VPN for All the Wrong Reasons

I’m not a political dissident. Moreover, I’m pretty uninteresting. SSL-secured websites are more than encrypted enough for my purposes. So why would I want to start looking at VPN? Website filtering. I connect to some of my self-hosted solutions, which seem to be blocked or, at the very least, poorly peered on the WiFi at the locations I frequent.

Ideally, I’d like to use the “built-in” (at least, to NetworkManager) OpenVPN solution to make it easier. I do have a pfSense firewall that I could hook into, but it’s sitting on a Comcast/Xfinity consumer service. I guess I’ll have to do some investigation as to port usage.

There are lots of different VPN services out there. With the rise in the privacy awareness (the awareness of the lack of privacy online), there are really good and cheap options. Even the OpenVPN folks seem to have their own service, called PrivateTunnel, which is interesting and cheap. I’ve also been looking at NordVPN, because of their ties with the SomethingAwful forums, great ratings and decent popularity.

I guess I’m spoiled for choice. Any ideas for service? I’d like to not spend a huge amount on services. Month-to-month would be better than yearly pre-paid. Leave a comment below.

Goods and Services

In a previous post, I talked about using Feedbin and Pocket as tools to help me stem the flow of information overload. These then allowed me to take breaks in which I could sift through the information and save what I cared about for later reading. This actually ended up being really effective for me. The biggest problem was I was paying, effectively, $10 a month for the news.

Initially, I didn’t have a problem with this. My feeds and saved articles were available everywhere. I could save from one to the other and move on with my day. Something was still nagging at me, though. I am not a heavy user of either service. I don’t have hundreds of feeds to process, nor do I save hundreds of articles to read for later. I also am knowledgeable enough to be able to set these services up on my own. I just didn’t have a platform in which to do that. Until yesterday.

It turns out, when you’re too close to a problem, you miss the obvious. In this case, I realized I could use shared hosting on pretty much any platform to, effectively, “self host”. While not the most ideal setup, it would suffice, and it would be massively cheaper that what I was doing now. So, that’s what I did. I purchased the cheapest hosting plan from Namecheap, wired up some DNS entries and pointed them at the subdomains I’d setup for the different tools. Now I was hosting TT-RSS and Wallabag on my own for less than $2 a month. I have much the same workflow (though, a little more messy), but I’m not paying through the nose for something I use maybe once or twice a day.