Use a VPN to bypass ISP issues and restrictions

So apparently Dhiraagu has been under some sort of attack since day before yesterday and that is the reason Dhiraagu Internet subscribers are getting patchy Internet connectivity. I am not sure what kind of attack it is under but I presume it is of the DoS variety aimed at driving down their QoS levels. From the looks of it, the attack seems to be being targetted at, or atleast affecting, the Internet proxy/filters and DNS servers at Dhiraagu. Anyway, if you are as frustrated as me with patchy Internet then here's a quick fix solution: install and use a VPN.

A Virtual Private Network working over the Internet connects one computer to another via a private virtual "tunnel" and routes data between the computers. A VPN will allow you to browse the Internet via the remote computer's Internet connection so you aren't affected by (some) issues affecting your ISP and bypasses restrictions imposed by your ISP. As opposed to using a remote proxy server, a VPN can route all your Internet traffic via the virtual tunnel allowing you to bypass all local restrictions entirely. Use of a VPN, on laptops and mobile phones, is highly recommended if you frequently connect to Wifi hotspots at restaurants, airports etc to keep your data secure from being snooped.

Free VPN Services

There are many VPN service providers, including those that offer free services. A list of VPN providers is available at Here are a few I've used and tried.

Ivacy has both free and paid services. I quite like their volume-based paid plan which currently gives 1 GB for 0.67$ and a wide range of geographical locations for an end-point. The geographical location allows you to access services such as BBC iPlayer and Hulu which are region restricted. They even have a Ivacy Firefox extension that integrates into Firefox, which is handy if you use the browser.

Ultrasurf is extremely easy to use and their client, a 1.1 MB download, runs straight without requiring any installation.

UltraVPN offers OpenVPN-based VPN access with a free registration process. They have a cross-platform open-source client allowing you to use it on Windows and Mac OS.

PacketiX VPN
PacketiX VPN is free and offers several nifty featues. Their Secure Internet Test Service gives access to a secure VPN for web usage and, for the more geek minded, their VPN Online Test Environment allows you to create a virtual VPN hub that connects together several of your devices.

ProjectLoki offers a public VPN server, connected through their free 1.1 MB client software, which you can use as a guest. Their paid services include more data transfer. They also offer special VPN server software that you can run and have your computer(s) connect to.

Happy New Year btw :-)

Contribute: History of the Maldives on the WWW

Maldives as a nation has progressed on the net, albeit slightly, over the years. We've seen various web presences come and go and various projects pop into existence and then grow while most fizzle out and die soon after.

I am interested in compiling the history (the story!?) of the Maldivian presence on the World Wide Web. So I invite and urge everyone to drop a comment and share:
- what your earliest memories of the Maldivian internet presence are
- what your favourite Maldivian websites have been
- what web projects did you find useful, impressive...
- what government websites you visit(ed) regularly and/or find useful
- what commercial websites you visit(ed) regularly and/or find useful
- which community projects you participate(d) in or are aware of


Note: Shaahee had an effort underway earlier this year to compile the history of usage of computers and the Internet in the Maldives into a book. He is now planning to open up the project as an open, web-based collaboration effort. The project should be having a public launch pretty soon...

Sun, beach and Internet

I'm travelling to Raa atoll Ungoofaaru tomorrow and will be staying in the island for about 3 days. Sadly, it's not on holiday though - it's for some work. I am taking my computer gear ofcourse and wanted to be able to get on the internet while I'm there. Thankfully this is now possible, owing to the availability of GPRS service via Dhiraagu. The connection is awefully slooowwwww ofcourse, but it's quite usable and I'd take it happily when I'm bored and desperate.

I had tested using internet on my laptop via GPRS when Dhiraagu had the "free GPRS" week at the time of its introduction in July, but didn't have the settings anymore due to a hard disk change. So again today, I set out to setup my laptop for internet via Dhiraagu GPRS using my bluetooth enabled phone. Here is how I did it...

Installing bluetooth on the laptop
This is normally quite an easy task however it turned out to be quite a challenge as the bluetooth dongle I had now was unbranded and the drivers supplied with it refused to run on Windows 2003 Server running on my laptop. To make a long story short, I downloaded the latest Widcomm bluetooth driver (with Win 2k3 support) and installed it. Then applied the patches floating on the net to remove the vendor hardware dependant licensing. And viola! It works! Head over to if you've been having the same problem.

Setting up GPRS
I already have GPRS setup on my phone since I use WAP and MMS occasionally. Details of how to do this for Dhiraagu customers are at

Setting up the Bluetooth connection
In the final stage of this process, I created a Bluetooth dialup networking connection to my phone from the laptop. Right clicking the bluetooth system tray icon and selecting "Bluetooth Setup Wizard" will finish the process in a breeze.

Then, the networking settings for the Bluetooth dialup connection was set as follows. Open the connection properties, click the "Networking" tab, click the "Settings" button. Untick "Enable LCP .." and "Negotiate multi-link ...".

gprs network settings

Setting up browser
Dhiraagu requires the use of a proxy to browse and use internet. Setup your favourite browser with the proxy address as "" and port as "8080".

In Internet Explorer, go to "Tools" menu, select "Options" and in the window that opens select the "Connections" tab. You should see the name of the Bluetooth connection you created. Select it and click the "Settings" button". Now, fill the various options as shown below.

gprs proxy settings

Establishing the link
Finally, time to dial! Double click the Bluetooth connection created in the above stages. Enter the dialup number and user/pass. The dial number is of the format "*99***2#" where 2 is the CID shown on the phone for the GPRS account you want to use. The user/pass is blank.

grps dialup connect

Once the dial button is hit, a connection is attempted and shows as "Connected" if it was successful. There isn't need to worry about how long you keep it connected as you are only charged for the data that is sent and recieved.

Now I am all set to leave to the island and I can hopefully sit and use the internet where the waves crash humbly onto the beach not far from my bare feet while cooling under the shade of a tall colorful palm tree. :-)