Monday, August 08, 2005

Okay, that's it... (Wacky codecs broke Windows Media Player)

Sometime, somewhere, my Windows Media Player stopped working. You know why.

(Audience: No, we don't.)

Yes, you do. It's from downloading rogue codec packs. It's the dancing bunnies problem all over again. The dancing bunnies problem is:
1. The user knows/suspects he can see dancing bunnies if only they do XXX to their computer.
2. User will do ANYTHING to see dancing bunnies.
3. ????
4. Profit!

I completely understand why Windows doesn't want rogue codec packs to work. I also completely understand why smart people are using their own wacky, homebrew codecs, instead of licensing codecs from Microsoft.

That being said, Windows Media Player AND WMP-related Internet Explorer functions don't work. Re-downloading Windows Media Player didn't fix my problem.

Don't get me wrong, if I thought I could repair Windows Media Player, I would. I tried - I gave it 2 minutes of effort. However, re-installing it didn't work. The Windows site is very clear about this: It's my fault for installing other codecs! Other people's sites are very clear: it's my fault for installing other codecs!

Yes, please, blame the end user. Why not detect the new codecs, and tell me to uninstall them? Why not use in-place unit tests to protect your program from a bad codec? You're getting my crash reports, at random, for the last couple of months! Internet Explorer could do, um, ANYTHING other than crash?

Gosh, I'll just follow your instructions and fall back to my System Restore Point and...

No, I won't. Let's review what works and what doesn't:

I can:
  • Play files encoded in wacky codecs, using BSPlayer.
  • Play mp3s with Itunes, although I don't like the large memory footprint, or several other aspects. Windows Media Player works exactly the same, except eeh, I vaguely like the default Itunes appearance. Don't tell me to configure anything. If I wanted to read manuals and fiddle with configuration nightmares, I'd install Linux.
  • Visit most webpages with Internet Explorer.

I can't:

  • Play most files in Windows Media Player, which I don't care about, since individually, BSPlayer is a better video player that does what I want , and Itunes is a better MP3 player.
  • Visit a webpage with embedded video, like, f'rinstance, Larry's blog. That crashes all the Internet Explorer windows in that process. Way to breathe, no-breath!


  • I'm downloading Firefox.
  • I'm uninstalling all the codecs that I have installed. I'll reinstall newer versions and then test for this behavior immediately.
  • I'm re-installing Windows Media Player in-place again.

Sorry. I have everything I want, except a working browser. That's satisficing for you!


Blogger Xcise said...

It is not just Media Player gets hacked by uninstalling ffdshow.

I'm using iTunes more than any other media package (because of iPod).

After installing the ffdshow, iTunes stopped playing mp3 music and mpg4 video. "Media Player Classic" started to freeze on the menus of DVDs.

Adobe After Effects started to give codec related encoding/decoding problems.

DivX player, is no more playing DivX files.

So, after all of these great pains in the a**, i "decided" to uninstall ffdshow.

After a restart, i assumed that all my software will be back to working normal. But no, NONE of them were even starting.

I checked the registry, and found out that ffdshow uninstallation removed any codec related information, and left them totally blank! What kind of a software hacks the registry this much and not keeps a record of "before installation"?

I installed every package and software again to set things right.

Still, i get some errors. I can only play DivX with DivX Player. iTunes still not working.

Codecs can be worse than viruses. I learned my lesson well.

1:32 PM  

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