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April 10, 2022

First World Problems [Joe Mannix]

Annoying Restrictions

I like listening to white noise to help me fall asleep. I have found that the sound of rainfall, waterfalls, the forest at night, etc. all help me fall asleep quickly and wake up rested. There are machines that play these sounds, but those seem silly when we live in a world where YouTube is a thing and I have a TV set in my room. There are limitless options for this on that platform, with thousands of hours-long videos that just play these sounds set to a static, black image (essentially, no video).

There is a problem with this, though. When the TV is on, it isn't actually dark. Even if you crank the set's backlight all the way down, it still not fully dark. Beyond this, using your TV set this way will also wear it out a lot faster. Backlights do not have an eternal lifespan. It would be far better to be able to just turn off the screen while leaving the set itself on and working.

Well, it turns out, I can! Sort of. I discovered an option in the menu on my TV that allows me to turn off the display part of the set, but I couldn't find it again. I did some digging and found that the screen disable option is only present in certain music streaming apps on my smart TV. My discovery of it in a non-approved app was a bug. I figured out how to exploit that bug reliably. Mission Accomplished, and I can turn off the screen while listening to stuff that helps me sleep.

But why does it work this way? Why do I have to exploit a bug - an exploit that may vanish with a future software update - just to access a useful feature? I suspect it might be a licensing thing where maybe the app developer can choose to not expose the option, but I don't know.

What I do know, however, is that I hate arbitrary, poorly-conceived and deliberate restrictions on things that make them less useful or harder to use for no practical reason.

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posted by Open Blogger at 02:00 PM

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