What You Need to Hear

Are Proxy Services Still Safe to Use?

I’ve been using proxy and VPN services for many years now, in fact my first job in IT was installing and configuring VPN clients on the laptops of a big sales force.   However nowadays I mainly use them for privacy and to bypass all the stupid online blocks that seem to exist all over the internet nowadays.  It’s extremely frustrating if you travel a lot, as the list of what you can access changes every time you happen to switch countries.

For example my all time favorite web site is probably the BBC one.  Not only can I watch live British TV online live, but I can also catch up with different shows through the iPlayer application.  However the instant that I step out of the UK none of this works any more, the live TV stuff disappears and iPlayer will not work apart from with a few of the radio channels.  It’s the same with my favorite US web sites, Pandora is a wonderful internet radio station, which tailors the music you hear based on your ratings – however outside the USA it simply stops working.


This is the main reason people use proxies and VPNs, to bypass these restrictions – however some countries are even worse and even democracies like Turkey routinely block access to all sorts of different websites.  The idea is that for the blocks implemented by countries and governments all they see is the British proxy or US VPN server and so you can access the site that they have blocked.  Many people in China routinely use these servers because of the number of sites which are blocked.

The problem is that many of these services are free which of course most people prefer to having to buy IP address services, however people don’t seem to realise that it’s impossible to run these servers without getting some sort of payment.  The reality is that most of the free servers inject adverts into either your computer and your browsing sessions, they then make money from clicks to the adverts.  This doesn’t raise much which is why these servers are so slow and overloaded, however recently there have been some worrying developments.

A company called Hola which is one the biggest free proxy providers, based in Israel has another method of raising revenue from it’s ‘free users’.  What they actually do is use any unused bandwidth on your computer, and resell it as a premium security VPN service.  So while your computer sits idle, your internet connection is actually being used by complete strangers to route whatever traffic that they like.

The reality is that for a proxy/vpn service to be safe and secure then  you’ll need to pay for it.  There’s no other way unless some billionaire decides he’s going to foot the bill for the world’s privacy protection then watch as millions use it to stream soaps and movies to their desktops.

James Hall

To Hull and Back – City of Culture 2017

Hull was in some ways a surprising choice for the 2017 City of culture, however the city is definitely taking the award seriously.  This month a conference will be held exploring the different ways that technology are impacting art.

The organisation Digital Utopias who are currently funded by the Arts Council (with some funding from Google) will bring together a host of other arts based organisation and technology related specialists at the Hull Truck Theater on the 20th January.


So what’s happening there?  Well there is an extensive programme of events covering all sorts of areas.  From showcases of new technologies and debates on a variety of arts related subjects.  One interesting exhibition is that of generative literature where the text is actually generated by a computer using a set of formal rules, there is also something that most children will be familiar with – the award winning video game – Minecraft.

All delegates will be able to meet and discuss matters with many famous artists like Thompson and Craighead, Mathew Fernandez and Memo Atken.

The finale is expected to be the immersive digital art piece by the Marshmallow Laser Feast and the Alexandra Whitley Dance company.  This has been described by the organizers as a ‘duet between human movement and the digital world’.

The hope is that many people will make use of these unique networking opportunities with artists being able to meet some of the digitally creative businesses that are based in Hull and the surrounding regions.  The hope is that Hull will become a hub for digital technologies in the run up and including the 2017 Year of Culture.

There is extensive investment with building already begun on the new Centre for Digital Innovation.  This will be called the @TheDock and you’ll find it next to the old dry dock which sits at the mouth of the river Hull. This combined with some new modern office space represents a 13 million pound investment in the city’s infrastructure, which hopes to attract start up digital design firms and already established businesses seeking to locate in a ‘design friendly’ environment.

There is no doubt that Hull feels that technology is an important part of the City of Culture events, especially as they are most likely to bring more employment and investment in the area.

It’s not uncommon now, for areas like Hull to look to completely different areas in order to bring jobs to the area.  It was traditionally an industrial town, which has suffered with the fall in manufacturing over the last  two decades or so.  Jobs related to technology and digital media by their very nature  tend to be well-paid and are relatively easy to promote requiring minimal investment in infrastructure.  The markets are huge and varied, many companies promote and sell their digital products like this online and can really base themselves in any location as long as there is decent internet access.

