Jan 29 2013

Watching TV From Your Homeland

Category: Kazakhstan,PersonalChrisM @ 6:43 pm

OK, legal stuff out the way first. This post’s content was created by a nameless friend from Britain who talks about hypothetical situations, pays for his TV licence back in the UK, and does not want anyone else to break the law by using software he mentions for educational reasons. For the sake of convenience with writing this post, he is referred to as “I”…

So, you find yourself in a country where your favourite channel’s online broadcasts are not available. What should you do? There are a few options ranging from free (but you can’t really complain if there is a problem) to paying a fee each month.

Also, all logos, company names, trademarks and product names are the property of their respective owners. No affiliation, endorsement or other connection should be construed.
Blah blah blah etc. etc.

BBC iPlayer SyFy Channel 4 Fox ITV Player CBS Netflix YouTube hulu A and E Twitter GMail Google facebook

If you have no technical skills with computers and the idea of altering DNS settings or remembering to return them to normal each time your online media viewing session has ended does not sit well, then Hola is probably worth checking out. They currently have Firefox and Chrome plugins/extensions available (though they state their Chrome extension performs a lot beter). Once installed, you can either leave these running the whole time, or disable them when you are not viewing online TV that checks which country your computer is in. It seems to be fairly automatic, and iPlayer and Hulu are bother reported to work fine. Here in Kazakhstan, buffering and occasional time outs (“Your bandwidth is too low to watch this program”) seem to occur. However, I’m not able to test whether these issues are down to Hola’s servers being slow to respond at peak times, or whether this would in fact still occur if Hola was disabled, but iPlayer just worked natively when you’re associated with a Kazakh IP address. One thing to consider is that any DRM locked downloads (for example if iPlayer is buffering/timing out too much, you may wish to download the program from them first, then watch it one go) will not work correctly, as Windows Media Player will respond to a check with BBC servers with your true Kazakh IP, and so playback will instantly fail.

Hola - Watching TV from Home, Abroad

Next up is Tunlr (perhaps used in conjunction with DNS Jumper). This option does enable downloaded media to work (as your DNS settings will effect all programs (for example Windows Media Player) on your PC, not just the browser you happen to use), but you need to remember to switch back to your normal DNS provider when you are not viewing online content, as otherwise you could eventually find your IP address banned. (Why? Because if you are just browsing the web normally, for example visiting a friend’s site or googling something, you do not/should not be burdening Tunlr’s (free) network hardware with un-necessary work).

DNS Jumper

If you prefer, you can just manually alter your connection’s primary and secondary DNS IP addresses to, and away from, Tunlr’s IP addresses, but DNS Jumper does allow you to do this with just a few clicks, and without having to remember a chain of numbers each time. Remember to click the Flush DNS button after applying new DNS settings in DNS Jumper to ensure that new requests are sent via Tunlr, rather than old cached routes being used again, resulting in repeated failure!
If you have an Android smartphone/tablet, you can still quite easily use Tunlr by installing DNS Changer Root. Ignore Tunlr’s warning – people with 2.2+ versions of Android on their phone can use Tunlr, it is just that they’ll need to use an app like DNS Changer Root to be able to alter their DNS settings easily. If you find yourself manually adding Tunlr’s server to your network connection properties or preferred network settings application, please do check back on their home page occasionally – their IP addresses do sometimes change, and when this happens, you’ll need to update your system before it will work again.

Tunlr

Also, should you happen to google DNS Changer Root, please be aware that the app (DNS Changer Root) is, as far as I can tell, COMPLETELY unrelated to the malware often generically labelled as DNS changer. One is an infection that will cause your PC/Mac problems, the app is an Android application that just happens to have a similar name. By the way, your phone or tablet will need to be rooted to install and use DNS Changer Root (the clue is in the name 🙂 ).

DNS Changer Root

If you need help rooting your phone or tablet, let me know, I’m happy to google some of my favourite forums/sites for you, but if you need real world/fast assistance, you may want to contact me at work@chrismerriman.com for IT consultant cost enquiries.
Finally, should you be here in Kazakhstan on a generous wage, and just want things to work on your computer (most of the time) without much interaction on your part, a VPN service, such as Expat Shield may make more sense for you.

Expat Shield

Ah, my mistake, Expat Shield is in fact still free, but the “premium” (more reliable, works with more services and has someone to complain to if things go wrong) route with the company is called EliteAccess. I should probably check sometime if they have an affiliate link 😉