Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Accessing overseas media content

The Internet does a great job of keeping me connected to family and friends across the world.  However, efforts to connect with various national media, from iPlayer to Hulu, run up against a brick wall of parochial indignation.Message I’ve worked through to a good solution (finally), and wanted to offer a brief tutorial to how to access these media sources from outside the country.

Disclaimer:  This post is a result of my own research and experiences, and I pay full retail price for the product that I discuss here.  I have not asked for nor accepted any compensation, and am not endorsing this product in preference to others that might work equally well.

Okay, overseas media sources block your access by recognizing the geographic origin of your IP address.  I experimented with masking and anonymizing my address, but without success.

The solution is to set up a proxy server using a computer which is in the target country (for example, in the UK if you want to access iPlayer content).  When I want to watch local streaming media, the proxy mediate my web sessions and my geographic location becomes that of the proxy server.proxy (2)

The steps are:

  • Establish a PayPal account, if you don’t already have one.

As Wired recently observed, PayPal is becoming the medium for many innovative web-based transactions, and it’s easy and safe to use. I set up my account using a credit card, without giving bank account details or depositing money in advance.  The approval process takes a couple of days while they verified my address and sent a test micropayment to my card, but it’s transparent once it’s running (sort of another form of proxy).

  • Create an account with a proxy hosting service.

I used Proxz; they have a fast and reliable service and cover a wide range of geographies.  There is a recurring  charge of $25 per three-month interval.  The service gave me a few free days before the first billing so that I could test the service myself.

Once registered, the proxy service emailed me a unique IP address and login information for my account.

  • Configure a dedicated browser.

I use Mozilla as my default browser, so I configured IE to handle my proxy sessions.  This assures that my general traffic (including bank account sessions) don’t flow through the proxy server where they might be skimmed.

In IE, open Tools, Internet Options, Connections, and open LAN Settings.  I enter the IP address and port number for my proxy connection, then Save the settings and restart IE.

IE asks for the username and password, which I ask it to remember.  The browser then opens normally.

  • Access the local media content.

I set the media location as my browser’s homepage so that I remember that I dedicated IE to that purpose.  Otherwise, it all works as though I was in the UK and the proxy is transparent as I use the browser.

1 comment:

Dave Hampton said...

One brief follow-up: the proxy is relatively low speed, about 1 M/sec. Good enough for streaming iPlayer, but it will throttle your high-seed line if you use it for everything.