It’s an exciting time for Hull and hopefully 2017 will be a real success for the city and bring a welcome boost to an area that has had it’s problems over the years.

Amy Calforth

Digital Media Correspondent

Can Anyone Earn a Living in Digital Art?

For artists who work primarily in digital media, it is something that is very difficult to do. After all their physical counterparts can produce a piece of art which has uniqueness at the core of it’s value. You can’t simply replicate an oil painting or a statue, but for digital art this is entirely possible and anything can be replicated thousands of times in minutes. This obviously has a huge impact on it’s value and means that most digital artists have to replicate their work in the physical world in order to survive.

This is generally done in the form of prints or physical copies of their digital art, it’s not something that is done for inspiration but rather by necessity. In stark contrast to other areas of society, the technology section of art is the poorer neighbour – if you want to make money you’d be much safer sticking with traditional areas of art like painting, design and sculpture.

We are still a long way off, a proper acceptance of digital art and it’s unlikely that digital pieces will reach the same prices at auction as traditional forms at least in the short term. However it can only be a matter of time, purely because the digital world is of increasing important and it’s only natural that our appreciation of digital art will grow.

For many of us, our lives involve a huge digital and online aspect. The internet touches all facets of our existence particularly that of leisure and entertainment. Even when we travel now, the portability of devices mean that we can still keep in touch with our normal digital lives. There are some restrictions of course, some media providers online now restrict access based on your location – it’s this sort of control that needs to come to digital products to increase their value. Even though you can bypass these restrictions, this post shows how you can use a UK VPN to connect through to UK only sites – restrictions like these and advanced watermarks will improve the value of digital products.

The art market will certainly become more accepting of digital art over the next few years. Many expect the rise of 3d printing could be a huge enabler in this area. Producing physical representations of what we produce online will become much more accessible and cost effective. This should at least give digital artists some further options of monetizing their creations without having to recreate a physical version from scratch.

Heather Williams

With Thanks

A World of Entertainment Online

For a TV lover like myself, the internet has been a wonderful invention.  I’ve never been one for long blockbuster films, but crime dramas and TV series are perfect for me.  Over the years I’ve certainly been spoilt as I lived in the UK and there’s some of the best TV dramas in the world. Even better are  the national broadcasters like the BBC in Britain and RTE in Ireland.  Why should it matter ?  Well the basic difference for a viewer is that national TV stations are largely advertisement free which means you favorite shows don’t get interrupted every ten minutes with hundreds of adverts.

Unfortunately for the last six months I have been living and working in Turkey.  Now don’t get me wrong, it’s a wonderful place to live and the people are very friendly – however the TV situation is not so good especially as I can’t speak Turkish.  But this is where the internet has come to my aid and brought me back into the land of global TV.


Now I appreciate that you can spend all sorts on fancy satellite dishes to get access to British and US television stations.  However this is not always practical for people who move about a lot.  The solution is to switch your viewing online.  As long as you have decent internet speeds – upwards of 5mbs for instance, then you’re capable of streaming TV over the internet.

My favorite shows are mainly on UK and US television and all the major media companies have online sites which play most of their shows there.  The one problem that all expats and travellers have using this method is that access is normally restricted to people with domestic IP addresses.  That is if you want to watch the BBC you need a British address, NBC requires you access with a US address – the requirement goes on and on – German address for German TV, French for a France based sites – for more information see here.

It is a nuisance to say the least and not really in keeping with the model I grew up with of the open internet.  Fortunately at the moment there are methods around all these blocks which the TV companies don’t seem to fussed about.  They involve using proxies or VPN (Virtual private Network) servers to act as go-betweens for your PC.  These enable you to hide your real address and connect using one of the server – so for UK TV Online you’d connect to a British proxy first.

It’s not perfect and does add another level of expense, but for those of us who really enjoy watching TV and find ourselves travelling a lot the small expense is very worthwhile.  You should look around at these services though as there are quite a range to choose from.  For frequent travellers look at something that has a wide range of servers in the specific countries you need to connect to and the ability to work on different devices like tablets, smart phones and even smart tvs.

