How to uninstall G-DM

Behave like malware, get treated like malware.

If you installed this useless app on your PC and find it won’t uninstall via Control Panel, try any of the following:

Method 1: Rebooting after the 1st uninstallation attempt

The developer, G-Agate, claims this should work, but I never saw any indication to reboot so I can’t confirm it.

Method 2: Stopping the G-DM Service, and then try uninstalling again

  1. Open the Start menu.
  2. Search for Services.
  3. Open the Services search result.
  4. Click the G-DM service in the list that pops up.
  5. To the upper left of the list, click Stop.
  6. Try uninstalling again.

Method 3: Clean boot, then try uninstalling again

  1. Do a clean boot. This should prevent the G-DM service from starting.
  2. Try uninstalling again.

Method 4: Use CCleaner

  1. Download and install CCleaner Free while opting out of Chrome installation and disabling anything that would make CCleaner run in the background or on startup.
  2. Launch CCleaner.
  3. Click Options.
  4. Under Settings, uncheck all boxes in the far left column.
  5. Click Monitoring.
  6. Uncheck all boxes in the far left column.
  7. Click Advanced.
  8. Uncheck Skip User Account Control warning.
  9. Click Tools in the far left menu.
  10. Under Uninstall, find G-DM.
  11. Click Uninstall.

If Methods 1 to 3 fail, Method 4 should work. The developers insist their app isn’t malware, but I consider anything that refuses to uninstall from the Control Panel to be so.

 

Chrome Canary 64-bit startup problems? Try this

Google silently breaks Canary for some users.

A few weeks ago, I noticed Chrome Canary 64-bit would either refuse to launch (a window) or would launch as Not Responding in Windows. When I opened Task Manager to kill Canary, though, I saw this:

Clipboard01
Pretty sure I have Canary 64-bit, so why are 32-bit processes showing up?

Canary had 32-bit processes, despite the 64-bit installation. At first I figured I’d either absent mindedly installed the 32-bit build or forgotten to switch over to the 64-bit build when it first became available, so I reinstalled the 64-bit build in-place.

That fixed the problem for a few days until it returned. At this point I knew for sure the error wasn’t my doing, so I filed a bug.

Turns out Google deliberately pushes 32-bit builds to 64-bit installs on high RAM – apparently ≥ 8GB, from my experience –  machines to find memory-related bugs. From 2 developers in that bug thread:

On occasion, we send a 32-bit build to 64-bit installs. The most frequent case is an ASAN build to help us find memory-related bugs in Chrome. It’s most likely that you received one of these build (chrome://version will tell you), and that you’d be back to 64-bit canary the next day.

Some background: We’ve recently started shipping ASAN instrumented builds of Chrome to canary users. These builds contain instrumentation that track down heap memory errors, and provide extremely useful bug reports to Chrome developers. As grt@ mentions, if you’re on one of these builds you’ll see a ‘SyzyASan’ label if you navigate to chrome://version.

– To limit user pain we filter for machines with sufficient memory, as there is a significant memory overhead to the instrumentation.

– To further limit user pain we randomly select 1 in every 20 users every day. That is, for any day’s update you have a 1 in 20 chance of receiving an ASAN instrumented build. The next days update still has the same 1 in 20 chance, so most often you should end up back on a non-instrumented build.

– Unfortunately, the technology is 32-bit only right now. In order to increase the audience of potential users we also ship to 64-bit users, intentionally downgrading them to 32-bit builds for a day.

We are working on making the instrumentation work natively in 64-bit mode, but that is at least 6 months away.

Finally, if the instrumentation is rendering your browser completely unusable we do have an opt-out mechanism in place.

I’ll let you decide the morality of pushing broken 32-bit builds to 64-bit users, but at least we have an answer.

Currently the only fix I know of is an in-place reinstall.

Update: you can opt out of the 32-bit builds by running reg add HKCU\Software\Google\Update\ClientState\{4EA16AC7-FD5A-47C3-875B-DBF4A2008C20}\cohort /v hint /d asan-optout /f in an elevated command prompt after reinstalling the 64-bit build.

How to properly format an SD card on a PC or Mac

Your options are SD Card Formatter or death.

Not an day (or even hour, perhaps) goes by without someone posting about microSD/SD card (henceforth referred to as simply “SD card”) formatting problems in a support forum. Almost always they formatted the card on their desktop using the OS’ built-in utility. And almost always this causes the card to work poorly in the (usually Android) mobile device it’s intended for.

Never format any SD card on a PC or Mac using anything other than SD Card Formatter.

