I intentionally try to keep things apolitical here on The Tech Dynasty. This is a tech blog, and politics have little to do with the wonderfully utopian world of technology.
However, I’d be remiss if I failed to mention what an absolute pain in the butt living in China can be when anything remotely controversial pops up. This Thursday marks the 20th anniversary of the violent suppression of the student-led demonstrations of 1989, putting everyone in the upper echelons of Chinese politics on edge.In what can only be assumed to be a preemptive silencing of any online dissension, both Twitter.com and Flickr.com were blocked today at around 5pm (GMT+8) and are inaccessible without a proxy or virtual private network (VPN) in Mainland China.
The two sites join video-sharing giant YouTube, which hasn’t seen Chinese visitors since the end of March, as well as Blogger and WordPress.com blogs–which are blocked and unblocked as if on a switch.
Fortunately, anyone in China who spends any amount of time online has weathered these blocks before, so this *should* be no different. A few tools I find handy:
- Herdict.org: Real-time reporting on Web blocks around the world. Useful for making sure you’re not just a paranoid dude with a screwed-up Net connection.
- Hotspot Shield: A free VPN that, while not superfast, will allow you to circumvent the Great Firewall of China.
- WiTopia: A paid VPN (US$40-$60/yearr) that while for-fee, is faster than Hotspot Shield by offering multiple gateways depending on your location (I use the LA gateway, and it’s virtually like non-proxied Internet for speed).
- Censortive: This is a WordPress plugin I created nearly two years ago that allows you to “tag” sensitive words in your posts, which will then be replaced by an image version of that word. This negates a censorship robot’s ability to scan the text of a blog post and block it based on keywords.
Got other techie ways to beat blocks? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.