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Monthly Archives: October 2016

I’m a pretty law abiding sort of guy, but I do find my behaviour becomes a little bit more flexible when I’m online.  I’m not talking about overt criminality or anything like that, more taking use of available resources that perhaps I shouldn’t.   My temptation is normally due to two distinct factors –

  • Love TV Shows and Movies
  • I’m lucky enough to travel a lot

How should these two factors combine is basically this – I am always waiting for the latest series of a variety of TV shows – Walking Dead, Game of Thrones and a myriad of others. Unfortunately when you’re travelling you can miss out on these releases as they’re often scheduled at different times. A show might be released on one date in the US and then a few weeks later in Europe, so if I’m travelling all my friends have seen in way before me – and yes they usually can’t resist commenting.

Streaming UK TV

You’d think that it wouldn’t matter because of the Internet but no, I am an avid HBO subscriber but am completely unable to access my subscription when outside the USA. It’s kind of stupid really that the online facility is blocked from me at the one time I actually wish to use it.

Now I can mess around with IP changers and stuff like that, but am always frustrated that I just can’t watch it quickly without problems which is why I am tempted by torrents. This is a way of sharing files between a shared community. Basically someone uploads a file and shares it on their computer then as people download they become part of the swarm and share it too. The result is that you can download movies and music very quickly indeed by using these ‘torrents’.

The problem is that you’re still breaking copyright and even if you have a legitimate right to access in one country doesn’t mean you have in another. It’s a crazy situation but unfortunately so it’s due to us having a licensing situation which kind of ignores the digital world we live in. Worst still when you download a file like this, it’s extremely simple to track down who downloaded it. It’s worth reading this article on anonymous torrenting for some background on the technicalities.

Basically you’re wide open to DCMA litigation, people get caught and fined all the time. In reality if you use a third party access point i.e. one that is not registered to your home address you should be alright. This is because although your IP address is recorded it won’t be associated with you directly if you are downloading from a coffee shop or hotel.

So when travelling it should be safer, although this doesn’t help with the very real problems of sharing your hard disk out to a bunch of strangers. All in all I don’t think torrents are worth the effort but I wish the media companies would sort out their licensing so people who travel aren’t penalized like this.

Managed to get a great deal on flights last month so I could visit some friends from student days who were now living in Europe.   It meant that two important aspects of my holiday were covered, cheap travel and somewhere to stay which in minimizes my costs.   My philosophy for travel has always been fairly similar,  I’d rather maximize the time I am away rather than the luxury I spend it in so keeping costs down mean I get to stay away for longer and see more places.   I got to see two fantastic places – Budapest in Hungary and the rest of the time in the United Kingdom which both were very good value for a US traveller.

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Budapest is a great place packed full of history and fantastic buildings.  Unfortunately many of these huge grand houses in the center of Budapest have lain empty for years, but various people have discovered a novel use for them – they’ve turned them into bars.  These ‘ruin pubs’ as they are known are simply impromptu bars set up the remains of old buildings.  That in LA wouldn’t be so appealing but in Budapest there are loads of fantastic 19th and early 20th century buildings sitting empty and they make wonderful atmospheric places to drink and chat to friends.   Beer is great quality and very cheap so you can imagine there’s a great party atmosphere come the weekend.

To be honest I’d have been set up in Budapest for a few months, yet the shallow movie obsessed me hit one problem.  I had read earlier in the year that Netflix had been released in Hungary in January and so presumed that my lack of Hungarian language skills wouldn’t isolate me from my TV.   It was true, I could access my Netflix account it was automatically routed though to teh Hungarian version.  This is where it went wrong, you see Netflix isn’t the same in every country.

Sure you can use your Netflix account in any country where it’s supported but you will only get the local version.  Because Netflix has to license on a per country basis some of the smaller markets have much smaller catalogues.   The Hungarian version is nowhere near as good as the US version and it’s missing thousands of movies and TV shows which are not licensed for Hungarian broadcast.  It’s ok but to be honest not entirely worth the subscription which unfairly is as much as the US pay.   Previously you could have bypassed this problem by switching to a VPN server but unfortunately this summer came The Great Netflix VPN Ban which has stopped this being an easy options.

Anyway it’s a small price to pay and I know you’re probably thinking get out and see the country you’re visiting instead of watching movies on a laptop.   Of course you’re right.  The situation did improve when I went to London because whilst UK Netflix is still not as good as the US version it’s probably second in quality and volume.   It’s more than enough for me and the prospect of staying in a lot because of high British prices was mitigated by sterling crashing against the dollar (thanks Brexit thing!).

Additional:

Apparently you can Bypass the Netflix VPN block now by using something called a residential VPN service – Read this