Gab’s Dissenter receives your entire browsing history; bonus: it can be tied to your unique user ID

I fully support the intent behind Gab’s Dissenter platform. The ability to comment on any website is a wonderful move for free speech. What I can’t get behind is the major privacy problem it poses, a problem which unfortunately is very hard to avoid in any “comment on any site” concept.

Gab’s Dissenter stores and retrieves comments by URL. This requires Dissenter to send EVERY URL YOU VISIT out to the Dissenter platform to check for user comments for that URL, and obviously to submit your own comments as well. Since you’ll probably be logged in to Gab to use Dissenter, these URLs may also be sent with your Gab user ID which easily ties them all together. Regardless of what the Terms of Service may say about their data collection and retention policies, there is the possibility that Gab is effectively collecting and storing your entire browsing history while using the Dissenter extensions or app.

Even if they say that they don’t do this sort of collection and retention, you must choose whether or not to trust them. Consider a similar privacy-protecting service: VPNs. Several VPN service providers that claimed to be “no-log VPNs” (meaning they don’t store any information about your activities on their services) have been caught storing logs once police subpoenaed them for logs and they were forced to comply. It’s even possible for data to be retained in places not specifically meant to retain that data; for example, a server debugging log may contain all user requests made during the time period that the debug data was enabled, and that log is then readable to computer hackers/crackers or to law enforcement through a lawful subpoena.

How far are you willing to trust Gab with the data they necessarily must receive from you to keep their service working? It’s your choice. All I want is for you to make an informed choice, not an ignorant one.

It occurred to me shortly after writing this that there is one other possibility, but it’s not really much better. The only other way to do it without sending the URLs directly would be to hash the URL on the client side and send the hash instead, but unlike passwords, an unsalted hash of a (probably public) URL is fairly easy to come up with. Law enforcement, for example, could easily ask Google to provide a hash list of every URL in their database and it’d take Google less than a day to generate such a list. Even a casual hacker could build a simple web spider that follows URLs and hashes them to build that list. It’d be sort of like copy protection: it protects against completely ignorant users making copies, but hackers and pirates will break the protection easily and do as they please. Likewise, any method to conceal the URLs sent to Gab’s Dissenter would only count as obscuring the URL and could be easily cracked. If you think about it, there’s simply no other way to do it: how else can Dissenter know what comments to store and retrieve?

LUTs are stupid

“No, This Doesn’t Look Filmic” – Shooting log, flat, and LUTs all suck

Shooting log, shooting flat, using LUTs, turning down the contrast…stop doing these things! Unless you have a 10-bit capable camera, shooting with log profiles like Cine-D, V-Log, C-Log, S-log, or Technicolor CineStyle will only damage your footage and limit what you can do with it in post-production. I usually explain this in mathematical terms, but that can be hard to grasp, so this video serves as a short overview of the things that you should avoid in the realm of picture profiles and saturation/contrast settings.

For a lot more information about this subject, this article will satisfy most of your curiosities: YouTube video experts don’t understand why flat/log footage on 8-bit cameras is a bad idea

UPDATE: There’s a new video I put out that covers a lot of the same ground, but gets more technical and has more examples and information. Feel free to watch both.

2008 Electoral College map

Win 38 cities and you become President; or, why the electoral college matters

UPDATE (2019-05-03): It has been pointed out to me that elections in cities do not typically lean so heavily to one side as to make what I’m discussing a likely possibility. That sort of thinking misses the point. It matters not because of its likelihood, but because it is possible. We are seeing very recent (as of May 2018) trends in legislation that are designed to directly modify the power of an individual’s vote in ways that no one could have foreseen, including a recent law proposed in California which was explicitly designed to block President Donald Trump (and no other potential candidate) from being eligible for re-election, and a set of laws under the umbrella term “National Popular Vote” which is supposedly an end run around the Constitution to force the popular vote to be the determining number for Presidential election, but ironically works by “reverse electoral college-ing” the votes in the states that pass it. It is therefore a reasonable concern that the areas discussed in my original article below could pass laws (similar to the NPV movement laws) that flip all non-winning votes in their districts to match the winner of the district by local popular vote (which would practically be nothing more than a highly localized form of the electoral college.)

