Sunday, December 28, 2008

Watching a Movie in Windows

So I wanted to watch the movie Idiocracy. Had planned to see it for quite some time, now finally had time for it. But I was stuck in Windows.

Bittorrent and Ask.com

First I had to download the movie. So I went to torrentz.com, searched for Idiocracy and discovered that I had no program in my computer to download the torrent. No problem. I googled for "Bittorrent" and found a program with the same name that seemed to be doing exactly what I wanted.

Downloaded the installer, started it up, pressed "Next" and "Next" and "Next"... But just after I had pushed "Install" on the last almost empty page of the installer, the same page was suddenly populated with the following options (all nicely checked):

  • Make ask.com my home page,
  • Make ask.com my default search engine,
  • Install ask.com toolbar,
  • Make ask.com the owner of my soul.

What!!! I had just agreed to all this shit!!! What!!! I panicked. But while I panicked, the installer had already finished its dirty job and I was left wondering how screwed up my computer was.

Luckily the damage was limited to browsers (and my soul). The large and ugly ask.com toolbar had penetrated both Firefox and IE. Fortunately Firefox had detected this perversion and informed me, that new extension had been installed. Removed this extension right away. With IE it was harder - had to remove the plugin through "Add/Remove Programs". Then I came back to Firefox and discovered that default search and homepage were still pointing to ask.com. Luckily these were easy to change. In IE I had to do the same. But it wasn't over yet. Typing search terms to address bar still directed me to ask.com. I had to dig inside about:config and reset some settings there to completely get rid of ask.com – the search engine I'm never going to use, especially after the terror I just experienced.

Finally I was able to download the torrent. The Bittorrent program was actually quite good, so I kept it regardless of how the installer had misbehaved.

Media Player

Finally I had the movie downloaded. I double-clicked on the icon of the AVI file and Windows Media Player started up. But instead of showing me the movie, it wanted me to set up his privacy and other settings. The defaults seemed OK to me and I managed to get past those nagging screens quite fast. Then the Media Player finally started and opened... emm... a blank screen. Great, it forgot entirely about the file I wanted to open.

As the old joke about Windows goes, I closed the app and tried opening it again. This time the movie opened and even started playing. But there was no sound. Some codec seemed to be missing. Sure the Media Player tried to gave me the impression, that it tried to download the codec from somewhere, but failed. This old trick didn't work with me - I've never seen it working.

But as the movie loaded, another window popped open. It was DivX for Windows and it asked me if I would like to upgrade it. Maybe this will solve the missing audio-codec problem, I wondered. So I accepted the upgrade.

The download took some time and an installer appeared. I should have already learned the lesson that those installation programs are the most dangerous things in Windows, but I foolishly agreed again with the default settings, and my computer received all the following:

  • DivX Player
  • DivX Converter
  • "Buy DivX for Windows" shortcut on desktop
  • A folder My Videos\DivX Movies, that contains just a bunch of shortcuts to some stupid websites, that probably will want to take over my computer.
  • Hopefully some codecs too.

Additionally I had to restart the computer. What!!! A restart for video codec? Is it going to run in kernel mode or are they writing it to MBR? Alright, alright... it's the Windows way... I restarted.

After restarting Windows I restarted Media Player and... the movie still had no sound. I also tried opening the movie with the new DivX player that I just got. I saw some truly ugly interface coming up, then a popup appeared that asked me if I would like to try DFX Audio Enhancer free for 30 days. What kind of stupidity is an audio enhancer – clearly no-one wants to use one, if they aren't forced to, like I was. The dialog had two buttons: "Not now" and "Begin Trial", which suggested that they were going to show this popup as long as I finally agreed to try it out. I clicked "Not now", which gave me another popup explaining that I could "try the DFX Audio Enhancer any time by clicking the button on the DivX Player window". Great – they had incorporated try-our-another-product-button into a video player UI. Finally I managed to open my movie inside this program and make notice, that it still had no sound.

I cursed myself for installing all this DivX crap and decided to uninstall all of it. I had to remove four new entries under Add/Remove Programs and delete the stupid shortcuts by hand.

Codec Packs

Then I remembered, that there are some things called codec-packs, that Windows people use. I decided to get one of these. Quick search in Google directed me to XP Codec Pack 2.4.5, which again seemed like something that could solve my problems. Another installation dialog to get by and I got my codecs... plus I also agreed to install Windows Media Player Classic, which seemed like a nice program to have in addition to the XP Media Player bloatware.

To try the movie again, I opened up the folder it was in and... a freaking popup appeared! It said that Windows Explorer tried to load ddfshow and that it couldn't decide whether to load it or not. So I had to make the decision instead of him. The dialog offered four choices like the following:

  • Disable ddfshow just once,
  • Disable ddfshow forever,
  • Enable ddfshow just once,
  • Enable ddfshow forever.

While I was wondering what the heck this freaking ddfshow is, the timer running at the title bar of this dialog reached zero and the dialog disappeared, leaving me wondering if I had agreed to some really bad default.

Alright... let that ddfshow be... I opened the movie again in Media Player and this time it only showed me blank screen. Great! A step back. Not only the sound was missing, but the video too.

Finally I opened the movie with Media Player Classic, and it worked!

So, the computer is now loaded with tons of codecs, there is some kind of ffdshow, movie playing ability of Media Player is reduced and I probably managed to install all kind of other crap... But at least I can watch the video.

4 comments:

  1. OMG! This is so funny lol. (Y)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Jiiz, lol ... I'm been trying to post a comment, now for 4'th time because I have firewall that blocks all kinds of scripts, cookies etc and... because it does that I can't post and browser does not remember my text... so I hope this get delivered...

    Ah, and funny story. I guess it really is usual life of windows user. Safest windows is one without internet they say :P

    A tip though: use klite - http://www.free-codecs.com/download/K_lite_codec_pack.htm ... or just type in klite to google - installs mplayer classic + all codecs you ever need. I've used it years.


    a windows user..

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for the suggestion. KLite seems to work quite well. And it didn't even require a restart when installing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow, you really are persistent!
    I would've given up long before.

    ReplyDelete