Accessing the WWE Network from the UK

The Why

I’m a “part-time” WWE fan. I dip in and out of the “universe” every few years as the mood takes me. Every so often I’ll catch the bug big time, watch a bunch of shows, then my interest will fade again. When I moved into my new place I spent the first couple of nights watching a bunch of WWE-related documentaries I found on Netflix, which kindled my current interest. On top of that, my son has recently started to get into WWE as well.

Plus it was time for WrestleMania 30. So naturally I wanted to watch the spectacle.

When I moved, I “cut the cable”; I have no TV service at all – no terrestrial TV (so don’t pay for a TV license), no Freeview, Cable, or Sky TV. I watch everything online, primarily through Netflix, YouTube, or BBC iPlayer. None of these services could let me watch WrestleMania, so something else was needed. A quick look at WWE.com revealed I could stream it from their website for $59.99 (approx £37). Call me cheap, but for one Pay Per View that was not good value for money, even if it was for the “show of shows.” Then I remembered the WWE had recently launched their own streaming service, WWE Network. 24/7 streaming of WWE shows + Pay Per Views, for $9.99 a month. Even with a minimum 6 month subscription, it worked out the same price for the “all you can eat” channel as it did for the single WrestleMania stream. Done. Sold. Sign me up.

One problem – WWE Network is US-only for now. But with the right tools, this is not an insurmountable problem, though it is a little finicky to setup at first.

The How

What You’ll Need:

  1. A WWE.com Account.
  2. A PayPal Account (with linked credit/debit card).
  3. An Unblock-Us.com Account.
  4. A Device to Watch WWE Network on. I used an Apple TV.

Unblock-Us

Unblock-Us is the secret sauce which makes the whole process work; without it, WWE.com won’t even let you sign up for WWE Network, let alone watch anything. The service costs, but it’s cheap (<£3 per month), and lets you access other services such as the US Netflix, or watch region-restricted videos on YouTube. I’ve been a happy paying customer for almost 2 years now.

Sign up for Unblock-Us, then use their set-up instructions for the device you want to watch the WWE Network on. You can set-up your router instead, but I prefer a per-device setup for maximum flexibility.

For the moment, you’ll also want to set your computer/laptop to use Unblock-Us, while we do the next step:

WWE.com/WWE Network

Sign Up for a WWE.com account. During registration, set your country to the US. Once your account is created, if you’re set up with Unblock-Us, you can click the option in your profile to subscribe to WWE Network – if Unblock-Us isn’t working, you’ll end up in an endless redirect loop.

During the WWE Network sign-up, you’ll need to supply a billing address. This needs to be a valid US address, including zip code. You can use anything, such as the address of your favourite US-based company… For the payment option, I recommend using PayPal.

PayPal

You might be able to get away with not using PayPal, but I used it to avoid entering a non-UK billing address for my credit card (which would risk it being declined).

WWE.com doesn’t validate the billing address of your PayPal account when you use it as a payment method for WWE Network. As a result, you can have a different billing address on WWE.com than you do in PayPal. This lets you complete the sign-up process – WWE.com thinks you’re paying from within the US, as those are the details you give them, but PayPal bills you with your correct information.

Once done, you should redirect back to WWE.com and see a “success” message telling you you’re now a subscriber to WWE Network

Watching

You have a few options for watching on a big screen: there are WWE Network apps for most devices, though most of them require a US-billing address to access (certainly the PS3 one does). These are more hassle to work around than I was prepared to handle, so I haven’t tried yet. The easiest method I found was using an Apple TV.

Assuming you’ve setup the Apple TV to use Unblock-Us, the next bit should be easy. In the Apple TV Settings > General menu you have the option to change your iTunes Store. Set this to United States. You’ll be logged out of any UK iTMS account you have on your aTV, but it’s OK, as you a) don’t need it to watch WWE Network, and b) can easily sign back in from the same menu.

Returning to the home screen at this point will give you a lot more icons than normal – one of which is the WWE Network app. Selecting it will ask you to login or subscribe through iTunes. You want to login with your WWE.com account from earlier. After thinking about it for a few moments, WWE Network should load up and you can start watching the library of content!

Another option, again using an aTV, is to configure an iOS device to use Unblock-Us through your home WiFi, install the WWE app from the App Store, then use AirPlay to stream it to your TV.

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Troubleshooting

The only real issue I’ve come across is that sometimes (every couple of weeks or so), loading videos on WWE Network will give you an error. This usually means your broadband IP address has changed and you need to let Unblock-Us know. Simply visit unblock-us.com from another device on your network (it doesn’t need to be configured to use Unblock-Us), login, and click the message you’ll see about activating your new IP address. Try your video again, and it should work.