When is “fairness” not actually fair?

In the past 20 years, two Republicans have won the electoral college vote while losing the popular vote, making them President of the United States of America despite having less than 50% of the voter base wanting them to win. I don’t want to go into detail about the mechanics of the electoral college here, but you need to read up on what the electoral college is and how it works before reading any further. Suffice it to say that the President is not elected by the people, but by the electoral college, and this system exists primarily to protect the interests of rural areas from being wholly dismissed based on not having a high population count.

When your candidate loses a Presidential election despite winning the popular vote, you’re going to get mad because you feel like your person should have won. It’s difficult to argue against those screaming “one person, one vote, otherwise it’s not fair” because their appeal to fairness based on equal value of human beings is easy to make and is a core ideal that all free societies strive towards. The truth is that the electoral college is an unfair thing, but it’s unfair because what happens without it is ironically a far more unfair situation, a situation that the National Popular Vote movement in particular is trying to force upon us.

Voters in just 38 cities can unilaterally elect the President.

I know it sounds like I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. 38 of what are called “metropolitan statistical areas” are where half of the total United States population lives. These include the major cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston, plus the suburban and economic areas immediately surrounding them that are “closely economically tied to the core,” a fancy way for saying that they may have different names but they’re part of the major city for all practical purposes.

If we ignore a few details that would require far more time than I’m willing to spend (number of citizens who are eligible to vote and voter turnouts, to name a couple) we can quickly confirm this is plausible based on one extremely simple metric: population of these combined metropolitan areas relative to the total population. We need to add up the population counts until we reach a figure that is roughly 1/2 of the United States population of 328 million. If you want to follow along, pull up the table yourself and start adding numbers.

Winning the popular vote by the numbers

The largest metropolitan statistical area which is basically New York and the cities and towns that make up its suburbs is over 20 million people, representing at least 6.1% of the entire population of the country, packed into 6,720 square miles of space which is 0.18% of the total land in the United States.

The next largest (LA-Long Beach-Anaheim) is over 13 million people or at least 3.96% of the total population. That’s a whopping 10% in the top two metro areas. The vast majority of the largest MSAs vote Democrat and based on some simple math from the list of MSAs on Wikipedia, the top 30 MSAs (all of which are “blue”) have a population of roughly 148.5M which is not far from half (164M) of the 328M population of the country.

Once you get to the 38th ranked MSA in terms of population, the total population hits the halfway point. Technically, I think it’s about 200,000 people short, but enough “blue” areas exist outside of the top 38 MSAs that 200K people is essentially background noise. I stopped at MSA #38 because MSA #39 (also “blue”) pushes the total 1.3M beyond half of the population. Win 100% of the votes in the top 38 (if you’re practical) or 39 (if you’re a hardass and desperately don’t want me to be right) cities and their suburbs and you’ve won the Presidency, end of story, no further votes needed.

7% of the country picks the President for all 100% of the people

People making arguments such as “the 100 biggest cities in the US are not even 50% of the population” are technically correct. The 38 biggest metropolitan areas make up half of the population and as far as I can tell, they’re ALL “blue.” There are over 300 MSAs and a sizable amount of the USA isn’t covered by an MSA at all. With an average square mileage of 6,839 sq. mi. (based on the size of the top 10 MSAs only since I’m lazy) inside a country that covers 3,794,101 sq. mi., that’s about 3,534,218 sq. mi. of the country (a whopping 93.15%) whose votes become completely irrelevant. It’s true that New York and Los Angeles can’t pick the president on sheer population counts, but the sentiment behind that assertion is 100% correct.

The bottom line

If we’re playing the popular vote game instead of the electoral college game under the existing first-past-the-post voting system where >50% = winner takes all, simply winning every vote in the top 38 metropolitan statistical areas will immediately win you the Presidential election and the rest of the country literally does not matter. Adjust as you want for not winning 100% of the votes and the number of required MSAs increases, but it always remains true that winning enough metro areas in the election wins the popular vote.

