Category: ninja

Region Free DNS – Smart DNS Review – Changing a Device’s IP Address

Wow what a geeky title,  well hopefully this post isn’t too dull but it’s inspired by a few emails  – so here’s a kind of introduction/Smart DNS review in response.  Now a lot of us, are living a pretty region free life online, with the use of certain programs and services we are not blocked and redirected based on our location.  So I don’t have to watch the vastly inferior version of Netflix just because I’m currently in the United Kingdom, I can watch the US Version instead or when travelling I can watch the BBC iPlayer abroad!  It’s all pretty straight forward on a computer, laptop or smartphone – load up the program, switch servers or  use a DNS service and you can choose your own virtual location with a false IP address.

Here’s the basic steps for a PC –

Can’t see the video above? You can find it on YouTube it’s all about Smart DNS But of course the world is not that simple, and many of us have different devices that are getting blocked.  Media streamers, Smart TVs and games consoles; just like our computers.

These just like our computers can get blocked based on their location too, and there’s no obvious way to manually configure network settings, especially if you don’t have the right IT infrastructure.  Installing a sophisticated security program written for a PC or MAC isn’t going to work but how about these innovative DNS services that a couple of the leading VPN/Proxy providers have developed.  These services work across all sorts of platforms – phones, games consoles, Smart TVs, tablets and computers – in fact virtually anything which has access to the internet. So as it’s a smart DNS review, here’s the Smart DNS Service I Use – click on the link for a free 14 day trial too!

Smart DNS Proxy

In case you don’t know Smart-DNS is a sort of halfway house to unblocking geo-restricted media content online.  It basically routes part of your connection through a specific server using your domain name system (DNS) settings.  So if you were interested in watching US Netflix from Europe for example, you would establish initial connections through a United States proxy server and then stream directly through your own connection  All you need to do is enable your IP address with one of these region free DNS services and then change your DNS settings on the device you need.

So I Can Change the Location of a Device like a Roku, Boxee or a Smart TV?

Yes you can but this isn’t always obvious, because many devices don’t let you alter or change network settings like DNS servers.

How Can I Change Roku Network Settings

How Can I Change Roku Network Settings

So let’s take for example this device, the amazing Roku (which really is that big!)  The Roku allows you to stream content directly to a TV through an HDMI cable.  Most people use it to access Hulu, YouTube, HBO GO and similar channels, but it’s a network-enabled device meaning it is affected by the location of your IP address.Connecting a Roku to a TV in the USA alone won’t enable users to use BBC iPlayer and similar geographically-restricted channels.

Smart DNS is ideal for this sort of situation: it’s not a full-blown virtual private network (VPN) connection like this, but should be just enough to fool the media-streaming site into the location you specify. Except the Roku (like most streaming devices) has no network configuration settings; you cannot manually modify its IP address nor its DNS server. It’s why you’ll often see people stumped and asking on forums – how to change Roku IP address because it’s certainly not obvious.  Perhaps these are blocked for a reason. I imagine major streaming companies like Netflix wouldn’t want users to be able to access these settings – but they haven’t directly prevented these connections either. It should be noted that now Netflix will only allow access from residential IP addresses, so you should check they are available before subscribing with anyone.

Luckily you can modify the settings in most cases, either on your router directly or by using DHCP. DHCP is the protocol that sits on your routers, Wi-Fi access points and modems that assigns IP addresses for all the devices on your network.

Region Free DNS

Here’s the settings on my Netgear router which allows the device to allocate IP addresses on my internal network – you allocate a range – 192.168.1.1-192.168.1.254 in this case and each device will be assigned it’s own address when connected to this network. On a full proper DHCP service, not on this particular router example, you can specify other details including which DNS server to use. You could also set up your own DHCP server on a computer for allocation there are loads of free versions you can use. For Smart DNS to work you only need to assign the specific Smart DNS server to the device you want to work. So I could assign a specific DNS server to my Roku remotely, which could either be a US, UK or any country employable by the service you use. In my situation with this router, I would just assign the Smart DNS setting to the router itself in the DNS settings. All this does is enable everything in my network to use  the Smart DNS setting which in many cases is more suitable for people.

DNS Settings on Router

These are normally in Internet or LAN settings on your router. Instead of using the assigned settings from your ISP, specify the Smart DNS ones you received from your provider – in my case, Overplay. If you’re lucky the DHCP service on your router will allow you to specify the DNS settings like this TPlink one. assign-dnsto-roku Once you’ve assigned your new Smart DNS settings to your router, every device connect to your Wi-Fi network would also be assigned to the Smart DNS settings – that’s your Roku, iPhone, Smart TV…whatever. If you want a particular device to have different DNS settings, simply assign them locally on the device – they will not be overwritten by DHCP. I should however urge a word of caution particularly due to my tests: the above works fine for most devices when assigning DNS settings to devices on your network.

