Vista, Media Center and XviD... Oh My!

Posted by Garth on Tuesday, April 1, 2008

As promised, here's my latest Vista rant. Before I begin, I must point out that I still get multiple hits a day from searches on "I fucking hate vista", which I find totally amusing. Hopefully this post will bump me up in the "fucking hate vista" pagerank :)

Anyway, I got my new lappy on Thursday. It came with a neat little remote control that fits in the ExpressCard slot. On this remote control is a Media Center button which launches, you guessed it, Media Center. So, since I like to play dumb user whenever possible, I decided that I'd use this remote and Media Center as my primary media playback combination. Sure, Media Player Classic is really my video player of choice. Winamp is my audio player of choice. And MediaPortal is my 10' UI of choice. But no matter. I have Vista Ultimate on a shiny new laptop with a shiny new remote control, so let's pretend I don't know any better.

First thing I did was add my Download directory to the video files section so that it scans this directory and picks up my TV show (specifically Entourage) downloads. Unfortunately at the time I didn't have any TV shows in that folder or any subfolders. No matter though, because they'd eventually be there and OF COURSE Windows would be smart enough to know that subdirectories are to be included even if none actually existed when I added it to the config, right? WRONG! So once I had some stuff downloaded I had to remove and re-add the directory, making sure at this point to check the "include subdirectories" checkbox (which obviously didn't exist when there weren't any). Fine, I'll concede that point (even though I shouldn't have to, but it's Vista after all).

I get the directory indexed and see my nice new episodes of Entourage. I click one to play... Error! Oh, I forgot to install the XviD codec I think, so my bad. I'll concede another point here (even though the error message actually said it couldn't FIND the episode I'd JUST CLICKED ON when it actually should have told me it didn't have the appropriate codec, but no matter). I install XviD and all of the other Gordian Knot niceties. I test in Windows Media Player. All is good. I relaunch Media Center, navigate to the Videos folder and click on an episode. Error! Same as before. Can't find the file. WTF?! Do a little googling and find this site. Oh, it seems that I need a third party plugin and the latest ffdshow (which I generally don't use to play XviD). Alright, fine. I'm not conceding this point to Vista, but I'll jump through a couple of hoops. I download the x64 plugin version (cuz I'm running Vista Ultimate x64), do the config, make sure I have the latest ffdshow, and that it's configured to play XviD files. All seems good. I launch Media Center, navigate to the Videos folder and click on an episode. Crash! As in Media Center just hard crashed back to desktop. Boo!

So, what did I learn from this experience? Well, Media Center sucks ass (actually, I didn't learn that... I already knew it, but in playing dumb user I figured I'd go at it with a clean slate). It has nothing to do with the standard Windows media controls and is quite independent of anything else going on in Windows. It doesn't use the standard codecs, and it doesn't let you configure anything at a level beyond dumb user. So what's the solution you might ask? Install (actually just download and run - there is no installer) Media Player Classic (interestingly enough there's a new version out... the first one in a few years). Sure, the Media Player button on my remote doesn't launch it (I have to do that manually) but at least the play/pause/volume buttons work in it. I'm sure I'll find some sort of middleware app at some point that intercepts the remote control's buttons above and beyond the default functions, but in the meantime I can make due. Yay Vista! Yay Media Center! (Please note the dripping sarcasm in the previous two sentences).

Moral of this story... I STILL FUCKING HATE VISTA. And yet, I continue to use it. I must be masochistic at some level.

UPDATE: Solution to my problem found and documented here. Everything works like a charm now.


GreggKnowzVizta said...

bah...LrN 2 uSE VIZTA n00B

:) Want me to buy you a book or something?

Garth said...

Fix my problem, smartass! I dare you!

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