If this tyranny of the majority that the “fairness” of the popular vote being how we elect the President sounds a lot more unfair now, that’s because it is, and the math proves it. The electoral college makes all of the states (and the entirety of each state) relevant in Presidential elections and representation rather than only a few extremely dense cities.

Bonus fact: any argument against the electoral college can be made against keeping the Senate, too. The Senate grants all states an equal amount of votes despite vast size and population differences. For some reason, those who so adamantly fight the continued existence of the electoral college never have anything to say about abolishing the Senate. I’d speculate that this is because they want the EC gone due to being mad about their candidate losing an election and parroting what they’ve heard without doing the smallest bit of critical thinking. I’ve tried to bring this to the attention of people advocating for EC abolition, but for some strange reason they always block me before a conversation can take place. Radical ideologues are not known for being able to think for themselves.

“No, that’s not how it started.”

This is a comment I found on SoylentNews that I’d hate to lose. It’s a truth-bomb dropped on the whole “white people were horrible” narrative about the founding and evolution of the United States of America. We learned about a lot of this stuff in history books back in the day, but history books are updated frequently and those who write the books control the contents. It’s important to look beyond what is commonly accepted as true if you want to find the real truth.

Quote sections are from the comment being responded to.

It started with a concerted, deliberate extermination campaign of those who were already there to steal their land, followed by a bloody, violent independance war. Those who worked the hardest to develop the land were slaves.

No, that’s not how it started. It started with people fleeing religious persecution in Europe. They landed in a place that had already been depopulated by disease and conflicts between Indian tirbes. The Pilgrims weren’t doing so well, and only made it because the local Algonquin Indians helped them. The Indians, for their part, were desperate to find new allies because the Iroquois were kicking their butts up and down the block. What ensued was a long period of Indians making alliances with various European powers, and with each other, and everyone jockeying for advantage. It was only at the end that the balance of power shifted against all the Indians of every tribe.

Slaves did not do all the hard work in America. They did all the hard work in the South, on the plantations. People in the North did not own slaves. They did all the hard work themselves. Even in the South, 3/4’s of the people owned no slaves and did the hard work themselves.

It is the most culturally violent and sexually repressed and disfunctional society of all the “civilized” nations. Culturally speaking, they are superstitious, simplistic, predatory, isolationist, paranoid, and primitive. They are the only western country where the vast majority of the population speak only one language, and also the only one still practicing the death penalty. I could go on and on, but you get the point.

Americans are more culturally violent than the Germans, Italians, and Japanese? They’re more culturally violent than the French, British, Spanish, and Portuguese who depopulated, exploited, and colonized vast swathes of the Earth up until modern times? They’re more culturally violent than the Russians who oppressed half of Europe for 70 years, and who violently suppressed democracy movements in at least three of their client states? They’re more culturally violent than the Koreans who fought a vicious civil war in the 50’s and in the 1980’s were having massive battles in the streets in the South?

Americans are fat, ugly, unsophisticated, obnoxious, entitled, loud, and in poor health.

I see you’ve never been to England, Germany, France, Italy, any place in Central Europe, or even Australia. Germany has a far-right party called the AfD. France has Le Pen. Italy just elected a right-wing Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte. Obnoxious? You’ve never seen Australians in Bali, Japanese in Thailand, Britons in Turkey, Germans in Mallorca, or French anywhere.

Culturally speaking, they are superstitious, simplistic, predatory, isolationist, paranoid, and primitive. They are the only western country where the vast majority of the population speak only one language,

Clearly, you’ve never studied history, and cannot be widely travelled. New York City is the acme of cultural refinement. There are towns in the midwest where people have never gone beyond a 100 mile radius. Paris is cosmopolitan, but those who live in the country’s south are some of the most ignorant, provincial people you will ever meet. Tokyo is an ultra-modern city with every convenience, but go due west until you hit tiny fishing villages on the Sea of Japan and it’s like travelling back in time.

Speak one language? Well, as a former English teacher abroad I can tell you, my friend, that the vast majority of people in the West who study English (assuming that’s not their mother tongue) learn it like Americans learn Spanish. That is, everyone “studies” it in school, but exceptionally few come to speak it. There are some outliers, of course, like the Dutch, but for them it’s rather cheating calling learning English acquiring a second language since Dutch and English are only about a half step removed.

