about spyware. Spyware could result in other unwanted items on your computer such as system tray icons and changes in system functionality. Spyware invades privacy and is sometimes destructive. Occasionally, spyware can change registry settings or install undesired software. These are sometimes nearly impossible to fix or remove without re-installing your OS.

There are many virus protection suites that include the  basic and necessary protection against spyware and adware. Most operating systems also offer the essentials. It is important to use software to protect against these issues. Aside from software, it is critical that you think about what you are doing online. Something on a website or pop-up may look safe or legitimate but it may just be a trick. Being careful of what you download and click on could be just enough to protect you and your system from this internet related issue that affects thousands of people.