But there is a possibility that your device may be regionally locked in some fashion which would prevent you using region free DNS. The earlier Roku’s were, and I’ve heard reports of some Smart TVs and media streamers doing the same.  Basically they force these devices to use something like Google DNS servers by default, therefore overriding any DNS servers you set.    If DNS requests are hard coded into the device, you are either going to have to block them or accept it isn’t going to work properly.  One of the main issues is using Smart DNS Netflix requests as they seem to be forcing manufacturers to enforce their geo-restrictions in their hardware.

I would recommend checking for a specific device’s compatibility by starting with a short-term region Free DNS subscription first. . has a 1-month plan starting at less than $5 USD, perfect for testing the service to make sure it supports whichever device you want to use.

Why Can’t I Use a Proxy

We’ve all been there – you’re stuck in work or school, and frankly bored out of your brain.   Sure you have internet access but all the most interesting sites are blocked –

  • Facebook Blocked
  • Youtube Blocked
  • MySpace Blocked
  • World of Warcraft (games and forum) Blocked

So why’s it happening and what can you do about it?

Your company or school controls your access to the internet at several points and is blocking your access at several levels.

The first control is probably through their own proxy server.  If you go and look in Tools/Internet Options/Connections/LAN Settings or  something like that in different browsers you’ll probably see a proxy server set.  That address will be a server controlled by your company where they force all internet traffic.  If they’ve done a decent job you won’t be able to change this.

The settings will normally be deployed by something called GPO (group Policy Objects) which are the way most organisations control what their computer looks like.  These apply settings like specific desktops, screensavers, Internet Explorer settings each time you boot up your computer.

Therefore absolutely everything you request goes through the company proxy server.  You might think you’re being clever searching for ninja proxy sites on the internet but I’m afraid you’re not.  All you are doing is creating a log of you searching for ‘ninja proxy sites online’, and letting administrators know you want to bypass their settings. The proxy server will be set to filter out all such requests by a variety of methods.  The most common one will be a huge list of URLs containing all the dodgy one page, Glype proxy installations online.

So you need to bypass this proxy server or do you?

If the organisation has their network set up properly then even by using an alternative browser or modifying the proxy settings in IE will not work anyway.  The reason is that your company firewall, the hardware device which controls all the traffic in and out of your network should only allow web traffic out from one specific address – the proxy server.   So forget about specific IPs, free web proxies or anything specific like a UK VPN or proxy until you figure this part out.  Remember in this scenario if you bypass the company proxy then your request will not get through, it needs to come from that specific IP address or it will get blocked.

Then a couple of things might happen –

  • The alert will be flagged on the firewall (Web requests from an incorrect internal client)
  • The administrator will track down the PC and find out it’s been modified.

But don’t worry in reality probably nobody ever looks at  the logs and most firewalls generate so many alerts that nobody ever looks at those either.

The point is your searching for online web proxies is simply a waste of time.  To bypass most corporate proxies you need to go through that proxy and not around it.  Through it because any other originating IP address will get blocked and may possibly  wake up your IT Department.  But you need to stop the proxy blocking access based on the content (what you are requesting) and the URL (the actual site you want to visit).

There are two things you can do to allow this – first you need encryption so that nothing can see inside your web request and secondly you need some low key server outside the network to relay your request.  These two requirements if implemented correctly will allow you to tunnel through any corporate network firewall or proxy and also keep your surfing private from the administrators and logs.   I should point out that the new generation of Smart DNS servers like this, may be more effective in a lockdown environment that standard proxies although it’s likely you’ll need admin access on your local pc in order to modify the network settings, as generally these will all be assigned automatically via DHCP.

Using a French Proxy for M6 Replay

French Proxy

A couple of years ago I spent a small fortune on a French Language course issued by the BBC for my eldest son.  He was struggling with French at school so I bought this course which was based on the adventures of some cartoon character called Muzzy.  It was pretty boring in French and English and my son hardly watched it at all, much to my annoyance !  What I should have done though is introduced him to the wonderful media channel based in Paris called M6 Replay.

If  you live outside France you’ve probably never tried it as you need a French proxy to access it.  However it’s a wonderful site and has all the top US and European shows as well as some French stuff.  On it you can find the shows like the Simpsons that teenagers actually like but they are all dubbed into French.

It’s a great way to practice and learn your vocabulary and it’s way more interesting that the frankly rather boring BBC character Muzzy – pictured here.  The site is really slick and well designed and just really features all the shows and films that the channel broadcasts throughout France.

