I use an RSS feed reader to get my news. Typically, as I scroll through the feed reader, I’ll open articles that interest me in new tabs and keep scrolling through the feed reader until I have about ten tabs or so open. Occasionally, one of those tabs will load a page that has a video file or some other audio that plays automatically, which really bugs me.
For a while now, Google Chrome has shown you the tab in which the audio is playing with a little icon:
But I recently found out that Google Chrome also has an experimental option that allows you to mute the audio in that tab just by right-clicking on the audio icon. Here’s how you do it.
First, open a new tab in Google Chrome and type or paste in the following:
This will open up a list of experimental “flags” or features that you can adjust. There is a warning at the top indicating that some of the features can really mess up your browser, so you should be careful.
Second, scroll down to the flag that says “Enable tab audio muting UI control.”
Click “Enable”. Once you do that, you’ll need to restart Google Chrome. However, once you do, you can now mute audio in a tab simply by clicking on the audio icon on the tab. When you mouse over the audio icon, you’ll see a red circle form around the audio icon, like this:
When you click on the audio icon, the audio will be muted and the red circle will be permanent on that tab until you click the icon again:
There you go – you can now kill the audio in a tab with the click of a button and don’t even have to go to that tab.
For about three weeks (end of June 2015 until mid July 2015), when I tried to go to a web page on my phone using Google’s Chrome browser (my default browser), about 2 out of 3 web pages wouldn’t load. Instead, the bar at the top would freeze about half way and then nothing would happen. Kind of like this:
Initially, I didn’t think it was a big deal as it was only a page or two. But when it continued, I started to get really frustrated. That’s when I started trying to solve the problem. What follows are all the things I tried that didn’t work, followed by the actual solution:
Wrong Solution #1:
My first attempted solution was to clear the cache and all the data the Chrome browser had stored. That didn’t help.
Wrong Solution #2:
Thinking the problem may be with the Chrome browser, I started using the default browser that ships with Android. Of course, that browser is very similar to Chrome (they are based on the same base software, Chromium). So, when the stock browser had the same problems, I thought it might be still related to the Chromium browser base.
This led to Wrong Solution #3.
Wrong Solution #3:
I installed Mozilla’s mobile browser for Android thinking the problem was with Chrome. Nope. The same thing happened in Mozilla’s browser – it would freeze after loading about half way and never finish.
At that point, I wasn’t really sure what to do as I had tried three of the most popular mobile browsers for Android and all were having the same issue. But something else happened that started to lead me down a different path. I also use Feedly for my news. Feedly started having issues as well. I would simply try to open the app and it would just sit on the “loading” screen indefinitely, like this:
Occasionally it would load, but sometimes it would take upwards of 10 minutes or more. I checked Feedly’s website and searched online to see if there were problems with Feedly loading for other people and no one was reporting any. Whatever the problem was, it seemed to be unique to me and my phone.
Wrong Solution #4:
Not sure what to do about Feedly, I tried deleting all of its cached files and other data. That didn’t fix the problem.
Okay, now what?
Wrong Solution #5:
I then tried to uninstall the Feedly app and reinstall it. That worked, one time. Then the problem returned.
At this point, I was kind of at wit’s end. Two of the apps I use really often were not working – Chrome, and Feedly. I didn’t know what else to do. Then I started considering what the two have in common. That led me to realize that I had an ad blocking app installed. I wondered if the ad blocking app was some how causing the two apps not to work. That would be pretty nasty of both Google and Feedly, to reduce their functionality because I wasn’t looking at their ads. But I was getting desperate.
Wrong Solution #6:
I removed the ad blocking app. That didn’t work. Both problems remained
My last smartphone, a Samsung Galaxy S3, would periodically start running a bit slower and I would start getting weird messages (sometimes ads). That usually meant I had installed some app I should not have (I like trying out new apps) and then I would go through and uninstall as many unnecessary apps as I could (and if that didn’t solve the problem, I’d wipe the phone and start over). Thinking I may need to do the same thing on my LG G3, I started scanning through all the apps on the phone. I found a few I could uninstall, but I haven’t actually tried out that many new apps. However, in the process of scanning through the apps I had installed, I found one I didn’t recognize. The app is called “Data Optimizer.” I knew I didn’t install that. Plus, something with a name like “Data Optimizer” just sounds sketchy to me. So, I selected it to see what it was, and that’s when I found the problem.
Data Optimizer is a Sprint app. I’m guessing it tries to cache data from websites or compress that data in order to make websites load faster or improve the browsing experience. I don’t know for sure, as there isn’t tons of information about that app readily available online (if you search for it, you usually get information on Sprint’s Connection Optimizer, which is completely different). But what I did see is that the app had mountains of data stored on my phone. Here’s a screenshot from after I turned the app off:
When I initially opened up the Data Optimizer app, under Storage, the Total was 1.6 gigabytes. Most of that was Cached data. Perhaps the app is designed to periodically clear out the cache and stored data and for some reason it didn’t on my phone. Perhaps not. What I can gather is that this app was caching a ton of data, supposedly to help improve my browsing experience. But something went wrong somewhere and instead of speeding things up, the app completely destroyed my browsing experience. I’m assuming that both Chrome and Feedly were trying to access files in the Data Optimizer cache, but because it was so huge, it was having a hard time retrieving those files. As a result, both Chrome and Feedly were freezing up most of the time.