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Changing the DNS on a (PlusNet) Technicolor TG582n FTTC Router

I recently had fiber broadband installed at the house. This meant switching provider, and getting a whole new router. ISP routers, by-and-large are terrible, and this one was the type which only allows changing a limited set of options through the web-based admin page.

For a while it was working fine enough, but I started getting lots of DNS issues; accessing sites was terribly slow due to looooooong lookup times – when the lookup succeeded at all! I looked for the option to switch to using the OpenDNS servers, but there was no way to do this through the UI.

Of course, I figured someone had to have run into and fixed this problem before, and with a little hunting around, I was proved right – Pete Cooper had documented how to change these settings through the archaic and arcane wonder of telnet.

Logging into my router through the console, using Pete’s instructions, it soon became apparent his steps had been broken by a firmware update – only a couple of the commands worked. But now I had a lead, I was sure I could figure it out. With a little digging around, and judicious use of the help command, I was able to put together this sequence of commands to update the DNS settings:

# To list your current DNS servers
dns server forward dnsset list
# To a new primary DNS server with higher priority than the default
dns server forward dnsset add set=0 dns=208.67.220.220 label=None metric=4 intf=Internet
# Add the secondary as above
dns server forward dnsset add set=0 dns=208.67.222.222 label=None metric=4 intf=Internet
# Save our changes
saveall

With the commands entered, my web surfing instantly got a massive speed boost as the DNS issues went away :) I should point out that I left the default PlusNet servers in there as back-up. If for some reason I can’t connect to OpenDNS, the router will fall back to the PlusNet DNS.

CM9 for the HP TouchPad is Almost Ready

I can’t wait for this; I bought the TouchPad in the ‘Fire Sale’ with the express purpose of putting Android on it, but Gingerbread just isn’t quite good enough for tablet use.

The Five Megabyte Web Developer | Benjamin Atkin

The Five Megabyte Web Developer | Benjamin Atkin.

An interesting perspective on Heroku. As regular readers will have guessed, I recently started using Heroku for small experiments. So far I love it for being a low-friction way to try out something, and how I have the potential to quickly, easily, and relative cheaply scale any of these experiments which become popular. The article above did point out some limitations which I wasn’t clear on before, and which I’ll bear in mind. I wrote something similar in a comment to this blog post, this morning, but at the time of writing my comment is still awaiting moderation.

Like the author above, I looked into getting a VPS to have a “place of my own” to house such little projects, but ultimately decided against it. While it may offer you more control over configuration, resources, and fixed costs, ultimately you’re paying (or have paid) for the server even when you’re not using it. If you have several projects which all get regular traffic, then yes, it’s probably worth getting a VPS. But if you’re just testing the waters with a small idea every once in a while then I think it’s best to take advantage of platoforms like Heroku, App Harbor, PHP Fog, etc.

Fixing Last.fm Tumblr with IFTTT

Lastfm_tumblr

When Tumblr rolled out a new version of their site in July they broke the popular Last.fm Tumblr service by Joe Lazerus, for those of us who didn’t previously have it enabled. This made me sad. So using a new(ish) service called If This Then That, I fixed it!

What to do:

  1. Set your Last.fm tumblr feed up as previous, using Yahoo Pipes.
  2. Sign up to IFTTT. Activate the Tumblr and RSS channels.
  3. Copy this recipe, and enter the URL to your Yahoo Pipe RSS feed.
  4. Sit back and wait for Sunday.

Downgrading and Rooting Your HTC Desire HD

This post is pretty old now, and I no longer have a Desire HD. The instructions below might work for you, but I can’t say for sure, and I can’t help you if you get stuck. Your best bet is to head over to XDA Developers to find more up to date instructions, tools, and ROMS.


A few months ago I made the switch from the iPhone to Android – a HTC Desire HD (DHD), to be precise. I’m still formulating a post about my experience of switching (and Android in general), but today I want to document the process I had to go through to “root” my phone. Rooting your device seems to be a right of passage for Android owners and being the geek I am I didn’t want to miss out.

HTC recently released an OTA update for the Desire HD (v1.72) which locked down the phone to prevent “rooting” (jailbreaking by another name, as far as I can tell). I find it amusing that the “open” Android platform suffers from some of the same vendor lock-downs as Apple and the iPhone, but that’s another post for another day. What I didn’t find amusing was that this update hit my phone the morning I decided I wanted to root my handset.

Thankfully there is a large community of enthusiasts who dedicate their spare time to working around issues such as this. Within a week or so there was a workaround. What follows are the collated instructions I used to downgrade my DHD to a rootable firmware, apply the root, install a recovery image, and install a custom ROM. These instructions are pulled from a number of different forum threads and blog posts across the internet.

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