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For those of us who grew up with the internet or should I say grew with the internet then the increasing amount of filtering and censorship is somewhat worrying. I remember it wasn’t always the same. A memory comes to mind of about 1997 firing up my 486 computer, clicking on that connect button and listening to my 14.4k modem beep and click as it made my internet connection. There was still that excitement and wonder of connecting to a different world, a little device which enabled free communication with people from across the planet.
I was looking for information about ailments on elephants for one of my students in my internet class. They worked in a local zoo and were worried about one of their elderly elephants. The world was nowhere near as connected as it is today and it was thought that the internet may help. We first logged in using a telnet session to the University of Wales online database, no real restrictions or passwords as I remember. Just free open access to a useful information portal. Then we found email addresses and even a newsgroups frequented by vets, biologists and various Zoo type people. In all we found the help he needed, and boy did it feel good.
Although now it’s arguably easier to find your way around the internet, it’s also becoming increasingly frustrating. In the last few years it seems I’m forever getting redirected or messages telling me that something’s not available due to my location. In the Internet I remember, location didn’t matter – this was a virtual, digital world where everyone is equal.
Wherever you go online you seem to be confronted with barriers now – take this screen which you receive if you try and visit the Hotstar site, a wonderful Indian media broadcaster.
I went there mainly for the sport, there’s a huge cricket session including the IPL coverage. Also if you want to watch Premiership football without being conned into a massive Sky or BT package, the Hotstar has rights at least it did last season. Yet again I was frustrated as the whole site is only accessible if you have an Indian IP address,
Now I’d normally use Identity Cloaker to bypass these blocks but they don’t actually have any Indian VPN servers so it wouldn’t work. However there are other options and I thought I’d try out a Smart DNS solution instead, to be more specific the 14 day free trial from Smart DNS Proxy . It worked wonderfully as you can see in the following video which is hosted currently on YouTube.
As you can see it’s pretty much transparent after you set it up, certainly more so than using a VPN which needs to be connected while you’re accessing the Hotstar site. The other big advantage is that because you don’t stream the entire connection through the VPN server you don’t have that extra hop to slow you down. The other speed boost over a VPN is that there is no layer of encryption to slow the stream down either. Now obviously this means that it adds no security at all, but it could be argued that it’s not really needed if you’re just streaming video.
There’s another post about accessing the site here – How to Watch Hotstar in the UK. As you can see it works perfectly and seamlessly in the background. I am starting to see the benefits of using these Smart DNS systems too as I was able to quickly configure my NVidia Shield with the same DNS settings so I could watch using that.
Works a treat, and Hotstar is brilliant fun – it’s also worth checking out the various documentaries and news programmes many of them are in English. Gives you a whole new perspective of the world to be honest.