That happens because desktop OS’ built-in formatting utilities often format the cards incorrectly, whereas the SD Association’s SD Card Formatter utility for PCs and Macs formats them correctly. Per the SD Association:

The SD Formatter was created specifically for memory cards using the SD/SDHC/SDXC standards. It is strongly recommended to use the SD Formatter instead of formatting utilities provided with operating systems that format various types of storage media. Using generic formatting utilities may result in less than optimal performance for your memory cards.

The SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards have a “Protected Area” on the card for the SD standard’s security function. The SD Formatter does not format the “Protected Area”. Please use appropriate application software or SD-compatible device that provides SD security function to format the “Protected Area” in the memory card.

The instructions for using SD Card Formatter are found here. It can be used to resurrect “dead” (read: incorrectly formatted) SD cards and should be the first software tool you use should formatting the card on the mobile device fail or the card be unreadable.

Other tips for handling SD cards:

  • As I said above, never format any SD card on a PC or Mac using anything other than SD Card Formatter. From the Association:

    the card may not be recognized correctly and a message to prompt formatting may appear. In this case, do not format the SDXC memory card. It may erase the data on the SDXC memory card and format the card for a different file system, making it incompatible with SDXC devices.

  • Always format new SD cards on your mobile device first before doing so anywhere else.
  • Generally speaking, avoid placing your mobile device’s SD card in your PC at all unless you absolutely have to.
  • If you do need to transfer files between cards using your PC, use this method.

 

Windows, OS X, or Linux: on which OS do apps use the least RAM?

Windows trounces OS X in client application RAM consumption.

Some caveats on what follows:

  1. Testing was done on Firefox only. Howeve since Firefox is open source, very actively developed, and has prioritized low RAM usage, it’s a good representative of well-engineered multiplatform apps.
  2. The developer’s conclusion is based on the factor by which RAM consumption changes. My conclusion is based on the total RAM consumption, period.
  3. The Windows results are for Windows 7. Since subsequent versions of Windows are known to use progressively less RAM, it’s safe to assume RAM consumption is better on Windows 10.

That said, below are the results for Firefox on all 3 OSes:

Memory Usage of Firefox with e10s Enabled – Eric Rahm
Linux wins, Windows 7 comes in second, and OS X finishes 3rd.

Clearly, if client application RAM consumption is your major concern, Linux is the OS for you. Windows comes second, while OS X brings up the rear. Feel free to use this as ammo in the nearest OS flamewar.

Where to find Panda Free Antivirus’ Quarantine

If you’re wondering where to find the above,

  • For Windows 32-bit: C:\Program Files(x86)\Panda Security\Panda SecurityProtection\LostandFound
  • For Windows 64-bit: C:\Program Files\Panda Security\Panda SecurityProtection\LostandFound

At the time I needed this info, I was using Windows 8.1 & Panda Free Antivirus 2015.

Thanks as123 for the tip.

How to safely update your rooted Verizon Samsung Galaxy S5 to to the NK2 build

Because xda-developers instructions – like most forum guides – are poorly written.

This post assumes you’ll be updating from the NCG (Android 4.4.2) build the Verizon Samsung Galaxy S5 (SM-G900V) was released with. This method will not affect your files or apps on internal storage or the SD card in any way, so don’t worry about your phone being wiped.

  1. Ensure drivers for your phone are installed.
  2. Ensure towelroot is installed so you can easily re-root later.
  3. Ensure the System Updates app, SDM 1.0, is enabled. You’ll need it for the OTA update in a later step.*
  4. Ensure SuperSU is already installed.
  5. In Settings, tap Security.
  6. Under FIND MY MOBILE, uncheck the Reactivation lock box to prevent your SIM card being borked during the process.

    Note: do NOT proceed to Step 7 until Steps 1-6 have been completed.
  7. Download G900V_NK2_Stock_Kernel.tar.
  8. Download G900V_NCG_Stock_Kernel.tar.
  9. Download G900VVRU1ANHA_G900VVZW1ANHA_VZW.zip.
  10. Download ODINv3.10.rar.
  11. Decompress all the above .zip and .rar archives only. Do not decompress the .tar file(s).
  12. Turn off the S5.
  13. Hold Volume Down + Home + Power simultaneously to enter Download Mode.
  14. Press Volume Up to continue as indicated onscreen.
  15. Launch Odin from its decompressed folder.
  16. Connect the S5 to your PC via USB 2.0+ cable. This should result in Odin detecting the phone as below:

