lotu5 on Sat, 28 Oct 2006 05:38:31 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> My Experiences Cross-Border Video Streaming With The Zapatistas

My Experiences Cross-Border Video Streaming With The Zapatistas
by san diego indymedia volunteer |26.10.2006 19:24

This is the story of the experiences of a somewhat bumbling, somewhat 
uninformed person, myself, who by accident gets positioned near the 
center of a vortex trying to accomplish a small piece, cross-border 
video streaming, of a larger event, the Zapatista Other Campaign's visit 
to Tijuana.

It is based on my somewhat hazy memory of direct experiences, mostly on 
the technical side of things, in the week+ leading up to the event. Much 
is left out, including the contributions of many individuals without 
whom cross-border video streaming would not even have been conceivable. 
Many of the technical and organizational aspects were a product of a 
close collaboration between: borderlands hackLab, Colectivo Zapatista 
San Diego, Voz Alta and San Diego Independent Media Center.

M and V stand for the venues, Multikulti in Tijuana and Voz Alta in San 

Although indefinite plans for cross border communication during the 
visit of the Other Campaign to Tijuana had been discussed in spring, 
these plans had not begun to crystallize in a technical sense until well 
after the suspension of the EZLN Sixth Commission's tour of Mexico 
following the Antenco atrocities in early May, which delayed 
indefinitely the planned June visit to Tijuana. The idea was to give 
people north of the border, who couldn't make it to the Tijuana site, an 
opportunity to participate directly in the Other Campaign.

L, R, JS and JG began working on a tech plan in July, with a target of a 
full cross-border test in late August, a test that never materialized 
because of equipment shortages and lack of high speed internet. Initial 
plans for cross-border video streaming during the First Cross-Border 
Encuentro of the Other Campaign, which occurred in mid-September while 
the Sixth Commission's tour was still suspended, were cancelled 
primarily because of lack of the necessary high speed internet at the 
venues and secondarily because we weren't ready. In late September, L, 
from borderlands hackLab, conducted a demo of open source video 
streaming using radio.indymedia.org as a streaming server and the Sixth 
Commission announced a resumption of its tour, visiting Tijuana October 

The requirements for cross-border video streaming within our plan 
included high speed internet at both venues, a linux computer on both 
sides of the border to upload video, a second computer at each venue to 
download the video using open source VLC, two digital video cameras, two 
projectors, mics and a maze of cables.

Uncertainty about venue location pushed back the acquisition of high 
speed internet, and the typically overcommitted nature of activists 
pushed back everything else. Ten days before the event, neither venue 
had high speed internet, and we had only one linux laptop to upload video.

Monday Oct 9
Call at+t. Two+ hours. Set up DSL at V. Conference call. Multiple sales 
pitches. Craziness. At+t admits defeat. V gets basic config. T working 
DSL at M -- in the pipeline.

Wednesday Oct 11
Ups fails to deliver DSL modem to V. Set up delivery to Pepe's next 
door. Test - M to V - planned for Thursday.

Thursday Oct 12
Ups attempts delivery DSL modem to Pepe's. Pepe's refuses delivery. No 
DSL at V. No DSL at M. V phone line dead. Check phone line. Check phone 
box. Clipped wires. C: rewires box. Phone line still dead. Check phone. 
Check phone box. Check phone line. Check vitals. Nothing. Test cancelled.

Call at+t. One+ hours with phone repair robot. Repair appointment 
Saturday 8-5. Ups FINAL ATTEMPT NOTICE on DSL modem.

8AM. S at V. Brutal. C later. Repair tech finds line stapled. Repairs. 
Phone! From S: Pleads poverty. Repair charge plummets. At+t stock down 9 

Continuing struggle. Installing linux on old mac. Download install cd. 
Burn it. Install it. Boot it. Fails. Diddle. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Try 
switching mirrors. Download install cd. Burn it. LOOKS COMPLETELY 
DIFFERENT! Install it. Boot it. Works! Love linux.

