Southparkstudios.com (Or possibly the weakest IP regional check I’ve ever seen)

Those who know me better definitely reckon that I am one of those crazy South ParkΒ  (<– Hem, you can open this link only if you’re in the US) fans which knows every episode by heart and that, together with Mau, tries to dedicate 30 mins Thursday night to watch the new episode, aired in the US the night before.

Till a couple of years ago the South Park official site (South Park Studios) was nice, free and open worldwide, airing all episodes and clips just right after US airing, once again demonstrating Matt & Trey (the authors) open mindedness and free-o-cratic approach.

Well that couldn’t last and months ago Comedy Central decided to start shaping traffic from the .com domain to national domains (e.g. SouthPark.nl in my case, being resident in Amsterdam). Pretty fair you would say?

Well, I guess so but you know, as a South Park fan, when they also started messing around with content, limiting views “based on pre-existing contractual agreements” and following the local Dutch TV Comedy Central broadcasting schedule (typically postponing a few, CRUCIAL, weeks after the US original airing), this became hardly bearable πŸ™‚

SouthParkStudios regional check

Basically if you try to access SouthParkStudios.com from the Netherlands (in my case) you’ll get a nice Cartman in blond dialog telling you to click and go to the national SouthPark.nl … with outdated content … outrageous πŸ™‚

To be honest, I could solve my issues using the infinite resources of online streaming πŸ™‚

But today I wanted to do something more: I actually wanted to send a friend a link to a specific clip from the last espisode (“Mysterion Rises”, 14th series, aired last Wed in the US), so basically something possible to just from the US site, SouthParkStudios.com.

First try: with little success I tried the standard Google Translate hack which was nicely detected by the SouthParkStudios, and still the blondish Cartman blocked me.

The way too easy win:Β 

Looking a bit closer to the type of regional check, I noticed than, upon detecting an access to the .com site from a non US IP address, a grayed out foreground DIV was overlaid on the pre-loaded (and fully functional) underlying .com page.

Well, then, why don’t try with a simple Firefox plugin like Firebug which allows me to point and click the web page and edit the live rendered DOM?

South Park Studios Firebug Hack for US only blockAnd the game was done: as you can see in the second pic with Firebug open on the SouthParkStudios.com page, I was easily able to identify the DIV which caused the geoblock (search for ‘geoblock’) , and using Firebug DOM editing features I could remove the guilty DIV (apologies to the dutch Cartman and the black DIV).

Of course you need to re-do the edit at every click you do, but you understand how easy would be to automate this using tools like Greasemonkey or successors. This way I could easily browse the .com site from the Netherlands and send the proper Mysterion link to my friend πŸ™‚

Now, get me straight, the intention of this post (and of this author) is NOT TO ANYHOW SUGGEST to use this hack (and anyways this was so simple that calling it a hack would be a unique case of overrating), but more to send a message to website writers all over the world, a message which goes something like DON’T INSULT OUR INTELLIGENCE πŸ™‚

Please, in the undesirable and potentially not agreeable case that you really need to perform this kind of blocks, take into account that the Internet public is growing in maturity day by day, and you don’t have to be anymore a computer science geek or an engineer like me to actually being able to break such a poorly designed and coded geoblock.

And with specific reference to Matt & Trey: I love you guys a lot, and if you knew me you would know. But you also know (or I think assume) that to watch and appreciate South Park your need a proper level of self irony and a decent IQ … also I know lots of real geek friends of mine which die for South Park, as yes let’s be honest there’s a geek irony component in the series …Β  then please hire (or tell the Network) to hire some serious guy to run you online video publishing, as with these ***ppy solutions “pre-existing contractual obligations” are doomed to a dark oblivionΒ  πŸ™‚

I know “someone” who would be definitely interested to spare a handΒ  πŸ™‚

Back to the cold…no sorry, hot and humid. But that’s Netherlands and we’ll have to live with that :)

Yesterday night I flew back to The Netherlands from my (first bunch of) holidays, finding (expectedly) the typical, so too typical, dutch rain andΒ  (pretty much less expectedly) a oustandingly hot temperature but far more humid than the weather I just left: I’ve been in factΒ  to the best place ever to have vacation, guess where…Italy of course πŸ˜‰

And particularly I enjoyed Ponza, a wonderful island between Roma and Napoli,Β  in the so called Pontine islands. Special time, relaxing time, during which I realized what was probably inconsciously already motivating my last years decisions to expatriate from Italy and work in Holland, and that is:

Italy is the country of your (or my) dreams when it comes to holiday, relax, well being, easy life, good food and emotions; wherever you go you will find sociality and nature, fun and good mood no matter what.

Holland is instead the ideal place to work, to do your (or my) business in the most optimized possible way, offering a noticeably positive balance between quality of life and quality of work, and a wage/tax conditions people of my same age/education in Italy can only dream about.

But warning: don’t let homesickness gets you mistaken, don’t think that you miss Italy 100% until you come back there and just gave a fast glance at what’s going on down there, the sad staticity so well depicted by the Ecomonist (not exactly one of those “communist” newspaper Berlusconi keep on threatening Italians about) and in general the stressed (because money is running out) but still boastful country in which people keep opening mortgages to go on vacation, almost at the point not to eat to save money to show out a little bit.

“Not too bright folks, not too @$%#!ng bright”
(just to quote a genius men called George Carlin, recently passed away, as he would have hated to say he was dead πŸ™‚ )

So I realized that until things don’t change, Holland or any other real country (sadly under too many POVs)Β  is the only solution to have a rewarding fair career which does not overburn you, that maks you feel capable of moving, of evolving.
But then as soon as I can have holidays, well, then no comparison is possible: sun, seaside, culture, landscape variety (can’t stand anymore flat low land πŸ™‚ ), colors, food, family, friends, mood, empathy and too many other things make Italy the place where I really would like to be.

To everything there’s a season, said someone in the past. And I probably found it out now.

Caius iulius gab

After more than five months, I went back to the beloved mother Italy, for both business and homesickness reasons.
After 4 days spent in Milan for the Advanced JBoss training for J2EE developers (which was interesting but not outstanding, considering the quite out of date material and the basic nature of the course), I ran to Rome on Friday 6th in order to see my friends and my parents. Brief parenthesis here, thanks to Trenitalia for raising the Rome-Milan Eurostar ticket of 10€ in less than 2 years. Impressive €uro effects…

But apart from that and from the typical good weather and mom’s food which keep on being the most important roots that bring me back to my country, I was able to join one of the most crazy private parties in Rome which I can remember: have to say that living in Amsterdam, wild parties are pretty common, but I found quite difficult to have the same level of fun (maybe directly correlated to the level of beer) and empathy between people in parties in Rome.

Well, it’s the second year in a row I join these kind of parties (organized by friends of mine which I know since the times of Scarpetteria ): last year it was basically a Pimps and Hookers theme party in which we (me and Mau) masqueraded ourselves with pretty cool results, while this year, supported by all kind of social networking marketing campaigns , the Ancient Roman theme party Baccanalia party had its birth…Gab and vale at Baccanalia 2008

And what a successful birth considering that I ended up as you can see in the photo below (ok, heart shaped glasses are not really latin style but they are SO COOL πŸ™‚ … and they allow me to meet such cool photographers πŸ˜‰ PS: well, for those who did not notice before, I cut my dreadlocks πŸ˜‰