Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Government Has Shut Down the Internet – Part Four

As I was saying the other day, "sure you're paranoid, but are you paranoid enough?"

This morning, a friend at work who is also a graybeard engineer and liberty-minded guy, brought up the topic of communications when the Internet is shut down.  As far as I know, he doesn't know about this blog - I've never told him about it - so it wasn't in reaction to my long posts over the last weekend.  We talked about ham radio, packet radio, and the stories we heard about Egyptians pulling phone modems out and going back to BBSes and the really old ways of communicating.  A while later, he sent me a link to this article, on PC World, "Get Internet Access When Your Government Shuts It Down".  In addition to the stuff I covered, they have some interesting twists and new ways to form ad hoc networks. 

When a mainstream magazine like PC World covers such things, you know the concern is widespread.  This goes double for the "Apps for the Apocalypse" article linked in there.

Seems prepping is going mainstream.



  1. I hate to display my ignorance, but I am totally clueless when it comes to social networking, because I am not social.

    That being said, my new iPod Touch has something called Facetime, where you are supposed to be able to call others via wifi, with your cameras at both ends permitting viewing of what the other is seeing or doing. Video chat, I guess.

    It seems like this could be used, but I have no idea if it involves the Internet and/or would be shut down if the 'Net goes down. Anyone care to clue me in?

  2. I can try to help - and I'm about as non-social as you. I know that social networks exist, and I started an account on Facebook to keep up with my kids (aka "Facebook stalking") but I hate their user interface.

    Anyway, if Facetime is WiFi itself, it will work over short ranges. Hardware experimenters have gotten WiFi to work over a few miles, but that's with point to point antennas. Sometimes made from Chinese cooking Woks The PC World article made reference to impromptu WiFi networks with Daihinia software.

    Because WiFi depends on local radio access points, if the Internet goes down, you'll be able to contact other WiFi users, using the same access points, but not get out beyond your local area. If enough people put Daihinia-style nodes up, an impromptu WiFi network might be able to extend completely through a city or even farther. There is a continuous population along the coasts in many areas, and it's easy for me to imagine a WiFi network stretching a hundred miles. If all that network software stuff worked.

  3. I've got an antenna (WiFire) that boosts the signal for my MacBook Pro (metal case makes for compromised signal reception) that seems to work pretty well. So, perhaps I can stay connected via my laptop or rig a connection to use the antenna on my iPod Touch (male-to-male USB connector might work between the iPod cable and the WiFire cable.) I'll have to check it out.

  4. Bad news: according to this post on Gardenserf ( it sounds as if we could be cut off from the Internet and not even be aware, at least not immediately.

    He seems to be saying (I'm not a techie) that .gov could allow all normal traffic through, but snip out content that might not suit their paradigm. Perhaps your immediate friends/list members could receive your message, but it would be blocked from wider dissemination. Or, the group you post to, based on the content of your email (search terms such as used by Carnivore, Eschelon, etc. can key on your particular wording) could have its email stopped dead at the ISP, or list server, or wherever.

    If I am understanding this correctly, the Internet can be surgically manipulated so that all normal communication would flow, but lists, individuals, and or particular content could be removed. I don't know if cell phones would be as easy to disrupt or not. Could they single out particular cell phone numbers and render them unable to access the system?

    Sounds like we need to plan some sort of counter to this. Some way to check, every so often, but especially if things start to heat up, so that we can determine if we are still able to reach members of our "tribe", and if we can still connect to the rest of the 'Net.