15 Awesome Things You Probably Shouldn't Do
5. Tear Down This Paywall
You want how much for that subscription to CrapICanReadElsewhereForFree.com? Uh, no thanks. I'll just use someone else's log-in and password. And what better way to do it than with BugMeNot?
That's where you'll find user names and passwords for both pay and free sites like NYTimes.com, WashingtonPost.com, IMDB, and YouTube. (No, PCWorld.com isn't one of them -- sorry.) Even if the site is free, BugMeNot will allow you to leave devastating ripostes in an article's comments section without having to surrender your real name or e-mail address.
Why this is awesome: Aside from avoiding subscription fees (you skinflint), you won't get spammed with advertising offers that "may interest you" or banned by sanctimonious comments czars (you know who you are).
Why you shouldn't do it: You'll be hammering another nail into the coffin of real journalism. And you'll feel bad. Trust us.
6. Hijack Someone Else's Facebook or Twitter Account
Find yourself loitering in Internet cafés or airport lounges with time to kill? Why not hack into your neighbor's Facebook or Twitter account? Just install Firesheep and log on to a public Wi-Fi network; Firesheep alerts you when someone is attempting to log on via an unencrypted connection and snatches their browser cookie out of thin air. Double-click the cookie inside Firesheep, and you're in like Flynn (or whomever else you want to impersonate--Howard Zinn, maybe?). What you do from there is up to you and your conscience.
(To avoid suffering the same fate, you can install the Force TLS plug in to encrypt communications over public Wi-Fi.)
Why this is awesome: Everyone has a little voyeur inside them--but really the only reason we included this item was so we could tell you about Force TLS.
Why you shouldn't do it: You're almost certainly violating the terms of service for any account you hack, and you're definitely violating someone's privacy, which is unethical. Depending on what you do with the accounts, you could also be guilty of violating laws regarding computer fraud or be liable to civil suits for defamation, says Jonathan Ezor, director of the Touro Law Center Institute for Business, Law and Technology. Also: Most people's accounts are friggin' boring.
7. Hack Your Wii
Those Nintendo dudes are pretty clever, but despite the fact the Wii comes with a DVD drive, it won't play DVD movies. That's why it's incumbent upon you to correct the injustice by hacking your Wii.
The helpful deviants over at How-To Geek have the skinny on how to pull this off, as does PC World's Mike Keller. You'll need a Windows PC with an SD memory card reader, a FAT-16-formatted SD card, the Wii Brew SD Installer, and a copy of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. No, seriously.
(If you don't own a Windows PC--in which case, are you sure you're on the right Web site?--you can perform the hack manually by following instructions provided by WikiBrew.org.)
Why this is awesome: Aside from watching Marmaduke on your Wii, you can run Homebrew apps like ComixChannel and WiiRadio. You'll also be able to back up your Wii games and store them on an external drive.
Why you shouldn't do it: If ever your Wii needs repairing...well we hope you're handy with a screwdriver. We wouldn't count on the warranty holding up.
8. Impersonate Someone Famous on Twitter
Nope. They're just fakes--Twitter accounts designed to fool the masses into imagining that they've stumbled upon the ruminations of the celebutard in question. Some are obvious parodies; others are just clever (or evil) imitations. Because if you're going to waste time on Twitter, you might as well mess with people's minds while you're there. Isn't that why Al Gore invented the InterWebs?
Why this is awesome: Like @BPGlobalPR, you could achieve 15 minutes of Internet fame by skewering an evil multinational corporation while delighting thousands.
Why you shouldn't do it: If Twitter finds out that the account is bogus--and is clearly not a parody -- it will suspend the account. And as with hacked Facebook accounts, you could be held liable for defamation or trademark violations, depending on what you do. So phweet with care.
9. Make E-Mail Vanish
If you have something confidential to say, e-mail is probably the worst vehicle to say it, because copies of it are everywhere--on your PC, on your recipient's machine, and on many of the servers that it touched along the way. The same warning applies to text messages on your phone.
Want to keep those convos on the QT? Try VaporStream, a Web-based service that lets you send messages that cannot be stored, copied, or forwarded. VaporStream won't even display the sender/receiver and message contents on the same screen (so taking a screen shot of a message won't mean squat). And once the recipient finishes reading a message, it self-destructs--permanently. The cost? A mere $7.50 a month, though both the sender and the recipient must have VaporStream accounts.
Why this is awesome: If the message doesn't exist, Johnny Law can't get his grubby fingers on it. For their part, law-abiding citizens can send proprietary or confidential information without worrying about leaks, and they can avoid the cost of storing messages.
Why you shouldn't do it: If you work in an industry (like financial services or healthcare) that requires you maintain records of all communications, you could be breaking the law--and we will disavow any knowledge of your actions.
10. Spy on Someone's Texts
Worried that teen Johnny or tween Betsy Lou are holed up in their bedrooms, sexting their little fingers to the bone? For $50, products like Mobile Spy and SpectorSoft's eBlaster Mobile will secretly copy you on every text message your kids send or receive. These products may also provide revelatory information on your spouse's extracurricular happy time (see the caveats below).
Why this is awesome: Because the little brats have it coming.
Why you shouldn't do it: Monitoring your spouse without his or her consent is almost certainly illegal (unless you have a warrant or other judicial permission), says Ezor. And though it's legal to tap your kids' texts (assuming that you own the phone), if they catch you doing it they will hate you even more than they already do.