Watching US TV in the Great White North

Posted: April 30, 2008 in Mac OSX, software
Tags: ,

On thing that i have always found annoying was the way the US televison stations advertise that you can catch missed episodes online at http://www.enter-station-id-here.com. it always bothered me because as a resident of Canada we get to see all the US stations on cable (which we pay an increasingly ridiculous amount of money for – but that’s a topic for another day) but if we want to catch a missed episode we are out of luck, unless of course you want to try one of the peer-to-peer apps, that’s if you don’t mind wading through all the crap out there to find what you are actually looking for.
We’ve kicked the idea around at work a few times, trying various ways to “spoof” the network web sites into thinking we are in the US but no such luck until a colleague found a link somewhere pointing him to HotSpot Shield. Being a little dubious about such programs, what with all the spyware and viruses out there, he mentioned it to me to be the guinea pig so to speak. So after reading all about the way the program works i took all the necessary precautions and downloaded the app for my Mac and installed it. The app is built for Windows 2000, XP, Vista and Mac OS X. Its nice to be included, so many of these types of apps are designed and built Windows only.

Its a pretty simple install on Mac OS X as usual and relatively painless on Windows XP as well. Drag and Drop for Mac, Easy Install for Windows with very little info or interaction needed. I am using the free version but if you want there is a paid-for ad-free version available if you don’t like to see ads at the top of your browser window.

Once you have the app up and running – don’t be alarmed if you get an error message or a window that shows disconnected, not set, etc. the app will keep trying until it navigates a working I.P. address for you and will then launch your web browser. From there its a simple case of going to the site you want, knowing your real I.P. address is being safely hidden. On my mac i had issues with Gmail not working, i would get a
Disconnected
message while running HSS, but this was not the case on my windows XP machine, Gmail and Gtalk continued to work fine.
I’ve used it to view TV shows on NBC, CBS and ABC without any trouble whatsoever. It certainly is handy for that purpose, but that is not entirely its purpose. The app creates a VPN (virtual private network) between your computer and the internet to protect your private information, you are effectively surfing anonymously, so no email, instant messages, credit card info etc is out there ready for clever hackers or snoopers to steal.
When you are browsing you will have a small ad banner like band across the top of your browser window, but this is a small price to pay for safety and security and the ability to view what you want on the web, without having to cross the border.

TCG
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