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Geeks In Asia Use Clever Hacks To Get Slashdot 154

Posted by kdawson
from the whatever-it-takes dept.
Daedius writes "My comrade Hugh Perkins is living in Asia and he has been without reliable internet connectivity for many days. He uses l33t hacks to get his daily dose of Slashdot in desperate times." From the posting: "The Taiwan earthquake has brought telecommunications in the Taiwan/Hong Kong region to a standstill. I am living in Shenzhen and am unable to read Slashdot directly for several days. Gmail and Google have privileged bandwidth and local servers and both continue to work perfectly from the region. Could there be some way to use Google or Gmail to read Slashdot? A solution was to upload an executable to my web hosting in America that would receive zipped executables by email, execute them, then email me the results."
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Geeks In Asia Use Clever Hacks To Get Slashdot

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  • by P(0)(!P(k)+P(k+1)) (1012109) <math.induction@gmail.com> on Monday January 01, 2007 @06:03AM (#17421016) Homepage Journal

    Résumé of TFA:

    1. uses Visual Studio;
    2. emails himself arbitrary binaries;
    3. executes said binaries.

    Promiscuity and Windows must go hand in hand (bad joke there, anyone?); why the hell wouldn't he set up a dæmon that received URLs by email instead of arbitrary binaries?!

    Elegance may well be a UNIX thing.

    • by mr_tenor (310787)
      The Windows way seems to be to start with Microsoft's approved libraries and build a big application from scratch.

      Me, I would have thought 'wget', 'gzip' and 'mail' scheduled to run periodically would do the job. And without any "run arbitrary applications" stuff either
      • by lxt518052 (720422)
        Indeed, the *nix way is far more elegant than the guy's solution. The guy's probably not aware of the tools available on a *nix host. Or worse, he could have chosen some IIS host, in which case, it's not likely he'd know *nix well.

        That being said, it's still a nice hacking attempt. He'd probably be converted to the *nix way sooner or later if reading slashdot is of such importance to him. Once the door is open, there're endless opportunities.

    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Monday January 01, 2007 @07:21AM (#17421238) Homepage Journal
      ``Promiscuity and Windows must go hand in hand (bad joke there, anyone?)''

      Is that why *nix users never get laid?
    • by evilviper (135110)
      Promiscuity and Windows must go hand in hand (bad joke there, anyone?);

      Windows users have toxoplasma gondii parasite?

      As if it's known symptoms weren't bad enough, this clever bug wears down it's host's defenses by compelling them to use Microsoft software...
    • by jellomizer (103300) * on Monday January 01, 2007 @09:22AM (#17421522)
      Well for posting a story trying to show how good your coding is hoping to get a pat on the back, Slashdot is the worse place to do so.
      • Your choice of programming language will be judged. Someone will use an other language to show you the simpler solution, (although it may not work, or work for your situation).
      • The OS your program runs on. If it is Windows people go why the hell are you using Windows and point you to a Unix/Unix clone. (Even though over 90% of the people are using Windows, and at the time of the disaster and the remote system you have access to only runs windows apps)
      • Your coding style. If you do it in C, C++ or C# you better make sure your brackets are in the prescribed but yet debatable location.
      • Your Code. If it i longer then 5 lines (properly spaced) then someone will find a better smaller solution even though the code may be unreadable.

      Slashdot is filled a diverse group of people, Good Programmers who know they are good programmers, Bad Programmers Think they are the Best Programmers out there, Good Programmers who who think they are Bad programmers so (the tend to keep their mouth shut), Bad Programmers who know they are Bad Programmers, and Good programmers who think themselves as the Best programmers, and Bad Programmers who think them as actually good programers.

      The most vocal are those who think they are the best programmer out there, some may point to some award that they won in college (that a Lot of students didn't compete in) or show all the great stuff they made. These are also ones the most easily get get threatened by an other programmers code and find ways of knocking it down. Making sure the designer of the code fells as crummy as possible, so the guy can still keep the place in his mind that he is #1!

