The NZ Herald actually has some interesting stories, but it packages them up in very user-unfriendly ways. This morning I discovered how to make it much more readable. Here’s what I’ve done.
The Herald supplies only partial RSS feeds. I subscribe to Peter Griffin’s technology blog feed and seem to end up looking at maybe as many as 2% of his stories in full. If they were full feeds I’d probably read more like half … I seldom even stay subscribed to partial feeds.
Unfortunately, once you reach the web page itself, the story is always split over two pages, and those two pages are filled with bouncing, jiggling, flashing, distracting ads and junk. In the screenshot at left all the images would be flashing and moving.
The first thing I do is click the
View as a single page link to put the story on a single page. Then I generally click the
Print this page link so I can read the story on screen without the junk. (See Kill the clutter: use the Print view.) That works well with some of my favourite browsers, such as Flock, Safari and Opera, but for some reason it just doesn’t work with OmniWeb (Mac only).
One power of OmniWeb is that you can set per-site preferences. I don’t usually bother blocking ads and such, but the Herald’s site is just too overwhelmingly junky, so I’ve transformed it into readable with some new preferences.
First show the preferences for this one site with Command Option comma. Next set
Animate images to Never, and check all three boxes beside
Block images and other content. Finally, click the
Edit Blocked URLs List… button and in the box labelled
Don't load anything from sites matching these expressions: add
/media/objects/. That last one blocks the Flash slideshow of other headlines (with images). Then click
Done and Hide the site preferences again with Command Option comma.
Now you can surf the Herald site in peace and quiet, as the third screenshot shows. If you really do want a particular image (such as the one that illustrates the story), Control click on the place where it should be and choose
Load Image from the contextual menu, or, for some of the missing media content, just click on the empty spot.
It seems like a lot of hassle, but at least once you’ve set them the settings persist for the whole site and across restarts.