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Ask Slashdot: Getting Around Terrible Geolocation? 100

First time accepted submitter AvitarX writes W3C has the IP address where I work as showing up in Ireland (we are in the USA). This is a nuisance for a lot of reasons (many dates now display in European format, prices are listed in euros, search results redirect to google.ie). Some of these issues can be worked around, but it's frustrating. I have searched as best as I can, and only can find information on the geolocation API in HTML5. The office is on a static IP address from Comcast. When I visit whatismyipaddress.com all info is correct except for W3C's result. I have submitted that it is inaccurate; is there anything else I can do? Googling, I have only managed to find usage examples for web developers/designers.
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Ask Slashdot: Getting Around Terrible Geolocation?

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  • First one was not being able to deliver e-mail, now Comcast has someone else in the wrong country. Is it a bad day to work for Comcast?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    You can't pick where the geolocation service says you are, yet it is used for everything including content delivery and advertisements.

    • You can't pick where the geolocation service says you are, yet it is used for everything including content delivery and advertisements.

      And controlling access to content. "Oh woe is me! I can watch Dr. Who on the BBC website and you can't! How can I fix it?!?!?".

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You can't pick where the geolocation service says you are, yet it is used for everything including content delivery and advertisements.

        And controlling access to content. "Oh woe is me! I can watch Dr. Who on the BBC website and you can't! How can I fix it?!?!?".

        If you insist on watching such poorly produced garbage: thepiratebay.se [thepiratebay.se]

        • I'll admit I'm a few seasons behind, but garbage or not I'd have to say it's still one of the better shows out there. And yes, that probably says a hell of a lot more about the vast sewage pit of modern programming than it does about the quality of Doctor Who.

          • I'll admit I'm a few seasons behind, but garbage or not I'd have to say it's still one of the better shows out there. And yes, that probably says a hell of a lot more about the vast sewage pit of modern programming than it does about the quality of Doctor Who.

            Exactly. Doctor Who is the "reference plane" against which all other television programming is measured.

            • Doctor Who is at the precise midpoint between Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and The Wire. Determining which end of the spectrum each of those shows represents is left as an exercise for the reader.
      • by Quark ( 6774 )

        You can't pick where the geolocation service says you are, yet it is used for everything including content delivery and advertisements.

        And controlling access to content. "Oh woe is me! I can watch Dr. Who on the BBC website and you can't! How can I fix it?!?!?".

        No, he can't watch Dr Who on the iPlayer because his IP is showing up as Irish, and Ireland (aka Eire, aka Republic of Ireland) is not in the UK (not since 1922). iPlayer is for UK residents only.

  • ...with a proxy run on some other place, like people do to get access to US only content and such. But that is generally a hassle.

    • Ironically, I use a VPS as a VPN in the US, but for some reason google thinks I'm in Hong Kong. Every other geolocation service seems to get the location fairly close, so I have no idea where google is getting HK from.
      • If it makes you feel any better, I'm in Hong Kong, and all my stuff has American accounts so all that glorious DRM shit doesn't work. Yeah much to my amazement it doesn't work when you travel.

      • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
        Google doesn't use the country the IP is assigned to for determining location. They use it as one small part, especially for unknown IPs, but when an IP range is known to them, they use other factors in determining location. You didn't say whether your home or your VPS is showing as Hong Kong. Google would assign a VPS used primarily by people in Hong Kong as being in HK, even if it's known to be within the US. The idea is that presenting results in Chinese.hk would be more useful to the users of that I
  • Nice pun in the title. Almost didn't catch it.

  • VPN or Proxy (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ginger Unicorn ( 952287 ) on Thursday November 13, 2014 @06:22PM (#48381885)
    You could subscribe to a VPN or Proxy service that is based in the U.S. Bit galling to (I assume) pay for a service to fix the issue of course.
  • Your options suck (Score:5, Informative)

    by PktLoss ( 647983 ) on Thursday November 13, 2014 @06:23PM (#48381899) Homepage Journal

    Hi,

    I own https://wonderproxy.com/ [wonderproxy.com] and the primary thing we sell our customers is "a server where we say it is so you can test your localization", and we have problems _all the time_. So I've been where you are, with the added bonus of having customers yelling at me because Google thinks my Madrid server is in France.

    There's no real good options here, different people use different databases of different ages with different procedures to update (if they have one at all). MaxMind (http://maxmind.com) is pretty good at updates, as are most of the free options (like ip2location http://www.ip2location.com/ [ip2location.com]). Google (which powers a lot of ads, and their own country redirect) has a form (https://support.google.com/websearch/contact/ip) which seems to pipe directly into /dev/null.