Global Climate Debate – Australia’s Poor Reputation

There has been a growing consensus that certain countries are very much lagging behind in climate change action. During the United Nations climate negotiations, two countries are being singled out away from the official discussions – Canada and Australia.

It is being reported even by Australia’s own representative at the symposium – Professor Peter Doherty who will be a party to the memorandum detailing the suggested recommendations. Doherty reported that Australia is emerging as public enemies amongst the countries represented – not a great result for two countries who were thought to be powerful advocates for reducing carbon emissions. Many think that these countries are out of step with the rest of the planet in making a real effort to combat climate change.

The Climate Change Authority (CCA) recommended that Australia increase it’s commitment to cut 2000 level emissions by 2020 from 5% to 19%. Although it’s the biggest cut of any developed country, it represents just how far Australia has fallen behind other countries.

It is ironic that Australia is lagging so far behind, because it has in reality more to lose. Australia is subject to extreme weather conditions and a rise in temperature could cause devastation throughout large parts of the country. It is essential that it take climate change more seriously and makes the tough choices needed to combat the threat. If you check out the local media online, which you can do using an Australian proxy, then you’ll rarely see the sort of coverage that climate change get’s in other countries.

It is essential that Australia improve and quickly, it does have the potential to seriously reduce it’s emissions by harnessing energy efficiency electrical systems instead of relying so heavily on the use of fossil fuels as it does now. Although Australia has large amounts of mineral reserves, scientists suggest that 75% of known fossil fuel reserves should stay in the ground.

Professor Doherty suggests that Europe has begun to take climate change more seriously as a direct result of many catastrophic weather events that have occurred over the years. He also suggests that there are much better links in Europe between policy makers and the scientists advising them than is in the case in Canada and Australia.

Additional Reading

Travel the World – Try Smart DNS

If you travel around a lot and use the internet, you’ll probably notice that your physical location affects how and what you can see online.  For the most part this is fairly useful, for example if you’re on holiday in Spain and looking for a restaurant then it’s Spanish locale results that you need.  Just about every major web site customizes your experience slightly based on your location.

So how do they do this?  Well your physical location is linked in with your IP address and this is what the website detects.  If you go to from France, Google will look at your French IP address and redirect you to the French version.  Unfortunately many web sites also enforce restrictions based on this, which is not quite as desirable.

So imagine you’re a UK citizen on holiday in France for a week, you fire up your laptop or tablet and try and watch the evening news on the BBC.  What you’ll get is a message saying it’s inaccessible in your location – it’s irrelevant that you pay your license fee, the decision is merely based on your location.

Of course, there are ways around this – one of the most popular is to use a proxy server to hide your IP address a bit like this.

This works brilliantly if you’re using a PC or laptop for example however for other devices it’s not quite as straight forward. After all nowadays people use the internet on other devices like games consoles, smart TVs and other such technology. So obviously you can’t install PC software or enable a VPN on those – so what can you do?

Well there’s another method of hiding your real location and it’s called Smart DNS – it’s explained here. However basically all you need to do is change the DNS settings on the device you’re using. That is of course and awful lot simpler than installing anything, you’ll normally be able to access these under the network configuration settings.

What happens is that the ‘smart’ dns server will intercept requests for special sites which are likely to block you – such as Hulu, BBC, ABC etc and then reroute part of the traffic through a proxy server in the correct location. This means that you don’t need to filter all your traffic through a proxy just enough to fool the receiving server that you’re in the right country.

Looking After Wooden Fences

Some fences can last for decades depending on the material, and wood fence maintenance is exactly how you can preserve this type of fence. You can get away with metal especially if it is coated with vinyl, but wood is a different story altogether. On the other hand, if your fence doesn’t look good, then that will possibly be a problem, too. What we have here are 3 tips about wood fence maintenance that you can learn and then use.

