Avoid holiday media headaches

By Brian Livingston

As the holiday season rises to a fever pitch, you may be thinking about buying someone – or buying for yourself – some cool new digital media geegaw. If so, you need to know about Bruce Kratofil’s BugBlog and its December Entertainment Special.

Kratofil (a co-author with me of Windows 2000 Secrets) has put together a jolly Web page chock-full of the problems and incompatibilities you’ll run into when using the latest video and audio goodies. Some of these glitches are hilarious, if you happen to be reading about them before you’ve bought the product.

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Let’s take a peek at a few examples:

XP SP1 chokes on USB devices.
If you stream media from a high-speed, USB 2.0 device – such as a video camera – to a PC with XP Service Pack 1 installed, the PC may slow to a crawl. For example, USB speakers may stop playing, or a USB mouse may become useless.

This is because XP SP1 is devoting 80% or so of your CPU time to the streaming device. Not very friendly behavior, eh?

SP1 also has several other nasty habits if your system includes USB devices. It may crash or restart the system instead of coming gracefully out of hibernation. It also may fail to recognize USB devices after coming out of suspend modes.

Fortunately, as of Nov. 24, Microsoft has a new patch. See Knowledge Base article 822603.

Unfortunately, even this patch has generated its own patch. (How did you know I was going to say that?) Installing 822603 on XP SP1 can cause your PC to hang when you try to bring it out of suspend modes by moving a USB mouse or pressing a USB keyboard key. If so, you may be able to avoid this by coming out of standby or hibernation by pressing the power button, if your system supports this. Or you can install the extra patch – 826959 – on top of 822603.

iPod doesn’t update if Windows is not on drive C.
You’d think that Apple would know by now that we can install Windows onto any partition we like. But no-o-o-o. If you use Apple’s iPod Software Updater for Windows, you get a “Can’t Mount iPod” error message if Windows is not installed on drive C. Kratofil says there’s no workaround at this time. (I guess you could re-install Windows to use your iPod.)

Media Center Edition video black-out.
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004, a digital-media version of XP that’s available only on some new desktops and laptops, has a few quirks when it’s playing videos. Say you’d been playing a video, and you then put the machine into a suspend mode. After you resume the computer, restart the video, and double-click it to maximize the window, you may see nothing but a completely black screen.

Microsoft says there’s no fix, but you can work around the situation by clicking the Play button on the remote control that’s included with MCE.

Kratofil has collected dozens more of these kinds of alerts for every kind of digital media maker. The lists includes Creative Labs, Dell, Linux, Musicmatch, Nvidia, Real Networks, and Winamp. Visit BugBlog’s December Entertainment Special at www.bjkresearch.com/bugblog/entertain.cfm.

To send me more information about these kinds of media gotchas, or to send me a tip on any other subject, visit WindowsSecrets.com/contact/.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2003-12-04: