Author Archives: admin

Watch BBC iPlayer from a non-UK IP address using Ubuntu and Tor

Tuning into UK catchup TV while travelling abroad isn’t an easy task since sites like BBC iPlayer and Channel 4′s 4OD block non-UK IP addresses. An simple fix is using a VPN provider, which could cost you upwards of £50 a year. Not an fortune, however I’ve discovered another method which is absolutely free and will raise your geek kudos to another level.

I’m using Tor, a software client designed to guard your on-line anonymity, then tweaking the configuration file to use only UK “nodes”. Tor recommend not to use any plugins such as Flash, since they can be manipulated into revealing your IP address, so we will not get the full benefit of anonymity as most catchup TV sites use Flash. If you want to know more about protecting your on-line identity, start with the Tor website at www.torproject.org.

You’ll first need to download the Tor Browser Bundle which is much easier than downloading the individual components of Tor, Vidalia then configuring Firefox to work. Tor is a cross-platform, open source project released on many platforms including Windows or Mac. I’m an Ubuntu user, and though the Linux download from the Tor site works a treat, I prefer to add the PPA as detailed at this upubuntu post since it integrates better with the Unity launcher.

Please note upubuntu’s instructions worked a treat for me, except for 

” sudo chown $USER -R ~/tor-browser/ “ should probably be 

” sudo chown $USER -R ~/.tor-browser/ “ since the tor-browser folder is hidden in your home directory.

If you are new to Linux, you need to change $USER to your user name. Windows and Mac users will not need to worry about any of this

After downloading then unpacking your Tor Browser bundle, you’re nearly ready to start watching iPlayer. If you are on-line when you launch Tor-browser, the Vidalia Control Panel will spring into action and start connecting to the Tor Network. On successful connection, The Tor Browser will launch, which is a version of Firefox modified for tighter security. You are now ready to surf the web with protected privacy which the following steps will mess up a bit, but our goal was merely a UK IP address, not an on-line existence free from all surveillance. If this is something you need, check out tails, a live-USB Operating System which run’s Tor on any PC compatible computers without leaving a trace on the host machine when you’re done.

On with the tweaks for BBC iPlayer. Find your Vidalia Control Panel and click on Settings then on Advanced. We need to “Edit current torrc” to edit the Tor Configuration file. Add the two following lines to the top of the file:

ExitNodes {GB}

StrictNodes 1

Then save and exit, and stop and restart Tor so you should start to use only UK nodes. In the mean time, find your Tor Browser Window. Though installed, the Flash browser is not enabled. Go to the Tools menu, then click on “Add-Ons” to open the Add-Ons Manager. Find the Shockwave Flash Plugin and enable it.

Go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/tv and find something to watch. The Tor browser will ask you to activate a plugin. This is to let Flash work. You will need to do the last two steps every time you use Tor. You should now be watching iPlayer.

I’d appreciate any feedback on these instructions, and if any part did not work for you. I’d really like  to find away of enabling Flash by default so I don’t have to manually enable it every time. Any ideas?

 

An open letter to Gloucester Ski and Snowboard Centre.

In responding to Chantelle Goddard-jones’ call to arms in support of Team Slalom Plus, I’d like to share my story.

I’m not from a skiing family, I wouldn’t have been a skier at all if it wasn’t for the dry slope on my doorstep. I was introduced to skiing back in ’91 when I joined Krazy Kids Klub on Saturday mornings at Gloucester Ski Centre. Within a year one of my coaches had invited me to join her new ski racing team “Slalom Plus”.

I had already sampled ski racing in the form of the Gloucester Summer Race league, and as far as I was concerned this was the elite of British Ski Racing. By 1993 I had discover the national series of events all over the UK, and by 1994 I did my first ski race on snow.

Year by year, my experiences grew. 1997 my first British University Dry Slope Championships. 1998 I was on the winning University team in Les Arcs, France.

University came and went, and all the while, when I could, I was training twice a week with Chantelle at Slalom Plus. I was 6 months into my first graduate job when I came 2nd place senior in the World Dry Slope Championships in High Wycombe.

In 2002 the club was bursting with talent, including several British Children’s Team members. I started to get involved more in the organisation of the club. Helping more with events, transport, etc, we even formed a Team SLP band for the 10 year anniversary of the club!

I started to show an interest in coaching and a friend told me how to get started. With plenty of encouragement from the club, I quit the rat-race set of to Canada to start my career in snowsport instruction.

It seems so long ago now. I’m about to start my 11th Winter season. I’ve spent 5 years working for the ESF in Tignes in France, now I’ve moved to a smaller independent school called TDC and this season I’ll also be working with a specialist snowboard school called Alliance (I’ve broadened my skill-base along the way).

You can say that skiing has become my life, I even met my wife skiing, but none of my skiing adventures would have been possible if it wasn’t for a chance encounter with Chantelle. I showed no particular promise in the sport, I had no experience to speak of, yet still Chantelle though she could make a ski racer of me.

A move to ban Team Slalom Plus from Gloucester Ski and Snowboard Centre will only deny young people of Gloucestershire the opportunity I had. Whatever reason there is for the ‘ban’, it is already damaging the reputation of the ski centre and the wider sport in general.

Stroud Half Marathon

I’ve had a pretty active summer so far. Learning to rock-climb is the activity that has given me the most pleasure, and continues to interest and challenge me. I am near the end of a lead-climbing course, and within a couple of weeks I should be “signed off” as lead-climbing competent. A good friend of mine, James Boosey, will be taking me sport climbing soon which will make a good blog post when it happens.

By far the most physically demanding challenge I have ever undertaken happened to me last week, when I tackled 100 miles off-road cycling. The route, which took us 14 hours, from Windsor to Bath, for the largest part followed an old Roman road called “The Ridgeway”. I’d heard the it was pretty flat and dull, at least that’s what the hardcore mountain bikers had told me previously. Well, unfortunately, the Ridgeway is no gentle cyclepath, but endless farmtracks rolling across the English landscape. I just couldn’t believe the pain we had to endure, and how raw my bum was feeling by the end of it.

In the wake of the torture that was this cycling event, I pondered how much punishment my body could take. Could I re-invent myself as one of those super-healthy middle aged blokes, who, as they get older seem to get fitter and fitter? Well, only one way to find out… I’ve signed up for the Stroud Half Marathon 2012. I have 30 days until the big event, and having previously never run before, this may be a bit of an undertaking!

I jogged for 40 minutes today and found that I averaged about 6 mph, so if I can keep the same pace through my training then an event time of 2 hours 10 minutes isn’t out of the question, I just need to practice running that long. Next training Sunday.