So you have finally decided to stain your fence, great, but learn what needs to be done and the best way, first. Your stain has to go on with the same depth as anywhere else and this will put the protective coat on it much better. You can find some stains that are engineered to be expressly for wood fences, and this may be a task that warrants some help from the local store. Avoid staining your fence on a humid day unless the manufacturer says the stain will be all right in these conditions. Usually, when people are not happy with the outcome of the staining process, it is typically due to deviating from the best use guidelines.


If you want a truly rural looking fence, then find wooden dowels that are used in place of nails. Ask about the benefits of using non-metallic devices, and sometimes they may last longer and they certainly will not rust. Wood does not have a strong grasping quality with nails, and that is just the nature of wood and the combination. After about a year, this may become more prominent, but your occasional inspection will identify these trends. If you are unsure about how to check your fence for these phenomena, then that is when you call the contractor to come out and give you his assessment.

How often you clean your fence and what you use will dictate if you should use tarps or similar items. If you’re just power washing with water then you can ignore this step, but if you’re using a solution or bleach and water, then use the sheeting. Avoid doing this on a day in which there may be high humidity as you want to have the best conditions for drying processes. If you allow the bleach water to get on the grass in strong enough concentrations, then you may create a brown spot. A fast scrub down on a wet surface that is your fence means you can achieve desirable effects.

Be sure you know what needs to be done and best practices for wood fence maintenance. If your fence has a stain on it, then that will reduce the frequency at which you have to power wash the fence. So be sure you adhere to any directions you receive for the proper care of your fence.

Jane Heathers

A First Look at the New Sanyo VPC-GH4 Camcorder

Every electronics manufacturer makes a variety of cameras and camcorders, and you may be wondering what’s special about the Sanyo VPC-GH4 Camcorder. Of course, you decide which camcorder is best for you. However, there are a number of advantages with this popular camcorder from Sanyo. For many people, this camcorder has lots of excellent features for its price. Keep reading to find out what the pros and cons are of the Sanyo VPC-GH4 Camcorder.

The Sanyo VPC-GH4 Camcorder is easy to integrate with digital TV or a DVD recorder. With this feature, you’ll be able to watch your videos on a large screen. This camera has a mini-HDMI output so you can connect it to other devices. Moreover, you can connect the camcorder to your computer and do a direct transfer of photos and videos.


Once the camcorder and computer are connected, just drag the photos and videos from the camcorder and drop them in a folder on your computer. From there, you can share the photos and videos with friends and family via email and social networking websites. Many users like the Sanyo VPC-GH4 Camcorder because it works with many devices, and connect seamlessly to new technology – I’ve had mine streaming direct to the UK using a VPN server on my computer like this one. It certainly allows you to optimize your use and enjoyment of your videos and photos.

The Sanyo VPC-GH4 works with several platforms. It will work with your computer if you have the latest version of Windows, Windows 7. It’s easy to play the videos on Windows Media Player.

If you need to edit the videos you took, you can do this in Windows Live Movie Maker. This camcorder may or may not be compatible with a Mac, however. You’ll come across some product descriptions of the Sanyo VPC-GH4 that claim it works with a Mac, and there are Mac users who say that they were able to connect the device to their Macs, transfer the videos, and edit them on iMovie. There have been complaints, however, that it isn’t fully compatible with Mac, so it may depend on what Mac operating system you’re using.

One of the Sanyo VPC-GH4 Camcorder’s selling points is its compact design. Nonetheless, its small, compact size is a disadvantage too. Although a bigger camera isn’t the most convenient thing to carry with you around, it’s very easy to handle when you’re taking photos or shooting videos. One complaint by users is that the Sanyo VPC-GH4 Camcorder is hard to grip due to how small and compact it is. To some degree, this depends on the size of your fingers, but if you’re accustomed to small cameras or taking pictures with your smart phone, this shouldn’t be a problem for you.

Like most electronic devices you can buy, the Sanyo VPC-GH4 Camcorder has both good and bad points. Few cameras are ideal in every way, especially when they are priced as reasonably as this one. The Sanyo VPC-GH4 Camcorder is a camcorder that’s so easy to use. It is able to take good quality videos and makes it easy to share your videos to others. If you have reasonable expectations about this camcorder, you’ll find that it’s the perfect camcorder for you.

