June 2015

All posts from June 2015

Kicking Flash for good

by Mat on 29 June, 2015 No comments

Adobe Flash is outdated technology.

There, I said it. It’s hard to believe, but here we are today without any real need for plug-ins. It’s the web that many had hoped for; standards and simplicity on all devices. There’s still a long ways to go, but I’ve finally made the switch. You’re probably wondering how to do it, and I’m here to help.

First, I’m going to assume you’re on a Mac and generally use Safari. That said, if you’re on Windows, the same concepts apply.

Now, how am I achieving this wonderful situation of not needing Flash, yet still having it? Three steps.

#1 – Uninstall Flash on the computer
#2 – Make your Mac’s version of Safari identify itself as an iPad
#3 – Use Chrome when necessary

Before I get into how, I should explain the benefits. Sites that rely on Flash to deliver content are also well aware that many of their users look at sites with their tablets. iPads and iPhones don’t have Flash, so they work on a more standards-based approach. It’s often light-weight, faster to load, and has a cleaner, and more responsive layout. The best part is this is great for viewing on your computer, too!

The drawback is simple – some sites really do need Flash. For example, speedtest.net and speakeasy.net have their tests, and they are programmed in Flash. Sometimes videos are Flash-only. It still happens now and again, so we have Chrome on standby. Google Chrome has Flash, but it’s an internal version. This means that when Chrome closes, so does Flash. If you install it as a Safari system plug-in, it isn’t self-contained. Lots of less optimal things.

If you like using Google Chrome, that’s great. Save the trouble; just uninstall Flash and stick to Chrome. Just be aware of how closely Chrome can track you. Search for something on your phone on Google Maps, and get ads on your browser related to that stuff. You’ve been warned.

So, here we go.

First, uninstall Flash. Get the uninstaller. http://fpdownload.macromedia.com/get/flashplayer/current/support/uninstall_flash_player_osx.dmg

Run this, and it will eliminate the plug-in on your machine. Performance improved. Flash content unavailable.

Second, run this in your terminal: defaults write com.apple.Safari CustomUserAgent "\"Mozilla/5.0 (iPad; U; CPU OS 3_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/531.21.10 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0.4 Mobile/7B334b Safari/531.21.10\""

This now makes Safari tell a website “I’m an iPad, so don’t send me Flash content.”

If you ever want to undo this for any reason, put this in your terminal: defaults delete com.apple.safari CustomUserAgent

Now, go to Safari’s preferences menu, go to Advanced, and turn on “Develop Menu”. You’ll notice a simple “Develop” choice. From that new menu, you can select Open Page With > Chrome and you can send the current address over to see it with Flash enabled. You can also select User Agent > Safari to reload the page with the server expecting the “full” desktop browser.

That’s it. You’ll notice Facebook videos load faster, webpages giving you fewer banner ads, and generally your browser will load pages in a snappy, crisp way. The internet wasn’t designed for old plug-ins, so the more we all move away from them, the better the web will get!

Enjoy!

PS – just as a reference, this is not a new concept.

MatKicking Flash for good

AT&T / Fox FCC Follow-up

by Mat on 22 June, 2015 No comments

Well, the complaint I made to the FCC is now closed, and little happened. AT&T was notified by the FCC that I complained, and they “addressed” the issue through a phone call where they offered a lowered price. Of course, this would require an additional 12-month contract, etc. etc.

A complete waste of effort, and we have ended our use of AT&T. Unfortunately, it means that TimeWarner is the best option. So far, at least, the internet service is vastly better. The TV is marginally not as good, but the boxes are reasonable. Too many pixelation in my opinion.

Good bye, probably forever, AT&T.

MatAT&T / Fox FCC Follow-up

FCC Complaint: AT&T and FoxSports

by Mat on 10 June, 2015 No comments

Today, I filed a complaint with the US FCC about Uverse and Fox. It comes down to #darts really… you expect one thing, but there’s a squabble over broadcast rights. Instead of soccer, you get #darts. It’s crap, but it also sets a very dangerous precedent for cable carriers and channels. You can’t let them modify content, and still pay full fare. It’s not fair to consumers.

Complaint, as filed, below.

Hello FCC,
I’m writing today to ask for you to investigate AT&T Uverse and FoxSports for unfair trade practices. For months, Fox and AT&T have not been able to come to terms on their content deal, and this is an unfortunate reality in television services lately. However, instead of not including the channel, Uverse has chosen to substitute content for which it can’t agree to terms with Fox.
In short, the “channel” appears to work, but the customer receives alternate programming. This is unacceptable, as the customer is still paying full-fare for the channel. There is no strong incentive for either side to come to terms, and the customer is left to get only a fabricated version of the product.
I would ask that the FCC mandate that it is an illegal trade practice to provide alternate content as a means of dispute resolution. If a provider and a carrier cannot come to terms, then a channel should be blacked out at all times. Allowing providers and carriers to alter a product produces a slippery-slope to which only the customer loses.
I believe that Fox Sports should be required to provide the proper content, and that AT&T should have to refund all of its consumers for the fraction of its charged price for content which it did not provide. The remedy to consumers should be monetary, as no other process will restore the timely content to which they have paid.
While it is annoying to no end when channels and providers fight, I understand that it is a business. So be it; let channels come and go in a competitive market. But please, FCC, do not allow “lite” versions to substitute as the real content, and continue to charge customers. This is exactly why regulation should exist.
See: http://uverse.com/web_files/NEXTGEN/web_files/uverse-custom/one-offs/fighting-4-you/dk_fighting4you.html?source=ECsg000000000000U&wtExtndSource=sF4U3
-Mat Chavez
MatFCC Complaint: AT&T and FoxSports