Anyway, I deleted the cache and all the stored files, then tried opening up Feedly and Chrome. Both worked perfectly, as if the phone were brand new again. The Data Optimizer app was the problem!
Again, the above screen capture of the Data Optimizer app is from after I cleared the cache and deleted all the stored files. I also disabled the app (that’s why there is now an “enable” button in the app) to prevent it from doing this again. Not sure if I should enable the app now, but I don’t want to run into the same problem in three months when the app’s stored files get huge again. So, I’m just going to leave it off and see what happens.
Anyway, I’m posting this here in case anyone else runs into the same problem. It turns out, an app that was supposed to speed up web browsing was what had killed my web browsing, slowing it to a crawl or stopping it altogether. Sprint’s Data Optimizer app was the problem. Once I realized this, I was tempted to root my phone just to get rid of that app. But it appears that the app is now permanently disabled, so I shouldn’t have the same problem again. At least, I hope not!
One of the reasons I switched to KDE from Gnome was Dolphin, the file manager that ships with KDE. When I made the switch a couple of years ago, the Find feature in KDE worked really well. But some time in the last couple of years, the two distributions I’ve been using – Kubuntu and Linux Mint KDE – haven’t had the Find feature working from the base install. I’ve muddle along without that feature for about two years (I don’t always need it, but there have been a few times when I really did need it and it didn’t work). I finally figured out how to get it working. It has to be one of the most ridiculously broken elements of Linux I’ve ever discovered as the solution is convoluted and counter-intuitive.
To begin with, from the base install in Dolphin, here is the Find button:
If you click it, it will open a find dialogue in the location bar at the top of Dolphin:
If you try to find something, you’ll get an error message that says, “Invalid protocol” that looks like this:
Dolphin has done that for the last two or three years or so, which means I haven’t been able to use this very basic feature of the file manager.
If you look around for advice on how to fix this, you’ll get mired in a bunch of forums that suggest different things about “baloo,” the new search program in KDE (that replaced Nepomuk, the failed, processor-hungry semantic search engine that no one really liked). Here’s the problem with “baloo”: it’s not installed by default in Linux Mint KDE or Kubuntu. That’s actually fine if you don’t need this search feature. But, and here’s the convoluted part of this, you don’t actually use baloo for the search function in Dolphin. However, you have to install it in order to enable the search function in Dolphin to work, but then turn baloo off. Seriously! It’s rather absurd and broken at the moment.
Here’s what you have to do. First, install baloo4 from synaptic:
If you try the search function now, it still won’t work. Dolphin won’t give you the error message anymore, but it also won’t find anything. It just gives you an empty page of results, regardless of what you search for. But, installing baloo does something that makes enabling the Find feature possible. If you open up System Settings, you’ll see a new icon that wasn’t there before – Desktop Search:
We’ll return to that System Setting option in a minute.
Next, go back to Synaptic and install the following packages: kde-baseapps, systemsettings (probably already installed), and kfind (also probably already installed).
You can still try searching in Dolphin after you’ve done this, but it won’t work. There is one more completely counter-intuitive step. Once you’ve installed kde-baseapps (and the other two packages), go back to the System Settings window and click on the new Desktop Search icon. There is a check box below the window where you can exclude locations that says “Enable Desktop Search.” Uncheck it and click “Apply”:
Now, try searching in Dolphin and, voila, it works:
This fix for the Find feature in a basic program in KDE is completely counter-intuitive. In sum, in order to turn on the “search” feature, you have to install a package that you aren’t going to use, install another package that you are going to use, and then turn off the first package (baloo). Why? Why? Why?
KDE programmers – I love your software! I really, really, do. But this makes no sense. Can you please decide on a file/folder search solution, install it by default, and then make it a simple click of a button to turn it on or off? This should not be anywhere close to this complicated!
And then we were back in Seattle. We had everything arranged ahead of time, so we got to enjoy one last meal in the nice dining room on the cruise ship before disembarking.
Debi’s mother had arranged with the same mini-bus company to pick us up and take us to the airport. However, we had a few hours until we had to be to the airport, so we stopped by the Ballard Locks for a couple of hours to watch the salmon swim up the ladders, let the kids play, and watch the locks.
Here’s a video of the locks:
And here’s a shot of the kids running around:
From the locks, we headed to the airport, and then flew from Seattle to Salt Lake where we spent the next three weeks. I’m planning on posting about some of our adventures in Utah as time permits.