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Ghostery 6.0 Thumbs Down


This week, Ghostery, one of my favourite ad and tracker blocking addons for FireFox had a major upgrade.

I didn’t even realize Ghostery had updated, as this is common with many addons each time I restart FireFox. What I did notice is a blue ball with numbers in it that started appearing in the corner of the screen. It demands attention by flashing and expanding in size. Taking my attention away from what I actually want to look at. It took me a few minutes of checking and turning off various addons till I discovered this was a new feature of Ghostery.

Now that I know Ghostery had this new annoying screen icon, I tried to figure out how to turn it off. The settings were now hard to find, and there was another change I had never noticed, that I was now being asked to sign-up or log-in to make changes, and it announces that it is phoning home. What?! My ad and tracking app is now phoning home and wanting me to sign up for making settings changes?

The familiar Ghostery interface that was very intuitive is all gone, now it’s a complicated expanding interface with many more steps to do the same changes, and appears to have even less settings. The new user interface has a significant learning curve in my opinion.

So I decided to check the addon page at the FireFox website. The last several reviews are 1 star and similar complaints to mine, with comments about uninstalling. Which I decided to do as well. I never did find out how to turn off the annoying blue ball icon.

So why the changes? I can only imagine it’s a new business model to collect user info and move towards ads or a paid for business model of some sort. I’m fine with ideas turning into a business, making money, and commercialism. So long as I’m given the option to use a free version or a paid for version, and the priduct doesn’t suck after the move has been made. I don’t know if this is the direct that Ghostery is going, but if it’s not I’m baffled as to the phoning home, logging in, and the destruction of a fantastic, well thought out, user interface for a very useful tool.

Bye Ghostery.


Is the Internet Today’s Lynch Mob?


How many people do you know like revenge? Do you? Most people do.

More than being able to walk on two legs, I think the act of vengeance and laughing at someone when they fall down and hurt themselves, is what makes us “human”. I don’t think there is any other animal that feels a need to get “back” at someone, even someone you’ve never met and know absolutely nothing about. How many people do you know that feel the need to get “even” with someone, or punch them last, say the last word, or kick them when they’re down?

Sadly, the greatest thing about the Internet, and all that it encompasses, for most people is how they can be anonymous. And while they are anonymous, they can do and say anything they want and feel protected and safe. And what does the average idiot in the world love to do? They love to see other people worse off than they are. They like to see people more privileged than them fall down and get hurt. And even better than that, they can have revenge on people they don’t like, or those that they have self judged “deserve” to be hurt. Even if they have to lie about it. What do they have to loose, nothing, they are protected by being anonymous on the Internet.

What does it cost to hurt people using the Internet? Not a penny! They use the things they already pay for. Not that long ago you’d have to buy an ad in a paper to print something bad about a person, and then risk being sued in return, so almost no one did that. There was a cost involved, and risk to yourself. But on the Internet you can do it for absolute nothing, and you can lie about who you are, lie about what you say, and get lots of other idiots that will believe it and jump on your idiot band-wagon and have a great ride, much like a lynch mob. Those of you that don’t know what a “lynch mob” is, please look it up.

So called modern “journalists” (another form of idiot) like to step up on a soap box and point out how important it is to allow people to be anonymous on the Internet. OMG, it’s so important! What about all those poor people in China that would have something bad happen to them if they couldn’t speak out while being anonymous? Seriously?! Is our world really any better than it was before the Internet? Or is it just different?! So we trade a few people that will always be used as an example that made some difference by being able to use the Internet. And we traded them for the kids that have, are and will be attacked online. Or the people or businesses that were ruined because some Internet lynch mob got away with Internet murder. The argument is the same as trading the few for the many.

What would you do if someone you know is attacked on the Internet? Will you stick up for them? Will you give them the benefit of the doubt? Will you still be their friend and not care what other people say? Or will you be a fair-weather-friend and protect your own ass by pretending you don’t know them, or even join the lunch mob so you don’t stand out? Maybe you’re currently pissed at them too, so you take advantage and add your own anonymous knife stab. Ask yourself how you’d hope to be treated if that happened to you. Or are you an idiot and simply think that this could never happen to me, so I’ll do what I have to and protect my own ass if it happens to someone I know. I’m sure that’s what many people in the crowd, standing in the background felt like when they saw their neighbour swinging from a tree in the old days, “Shut-up or we’ll be next!”

