How To Listen To Turntable.fm And Pandora Outside The US

This past weekend, Turntable.fm decided to shut down access to their service to listeners outside the US. According to a notice on their site, Turntable cannot offer their service to visitors outside the US anymore due to “Licensing Restrictions”.

Turntable.fm is not the first web service to shut down access to non-US listeners. Pretty much every music service worth listening to, doesn’t let users outside the US listen in.

So, when I tried to login yesterday evening and found myself blocked, I decided to do something about it.

Turntable.fm and others figure out the country a visitor is from by geolocating the IP address of the visitor. This means that to use their services outside the US, all you have to do is make them believe that your IP address is from the US. Easier said than done, eh ?

Well, actually, it isn’t THAT difficult. There are a few different ways that you can spoof your IP address and one of them is by using the open source tools developed by the TorProject.

What is Tor ?

According to their website

Tor is a network of virtual tunnels that allows people and groups to improve their privacy and security on the Internet. It also enables software developers to create new communication tools with built-in privacy features. Tor provides the foundation for a range of applications that allow organizations and individuals to share information over public networks without compromising their privacy.

Tor works by creating a relay of proxies around the world and directing traffic via them, thus making sure that anyone tracking your IP address will actually be seeing the IP address of the relay and not your real IP. By default, Tor redirects traffic via any available relay around the world. For our purpose, however, we’ll be configuring Tor to redirect traffic only via US based relays. But, for that, we need to install Tor first.

Installing Tor

The TorProject distributes binaries for Linux, Windows and OS X and the OS X binaries is what I used. Installation is as simple as can be using the wizard based installer for Windows and the .DMG app bundle for OS X.

Once you’ve installed Tor, although you can control it using the CLI but the smarter way of interacting with Tor is by using the bundled Vidalia control panel. On OS X, the application to launch is named TorBrowser and when you launch the application, it launches Vidalia which in turns launches the Tor daemon in the background and connects you to the Tor network.

Tor - Vidalia Control Panel

Configuring Firefox to use Tor for browsing

Tor runs as a non-caching proxy on your desktop and to use it you need to configure your browser to use Tor as a proxy. If you’re using Firefox, open the preferences pane and go to the Advanced tab and click the Settings button.

Firefox Network Settings

Now, select the Manual Proxy Configuration radio button and enter localhost as the HTTP proxy and 8118 as the port. To be safe, also tick the Use this proxy server for all protocols radio button.

Firefox Proxy Configuration

Firefox will now use the Tor network for all communication. The only problem is, like I said, Tor, by default, will use any random relay around the world for routing data. We want to make sure that our data is only routed via US based relays.

Configuring Tor to use US relays only

Back to the Vidalia control panel. Open theĀ Settings pane and click the Advanced tab.

Edit torrc

Click the Edit current torrc button and add the following lines to the configuration file.

ExitNodes {us}
StrictExitNodes 1

Press the Ok button and Vidalia will instruct you to reload tor.

That’s it. From now onwards, whenever you browse using firefox, all your traffic will be routed via a US based Tor relay. Want proof ?

Pandora

Now, you can enjoy listening to Pandora and Turntable.fm wherever you are in the world. This same trick can also be used to access services that are only available in certain geographies such as the BBC iPlayer or Spotify.

Was this post helpful for you ? Have you ever wished you could access any blocked site from your country ? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

 

How To connect to a Cisco VPN using Mac OS X 10.6

Snow LeopardCisco’s VPN solution are quite popular in the enterprise market and a lot of companies use them to provide their employees access to the company’s networks and resources when the employees are not onsite.

Most of these companies use the default Cisco client which Cisco supplies with a couple of modifications to suit their particular needs. More specifically, the configuration of this client involves creating a .pcf file which the client uses to read the settings for the specific network.

The .pcf file is a plain text only file which a couple of config options, the important of which are the VPN server address, the encrypted group password and the group name.

Mac OS X, since the last few version came with the ability to connect to L2TP and IPSec based VPNs out of the box but lacked the ability to connect to Cisco’s implementation. That has now changed with the release of Mac OS X 10.6 aka. Snow Leopard. OS X now ships with the ability to connect to Cisco based VPNs out of the box.

The only problem is that the configuration of the built in client requires a little bit of “homework” and in this post today I’ll be taking you through just that.

Continue reading “How To connect to a Cisco VPN using Mac OS X 10.6”

How to create a secure and private network

hamachiPicture this – You’re out on the road for work or pleasure and have this sudden urge to listen to that one song from your collection which is stored on your desktop back at home. Or you’re a freelancer and need access the draft proposal you made for a client which is again on your desktop sitting in your home office.

You can’t keep your desktop or other machines at home exposed to the outside world over the Internet, because, franklt speaking, it’s a dangerous world out there. But you still need safe and easy (and secure) access to all your data. How do you do that ? Did someone say – “Create a VPN!”

Enter Hamachi.

Continue reading “How to create a secure and private network”