2010
Sep 
8

IP Prejudice

Filed under: Paris — Tags: — Russell @ 2:49 pm  

While we travel our Internet addiction continues unabated.  The combination of travel and the web brings up some interesting challenges besides just finding an open hotspot.  Lots of Internet sites and services like to guess where you are and treat you differently based on the country.  Sometimes this is useful such as when you get local news and weather.  Sometimes it is a way of charging you more money or denying you service.

Facebook

Changing countries makes Facebook very suspicious.  They will throw extra challenges at you to make sure you are really a person.  Surprisingly, they don’t ask personal questions to ensure you are who you claim.  More than any other website, Facebook is in a position to provide real challenges.  As it stands this is a reasonable precaution on their part and not too onerous.

Sony

Sony’s ebook reader store will let you make purchases provided you have a credit card number on file.  If you neglect to provide a card number before leaving the country, as I did, you can’t buy books from their online store.  So you can obtain thousands of pages of classic literature but not trashy novels for reading on the beach.

Online Media

Lots of TV networks will allow viewing of recent shows on their website.  However, this typically only works if you are in the same country as the network.  This is frustrating for Canadians who can watch American shows on TV and cable but not on the web.  Of course, watching the latest episode of House should be the least of your worries when experiencing the larger world.  Still, it is not a bad antidote for home sickness.

Online travel booking

My friend Elizabeth relates a story of finding a flight on a website in Asia for $50 and calling her Dad in Canada to book it.  He went to the same website and the same flight was $150.

Faking an Internet Address

Luckily, it is possible to fake an internet address.  If you are of a technical mind this article from Lifehacker shows how it can be done.  This also has the additional advantage of protecting all of your browsing from prying eyes.  For the less nerdy there are several commercial services that will help.  See this article for a description of the Hotspot Shield product from AnchorFree.

We are using the ssh strategy shown in the Lifehacker article.  This works for all the problems listed above except Sony and Hulu.com which somehow knows we are not in the US.  We are still looking for solutions.