 From C: Spars with ups. Result: no DSL modem. C to radioshack to DSL 
modem. From R: C and R at V. Plugs and wires short. Wires everywhere. 
DSL modem becomes airborne. Newton says: two bodies attract with a force 
proportional to the product of their masses. Einstein says: think of a 
rubber sheet. Bottom line: DSL modem falls into tub of water. This 
cannot be happening.

Installing open source streaming software on old mac linux. Go to 
streamingsuitcase.com. Follow instructions. Easy. 1 minute. L on cell. 
Q: Can't find raw1394. L: Type lsmod? Q: Yes, nothing. L: modprobe 1394? 
Q: Yes. Error. L: Sudo before modprobe? Q: No, not in instructions. L: 
Try it. Q: Works. NOT a good sign. 5 minutes. L on cell. Q: Says "cannot 
find cc." L: Did you install gcc? Q: Linux doesn't come with gcc? 5 
minutes. L on cell. Q: It says "cannot find make." L: Did you install 
make? Q: gcc doesn't come with make?

9:43PM L on cell. 9:51PM: L on cell. 9:56PM: L on cell. 9:59PM: L on 
cell. 10:01PM: L on cell 10:01:30PM L on cell.

10:03PM L on cell. Q: This is crazy. No mortal being could ever figure 
out how to do this.

10:07PM L on cell. Q: Ok. Ready to video stream. L: Press return. Q: 
(pause). My dog! Yawning! Barking! WOOHOO

10:08PM Stream freezes.

Diddle. Diddle. Diddle.

1AM Stream mostly not freezing.

More diddling.

3AM Streaming continuously. Test for tuesday nite.

Miscommunication. Frustration. Tired. Pressure. Tension. Stress. 
Conflict. Flares. Banned. Communication. Important event. 
Reconciliation. Work together. Drained.

M: high speed internet. V: needs DSL modem. Lots to do. Test cancelled. 
T going to M for test. T's number? Find number. Doesn't work. Lose track.

To radioshack. No DSL modem. To frys. DSL modem, plus 250 foot ethernet 
cable for M. Back to V for meeting. Working on DSL as meeting continues. 
Plugs and wires short. Wires everywhere. R on phone for two hours to 
find out how to get onto DSL w/o at+t software. R keeps at+t on phone as 
R visits bar to find answers to questions. R amazing! R gets info. Crowd 
around laptop trying to get DSL. Everyone -- funny looks on faces. 
Staring at screen but i know. Look up from laptop. Say: WHAT? Voice 
says: DSL modem fell in tub of water. Q: Hahaha. That's funny. The voice 
says, no, it really did fall in tub of water. I'm thinking: This cannot 
be happening. THIS CANNOT BE HAPPENING. Don't remember next few minutes. 
J shaking water out of DSL modem. Fan turned on. DSL modem in front of 
fan. Someone bumps chair on which laptop rests, which happens to be next 
to tub of water. Q dives. Unnecessary, just small bump. S enters V. DSL 
modem situation explained. S sighs. S says nothing. S slowly drags tub 
of water outside. Dumps it. Good idea.

DSL modem drying. L gives J quick intro to video streaming as realize 
that L not available for 1PM streaming event. Test video ichat backup. 
Prob with sound. Won't use. Not important. J at M tomorrow, so plan 
cross-border test for noon. J will call in morning while J traveling 
south. Plug in DSL modem. Expect sparks. Get flickering lights. Spend 
hour trying to get DSL modem to respond, thinking that H2 has k-Oed 
circuitry. But, but, but -- works. Past midnite. Artists and friends are 
hanging staring at pix on walls and into depths of souls. They are on a 
different planet. 1AM. Leave V.

