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Gentleman.Jack.Darby

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  1. You will be able to connect to the U.S. servers of Netflix and Amazon without a VPN. However, as far as streaming content in your Netflix and Amazon lists, you probably won't be able to watch everything because it's likely that at least some of the items on your lists won't be authorized by the copyright holders for viewing outside the U.S.
  2. That leakage is likely related to (now fixed) bugs in old browser versions or possibly one of the WIndows OS services on one's machine It's always a good idea to routinely check that one's browser is up-to-date since some browsers don't automatically update when a new version is available. And it goes without saying that one should always update to the latest computer OS, especially if one is running Windows - No more Win XP folks! Time to move to Windows 10 since Windows 7 extended support (security patches) is ending January 2020 - If one is running Windows 10, you'll have extended support until 2025 Or better yet, get a Chromebook and be done with all the Windows BS
  3. Not sure about links on this forums, so just Google 'bittorrent' and the site (for BitTorrent) will come up first on Google. The download will be the usual Windows executable that you'll click to run and install
  4. I 'cut the cable' (DirecTV back around 2008) because you're right, 'TV' (broadcast and cable) have had 'nothing to watch' for a long time. I'm an American football fan, so I'm lucky that the NFL and college are, for the most part, still on broadcast TV, so I've attached an antenna to my smart TV and can get 'free' TV to watch games. I'm also a fan of real football (soccer) and am fortunate that I can watch English Premier league games on Saturday afternoon and Mexican league games at other times over broadcast TV. One thing I would suggest is getting is a Roku box to attach to your TV since there are a huge amount of 'channels' (apps) available on those devices, most for free. While smart TVs have a few very popular apps built in (Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, etc.), they have nowhere near the selection of a Roku box. In my Roku box, I watch Al-Jazeera for news (I like balance with no screaming and shouting and 'clickbait' in my news), NBC (classic TV like Miami Vice), Roku Channel (movies and classic TV), CW (Supernatural), Tubi TV (Fat Pizza, Swift and Shift Couriers, and Housos) along with Netflix, Vudu, and YouTube. It's my view that for the most, unless one is a sports fan and HAS to have their local MLB and NBA in real-time, pretty much anything worth watching on cable (and a lot that isn't, in my opinion) is available for streaming through the internet and/or apps on devices such as Roku boxes, Amazon Firesticks, etc. If one wants to watch MLB, NBA, and NHL, there are subscriptions available on Roku and other devices that allow one to watch out-of-market games live and one's home market games immediately upon completion. Not a bad option if one is a fan of the game more so than just a fan of the local team.
  5. As for the modem/router combination, you're right, a lot of ISPs do provide a combo box with both functions in the same box. As for buying one's own device(s), in my case I own both my cable modem and my wireless routers - I'm a cheap charlie and don't want to pay a monthly fee to rent a box, so it works out much cheaper in the long run if one owns one's devices. Beyond that, one of my major job responsibilities for a lot of years has been managing an IT department, so I've seen what happens if one does not have redundancy (backups of data, hardware, technical skills, etc.) in one's computing environment and the decline in support skills from service providers such as ISPs - it leads to sleepless nights and I sure don't want that when I come home. As for a tech coming out to troubleshoot problems, if one is capable of plugging things in, turning things on and off, watching lights blink and reading descriptions (there are people uncomfortable with these things), there isn't anything for a tech to do at one's home regarding the modem - the work related to making a new modem 'work' is done on the ISP's system. As well, in today's world, almost everything short of pushing a power button can (and is) done remotely. If one wishes to own their own cable modem and wireless routers, there isn't much to worry about regarding compatibility of cable modems and cable companies - in the U.S., there aren't many cable companies and big box stores such as Walmart and Best Buy know that, so they stock cable modems that will almost certainly work with one's local cable company. The biggest mistake one is likely to make when buying a cable modem is to buy one that can handle a faster speed than one gets from their ISP or one with advanced features that one may not use, such as those aimed at gamers. If one wishes to replace