      The Good/Bad Programers who know/think they are Good normally may give a couple of corrections in the code just to make it work a little better of efficiently, or just admit that that isn't quite the same approach they would use, in there style they may accomplish the same task differently and make it more easier for them to read threw.

      The ones who think they are bad programmers will try to learn about the code hoping it will make them better programmers or just ignore it as a programming thing.

      As for my take on the solution, it does seem a bit overkill, but you need to keep in mind that .NET adds a lot of additional code that other higher level languages (such as python) doesn't show you as part of your code (for all those includes say all the code for url.py in the python lib directory, or the smtplib code)) So his solution as far as the computer is concerned may be close to doing it in an other language. As well if he added to the email a Content-type: text/html\n\n to his email header he could probably be able to view the HTML file straight from gamil. I would grade the solution a C+/B- it gets the job done, it wasn't impressive, and a bit hard to follow. As well if you are going to post your code online you should at least make some comments explaining what each section does so the reader could read the comments for each function and get a gist on how the code works.
      • by yosofun (933530)
        what's the "prescribed yet debatable location" for brackets?
      • by gravis777 (123605)
        I must agree with your comments comment.

        Most programmers are horrible at commenting. Many others are bad at not using variable names that describe what they are doing. Try helping out a first year comp sci major who does not comment or pseudocode, and uses variable names such as x, y, z, a, b, c, a1, a2, and temp. A lot of times not even they know what they are doing.

        Pseudocode is a great thing, IMHO. I use it ALL the freakin time. It allows you to lay out the logic of your program in a simple to follow cod
      • by miyako (632510)
        The Good/Bad Programers who know/think they are Good normally may give a couple of corrections in the code just to make it work a little better of efficiently, or just admit that that isn't quite the same approach they would use, in there style they may accomplish the same task differently and make it more easier for them to read threw.
        The ones who think they are bad programmers will try to learn about the code hoping it will make them better programmers or just ignore it as a programming thing.

        Actually
  • by ishmaelflood (643277) on Monday January 01, 2007 @06:12AM (#17421038)
    I'm sure all the people and companies that pay for that privileged bandwidth are very happy that it is being used for something as important as /.
    • by msobkow (48369)

      I'm sure they are happy about it, as they're the ones paying for it. :)

      No one mentioned it being corporate bandwidth or people surfing at work, did they?

      Here in Saskatchewan GMail access was horrendously slow this morning, and access to other web sites has been very inconsistent and unreliable. Having to refresh pages a few times was not uncommon throughout the day, and has often been a problem throughout the holiday season.

      Too many script kiddies on the 'net during the holidays around the world tha

    • by 1u3hr (530656)
      I'm sure all the people and companies that pay for that privileged bandwidth are very happy that it is being used for something as important as /.

      Screw them. Thay can get their porn a bit slower. I (in Hong Kong) pay for my home connection which was completely dead for two days and is now at about 50% (guesstimate) of its normal performance.

      What struck me as suspicious was that for the first 12 hours after the quake (about 8pm local time) I didn't notice any problems in access. Only the next morning did

    • by Duncan3 (10537)
      My spam dropped to 100 messages a day from 1000++ right after the earthquake, but it ramping right back up.

      Lets hope they can say offline as long as possible.
  • by edwardpickman (965122) on Monday January 01, 2007 @06:13AM (#17421044)
    "The Glorius Workers Communist Website of Slashdot", That should get it past the censors.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by The Slaughter (887603)
      If you'd bothered to read the article, you'd see that the reason he was unable to read slashdot was due to the EARTHQUAKE limiting connectivity over there. Not any chinese censorship.
      • by lxt518052 (720422)
        Hey, this is slashdot. Some people NEVER read TFA and always assume they knew it! Besides, everything in China has to be evil, doesn't it?
        • by TheCyko1 (568452)
          This is in Taiwan, not China.
          • by lukas84 (912874)
            Don't irritate me with facts!
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by jarl1976 (1000672)
            The article specificly says the man lives in Shenzhen(like myself). Shenzhen is most certainly not in Taiwan...
            • by Threni (635302)
              I went there last year. It's a shit-hole, isn't it? Sort of like Wales, only with even more miserable people. The customs kept me for ages on the way in because of the omission of a leading zero on some form I had to submit with my passport. I thought they were trying to keep people in, not out? I don't think I ever saw a single person smile the whole time I was in China - in stark opposition to the great time I had in Hong Kong.