Read More Here

Looking for a New Tablet – Start Here

Anytime there’s a lot of competition in a market such as that for tablets, that is when innovation happens. What you’ll find is there are some that are better than others, but they’re all unique in their own way. So this is the natural result and in time some will drop out and others will appear. Tablets are not for everybody just because some don’t want a device as big as a tablet.

What is there to talk about concerning the iPad tablet that has not already been said? Maybe you’re totally in love with video chatting, and you have to admit that it’s a lot of fun.  Nowadays you can turn your tablet into a media powerhouse too, watch this video which demonstrates how you can buy and enable a VPN application on any tablet to access media sites across the net – like Netflix, BBC iplayer and thousands more.


The battery once fully charged up will last for most of the day you’re awake, so that should cover you pretty well. Then there’s the ever famous operating system by Apple which is one that satisfies millions of users. If you like apps, well – there are over 300,000 available from the Apple App store.

One of the nice features of the BlackBerry Playbook tablet is the 1GHz processor that has dual-core design. You won’t mind how well it performs with multimedia, but one thing about this is it may be better suited for business use. One thing about this device is you’ll need to get familiar with BlackBerry’s OS if you’ve never used if before. Watching videos is a pleasure and you won’t be disappointed with it.

If you are a total Windows lover, then the Archos 9 tablet is for you since it runs on Windows 7. You really won’t be disappointed with what you get in terms of features because it’s pretty rich in them. You’ll also really like the fact that it has a USB port, plus you can get full touchscreen functions but there is an upgrade involved with that which some may view as a negative. They could have done some things differently, but they didn’t however it’s still a worthy tablet. Tablets are only getting more popular, and that means they’re only going to get better. Determine your needs, first of all, and then match that with what you can afford. No matter what the reason for buying a tablet, you can find something that will serve your purposes very well.

Further Reading


Entertainment Throughout Canada – A Brief Guide


Montreal, and Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver are the four top theatre facilities (most have been in English). Homegrown ability combines here with shows imported from the US as well as Europe. Ancient theatre and musicals are consistently popular and are generally excellent quality. Shakespeare is not unpopular, however there’s a broad spectrum – a fashionable resurrection of the 1980s hit Fame proved to be a long-running success in the late 1990s in Toronto. Summer attractions are to the increase, although the primary theatres recorded opposite possess a primary season from November to May.


Hollywood blockbusters that are imported don’t have any better prospect than where premiers tend to be concurrent using the US visitors may well view movies in advance of a showing within their particular state. OMNIMAX movie theaters and the enormous IMAX, generally 20 displays, should be within the middle of important cities, especially in Hull and Ottawa. For those who like watching from home, then you can invest in a VPN service and watch BBC iPlayer Canada through the proxy server.

Canada includes a great history much more lately the documentary genre’s art films have brought a broader audience, and it was invented here.

The primary centres to find out the tendencies that are brand new are Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. Robert LePage, film impresario and Canada’s own theatre, has an international following. The National Film Board chooses and releases a work by natural gift annually, consisting of documentaries, cartoons, and feature films.

Opera and classical music attract big audiences in Canada, which is represented by the high quality of places and performers.
The National Ballet of Canada can also be based here, competition both firms feature experimental work within their seasonal run and period pieces. Nicely over 100,000 people annually visit the famed Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra to be heard by the state of the art Jack Singer Concert Hall. The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra plays in the Orpheum Theatre.


During the 1990s, a credibility was got by Canadian pop music its kindest supporters would acknowledge had formerly been lacking. The Celine Dion in Quebec is a star and Bryan Adams and Shania Twain are stars that are international. Alanis Morissette, a worthy successor to the tradition of folk rock of her country tours the world. Canada could very well be the best known with such stars as Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and Leonard Cohen being the best known faces from a centuries-old tradition.

Atlantic Canada has numerous miniature, casual places, where an exceptional standard of music are available. A violin accompaniment is regularly offered by Prince Edward Island and the folk festival in New Brunswick observes both dancing and music. The French folksters in Quebec comprise vocalist Gilles Vigneault who’s also respected in Europe.

Harry Webnapp
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