their cable modem, all that is required is to call the local cable company and ask them for them for compatibility information - there isn't much to know and it's more of a 'double-check' than anything else. Once one buys the modem, it's just a matter of plugging it in to the electrical outlet (to make sure it's powering up) and calling the cable company - the cable company will ask for some information printed on the modem (model number, serial number, MAC address, etc.) in order to configure their system to allow the new modem access and to handle billing. At that point it's done and one has internet (and programming) access. As for setting up the wireless router, most name-brand consumer routers come with a configuration CD or a link to software that one downloads to one's computer that will automatically configure the router to work with one's ISP (things like IP addresses, type of connections, etc.) and setting up the router's basic security (network name, password, etc.) As long as one follows the step-by-step 'quickstart' instructions (with pictures), there should be no problem installing a wireless router. More advanced functions of a wireless router, such as a VPN, guest access, MAC addressing (to keep unauthorized devices off the network) require getting into the 'guts' of the router, but name-brand routers include step-by-step instructions and there's always help on the internet. Getting back to redundancy, if one owns one's own equipment, it's a good idea to buy an extra wireless router - they do fail occasionally and if one is choosy about the router (as one should be), it's good to have a spare since the big-box stores tend to sell lower-priced and less capable routers. As for the cable moem, if one is in the U.S., it's likely there's a Walmart or BestBuy close by, so no real need to keep an extra on hand. That's quite a coincidence that you mention Cox Cable and going over data limits - yesterday one of my staff, who's married with two teenage boys, was talking about the exact same situation, except her family went over by 150 GB and it cost her an extra USD 30 on her most recent bill. Where I live in the U.S. Great Lakes region we also have Cox Cable with the 1 TB data cap, although I did notice on my last bill that it went up by USD 4 per month; I only have internet, no programming. The last couple of times Cox raised the bill they either increased my download speed or increased my data cap, neither of which, in my case, makes me happy. I live alone and rarely break 200 GB on data usage and 50 Mb/s down is fast enough to stream ultra-high def (UHD) movies on Vudu, so I'd rather keep the 4 bucks a month. One of the things my staff member was trying to figure out, which highlighted a shortcoming of ISP-provided modem/router combo boxes, was that she couldn't figure out device (re: who) data usage. The Cox tech was able to show all devices that had internet access through the wireless router, but that specific router was unable to show data usage by device ID (MAC address). She also did not have wireless MAC addressing (devices allowed to use her wireless/internet connection) turned on, so she really couldn't say if devices not owned by her family were using her internet connection. One of the advantages of owning one's wireless router is that there are some routers that will keep track of data usage by device, so one can quickly pinpoint who is using too much data or isolate a device that may have some sort of problem, such as a problem with software updates or perhaps a virus that is continuously 'phoning home' and burning data. As for 'autoplay' functions, Netflix has a 'binge watch' setting for TV series, which will play episode after episode even if one is not watching - that can be turned off in one's account settings but, AFAIK, it's needs to be done through a web browser. Also, it's not a bad idea to set a 'sleep timer' on one's smart TV - it will turn the TV off after a certain amount of time and that will help manage data usage,since most devices, such as a Roku box, 'talk' to a smart TV and will also 'sleep' if it's 'sees' that the TV is off.
  6. The only movies one can download, at least without going to the trouble of using screen capture software, are movies to which one has licensed ('bought' and 'owns') viewing rights (one never really 'owns' , in the conventional sense of owning a paper book, phonograph record or music CD, or movie DVD or Blu-Ray disc any digital content - and that goes, in very large and nasty measure, to Kindle books as well). Services such as Vudu, Amazon, Google Play (movies) and Spotify (music) will allow one to download copies of movies and music one 'owns' (has paid for viewing rights) for viewing on devices like computers, but there are some aggravating hoops to jump through, such as using somewhat 'locked down' devices (Amazon) or connecting the device periodically to the service (Vudu and Spotify). Netflix is strictly a streaming service.
