FireFox tip

Those of us in Canada are aware how our government keeps “shooting itself in the foot”. Those outside the country may not be aware just how silly and petty our government can get. For example they have this thing about promoting Canadian culture in the media. Not too bad on the surface of things right? Rather than encourage Canadians to produce our own material they de-regulate the media so they can purchase more American programming. Some of the stuff from South of the border is OK so it can rise and fall with the local ratings. However they take it a step further. If a Canadian station schedules a TV show at the same time as it is scheduled on an American station the cable companies are supposed to replace the American station with the Canadian station. This way the Canadian station can count local commercials as “Canadian content”. Of course this adds five minutes to the amount of commercials… The nasty part comes when we get to on-line content.

When viewing on-line content the government censors what we can see. I’m not talking about stuff like kiddie porn. I’m talking about over the air content. If a show is broadcast in Canada on a Canadian station, but is supplied by an American outfit Canadians have to go through the Canadian web site to view it. Part of the problem is some sites view on-line content as a preview rather than an archive or time-shift. So often not all of a show is available. Some times it is even missing. Yet on the American site it is all there. In this situation we have a message stating “This content is not available in your area”. Very frustrating…

There is a plugin for FireFox which seems to work with a few sites. It is called “Modify Headers”. True to the name it changes the header of what is sent out by FireFox to indicate a different geographic area. Essentially it persuades the computer to lie for you. This is different than going through a proxy server. The proxy server may actually be located in the same geographic area so essentially your computer wouldn’t by lying.

The directions for using this plugin are not inherently obvious. After some reading on the net I found out what to do.

  1. Surf to the site which has the blocked video.
  2. Under the tools menu access the Modify Headers plugin.
  3. In the first box enter “X-Forwarded-For” (it should auto-complete).
  4. Enter a numeric IP for the area in question ( is suggested for the States,  no suggestion for Europe is given).
  5. Refresh the page.

At that point things should run properly. Apparently this doesn’t work on all sites. The reason I waited to post this was to see if I could find a site through every day surfing which wouldn’t work. So far I haven’t found one.

Followup: I tried this on a Mac running Snow Leopard. It didn’t work. Worst case… It should work in an emulator.

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About the Author


Mike Pfaiffer was President of A.P.P.L.E. and also the president of Digital Civilization magazine, a monthly UNIX magaine. Mike wrote a number of articles for A.P.P.L.E. and sadly passed away 19 July 2013 at age 54.