10:30AM. J on cell. On way to M. Receive call in semi-conscious state 
sitting in front of computer trying to get work work done. Hopeless. 
Test between M and V, full cross-border test -- all efforts to make 
happen before last minute having failed -- still planned for noon. 
Shortly before noon. Realize don't have firewire cable to go from camera 
to computer. Gave to J last nite to take to M. Reluctantly, to 
radioshack. Driving gas guzzling vehicle. CO2 emissions. Sea ice 
melting. Ice sheets melting. Hate driving. Radioshack no longer carries 
cable. Talk to J. Delay getting to M. Test rescheduled -- 1pm. 
Reluctantly, to frys. Second trip in 24 hours. Get cable. Go to V.

V DSL working nicely. Fast! Before talking to J try up and downloading 
stream from/to V. Nothing. WHAT? Check cables. Check camera. Check 
commands. Check pulse. Off the charts. Call L. Check. Check. Check. 
Check. Nothing. Should work. L ponders. Q sweats. J calls. Test delayed. 
J has until 5, then 6PM. Pressure. Stress. Tension. L writes e-mail. 
Problem solved. L amazing. Talk to J. Other problems. Flakey laptop 
power cord. Battery dying. Internet? Haziness. Bottom line: Test 
cancelled. J staying at M. Will need to get L's laptop to J at M before 
1PM tomorrow. Also send cam, mic, power cord, hopes. L arranges - P will 
take, arriving at noon. Close. CLOSE.

In front of linux box thinking: Cross border video streaming with open 
source software. Under time pressure. On one end, Q - first tried a few 
days ago. On other end, J - never tried. No cross-border test conducted. 
No cross-border backup test conducted. Make note to self: charge cell 
phone, pack cell phone charger, pack xtra underwear.

Nitetime: eat Ranchos with R in V. Remember -- supposed to get press 
bridge. R almost pulls it off.

After midnite. Leave V. Drop stuff off. Go home. Take dog on walk. Lay 
down. Can't sleep. Get up. Charge batteries. Pack things. Lay down. 
Can't sleep. Scared. Make lists. Lay down. Sleep some. Alarm rings. WHOA.

Morning. Dog not into cross-border video streaming. Dog does not want Q 
to leave. Q leaves.

Coffee, bags of laptops, cameras, cables. Walk into V. Place is HUMMING. 
Art, posters, music, chatting, beautiful vibes. Setup. Audio, video, 
laptops, battery chargers, projector, screen - oops locked up,C unlocks 
- linux box, duct tape. Video streaming works at V. Not morning person. 
Spinning wheels. Everything good.

Not so fast. Call J for test. Marcos talking in front of router. Delay. 
Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. J on cell, not sure if second laptop to J at M 
by 1PM, so try to get streaming from V to M. Can get audio from M to V 
via Radio Pacheco/Narco News. Into cell - steps to internet on linux --> 
System to Administration to Networking to eth0: deactivate, then 
activate. Into cell - get the V video stream: VLC to File to Network 
Streaming to HTTP to type in URL to nothing. NOTHING? WHAT? Everyone 
remain calm. Q not remaining calm. OOPS. FORGOT. Know won't work. Switch 
laptop to mac os and try again. Wait Wait Wait Wait. Won't switch. WHAT? 
Try again. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Won't. Won't. Won't. *O_k*. *W_e* 
*w_i_l_l* *h_a_v_e* *t_o* *c_a_l_l* *L*. Meanwhile, how to get Radio 
Pacheco? J will check. Q will sweat.

J on cell. Multitasking. Task one. Where to plug video projector into 
laptop? Q: White connector cable in laptop bag? J: With RCA connectors? 
Q: No. J: No. Q: SH*T. No connector cable, no projection, big trouble. 
THINK... Task two. Laptop booted in mac os. WOOHOO! J: How to get mac to 
recognize internet? Q: System Preferences to Network to Built-in 
Ethernet to Using DHCP to Renew DHCP Lease. J: Nothing. Q: Nothing? J: 
Nothing. Check ends of cable? Might need to delay. J at M to F at V 
through Q: OK? F says yes. J will call back.