            • by lxt518052 (720422)
              Please ignore the parent post, my friend. He probably is not that ignorant to think Shenzhen is in Taiwan. He just wanted to provoke people and make some fun. There're a million mischievous surfers out there, you simply can't educate them all, especially when they don't really care about facts. Let's just make our points and move on.
          • Taiwan, also known as the Republic [wikipedia.org] of China
          • by 1u3hr (530656)
            This is in Taiwan, not China.

            No.

            The story is about Shenzhen, China. The quake off Taiwan was where the cables were damaged.

  • Google Translate? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dtfinch (661405) * on Monday January 01, 2007 @06:19AM (#17421056) Journal
    Select a bogus source language and it makes a good proxy for reading blocked sites, unless they block that too.
  • If he just wants to read the summaries
  • Too bad... (Score:2, Informative)

    by spammerboy (834445)
    If this was the old internet, he could have used one of those 'Web to Email' services that *used to operate* till a few years back (remember Agora servers and stuff ??)... Too bad for the new Internet!! ;-)
  • by ColaMan (37550) on Monday January 01, 2007 @06:25AM (#17421068) Homepage Journal
    Are doomed to repeat it.

    http://www.expita.com/howto1.html [expita.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This kind of limited bandwidth is probably what the net would feel like when the its content-neutrality is ditched for the pay-per-view system that some morons are advocating.
    • by zCyl (14362)
      You mean we'll route all of our traffic through google to get around the bandwidth limitations?
  • A solution was to upload an executable to my web hosting in America that would receive zipped executables by email, execute them, then email me the results

    I'll admit, the workaround was indeed clever, but did anyone else get a horrible, queasy feeling when they read this?
    • by Lavene (1025400)
      He probably had fun doing it. And isn't that often the main hacker motivation for doing stuff? I have done some pretty weird hacks in my time just to see if I could make it work... I never advertize it on /. though.
  • by OverlordQ (264228) on Monday January 01, 2007 @06:47AM (#17421122) Journal
    Instead of writing an executeable that reads another executable which fetches the page, why not just write the one executable that responds to plain mail with URLs in the body in the first place?
  • Standstill? (Score:2, Informative)

    by ladislavb (551945)
    I live in Taiwan, but I haven't noticed even the slightest disruption in Internet service (Hinet) whatsoever - either in terms of speed or connectivity to the outside world. Am I just lucky or has Taiwan escaped the "standstill" reported in other places in the region?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      ``Am I just lucky or has Taiwan escaped the "standstill" reported in other places in the region?''

      You're just lucky. See this message on interesting-people [elistx.com].

      There's a video of the outage [internetperils.com].
      • by Dak RIT (556128)
        I'm living in Kaohsiung (Taiwan, 50 miles from the quakes) and am also using HiNet. I haven't noticed any slowdown whatsoever (I was even online at the time they occurred chatting with friends, all of whom also didn't lost any connectivity).

        Even though the earthquake was just off the southern coast of Taiwan, I think it was Singapore and a few other nations with less developed infrastructure who are having the problems.

        • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
          I must say my friends on HiNet also seem to be fine, although that is a fairly limited sample. Still, I think, putting all of these experiences together, it looks like HiNet have their act together. However, of course, we only have reports here from people whose connections are _working_...
    • by lxt518052 (720422)
      That's because most of Hinet is on the other side of the broken fibers. Your connection to the US is not affected. Try visiting some sites in Hong Kong and you will notice the difference.

      This unfortunate earthquake happened to expose unfortunate planning of the Asian submarine fiber network. Almost all major conmmunication fibers took route via the seafloor between Hong Kong and Taiwan, which is subject to earthquakes.