We can’t go back in time and stop the Internet from existing, but some people can stop, think, and learn to be less of an idiot.

For those of you that have read this far, go watch a 17 minute video on YouTube that was recorded at a TED Talk by Jon Ronson. After you watch, ponder it for a while, and then try to be a better human.

No One Likes a Loser – Quote of the Day


“No one likes a loser. It’s only fake praise. You’re either a winner, or you’re hated by society!”, I said to my dog this morning, as she missed the ball. She didn’t disagree. She felt bad dropping that ball.

Hover Accounts May Have Been Compromised


Hover, the domain registration company owned by Tucows, alerted customers today that they system was accessed by unauthorized people.

They reset every ones passwords, forcing members to request their passwords through email and reset them. This is a responsible thing to do, to reset all passwords and be upfront with it’s customers. I’m sure their authentication system is very busy today.


Dear Hover Customer,

We are writing to let you know that we reset your password today. If you are unable to log into your Hover account, you will need to use the “I forgot my password” option on the sign in page to change your password.

We did this as a precautionary measure because there appears to have been a brief period of time when unauthorized access to one of our systems could have occurred. We have no evidence at all that any Hover accounts have been accessed, but even the possibility that this could have happened moved us to err on the side of extreme caution.

We apologize for the inconvenience.


The Hover Team

Matricom G-Box Q Android Set Top Box Review


Rating: 5/10

I recently ordered a Matricom G-Box Q Android Set Top Box on I received it a week ago. I carefully researched the small Android “TV” boxes to try to find the best device to play back video, in a small form factor, at the best price.

The G-Box Q had good specs, favourable reviews, and was at good price point when I purchased. And their website and many reviews bragged about the ease of system upgrade, and that they promised to upgrade for free to 4K and H.265/HEVC playback capability.


My system was shipped direct from the Matricom facility in Florida (according to Amazon.) Shipping was much faster than expected, and the item was received in working order. However I am rather disappointed with the product. Kodi/XBMC runs well on this unit and is very responsive. Playback is reasonable on most videos. Some are choppy however, from dropping frames. On the unit that I received, playback of true HEVC video is slow, choppy and unwatchable.

It runs Android 4.4.2, and they have a custom interface skin for launching Android apps and changing settings. Their interface is barely useable, with slow response, selection double clicks, and simply awkward. That part wasn’t that big a deal, as I was going to use it 99% of the time with Kodi/XBMC.

Matricom brags in their marketing about ease of upgrade, and upgrading this device in their line up would be a priority. One of the reasons I selected this particular video player. But for a week, each time I went into their clumsy main interface, and tried to check for an update, it would display an error immediately. So after a week of failed update attempts, I emailed their support people. Their response was:

I apologize for the inconveniences you are having! Our servers are currently down, that is why you are receiving that prompt. The new update will be released within the month, when it is released, our servers will be back up and your box will automatically update!

I did some research online, and found many complaints in forums of the same upgrade error. They went back at least to December of 2014. So either their upgrade server has been down for 8 months, or is down most of the time in 8 months.

So I write support again asking about the future upgrade to 4K and H.265/HEVC video playback capability. And they said this:

The G-boxes hardware is actually not compatible with h.265 and x.265. If you need anything else, please do not hesitate to contact us again.

Thank you for choosing Matricom! Have a wonderful day!

So I did contact them again, a third time, and pointed this out:

There are numerous pages on your site for this product that claim that your company is going to push an update for this product that supports 4K video, and will include H.265.

For example:
“With the advent of H.265, we have begun working on developing libraries to interface the H.265 with Kodi/XBMC. H.265, which will be the codec that brings about 4K support inside of Kodi. Rest assured that Matricom is going to bring this technology to you first with the G-Box Q.”

How can you say that the hardware is not compatible? I purchased this device because of Matricom marketing saying they would release 4K video and H.265 support on the G-Box Q. Are these statements not true?

And 3 days later I still have not received a reply, even though their previous replies came within a few hours.