PLAN for video projector connector cable. Q goes home and finds cable. Q 
brings to E and AN. E and AN take cable to M. Simple. Time check. One 
hour to video conferencing. Impossible. Do anyway. Drive home. Dig out 
cable connector. Driving back. Cell rings. J, not happy. Cell signal 
goes out. Back to V. E and AN take cable and run.

J on cell. 1/2 hr to video streaming. J says very slowly: *T_h_e* 
*r_o_u_t_e_r* *w_a_s* *c_o_m_p_l_e_t_e_l_y* *d_i_s_a_s_s_e_m_b_l_e_d* 
*a_n_d* *t_h_e* *p_l_u_g* *w_a_s* *c_h_o_p_p_e_d* *o_f_f*. I'm like, 
F*CK! J says: *Q*, *i_t_'_s* *g_o_i_n_g* *t_o* *b_e* *o_k*. *T_h_e* 
*c_o_p_a_n_e_r_@_s* *h_e_r_e* *h_a_v_e* *b_e_e_n* *p_e_r_f_o_r_m_i_n_g* 
*m_i_r_a_c_l_e_s*. *W_e* *p_u_t* *t_h_e* *r_o_u_t_e_r* *b_a_c_k* 
*t_o_g_e_t_h_e_r* *a_n_d* *o_n_e* *o_f* *t_h_e* *c_o_m_p_a_n_e_r_a_s* 
*r_e_w_i_r_e_d* *t_h_e* *p_l_u_g*. *W_e* *a_r_e* *b_a_c_k* *o_n* *t_h_e* 
*i_n_t_e_r_n_e_t*. My vision is clouded with tears. I'm thinking: J is 
moving mountains. YES!

Outside V with J on cell. Need to start exchanging streams. F to Q: 
Linux box monitor started flickering and went black. Thinking: must be 
loose cable. Q to J: will call back. Q to linux box. Check monitor. 
Check cable. Check keyboard. Check sanity. Nothing. Reboot. Check times 
four. Still nothing. Houston, we have a problem.

J on cell. 15 minutes to video streaming. Q says very slowly: *T_h_e* 
*l_i_n_u_x* *b_o_x* *m_o_n_i_t_o_r* *i_s* *c_o_m_p_l_e_t_e_l_y* 
*d_e_a_d*. *T_h_e_r_e* *i_s* *n_o_t_h_i_n_g* *i* *c_a_n* *d_o*. *W_e* 
*w_i_l_l* *h_a_v_e* *t_o* *u_s_e* *i_c_h_a_t*.

FIRST BIG QUESTION -- Q to J: Did you get second laptop? ANSWER -- Q 
can't hear. EVENTUALLY -- J to Q: Yes.

SECOND BIG QUESTION -- Q to J: Did second laptop come with second 
laptop's own special white connector cable for video projector 
(thinking: F*CKING CORPORATE CRAP)? ANSWER -- Loud background from 
speaker at M. Sounds like Yes. WOOHOO.

J, Q rush to set up ichat.

Plug in camera, mic. At V, no time to set up video projector. Chairs 
arranged around laptop. Open ichat. J on 4th cell phone of day. J says 
L's laptop at M on internet. Request for chat appears on screen at V. 
Accept, hear/see speaker at M. J sees/hears V. Time passing FAST. J: How 
to connect sound system to laptop? Plug goes in, but not all the way. Q: 
Sometimes have to push, but not too hard. Thinking: sorry, L. J says 
will put M sound system mic to laptop speaker. WHEW!

J: Be ready to start anytime. Q starts shaking. Q looks around. People 
eating, chatting, casual, calm. WHAT? Thinking: I am a gringo. J: After 
the next speaker. Q: STARTING SOON. Hands mic to C.

Q spends half a lifetime trying to pick up camera in one hand and cell 
phone in other. Harder than looks. J: 10 seconds. Q leaning against 
wall, trying to hold camera steady, crying. H starts speaking. J says 
something. Can't hear. Repeats. Repeats. Repeats. J: We can't hear. Talk 
LOUDER. Q: TALK LOUDER, SHOUT INTO MIC. Thinking what's going wrong? 
More talking. J back on cell: We still can't hear. Q: STILL LOUDER.