    • by pikine (771084)
      A link between Taiwan and U.S. appears to be working. I'm writing this in Singapore. Since the earthquake, data packets originating from Singapore have been routed through some hops in the U.S. before finally reaching sites in Taiwan, getting 400ms+ latency for traveling half of the world and back.

      I think it is not possible at this moment for Asia to communicate north to south.
      • by chrnb (243739)
        I think it is not possible at this moment for Asia to communicate north to south.


        I'm in northeast mainland China, The only place i can download BT from, although painfully slow, is Australia and NZ. And I'm able to use my Anti-censorship VPN proxy in sweden, so can at least get my wiki, although surfing without images on most of the time. seems like the main problem is connection to the US, as all websites there, are still almost inaccessible.
      • Just to say this: exciting to see another /.-tter from Singapore! :-)
  • Or..... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bobintetley (643462)
    He could have just run web proxy on his remote server instead of being a complete moron and doing this "clever" hack. Sheesh.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Or maybe he couldn't, because he only had mail access. See, I got that information from the short Slashdot blurb. Didn't even have to read the article. Happy New Year. Same as last year.
      • by evilviper (135110)
        It's hard to believe a moderator was stupid enough to give you points for this crap.

        A quick glance at TFA would instantly show you how stupid you sound.

  • If you can access google and gmail, doesn't the google cache work, too? If so just type "site:slashdot.org" first result is, gasp, slashdot home, click cached link, get site home updated last 30 december. Some other sites are newer, some not, but you have enough material to satisfy your geekitude.
  • ...in the received document. But it should not be too difficult to get that to work, too.
  • It was really bad to have traceroute slashdot.org going nowhere. But here in Hong Kong, I just googled "open proxy", took a look at the Google cached results and configured the proxy (I picked one from UAE)... and there it was, my daily dose of Slashdot! It was very slow and I could not post a comment to the Taiwan quake story, but it worked. I did not have a chance to see if this works in Shenzhen though.

    Now, proxy is longer needed, the traffic is routed through London and Slashdot is still very slow for m
    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      ``400+ ms ping is not fun.''

      You say that, but I'm on a GPRS link with round trip times in excess of one second (sometimes even over 10 seconds) and packet loss that varies from 20% to 100%.

      It would be great for testing my forward error correction transport protocol (it's supposed to suffer less from high latency than retransmit protocols do), except that the telco appears to block UDP.
  • ... Internet by Email?

    http://www.faqs.org/faqs/internet-services/access- via-email/ [faqs.org]
    http://www.expita.com/howto1.html [expita.com]

    I did this in 98, when I was overseas, and my internet access was a 15 minute on one of 4 PCs for about a hundred people, with a local SMTP/POP solution that dialed in twice daily for sending / receiving mail. Worked quite nicely, actually.

    Then again, I don't know if any of the servers listed are still up, but it ought to be easier to have someone install something like this...
  • ``Gmail and Google have privileged bandwidth''

    So you're saying that while folks in the US are arguing over network neutrality, it's already out of the window (in Asia, anyway)?
    • by dfoulger (1044592)
      More likely he's saying that Google owns bandwidth (or owns the right to use bandwidth) across the Pacific ocean that hasn't been disrupted by the earthquake. That has nothing to do with net neutrality and everything to do with having a good infrastructure design. The architecture of Pacific Rim telecommunications runs in a a crescent from New Zealand to Korea, with bandwidth tending to connect to the U.S. from either end. When you sever a major intermediate point, like Taiwan, it tends to have downstrea
  • I'm in an area affected by the connection issues as well (Malaysia), but I took a more polished, simple solution. In a word, TOR. Not only have I set up my own network to use a squid-privoxy-tor system to provide relatively fast internet to sites I couldn't access at all before (slashdot for one), but I've been recommending and teaching others how to use Torpark so that they can still get their slashdot, youtube, etc, fixes.
  • Overly Complicated? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Smerity (714804)
    Isn't that an overly complicated solution? I haven't checked if this will work fully as I don't have access to working sendmail, but basically this Python script cronjobbed would do the same...

