As the gentle readers who’ve met me in person probably know, I don’t own any socks.

It must be some sort of thermal disability, but the last time I recall borrowing a pair of socks to use inside my standard Birkenstocks was some 5-6 years ago when we went for a walk on the Columbia Icefield. A well-known anecdote about this features a slack-jawed landlady near the Titisee, where we went looking for a room in somewhat dismal weather, gasping “but… you have no socks on!” after opening the door.

Still, for one special case I’m all for socks. SOCKS, that is. I was stymied by trying to download a 2GB+ file from the Apple ADC Site. Apparently, my ISP interposes a transparent proxy cache which breaks downloads of such huge files over the standard HTTP port (80). So after beating my head against that wall for a few weeks, I chanced to ask Mike Ash about this, and he promptly came out with a recipe for doing it over a SOCKS proxy! And it has other nice side effects:

…This allows your traffic to traverse your local network without being visible to snoopers, even when visiting unencrypted sites.

It also allows you to appear to come from a different IP address, allowing you to defeat geolocation schemes. In particular, some credit card processors try to make sure that your credit card billing address is correlated with your IP address, which can be hard on us expatriates.

Thanks a lot Mike!