J: Nothing. Have to cancel. Will call back.

High to low. 20 seconds. You tried. This was the first time. It was 
hard. It will work next time...

J on cell. Marcos will sit in front of laptop in room and take notes. 15 
minutes. Others to lunch. J moving mountains again. WOOHOO!

Q to laptop. What went wrong? Obvious - external mic not set. Using 
internal mic - close for test but far for real thing. Call J. Too late 
for assembly - stick to plan.

Q diddling in front of laptop. Chat invitation pops up. Accept. Window 
pops up. Q staring at: Mask. Pipe. Delegado Zero. WHOA. Q: GET READY.

Q spends other half of lifetime again trying to pick up camera in one 
hand and cell phone in other. A on other camera documenting. J: Start 
now. Q: Start speaking.

Mic passed around as compener@s describe their stories and struggles. 
Marco's pen audible as he takes notes. Q thinking: this is what it's all 

Marcos organizing 20+ years. Q holding camera 20+ minutes. Marcos 
holding steady. Q falls on ass. Wall comes in handy.

Compenar@s finish speaking. J on cell: Marcos to lunch. Will address San 
Diego later. Q tries to figure out how to put down cell and camera at 
same time. Still shaking. Happiness. Find chair. Use it.

Vegan lunch, courtesy B and E and R. Eat. Drink. Discussion. Guitars. 
Music. Singing. Beautiful. Thinking: when the revolution goes down, 
these are the people i want to be with.

Set up for 5PM video conference. Laptop, camera, mic, projector, sound 
system. Check. L at M. Old-school typing chat. Test video ichat. All good.

15 min to video conferencing. Finalize setup. 10 min to video 
conferencing. Video ichat. Check. 5 min to video conferencing. Turn on 
projector at V. Nothing. NOTHING? Nothing. Check projector. Check 
laptop. Check cables. Check Meaning of Reality. Q to L: On time? L to Q: 
Yes. Q to L: Can you stall while reboot? L to Q: Maybe. Q: Risks reboot. 
Wait. Wait. Wait. Login. Not recognizing projector. Check cables. Give 
up. No projection at V. Open ichat. L to Q: Get ready. Q looks, 
discussion continues. Q: IT'S TIME. Wait. Wait. FR documenting with 
other camera. Campener@s tell their stories and struggles to assembly at 
M. L furiously typing messages. Each message makes BULEEP sound 
amplified by V sound system. Q too far from laptop to read. Eyes 
clouded. Straining. L to Q: Don't put their faces in lower right corner, 
where chat box is. OOPS. Zoom out. More messages. Can't read. Holding 
camera. It's over. WHEW.

Marcos addresses assembly. Watching at V on laptop. Video ichat window 
freezes. WHAT? Old school chat Q to L: WHAT? L to Q: Camera battery 
died. Q to L: Use laptop camera? Q invites L to video chat. Connection 
lost. As Q panics for last time of day, companer@s at V discussing next 
steps in La Otra Campaña.

Chillin'. Cables, mics, cameras, computers strewn around. Reeling in 
cables. Discussion in background. Back to dog. Walk. Pet. Play. Back to 
V. Colectivo Zapatistas still hanging, cleaning up. Open media center. 
Download, edit video. Spacing.

After midnite. Laptops. cameras, cables, linux box, xtra underwear, duct 
tape re-packed. Name-tag falls. Destined for recycle bin. Pick up. Read. 
Q / Adherente, Media / La Otra En San Diego / October 19, 2006. Name-tag 
to pocket, thinking: These are the people i want to be with when the 
revolution goes down.

blog: http://deletetheborder.org/lotu5
podcast: http://feeds.feedburner.com/radioAntifascista

gpg:  0x5B459C11 // encrypted email preferred 
gaim: djlotu5 // off the record messaging preferred

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