Like most San Franciscans, Charles Pitts is wired. Mr. Pitts, who is 37 years old, has accounts on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. He runs an Internet forum on Yahoo, reads news online and keeps in touch with friends via email. The tough part is managing this digital lifestyle from his residence under a highway bridge.

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Michael Ross creates his own electricity, with a gas generator perched outside his yellow-and-blue tent. For a year, Mr. Ross has stood guard at a parking lot for construction equipment, under a deal with the owner. Mr. Ross figures he has been homeless for about 15 years, surviving on his Army pension.

Inside the tent, the taciturn 50-year-old has an HP laptop with a 17-inch screen and 320 gigabytes of data storage, as well as four extra hard drives that can hold another 1,000 gigabytes, the equivalent of 200 DVDs. Mr. Ross loves movies. He rents some from Netflix and Blockbuster online and downloads others over an Ethernet connection at the San Francisco public library.