So as of this writing, the Matricom G-Box Q has decent specs, no upgrade capability, and according to the tech support person that I interacted with, their marketing that the unit can and will support 4K and H.265/HEVC video is not true.

Buyer be ware! The Matricom G-Box Q is NOT ready for prime time.

EDIT (2015-08-03):

Matricom Customer Support Finally did reply with an answer, admitting that their advertising is incorrect and misleading.

Dear Carey,
I do apologize sir for the mix up. The g-box Q does support 4k video, however it does not support h.265 and x.265 at the current moment. It is something that we have planned for the future of our boxes, but we are not currently working on h.265 capabilities. I do apologize, i have passed on the information you have give to us about the advertising for the h.265 advertisement and will get that sorted out. I do understand your frustration, If you like I can set you up with a return/refund for the unit if you like? If you need anything else, please do not hesitate to contact us again.

Thank you for choosing Matricom! Have a wonderful day!



gPodder YouTube Access Has Stopped

In the mornings I like to watch my favourite video podcasts while I eat breakfast.  I use gPodder to aggregate my video podcast feeds and then I watch them using SageTV or XBMC/Kodi.  But this morning I had a surprise.  Instead of my weekly “The Ben Heck Show” episode, I was provided with a silent movie from Google, telling me my “device” was basically too old.



A quick gPodder update check showed I had the latest version.  Not a good sign of things to come!  A little research told me that April 20, 2015, was the last day of the old YouTube API.  They have a new YouTube API starting today.  I personally wasn’t aware of this, and apparently neither were the developers of gPodder.

I’ve only been using gPodder for a short time, several months perhaps, and I switched to gPodder for the YouTube support.  Not long ago, The Ben Heck Show had changed it’s media delivery system to YouTube only.  So the reason I started using gPodder, is also the reason it is now a problem for me.

I suppose I have 3 options; patiently wait to see if the gPodder team update the app, find a podcast aggregator that is keeping up YouTube support, or give up on The Ben Heck Show cause it’s been a real pain in the ass jumping through hoops to watch it, now that it’s only on YouTube.

EDIT: 2015-05-21

For anyone that might be interested in this topic, my gPodder bug ticket (and a duplicate from another user) was finally looked at and has been marked as resolved.  As I understand it, it’s basically the same as my workaround.  That being to use a newer updated YouTube URL as the link to the feed.  This was brought to my attention by a commenter, and those notes can be read in the comments of this post.

Here is the resolution:

Thomas Perl <> changed:

           What    |Removed                     |Added
         Resolution|---                         |FIXED
             Status|IN_PROGRESS                 |RESOLVED

--- Comment #3 from Thomas Perl <> ---
This has been fixed in Git here:

The user is required to enter their own V3 API key, then YouTube feeds can be
resolved. In the Gtk UI, there is also an "Extras" menu item that can be used
to migrate all existing subscriptions.

Quieter Nvidia/Zotac GTS-250

The Nvidia GTS-250 video card is by no means a cutting edge video card by today’s standards, they are a few years old.  But I have 2 of these cards, and they play HD video very well in my HTPC Windows computers.

One thing that the GTS-250 cards are well known for (at least the Zotac re-branded versions) is having rather loud fan noise.  So the other day I thought I might try to do something about this and started investigating the possibility of replacing the fan with a new DIY retrofitted quieter version.

Instead I discovered that there are 3 things I could do without spending any money, that made a huge difference:
1. Vacuum or air blast the heat sink fins.
2. Reseat the heat sink with better/new thermal compound.
3. Modify the plastic fan cowling.

Bare in mind that I take no responsibility for any damage you do to your equipment following these instructions.  Take normal precautions as when working with electronic components.  Ground yourself.  And don’t damage the merchandise.

Number one is pretty obvious and straight forward.  Dust and dirt inside your computer will always muck up heat sink fins and fans, and cause heat and air flow problems.

Number two may or may not cost your any money.  If you are a computer builder or hardware hacker, you likely have some heat sink compound.  If not, you can pick some up at a computer parts store. 

Simply remove the 4 screws that hold the fan cowling in place, and unplug the fan.


