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Home of my tech rants, free programs, and a story or two…

Google Play Music All Access Review

The new Google Play Music All Access service seems like a decent idea at first.  You can discover new music, play whatever you want, all with a single monthly fee.  You can stream what ever you want, all you want, all without restrictions.

You can even make a playlist of songs you do like using the thumbs-up feature.  They do give you a thumbs-down but largely that’s useless, it doesn’t do anything.  You can thumbs-down a song until the cows come home or the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse come, it literally does NOTHING!  Does the song play again?  Yes.  Does the song come back like the whack-a-mole mole?  Yes.  OK, so why is there a thumbs-down for a song when it does nothing?  I would expect that if I thumbs-down a song it would never play again.  But sadly, this isn’t the case.

They say that they have a set of curated music stations but they seem too genre-oriented and based too heavily on what artists are classified as part of the genre.  This seems to me like that there’s no professional people behind the curated stations.  It’s like some person at Google Headquarters was bored and put songs together and called it a “curated music station”.  They need to hire some professional DJs, people who know the genres inside and out and professionally program the stations so as to provide for a mix of genre-based music.  They also need to get more stations online.

So lets go down the list of things that need to be fixed.

  • When I thumbs-down a song… get rid of it!  I never want to hear it again!  I thumbs-downed it for a reason!  I hate the song!  Never play it again!
  • Get professional DJs to program the stations because Google says they are curated but they are far from it.

My new wireless carrier… AT&T Wireless

After spending almost six months in hell with Verizon dealing with horribly bad signal and dropped calls, I finally switched to another wireless carrier.  AT&T Wireless.

They are like a breath of fresh air, I can finally make and receive calls and texts all without worrying if my phone is going to drop the signal.  Plus, the 4G network is far better than Verizon’s Network was.  There are small tiny pockets where AT&T doesn’t have LTE in but they are by far smaller than Verizon had in my city.  Not only that, if I don’t have LTE with AT&T I drop down to their HSPA+ network which delivers 4g LTE-like speeds, unlike Verizon in which I dropped down to 3G more often than not and their 3G CDMA network was extremely overloaded to the point where their 3G CDMA data network was near useless.

So yes, AT&T is like a breath of fresh air for me.

Audio Glitches, MalwareBytes, and High DPC Latencies

After troubleshooting what has got to be one of the most tiring and lengthy troubleshooting experiences I’ve ever had to deal with, I have finally narrowed down where the problem exists.  MalwareBytes AntiMalware Web Site Blocking.

Now, to give some background on the issue.  Every so often I’d hear pops and other forms of audio glitches in my audio while playing music on my computer.  So I opened a tool called DPC Latency Checker and yep, DPC latency spikes were everywhere.  And you know what, those audio glitches would appear right when a bunch of those DPC latency spikes occured.  So I closed that program and opened LatencyMon and the number one culprit for DPC Latency Spikes was NDIS.SYS.  So I was looking around the Internet and someone started mentioning in another forum about restarting the “Base Filtering Engine” service which one of the dependencies was the Windows Firewall Service.

I executed the following…

net stop "Base Filtering Engine" /Yes
net start "Base Filtering Engine"

Yay, no more DPC latency spikes and no more audio glitches either.  Problem is that running without the Windows Firewall isn’t a recommended thing to do.  So I started doing some more research into the issue, specifically I Googled for “windows firewall high dpc” and one of the things that it linked to was a page that stated someone had MalwareBytes AntiMalware installed, the pro version to be specific.

Well, knowing that I didn’t want to uninstall it I began to think about what component of MalwareBytes hooks into the Windows Firewall.  Website Blocking!

I unchecked those options in MalwareBytes and EUREKA!  No more DPC latency spikes and no more audio glitches!

So if you’re one of the few that seem to having this issue with MalwareBytes AntiMalware installed and you’re hearing glitches in your audio, try disabling Web Site Blocking in the Protection tab of MalwareBytes AntiMalware.  Note, you don’t have to uninstall MalwareBytes AntiMalware, just disable this small portion of the program and you’ll no longer be hearing these audio glitches and you’ll once again have perfect sound.

Verizon Wireless Sucks!!!!

I hate Verizon Wireless because I can’t even use them as a cell phone provider in my community of Cleveland, Ohio.  Why can’t I use it?  It’s because Verizon Wireless service sucks in my area.  It’s worse than useless.  I don’t even use my phone as an actual phone to call people because I’m afraid I’m going to drop a call, yes… I drop calls, lots of them!  I might get two bars of service but that depends upon whether or not a bird is flying over my house at the time but most of the time I only have 1 bar of service.  No, it’s not the phone itself, I have tested with other phones as well and they too only register 1 bar of service in the area.  I have talked to other people who live in my area and they too have admitted the Verizon Wireless sucks in my area.  It’s so bad that I have to practically stand on one foot in hopes that the call won’t drop.