    Note the highlighted slot and "Added" message which indicate Odin's detection of the S5
    Note the highlighted slot and “Added” message which indicate Odin’s detection of the S5
  17. In the Odin window in the Files [Download] section, check the AP box.
  18. Click the AP button and select the G900VVRU1ANHA_G900VVZW1ANHA_G900VVRU1ANHA_HOME.tar file, found in the decompressed G900VVRU1ANHA_G900VVZW1ANHA_VZW.zip folder.
  19. Click Start. The S5 will update and boot into to the NHA build.
  20. In the S5’s Settings, tap System Updates.
  21. Tap Check for new software update.
  22. Accept, download, and install the available OTA NK2 update.
  23. When the S5 has successfully rebooted, turn it off.
  24. Put the S5 into Download Mode again as in Step 13.
  25. Repeat Steps 16 to 18 for the G900V_NCG_Stock_Kernel.tar file, with the exception that the S5 will now boot into the NK2 build, albeit running on the *NCG kernel.
  26. Open towelroot.
  27. Tap make it rain and wait for the rooting process to complete.
  28. Reboot the phone if towelroot doesn’t do that automatically.
  29. Open SuperSU and let it update the binary normally if it prompts you to do so.
  30. Repeat Steps 22 to 24 for the G900V_NK2_Stock_Kernel.tar file. The S5 will now boot into the NK2 build with matching kernel and root access.

*If you forget to do this, you won’t be able to OTA update in Step 18. In that case, follow Step 23, boot into the NHA build on the NCG kernel, and then root. Reboot and re-enable SDM 1.0, then continue the process at Step 18.

Credit JTidler & muniz_ri for the above instructions. I wrote this guide as an easier to understand and follow version for users like myself who don’t flash kernels and images as a matter of course.

Workarounds for Subsonic’s remote connectivity & folder scanning bugs

Hi! Do you like nonexistent documentation? Then Subsonic is for you!

If you’re having trouble getting Subsonic to work, first ensure you’ve followed the Getting Started guide. If that fails – and it probably will due to Subsonic’s nonexistent documentation* – keep reading. This guide assumes your server is running fully patched Windows 8.1 August Update at the least, but it should also work for other versions of the OS.

Problem 1: you can’t connect to your custom server URL

If testing your custom server URL on the server within Subsonic’s web UI throws the

YourServerName.subsonic.org is registered, but could not connect to it. (ConnectTimeoutException)

Try this:

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Click Windows Firewall.
  3. Click Allow an app or feature through Windows Firewall.
  4. In the window that pops up, click Change Settings, which may throw a UAC prompt depending on your settings for that latter feature. Confirm the UAC prompt.
  5. In the Allowed apps and features: list, scroll down to all the Subsonic entries and ensure that both Private and Public boxes are checked for all of them.
  6. Click OK.
You'll have to enable both Public and Private firewall exceptions for Subsonic.
You’ll have to enable both Public and Private firewall exceptions for Subsonic.

Your server should be now visible and pass connection tests. (Thanks squipple for this solution.)

Problem 2: Folder scanning fails

If you keep scanning a folder, only to find nothing from it shows up, that’s probably because the Subsonic Windows service doesn’t have permissions to access that folder. The service runs under the SYSTEM user, presumably to allow it to function even if someone else is logged in to the PC and the Subsonic admin isn’t. Unfortunately, SYSTEM lacks permissions to read every folder on your PC, probably including the ones you’re having trouble with.

There 2 ways to solve this problem:

Solution 1: run the Subsonic service under your user account

  1. Open Services in Windows.
  2. Scroll down to find the Subsonic service.
  3. Right-click the Subsonic service.
  4. Click Properties.
  5. Click the Log On tab.
  6. Activate the This account: radio button.
  7. In the This account: field, enter .\YourWindowsUsername.
  8. Enter and confirm your Windows OS password in the remaining 2 fields.
  9. Click Apply.
  10. Click OK.
Set the Subsonic service to run under your user account.
Set the Subsonic service to run under your user account.

Pros:

  • This is a global setting that gives the service access to every folder you have access to. You only have to set it once.

Cons:

  • As far as I know, it’s unusual for services to run as a user (I’ve never had to do that before). This may lead to other complications of which I’m not yet specifically aware. I suspect it may result in the service not running if the corresponding user isn’t currently logged in to the server PC.

Solution 2: change the folder’s security settings

  1. In Windows Explorer, right-click the folder.
  2. Click Properties.
  3. Click the Security tab.
  4. Click Edit…
  5. Click Add…
  6. In the Enter object names to select field, enter Everyone. You probably could use SYSTEM or groups other than Everyone which contain Everyone but I didn’t test those so I’m not sure if they work.
  7. Click Check Names.
  8. Assuming the check is successful, click OK.
  9. Click OK.
  10. Click Apply.
  11. Click OK.
  12. In the Permissions for Everyone section, ensure all permissions except Special Permissions are set to Allow. If they aren’t, click Advanced to make them so.
  13. Click Apply.
  14. Click OK.
What your folder permissions should look like.
What your folder permissions should look like.