    Most GeoIP providers want to handle things in large blocks, not one IP at a time. If you can convince your ISP (generally by pointing them at a few forms) to send in corrections they'll be able to correct their entire IP space all at once, which may be handled faster, or at least cover you now and next time your IP changes. Once these are submitted expect a delay of 2weeks -> before anything starts to get better.

    Beyond trying to correct people, buying a cheap server from Linode and VPNing through should be a decent work around. If you set up an OpenVPN server, several routers are capable of connecting and routing all their data through them automatically, so you wont need to configure each device individually. Linode is a decent option as their servers are fast, stable, and you'll effectively only pay for half your symmetric bandwidth as inbound is free.

    good luck :(

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Your connection is not private

      Attackers might be trying to steal your information from wonderproxy.com (for example, passwords, messages, or credit cards).

      Back to safety
      NET::ERR_CERT_AUTHORITY_INVALID

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      when the doofuses start updating the geoip databases based on gps location information provided by the browser and such browser users are using vpn - everything breaks.

  • Is this the same W3C that is responsible for HTML standards and reminding me how bad I am at proper syntax?

  • by Cajun Hell ( 725246 ) on Thursday November 13, 2014 @06:28PM (#48381949) Homepage Journal

    I didn't even know W3C did geolocation (like Maxmind). Is there any chance you're talking about a page that uses the W3C geolocation API? That is, you're talking about what result some Javascript gets when it asks your web browser "where am I?"

    If I'm not mistaken and that's what you're talking about, then look up how your browser gets its location.

    If I'm mistaken and W3C actually has a ip-to-geo thing, oops, never mind. No idea what you're going to do about their database being wrong.

    • by Unordained ( 262962 ) <unordained_slash ... @pseudotheos.com> on Thursday November 13, 2014 @06:37PM (#48382011) Homepage

      Yeah, I was thinking this guy's got it all backwards. If MaxMind et al are already showing the right position, then the problem is the location returned by the W3C API call in his unspecified browser which depends on which location service his browser uses (possibly not the default), and whether his device is GPS-equipped.

      In the absence of GPS, Firefox defaults to using Google Location Service (according to https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/... [mozilla.org] ), which is not one of the 4 "providers" listed at http://whatismyipaddress.com/ [whatismyipaddress.com] and could easily be the one database that's wrong, causing his confusion. I expect Chrome to do the same. IE may use a Microsoft-provided IP database, again separate from the four above -- I couldn't find confirmation of this.

      For servers that don't rely on W3C javascript calls to get your location, it all entirely depends on which service they subscribe to, which you may not be able to find out. Short of submitting corrections to "all of them", you're just out of luck.

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday November 13, 2014 @06:49PM (#48382089) Journal
        You could always try pretending to be in Ireland for tax purposes.

        You'll save money for a decade or two until eventually somebody gets angry enough to try to correct the mistake!
        • by jrumney ( 197329 )

          You could always try pretending to be in Ireland for tax purposes.

          This only really works if you have a VPN with an exit point in Luxembourg or the Netherlands, and use tor over that to an exit point in Bermuda.

      • It happened simulteneously on two osx comouters, safari and firefox, and six windows computers ( vista and 7) using Firefox and chrome.

        The fact that it happened instantly everywhere is why I assumed it was an ip address in a database related issue.

        It also appears to not be a problem for laptops, for which I assume mapped wifi is over-riding ip address

        And yes, I have it all so wrong I couldn't even Google a solution (I tried).

    • I will look into it. I simply was going by the provider column at the linked page.

      It's weird to me that providers 'a' through 'd' have my address right and w3c lists it in Ireland. It happened simulteneously to every desktop in the shop.

      It's quite annoying. I definitely do not know what's going on, as I couldn't find a solution on Google and resorted to this.

  • by Gorath99 ( 746654 ) on Thursday November 13, 2014 @06:30PM (#48381961)

    Geolocation needs to die. Every site that uses it assumes that my location is a perfect indicator of my language preferences. Real helpful to have all websites in a language I don't understand whenever I'm traveling through Eastern Europe or Asia.

    I sure wish someone had thought of a standardized way for people to automatically let websites know their language preferences. Oh wait, that already exists [wikipedia.org].

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Amen, sibling. I was reading the OP, thinking "Welcome to the rest of the world, American, this is what the other several billion of us have to put up with all the freakin' time".

