Firefox: Facebook comments missing from news sites

Minor issue, but after installing FF 59 (due to constant crashing of 61 and 61.0.1) and making some changes to settings, I noticed that comments had disappeared from the two news sites I frequent. I tried turning off Ublock Origin, but no change. Then I checked my FF settings page.

In settings, Privacy and Security, if you have set Tracking Protection to Always – Always, FB comment sections on news sites will not appear (at least that is the case for me in FF 59). Set these to Only in private windows and Only when using Tracking Protection. Comment sections are back.

Firefox 61 and later on Ubuntu Linux sucks like a neutron star

I’ve been using Firefox mostly happily up until today. Site after site gives me the damn “Gah! Your tab just crashed” error. If I disable that feature, it crashes FF. Also, Facebook videos stopped working. No, it isn’t an add-on. Even a totally new install with no add-ons does the same thing. Completely useless, Mozilla. Thank you.

I have an older version of FF installed concurrently and it works perfectly, demonstrating that the issue is in the programming of the new FF 61 (and 61.0.1 which I also tried). Mozilla is on a campaign to purge information about how to even install older versions. They say this is because it will leave the user open to malware. Sure, I if I were using the browser for general purposes instead of specific. But the whole nanny attitude of “we know what’s best for you” is infuriating. I’m back to using version 59. Chrome for everything else.

By the way, if you want to install an older version of Firefox on Linux, I found these steps to be necessary to keep it from updating itself automatically after install:
1. Unplug your network connection or disable it from the user interface
2. In terminal, specify “./firefox” from the folder where you put the older version, otherwise the system will use the globally installed version.
3. Install from terminal using the “-P” option in terminal when you do the install. This makes it use the Profile Manager which lets you specify a new profile just for the older version. Give it an obvious name.
4. When you create a shortcut (launcher) on your desktop, you can also specify that it not talk to other installed versions of Firefox. This line also specifies that it use the profile I just created:
/home/(...)/Downloads/Firefox/firefox59/firefox-bin -P -no-remote FiftyNine (FiftyNine is the Profile name I gave it when installing)

-P says to use a certain profile
-no-remote says to not talk to any existing FF installed on the system
FiftyNine is what I named the profile during install

5. Keep the network connection down
6. Use the new shortcut to start FF, then click Edit, Preferences, Turn off the option to check for updates, and set any other options you like.
7. That should stop it from trying to update in most cases. But be aware that if you ever click Help, About to check the version, doing so will cause it to look for the newest version and silently install it. Bastards.

Update: GAH! FF keeps finding ways to update even when I tell it not to. I’m beginning to really despise the developers. Dudes, I honestly don’t care what you want. I want my browser to work with all the sites I normally visit. FF 61 crashes consistently and you seem fine with that.
Update: Still crashes on 67.

Trouble (and solution) getting Hanwha XNV-6011 to record on Pelco Digital Sentry

Korean military supplier Hanwha bought the company Samsung and has been updating some of the products with their new brand and some new features. The company for which I work uses a lot of Samsung IP cameras, and now Hanwha. Up until yesterday, I’ve had no issue with connecting to the cameras, either through the generic ONVIF method, or through RTSP streams.

I recently bought 4 new Hanwha XNV-6011 mini-dome cameras, installed them, and went to add them to our aging Pelco Digital Sentry NVR. I had no issue viewing the cameras in a browser, or in VLC Player, but the Digital Sentry unit consistently refused to show any video. It worked fine with the previous version, the Samsung SNV-6013 mini-dome. The new camera is supposed to be ONVIF S compliant, which is what the Pelco unit requires.

I went in circles checking and double-checking to make sure I hadn’t typed anything wrong, and still no video from these cameras in the Digital Sentry. I tried placing the username and password in the RTSP URL, but that didn’t work either.

Then I started looking at the various settings available on the camera itself, and found one that allowed me to use an RTSP stream without authentication. Since my camera networks are all private IP based (can’t be viewed from Internet), this wasn’t really an issue, so I checked that box and the video instantly appeared on the Digital Sentry!

