This morning I was cruising a news site. Right in the middle of reading different articles on the site, it suddenly stopped responding. I checked first at Down for Just Me?, a site that checks whether the server on the other end is running and connected to the internet. It said, “It’s just you” — meaning that it was working just fine, so the blockage was somewhere between me and the news site server.
Now, it could be any number of things: Cox’s DNS is flaky (often), interference among the many traffic handlers along the route between us, maybe active denial by a third party, or who-knows-what. So the next step was to use a proxy server. If you check your favorite search engine using the term “free proxy server” you should get a good list of sites that will help you get around most of that stuff. I used Free Proxy Net. This is simply a server with a better connection to the net that also provides you with a mask so that the server on the other end has no idea who actually wants access. Since I had no idea what the trouble was and didn’t feel like spending an hour hacking and diagnosing it, the proxy server was the simplest answer and I was able to read the articles I wanted.
For example, this story about Israel Demands World Internet Censorship is buzzing on the not-so-mainstream tech sites. It’s not exactly news, given how Israel is demanding various governments censor things like the BDS Movement. You may be aware that some governments and large institutions are forbidding and punishing promotion of BDS. I’ve heard tales of church staff harassing anyone who mentions it. By extension, no one is surprised to see that Israel is trying to build up an international coalition to enforce Israel’s information control policies on the internet. It starts with the most obvious anti-terror stuff, but who would be foolish enough to believe it will stop there?
Our virtual parish relies entirely on the internet, of course, so this is like keeping an eye on zoning laws that might close down your church.