Johanna Faust, a mixed race Jew, prefers to publish pseudonymously. She is committed: first, to preventing war, ecological disaster, and nuclear apocalypse; last to not only fighting for personal privacy & the freedom of information, but, by representing herself as a soldier in that fight, to exhorting others to do the same. She is a poet, always. All these efforts find representation here: "ah, Mephistophelis" is so named after the last line of Christopher Marlowe's Dr. Faustus, whose heretical success flouted the censor for a time.

Outwitting Internet Censorship (Be It Intentional, Malicious, Or Accidental)


 It really does not matter, for the purposes of this exercise, whether it is actually censorship you are dealing with.  Now don’t get me wrong – of course censorship does matter. But before you call it censorship, you had best be sure you have enough airtight evidence to back up such a claim.  Make sure it is repeatable.  Have an idea of the motive, means, and opportunity; be ready with the backstory, the sourcecode, the timestamped screenshot.  Repeatability.  In all my years of chasing after the File I Cannot Have, out of all the Seriously Suspicious Events witnessed, few remain after this rubric is applied.

For the present purpose, as I said, irrelevant.  Tools are tools, and I am rather certain that, with the following hints, more often than not, you will get your file. 

If only I knew more than next to nothing, and could tell you, the odds would be even better.  That which I do know I decided to give the world at last, having seen little in the way of such instruction in my virtual travels.  All who know more, and can tell, leave a comment – please – and if you cannot disclose publicly, drop me a note, my email address is appended.   If you prefer encryption that can be arranged.

There’s  a word my friends mutter whenever I happen to think I should be able to access some internet resource but cannot:“rice.”  By now it has come to mean not just the hyperlinks and the targets thereof, but, in a semiotic evolution rather lacking in grammatical rectitude, the act of hunting, the hunt itself.  (Ah, the hunt….) “Rice” was a concept first introduced when I myself likened my need to peek at the source code -- to rewrite those URL parameters -- to hunt after that file  -- to a lesser known idiosyncratic trait the Vampire – the gritty, original, Old Country Vampire, mind you.  The Original undead, based more on actual myth than on the bad dreams, born of indigestion, to which Stoker credited the more famous Count.  “There was one way”, all the old wives would be able to tell you, should you have the nerve to ask how such a creature – assuming he existed, of course -- could be, if not stopped, then at least slowed down :

“placing poppy seeds, millet, or sand on the ground at the grave site of a presumed vampire; this was intended to keep the vampire occupied all night by counting the fallen grains, indicating an association of vampires with arithmomania. Similar Chinese narratives state that if a vampire-like being came across a sack of rice, it would have to count every grain; this is a theme encountered in myths from the Indian subcontinent, as well as in South American tales of witches and other sorts of evil or mischievous spirits or beings.”
 Read more

Which is to say, should you be so lucky as to be riding shotgun as we drive along the Internet, best ask to be let out should we run afoul of a File-Not-Found.
At least, that was how it was when I started.

Now, I think I have gotten pretty fast. 