I still don’t know why this was an issue, since the Digital Sentry had the proper username and password.

Transferring files to and from an Android phone: KDE Connect app

A couple of years or so ago, when I’d want to connect my Android phone to my computer, it was as simple as hooking up a micro-USB cord and plugging it into the computer. Then one day it didn’t connect. After searching for reasons, I found that I now had to do things like “Enable USB debugging” and choose what I wanted as a default when USB was detected by the phone, and then it seemed to work ok.

Recently, I found that even after selecting these options, Linux would show the icon for the phone on my desktop but it still wasn’t really connecting. I did some more searching and a handful of sites had multiple steps for installing MTP file system programs, none of which seemed to work very well as a practical solution. Criminy, I just want to transfer some files, not go through a ritual each time.

I then saw a reference to a free Linux program “KDE Connect” and an accompanying app for the phone (also free), and the transfer will happen over wifi for any device that is running the KDE Connect software.

On the PC (running Ubuntu with the Xfce desktop), I added the current PPA (some articles reference an outdated one):
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/indicator-kdeconnect
sudo apt-get update

To install the program:
sudo apt install indicator-kdeconnect

The icon “KDE Connect Indicator” showed up in my System drop-down folder. Two other very similar icons also showed up, one also in System called “KDE Connect Indicator Settings”, the other in Internet which is also called “KDE Connect Indicator Settings”.

The one I found useful was the first one. It tells the user to start the phone app and request pairing. Click that and an indicator in the upper right of the PC screen pops up and says “Pairing request from ____ Accept or Reject?”. Accept it and the indicator appears as an icon in the toolbar. Clicking the icon shows the name of my phone, the battery level, and some options for browsing the phone or sending files. Browse doesn’t seem to work at all for me, not sure if that is an issue with the Xfce desktop I’m using or what.

On the phone, I have the options to Send files, Multimedia control, Run a command, and Remote input which lets me control the PC mouse.

It struck me how utterly simple that was. No USB cable, no new filesystem installs.

Read up on how much this app is able to do, and what can be shared between the devices.

Here is the link to information about the updated “fork” of the program:
http://www.webupd8.org/2017/01/integrate-your-android-device-with.html

And a link to the wiki:
https://community.kde.org/KDEConnect

NOTE: The paranoid me says to be careful not to give a backdoor into your PC via a compromised phone. The number of malware infested Android phones are in the millions. This program acts just like you on your computer, so be aware of that.

FFMPEG using x265 vs x264

I just recompiled ffmpeg (see previous post for that bit of hell) and included h.265 encoding. I’m going to be processing 4K video soon, so wanted to get the hang of this codec. It works with any video, of course, but up until today I hadn’t used it.

The command line is very similar to x264, but includes a new parameter “crf” (constant rate factor). This can also be used for x264, but until now I never used it.
For x265 28 is the default rate in the range of 0-51.
For x264 23 is the default in the recommended range of 18-28.

Lower number = higher quality (lower compression) and larger file size.
Higher number = lower quality (greater compression) and smaller file size.

ffmpeg -i pam.m2ts -c:v libx265 -c:a libfdk_aac -crf 28 pam_265.mp4

The file size difference between raw, x264, and x265 is amazing!

My current HD video camera produces MTS high-def files.
Here are the file sizes for a 12 minute clip:
MTS: 830MB
x264: 439MB (not quite half the size of MTS)
x265: 122MB (about 1/7 the size of MTS!)

To my eyes, there was no discernible difference in quality, using the default settings. x265 seems like a great codec for file sharing and should save a ton of space when I’m uploading video clips for singers. That assumes they will be able to view the clips. Microsoft Windows does not by default play MP4 files (by choice, even though millions use this format). One has to install a 3rd party media player or codec package for Windows to play MP4. VLC is one common 3rd party media player.