    #!/usr/bin/env python
    import os, urllib

    MAIL = "/usr/bin/sendmail"

    header = """To: user@china.com
    From: server@usa.com
    Subject: Slashdot
    """

    slashdot = urllib.urlopen("http://www.slashdot.org").read()
    msg = header+slashdot

    p = os.popen("%s -t" % MAIL, 'w')
    p.write(msg)
    p.close()

    Sendmail code referenced f
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by thelima (1045360)
      What about something like this? $ curl http://slashdot.org/ [slashdot.org] | gzip -c | mail somoeone@gmail.com
    • If you used include smtplib [python.org] with a couple extra commands you could have made it platform independent, assuming that you didn't have access to a Unix box. Say a VMS Station or Windows server....
    • by tinkertim (918832) *
      Would not :

      lynx --dump http://slashdot.org/ [slashdot.org] | mail -s "Your slashfix, sir." you@yourdomain.com

      work just as well?

      My connection here in Manila has been perfect throughout the whole mess, amazingly, but that isn't always the case. So I found a cogent connected DC who sold me a win2k3 termserv for $50 a month, which works beautifully for surfing, buying stuff, etc / al.

      Since my ISP uses cogent BW, I found that getting a remote hop on the same network was the best way to go. So I enjoy full connectivity from my
  • by didiken (93521) on Monday January 01, 2007 @07:40AM (#17421288) Homepage
    I live in Hong Kong, and indeed it was a huge disaster. I run an online flower shop myself, so we see our daily traffic went flat for the last couple of days. And I can't even ssh into our colo in USA.

    Recape of the situation: 6 underground fiber lines were cut. "Foreign" sites like Slashdot, Google, EBay and Yahoo! were dead. Hong Kong based sites, Australia sites and a few European sites like BBC does work, so that give us hope. So...

    On day 1 ( 12/28 ): we found out Google Hong Kong still works, and Australia sites work... so we search "australia proxy server" and funny that a few ISPs have open proxies open at 3128 (Looks like Squid Cache to me!). Since we must be an early batch, we feel wonderful to be "the only one" in town to go online, beat the odds and get all the pussies...

    One day 2 (12/29): news of the proxies must have gotten out. Yahoo! Answers are full of such foreign proxies lists, and some entrepreneur hackers must have wonderful day, building their own proxies and lured people into using it. Of course your average surfers wouldn't know normal http is unencrypted... Meanwhile our "free proxy" running by that friendly Australia ISP finally adds ACL to block us out... We try installing Google Web Accelerator, and it did no good, and accessing local sites are even slower...

    On day 3 (12/30): we start looking for Australia colocation / dedicated server plans to run our own proxy server. Their prices are at least 2 times more expensive than US hosting companies, so we start pinging popular hosting in USA.... ev1servers.net? down. Rackspace? up (but too pricey). Godaddy? up, and lo and behold, they have a cheap $29.99 USD virtual linux plan.

    So, we setup our own Squid cache [squid-cache.org] and it finally keeps us reading Slashdot until this day :)
    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      ``Since we must be an early batch, we feel wonderful to be "the only one" in town to go online, beat the odds and get all the pussies...''

      LOL. You bastards. Surfing pr0n on the scarce bandwidth left after a disaster, thereby depraving others of their ability to read /.
    • by Urza9814 (883915)
      Why the heck do you need paid hosting for that? I run a proxy off my free host. I've got a gig of space and 5 of bandwidth...should be more than enough for a proxy for several people. I mean, I understand the use of dedicated servers, but it seems like quite a waste of money just to run a proxy.
    • by RomulusNR (29439)
      I remember when the Internet was supposed to survive a nuclear war, because of the interconnectivity and multiple paths that were available.

      So why is it this doesn't work?

      (Oh yeah, underregulation.)

