in which my roku experience gets even more awesome: how to set up a wireless vpn

You may recall that we switched our internet provider from Rogers to TekSavvy in order to get more bandwidth, then dumped Rogers altogether by switching from cable to streaming. We bought a Roku streaming device. And I fell in love with it.

No more paying for dozens of channels that we'll never watch. On-demand viewing without DVR'ing. And no more cable bill! We even upgraded one Roku to the model that has a USB port and a media server, so we can watch our own media directly on our TV. Awesome.

There was only one piece missing.

If you use a streaming device, and you don't live in the US, your options are very limited. For us, there's Major League Baseball, Netflix Canada, and... that's it. There is a pathetic Netflix wannabe called Crackle, and Roku hosts a zillion little homemade niche channels, but nothing that would cause you to dump cable TV. Netflix Canada has improved a lot, but it's still very limited compared with US Netflix. You also can't get Amazon Instant Video, which has a ton of movies and TV shows, or Hulu Plus, which I personally don't want, but is very popular.

You can easily get around the restrictions and watch content from those sites on your computer, by using one of the many proxies or tunnel services to change your IP address to a US location. But your Roku or streaming device work with wireless internet, and your wireless router will still be using a Canadian IP address.

Unless it's not.

You can follow these instructions, and change your wireless IP address.

We bought a new router, a specific model that supports the third-party, open-source firmware DD-WRT. We downloaded the software, followed these instructions, et voilĂ , US Netflix and anything else will now stream through Roku onto our TV.

I wasn't sure we should try it, but after getting encouragement and support from a very techy friend (partner of wmtc reader James), we decided to give it a go. We figured the worst that could happen was we'd go back to our old router and return the new wireless router to the store.

But the process wasn't too difficult, and worked the first time.*

There was some question if this would cause problems with our VoIP phone, but it didn't.

We did find one glitch. With the new IP address, MLB.com didn't stream properly on Roku, and certain websites, especially those with videos, don't load and play properly. For now, the solution is simple, if a bit clunky: we simply swap routers - one router for Baseball Season, one router for Movie Season.

The Asus RT N-16 router costs about $85 before tax, the equivalent of one or more months of cable, depending on your plan. Like the Roku, it's a one-time purchase.

You can use any VPN service. The instructions I linked to are for Hide My Ass, but we are using AceVPN. The free level of service is adequate for accessing sites on your computer. We decided to use the $6/month level for streaming.

It works and it's fun.

* Why do this instead of physically connecting a computer to the TV? Once it's set up, it's always there - no need to continually connect and re-connect. You can use your computer and the TV at the same time. You can buy a Roku device for each TV in the house, and they operate independently of each other. The picture quality is better. It's simpler, easier, and more pleasant to just pick up your remote and watch movies or shows the way you normally would, as opposed to dealing with a computer that is connected to a TV. And frankly, between baseball and movies, and the little bit of TV I like to watch before I go to sleep, I couldn't see having to deal with a computer hook-up every time.

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