  7. Watching U.S. Netflix outside the U.S. is not legal, strictly speaking, since the content owners may have licensed their content to U.S. Netflix for viewing only by folks in the U.S. Using a credit card online at a reputable company, such as Netflix, doesn't have any significant risk when setting up or updating an account since the the internet connection between one's computer and Netflix will be an encrypted connection - not even one's ISP (Internet Service Provider) will be able to 'see' what is happening on the connection. The major risk to one's credit card comes from two places - Netflix's storage of one's card details within their computing infrastructure and any security vulnerabilities on one's computer, such as a virus or keylogger or an out-of-date operating system or web browser. A VPN's function is to provide a secure and encrypted connection between one's computer and the VPN service's servers and to a lesser extent, IF PROPERLY CONFIGURED, the ability to disguise the physical location of one's computer which is helpful, for example, when watching U.S. Netflix outside the U.S., or accessing one's U.S. bank, etc. When using a VPN, the places one 'goes' on the internet, such as Netflix or the New York Times, for example, 'see' only the VPN service's IP address, physical server location, and server details, not one's own. That's only part of the privacy puzzle, but a big part. If you do choose to use a VPN service, use one for which you pay - stay away from the free ones that show up on a Google search. Your VPN service, since it acts as a 'proxy' for you by fetching all your web content, knows everywhere you go - the VPN service won't be able to 'see' the content between your computer and your destination since most sites nowadays use secure connections (https;//). A VPN service is also helpful because there are still some sites out there that don't use secure connections (https://), so a VPN helps by encrypting an unsecure connection and hiding that traffic from, for example, snooping ISPs. A VPN and anti-virus software are two different things designed to protect against two different threats - a VPN is designed to help protect one's privacy and anti-virus software is designed to protect against malicious software by, in the best case, preventing it from reaching and being installed on one's computer or, in the worst case, removing it from one's computer. As far as alternatives to Netflix, I'd recommend looking at Vudu - it's WalMart's movie streaming service that competes with Netflix. Vudu does a lot of neat things - one can convert some DVDs one already owns (or borrows) to digital copies for a nominal fee, one can buy digital movies, often at huge discounts (there's always some kind of sale going on), one can download movies one owns to a computer for viewing where there's no internet connection (international flight), and Vudu has movies, often in HD (HDX) that have never been released on DVD (Pursuit of D.B. Cooper) and movies that even Amazon doesn't offer in HD (Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine) Vudu also has a large number of movies that one can watch for free with minimal ads - the ads are, as much as ads can be, 'nice' because they're ads from 'pleasant' national advertisers such as Target. Sling, etc. Nothing ruins watching an episode of 'Gilligan's Island' or 'I Dream of Jeannie' on local broadcast TV quicker than ads for adult diapers or a local nursing home or the ASPCA - those ads make me feel really old and harsh my mellow. Vudu changes the free movies frequently and there is usually quite a few very good movies for any taste there; they're usually just few years old, but occasionally there are 'classics' and 'just released' films
  8. A modem, such as a cable modem or DSL modem aren't designed to do 'network things', such as a VPN; their function is to give one a connection to the ISP (Internet Service Provider) and from there to the internet or the ISP's programming, e.g., if one's ISP is also a content provider, such as a cable company. That being said, some ISP provide a box that has both the modem and a very basic wired/wireless router together; those are desirable from the ISP's point of view for two major reasons - the ISP can charge the customer more for the monthly rental of the box and the ISP can 'lock down' the router sdie of the box to control exactly what the customer, network-wise, can do with the wired/wireless router part of the box. The only thing one really needs from the ISP is the modem - it's always better to buy one's own router for connecting multiple wired or wireless devices. By buying one's own router, one can get a router that performs well, for example, wireless over longer distances, connecting multiple wired devices, ensuring that one's network security is maximized, and configuring things like a VPN or prioritizing internet traffic, such as preferring dad's Netflix viewing over the kid's online gaming in the evening. If one wishes to set a VPN connection at the router level rather than for each individual device, such as a computer or cellphone, the best place to start looking is at routers from Asus; Asus has been around forever and makes great consumer-level routers and most of their mid- and high-level consumer routers have VPN capability baked in.
  9. Thanks for the kind words; I appreciate it
  10. I just tinkered with my VPN configuration and I'm seeing everything in my Netflix and Vudu queues so all's good
  11. I'm using a VPN service (PureVPN) so there really isn't anything to configure. It's based in Hong Kong and is one of the larger, more privacy-focused services (at least as far as their stated policy goes), has been around for a long time and is very stable, so I'm guessing that stability has allowed a 'cat' (Netflix) that doesn't like 'mice' (VPNs) to catch one. I do seem to recall that PureVPN has a connection for Netflix use, but I haven't tried it since I'm in the States and don't need it for Netflix. I use the VPN because there are still some sites out there that don't use 'https' connections and for when I want a bit of privacy. I've been looking into and considering rolling my own VPN server for use down the road when I'll really need it.
  12. Generally speaking, it's much more difficult to make a Blu-Ray player region-free than it is (was) to make a DVD player region-free; the studios learned their lesson when folks started ripping DVDs way back when, so they developed encryption schemes for the discs that work in conjunction with hardware in the players and they threw in stronger region-locking mechanisms while they were at it. Usually a Blu-Ray player requires some sort of hardware modification rather than just changing the software settings via a 'hidden' menu accessed by weird button combinations. However, since you're bringing discs from home along with the player, those won't be a problem. It's my understanding that it's no problem buying DVDs in the PI and it's rumored that a lot of them didn't come from the studios - if that's the case, I expect you'll have no problem finding plenty to watch because 'non-studio' discs have the region-lock stripped away as part of the 'manufacturing' process.
  13. Actually, it was a poor choice of words to say, in my initial post, that '...Netflix and Vudu won't accept connections from my VPN...' What I should have said was that, Netflix at least, will accept the connection; however, as far as my queue (list) of shows go, when I'm using a VPN connection, I only see a very small portion of my whole list, likely only those shows that are licensed for viewing somewhere outside the U.S.
