Baltimoremick

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Tag: Baltimore Sun (page 1 of 2)

Breaking Through the (Pay)Wall

UPDATE: Apparently, my syntax on the custom filters was incorrect.  I have corrected them below.  Limited testing has verified these filters as working in both Firefox and Chrome.

The small number of people who follow me on Twitter are well aware of my distaste for the implementation of the paywall on baltimoresun.com.  Given how obstreperous I found the paywall to be, I opted to remove the RSS feeds for the sun from Google Reader. It would be a cold day in Hell before I would return to view content on baltimoresun.com!

I had not paid much attention to how to workaround the paywall, as I had already implemented a simple workaround–use Incognito Mode in Google Chrome (or the equivalent setting in a modern browser of your choice).  After some time of successfully using this workaround, though, I decided take a deeper dive into how to solve this. Needless to say, thanks to reddit and some tools already at my disposal, the solution is pretty simple.

Some of you who read this might complain that I am stealing content.  I would counter by stating that I am just leveraging technology to take advantage of a feature in the paywall that Tribune Media has invested in.  I would also reply with the following image:

Interestingly, many of the sites that implement this paywall technology–Press+ from RR Donnelleyadmit to knowing about the existence of a workaround to the paywall.  They explain it away, however, by stating that the technical knowledge required to do so is too much for the average user.  In other words, most users are too dumb to realize how easy it is to get around paying for a digital subscription, so we will profit from the dumb.

Following the very simple how-to below, however, shows this to be pretty easy to implement.

  1. Install Google Chrome (if you have not done so already).
  2. Go to the Chrome Web Store, and search for Adblock Plus for Google Chrome (Beta).  Install the extension.
  3. Once it is installed, go to the wrench icon to the right of the address bar, then click Tools|Extensions.
  4. Select the Options link for Adblock Plus.
  5. Click on the Add your own filters tab.
  6. In the text box next to “+ Add filter,” paste the following filter:
    ##div[id="gregbox-overlay"]
    Click the “+ Add filter” button once done.
  7. Repeat the previous step for the following filter:
    ##div[id="gregbox-wrap"]
  8. Once done, open up a new tab to baltimoresun.com.  Enjoy paywall-free browsing, and feel free to say with me “SUCK IT, Tribune Media!”

 

Full of Surprises

I was stunned to find out that my blog was nominated for a MobbieMaryland’s Outstanding Blogs.  Frankly, I am have been quite the absentee blogger on account of other things competing for my attention.  Nonetheless, I am humbly honored, but there are far more better blogs out there than mine.

Go vote for the better ones.

I will, however, be attending the celebration for these nominations.  There might be some Sun reporters and bloggers I can harangue.  😉

My Boredom with the Continuing Dixon Investigation

In what has been no terrible surprise to me, the investigation into alleged improprieties during Sheila Dixon’s time as President of the Baltimore City Council continues.  You will not count me among one of Sheila Dixon’s vociferous supporters.  As a matter of fact, I can potentially look into getting a bumper sticker that would say:

“Don’t blame me.  I didn’t vote for Dixon.”

To describe myself as non-plussed by Dixon becoming Mayor last Fall would be an understatement.  I was suspect of her and the ethics problems that had been at issue since she first became City Council President.  Additionally, I like my politicians to have above average public speaking skills, and Mayor Dixon certainly does not rank first among her peers in this category.

So, to see new coverage of the ongoing investigation into her dealings with the awarding of contacts is not terribly surprising.  What has been fascinating–and highly annoying, actually–has been the focus on the Dixon’s spending habits.  She apparently bought some fur coats, some expensive shoes, and some other womanly accessories.  Of course, if one were to read the local rag, you would find nothing but article upon article about what Dixon purchased as opposed to the investigation, its history, and other pertinent matters.  If I read another article about her expensive purchases, I will tune out this investigation.

Ultimately, how surprised would one be if there was ill-gotten gain for Dixon and her associates as a result of her position of power?  In the continuing evolution of urban poltiical machines, is this terribly surprising?  Yesterday’s Tammany Hall has evolved into today’s nameless political machine.  By no means does this make it right, and it certainly is not an indictment of every local politician.

