Buffering is Bullshit. Get VPN.

    So much is happening these days with video streaming services and ISP’s.  They are at each others throats, blaming each other for terrible speeds/buffering issues, with the real loser being the consumer.  Its obnoxious, but there is a way around it.  VPN.
The Verge published a great article a few days ago with video of a guy visually showing you the difference in speeds both using a VPN, and when your not using a VPN.  If you are unfamiliar with what a VPN is, it is basically this:

There are loads of benefits to having a VPN.  One is protecting your IP address.  Your IP address is your digital footprint and personal identifier.  When using a VPN, you can hide this information from websites you visit.  If you live in a country that regulates internet usage by forcing censorship with firewalls, stealth vpn can free you from that nonsense.  VPN can also hide your activity from big brother.  Its your business, keep it that way.
    Lets get back to that article I was referring to.  All of the ISP’s are messing with streaming services, and no matter how much you bitch, there isn’t anything you can do.  Or is there?  When using a VPN, your ISP doesn’t know that your watching Netflix.  If it doesn’t know, it can’t throttle you.  Some bloggers may argue that there is no difference, but I disagree.  A writer on Verge also subscribed to this theory.  Watch this experiment:

I have seen the same results from personal experiences.  Those who argue this theory, also make mention of low quality or free vpn services which are no good.  If you are going to go with a vpn, I highly suggest using Torguard.  Torguard offers a few different products, all very useful depending on what you’re looking for.  I currently have a vpn through them, along with a torrent proxy.  The speeds are fantastic, and I have had nothing but good luck with them.  I have used STRONGVPN as well, but cancelled.  The service was decent, but they were expensive and made it difficult to switch locations by tacking on all sorts of charges.  Torguard makes it easy.
There is one more thing you may want to do when considering a VPN company to go with.  Torrentfreak wrote an article this year called “Which VPN Services Take Your Anonymity Seriously? 2014 Edition.”  They contacted loads of VPN providers asking them their policy on “logs.”  Basically the only evidence possible that can be used against you when using a VPN.  Torrentfreak asked the following questions to these providers:

1. Do you keep ANY logs which would allow you to match an IP-address and a time stamp to a user of your service? If so, exactly what information do you hold and for how long?

2. Under what jurisdictions does your company operate and under what exact circumstances will you share the information you hold with a 3rd party?

3. What tools are used to monitor and mitigate abuse of your service?

4. In the event you receive a DMCA takedown notice or European equivalent, how are these handled?

5. What steps are taken when a valid court order requires your company to identify an active user of your service?

6. Is BitTorrent and other file-sharing traffic allowed on all servers? If not, why?

7. Which payment systems do you use and how are these linked to individual user accounts?

8. What is the most secure VPN connection and encryption algorithm you would recommend to your users?

Torguard answered the questions if great detail.

1. TorGuard does not store any IP address or time stamps on any VPN and proxy servers, not even for a second. Further, we do not store any logs or time stamps on user authentication servers connected to the VPN. In this way it is not even possible to match an external time stamp to a user that was simultaneously logged in. Because the VPN servers utilize a shared IP configuration, there can be hundreds of users sharing the same IP at any given moment further obfuscating the ability to single out any specific user on the network.

2. TorGuard is a privately owned company with parent ownership based in Nevis and our headquarters currently located in the US. Our legal representation at the moment is comfortable with the current corporate structuring however we wouldn’t hesitate to move all operations internationally should the ground shift beneath our feet. We now offer VPN access in 23+ countries worldwide and maintain all customer billing servers well outside US borders.

We would only be forced to communicate with a third-party in the event that our legal team received a court ordered subpoena to do so. This has yet to happen, however if it did we would proceed with complete transparency and further explain the nature of TorGuard’s shared VPN configuration. We have no logs to investigate, and thus no information to share.

3. Our network team uses commercial monitoring software with custom scripts to keep an eye on individual server load and service status/uptime so we can identify problems as fast as possible. If abuse reports are received from an upstream provider, we block it by employing various levels of filtering and global firewall rules to large clusters of servers. Instead of back tracing abuse by logging, our team mitigates things in real-time. We have a responsibility to provide fast, abuse-free VPN services for our clients and have perfected these methods over time.

4. In the event of receiving a DMCA notice, the request is immediately processed by our abuse team. Because it is impossible for us to locate which user on the server is actually responsible for the violation, we temporarily block the infringing server and apply global rules depending on the nature of the content and the server responsible. The system we use for filtering certain content is similar to keyword blocking but with much more accuracy. This ensures the content in question to no longer pass through the server and satisfies requirements from our bandwidth providers.

5. Due to the nature of shared VPN services and how our network is configured, it is not technically possible to effectively identity or single out one active user from a single IP address. If our legal department received a valid subpoena, we would proceed with complete transparency from day one. Our team is prepared to defend our client’s right to privacy to the fullest extent of the law.

6. BitTorrent is only allowed on select server locations. TorGuard now offers a variety of protocols like http/socks proxies, OpenVPN, SSH Tunnels, SSTP VPN and Stealth VPN (DPI Bypass), with each connection method serving a very specific purpose for usage. Since BitTorrent is largely bandwidth intensive, we do not encourage torrent usage on all servers. Locations that are optimized for torrent traffic include endpoints in: Canada, Netherlands, Iceland, Sweden, Romania, Russia and select servers in Hong Kong. This is a wide range of locations that works efficiently regardless of the continent you are trying to torrent from.