      Geolocation needs to die in a fire. Its only purpose is to sell more ads, and it's not even very good at that.

    • by rastos1 ( 601318 )

      If the complaint is about the location provided by the browser itself, then: Firefox: about:config - > geo.enabled - user set - boolean - false

      Been that way since FF started to support geolocation.

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      This. This so much. Especially google. I live in Belgium where three languages are spoken. In Brussels is the EU and thus a LOT of other people who speak different languages.

      My PC is installed in English. So why the fuck do I get a Dutch version of whatever site I go to from Google.

      The search engine is the easists to change. Try changing the language on play.google.com when you are not logged in.

  • like hola.org
    • Seriously. It lets you proxy from any location of your choosing with a simple browser-bar pull down menu. Set different locations for different sites (eg USA for pbs.org and UK for bbc.co.uk) so you can make geofencing work in your favour.
  • by nitehawk214 ( 222219 ) on Thursday November 13, 2014 @06:55PM (#48382143)

    Tell your company to stop using Ireland as a tax haven.

  • First off, please don't post links to crappy sites that make you force-quit your browser and make nonsense statements like this:

    > The W3C Geolocation service determins location by the browser providing GPS location (if available) and signal strengths of visible WiFi annoucements.

    W3C Geolocation is a standard for some Javascript functions that browsers can implement to allow sites to get geolocation information. It is up to each browser's author to decide to implement it or not, and what method(s) they wi

  • by ErikTheRed ( 162431 ) on Thursday November 13, 2014 @07:08PM (#48382237) Homepage

    One of my customers is located in Southern California, but Sun's (now Oracle's) servers refused to give them Java updates because they were geolocated as being in Iran.

    • As the IPv4 jar is running empty and more and more people are trading IP-addresses around the world, this problem will become bigger. Anyway, IP-adresses were never meant to determine which language you speak.

      Oh, and we should move to IPv6.

  • If not, you just stay right where you are . . . tovarishch.
  • Short Answer:
    Signup for a VPN or Proxy service with an exit point in the region you want.

    Longer Answer:
    IP-based geography detection (GeoIP for short) depends on the databases and services that various providers are leveraging. It's inherently inaccurate. Good luck getting these fixed as there are a bunch of different services (including the W3C) that you would need to get updated. Are you sure your routing exit point isn't actually in Ireland? My company's IP address maps to an exit point in San Francisco,

  • Google thought my entire office was located in Mexico a couple months ago, so all my Google services were in Spanish. The situation seemed to resolve itself just as mysteriously as it started. I was speculating that someone was doing a BGP attack to reroute our usual traffic through Mexico so they could phish all our passwords or something.
  • and learn to like Guinness.
  • I use a browser extension called Secret Agent from https://www.dephormation.org.u... [dephormation.org.uk]. This works with Gecko-based browsers (e.g., Firefox, SeaMonkey) on Windows, Mac, and Linux systems. It sends fake HTTP headers to confuse Web servers that are trying to track my browsing activities. This causes many geolocation routines to give wrong results. I have Secret Agent set to change its faked headers on every HTTP request sent from my browser.

    While composing this comment, I tested a few sites. One had me on

  • by Curunir_wolf ( 588405 ) on Thursday November 13, 2014 @09:09PM (#48382909) Homepage Journal

    It can be frustrating. While at the "Lockn Festival" in Virginia, my phone kept thinking it was in Scottsdale, Arizona. The weather reports were bad enough, but the worst part was the time on my phone kept coming up in Mountain time, so I was always 2 hours behind. I think that issue was because they brought in mobile towers, since that rural part of Virginia doesn't normally have any mobile coverage, and I guess someone forgot to set the location on the towers.

  • I vacationed in the UK recently and because I was using an IP from a different country than usual, both Google and Yahoo decided to lock up my accounts with their services in ways that potentially could only be resolved in ways that may not have been available because I was abroad (text/call to phone and/or logging in from a previous logged location). Fortunately, I was not relying on either of these services for anything critical such as booking confirmation numbers and did happen to have ways to re-enable

  • In Chrome you can use the Manual Geolocation extension, in Firefox use Geolocator. With both you can enter the location you want (your actual location or somewhere else) and it will then tell any website that queries that location instead of the default. I use both and they do work, and are much simpler than using a proxy or VPN or other measures.
  • ... many dates now display in European format ...

    That sounds like a bug fix to me, to be honest.

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