SilverWav's Journal

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Archive for July 2015

A simple alternative to Hacktheweb, aardvark, platypus or Tampermonkey.

with 6 comments

Because I hate ugly distracting cruft on websites. :-)

History:

I loved Platypus but moved on to Aardvark when it died, then created Hacktheweb to enable aardvark to save scripts to Stylish (recreating most of the platypus functionality with out the risks).

But while creating extensions can be a lot of fun, maintaining them… not so much.

Each time Stylish changes you need to update Hacktheweb to match. Tried that for a few years and… meh. So instead I just used Hacktheweb with the old 1.4.1.1 Stylish.

Also Hacktheweb was created on Firefox and I have moved to Chrome… but the Stylish scripts were usable on both, so I was still using Hacktheweb when I needed a quick and dirty script.

On Chrome the closest extension I could see was Stylebot, but with no easy saving to Stylish and a quirky interface, it was not something I could live with.

So looking around for something simple and safe, I looked at Tampermonkey which seems great but requires a lot of trust… and is probably overkill for my needs.

The Binding Flash of Inspiration:

But I had a revelation… Adblock Plus! Never really considered it after ruling it out a while ago (no widthify, no stylish, and I had hid the ABP button so out of sight out of mind).

But looking at it in this new light (looking for Simple, Quick and Good Enough, rather than Perfect).

I turned the ABP button back on then hid the distracting ‘Shown number of ads blocked’ badge.

In testing ABP, I found it to be a good fit for my requirements; the block element function does 90% of what I wanted. Just getting rid of sidebars was my main aim, the filters are not synced but easily cut and pasted.

As this looked to be a wining solution, it was worth thinking of a way around the ‘Site Not Centred ‘issue, resulting from blocking sidebars…

My solution:

  1. Create Stylish scripts to change margin-left to 10%, 20% etc…
  2. Upload the Scripts to https://userstyles.org/users/98352 so that I can install on all of my browsers.

So on each browser on the ABP Options page, I just paste the filter text into the ‘Your Own Filters’ tab.

Then I go to userstyles.org and install the scripts I need e.g. ‘0sw_MLeft10percentWhite’ and I am done.

The Benefits for me are:

No extra extensions, I am using ABP and Stylish already, so no extra trust needed. Also both extensions are backed by big name developers.

ABP block element is quick and easy to use, as is transferring filters.

The Result:

Fantastic clean, distraction free, easy reading of my favourite web sites… without having to build and maintain my own extension.

Looks like a plan :-)

[07.04.2018] Update:

So 1st, check out the comments for a couple of extensions that others have recommended.

Next, on Windows I’m still using ABP & the block element function, because I trust them and use it as an Adblocker anyway.

Now on the the main point of this update:

I was using Feedly for RSS but I have just moved over to Inoreader and it’s fantastic!

Feedly is great but going pro is way too expensive and the Mobile app is horrible (font size issues).

But the Inoreader app is great on IPhone and IPad. Beautiful, clean simple.

I  have even considering paying for the starter subscription at $15 a year, but don’t think I need to.

  • The dashboard feature may be enough to justify it but that’s looks to be web only…
  • Also I would need the dashboard articles to be in popularity order (doable) but also to act just like normal articles for marking and respecting n and p etc.. So not there yet.

Anyway, the point re Inoreader is that it has a great system for displaying varying degrees of the clean text RSS feed as an article. Short article is default, but then pull up for extended and pull down for browser view.

Very very good, well thought out and easy to read. Inoreader works on Windows at work, IPhone out and about, and IPad at home… Yes we have a winner!

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Written by SilverWav

July 21, 2015 at 3:09 pm