Archive for 2012

China Tightens Internet Controls

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

There were some that hoped that the new leadership of China would have a more relaxed attitude to the internet and online discourse, however this is looking increasingly unlikely.  Instead of relaxing the rules new legislation is being introduced that will tighten control by the government even further than before.

At the moment China has the most stringent and advanced filtering system on the planet. The Great Firewall if China is justly infamous for it’s extensive restrictions on what you can access online from within China.  Foreign websites like YouTube and Facebook are often blocked completely whilst even internet searches for sensitive words and phrases are censored too.  The Chinese authorities even have an army of paid bloggers who comment and divert conversations away from politicallly sensitive subjects!

The Chinese are hence avid users of a variety of VPN and proxy services designed to allow them access to different sites.  Using methods like these they use them for a variety of reasons simply to be able to get access to these blocked social networking sites.  Many others have specific needs and you’ll often see Chinese websurfers asking – how do I get a UK IP Address for example.  The answer is here and the reason –  so they can watch a less biased news service of world events through the BBC Iplayer!  For news and information closer to home, many Chinese will look to Hong Kong or pay out for Australian proxies which have more localised news on ABC iView.

Of course, the new laws and regulations are not being sold as tightening these already strict controls.  The official like is to enable the authorities to ’safeguard national security and social public interests’.  One of the most important new laws is that all web users must regitser their real names with the Internet service providers.  Strict penalties will be applied to ISPs who do not conform and enforce this new requirement.

The New Holiday Trend

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

The days of heading down to Cancun or other sunny, vaccuous holiday destinations are behind us it would seem with the current trend being people traveling to the UK to experience the famous countryside and stay in luxury lodges

Indeed, it would seem like trying to get some kind of worthwhile experience in life is overtaking the embarrassing drunken antics of years gone by and not before time too. Of course we will never be done with such mindless holidays but it is good to see that some people are taking a bit more time and effort to think about how they are spending their hard earned money. Instead of staying in a cramped sub standard apartment people are looking to stay in luxurious lodges that are actually a lot nicer than most hotels.

These kind of holidays can also do people a lot of good whether it is taking a break from work or inbetween leaving school and going on to further education it is important for people to take a break and relax. These holidays allow people to do that in beautiful settings and it has been proven that this type of break can have such a good effect on people that they will be considerably more productive after such a break.

Getting out and seeing the world is a great thing to do and the saying that travel broadens the mind is very true. It can also open your eyes up to how other people live and experience different cultures. 

Although this type of holiday may seem a bit out of peoples comfort zones the growing popularity goes to show that those that have tried it are sticking to it and it is probably their recommendations that is seeing such a rise in popularity.


A Fun Way to Enjoy Wine

Monday, December 10th, 2012

a wine bottle from California’s Napa Valley

We all have that opinion of wine drinkers on some level right? Stuffy.  Old.  White. Pretentious.  Ok, maybe even most of those are true, but did you know there was a fun way to enjoy wine this holiday season.  Joining a couple of local wine clubs will help you learn about wine in a fun environment, while also helping you to feel more comfortable when you have to deal with a Sommelier or anyone else working in the wine trade.

Handy Online Tool

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Interest calculators with contribution are used by car dealers, banks, realtors and others in businesses who use this technology. You can rent them or you can buy them. Cost and possible taxes on products or services can be found out easily with this product. It is an easy way to find out how much monthly payments will be on various items.   If you combine with using a VPN based in another country, you can also check internationally across borders.  The advantage of these is that you can also use the Virtual private network for other uses for instance to access content which is normally blocked like iPlayer USA for example.

In addition, they are easy to use. With most interest calculators they need the input of the following information: the cost of the purchase, the length of time needed to pay for the product and the interest rate. Some calculators can also give you feedback on what you can afford according to your income.

Also, if you want to compare different interest rates, you can find out how the rate affects the amount of your monthly or weekly payments. And, if you want to put more money down during the purchase process, you can see the results of the computation. In addition, an interest calculator can give you an idea of what you can or cannot afford.

With some interest calculators, for instance, a mortgage calculator, you can also get advice on whether to sell, buy or foreclose.

No matter what you want to buy, using an interest calculator can save you time, money and stress. By knowing how much a product will cost and how interest affects your purchase, you can be a smart shopper; without asking for help from an employee. And you will have an edge on an employee by being able to do this yourself and get a better deal.

Monday, November 19th, 2012

In the UK there has been a series of sex scandals relating to famous and influential people.  It started with the revelations of a TV star called Jimmy Saville and every week another celebrity seems to be implicated.  Much of this is often fueled by a torrent of online gossip and speculation on sites such as Twitter and Facebook.  But for those of us who do tend to gossip a little too freely online there is a cautionary tale to be told.

Last week a BBC documentary (this link if you’re outside UK) covered yet another of these allegations, with out naming the individual involved.  There were some clues however and pretty soon the rumour mill had started up and guesses and accusations were flying around the internet.  Unfortunately the information in the documentary was basically wrong, and the person implied to be guilty of a series of sex attacks was completely innocent.  The name that was flying about the ether was wrong, the accusations unfounded and the accused man very angry and hurt.

The apology came of course in the end, the shambolic investigation by the Newsnight team led to the Director General of the BBC resigning.  Damages were paid and we thought it would then disappear, but not this time.  The falsely accused individual had emplyed a team of Twitter experts to compile a list of all those who had Tweeted and spread the false allegations.  His aim was to sue them all for damages.  The list includes some TV personalities like the comedian Alan Davies and ran to thousands of names.  There was always a sense of anonymity to using Twitter but the reality is that anyone is easily traced by their IP address even if they use false details.

There is little anonymity for anyone online so you should take as much care with what you say online as you do offline.  Also remember that your audience is likely to be significantly bigger!  If you do wish to try and hide your identity then you should be careful about what details you put on any social media accounts.  Also consider investing in a privately run secure connection software which completely obscures your identity online.  There are bonuses to using these because they come with a wide array of servers you can use different IP addresses in different countries – just like these.  So you can switch to a British IP if you want to watch the BBC Iplayer, a US one for Hulu or whatever you need.  Whatever you do though, always presume you have less privacy than you think you do!

At Last the BBC on my Ipad

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

When I got my Ipad I had visions of watching the news from the BBC whilst sitting watching the Californian sun dip below the horizon on my porch.  The best weather in the world combined with the best TV channels on the sexiest piece of technology that I’ve ever seen.  Unfortunately the reality didn’t quite happen as when I tried to access the BBC through their IPlayer application I was informed that I couldn’t watch due to my location.

Let me be quite clear although I’m currently in the US, I am a UK tax payer and perhaps more relevent a license fee payer too.  To be told I couldn’t watch the BBC news because of where I happened to be was rather annoying to be honest.  So I searched online, I read about the technology that was stopping me – apparently callled Geotargeting.  This involves a web site looking up your IP address when you connect and then cross referencing with a database listing all the locations.  So if you connect from California, I get an American IP address.

I figured there must be a way to hide your IP address and also your location – and I was right.  Firstly I discovered that you could use a proxy server based in another country to get access.  This however was a bit fiddly and involved changing my settings in Safari each time.  I looked further and finally found a solution that worked specifically on the Ipad using a VPN –

It’s surprisingly easy to do, the VPN can be enabled or disabled at will.  When it’s connected I appear to be in the UK wherever I actually am and as such I can watch the BBC whenever I like.  Even the desktop version works ok over VPN which allows you to download the shows and watch them later with no buffering.