Not only that but people have told me that I sound like I’m in a tunnel.  Only thing that I can possibly think of is that so much of the data that is supposed to represent my voice on the network is being lost and/or dropped due to bad network coverage.

I have talked to Verizon Wireless Technical Support multiple times (they probably have a list of complaints from me as long as my arm) and they have supposedly sent one of their roving vans to do a site survey of my area and they have even admitted that my area is a marginal service area and that they need to install another tower to service the area properly.  Do they have plans to install another tower?  Nope, none whatsoever!

And I know… you’re going to say get a Network Extender.  But that doesn’t help me one bit for the coverage issues outside my house and around my community that have been plaguing the area for almost six months now!

It wasn’t always like this.  When I signed up for service two years ago things were great.  Speeds were great, I didn’t drop calls.  Fast forward to about six months ago and their network went to shit.  I have no idea why.  New trees?  New buildings?  I have no idea.  All I know is that Verizon Wireless service sucks now.

Outside my small area of where I live service is still marginal at best.  The phone that I have is a 4G LTE phone but because 4G LTE coverage is marginal at best my phone’s battery takes a hit because the phone is struggling to keep a signal with 4G LTE.  Yeah, I could force my phone to only use 3G CDMA data but that would result in data speeds that are just plain horrible.  Oh, I forgot to mention that Verizon Wireless’s 3G CDMA data network is also horribly overloaded.  You can’t stream media at all on the 3G CDMA data network for it results in constant buffering.  So not only do I have a problem with dropped calls but I also have issues with 4G LTE coverage and a 3G CDMA data network that’s next to useless!

And it’s not just my small area either.  I have gone into other parts of my city and coverage is just as bad.  I’ve even gone into the more affluent areas of my city where houses cost half a million dollars or more and according to the map I should have 4G LTE coverage there but 4G LTE service is nowhere to be found.  They’re still puttering along at 3G CDMA speeds on a 3G CDMA data network that’s way overloaded as well!

To sum this all up, Verizon Wireless service in Cleveland, Ohio and the surrounding metropolitan area sucks!  And it seems that Verizon Wireless has no interest at all in fixing the service issues in my area.  You don’t have to search very long on Google to find reports about Verizon Wireless service in Cleveland, Ohio being bad just like I’m reporting in this blog article.

Listen up Verizon Wireless!  If you have no interest in fixing the glaring network issues in Cleveland, Ohio and surrounding communities, let Cleveland, Ohio customers out of their contracts and allow us to move to a service provider that is willing to provide better service than you are!  And with no Early Termination Fee!!!!

Windows 8. I tried to like it, I really did try to like it.

I have spent nearly four months with Windows 8 and have tried to like it.  Honestly, I really tried to like it.  But, there are a lot of things that simply grate on my nerves that I simply can’t forgive Microsoft of doing with Windows 8.

First off, I am a traditional Windows desktop/notebook user.  I have a keyboard and a mouse.  That is the user input hardware that I’ve been using for decades.  I’m used to it.  I don’t have a touchscreen and I won’t ever have a touchscreen.  The mouse is a far more accurate input device than a touch of a finger to a screen.  I have a tablet and a smartphone, both of which run Android.  There are times when a touchscreen is good but when it comes to the main computer that I use, no… just no.

Second, there are some things that I had to fight Windows 8 with.  First off, I’m going to start off by saying that I don’t like the Windows 8 Start Screen, I don’t like it.  It doesn’t fit into a desktop setup.  Touchscreen, yes, but not a desktop.  I installed Start8 by Stardock to get my traditional Windows Start Menu back.  So all was good until I wanted to play Solitaire.  Where is it?  Oh, I have to download it in the Windows Store.  OK, that I can deal with.  OK, time to play it.  Wait.  It’s not a desktop app?  Great, it’s one of those full screen apps.  So I play it.  I want to go back to the desktop.  How do I do that?  There’s no indication of how to do just that.  I eventually figured it out, I just tapped the Start Button on my keyboard and went back to the traditional desktop… desktop.

I wanted to preview an image.  Double-click it.  Great, there’s that full screen app thingy again.  *sigh*

I want to change a setting.  Even creating new users requires going into the full screen app thingy.  *grr*

Windows 8… I am on a desktop with no touchscreen!  Quit giving me that full screen app stuff and give me a traditional desktop interface.