But enough with the introductory remarks . The rather more mundane items made it to the front of the line, and got written up first. Gives one something to look forward to, no? Do drop me a note in the comments.  (I just found out third party cookies have to me enabled for the comment box to work – thinking of posting a rant about it.)
You can convert it to mp3 in iTunes - go to preferences; General; click on the 'import settings' button next to where it asks what to do with CDs, and set that to use the MP3 encoder - you'll now have a contextual menu option when you right-click (or control-click) on a track called 'create MP3 version'.... Of course, this'll transcode the whole track - you might need to make a WAV version or whatever first and edit it in another application to get the section you want.
The video or song is in real player format....
  • You cannot upload it to your blogging platform
    •    Well, we can do this the easy way or the hard fun way. 
      • The Easy Way: If you do not wish to use Google Drive or some such,  you can make a new paste on Pastebin or some other such platform, and iframe it – or –
      • The Fun Way  Using your favorite online tools (see Data URLs in Tiny Hack20wn Packages) you can encode the document (yes the whole document) in base64, giving it a bit of a long URL – just a touch. (Let me put it this way, I wouldn’t want to try to make it on foot to the end of one of these.) Then:
        • Either upload to blogger as is, either calling it an image or calling it the PDF that it is – OR 
        • you can then shorten the link and pass it by such reputable characters as , who will be only too happy to give you whatever file extension you desire, a fitting way to finish off giving you whatever liguistic color (like asp, or php, or that one that uses capital letters and integers) you would like. Parameters, anyone?
  • You have to sign in to Facebook to see the content
    • No you do not, as long as the user has enabled the content for public viewing – and yes you will be able to browse around, without signing into Facebook.  Copy the URL you wish to view and go to View a Web Page as 'Googlebot'•.  Select the bot and paste in the URL; follow the other instructions. 
  •  Chat:
    •  You wish to contact someone via instant message but do not want to sign up with a service to do so.
        •  Send them to – let them grab a temporary name – then go talk to them. You will not need an account in order to chat with them.
    • You wish to chat with someone on jabber but you don’t want an account 
        •  If you have their jabber id, go to – you will not need one in order to chat with them.
    • You wish to chat with someone but nether of you have an account
        • Go to I tell you! Neither of you will need an official account – only a temporary one.  Its amazing.
  • Google Voice
    •  You don’t have a phone number and want Google voice
        • A... friend of mine.... had luck once by pulling the power cord of her desktop out of the wall just as they were asking her for her number,  and then not accessing her account directly, but setting it up to route through email.  This is certainly possible if you are merely borrowing a number to do the trick for the moment – but you have to give it back.  You can be left with no landline number but still receive texts if you finesse it right.
    • You already used your phone number and want another Google voice account
        • Enter the same number in under “work” or “mobile” in the second account that you did under “home” in the first.  As far as I know, work and mobile are grouped; your mileage may vary.
  • YouTube
    •  You do not wish to sign in to YouTube
      • Don’t.  Of course, you will not  be able to upload.  If the sign-in screen is trapping you, enter another YouTube URL in the address bar, and hit enter.  If worst comes to worst, enter a URL of the style and it really ought to clear up.  Clear your cookies.  Never has persisted with me, so far, knock on wood.
    • You do not want to upgrade your YouTube account but still wish to use YouTube
      • Whenever that annoying popup box appears telling you to give them more information about yourself and your habits, simply re-enter the address in the address bar.  If that still does not work, change it slightly:  it usually has too much going on anyway.  Strip it back down to the bare bones “ “ format.  Press enter. Et voilà.
  • You do not want a !@(~?/!! Google plus account .
    • Do not sign up for one.  Never press that “You+” button, or anything with a plus in it.  Stay away from that top black bar in Google’s search page – entirely.  Do not be tricked when they say you need to ‘finish updating’ your profile, into thinking that you have made one somehow when you have not. Same trick Facebook uses: Even if you click on it to disabuse it of that notion, you will not be able to: you will be irrevocably (as far as I know) outed on Google Plus.
  • You wish to contribute an amount not specified in the dropdown menu when donating 
    • Get webdeveloper’s  toolbar, a Firefox add-on.  Oh, and Firefox. 
      • Under “forms” you will find what you need: “Convert select elements to text inputs” or “Convert text inputs to textareas” or “Make form fields writable” ought to do it. 
  •  You do not wish to upgrade your yahoo account
  • You clicked on a PDF link and even though it took a hell of long time to load all you get is one blank page or one page with a pattern on it but no content 
    • The fault is with Adobe. Their idea of job security is to contract with governments and public institutions and the like, and force content to be viewed only in their proprietary software.  Here is a workaround: if you click on Print, and then Preview, you will see the whole document.  This also works sometimes if you just download the document. 
  • You wish to surf without being signed in simultaneously with creating a blog post
    • This one is easy.  Use more than one browser.  Use TOR when you surf so as not to be identified by IP address.
  • You just lost all your work because you typed it into a text area like a comment box instead of doing it is a word processing program first
    • Tsk, tsk. You may be screwed.  If you get out of this one – even if you don’t – why not use Firefox, with its awesome Lazarus extension?  If you are already using Firefox, your work, or parts thereof, may be hidden in the bowels of "about:cache".  Check out the various entries and do not give up until you have checked them all.  I have recovered work this way.
    • If you are using Safari, perchance a screenshot of your work has been saved – it will be a graphic and not text, but its better than nothing.  Do a search in Finder for Webpage Previews.  As a last resort you may check Safari’s cache, but I have had little luck.



• The link appears to go nowhere
 • The file is a news article and is no longer there
• The page you end up on does not contain the promised phrases
• The video is on YouTube and is not in your country
• Content such as social media is prohibited at this particular computer
• You are prevented from gaining access to a reasonably objective set of search results
• Content is a video but YouTube has not optimized it for phone
• Reasonably objective video search results are not available on your phone
• You would like a reasonably objective set of search results to compare with what you just received
• A news organization made a mistake or otherwise updated their story and you want the old version
• You want search results from before when some event just brought your query to popular attention
• Advertising or a really annoying popup on a page is preventing you from doing anything but closing your browser

and many more!!

Be seeing you.


  1. I curse thee for not having e-mailed me with information about the Lazarus extension... how many times have I (a Firefox user) hit "Post reply", only to have the enter contents disappear as a result of a Disqus/IntenseDebate/OpenID cockup? Too many, I tells ya.

    And all along you were deliberately witholding the solution from me.

    What's that you say? You wouldn't know me from Adam? We've never corresponded ever not even once?

    No excuses: this is the internet.

    Srsly though - massive hat tip for the Lazarus info.

  2. NO EXCUSES INDEED! my apologies, kind & gentle reader: only just now did i see that note i made to myself when i myself discovered Lazarus, to "as soon as is practicable" sniff out your addy from the folds of the interwebs & make use thereof. i must have made the note in my sleep, or in a computer-induced trance: my inbox filters categorized the note in graymail, or with other things phantasmagoricall, metaphoricall, and the like.

    pleasure making your virtual acquaintance, regardless.

    oh, and about:cache is still worth checking out.