Posts tagged choice
One or two years ago I was fortunate enough to register for a Spotify-Account while they could be registered for free from the UK. I grabbed myself a UK based Proxy and registered. Normally the only way to get an Account still is to be invited by existing users as far as I know.
For those who don’t know Spotify: Spotify is a music service connected to a Jukebox by the same name (downloadable for Windows and Mac so far), much like iTunes, the main difference however is that with Spotify the music inside this Jukebox doesn’t primarily come from your hard drive but from Spotify’s servers. So as a layman, just imagine the joy of being able to listen to millions of songs, on demand, for free, whenever you want to listen to them.
Of course this comes with a few downsides. Unless you have a Premium Account, Spotify is Ad-Supported. This includes both Banners inside the application and Sound clips that interrupt your music-experience for a few seconds. I personally still believe this offering is worth all the trouble, which lets me come to a second major downside: Spotify is only usable from a few select European countries so far. Once you log into the application from one of these countries you can use it from anywhere for 14 days, even with a non-Premium Account.
So yesterday after installing Spotify the login-screen told me, as expected, that my country of residence doesn’t match the one in my profile. (Updating the profile as suggested isn’t really an option at this point)
Solution: Part 1
So without going further into detail about the Tor-Project and what it does, I thought this could do the trick. One major difficulty about this, however, was that I didn’t really know a way to “choose” which identity from the Tor Network I wanted to use. But a little bit of googling around and reading the Tor documentation brought me an answer that would spare me the pain of having to use netcat to connect to the Tor Control Port (9051), having to learn and punch in some commands and so on. (Or even worse: Click “Use new Identity” over and over again and pray to god for the right IP Address)
All you have to do is download a complete Tor Package for your Operating System and follow these steps:
- Find your torrc file. (If you use Vidalia, it is configured under Settings > Advanced)
- Open it with the text editor of your choice.
- In a new line, enter ExitNodes $fingerprint, $fingerprint, … where $fingerprint is the fingerprint of a Node from the Tor Network. These can be found and copied to the clipboard in Vidalia by clicking on “View the Network” and right-clicking on any Node.
- (Re)Start Tor/Vidalia.
Unless you write StrictNodes 1 into the torrc file (which I don’t recommend) this declaration of Exit Nodes is just a list of preferred Nodes, it is still possible that your Tor Route will have its exit at another Node. Information about all the other possible entries for the torrc can be found in the Tor Manual.
Solution: Part 2
So now that we have found a way to guarantee almost 100% that we are able to surf through an IP in the country of our choice, all that is left is to log in to the Spotify application through this proxy. Tor in combination with Polipo offers us the possibility to surf through an HTTP(S) Proxy on Port 8118 or through a SOCKS Proxy on Port 9050 but of course you can use whichever proxy you prefer. However it doesn’t seem like the login screen of Spotify offers any ability to change the proxy settings (it would be a lot easier to change these settings as soon as we got past the login-screen of course).
But all is not lost. For the lazy ones this is the moment where you disconnect yourself from the internet. (I didn’t try it, but I guess it should work. If not, the lazy ones might as well jump over their dusty shadows for once.) Of course my rather “complicated” solution was to configure my firewall to block Spotify from accessing the internet, only later did I realize that unplugging my network cable for a few seconds could have done the same job. However, this is what you’ll find:
And the holy grail of configurability has been revealed. A click on “proxy settings” will show us what we wanted to see.
If you’ve successfully configured Tor to surf over an IP Adress that matches the country in your Spotify Profile, you should now be able to log into the application. Of course you can then deactivate the use of a proxy in Spotify again for 14 days so you can stream the music at full speed.
The main reason why I wanted to post this to my blog is that I didn’t find any tutorial on the internet that described to me what Part 1 of my solution contains. Going through the Tor Manual taught me this but hopefully I can assist someone else by not having to read through it in its entirety. And of course finding a good use for Tor beside its awesome possibilities of surfing the web anonymously gave this a very neat context.
So after a weekend break and a stressful start into a new one I could finally think of a topic for another blog-entry. So here’s a list of Programs that reside in the Dock of my MacBook and some more i regularly depend on:
- Finder – Who would’ve thought.
- Firefox – It’s my browser of choice and a good one at that. I know my way around Internet Explorer/Safari and they both do not meet my expectations and the only other one worth mentioning in my eyes is Opera which i have also tried numerous times but it just doesn’t offer the same allaround solution.
- Mail – With the ability to work with multiple Mail Accounts (IMAP of my university and Gmail in this case) intuitively it already provides everything I’m used to from Windows. Smart Folders, RSS functionality and Notes are just very useful additions to that.