In short, you’re reflexively and ignorantly characterizing the entire country and everyone in it. The only thing you’ve revealed with your screed is that you know very little about history or geography. You’ve clearly not travelled widely and have a limited aquaintanceship.

Do yourself a favor, and drop out for a couple years and backpack round the world. Avoid the cities. Stick to the small towns and countryside. Stick around for a while and learn the language and get to know the natives. Chafe against the differences when culture shock sets in. Then move on to the next place and do it again. You will come to have a far less simplistic perception of the world and its peoples.

PayPal Purge: A Precursor to a United States Social Credit System?

In the video above, I discuss the Patreon Purge, the duopoly overlords Visa and MasterCard that are most likely to be pulling the strings of banks and payment processors like PayPal and Stripe to make finance-based censorship happen, and the logical progression of such behavior being tolerated and unregulated: neo-McCarthyism, discrimination against people for political beliefs and political statements by nearly all professions, culminating in industry-wide shared blacklists that could result in everything from no plumber coming to fix a flooding toilet (because a private corporation doesn’t like your politics) to your sick chemotherapy-racked child not receiving a life-saving cancer treatment and dying (because a private corporation doesn’t like your politics.) It’s not unlike China’s social credit system, except it’s going to be implemented by corporate entities instead of the government.


Elaborating on FIPNA: why it’s needed and why money intermediates shouldn’t have freedom of association

This was written in response to a comment on YouTube from someone who was trying to understand my FIPNA (Financial Provider Neutrality Act) arguments. It’s not a simple problem and I can see why it’s hard for someone to see the whole picture if they’re not familiar with incidents where PayPal and MasterCard have brought down a censorship hammer in the past. I appreciate their questions far more than the other guy that was talking to me who basically spent the entire time recycling the bogus Limbaugh-level nonsense of calling me a socialist and suggesting that what I want is the same thing as holding a gun to his head and forcing him to do work for me. My full wall-of-text diatribe comment follows. I’d be interested in any comments you have on this subject; just know that comments here are moderated as I find time to do so.

What I’m trying to do is find a solution to the problem of financial services banning people in a way that smacks of collusion. It helps to define the problem better first. Patreon banned Sargon and blamed their “global payment network” which could be any of PayPal, Stripe, Visa, or MasterCard. Sargon moved to SubscribeStar which immediately got kicked off of PayPal as a result. PayPal has also banned a lot of people and categories of businesses in the past, and every time they’d blame a payment card network (Visa or MasterCard) and upon contacting the blamed card network, the contacting party would be told that PayPal was responsible, not the card network. This circular blame tactic results in both parties not taking any sort of responsibility…and yet the financial cutoff on the basis of not liking someone’s category of business remains in place.

The thing about financial service providers is that unlike nearly every other category of private business, a financial service provider or colluding group of them can render someone destitute with the stroke of a pen and existing law carves out huge exceptions for banks to harm people without consequences. A story comes to mind where Bank of America had a customer come in with a scam check and asked if it was legit and, if so, could he cash it out. The bank made him wait and called the cops and had him arrested. He ultimately didn’t get any charges filed but he did get to spend some time in jail and have an arrest record, and he couldn’t sue BofA because the law says that they can have people on the premises arrested without consequences.

Ignoring the banks themselves, the ultimate problem seems to be payment card networks, specifically Visa and MasterCard. All ATM cards that are also members of a payment card network in the USA are (as far as I am aware) issued either a Visa or MasterCard card number. This means that Visa/MC form a duopoly, or what is known in capitalism as a “monopoly of two.” Essentially, any duopoly acting in its own self-interest will end up cooperating such that they behave no differently than a monopoly. The competition that forms the basis of a core element of a capitalist economic system (supply and demand) doesn’t start until you have a third player in the market that directly competes with the other two. American Express and Discover are the other two major payment card networks but I have never seen a single ATM card with either of their logos, and frankly I can count the number of Amex and Discover cards I swipe in a year on one hand. They only compete with Visa/MC in the credit card space and they’re quite minor competition by comparison.