Remove the 4 screws on the back of the card and the heat sink will be loose.  You’ll likely find minimal dry low grade thermal compound under the heat sink.  Clean it off with a plastic scraper (often included with heat sink compound) and cloth or paper towel.  Apply new high grade heat sink compound and screw it back on.



Number three involves modifying the plastic fan housing.  It covers most of the card.  Personally I fail to see how this helps the air flow on this card, unless the fan is running at the highest speeds.  And the problem with this card is that the super cheap ass fan is rather noisy at any speed over 50%.  So if you feel comfortable, I would suggest cutting both ends off the plastic housing off up to the screw ports area.  Make sure you leave enough so as not to cause structural issues to the fan.  So maybe 1/2 inch from the screw holes.  You can use a Dremel, a chop saw with a sharp blade, or being very careful with a hack saw by hand.  I used a chop saw with a good sharp blade and cutting slowly.  Don’t damage your fan cable.


Reattach the fan to the heat sink, plug it back in, and reinstall the card. 

I use the Open Hardware Monitor Windows software to read motherboard temps and fan speeds.  It can read both on the GTS-250.  By making the above 3 changes, I was able to drop the temp by several degrees while the fan runs at 10% lower speeds.  For example, before doing this, normal near idle use was at best 72 degrees C at 52% fan speed.  After doing this, it was 67 degrees C at 42% fan speed.  And in decibels it was way quieter!  The decibel tool I used was my big ears.


Windows Update KB 3035583 – Update or Adware?

A new Microsoft Update appeared on my Windows 7 desktop today, and was marked as “Important”.  It is referenced as KB3035583

It seemed odd to me to see Microsoft push out an “Important” rated update out of normal update rotation, so I looked up the details on their site.  The description is very generic and useless.  Doing a quick Google search brought me a story on Infoworld. Here they describe that a German researcher has determined, that this is going to be a way for Microsoft to promote the upcoming “free” Windows 10 release on our computers.

Time will tell how “free” Windows 10 will be.  Nothing for “free” comes without strings attached.  Especially from a for-profit company.  But that will be another discussion for down the road.

What I find interesting is that Microsoft appears to have gone out of their way to not explain this in the details of this “Important” update.  Seemingly wanting us to assume it’s just another bug or security fix that we are accustomed to doing on a regular basis.  Only to have installed (what is described) as a new adware reminder popup to get the new “free” OS upgrade.

A thought goes through my head discovering this.  Is the new kinder and more open Microsoft back to being the evil and distrusted Microsoft or years gone by, by sneaking ads and offers into our operating system?  Virtually taking a page out of the Google playbook by forcing ads on us cause they give us something for “free”. 

I wouldn’t mind so much if they were upfront about it, but if you they have to hide it from us, and not allow us to “opt-in”, why would any intelligent person want to start down a road where the first step is disguised?


FLIRC Review


FLIRC is an IR (Infra Red) remote control receiver, intended for use on a computer to control media center software using your own preferred remote control.

I recently received the FLIRC I ordered direct from the developer’s website.  It took a week for it to ship, and then 2 weeks to receive by mail.  I already own and use 2 USB-UIRT received/transmitters for controlling my media center style computers, but I heard about the FLIRC and decided to give it a try on a 3rd computer, instead of the USB-UIRT.

Overall I’m very disappointed with the FLIRC.  It was no where near as easy to set up and use as was implied, or expected after reading about it.  I downloaded the most recent version of the software (v.1.3.6).  It appears very slick, user friendly and straight forward.  But it comes with no instructions, and minimal instructions on the website.  So that lead me to assume it must be exceptionally easy to use.  Though I ran in to multiple issues that required my time to search for answers.  Something that could have been avoided with a proper instruction and trouble shooting guide.

In my case I had issues with having to record each button of the remote twice.  Apparently some remotes require this when using it with FLIRC.  In my experience this has never been an issue with using the USB-UIRT with the same remote.  So after spending time searching for the answer to this, it turns out to be a common issue that may happen with some remotes with FLIRC.  So I learned I had to program each button twice. 