FFMPEG “stack smashing detected”

I wanted to encode some new video I shot with h.265 and hadn’t included that in ffmpeg configuration previously. So I began removing ffmpeg sources from previous installs, and recompiling all the libraries and then the main program. After all was done, I tried encoding and got an error I hadn’t seen before (and apparently isn’t common or I would have found an answer by searching).  I saw:

*** stack smashing detected ***: terminated
Aborted (core dumped)

After much experimentation I found that it is somehow tied to ffmpeg trying to use any audio library. If I skip audio with -an or copy, then the file will be produced. Any attempt at using an audio library of any kind produces the stack smashing error.

I’m still plugging away at it trying to find a solution or find an error in compiling. No luck yet.

UPDATE:
I wiped and reloaded ffmpeg x264 x265 and reloaded according to the Ubuntu guide for installing ffmpeg, but I found I had to add a couple of things to get the static x264 to work (otherwise during make, x265 would complain about needing to be recompiled with fPIC)

Once I did the git clone for x264 as described on the guide, I did these steps
cd x264
./configure --enable-static --enable-pic
make
sudo make install
sudo ldconfig

“ldconfig creates the necessary links and cache (for use by the run-time linker, ld.so) to the most recent shared libraries found in the directories specified on the command line…” See the man page for full description.

With the enable-pic option during configure, the static build worked. I then tried ffmpeg again and all was well.

New PC time – 4K video editing – But then… Intel SGX

I’m buying a new Panasonic HC-WXF1 4K video camera for recording local jazz singers (one of my hobbies). But my 10-year-old PC isn’t going to handle that kind of processing. It already takes its sweet time doing regular HD video.

So I’m busy putting together the specs on my new system, with a hot new processor and 32GB of fast RAM. I’ve been looking at the ASRock X299 Taichi XE and the new Intel i9-7960 processor. That is, I was until a minute ago when I read that the latest greatest processor and the X299 chipset from Intel doesn’t support their own Intel SGX! SGX is yet another Digital Rights Management hoop that was added to the pile, and it is required for doing playback of 4K/UHD movies from BluRay, and may affect online streaming of 4K.

Ho-ly-shit. What were they thinking leaving that out of the chipset?! Additionally, the motherboard has to have SGX support built into the BIOS even of your processor (like the i7-7700K) supports it. Some boards apparently don’t have the available memory to store the SGX firmware, so consumers that bought these boards are out of luck. X299 used to support full playback, but then the manufacturers decided to add more DRM requirements, and that broke the ability of these motherboards to playback or view streaming 4K.

ASRock support says “Unfortunately, the Intel X299 CPU (Skylake-X + Kabylake-X) don’t support Intel SGX function.” (see review by Jeremy S.)

Yes, I can still edit my own video, as far as I know. But still, for Intel to be that out of touch with their own stuff is insane. Will SGX be required for receiving streaming 4K? Industry, MAKE IT EASIER ON CONSUMERS WHO PAY BIG BUCKS TO WATCH YOUR STUFF!

https://canicompare.com/en/processors/intel-core-i9-7960x-specification/compare-intel-core-i9-7960x-and-find-compatible-parts-pbvsCs.html

I’m happy to update if this information is not correct. It was shocking to read tonight on the Newegg review, and then other sites that confirmed it. I’m hoping it isn’t as nasty as it sounds right now. The flip side is that I’ve never bought a BluRay since my earlier experiences with DRM prevented me from viewing rented movies on a player that was a year old. Honestly, DRM is such a pain for consumers, and pirates get around it nearly as soon as a new kind is released. I wish the industry would quit punishing consumers with these hoops.

From other forums I saw this from an owner of :
“What it WONT play is:
4k Netflix streams
4k Amazon Prime video streams
4k BluRay disks.

What it will play:
Any 4k content with DRM removed. This is very simple.”

Monitors have to be HDCP 2.2 compliant (not just 2.0)

Apparently only Intel graphics chipsets are allowed to pass the signal due to Digital Rights Management. There is no intention or ability for motherboard makers to update the boards already sold that do not have SGX incorporated into the BIOS (and which were not designed with space to incorporate SGX).

To get 4k/60hz, you have to use a DisplayPort cable and have a monitor that accepts it, and a graphics card with that port. HDMI cable limits the output to 24Hz, at least on certain monitors (check specs).