The International Internet & VPN Juggling Act
Well I’ve talked about this before, but after a couple of weeks I think I’ve got all our internet use down, including what needs to be turned on or off to view what. Again, we have no TV, so we’re depending on streaming to view anything.
Just Give Me One Internet, Straight Up
For normal web use, browsing, e-mail, etc. using the internet is no different than in Peoria (just faster as we’re paying for a higher tier of service than we do at home). The only regular noticeable difference is that with any sort of location service turned on, or even not as web browsers will decide where you are based on the host machine you’re connecting through, I get served local ads. So while most of my browsing is in English, my ads are in Spanish. Makes for a slightly more interesting experience. When viewing local sites, such as Joel’s school, I tend to use Chrome (Safari remains my main browser, but just barely), which is nice enough to default to translating pages for me, as best it can. (As always, you can click the pictures to view them larger size.)
Give Me a PBS & Hulu on Hola
I wrote about Hola before when talking about our Internet travails, and PBS & Hulu are the two sites for which we need it, otherwise we get that nasty “Content Not Available in Your Region” message, or something similar. It’s free, easy to use and works in Chrome & Firefox. It’s worked well for those two sites for us, although PBS had quite a bit of pausing to buffer while watching, yes, Downton Abbey. But we got through it. Joel is the big user of Hulu ( we do NOT do Hulu Plus as it doesn’t seem to be plus much), it has a couple of shows he likes. He knows to use Chrome and make sure Hola is running set to use the U.S. as our location, and I haven’t heard any complaints so I guess it’s working for him too.
For Two More Months, It’s Prime on VPN
So lacking cable at home, and for my work sometimes needing last minute shipments of DVDs, DVD cases, DVD case inserts, well, you get the idea, I joined Amazon Prime last year. I figured for $79, some of which I can write off as a business expense, it was a slightly better deal than Netflix. And it’s been fun having access to stuff to watch. However, just like everyone else streaming media, their licenses are only good in certain countries, and apparently Chile isn’t one of them.
Hola didn’t work here, so I went searching for a free VPN (Virtual Private Network) to see if that would work. Traditionally VPN’s were a business thing, a way for workers at home to safely log in to work computers and get work done. Recently they’ve become popular for adding a layer of anonymity to web browsing: you generally show up as a user from the computer you’re logged into, depending of course on what you have your browser do (download stuff, cookies, etc.; it’s not foolproof). But it’s also used as a way to get access to stuff that is location restricted: you log in to a server from the appropriate country, and presto! you can access the stuff you’ve already paid to be able to use.
After some searching, the free version I found is VPNBook, and after some small setup struggles, it’s worked quite well. Well, it’s worked well through the Amazon Prime App on the iPad. It worked on the laptop, but not as well. It could also have something to do with the connection, you can set up several different types and switch between them. But I don’t care as long as I’ve got it working.
Unfortunately I got the long-rumored e-mail today that Amazon’s raising the price of Prime from $79/year to $99, which I think moves it out of the worth it range for me. My subscription runs out in May, so we might give Netflix a test then. I’ll probably be ready for a new challenge by then.
Oh the Irony of MLB.TV
I don’t pay for MLB.TV, that would be stupid. Where I live the Cardinals, Cubs & White Sox are all considered local market, so I wouldn’t be able to watch anything anyway, and I can already listen the radio broadcasts for free. That doesn’t mean I might not know someone who does and has given me access to their account, and if MLB is too lazy to keep track of how many people are using a login, that’s their problem. So the irony is that 5,000 miles away from home, I’m able to watch the Cardinals on MLB.TV without any special effort, just boot up the app on the iPad and stream away.
It’s going to be tough coming home in the middle of the season and losing that. Hmm, VPN anyone?