      If it worked the way it was supposed to, you wouldn't need to search for a sweet-spot colo host to channel your data through. The net would find the best-path for everyone.
      • by mibus (26291)
        I remember when the Internet was supposed to survive a nuclear war, because of the interconnectivity and multiple paths that were available.


        Insufficient peering by ISPs? If you're with an ISP that cares about it, they can arrange peering and backup peering with anyone they want, which (save for cutting every link) does what you suggest. It just gets expensive...
  • 7Zip to just uncompress zip files from C#? Handmade s/mime parser? base64? Mono? Execs? On Unix? OMG! This is most weired solution I could imagine!
    Thanks god this guy haven't installed MS SQL MSDE database and Exchange plus some web services on IIS server to store intrmediate results and push them back to Asia...
    I could probably write this within no more than two lines of curl/perl/whatever...
  • A solution was to upload an executable to my web hosting in America that would receive zipped executables by email, execute them, then email me the results.
    And yet, Some people still have the cheek to say we are becoming addicted to the internet.
  • web to mail portals (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dargaud (518470) <slashdot2@gdar g a u d . n et> on Monday January 01, 2007 @07:53AM (#17421322) Homepage
    People who forget history are bound to repeat it goes the saying. At the very begining of the WWW, not everyone had access to web browsers so various systems were developped, including web to mail portals. You would sent an email to a specific address with a GET request, and you'd get the page in return. Some of those servers are still in use to get around censorship or very limited conectivity, which was my case last year in Antarctica [gdargaud.net]. I read slashdot thanks to a daily email connection, text only, and the agora web-to-mail portal.
  • I, for one, welcome back our old analog overlords.
  • ... were invented for news-distribution and forum-like conversations in the times, real-time connectivity is expensive/slow/not available.

    What's next? Using e-mail during instant-messaging downtime gets Slashdot's front-page prominence?

  • So - google works. Go to google language tools. Select english->english translation. Input whatever site (i.e. slashdot) you want. Let google fetch it, "translate" it and present the output.
  • Just use the RSS feed with Google Reader. You will get all articles, only without the links. And if you're internet is down anyway, those links probably won't help you (but you can star the articles whose links you want to follow later).
  • when you're trapped on an desert island after yet another daily earthquake, you have to reinvent the wheel.

    in this case, though there are dozens of existing sources for the same app, you must reinvent the /.RSS2email feed .

    and when you're done, you can always share how you've suffered here, so that we can all understand how deprived you've been.

  • If this person has unrestricted access to Google, then why not use it as a gateway?

    1. Use the language tools, and select "spanish to english".
    2. type in slashdot.org, and hit return.
    3. They download the page, do ultimately no translation, and shows you the results.

    They download the page, and any links that you click, will automatically go through their server.
    And you have your unrestricted access to any websites.
  • Does Google Reader work? I read Slashdot from it. You can add it to a your google front page as a personalized gadget
  • Just use google personalized home page that will show you the slashdot posts' summaries atleast
  • A Proxy? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by KidSock (150684) on Monday January 01, 2007 @04:55PM (#17424678)
    A solution was to upload an executable to my web hosting in America that would receive zipped executables by email, execute them, then email me the results.

    If he can communicate with his web host in America and that host can communicate with ./ then why not just setup a proxy on that machine? Installing and running tinyproxy on a Linux machine is mind numbingly easy.
  • right after the quake access was fine. It's only the next day that things started to go awry. From what I could verify, packets were dropped after only 2 hops in Hong Kong.
    It seemed that the ISP cut access to the outside on purpose for a while, I presume to lower traffic and let big institutions get better bandwidths.
    Day by day the situation is getting better, but when teh ISP allowed outside access again, you could see the packet loss as you got further from Asia: some hops had more than 90% packet loss
  • Reminds me of a hack that I used back when my web host required me to use a silly GUI that required that I manually upload one file at a time. I uploaded a batch file and pkunzip.exe. When I wanted to update my web site, I'd upload a zip file and instruct the web server to unzip it through CGI!

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