Bringing my point full circle, the Visa/MC duopoly control the payment card networks that the entire country has to use to engage in electronic commerce. Even when you individually consider alternatives like using PayPal with a bank draft only, PayPal still needs to maintain their relationship with Visa/MC for every other customer that DOES use a Visa/MC card, be it a bank ATM card or a real credit card, otherwise Visa/MC will threaten to pull their partnership which would decimate PayPal, if not outright destroy it. This means that if a corporate executive at MasterCard (or someone who knows such an exec and has influence over them, i.e. a wife, family member, or close friend) decides that they hate Sargon’s politics or that Sargon rubbed them the wrong way one night when they were browsing through YouTube, that executive can leverage the banhammer power of the entire MasterCard company to force every downstream payment processor and intermediate money handling platform that has any payment processing relationship with MasterCard to refuse to do business with Sargon under threat of losing the ability to process ANY payments through MasterCard OR any other provider that partners with MasterCard, *potentially up to and including entire banks.*

This is the real reason why Stripe, PayPal, and Patreon seem to be colluding even though they may not be: it’s MasterCard pulling their puppet strings and I guarantee you that we have no access to the payment card network blacklist because the payment card networks will have that blacklist under strict non-disclosure agreements with hefty penalties for breach of that section of the contract. Because MasterCard could theoretically bully any kind of financial institution into doing their bidding and taking the public heat for it, my proposed solution is a law that requires all financial service providers to provide their services universally to anyone legally allowed to request them. The devil is always in the details (for example, loans would still require due diligence and be subject to rejection based on reasonable assessments of risk) but the basic premise is that everyone should generally have a right to open a bank account, get a payment card that can be used to engage in commerce online, and freely enjoy the use of that card as a means to send and receive funds between other consenting private parties without concerns over being “cut off” for any reason other than commission of a crime. When the outrage mob shows up and demands that PayPal cut Sargon’s account because he’s “muh alt-right troll insert emotional buzzwords here rah rah,” PayPal can throw their hands up in the air and say “hey, it’s the law, we HAVE to service Sargon no differently than we service you guys, so you’re wasting your time!”

I’m theorizing to some extent because there is a huge information vacuum right now, but based on all available evidence, Visa and/or MasterCard are the puppetmasters and the fight must ultimately be brought to their doorsteps. One last point: the reason I want a Constitutional amendment rather than a normal law is because a normal law will fail on FIrst Amendment grounds, namely the right to freedom of association, but a Constitutional amendment would be able to supersede the First Amendment right to freedom of association specifically for businesses that serve as financial transaction intermediates (anyone between your personal money and another person you’re trying to do business with being able to receive that money.)

Windows 10 is hard to support because it’s inconsistent and settings keep vanishing

(This was left in response to a video called “Why Microsoft Can’t Design a Consistent Windows”)

They CAN offer a consistent Windows, they just choose not to. Windows 10 is a support nightmare. How to accomplish something (and whether or not it is even possible to do so anymore) depends on what build the person is on, which means to support Windows 10 requires being familiar with all possible builds that one could encounter. That means knowing all the “settings shuffles” and control panel neutering of Windows 10 builds 1507, 1511, 1607, 1703, 1709, 1803, and soon build 1809 as well. In each build, Microsoft strips out Control Panel functionality and forces it over to the Settings panel, but they are notorious for killing off Control Panel stuff despite the Settings equivalents omitting important settings or capabilities. It used to be that you could change a network from “public” to “private” using Network Connections in the Control Panel, but that was lost and HomeGroup was the only place to easily find a “switch” for that setting. Then they killed off HomeGroup functionality. In Windows 10 build 1709, to change a network from Public to Private after the pop-out prompt when you first connect is gone, you have to HAND-EDIT THE REGISTRY SETTING FOR THE PUBLIC/PRIVATE STATUS OF THAT NETWORK.

