Sometimes we fail to see the bigger picture! From nakedpastor.com
I just love British television. Some of the best in science fiction, drama, and comedy has been produced in the UK over the last few years. These shows include; Doctor Who, Jekyll, Life on Mars, The IT Crowd, Kingdom and others. Some of these shows are beginning to filter across the pond. Some are finding new life on American television. Re-imagined shows like The Office have been very successful.
The BBC has one of the best web-based video players available. However, if you live outside the UK you can’t access the any of the content due to a number of licensing arrangements with distributors in other countries. The BBC looks at the ip address of the visitor to determine the user’s location. In order to view the content you must have a UK based ip address. How do you get one if you live in the US? I use TOR – The Onion Router.
The Onion Router was designed as a way of anonymizing web traffic. In short, it is an anonymous proxy. Tor works by chaining a series of these proxies together. The longer the chain, the harder it is to trace the traffic back to the source. By editing the configuration files I can select where my web traffic exits from the Tor network. These “exit nodes” are the key to this process. By selecting exit nodes in the UK the iPlayer thinks it’s serving a request from a user in Great Britain.
Next, open the Vidalia Control Panel.
Windows: Start -> All Programs -> Vidalia Bundle -> Vidalia
OS X: HD -> Applications -> Vidalia
Once connected click on “View the Network”
Sort the list by country by clicking on the heading above the country flags in the “relay” list. Once the list is sorted it’s easy to find the UK based Tor routers. Just look for the Union Jack.
Write down the best performing servers. You’ll then need to edit the Tor configuration file, torrc, in a text editor. You can find the path by opening the Vidalia control panel, clicking on settings, then the advanced tab. Use the following statement…
ExitNodes server1, server2, server3
Replace “server1, server2, etc…” with the servers written down in the previous step then restart Tor.
Change the proxy settings in your browser to point to 127.0.0.1 with port 8118 and you should be ready.
Unplugging the Cable
(All links will open in a new window)
A few months ago I made the decision to stop paying for premium cable services. The belt-tightening is now a necessity in this economy, but it doesn’t mean I gave up any of the entertainment choices I once enjoyed. In fact, when I include independently produced content, the number of entertainment options has been somewhat overwhelming.
Let me start by describing how my setup works. It isn’t the only way, or even the best way, but it has worked well for me. First of all, a broadband internet connection is a must. The faster the better. I use an old Pentium 4 PC running Windows XP. I spent about 30 bucks to put 1 GB of RAM in it and another 25 to add a mediocre graphics card, one with a DVI connection. The television I have is an older HDTV built by Sanyo. It has one HDMI connector (most modern TVs come with a number of inputs including HDMI and the HD-15 connectors commonly used by computer monitors). I use a DVI to HDMI cable to send video to the TV and a mini-stereo to RCA cable for audio. I also purchased a cheap wireless keyboard with a built-in mouse to control it. I’ve literally turned my TV into a computer monitor.
Windows comes with its Windows Media Player. It works well enough. However, I recommend using VLC (VideoLAN Client). It is the Swiss Army Knife of media players. iTunes and Miro are also must-haves. I’ll come back to those when I discuss content sources. Firefox is my web-browser of choice. If you’re not using it on all of your computers, you should be! Finally, make sure to install the latest Flash player from Adobe. Now, you’re ready!
The amount of video content that can be found online is virtually limitless. I’m going to divide this topic into two categories; “legitimate” and “watch out for the cops!”
Legitimate: In recent years many mainstream content producers have been putting their shows online. Some must be purchased while most are freely available. The TV networks as well as most cable stations stream full episodes from their websites. Other sites, like Hulu and Joost serve as one-stop destinations where you can watch TV shows and films from multiple sources. Most shows from sites like Hulu contain short commercials, much like traditional broadcasts.
There are paid options. I currently subscribe to Netflix. For as little as 9 dollars a month you can rent a DVD of your choice and instantly watch movies and TV shows from a library of 12,000 titles. Amazon has a similar service called UnBox. If you have iTunes you can purchase movies and television shows from the iTunes store.
Video podcasts are another option. Content is available from traditional and independent sources. Both iTunes and Miro support podcasts. There are other sites like Stickam and Ustream from which users can create their own live broadcasts.
Watch Out for the Cops: One word! Bittorrent! A vast community exists in which TV shows and movies are digitally recorded and shared online. Many are completely legitimate, but much exists that clearly violates copyright law. I am in no way advocating breaking the law. But if you add the use of RSS and it becomes diabolically easy. Miro supports RSS and bittorrent. If you use sites like tvrss.net or mininova.org you can subscribe to a tv show. Miro will then download the new episode when it becomes available.
There are lots of other options. More are becoming available all of the time. Most gaming consoles have methods of downloading and displaying content from some of these online sources. Media center software like Boxee, XBMC, and Plex add an easy to use interface. Specialty devices like the Roku and Popcorn Hour provide some functionality without the computer. The choices are almost limitless.
Next time I’ll explain how I use Tor (The Onion Router) to view BBC iPlayer content.
I vaguely remember reading about the discovery linking fevers and autism a few years ago. It made sense at the time and still does.
I have lots of anecdotal evidence from my own son, Corey. He was diagnosed with autism at 24 months. He’s soon to turn 15. I’ve noticed when Corey becomes feverish he is much more conversational. Even his sentence structure changes. He goes from speaking in a “broken English” to full phrases.
Click here for the story.