Nonetheless, I demand more substance to the coverage of this investigation.  Would it be too much to ask to actually get investigative journalism as opposed to the style of tabloid journalism that is currently being exercised here?  Thus far, that desire seems a bit outlandish.

Helping the “Unenlightened Consumers”

In comments to an unrelated post, Fairfax pointed out that my favorite Sun blogger, Elizabeth Large, had posted an entry related to a comment I left on her blog some time ago.  As I can never resist a good nerdfight, especially when I am involved, I decided to join the fray and leave a comment.

Rather than force my 10 readers to click through, I will summarize my comment.  I admitted to being the person complaining about her use of the more tag in her posts.  While I respect her desire to make her blog more readable to her users using this convention, it pains me to no end as a user of an aggregator.

I suggested a few ways to make this tolerable for everyone who visits her blog.  For those of us using aggregators, why not present your feed for those of us using FeedDemon, Google Reader, Netvibes, or NetNewsWire in all of its full-text glory.  I pointed out that this is possible, as the online version of her employer’s sister publication–b–does this, thanks in part to my cantankerous ways.  I suggested she talk to Tim Windsor, so I apologize in advance for anything I might stir up, Tim.

I also suggested that maybe it would be possible to advertise the existence of RSS feeds for comments.  If the content can be aggregated, then why not do the same with the comments on said content.  Apparently, some of her readers do not know how easily one can click on the comments for different entries.  Perhaps advertising it in this way will encourage them to more easily track their contents.

I also suggested that if the number of posts on the main page was truly an issue then investigate the possibility of increasing the number of posts available on the main page.  I admitted to not knowing how (or if) the Sun’s corporate blogging platform exposes that setting, but I can only presume it is set at the global level.  I know MT does it, but I can understand that the corporate interface and usability types probably suggested a small number of posts on the page.  Let’s hope they let her increase the number of posts.

At the end, I just wanted to be able to point her in the right direction of maximizing her content for everyone–to the “unenlightened consumers” to the cranky “enlightened consumer.”  Sure, the web and Internet are full of sites where we still need to click through.  Nonetheless, in this age of feeds, aggregators, and other tools, let’s encourage their use.

P.S. Phil, I will gladly offer whatever assistance you require to make you an “enlightened consumer” of web content.  While it may not be for everyone, I think it is the best use of your time in an environment where there is too much competing for your attention.

P.P.S. While I know that my continuing ranting about full text seems to be the mad raving of some computer geek with too much time on his hands, I really think there is something to be said about bringing the content to you instead of you going to the content.  It reminds me of the early variation on bringing content to your desktop from around the late-1990s dot-com bubble.  Now that the tools are out there, we just need to encourage people to use them.

Attempting to Navigate Federal Hill and South Baltimore

Has anyone tried to navigate Federal Hill and South Baltimore by car within the last three months?  The ongoing utility work in that area has made navigating around the main and side streets a nightmare.

Although I live nearby these neighborhoods, I do a fair amount of driving over there–running to the gym, the grocery store, or meeting folks out for dinner.  It all started when Ostend Street had a block closed between Hanover and Charles Streets, and then it was compounded with Marshall Street being closed for about 2-3 blocks.  These closures started back in February.

Yesterday, when I headed to the gym last night, I was met with a closure of Charles Street between West Street and Cross Street.  On my way home from the gym, I then hit the closure of Ostend Street between Marshall and Charles Streets.  It is getting to be a maddening array of detours in what is a pretty easy place to get around.

The neighborhoods apparently are getting some major work done to the water mains and lines, but the haphazard way in which one street is closed for a week or two, then re-opened unexpectedly has truly become a nuisance.  I was swearing like a sailor last night on my way home from the gym.

Of course, knowing what roads are closed for utility work for an extended period of time would be a wonderful and surprisingly useful service that nitwit Dresser could provide.  Instead, that old cantankerous boob continues blathering on about speeding as opposed to paying attention to some of the real traffic concerns.  Ba

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