When they worked on killing off Default Programs, they made it redirect to Default Apps which doesn’t let you pick a single program and one-click associate ALL file types it can handle with that program; there was a workaround where one could run a batch file that invoked the old Default Programs panel, but now that’s also going to just redirect to the Default Apps panel which STILL CANNOT ONE-CLICK ASSOCIATE ALL FILE TYPES.

I don’t buy excuses like “we support lots of different hardware.” That’s a cop-out. Touchscreens were in use long before Windows 10. Also, Microsoft DOES NOT listen to the vast majority of user feedback. I have repeatedly reported many serious problems using their feedback mechanism and those problems persist today.

(Another user asked: “What support scenario do you work in?”)

The specific problem I’ve had is with control panel items being removed from Control Panel when a Settings panel that replaces it hasn’t picked up all of those settings yet, or is lacking in functionality. The biggest thing that kills me is Default Programs: in the old one, I could pick a program and associate ALL types that program supports with that one program, but in the new one I have to click each individual type under the program’s name and click the program in the list that pops out. For media players this would be a disaster; MPC-HC supports over 100 file extensions, for example, and I used to be able to associate all 100+ of those with two clicks. Now it’s more like 250 clicks if I want to do the same thing. In the first build where they removed that control panel, I could still run a long esoteric command to bypass the redirection to Settings and get the old panel back up, but then they made the panel itself redirect to Settings as well and I’m stuck.

That’s mostly an issue for me when I’m doing Windows installations or installing a particular set of programs, but there were some builds of Windows 10 where they took away the HomeGroup functionality (which I don’t use anyway) when that panel was also the only clear way in the GUI to switch a network that was Public to be Private instead. Until they added the setting back recently, I had a lot of customer computers where the ONLY way to switch the network mode was to edit the registry, and it couldn’t be done with some simple trick like a .reg file either, so it was always a manual registry edit. I also had several business customers get the Windows 10 1703 update and it switched ALL their networks to be Public automatically without prompting anyone, causing their computers to be unable to share printers and files and causing a panic on payroll day

I deal with normal people. I have to support those normal people. In Windows 7, I knew where everything was. I could easily talk to the user and tell them what to click. If I couldn’t remember, I’d follow along on my own machine. With Windows 10, fundamental stuff like the control panels change in every new “feature update” and there’s no guarantee that different users and myself will all be on the same build, so I can’t even follow along on my machine anymore; their network settings panel might look very different from my own because they got a new build and I’m still on an older one. It’s an absolute nightmare to do any sort of phone support for Win10. I often have to do a remote or have them bring it in, and the internet around here is absolutely abysmal because CenturyLink takes $500M a year from the Feds to expand rural broadband but only spend it to compete with areas that a competitor starts serving, and they control all the phone lines in the area.

The Financial Provider Neutrality Act (FIPNA), my legal solution to the payment processor bias problem

This is not a new problem but it’s becoming a much larger one. Many years ago, PayPal notoriously banned “adult” fiction book sellers (not actual pornography, just books with pornographic descriptions using words) from their service and it caused quite a stir. With the #PatreonPurge, PayPal’s banning of SubscribeStar, and a wide variety of individual de-platforming by other payment processors such as Stripe, we’re seeing overt actions by financial platform providers reminiscent of the days of Hollywood’s anti-Communist blacklists, disrupting free exercise of speech and the ability of mutually consenting parties to engage in beneficial commerce in the age of the internet.

My solution is simple: FIPNA, the “Financial Provider Neutrality Act.” This would be a law (preferably an amendment to the United States Constitution) that forces the provider of ANY financial service platform (banks, card processors, online payment processors, investment firms, etc.) to accept and retain everyone on that platform unless they have actively used that platform to break the law or are otherwise legally barred from opening a bank account with that platform. This protection extends beyond banks to all “financial services platforms” because despite allowing you to have an account in which you may deposit and they retain funds, PayPal and others somehow are “not a bank” and are able to skirt a wide variety of consumer protection laws due to “not being a bank.”

Imagine if every bank in your town closed any bank account you opened shortly after you opened it because they didn’t like your political beliefs! That’s shockingly not far from where we’re heading with this behavior.

