10 May, 2006


Living behind the Great Firewall of China, AsiaPundit has solid proxy software installed on all computers he uses regularly. Generally, he can surf the web freely without much difficulty. Still, there are times that AP finds himself using a machine that does not have any proxies configured. In China, that means much of the internet is inaccessible.
With that, TorPark is an excellent new tool. With a USB-drive keychain AP can now quickly set up a proxy on any PC without installing or having to configure any extra software.:

 ~Sxt6146 Images TorparklogoWhat is Torpark, exactly?
Torpark is a fully configured combination of Tor (The Onion Router) and Mozilla’s browser technologies, enabled by John T. Haller’s Portable Firefox. As of v1.5, the whole package is wrapped up in a nice single executable with file directory. No installation, no registry keys, no files left behind.
How can this be used?
Lots of ways! It can be used to circumvent censorship firewalls, like at work or in China. It can be used to bypass paying for internet access at a wifi cafe. It can be used at school computers so you can get full access to the internet. And best of all, if there is no key loggers secretly installed on the machine, nobody is going to know where you went, what you saw, who you spoke to, or what you said. It is all encrypted in a tunnel between your computer, and at least three others somewhere in the world. Only after your data has passed through the encrypted and constantly changing tunnel (a tor circuit) will it reach the internet as unencrypted. The data from surfing the internet goes through the same tunnel as well, passing back to you encrypted, where your computer uses Tor to decrypt it to the Torpark browser. When you need a secret and secure tunnel to surf the internet, Torpark is your mobile solution.

After testing today, AP will say that Torpark works as advertised. It was slower than software directly installed on a PC or laptop, but the portability is welcome. AP recommends this to anyone who may be traveling through China or other countries that implement strict online censorship. It should work in internet cafes or hotel business centers without attracting too much attention.
(via Boing Boing)

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by @ 11:10 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Web/Tech, Censorship

Street Stall Operations 101

At Indonesian economy blog Sarapan Ekonomi, a look at the strategic planning of .:

“We usually do day and night surveys to see how crowded the street is before deciding to start selling in one,” said Tabroh, a 60-year old seasoned stall owner in Ampera, South Jakarta.
“All you need to do after you decide to stay in one place is contact the local district officer, and, you know … give them a contribution,” he said.
… “One can do well with Rp 5 million as a start, to have the stall built and shop for first stock,” he explained.” Now, I only pay Rp 5,000 a day for electricity and a security fee of Rp 10,000 a month.”
They could earn as much as Rp 3 million (about US$ 300) of monthly income. Not bad, compared to the salary of tenured professor which, according to Ahmad Syafii Maarif, is about Rp 2.7 million.

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by @ 10:26 pm. Filed under Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Southeast Asia

Singapore’s Press: Free to Self-censor

AsiaPundit has known many good local journalists working in Singapore, but AP remains a critic of the Singapore press. However, so too are many of the reporters who work for it. An anonymous media worker reports on the chill felt in Singapore newsrooms during the general election.:

I had no illusions about the independence of the local media when I first started my job as a [——] in Singapore. I knew that my work would be edited, and possibly censored for political safety, and I was mostly fine with that - no media channel anywhere in the world is entirely free from some form of editorial trimming, after all.
PapboltWhat I didn’t bargain for was individual self-censorship, unspoken policies and rules, and the stoutness with which people swallowed their journalistic dignity and integrity (because it does exist, even strongly, in some places) to toe the party line. Incredible as it seems, reporters in Singapore do have the same fierce pride in their work as reporters anywhere else; I think this is especially evident in sections of the media that don’t touch on politics.
But when it comes to political news, particularly something as sensitive as the elections, many of us leave our brains and consciences at home and resign ourselves to doing what we’re told and writing what’s being dictated. To some extent I appreciate the rationale of this - there really is a very close watch being kept on the media and when we’re kept in line it’s largely for our own safety.
However, as someone still young and naive and idealistic, it’s hard for me to swallow the indignation I feel whenever I see the local media doggedly ignoring its otherwise sharply-honed news sense. Articles and TV programmes are edited to balance out pro-opposition views; awesome camera opportunities - like the opposition rallies - are studiously left out of media coverage; banal and unfair quotes and tactics are highlighted and headlined simply because they are tools of the ruling party.
There are many things journalists see that the eyes of the public are not privy to, and that we would like to report on but can’t. Please remember that when you read an article or watch a broadcast that seems particularly, emetically subjective. And help spread the word that a lot of us in the media are sorry that we can’t do the job we want to.

AP will note that foreign media in Singapore is also guilty of self-censorship. While some of the better publications are willing to weather an annual libel suit and settlement for stating the obvious, most of the media operating in the country is very aware of what cannot be said in the city state. And none have been willing to challenge a libel charge in court. Of course, there may be a good reason for that.

(via Tomorrow)

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by @ 10:16 pm. Filed under Singapore, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Media, Censorship

Divorce with Chinese Characteristics

Via Marginal Revolution, an LA Times item reporting on how a Chinese property compensation scheme that was poorly planned (although more equitable than many schemes) resulted in a village of divorcees.:

Farmer Yan Shihai was happily married for more than 30 years. Then late last year, seemingly out of the blue, the 57-year-old grandfather and his loving wife got a divorce.
Within months, all three of his adult children and their spouses also split up. So did almost every other married person in Yan’s village of 4,000 — an astounding 98% of Renhe’s married couples officially parted, according to the local government.
But instead of tension or tears, the couples waiting in line at the local registry to end their marriages were practically jolly. They believed they were taking advantage of a legal loophole that allowed them to get an extra apartment.
As they understood the compensation deal, each married couple would receive a small two-bedroom apartment in return for their land and farmhouse. Those divorced would get a one-bedroom apartment each. The villagers figured that would be a better deal, that they could live in one apartment and make a little extra income from selling or renting out the extra one.
…most of the former marriages are in tatters. Considering the prospect of a future without financial security, remarrying now simply seems too much of a hassle. Promises are souring. Stunned villagers are watching their life partners drift off. Some have found new love. Others are deciding to try out freedom from a marriage they never thought they wanted to leave.

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by @ 9:47 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

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