Warning, this video does have swearing in it.  It’s not advisable for children to watch.  No, I did not make the video.

OK, have you watched it?  Sadly, I agree with the guy on all of the points that he brought up.  I should not have to fight with the OS to do what I want simply because the OS thinks that it has a better way of doing it.  I am the user, I control the computer.  The OS doesn’t own the computer, the user does.  The user should be able to dictate how tasks and jobs are done on the computer, not the OS.  If the OS gets into the way of the user, there’s a problem.  And that’s exactly what Windows 8 does, gets in the way of the user.

So yes, I tried to like Windows 8.  I really did.  I even tried to convince myself that I liked it.  But honestly, I can’t.  I don’t like Windows 8.  Plain and simple, I don’t like it.  I’m going back to Windows 7 where I am in control of the computer, not the OS.  I don’t necessarily hate Windows 8, hate is such a… strong word.  I dislike it.

If Microsoft is listening, here’s a tip.  If people have a traditional desktop environment, treat it as such.  If the user has a mobile device like a tablet with a touchscreen, again… treat it as such.  However, don’t shove the mobile computing touchscreen oriented platform down a traditional desktop user’s throat.  If you want to know why Windows 8 isn’t selling well… look no further than the idea that people don’t want a touchscreen environment on a traditional desktop.

Also… don’t get in the way of the user.  Remember… the OS is the platform upon which everything else is done.  This could be anything from checking email, browsing the web, to writing a school paper.  Those are tasks.  An OS is a platform upon which work gets done.  If an OS gets in the way of getting tasks done, there’s a problem.

Google and the FTC


OK, so Google gets off the hook for anti-trust infringement regarding their search but still get slapped on the wrist for their mobile patents?

While Google traditionally has only used patents defensively, after they acquired Motorola’s mobile device patents they continued that company’s practice of suing to block competing products if companies don’t pay the rates they’re looking for. That was an obnoxious shift given Google’s previous promises about not being evil, and executive statements that Google believed the patent wars were a sort of tax on innovation.

Acted anti-competitively?  In mobile?

What I want to know is who the hell paid off the FTC to rule on that case?  Apple?  Because if there is any company in existence that is acting anti-competitively in the mobile space it’s APPLE!!!!

Is Google suing companies over icons on a screen?  Is Google suing over rounded corners?  Is Google suing everything that moves?

NO!!!!  However, APPLE IS!!!!

If anything, Apple should be investigated and brought up on anti-trust violations!

Piracy is Theft

First and foremost, I am against piracy in all its forms. It is wrong, it is illegal, it is theft. Plain and simple. This does not mean that I am supporting the entertainment industry, nothing could be farther from the truth.


SOPA and PIPA, what can I say about these two nasty pieces of potential legislature without going into a rant?  Well, not much other than the fact that it is an attack on creativity itself.

Let’s face it, the entertainment industry wants to be the gatekeepers of every kind of entertainment.  They don’t care if it’s independently created, they want a piece of it.  Whether it be a work of literature, music, or a short movie; they want a piece of it.

Years ago, artists needed companies such as the big Hollywood studios and the big record labels to get their work out to the masses.  Heck, they needed them to even create their art.  Today, artists don’t need that.  Movie editing can be done on the cheap with a simple home PC.  Same goes with music.  And with the growth of the Internet it has made the process of publishing independent content much easier and cheaper.

Piracy… let’s talk about piracy.  First and foremost, I’m going to say this… Piracy is theft!  There, I said it.  Piracy is theft!  You may not be taking a physical object (the idea that pirates often use to justify piracy) but if you go back to the literal definition of theft.  That definition is below…

“the act of stealing; the wrongful taking and carrying away of the personal goods or property of another; larceny.”

Alright, so let’s adapt this idea of “theft” to digital piracy.  You are taking something that is property of someone else, though it may just be a copy, you are still taking something that belongs to someone else that you did not earn and you did not pay for.  That is theft, plain and simple!  You can’t escape the literal definition of theft.

I am against piracy in all its forms.  It is wrong, it is illegal, it is theft.  Plain and simple.  This does not mean that I am supporting the entertainment industry, nothing could be farther from the truth.  I support a free and open Internet where people can be able to create, distribute, and otherwise make the world we live in a better place.  But fighting big entertainment companies with piracy isn’t the answer and will never be the answer.


This site will go dark on Friday the 18th from 8 AM to 8 PM in protest of SOPA and PIPA.  You will be redirected to a web page asking for you to come out against these highly toxic bills that are attempting to be passed in Washington, DC.  Contact your Congress Representative and Senator today and urge them to vote against these two bills and stop Internet sensorship!  Your freedom of speech demands it!