Getting Access to M6 Replay Through a French Proxy Server

So if you do try and access the media site from anywhere outside France you’re going to get blocked by default.  The site looks up your IP address when you connect and if it’s in France  you’re ok but if you are not then you’ll get the following warning.

Which in case you’re interested says something like  – “This video is unavailable.  Please try and access it later

But it’s not worth it as you’ll always get blocked as long as you are connecting from a Non-French IP address.  However as we have seen with lots of other media sites across the planet – this is relatively easy to bypass as long as you have access to a proxy or VPN server that is  based in France.

Now you can find these online if you search hard enough, indeed there are a few sites which list ip addresses by country.  However the problem with the free ones is that they’re not very safe and most of them are so overloaded that it’s impossible to stream video across them.  So if you want to access M6 replay or any French sites often then it would make sense to invest in a a private proxy service.  There’s a few with French servers but make sure you check first before subscribing to any of them.  Also check which countries you’re going to need and make a list, so for example if you want to watch Swedish TV then you’ll need a Sweden proxy too and so on.

To illustrate I’m going to show you how I use my copy of the security software Identity Cloaker to access m6 Replay. It has a selection of different proxy servers included in the subscription there are UK, US, European and Australian proxies including some French proxies too.

 

You can see in this graphic the user screen of Identity Cloaker, all you need to do is to scroll down the list and select one the French servers and then press connect.  As soon as you do this you’ll be connected through a secure SSH tunnel to one of the companies Paris based servers.   Identity Cloaker is primarily security software which also encrypts your connection – if you’re just watching video then you should turn the encryption off at the bottom of the screen.

Now when you go to the M6 Replay site instead of seeing your IP address they will see the address of the Identity Cloaker proxy server.   As long as you have selected one of the French servers the site will think you are based in France and not block access to any of the content.

As I mentioned it is possible to find French proxy servers which you can connect manually too, unfortunately it’s fairly difficult to find suitable ones.  If you want to try have a look at this site which lists open proxies by country – http://proxy.org/proxies_sorted.shtml they change by  the hour though so keep checking back.  There are some other decent VPN services too like cactusvpn or vyprvpn which might be worth checking out too, although I found them much too slow from my location.

Just put a video up showing this process on YouTube – it’s entitled – French TV Online.  Here’s the video with a step by step guide to accessing the M6 Replay site.

As you can see if you have the right service with servers in the right countries then effectively nothing should be blocked for you online.  Millions of people use these VPN services to access all sorts of blocked content, my friend uses one to connect home to a Rotterdam only TV station – of course he uses the Dutch VPN for this.

For those who don’t have hours to spend searching there are lots of commercial alternative which offer fast, secure and safe proxies in a variety of countries.  Here’s the service I recommend – . , it’s inexpensive and extremely easy to use – the program sits in your task bar and you can switch proxy servers at the click of the button.  Check it out to see if you like it – you’ll find it opens up so many possibilities with proxies all across the world including a French Proxy !

Here’s the link again for Identity Cloaker – I can recommend the 10 day . to test it out first and to see if it works.

Updated – Just checking – March 2nd, 2018 – still working for M6 Replay

How to use an American Proxy for Netflix – Access in UK or Outside USA?

I’ve just cancelled my Sky cable service, I realised that my wife and I rarely watched any of the channels. In effect we were paying the £65 monthly subscription (that’s $98!)  for my youngest to watch reruns of Scooby Doo on one of the kids channels. This we decided was not great value for money so I went in search for more options in the world of online media and streaming services.  After some investigation and recommendations from a couple of US friends – I decided Netflix was worth a go and signed up for a month.

So here we go – my shiny new subscription to Netflix already streaming mindless rubbish to my 14 year old son.

American Proxy

Screen from the Netflix UK site

Now don’t get me wrong, I was quite impressed – there’s loads of shows and lots of choice.  The interface builds up your preferences from what you watch – which is clever except when  you have a teenager watching South Park all the time which messes up your selection.  The missus and I settled down to watch episode one of a series that we’d somehow missed but everyone else in the universe had been enthralled by – Lost.   So all was good except I kept searching for new stuff recommended by some Americans, and couldn’t find them.

It turns out that the UK and the US versions of Netflix are very, very different.  In fact from my initial research it seems that the American version of Netflix is much better than all the other country variants, even just over the border – Canadian Netflix isn’t anywhere near as good, unfortunately it’s not easy to get the U.S. Netflix.

How to use an American Proxy for Netflix in the UK?

Just as every online service in existence, where you live determines what you can access and as often is the case the best value if to be found in America.

