Later Nvidia Drivers for Windows Vista, on WindowsUpdate! But there’s a catch…

Windows Update now has later-model drivers (9746) available than the RTM version of Windows Vista, I accidentally discovered.

The drivers currently on Windows Update are also later than the Windows Vista RC2 set that Nvidia have been offering since October, and they fix a bunch of problems in Windows Vista – Media centre glitching when UI is overlaid on video, flickering when switching into full-screen mode from windowed, and general graphical hell in Armed Assault.

If you’re using the RC2s (96.85), you will need to uninstall them, go back to the RTM drivers, then use Update Driver in device manager to detect the new copy on Windows Update.

I posted this to the Armed Assault troubleshooting wiki, but it’s generally useful info, so here it is again:

The Nvidia RC2 drivers will not be replaced by doing a “Update Driver” check at this time, perhaps because they are dated later than the Windows Update drivers, despite being earlier versions.

To get back to the WindowsUpdate set, if you’ve installed the Nvidia RC2 release on RTM:

  • Open Device Manager
  • Open display adapters, and open properties for the GeForce card to the Driver tab.
  • Uninstall the driver, or you can roll back if it’s an option. This will dump you into VGA compatibility mode.
  • If you uninstalled the driver, use the “Scan for hardware changes” button in the top menu bar to re-scan and install the default driver.  I had a couple of crashes related to Nvcpl, but everything’s working fine anyway.
  • Use the Update Driver button to check Windows Update for the newer build (, dated Aug 22(!?))

Towards January 30 2007, it seems likely Nvidia will offer an updated set of drivers for most of its cards, for the launch of Windows Vista.

Confusing versioning, but again, it really does fix a bunch of issues.

Vista would be better if it didn’t suck

I have been running Windows Vista Ultimate on my laptop for a week or so now, and I am of two minds. I like the pretty. I like the usability improvements. I don’t like that things that worked fine in XP crash all the time, or that the CPU is maxed (maxxed?) almost always. The apps that crash most are Media Player and Messenger. Outlook 2007 crashes sometimes. DivX, XviD thumbnail creation makes Windows sad (even after uninstalling DivX).

I expected teething problems. That is why they call it the bleeding edge. Windows XP has had five years to mature into the very good and stable platform that it is, and Vista is new.

I know that SpongBo, Microsoft fanboy, is reading this and saying “but! under the hood! programming stuff!”. I don’t care about that (well I do, but not right now). I am a user, and this post is from a user’s point of view.

Things that are better:

  • It is prettier. Things have shadows.
  • The sounds are nicer.
  • Many of the balloon help things that popup from the tray go away quicker than they did in XP.
  • When explorer crashes, I get to keep my icons in the system tray.

Things that are worse:

  • Media Center – I use MCE as a way of playing video files, I don’t use it for TV or music. In MCE 2005 I just chose My Videos in the main menu (up, up) and then I could pick a video to watch. Now I have to go up, up, RIGHT, RIGHT to get to the same place. When I get there I cannot see the names of the files, just a square thumbnail. I have to hover over a thumbnail for the name to appear, in tiny little writing, down the bottom of the screen. Too bad if you have a hundred files in there and want to find something to watch. Then Media Center crashes.
  • I hate the stupid swirling blue doughnut. It means that whatever I am doing has stopped, and I need to wait. It is my constant companion.
  • Windows Media Player. They must have brought in a special team of programmers with a simple brief: make the Library slower and crashier. Mission accomplished. If I didn’t have most of my CDs ripped to WMA I would be using iTunes.
  • I had a “calculating time remaining” dialog stuck on my desktop for two days, then suddenly it took focus and asked me a question. I said “No”.
  • Armadillo Run is unplayable.
  • I don’t know what a COM SURROGATE is, but it crashes all the time and I don’t like it.


Playing RealMedia (.rm .rmvb) in Media Center MCE 2005

It is possible to play RealMedia files on your MCE (or in Windows Media Player), it just takes a few easy steps.

  1. Exit the Media Center program and go to the Desktop
  2. Download and install Real Alternative, the codec to play RealMedia files. If you have suffered a severe head injury, you could try installing the actual RealPlayer from Real Networks instead. About Real Alternative.
  3. Make a quick change to your registry (save this registry file without the “.txt” extension and double click it).
  4. Press The Green Button.
  5. Look at all the pretty new thumbnails for your RealMedia files.
  6. Pat yourself on the back and say “thanks Pinkjoint, and thank you Shifty”.

Credit goes to this thread on thegreenbutton, a great resource for MCE owners.

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Converting DVDs to put on myspace, YouTube, Google Video etc.

For Kasie, who wants to put her skydiving video on myspace.

This post describes how to convert an unprotected DVD into a format that can be uploaded to myspace, YouTube, Google Video or any other web video host. Protected DVDs such as store-bought or rented movies require extra steps that are not covered in this post.

Starting out with a fresh Windows XP computer, you will need:

You need to install Auto Gordian Knot (AutoGK). Choose the defaults. The install is unusual, in that it installs a few other programs as well (VobSub, AviSynth and XviD). It might be a bit confusing, but just go through all of the installers that come up. They are not evil*.

Once the install is complete, start AutoGK. Put your DVD into the drive.

