Tag Archives: VPN

Public WiFi is not Your Friend

Not long ago I ate at Sugar and Spice in Boquete. I noticed it was full of customers and all were using the Internet via laptop of cell phone.

I opened my phone and saw that there was an open WiFi server set up by Sugar and Spice. I continued to use my Cell Phone provider’s connection and ignored Sugar and Spice’s available connection.

I told the friend I was with that I never use public open WiFi. I explained why and told him since he was a regular there that he should advise S&S to enable a simple password to protect their clients.

Whether he has done that and they have changed or not, I have no idea.

Today, I came across this article in my daily reading.

It provides a very good explanation of the danger.

This is another reason I have ordered a Google Pixel. With the Pixel, Google is providing a builtin VPN that will be enabled in cases where you come upon open WiFi sites that are known.

You can’t be too secure these days, but you can become more secure by learning a little bit more. It still surprises me how many non secure WiFi sites are available in Panama. It may done in the name of simplicity, but when simplicity enables identity theft, it should be avoided.

UPDATE: I had posted this on Facebook Boquete News to insure that those in Boquete, who don’t follow this blog, could be made aware of the problem and inform the owner, if it had not been corrected.

However, the post on FB Boquete News was deleted, I have to assume because it was considered to be a negative inditement of a Boquete business. It was not. It was informational and I assumed some client would be willing to notify the owner as well as other businesses that provide similar non secure connections.

This appears to be another example of political correctness being more important than public safety.

One Year With Unlocator

On March 18, I will have completed my first year using Unlocator. I replaced my old VPN with Unlocator because it was more efficient.

Unlocator doesn’t have all of the functions of a VPN, but it is less taxing on the bandwidth and I found it better for my needs.

If you really want to hide your location or protect yourself from unsafe WiFi Hotspots, then a VPN is required. A VPN will encrypt all data between you and the VPN server. However, to provide that encryption requires more bandwidth, processing time and has some effect on performance.

Many people use VPNs to be able to access US websites, such as NetFlix or Hulu, etc. Unilocator performs the same function with less overhead.

I also had problems with my Gmail accounts when I used a VPN, Google monitored my IP address and if it moved around, them Google would shut down my Gmail until I entered my account via a browser. Very annoying.

Unlocator uses another methodology and my IP address remains a Panama address. This has also been a benefit with my Security Cameras.

My original post on Unlocator is HERE.

Unlocator out of Beta

Unlocator has ended its beta environment and the free trial is over. I received an email the other day that I had it another 7 days and now was the time to pay the piper. I just did that. I went for the one year $49.95 option.

As I have written before, I have been using Unlocator since it began beta. I have been very happy with the service. It has been much faster than using my VPN because it does not encrypt the transmission both ways. It does not replace the need for a VPN, but if you use it to watch a service in the US such as Netflix, I have found it much better.

Another benefit over VPN is that it behaves much better with Gmail. I continually had problems with Gmail and the VPN because it saw me entering from different places and would make me sign in manually to verify it was me. Unilocator uses the local IP address.

While it is not free, it is reasonably priced. HERE is the link if you want to keep the service. Note also that they changed the DNS addresses, so if you are still using the old DNS, now is the time to change.

VPN vs Unlocator

I met a couple at yesterday’s Embassy’s Outreach that had read some of my original posts on VPN and were using WiTopia to allow themselves to access some US sites that only allow US IP addresses.

They had also read my first post on Unlocator and had tried it and had some problems while Unlocator was in their early stages. I had two days of problems when I first signed up too.

However, since I have been using Unlocator now for over two months without any problems, I thought it might be worth another post.

First, if you are not aware of the benefits of a VPN, read this. Everything mentioned in my previous post about VPNs is still true. I have kept WiTopia on my laptop and use it if I am traveling to insure I have a secure connection.

I have moved to Unlocator for my home access to Netflix and Hulu for one big reason. Unlocator does not do any of the encryption that VPNs do and my Internet speed for movie streaming has doubled. My IP address shows up as a Panama IP address and Unlocator provides you with DSN addresses that solve the problem of accessing many sites.

Unlocator is still in beta and it is currently free to try, but will charge $5 a month when it leaves beta. I will have no problem paying to use them.

VPN is an advantage if you travel a lot and are using a lot of free Internet access points. If you are not aware of how dangerous it is to use non password protected Internet access, study up a bit on Internet Identity theft.

A final note on Unlocator. It will work on a PC, a router, Apple TV, Xbox or PS3, Roku and other devices. The Unlocator site specifies all supported devices, sites and has installation instructions.

Try it while it is free and see if it will work for you. I have it installed on my Apple Time Capsule (Apple’s router with automatic backup) and all devices in my house receive the benefit.

New VPN Alternative

Many living outside the US, including myself, have used VPNs to provide several capabilities. One capability is a more secure connection on the Internet and another is its ability to access sites in the US that are not normally available outside the US.

As you may remember, I currently use WiTopia. However, in researching the possibility that I may need a static IP address and the effects of having a static IP address on my VPN usage, I stumbled across another offering that provides some of the advantages of a VPN, but leaves your IP address alone.

This may be the way I need to go, if I pursue the static IP address. What I would give up is the secure connection. If this new offering does what it appears to do, I may move my VPN license over to my laptop to complete my current license period. With that, I would have a secure connection when I travel, which is more important than when I am at home.

