[ UPDATE: Aug 19 - Lifehacker.com has published their crowd-sourced Five Best VPN Service Providers post which doesn't include the one I used below. Check it out!]

The Olympics. A thousands-of-years old tradition, made modern since Baron Pierre de Coubertin founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894. With the advent of television, what began as a global competition has become a global event. More than a billion people the world over were estimated to have watched the London 2012 Opening Ceremony live yesterday. Except in the US.

Fortunately, there's a VERY EASY way to watch the Olympics live online in the US: web proxies. A web proxy is simply a server that receives your web page requests and passes them on to the destination site as if they were it's own. By routing your web page requests through a proxy server in another country, you can very easily access online content available there.  Web proxies (if properly configured and used) can increase your online security and privacy. Web proxies are also perfectly legal for virtually all users in most countries.

Here's how to watch the Olympics live online as they happen on any device (suck it NBC!):

  1. Signup with a free or for-fee web proxy service. We like the Pro VPN service from HideMyAss.com for $10/month. $20 will get you two months of service, or enough to enjoy both the London 2012 Olympics AND Paralympics Games starting August 29.
  2. Download and install the Pro VPN client for the MAC, PC, or Linux computer you have
  3. Once installed, activate the Pro VPN client, login, and use the handy "Country Selection" menu to pick a country you want to connect through. We recommend a high-bandwidth/low-population country like Sweden.
  4. Watch the Olympics! Eurovision offers 12 live channels! Their broadcast schedule is here.

Know that you know how to do this, here's the why:

After paying the International Olympic Committee $1.18Billion for the exclusive right to broadcast the London 2012 Olympics in the US, NBC promptly botched it by broadcasting the Opening Ceremony on tape-delay during East Coast prime time. What's worse:

  • To watch the Olympics live via NBC in the US you'll need a television and a cable television contract.
  • To watch the Olympics live via NBC's official London 2012 Olympics website you'll need to tell NBC who you're cable television contract is with, your account id and password.
  • To watch the Olympics live NBC's Olympics apps for iOS and Android, you'll have do the same
  • Attempts to watch Olympics live on overseas websites like Eurosport and the BBC will fail because those sites will determine that you're visiting from the US (the region that only NBC has the right to distribute Olympic content). Go ahead and try.

And then there's the emphasis of NBC's live Olympics coverage: big US sports like swimming and basketball. Looking for the archer from Tuvalu or the sprinter from Trinidad? Maybe you're hoping to catch some Syrian equestrians and Slovenian judoists. Your access is governed by what events will maximize NBC's Olympics audience ad revenue.

Enjoy your London 2012 Olympics!

 

It was a tough day for Mitt Romney and his campaign. They released a series of information graphics called "President Obama's Promise Gap" with facts & figures supposedly illustrating same. In addition to the 'information' appearing to be incomplete (i.e. What Obama actions specifically added $5.2Trillion to the national debt aren't explained), the campaign chose to use the ever-popular Venn diagram approach to illustrate it. Creating and understanding Venn diagrams is incredibly easy to do: simply draw two overlapping circles to illustrate that "certain things in the left circle are also in the right circle." Apparently that's above the pay-grade of whomever Romney has working for him, as they clearly botched it:

Mitt Romney's Faulty Venn Diagram: "The Middle Class Promise Gap"
Mitt Romney's Faulty Venn Diagram: "The Middle Class Promise Gap"

Not helping was this all-together coherently formed, and clearly cited, Venn Diagram by the website Upworthy.com:

Mitt Romney: Venn and Now
Mitt Romney: Venn and Now

Which raises the question: if you and your team are easily defeated by simply logic diagrams, what assurances can you give about your ability to do more complicated things like run a country?