  14. One thing to consider that might 'lighten the load' a bit is that if you're bringing a newer laptop with an HDMI video output (most newer laptops, desktops, etc. have them), you could simply bring a portable DVD, or better yet Blu-Ray, player instead of a large(r) DVD player. Connect the portable player to the laptop (USB 2, 3, or C) and use an HDMI cable to connect to the large screen - you can then use the laptop to play the DVD. Of course, anything else you can do on the laptop, such as watch Netflix, Vudu, Amazon video, etc. will work that way as well. As far as streaming goes, if you have a decent internet connection, you'll be able to stream video - Netflix only requires 6 Mb/s downstream to watch HD video; if you have a slower speed, you'll still be able to watch streaming video, just not in HD. The trick is 'fooling' Netflix, Vudu, Amazon Video, etc into thinking that you're in the U.S. - that's easily done by configuring your router to automatically connect to your VPN service of choice. The safest choice for a router that can be configured to use a VPN are those from Asus - their better routers will support VPNs, along with a whole lot of other neat things that most 'mainstream' routers, such as those by Linksys (Cisco), Netgear, TP-Link, etc. don't necessarily do. Simply make sure that the router, in the configuration software, supports 'VPN Client' or something similar and VPN protocols such as PPTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN. It's most important to ensure that your router supports OpenVPN protocol since that's generally considered to be the most secure protocol and some VPN services may not support the other protocols. I know some other replies have mentioned changing the configuration of the cable or DSL modem, but it's unlikely that you will have or be given the password to get deeply into the internal configuration of the modem and, if you're using a VPN service, that isn't necessary anyway. When using a router configured to automatically use a VPN, what happens is the modem connects to the VPN service using the internet connection provided by the modem (essentially just 'going' to the VPN site just as if you went to any other site) and the internet connection simply passes traffic to and from. Also keep in mind that any device using the wireless router will appear to be outside the PI, which could cause problems if the device was trying to reach, for example, a PI bank and that bank won't accept connections outside the PI - sort of a Netflix problem in reverse. And finally, from personal experience, I know that in some cases Netflix and Vudu won't accept connections from my VPN even though I'm using a U.S. IP address - there's a continual 'cat and mouse' game going on between the streaming services and the VPN services. The streaming services 'know' that my IP address belongs to a VPN service, so they refuse connections from any IP address that belongs to that service. I could always choose a different VPN provider, but since I'm in the U.S., I simply don't use a VPN when I connect to streaming services - when I leave the U.S., I'm considering 'rolling my own' VPN service using Amazon Web Services so I won't (hopefully) have to be a part of the 'cat and mouse' game.
  15. You're right, there is a lot that isn't computing when one thinks about tipping in the U.S. It reminds me of the 'little game' played between Captain Renault (Claude Rains) and Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) in the movie 'Casablanca' It's my belief that most restaurant patrons don't really think about the tip when choosing a restaurant and often surprised when the bill is totaled, assuming they leave a 'reasonable' tip of 15 - 20%; I prefer to think that most people leave something in that range since, as a young teenager, I was taught by an older cousin who was a waitress and worked hard for her money, that 'If I can't afford to leave a tip, I can't afford to eat out'. Employers like tipping because it means that they are able to pay their employees less than in comparable industries where employees aren't tipped which, beyond the obvious lower expense for hourly wages, likely leads to lower costs for things based on wages such as OASDI (Social Security retirement) and FICA (Medicare) taxes since tipping can be 'flexible' and more difficult to track when compared to fixed hourly wages. Of course, a restaurant can also then advertise lower prices for food and drink since a component of their costs (employee wages and taxes) is 'optional' on the part of patrons and the risk of lower compensation (poor tippers and a 'slow' nights) is borne by the employee. Good service staff like tipping because some can do very well on tips with the added tax 'flexibility' inherent in tipping - however, that can come back to bite them in the ass way down the road after a career in the hospitality industry when they are relying on Social Security retirement. And one practice that is somewhat common in the U.S. in this age of plastic is that some people, although paying the restaurant with a card, will leave the tip in cash; when I first saw that many years ago and asked about it, my companion told me that was so the waitress could keep all of it if she so chose. I think my companion felt she was somehow screwing the IRS by tipping in cash and also giving the waitress the opportunity to keep all of the tip (some restaurants in the U.S. pool all tips to be split among the wait staff and, less commonly, with the bus boys, back of house, and rarely, managers) that she earned. So, as far as tipping goes in the U.S., there's a little something (deception) for everyone in keeping the practice going.
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