Once you’re done with either of the above methods:

  1. Return to the Subsonic UI.
  2. Click on Settings.
  3. Check the Delete box and clear the Enabled box next to the troublesome folder.
  4. Click Save.
  5. Click the Clean-up database link.
  6. Click the Scan media folders now link.
  7. When the scan completes, re-add the problem folder.
  8. Click the Scan media folders now link again.

Files from the problem folder should show up now.

Pros:

  • No unusual Windows service settings.

Cons:

  • Has to be set per individual parent folder.
  • Messes with pre-existing folder permissions, which may result in giving access to users you don’t want to give access to.

(Thanks to Subsonic developer Sindre Mehus for Solution 1.)

*Yes, Subsonic does have some documentation. But despite the above 2 issues being very common in the user forum, there’s no page or even forum sticky post for solving them. That’s pretty bad for a paid service, especially considering that Audiogalaxy worked perfectly out of the box with the same (music) features.

The best way to block ads: AdBlock Plus vs. a custom hosts file (HostsMan)

The champ is here.

After using AdBlock Plus (ABP) for years, I decided to try a custom hosts file for ad blocking instead for a bit. Searching for “Adblock Plus vs. hosts file” produces nothing but forum posts and very few actual comparisons; this should help fix that. The central issue addressed is here is whether in-browser ad block is better that hosts file ad blocking. For this, I’ve selected the most commonly used/best of breed solution for each and compared them based on my experiences with both.

AdBlock Plus

Pros:

  • High granularity: wild cards allow blocking of specific section(s) of a domain instead of the entire domain.
  • Can be enabled or disabled per site.
  • Easily accessible browser based UI.
  • Intuitive UI.
  • Can interactively block elements onscreen.
  • Very actively developed.
  • Filters updated on a daily basis.
  • Is open source.
  • Changing lists or lists subscriptions or otherwise editing rules does not disrupt internet connection.
  • Subscription change effects are seen in real time.

Cons:

  • Very high RAM penalty (~35% in Win64 Firefox 36.0a1 on Windows 8.1).
  • Works only in the browser; don’t block ads elsewhere.
  • Can seriously break browser functionality.
  • Slows browser and PC down because every element URL request has to be checked against blocking rules first, which holds up everything else while that happens.

HostsMan

Pros:

  • No RAM penalty.
  • No CPU penalty.
  • Blocks ads across the entire OS, not just the browser.
  • Don’t break browser functionality.

Cons:

  • Very low granularity: can block entire domains only.
  • Can’t be enabled or disabled per site.
  • Less accessible UI than ABP.
  • Less intuitive UI than ABP.
  • Cannot interactively block elements onscreen.
  • Less actively developed than ABP.
  • Hosts files updated significantly less frequently than ABP lists.
  • Lots of false positives that break website functionality, e.g. sharing buttons and social logins can disappear.
  • Still lets quite a few ads through.
  • Is closed source.
  • Changing the hosts file can (temporarily) disrupt your internet connection.
  • Delete Entry in the hosts file editor often fails after the first use per session.

Conclusion

HostsMan’s main advantage is its lower resource overhead. Sadly, said lower resource usage doesn’t translate into particularly faster page loads or browser performance from a superficial user perspective, and so isn’t nearly enough to overcome its numerous other shortcomings. Ironically, some pages do seem to load slower with HostsMan than they do with ABP. The latter’s better UI and UX make it the winner.

Which sources to use in HostsMan

Only 3 of the suggested sources are usable, and you may want to add another custom source.

If you hate ads, you’ve probably already tried an ad blocking solution like AdBlock Plus (ABP). If you’re reading this, you probably also discovered the huge negative impact of in-browser ad blocking on browser performance. And so now you’re trying HostsMan instead.* Unlike ABP, however, HostsMan doesn’t make it obvious which hosts file sources you subscribe to. Enabling all of them sounds like a good idea, but doing so hoses some functionality such as social sharing bookmarklets.

