15 Awesome Things You Probably Shouldn't Do

Want to unlock your iPhone or hack a stranger's Facebook account? It's all possible, but it's also all against the rules.

That is why God and Steve Jobs created the "analog hole"--a way to circumvent DRM by burning songs to a CD and then reripping the music by converting the CD's DRM-free WAV files into MP3s. Or you can avoid this tedious process by using software such as Tunebite or NoteBurner (both $40) to create a "virtual CD" shortcut on your hard drive for the WAV files.

Why this is awesome: It's your music, you paid for it, you should be able to do with it as you please.

Why you shouldn't do it: Efforts to circumvent copy protection could conceivably be construed as violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, though the odds that anyone will prosecute you for taking these steps merely to convert music you've already paid for are almost nil, Ezor says. If you try to sell or distribute the stuff you just de-DRMed, though, all bets are off.

13. Root Android

So you bought a groovy new Android phone six or nine months ago, but you're still waiting for your wireless carrier to upgrade the OS from one of the pitiful early versions? (T-Mobile, we're talking to you.) Or maybe you just hate all the useless extra "features" your telecom dumped in there. (MotoBlur, anyone?) It may be time to take matters into your own hands and install a custom version of the Android OS.

First you'll need to find an Android ROM (or build) that works with your handset. Then you'll need to carefully follow the instructions laid out by helpful Android hackers (like RyeBrye, The Unlockr, or Hack-A-Day) on how to "root" your phone. But beware: Even the "one-click" upgrades can get pretty gnarly.

Why this is awesome: No more crapware, plus the ability to get certain subscription features (like tethering and Wi-Fi hotspot access) for free. Your phone may also be faster and more stable.

Why you shouldn't do it: You will surely void your warranty, says Android Power blogger JR Raphael, and if you're not careful you might brick your phone. (That'll show em.) Like Apple, Google is constantly tweaking Android to make this sort of corrective surgery harder to pull off.

14. Play DOS Games for Free

Looking to turn back the clock? Long for the days of shoulder pads and Duran Duran? Sadly, there is no Internet Hot Tub Time Machine (yet). But you can still play old MS-DOS games that let you party like it's 1989.

Abandonia distributes games whose owners have stopped making, selling, or supporting them. Its abandonware collection features hundreds of titles, from "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (a 2D shooter loosely based on the film) to the original text adventure "Zork"--all free to download.

Why this is awesome: Chunky two-dimensional graphics and cheesy eight-bit sound effects in a DOS window? Bring it on.

Why you shouldn't do it: Technically, many of these titles are still owned by the original absentee copyright holders, making downloads illegal. Let us know if anyone decides to sue you over it.

15. Create Your Own Torrent TV

Okay, you're a file-swapping deviant with no moral center. We get that. Now here's something that will make your life easier: a free service that alerts you when your favorite TV torrents are ready for download.

Karmorra's ShowRSS lets you add a feed to any RSS reader that gives the lowdown on the downloads and lets you grab torrents with a single click. You can choose from hundreds of popular programs--from 30 Rock to Warehouse 13 and most shows in between, and watch them on free media players like Miro or Vuze.

Why this is awesome: No more scouring torrent search sites waiting for HBO's Boardwalk Empire to show up.

Why you shouldn't do it: You do realize that downloading and sharing copyrighted materials is illegal, right? Just checking.

Contributing editor Dan Tynan's contract forbids him from condoning illegal activities, so you didn't hear any of this stuff from him. Catch his perfectly legal but immoral and fattening geek humor site, eSarcasm , or follow (but don't impersonate) him on Twitter: @tynan_on_tech .

This story, "15 Awesome Things You Probably Shouldn't Do" was originally published by PCWorld.

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