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For my birthday last June, Bill gifted me with a new iPad.  I think it’s my third one since 2010.  My first one had the ability to connect to a cellular network.  I remember Bill was very excited about that capability, although I never really used it.  My second iPad did not have cell access, since I had not used that feature on my first iPad.  Instead, I think Bill sprang for more memory.

When my second iPad was on its last legs, I requested a new iPad with cell access.  Why?  Because when I’m enduring a marathon car ride to some other country, having access to the Internet makes the ride less dull.  Sure, I could use my phone, but when you’re going through Switzerland, which isn’t part of the EU, you rack up roaming charges.  Also, my iPad has some games on it that aren’t on my phone.

Last summer, we decided to take a trip to Annecy, France.  The drive required travel through Switzerland.  I decided that would be when I tried out the cellular feature on my iPad.  My iPad offered three different vendors.  I chose Gig Sky, because it had a monthly option and offered more data than the other two options.  Since I’m a power user, I ordered the monthlong pass, which offers 5GB for up to thirty days.  It’s priced at $50.  The lowest priced option is a one day pass with 300MG.  It costs $10.

After successfully using Gig Sky for our France trip, I subsequently purchased more passes for other trips, some of which were in Germany.  It’s nice to be able to surf the Internet while Bill drives.  It also comes in handy at hotels where Internet access might not be so good.  And during our recent move, it was a lifesaver, since it took a couple of weeks before we could get the Internet in our house.

One thing I have discovered, though, is that Gig Sky isn’t just great for road trips.  It’s also good for shopping and reading the news.

Last May, the latest version of the very strict European Data Protection law went into effect.  This law, which is supposed to protect the privacy of Internet users in European countries, has had a number of annoying effects for us American shopaholics and news hounds.  It requires all Web sites operating within the European Union to conform to one set of standards, regardless of where the Web site is based.  Consequently, a lot of U.S. based Web sites that used to work in Europe no longer do.

Ordinarily, this would turn me off of doing business with them forever…

Time after time, ever since that law went into effect, I’ve found myself blocked from news sources and retail hangouts.  I usually buy a lot from Jos A. Bank at this time of year.  It’s always been a very APO friendly source of men’s business style work clothes.  But Jos A. Bank, along with a number of other U.S. based retailers, now block most of Europe from their Web sites due to this law, which so far has only served to annoy the hell out of me by requiring me to agree to cookies every time I hit a new site.

There are ways around this headache, of course.  I’ve found that looking at a cached version of a site will often offer me a glimpse of the news I seek.  Some people use virtual private networks (VPNs), which makes one’s ISP appear to come from a different location.  We used to have a VPN ourselves, which we used for Netflix back when we first moved to Germany.  Unfortunately, Netflix cracked down on VPN use and rendered ours pretty much useless.  Since German Netflix has improved a lot anyway, I quit subscribing to the VPN.

In any case, while we were offline, waiting for our new Internet account with Deutsche Telekom, I noticed that I was suddenly able to see the “forbidden fruit” sites that had been denied to me since the law became so strict.  I could read articles from my hometown newspaper again.  And… lo and behold, I could also shop on Jos. A. Bank again.  That’s because Gig Sky makes it look like I’m surfing from New York rather than Germany.

This is a pretty good deal, since Bill really needed some new pants and shoes for work.  I had been looking for a new source of clothes for him, but kept running into the same issues with blocked sites.  And yes, I can certainly purchase clothes in Europe, but Bill is a short man who likes his clothes cut a certain way.  European styles don’t appeal as much to him, and it’s harder to find things that fit him properly.  Anyone who’s been to Germany has seen that people are pretty tall here.  Bill is only 5’7″.  There’s also AAFES, but AAFES doesn’t have a clothing selection that appeals to Bill’s tastes.  The clothes sold there seem to be geared toward young, urban men who don’t mind wearing pink.

So, because I had some time and data left on my most recent Gig Sky pass, I used it to do some shopping for Bill.  A few days ago, I turned off my WiFi and used Gig Sky to access Jos. A. Bank on my iPad.  I spent about $800 on a boatload of new clothes for Bill.  They probably won’t get to him until after Christmas, but at least he’ll have them.

You’d think these companies would work faster to comply with Europe’s laws, especially since they still ship to APO locations.  I usually spend a lot of money every Christmas on clothes for Bill.  I hope these retailers in the States get their acts together soon.

In the meantime, I may consider resubscribing to a VPN, although it seems like doing that is kind of like skirting the law.  However, it’s nice to know that Gig Sky will work in a pinch.  Bill will be glad to have his new clothes and I’m sure Jos. A. Bank is happy for the money spent… and so is Gig Sky and Apple.

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