I’m still testing HostsMan in lieu of ABP on my Windows 7 64-bit and Windows 8.1 August Update 64-bit PCs, but so far the following hosts subscriptions have blocked ads without compromising useful features:

  • MVPS Hosts
  • Peter Lowe’s AdServers List
  • Malware Domain List

You can also add AdAway‘s** list by doing the following:

  1. In HostMan’s Manage Update Sources dialog, click Add Source…
  2. Enter an appropriate name in the Name (ex: Example’s hosts file): field.
  3. In the File name or URL: field, enter https://adaway.org/hosts.txt.
  4. Click Test Connection to ensure you entered the right details.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Force an update from HostsMan’s main window.

You don’t have to reboot for changes to take effect, though your internet connection might hiccup while the OS becomes aware of the new hosts file.

What your HostsMan Manage Update Sources options should look like.
What your HostsMan Manage Update Sources options should look like.

More specific reasons I disregard the remaining hosts sources:

  • hpHosts (all): far too aggressive and insufficiently specific.
  • Cameleon: not updated often enough. As of this writing, the most recent update was in April 2014.

Sadly, Cameleon’s state betrays one major downside of ad blocking using hosts files: they aren’t updated nearly as frequently as ABP lists. EasyList, for example, is updated daily. Of the sources I recommend, the most recently updated is the Malware Domain List at October 31, 2014. Peter Lowe’s list was updated on October 10, while MVPS and AdAway were updated on September 30. Yikes.

*More thorough comparison of ABP and HostsMan.

**AdAway does for Android what HostsMan does for Windows. However, it needs root permissions and you definitely need to reboot between hosts file updates as there’s no other way to make the OS aware of the changes.

How to fix Windows 10 Technical Preview Build 9860 Action Center warnings about AVG Antivirus FREE 2015

Hint: you’ll have to reinstall AVG. Excited yet?

UPDATE: This problem appears to be fixed in Build 9879, albeit not in the way one might expect. That build blows cripples AVG – and, presumably, all other 3rd party AV apps – away and replaces them with Windows Defender. AVG is still installed, but all its shortcuts have been removed. Given the issues I’ve had with 3rd party AV and Windows 8+ build updates, this may be the new normal for Windows. If that’s the case, hopefully that means MS is going back to making Windows Defender a best-in-class security solution.

I updated to Windows 10 Technical Preview Build 9860 Action Center earlier and immediately ran into Windows Action Center telling me that my PC wasn’t protected and that I should turn antivirus and spyware protection on. Since I run AVG Antivirus FREE 2015 on it, I shouldn’t have seen that message.

Clicking Action Center’s own enabling options didn’t help.* AVG Antivirus FREE 2015 was showing that its Computer and Identity shields were down, which invoking its UI’s proffered single click solution did nothing to change.

Figuring this might be another case of a service failing to start in Windows 10 TP, I opened Services and found that AVGIDAgent wasn’t running. Trying to start it manually produced a long error. At my wits end, I decided that perhaps AVG and Windows 10 TP were incompatible and so I’d be better off just running Windows Defender. I tried uninstalling AVG, but the uninstall failed due to “insufficient privileges” despite me being on an admin account. Services showed no option for manually stopping  AVG WatchDog either.

A tale of 2 services. AVG WatchDog can't be manually stopped; AVGIDSAgent can't be manually started.
A tale of 2 services. AVG WatchDog can’t be manually stopped; AVGIDSAgent can’t be manually started.

If you run into this situation, here’s how to fix it:

  1. Download the AVG Remover that matches your OS (e.g. 64-bit for x64) here.
  2. Run AVG Remover, which along with removing AVG dumps 2 extensive log files – avgremover.log and avgremover_msilog.txt – in the folder from which it was launched. Your PC will reboot.**
  3. Download AVG.
  4. Reinstall AVG.

The above steps should clear Action Center’s warnings.

Everything's back to normal!
Everything’s back to normal!

I think a couple things are at work here. The first is that 3rd party antivirus and Windows OS updates don’t work perfectly well with each other. This is disappointing but not surprising, considering that the former has the deepest hooks possible into the latter for a client application but both are separately developed. The second is I suspect a significant under the hood change between Windows 10 TP and previous Windows versions in how client applications invoke services. I base this suspicion on the above complications with along with EMET 5.0 – a Microsoft security product!!! – being unable to start the service necessary to complete its installation without manual user intervention.

The above method also works if Identity protection suddenly stops working and refuses to be enabled.

*This happens occasionally with avast! on Windows 8.1, so it’s not shocking.

**Upon rebooting, you’ll see the same Action Center warnings again. You can try auto-enabling Windows Defender via them, but that didn’t work for me. Neither did trying to manually start Windows Defender’s UI, as the Windows apparently still thought 3rd party antivirus was installed. If this is the case for you too, just proceed to Steps 3 and 4.