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Monthly Archives: August 2013

Some of you might have read my technological revelation discovered a couple of posts back.  To cut a long story short, I basically got stuck in Rome without any cash and the internet wasn’t being much help.  I had preplanned to be able to use  my online accounts to shuffle money around as and when I needed, but when I tried to access these accounts from Italy it wouldn’t work.  Turns out that many banks (including mine) block access to web banking based on your IP address.  For some reason they figure nobody takes holidays and needs to access their banking online.

Anyway I managed to sort it out by switching my IP address to a US one by using some sort of proxy/VPN system.  I am not quite sure which one but it worked ok and got me accessing my bank accounts from my hotel wifi again.  But when I returned it got me thinking, that we often get blocked accessing stuff online and perhaps this method could work in other areas.  You’ve probably seen it yourself – tried to watch a video on YouTube or accessing some media player site somewhere and being told it’s not available in your country and stuff like that.

Well I have lots of time and figured if I could change my IP address to a US one for online banking – then I could change it for other reasons too.  My hunch was right and after some online searching I found that thousands of people were doing just that – for example to watch UK TV in America.  Suddenly the possibilities seems to open up for me, learning French by watching French TV online, accessing the BBC Iplayer and all the TV stations in the UK I love so much.  The reality is it’s quite simple and easy to do, for every blocked service I’ve tried to access using my proxy/VPN service has worked.  I even watch the Irish news on their national station RTE whilst sitting in a coffee shop in downtown LA.   Suddenly I felt the internet had got bigger again and what was better it was being controlled as much.

If you’ve ever been blocked from watching or doing something online simply based on your location – I urge you to check these tools out.  Just search for online VPN/proxy programs and you’ll find loads of them – most are pretty reasonable and the best ones have servers in many countries for you to use.

One thing I used to love when I was growing up was cop dramas. I don’t really like the glossy CSI stuff that makes a case more about playing with a computer than going out there and solving crimes. I’ll never forget the first time The Professionals came on TV. It was just after Christmas in 1977. I was 10 and was instantly hooked. It made The Sweeney look tame and I wanted to grow up to be in CI5, which I didn’t find out until my teenage years was a made up name.

Nowadays it’s become really easy for me to watch my old favourites again. Unlike those battered VHS tapes I left up in the attic, shows Kojak and Starsky & Hutch are all back on TV again. My kids reccomended that I get Sky in the house. I was a bit apprehensive about it, but they had a lovely bunch of lads at Campbell & Kennedy come round and sort everything out for me.

They set me up with a Sky+ box. It’s like having an old recorder again, only now there’s no tape at all. I can just go through the TV guide and pick shows that the box will record and watch later.

It’s not just the old stuff I’m watching all the time either. There’s a stations called Alibi that shows some cracking crime shows and one called Universal that shows newer American shows that I like now.

I will say I was a bit apprehensive about getting Sky, but with the help from Campbell & Kennedy I’m now a bit of a whizz that the remote. I’d highly recommend it to anyone.