Fortunately  there is a way around this, by changing your IP address and tricking the Netflix application about your location you can access the American version of Netflix fairly easily.  I’d read online and everything pointed to using a proxy server and more specifically a US proxy site.  This was partly true, although the information was slightly out of date and unfortunately even the best proxy server would no longer work as Netflix blocked them.   There are in fact only a couple of services which still work and they use a more sophisticated VPN proxy which is harder to detect.

Now I use two separate services for switching my location and keeping my connection secure, both are fast, easy to use and well supported – Identity Cloaker and Overplay.

In this instance I’ll use Overplay to switch my location to a US one –

Accessing US Version Netflix

At the top you can see the Overplay application, which is pointing at a US server – you just select the country you need from a list.  Now when I start Netflix I am treated as a US surfer and use an American proxy for Netflix which has loads more content and is much more up to date than the UK version.  Netflix operates as a global company so it’s important to highlight that my account is still a UK one, but will change as I move location.  So if I was physically in the USA – my UK account would show the US version of Netflix.

You can use any VPN or DNS based service to change versions like this, Overplay and Identity Cloaker are definitely worth trying though as they are by far the best value out of any I’ve tried. Here’s a good video on YouTube which illustrates –

Incidentally this method is based on the PC, you can use similar methods on lots of other devices, like Wii, Routers etc.  For iPad – try this post and select a US server instead of a UK one, before you connect to the Netflix site.

Update: 01/03/2018
You may have heard that Netflix is waging war on VPNs and Smart DNS programs and you can forget an American proxy, effectively blocking all of them. Only a couple of VPNs now work with the US version of Netflix – the fastest is the program I use Identity Cloaker – who have developed a system which bypasses the Netflix blocks – works great.

BitTorrent Monitors – You Are Being Spied On

It’s no great surprise to me, but at least when it gets covered on the BBC News then more people will believe it’s true. We are not anonymous online and in fact there are people actively tracking and spying on us for a variety of reasons. The BitTorrent story is related to a study completed by Birmingham University, who concluded that anyone using the file sharing service BitTorrent was being monitored.  The study is published here – The Unbearable Lightness of Monitoring: Direct Monitoring in BitTorrent

The study points out that there are at least 10 large monitoring firms logging details of illegal downloads using these sites.  If you start downloading a pirate copy of a popular film or album, your IP address will be recorded within 4 hours by these firms.  So if you don’t fancy being on a list of individuals guilty of copyright theft sitting on the desk of some sneaky litigation lawyer – then you’d better be careful using torrent sites like this and Pirate Bay.

So why are these firms doing this?  What are they actually planning to use these huge lists of illegal downloaders for?   Well there’s probably a certain amount of ‘just in case’ – the data could potentially be lucrative so they are grabbing it now.    The biggest clue comes in the various court cases that have appeared over the years – one of the most famous being the slimy bunch from – ACS Law.

This UK Law Firm obtained thousands of these names and IP addresses from the ISPs of individuals who’s computers had been used for downloading illegal copies of films (mainly pornographic).  Instead of taking them all to court for copyright theft, they decided to send each and every person on the list a demand for a sum of money usually around £500 in order to stop any further action.

These threats were often a complete surprise to the receivers,  they included the list of the films that were downloaded illegally.  Often they would know nothing about these films because of course the person who received the letter was merely the person who paid the ISP invoice.  So grandparents were receiving letters about downloading illegal porn films that others had downloaded using their connection.  Fortunately this horrible practice was eventually stopped but not before thousands had paid up to these threats.

Take a look at these logs which were what the solicitors had obtained from the ISPs.

It’s a new business model for the porno industry.   Instead of making a cheap, low budget porno flick and sell it online for a few bucks – you monitor ISP logs and then blackmail anyone who had downloaded a pirate copy.   I mean even the innocent are going to have some nerve to stand up and defend themselves from the charge of downloading a pirated copy of “Freddie’s British Granny F*ck Volume 1” !!  No of course I didn’t download it dear, don’t you believe me !!!!

So don’t use Torrents if you’re going to download pirated stuff, there’s a whole army of commercial lawyer leech types waiting to track you down if you do.  It’s very easy for them to pay a firm to monitor the downloads of files from P2P sites – they can see your IP address in  the Peer list of the tracker or even just join the download when they’ll directly connect to your computer.  Your IP address (and hence your name and address – check this) is then directly linked to the illegal download and you’ll be on a list like the one above.

Use proxies and security software like Identity Cloaker to protect your self and hide your identity.  There are also a few Private Usenet feeds you can subscribe to with SSL to encrypt your connection – like Astraweb and Bintube.