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Beijing Tech Report • FIVE SIMPLE TIPS FOR BETTER BROWSING

Now that half the people in Beijing vacated the city for Spring Festival, those of us that are left can enjoy the extra bandwidth. To make your browsing experience even more seamless, I’ve compiled a list of easy-to-implement tips to use that don’t require a VPN.

#1 Block the Twitter platform

The page you’re visiting might not be blocked by the government, but that doesn’t mean that certain elements are allowed through. The most common problem I’ve run into is a web page getting hung up while loading “platform.twitter.com.” Your browser will make several attempts to load before it gives up, delaying the rest of the page by several seconds. The platform is used to send and receive data from Twitter buttons, feeds and other elements to and from the web page. To prevent the annoying extra wait (which I’ve experienced on this site), you can use an ad blocker extension—which I highly suggest you install if you haven’t already—to stop the Twitter platform from ever loading. See a tutorial for Firefox and Chrome here. Mind you, this modification makes it so no Twitter elements can be used, so you’ll have to pause your ad blocker if you actually want to use those features. This method can be used for any element you don’t want loaded, but Twitter seems to be the biggest perpetrator in China.

#2 Load HTTPS pages

Many websites have two nearly identical versions of their pages, HTTP and HTTPS. The government often blocks HTTP pages, but rarely HTTPS. Unless you’re on a high profile site (Facebook, Youtube, etc), it might be worth a shot to add the extra ’S’ to the URL. Websites where you often receive 101 connection reset errors can benefit from this. It’s essentially the same method Apple used to unblock users in China from the App Store. You can use the HTTPS Everywhere plug-in to do this for many sites automatically, and you can always add more if you need them. The Firefox version is solid but Chrome’s is still in beta. Not only will this unblock a handful of sites, it also makes your browsing safer and more private.

#3 Set SOCKS proxy rules for specific websites

Let’s say you want to post a video from Youku onto Facebook. If you’re using a VPN or proxy, Facebook will load quickly, but Youku will lag behind. If you’re not using a VPN or proxy, you can’t load Facebook at all. But if you’re using a SOCKS proxy plug-in like FoxyProxy for Firefox of Switchy! for Chrome, you can set certain pages to automatically load through the proxy and some not to. (NOTE: The latest version of Chrome broke Switchy!. A patch should be on the way soon, but you can use this fix until then. For FoxyProxy, adding the rule is as simple as hitting Alt+f2.) If you’ve never used a proxy before, Googling a free one is easy. You can also read our post on making your own private proxy server with a forwarded SSH tunnel.

Source: beijingtechreport.tumblr.com


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