Mar 212012
 

Problem

For some ridiculous reason, many (or perhaps all) shows on hulu.com cannot be watched when outside of the United States. This is the message you get when attempting to watch a video while in France.

We’re sorry, currently our video library can only be streamed within the United States. For more information on Hulu’s international availability, click here.

If you’re inside the United States and believe you’ve received this message in error, please click here.

This also applies to the following problems, which conveniently gives me the opportunity to include some keywords directly in my post.

  • How to use pbskids.org from outside of the United States.
  • How to listen to pandora.com outside of the United States.
VPN (Oversimplified)

VPN (Oversimplified)

Solution

There are simple solutions though. The simplest is to visit http://hotspotshield.com/, download the free version, install and enjoy.

Should Hotspot shield ever stop functioning or should hulu block access via hotspot shield, there are a number of other free Virtual Private Network (VPN) services to choose from (see http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/7-completely-free-vpn-services-protect-privacy/).

Why It Works

The basic idea is that whenever you visit a website while using a VPN, the VPN acts as a go-between for you and the website. The website thinks it’s dealing with the VPN when in reality the VPN is passing all of the information on to you. Generally this is not the main purpose of VPNs – they are used for security. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vpn.

Mar 152012
 

Peculiarities Pictured Above

Block of butter: I really prefer my butter in already measured strips that are easily used in recipes, but apparently that’s hard to find in France. It’s still butter though, so that’s good.

Bathroom (toilet), Bathroom with a bath: For some unknown reason, our hotel room and every apartment we looked at had one room for the bath, sink, mirror, etc, and a completely separate room for the toilet. …because everyone wants to be locked in a small, windowless, sinkless, room, where the smells have nowhere to hide while they’re doing their business.

Potato Pizza: This isn’t just France – this is pretty common in at least Italy too.

Things to note from France about weeks 2 and 3.

Saving money on furniture is easy when shopping at Ikea, but don’t forget that when you get it home (or when the delivery arrives) that you still don’t actually have furniture – you have to build it first. This can be interesting with small children that like to help and swallow screws.

Internet and TV service is cheaper in France than it is in the States, especially if you bundle together Internet, TV, and telephone service. Use free.fr to get the best deal. Use Bouygues to be overcharged and not have any internet service a week after the install date.

Tip: Open your bank account before you arrive. Start very early because the required paperwork is ridiculous even once you get there and already have a bank account. I also suggest trying BNP Paribas instead of Crédit Agricole (CA) as I haven’t had many good experiences with CA.

Ham is everywhere and you cannot escape. The french have it in sandwiches, pizzas, mixed vegetables, and anywhere else you can imagine. Definitely do not order a pizza with bacon and expect that it will have bacon on it. The bacon they have is “Canadian bacon” (aka) ham.

My current work schedule:

9am to 12:30pm: Work
12:30 to 2pm: Lunch
2pm to 6pm: Work

This is not an accurate representation of a typical work schedule in France, but somehow this is normal to the people at my work. My coworkers and other people have told me that it depends on the company where you work and I have seen that this is true. Work schedules vary greatly.

Vocabulary

Sometimes the french language doesn’t have enough words, so they reuse them. Some of these are words where you can’t simply say “I have a …” without any context because it would be unclear what you’re talking about.

une trombone:
1) a trombone.
2) a paperclip.

une serviette:
1) a napkin.
2) a towel.

une pile:
1) a battery.
2) a pile (as in a pile of papers).

une feuille:
1) a piece of paper.
2) a leaf.

la crème aigre:
1) sour cream. Not to be confused with crème faiche, which is easier to find but is not sour cream.