The next step is to choose the files to convert. In general, the file you want to choose is VTS_01_0.IFO, in the VIDEO_TS folder on the DVD. If you have more than one video on the DVD then you might have to choose a higher number e.g.. VTS_02_0.IFO but on a home movie or skydiving video this is unlikely.

Next we need to choose the location of the file to create. Just put it anywhere you want. In the example I just put it on the desktop. The filename needs to end in “.AVI”.


The next step is to choose the width and format of your video. Click on Advanced Settings (highlighted below) and in the dialog that pops up choose:

  • A fixed width of 320 (you have to use the down arrow)
  • VBR MP3 at 128 Kbps
  • XviD codec (if you installed DivX and prefer it, by all means choose it)

Why these settings? From the YouTube help:

What’s the best format to upload for high quality? We recommend the MPEG4 (DivX, XviD) format at 320×240 resolution with MP3 audio. Resizing your video to these specifications before uploading will help your clips look better on YouTube.

The last thing we have to determine is the size of the file to create. I would recommend, at the above settings, 10MB per minute for good quality. This is because we are going to send it to a server and they will do their own conversion so we want as good as we can get, within a reasonable file size. The bigger the file, the longer it will take to send to the server, the smaller the file the lower the quality. The DVD I used to make this post is about 4 minutes long, so I chose 40MB as the file size.

We are nearly ready to start. Once everything above has been set, click the Add Job button. Then click the Start button next to it. Stuff will start to happen. AutoGK uses other programs to do its work (remember all the stuff that got installed), so different things will be popping up for a while. The second one that pops up (well, pops behind) is for VirtualDubMod. It will say “GNU General Public License”. You need to click this, press OK (if you agree, of course), and then press Start VirtualDubMod. Your computer will be effectively useless to you for some time as converting videos will use 100% of its CPU. Go make a cup of tea. Drink it. Clean the house. Make dinner. Eat it. Clean up. Check to see if the video is finished. Of course this depends on the length of your video and the power of your computer, but the point is that this takes a while.

When there is no longer anything listed in the Job Queue box then your video is finished. Watch it. Revel in your new skills and give yourself a pat on the back. All you have to do is upload it to myspace, YouTube, whatever and you are done.

*Shifty and Pinkjoint are not responsible for any evil caused by third parties.

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Through alliances with leading software providers, AMD LIVE!™ Entertainment Suite allows you to access, distribute, and enjoy your live and pre-recorded TV, music, photos, videos an more in bold new ways:

  • AMD LIVE! Compress from the makers of Power Compress enables you to compress the TV shows and movies you’ve recorded using Microsoft® Windows® XP Media Center Edition in order to save space and time. You will be able to download these applications free from this website in the very near future.
  • AMD LIVE! On Demand powered by Orb extends your entertainment experience to anywhere you are, at home or on the go! Access and control your live and pre-recorded TV, music, photos, videos and more from virtually any web connected electronic gadget.
  • AMD LIVE! LogMeIn allows you to remotely access and control your AMD LIVE! system, get access to content, files, programs, bookmarks, etc., from anywhere, and move media or files between work and home PCs.

Link to AMD LIVE!

I exclusively have AMD-based PCs at the moment, but I’m not convinced these won’t work on an Intel platform.

I record too much TV. I compulsively click Record Series when I should just be recording a show, and as a result I’m always fighting with the dreaded Disk Space Constraints.

I tried Live Compress, but it didn’t work on my computer. With the skipping backwards issue reducing my confidence in the platform (which is mostly fixed now, I might add), I’m thinking that upgrading to the next release of Windows Vista, doing a clean install, might be the best option for me; rebuilding the MCE installation with only 6 months left on the upgrade clock (or less, if they actually ship a B3/RC in the September timeframe) seems like a pain in the bum.

Still, remote recording would be cool, so I might give Orb a try.

My Media Centre’s Started Skipping Backwards!

The other day, I dropped in an Athlon X2 4200+, taking the opportunity to upgrade my socket 939 board before the opportunity is lost forever.

At about the same time, though, my MCE started losing time when skipping. I barely noticed it at first, or just ignored it, but it’s a pervasive and annoying problem.

The first time you tried to skip during an ad break, it would actively jump back into the program, usually a couple of minutes. Once it jumped backwards once, you could jump forward normally.

It doesn’t affect DivX video, only recorded TV so far.

Pausing the show and stopping it, you can work out that the “time track” seems to have come unstuck from the moving pictures – the pictures gradually move ahead of the time. When stopping and playing – or skipping – you can see the time do roughly what it should, but the video will be back to where it was. Bum!

I’m still fiddling with things at the moment; here’s what I’ve tried unsuccessfully so far:

  • Athlon 64 X2 processor driver upgrade to June 2006 version
  • System Restore back to before the new CPU was installed (so I got to set up the hardware again)
  • 91.93 Forceware drivers
  • WinDVD upgrade from WinDVD 7 release 7 to release 8 (mostly dated 2006)

As it’s a bloody mission-critical application, I can’t do any more fiddling tonight; I’m one reboot down (the WinDVD upgrade was most recent and asked to reboot, but I can’t restart with recordings happening on pain of de-scrotum-ment).

I might as well whine about the WinDVD upgrade process too; I had no idea how to work out whether a newer version than the one I bought was available. A patch helper/version checker would be most useful.

If it doesn’t pan out, I’ll try PureVideo, but WinDVD tends to look better.