- iCal – After trying unsuccessfully to sync my Outlook-World (which is synced with my Mobile Phone) with the Apple-side of the pond i decided to just sync my Phone redundantly over Bluetooth with iSync as well until Nokia Ovi for Mac comes along. So I’m not satisfied by its syncability but very much by its usability.
- iTunes – Another very guessable Application I use. The only alternative i tried so far is Songbird and although i liked it i didn’t see any reason to not stick with iTunes since I don’t listen to music on my MacBook too much anyway.
- SimplifyMedia – So this is where my list might become interesting for some. For those who don’t know it. SimplifyMedia provides me with the ability to stream music from any of my computers that also have SimflifyMedia running on it. It integrates into iTunes (or Winamp for Windows) very neatly. Very recommendable application.
- Picasa – Although it hasn’t been out for Macs for long yet I sure made up for lost time already. It’s the best Picture Manager I know of and none works better when you have your Collections in a network-folder.
- Adium – Without a doubt the most advanced Instant Messaging client out there for Mac OS X. It’s got it all. It’s that simple.
- Cyberduck – When it comes to foreign file-protocols like FTP, WebDAV and so on, I’ve always been satisfied with the way the Finder itself handles them but I still hold this app dear for its ease of use, should I ever need it.
- Activity Monitor – Since I often want to know what’s happening inside my computer i could not live without some Application of this kind. Although it cannot even begin to keep up with Process Explorer for Windows it still features everything I need.
Other Applications I regularly use:
- VMware Fusion – This Application sure has made it easier for me to use Windows on my MacBook from time to time. It’s so much simpler to be able to have Mac OS X and Windows running side by side when the performance penalty is almost not present at all.
- InsomniaX – Sitting in the MenuBar this Application makes sure my MacBook doesn’t go to sleep when I close the lid of my MacBook. I don’t like that standard behavior.
Maybe some of you can profit from this blog-entry. The others might as well just wait for another one. I’m sure I’ll come up with something.
So I’ve been thinking about possible contents for another Blog Entry all day without getting any good ideas. Still I went home from school having achieved something I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time. I rearranged the folder structure of my Homepage so I could give it a sort-of Splash Screen Startpage, giving the user the choice to either continue to my Homepage, or hop over to my Blog.
The Result can be seen here: http://desentizised.gotdns.com/
So coming home I didn’t have any specific idea for a blog entry yet but after some surfing around it got to me. Considering how many people I know are on Facebook, plus all their Facebook-Friends and the Facebook-friends of those, you come to ask yourself: How many Users are there on Facebook? I knew this wouldn’t be something to ask Google but rather Ask.com. Didn’t get me the answer immediately, but still I found what I wanted. Which was the Press Release Section on Facebook and before linking the interested ones to it I’d like to give you a brief overview of the Facebook Community:
- Facebook has more than 175 million active users. OK, so that’s a very high number but I thought that has to be taken into perspective by learning a little more about those 175 million.
- More than 3 billion minutes are spent on Facebook each day (worldwide). Still not the kind of perspective I wanted since it would take a lot of calculating to get to the amount of minutes an average user spends on Facebook, which would still not tell us anything about the number of users Facebook sees each day.
- More than 18 million users update their statuses at least once each day. Alright, so that’s the kind of information we need. When I think in millions I always think of population. Austria and New York City for example both have about 8 Million. (strange comparison I know) So roughly NYC and Austria combined update their Facebook Status every single day. Which tells me that 175 million might be a bit generous but on the other hand, who would you expect to write a script that gave you an accurate number over a certain amount of time?
- More than 850 million photos uploaded to the site each month. So this was when I asked myself where they store all the data which is submitted to them each day. Let’s say an average picture on Facebook is 50KB in size, not much right? 850 million a month makes roughly 28 million photos a day. Therefore, 50KB times 28 million makes 1,400,000,000 KB which would be way more than one Terabyte a day. A DAY. I know Google among others must be way more space-consuming but when you see the actual numbers it just blows you away.
(Any errors among my calculations can of course be critizised in the comment-section below)
I’m sure I could come up with more to talk about but I think this is enough for now.
Here’s the Link to the Press Release Infos of Facebook by the way.
Just a quick update on something I found for my precious Aluminum MacBook in order to get a beloved Windows function over to my Mac.
Previously to that I have been using "Fast User Switching" to get to the Login-Window quickly but there were 2 major problems to that.
1. Network Connections are interrupted. So no Background Downloading while you’re away.
2. iTunes Music stops playing.
With LockTight I have worked that out and I like its behavior very much since the Screen doesn’t just go black but starts displaying the screensaver of your choice.