Monday, February 1, 2010

Arrr...

The BBC iPlayer is an astonishingly well-designed application that provides access to pretty much every television program produced and broadcast by the half-dozen or so BBC television channels.

Can't get it here in Southern California -- it's geo-filtered to deny access outside the UK. Unless you subscribe to a VPN service like this one, which costs about $12.00 a month. David Colker wrote about it in the LA Times on Sunday, explaining everything you need to know about so-called virtual private networks, useful for political dissidents and British television fans alike.

You can turn it on and off -- so that you don't have to be British all the time -- and it uses your usual internet connection. Takes about five minutes to get the codes set up.

The connection is too slow for streaming HD, but works beautifully on SD television. A week's worth of programs available at any time. Think I'll check out something called "Dr Who Confidential", in which Davies explains it all for you.

4 comments:

Generic said...

I already have a VPN client installed for remote access to my workplace at a great metropolitan university. So I'll give it a try.

But... Isn't this the sort of loophole they're bound to try to close as soon it becomes public knowledge? What's the likelihood that Colker's already getting hate mail from Torchwood fans?

Muffy St. Bernard said...

Geo-blocking is pretty dirty, as far as I'm concerned, so if I joined a VPN I'd at least be able to watch The Daily Show without jumping through flaming hoops.

A warning to those who try free online VPN solutions: beware of malware and spyware. It's rife.

As for "Doctor Who Confidential," it actually is a lot of fun. The series 1-4 DVDs contain "Confidential Cutdowns," twenty-minute edits of the sixty-minute shows, usually taking out all references to the classic series (copyright issues from a BBC Wales standpoint, maybe?)

The "Complete Specials" DVD set contains the full Confidentials for all five episodes, and they're fun when they do behind-the-scenes stuff, but the bulk of them are either "This is what you're supposed to have felt during tonight's episode" or -- more annoyingly -- montages of scenes cut to a topical song.

This isn't always bad, but when they set scenes from "Waters of Mars" to Bowie's "Life on Mars," and match each lyric to the visuals, you want to puke.

Tulkinghorn said...

I doubt that a large enough number of people will do this to make closing the loophole worth it.

By the way, there's a VPN client built into the OSX software... All you need is a password and a server address -- which is what you pay the fee for....

Tulkinghorn said...

These guys also provide servers for US access and for Canadian access...

Are there Canadian programs we're missing out on?

BTW, in the wake of the exit of Jonathan Ross from the Radio 2 drive time show on the BBC, the guest hosts this week are Catherine Tate and David Tennant. Just find Radio 2 and click through. No geo-filters, I think