I had issues with the FLIRC no longer working after being unplugged and plugged back in, in some cases.  Programming it on one computer, plugging it into another computer where I wanted to use it, and finding it stopped working.  So I had to go back and reinstall the FLIRC firmware and try again.  This happened numerous times.  Apparently this is a known issue that sometimes happens, but the website says only when the power goes out.  What about when it is unplugged, wouldn’t that be the same as the power going out? After all it is a USB device, which implies it should be able to be plugged and unplugged whenever needed, and work as expected.

Remember I mentioned that some remotes require you to program the buttons twice?  Well I had occasions where after programming and testing that all the buttons were double programmed on one computer, then plugging it into a second computer, that this stopped working.  Meaning that every second button press was blank again on some select buttons.

There are bugs in the FLIRC programming app on Windows.  There is an Advanced setting called “Inter-Key Delay”.  This setting would randomly change on me, and would often change on the drop down menu to blank, not the 1 to 6 setting I left it on.  Also when reprogramming a remote button, it will warn you that it is already recorded, and offer a “Redo” option, but redo doesn’t seem to work, you have to erase the button manually (twice in my remote’s case) and then record it again.  Not very friendly.

I use my USB-UIRT’s with a program called EventGhost, which has a bit of a learning curve, but once familiar with it, it’s a fantastic app.  FLIRC did not work well for me with the keyboard plug-in in EventGhost.  I’m not sure it this was an issue with the EventGhost keyboard plug-in, or issues with FLIRC and how it simulates key presses.  But I can say that USB-UIRT works perfectly with EventGhost.

From the reading I did about FLIRC, I was lead to believe it worked as a regular Windows HID device.  Meaning it would appear and work as a normal USB keyboard, or simulated USB keyboard, without drivers.  What I found was that this wasn’t exactly the case.  Sometimes when you plug it into a Windows computer it will ask for the drivers install location.  No USB keyboard will do this.  Sometimes it worked without installing the drivers, sometimes it didn’t.  Was this due to the drivers not being installed, or due to the previous mention of needing the firmware reinstalled after being unplugged, hard to say.  But installing the drivers keeps Windows from complaining that the FLIRC device has missing drivers.

I thought I’d save a few bucks and use this FLIRC device instead of a USB-UIRT as I had in the past.  Since the FLIRC is cheaper than the USB-UIRT.  But I’m disappointed to the point of sticking FLIRC in a drawer for some future project where it might be “good enough”.  But I’m definitely sorry I wasted my money.

I think in some select cases the FLIRC will work well enough.  Like with a remote that it doesn’t need to record keys twice.  Where you won’t need to use it with any app other than ones it’s known to be compatible with.  Maybe after the bugs are fixed in the recording app.  And if you never plan to remove it from the USB jack after you get it working, and hope the power doesn’t cycle,  Or wait for some future firmware and software version that works far better. 

If you are a techy person, and you simply want your media center computer to work with an IR remote after you set it up, buy yourself a USB-UIRT, use EventGhost, and not waste several hours hoping for the best with FLIRC as I did.


SageTV To Make a Come Back


I’ve mentioned SageTV in my blog a number of times, and how it was the best DIY software for turning your own computer into a custom DVR.  Then Google purchased the company and turned it into the set top box (STB) software for their Google Fibre project in Kansas City.

I’m still using SageTV on a daily basis as my main DVR, as Google never did turn off the TV guide data.  But unfortunately, I had to move some play back functionality to XBMC Media Center now named Kodi.  As a side note, I still like to say XBMC, as “Kodi” is the gayest name ever for any product.  No self respecting gay guy would spell his name with a “K” and an “I”, unless he was a drag queen.  They went from XBMC, a strong, masculine, technical sounding name that roles off your tongue, to the name of a drag queen.  I like drag queens just fine.  But I would never name a software product after one.  But I digress.

A few days ago, the founder of SageTV announced on the SageTV forum that Google is planning to open source SageTV in the near future.  This is quite a surprise and uncharacteristic of Google.  Google is well known for killing products off with little to no notice.  For Google to not only leave the TV guide data available to past license owners like myself, and now to open source and release a slightly updated version is quite a treat.

I for one look forward to this day, and to see how many of the past dedicated add-on developers will come back to expand the product.  I have a good feeling that SageTV will do well and make a strong come back!

You can read more at liliputing and the SageTV forum.

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