7. We currently accept payments through all forms of credit or debit card, PayPal, OKPAY, and Bitcoin. During checkout we may ask the user to verify a billing phone and address but this is simply to prevent credit card fraud, spammers, and keep the network running fast and clean. After payment it is possible to change this to something generic that offers more privacy. No VPN or Proxy usage can be linked back to a billing account due to the fact we hold absolutely no levels of logging on any one of our servers, not even timestamps!

8. For best security we advise clients to choose OpenVPN connections only, and if higher encryption is called for use AES256 bit. This option is available on many locations and offers excellent security without degrading performance. For those that are looking to defeat Deep Packet Inspection firewalls (DPI) like what is encountered in countries such as China or Iran, TorGuard offers “Stealth” VPN connections in the Netherlands, UK and Canada. Stealth connections feature OpenVPN obfuscation technology that causes VPN traffic to appear as regular connections, allowing VPN access even behind the most strict corporate wifi networks or government regulated ISPs.

The complete article can be read here.  StrongVPN gave an evasive answer at first which made me not want to use them.
    I’m going to continue this series throughout the month, sharing how to configure a router for your home to be permanently connected to a VPN, how to set up a torrent proxy with uTorrent, and how to take almost any router and flash it with DDWRT which will allow it to be permanently connected to VPN. 

The Roku 3!

   I’m a tech geek, not to the point where I’m just blowing cash on stupid devices for no reason, but I indulge in technology when there are new advances in things that I love, typically viewing entertainment.  The Roku 3 is definitely a step towards perfection for a media box.

   We first got the Roku 2 a little over a year ago and I did a review of it on this blog.  Over time, I became less impressed with it as it frequently gave me problems and had a difficult time latching onto a strong wireless connection.  It was pretty annoying, but I dealt with it.  When we lost the remote for it when packing, I used it as a good excuse to replace it with the Roku 3.  I was interested in this device for a number of reasons, two being: the great reviews on Amazon and the Wifi Booster (I don’t think its technically called that, but you get the idea).  With the terrible reception of the wifi the first time around, I wanted something with some balls this time around.  So I took a chance with the Roku 3.
  The Roku 3 retails at about $99.00 and is the Cadillac of the Roku products.  It comes with a remote that is cable of motion control actions when playing Roku App Games, and also has the ability to plug in headphones to watch a movie, and the headphones plug right into the remote.  This option is pretty awesome if you want to crank some stereo sound while your kid is sleeping.  I’m sure I’ll be trying this out in my future.
I am a month into using this little gem and I am super impressed.  So impressed that we have cut the chord on cable/satellite.  No more nonsense cable bill!  In reality, I turned the cable box on for 1 reason, sports.  I watch Hockey and Football. With the Roku I was able to get the NHL Gamecenter Live Package (which I will review later this week).  This allowed me to get my hockey in HD, and gave me the excuse I needed to get rid of my cable provider.  
The Roku 3 works flawlessly with Neflix, Amazon Prime, and all other apps I have tried.  It is a great step in the “a la carte” direction that entertainment is going in, and with the Spotify App, its almost the complete package.

Guilty Pleasure

   I have a new guilty pleasure as of late.  Months ago I had seen a trailer for MTV’s new TV show “Skins”.  The preview looked so unbelievably terrible that I momentarily became fascinated and decided to look up information about it online.  I found out that it was actually a remake of a version that aired for multiple seasons in the UK.  The reviews that I had read said that the UK version was edgy and would never be able to be aired in the US because of the content.  So I decided to watch the first season on Netflix.  As soon as I had finished the first episode, I knew that there would be no way I would ever watch the watered down US version, there would be no reason to. 
   The show is based around a group of kids, each of course loaded with their own problems and getting into their own ridiculous “real life” situations.  Doesn’t sound like anything special right?  As I got more and more into the first season it hit me as to why the show is so awesome.  Nicole was on the couch next to me as I was watching.  She was on her laptop not actually watching the show but peeking over at the TV occasionally and finally made a comment that pretty much summed up the show.  She said that the show is basically an R-rated Nickelodeon show.  That description is dead on.  If you ever wondered what a Nickelodeon show would be like with drug use, violence, strong sexual content, and low brow humor defiantly give the U.K. version of “Skins” a watch. It is bloody brilliant.

  I finished another model pic for the site that I thought came out well.  This one is for my Hemingway shirt where I have done some Photoshop stuff with a picture I shot of Nicole.

The Killing Machine

     Dolph Lundgren returns with his newest masterpiece “Icarus” or in the states “The Killing Machine”.  Dolph plays “Icarus”, real name Edward Genn, an assassin who is struggling with the balance of being a ruthless killer and a father to a little girl.  Some past mistakes end up haunting him as eventually an onslaught of trained killers tries to murder him and his entire family.  If you like Dolph Lundgren then this is a good one.  The film is full of action and some brutal ass kicking.  Dolph directed this film and does a good job in making this look like a film with a decent budget.  This film isn’t going to win any awards and sometimes lacks common sense but that is what makes it great.  Dolph at one point is trying to save his daughter and brutally kills someone by ramming his face through the barbell of a weight set.  Long term trauma for the little girl?  Not when your Dolph’s daughter!  Super Sweet Shirts recommends this movie if you like things that are awesome.

Dolph’s total kills:  26
Methods used:  Guns, pitchfork, barbell, explosive, and bare hands…

 Rating (out of 4)

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