Yesterday I was at the OTI offices again for a workday. For a chunk of the day I worked with Dan Staples on reviewing some things I’d learned about network settings in Commotion, and testing a Tor-enabled Commotion build. (More on that in a separate post.)
A couple of funny things happened on the way to the Internet. First, running Tor on a Ubiquiti PicoStation wireless node caused the little machine to overheat and reboot within 30 seconds of the process starting! Ha! We niced the process and managed to get it to stay up long enough to properly start up. I’ll do some more troubleshooting to figure out why it’s running so hard and see if there’s a way to (literally) cool it down. But I thought that was a pretty awesome problem.
At the same time, I successfully connected to the Internet through a Buffalo Air Station router that was elegantly modified by Access Labs to be a Tor transparent proxy. A couple of funny things happened as a result. First, since I had Thunderbird open and set to check my email every 5 minutes or so, my Gmail accounts freaked out. I got notices of suspicious activity for 3 different accounts because all my network traffic was running over Tor, meaning that my mail requests were hitting the Gmail servers from several different Tor exit nodes around the world. This caused Gmail to assume that malicious users were trying to access my account from a bunch of different places. It was a minor hassle to convince Gmail to stop panicking, but it was kind of neat to trip that wire.
Most adorable of all, however, came from your favorite activist tech collective and mine, Riseup Labs. One of the IPs in the suspicious activity notices was listed this way:
Tuesday, February 26, 2013 9:04:31 PM UTC
IP Address: 220.127.116.11 (load-me-in-a-browser-if-this-tor-node-is-causing-you-grief.riseup.net.)
Location: Cham, Switzerland
So that’s a little message from the Riseup operators of that Tor exit node. If you do indeed load it in a browser, you’ll see that it’s a very wry RTFM.