Free Wall Street Journal: Part Deux

In the previous entry, I explained how you could read full articles at the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) by tricking into thinking you originated from Google News. Basically, any WSJ traffic from Google News is allowed to view the full article.

My previous solution was awkward kludge, but it got the job done. Of course, I should have known there was an easier way to do it. The problem is two-fold: the Journal site checks the referer and the URL parameter. So, if you can change the referer and rewrite the URL’s to include the URL parameter, the entire site will be in subscription mode.

Step 1: Change the referer to appear as if traffic is originating from Google News. This is easy with the RefControl extension for Firefox. Just install the extension and set the referer for any traffic to “” as coming from “”. See screenshot below.

Using RefControl to changes referers

Step 2: Rewrite all URL’s on the WSJ site so that they include the Google News parameter. In other words, take all links on the site and add “?mod=googlenews_wsj” to the end. With the referer set manually and the modification in place, you should be able to view the full articles. So, how do you rewrite the URL’s on the WSJ site? I recommend creating a Greasemonkey script to do this, which should be pretty simple. When I get some more time I might do it and upload to my defunct userscripts library.

I can’t really explain it

…but there is something fascinating about faux-reality shows like The Hills or Laguna Beach. If I’m ever channel surfing and happen across one of these shows, I’ll get sucked in. It has the approachable mundane-ness of a reality show with the story line of a high-production television drama. I have a hard time watching shows that don’t seem real enough. I just can’t forget that I’m watching something fake. I think this is why I also enjoy shows like Entourage and Curb Your Enthusiasm (although CYE has become more fake and unreal recently). All of these shows have realistic characters, realistic lighting and environments, realistic dialogue, and realistic wardrobes and makeup. If television taps into some evolved social interest, it stands to reason that the more real the simulation, the more effective it will be in evoking sympathy and interest. Look for the lines between life and entertainment to blur further.

Crucial Minutiae has a good take on it that is worth reading.

Now I get it. I think.

I was startled when my 18 year old cousin told me to “email” him on MySpace. I asked, “No, what is your email address? So, I can actually send you an email.” Email = MySpace? Since I’m not a user of MySpace’s closed garden, basic old-fashioned open-protocol email is how I get in touch with people. He had a Hotmail account, but couldn’t remember it. I was really surprised that he contacts his friends solely via MySpace and the cellphone. But, my guess is a lot of other people his age are the same way. After all, on MySpace only your friends can message you, right?

It just seems like a strange way to do things. I have a feeling a lot of kids these days are comfortable using the Internet, but that maybe they find aspects of it a little complicated so MySpace and Facebook have a natural appeal. It’s easy. No need to manage multiple accounts for blogging, photos, messaging, etc. Just sign up for whichever social network is hot and go crazy.

I take it for granted that not everyone enjoys the challenges that come with some stuff on the Internet. So, I get it now. I think. Social networks make the Internet easy by keeping everything all in one place. It’s like AOL, but not old-skool AOL, which is for old people. Is that it?

Wacom Intuos3 Review

wacom doodlingMore than a decade ago, I used to reach out to the world through little home-made publications we called zines. Apparently, it was a movement, although in retrospect it seems fairly minute as movements go.

For the younger people: Making zines was a way to self-publish and share your thoughts and creativity with other people like you. You basically produced a compilation of drawings, comics, writing, etc. and bundled it together with a cover. Then you xeroxed the whole thing to make a few tens or hundreds of copies you could sell to cover the costs or give away. It was very limited and the community was pretty insular, but that is what made it fun.

This was before the Internet incorporated all culture. With the Internet, you no longer have to work to find like-minded people. I’m not complaining. Just sayin’. That was the whole point of zines, after all. For me anyway.

I enjoyed drawing comics and making the zine. I even enjoyed motivating my friends to participate and trying to manage the whole production side of it, so we could push out a new issue every so often. In some ways, it was a precursor to what I do now in web design and development. Funny how that works.

Anyway, the point is, as most of my hobbies have migrated to involving the computer, I’ve found it difficult to pick up a pen and paper. No more drawing, no more hand-written letters, no more mix tapes, no more zines. As special as it was, it just doesn’t make sense anymore. It’s like asking people to ride horses to get from place to place.

But, I miss drawing. I miss seeing pictures emerge from my brain that don’t look like I leaned on a computer to get them. It was always a surprise to see something good come out, almost as if something was working through you not as a result of anything you did. When you sat back and looked down at the page it was very satisfying. It felt creative in the sense of CREATING something.

Normally when I get the jones to draw, I go drop some money on fresh art supplies, which I mess with then ultimately abandon. This time I thought I would stop trying to fight the tide and buy something I could use on the computer. So, I broke down and bought a Wacom Intuos3 6×8 graphics tablet. Here’s my review in a nut shell: it’s harder to use than I expected. If you’re drawing every day, it might be a good tool to get familiar with. For me, I’ve used it 2-3 times in the two weeks I’ve had it. I plan on giving it more attention, but it wasn’t the computer drawing revelation I expected. For illustration, it might work better as a good way to color your work. The effect is definitely more fluid than controlled, in my experience. That being said, you have a lot more control than you do with the mouse.

Above is something I drew with the tablet. I’m going to keep at it.

Plano, Texas Library Lookup via Amazon

A while back I recommended a cool Greasemonkey script to check the library for the books you are browsing at It has saved me a ton of money (sorry Amazon) and has turned me into a regular library patron. Now when I click a link to Amazon, the script checks to see if my libraries have the book. Then I can click through and put the book on hold and grab it when I get to the library.

I was talking to this guy I work with about good books and I told him about this script and found out which library he goes to. Then I just edited the script to support his library. So, if you get your books at the Plano library, you can now use this script. (Remember to install Greasemonkey for Firefox first.)

While we’re at it, if you have a library and can’t find a similar script on, let me know what library you go to and I can whip one up for you.

For more on Greasemonkey, you can read Mark Pilgrim’s Greasemonkey Hacks in its entirety online.

Obvious: ‘Brokeback’ named Hollywood word of the year

‘Brokeback’ named Hollywood word of the year:

The nonprofit group Global Language Monitor placed “Brokeback” — as in the film title “Brokeback Mountain” — at the top of its list of Hollywood words and phrases that captured attention this year.

Paul JJ Payack, the head of Global Language Monitor, said the movie became a cultural phenomenon that generated a million jokes, according to Google. Overall, a Google search shows more than 38 million references to the film, although only about 10 million people saw the movie.

Liberace was an alien from outer space

…with hotpants. As far as I know, this is a real photo. Liberace had a huge following among middle aged women, which is completely inexplicable. Why do older women love flamboyant, closeted gay men? Clay Aiken probably has a similar following.

Jigglypuff on American Idol

American Idol in Austin…

Blogs I love

Sometimes I really need a break from reading about all the technology-related prognostication and navel-gazing. Here are a few antidotes to the usual fare:

WWTDD: What would Tyler Durden do:

I don’t know how much unicorn blood they pump into her [Terri Hatcher] on the set of ‘Desperate Housewives’ to make her look human for a few hours, but think about it, when was the last time you saw a unicorn? Exactly.


“I heard,” I say, “that you went cliff diving, but when you dove, your lat spread flared out so wide that you took flight, and glided out to sea, and they had to send a Mexican Coast Guard boat five miles offshore to pick you up.”

Ben Affleck should play Scott Peterson

…in a made for tv movie.