I am generally a pretty hard classical libertarian, but the immense control that near-monopoly corporations have over major aspects of the internet represent a colossal threat to our fundamental freedoms. What good is freedom of speech if you are banned from the public square? What good is freedom of speech if you can’t buy dinner because a required third party can block people from giving you the money that they WANT to give you? If you can’t exercise your fundamental freedoms in any effective way then you DO NOT actually have those freedoms.

Arguments about corporations having freedom of speech fall sorely flat here because this is an issue of corporate freedom of speech vs. individual freedom of speech, and the individual’s freedom of speech should always take priority. It’s debatable whether a financial platform is engaging in speech at all; they act as middlemen in transactions that skim money off the top, not as creators or publishers of speech, and if you are cut off from your income by an activist financial platform like Patreon and PayPal have been doing, your freedom of speech IS being curtailed because you can’t speak when you can’t pay for your survival.

I understand that we have hundreds of years of case law that says corporations have the same freedoms as individuals because corporations are groups of individuals exercising their freedoms and I don’t necessarily disagree with that concept. Where I draw the line is when corporate freedoms conflict with individual freedoms, and in such instances I believe that individual freedoms must take precedence and restrictions must be imposed on the corporation to preserve those individual liberties, lest society become like the worst-case example of a democracy: “three wolves and a rabbit decide what’s for dinner.”

See also: Patreon May Have Violated Anti Trust Laws In Sargon Debacle and Patreon + PayPal = Antitrust Violation (I’m done)

UPDATE: George Carlin, as always, puts it best. Here’s his diatribe on political correctness; “political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners.”

How to permanently disable Adobe’s PDApp.log (and others) on Windows or Mac

UPDATE (2020-02-16): Reports are coming in that this doesn’t work with the newest Adobe CC programs since they’re rotating the logs now. If this doesn’t work for you, it may be best to run a temporary file cleanup tool daily, such as Disk Cleanup included in Windows, CCleaner (warning: since Avast bought it, it’s a bit spammy now), or similar. Alternatively, if you are handy with such things, write a batch file that deletes the log files and add it to Task Scheduler as a task to run when you normally won’t be active on the machine.

UPDATE (2019-10-21): Adobe’s support has noticed this post and is attempting to have the bug behind this issue fixed. See the comments!

I recently discovered that Adobe’s Creative Cloud software left a massive pile of PDApp.log files in my temporary directories, as well as a few others such as CEP8-PPro.log and AdobeIPCBroker.log. These were taking up quite a bit of space, and I’ve looked up PDApp.log only to discover that some people have had serious issues with PDApp.log consuming all available free space on their drives after a while. One user reported having a 600GB log file! Needless to say, several people have asked how they can control these log files, but as usual, Adobe support and forum users offered no actual solutions.

I’m here with your solution!

Adobe log symlinks
What a sweet, sweet sight these are.

On Windows, you’ll need to open Task Manager and kill all Adobe processes to unlock the log files (not just stuff starting with Adobe, but also Creative Cloud processes and any node.exe instances they started) then open an administrative command prompt and type the following two commands:

cd %temp%
del PDApp.log
mklink PDApp.log NUL:

This goes to your temporary directory, deletes the PDApp.log file (if you get an “in use” error here you missed an Adobe process in Task Manager), and creates a file symbolic link to a special device called NUL: which is literally the “nothing” device. When the Adobe apps write to PDApp.log now, all writes will succeed (no errors) but the data will simply be discarded. You can repeat the delete/mklink process for any other Adobe logs you don’t want around anymore. Best of all, because symlinks on Windows require admin privileges to modify, the Adobe apps won’t rotate these fake log files out! Be aware that cleanup tools like CCleaner or Disk Cleanup may delete these links, so you may need to repeat these steps if you delete your temp folder contents with a cleaning tool. You may want to write a small batch file to run the commands in one shot if you like to delete temp files frequently.