By now, you are probably wondering what this new service is. The URL, which explains what it can do, is located HERE.

I have the service activated on my router and it is functioning as advertised on all devices connected to the router. The system is in Beta and currently has no fee. When it leaves Beta, it will price at $4.95 a month, which is less than I am paying for my CloakBox.

I have nothing bad to say about CloakBox and if I do make the move, it has nothing to do with WiTopia’s service. They have been and are a perfect provider. However, this static IP requirement may not be possible, if I am using a router with a VPN active.

I have had this new service operational for less than 24 hours. One if the things, the service states, is that there will be no degradation in Internet speed by using the service. To this point, I can verify that my throughput had increased because of not needing to encrypt and decrypt the transmissions. I would say some of my download speeds have increased as much as 30%.

It requires registering for the service and it uses your current IP address along with its DNS addresses to allow the service to function. I don’t claim to understand what is going on behind the scenes, but the performance has been impressive.

If you try it, let me know your results and what ISP you are using..

UPDATE: No sooner than I posted this and at the moment, I cannot connect with US services. The system is still in Beta and this may be the reason. This will bear watching for a while.

UPDATE: Scheduling tech session with the company to determine the origin of my connection problems. Most likely will occur later next week. Currently seems to be working fine. Other times, not so fine.

UPDATE: All of my configuration problems appear to have been resolved. Speed is good.



Why I Write About Technology

I realize I write many posts related to technology. Every time I do, I receive comments and emails that tell me that many readers tune out when they see one of these posts.

So why do I do it? Well, for one thing, technology has always been a large part of my life, both as a hobby and as a profession. However, a bigger reason is that if you are a person moving from the US or Europe or any first world country and have most of your family ties back in your country of origin, then you will have to become more familiar with technology than had you not moved.

Even though I realize you have to be a little conversant with technology or you would not be reading this blog, and even though I have written similar posts in the past, I will do one more.


As you can see from the recent posts, on Proof Of Life, the mail system in Panama is not very dependable. Most people use a Mail Forwarding Company to receive normal mail and packages. Not cheap, but dependable. I currently use Multiservicios International De Chiriquí.

Most of these types of services are similar. None are perfect, but if you find one you like, switching will rarely be worth the trouble.

For the amount of mail I get from the US, this has been the cheapest I have found.

To satisfy a Proof of Life address, I am now using a PO Box in David. I will use it only for Taxes and Social Security. I also will not count on it being 100% dependable. I am still waiting for my first letter from the US which was sent a month ago. Next week I will chat with the management. I hope they don’t go postal. Continue reading Why I Write About Technology

PC Downtime This Afternoon

I will be having my main PC down for a period of time this afternoon to install new firmware in my VPN Router. If all goes well this should be no more than a few hours. I will have to move my PC so that is connected to the router, Normally it is wirelessly connected.

This will have no effect on Chiriquí Chatter other than comments that come in that need to be approved or if emails are received, they will not be responded to.

It is also time to renew my contract with WiTopia, who is doing the firmware upgrade. I will be killing two birds with one stone today.

This is the beginning of my third year using the CloakBox. I used WiTopia for a couple years before that, but only installed on PCs.

UPDATE: All done. Fairly painless.

Technology and the Olympics

If you want to keep up with the Olympic standings and info on all the competitors, there is an app for that. Samsung has done a great job with their app.

For a non Spanish speaker, one of the annoyances is having to watch the Olympics with Spanish commentators.

I decided to see what I could find on the Internet. NBC has streaming in the U.S., but you have to have U.S. cable to see it. Bummer.

Then I found that BBC was streaming the live events. BBC doesn’t have their streaming requiring cable, but you do have to be in England.

I decided to configure my router VPN location to London. Bingo! I now can select the live event I want to watch and am getting the broadcast in English. Granted, it is the British form of English, but better for my ears than Spanish.

It is not perfect. I am getting some spooling, but it is still watchable. The benefits are English, and I can select the live event I want to watch.

I do live in David and have Cable Onda for my Internet. My contract is for 4MB and I get pretty close. Under VPN I get less, and I am getting less with the London server, than the San Francisco server I usually use.

This is the first time I have found a need to use a server outside the U.S. and it has been a good test.

WiTopia Renewal

I am completing my first year using WiTopia’s CloakBox on the 12th of June. Today, I just paid my next year’s renewal fee of $99. I am still happy with the service. Their site said it was going to be $129 for the second year and I was surprised when the cost was $99.

At $99 a year that costs me $8.25 a month or just 27 cents a day to have the benefit of having access to sites that I would not have access to because I live in Panama. WiTopia’s plans for single PCs start at $39 a year.

CloakBox is WiTopia’s VPN service provided via a router and is therefore available on all PCs that are connected to my router.

WiTopia was the second VPN provider that I tried and they have done nothing to make me regret my decision. If you are not familiar with the benefits of having a VPN, you can read this post.

The renewal process was pretty painless. I just signed onto their site and clicked on my renewal notice in my account. I used PayPal which allowed me to use Discover. This gives me an additional 2% discount.

I have no problem streaming video or musical content over the Internet. If you have a bandwidth challenged Internet provider, then a VPN might not work for you.