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Monday, May 7, 2012

Stop stealing my keyboard input, evil web site!

Try this sometime. Go out to Youtube and start watching some video that you find amusing. Then hit CMD-L (or CTRL-L, or ALT-L, or whatever your browser/OS uses) to select the location bar. Notice what happens. It jumps!

It seems they have bound "L" to "jump ahead 10 seconds". While I'm sure that's great for those times when you really want to skip through a YT video for some reason, it really stinks when you're trying to share something. There you are, watching it for the first time, and you decide to grab the URL so someone else can see, and then WTF!

Then you start fighting with the scrubber to make it go back a reasonable place, and once you're happy with that (good luck!) you go to share it again. Then it jumps again!

Eventually you figure out that they are connected. Argh.

All I wanted to do was cmd-l, cmd-c, cmd-tab, cmd-v: highlight the location, copy it, switch back to my chat program, and paste it in. A conspiracy-minded individual might say this is done to encourage people to share videos "in-band" with some "social" buttons elsewhere on that page.

I'd love to see a browser extension which sniffs out the video component of a YT page and plays it all by itself. I don't care about anything but that actual content, and I'd rather not see all of the other cruft on those pages. What's more, having to load Flash just to see this stuff is a travesty.

I've tried a few of the existing extensions which claim to do this - one for Safari, another for Firefox - and they're all kind of wonky. They also tend to focus on just playing the video. I want to see someone go all-out and strip those pages bare.

They might not like it, so the trick is to do it in such a way that it's not obvious to the server that anything is up. Maybe use some really strict user scripts and/or styles to get that in there.

As a bonus, if the overlay ads are a function of the player and aren't part of the video stream, they'll disappear too! Win!