On Mac OS (note: I haven’t tested this myself, but it should work) you should be able to kill all Adobe processes with Activity Monitor, then open Terminal, then type this:

ln -sf /dev/null ~/Library/Logs/PDApp.log

Linux/UNIX administrators will recognize this as the classic “redirect to /dev/null” technique that we all know and love. Since I have no way to test this, Adobe may rotate these links out, but you can use this command to lock down the symlink if it does:

sudo chown -h root:wheel ~/Library/Logs/PDApp.log

This will ask for your account password since it requires privilege escalation. This command makes the link owned by “root” which means normal user programs can’t rename or delete it, though they can still write through the link, so the trick will continue to work.

UPDATE: Some have asked what the purpose of the PDApp.log file is and whether it’s safe to do this. The answers are, respectively, “logs information for troubleshooting Creative Cloud installation problems” and “yes, absolutely.” If you’re not having installation issues, this log is just taking up space and wearing out your SSD. If you need to “re-enable it” it’s as simple as deleting the “decoy” links you made with these directions which will allow the logs to be created as if nothing ever happened.

Too many YouTube ads on mobile and TV? Bypass them with SaveTube and Plex!

Adblock Plus does a great job of blocking ads on desktops and laptops, but on “app” devices like phones and TVs, ad blocking simply isn’t available. This isn’t a solution for blocking ads during casual browsing of YouTube on mobile and TV apps, but it’s a great way to get videos you know you’ll want to watch later and watch them on “app” devices with no more ad breaks ruining everything. You need two things: Sebaro’s SaveTube (and a browser extension like Greasemonkey to enable running user scripts if your browser doesn’t have native user script support) and a Plex Media Server setup. I can’t explain in this post how to install browser extensions like Greasemonkey or Tampermonkey and add SaveTube to it, nor can I explain how to install and set up Plex, but your favorite search engine and the Plex website can tell you everything you need to know.

  1. Install SaveTube.
  2. Have Plex installed, set up, and working. You’ll need Plex Media Server on your computer and the Plex app on your phone, tablet, TV, Chromecast, Roku, or whatever you happen to own.
  3. Create a new folder for your YouTube videos and add it to your Plex Media Server. Call it “YouTube videos” or whatever you like and classify the folder in Plex as “other videos.”
  4. Open a video you’d like to watch without ads. SaveTube should appear at the bottom right corner of the screen if you have it installed properly.
  5. Click “Get” in SaveTube to save a copy of the video to your computer. This defaults to the highest resolution MP4 that contains both audio and video in a single file. In general, you can’t download 1080p or 4K content already in this “muxed” file format, so it’s best not to mess with the default choice. SaveTube’s red-orange options are called “DASH streams” and contain ONLY audio or ONLY video, meaning you’ll have to remux the separate streams if you want the options that aren’t available in blue. As you can tell by now, it’s easiest to just hit “Get” and leave the other SaveTube options alone.
  6. Repeast steps 4 and 5 for every video you want.
  7. Move the YouTube video(s) you downloaded to the folder you made and added to Plex.
  8. Open the Plex Media Server web portal, click “…” to the right of your YouTube video library, and have it “scan library files.” This will refresh the list of available videos with your new additions.
  9. Open Plex on your device of choice and enjoy the videos you fetched 100% ad-free!

Legal disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, but for a layperson I have a fairly strong understanding of copyright law. It is my non-professional opinion that the actions taken here do not constitute copyright infringement or a violation of the non-circumvention provisions of the DMCA. YouTube’s page code has a block of text called “var ytplayer” that contains unencrypted URLencoded URLs to these video streams and there are no access controls on the server that restrict you from accessing videos through the links in that block of code. As long as you follow standard copyright law restrictions for the content (no redistribution, no public exhibition, etc.) this should be 100% legal. If you’re asking why this would be legal when “YouTube-to-MP3 sites” aren’t, it’s because those sites engage in redistribution of content which is an action protected by copyright. In fact, you can do the MP3 conversion yourself if you use SaveTube to download a “medium bitrate audio MP4” and use a free conversion tool like ffmpeg, Audacity, or Format Factory to convert the .m4a file to .mp3 format instead.

If you’re an attorney (a real attorney, not a person like me that simply thinks they’re smart and probably isn’t) and you believe that this procedure is not legal, please feel free to contact me and explain.