Buffalo Linktheater – Workaround for DivX Codec Issues

I was treated to a Buffalo Linktheater Wireless A & G (that’s the version with no DVD player, I think that was a US-only thing) media streamer by my wonderful girlfriend for Christmas. I’ll post a review (hopefully) in the near future, but first I need to get it set up properly. I successfully streamed some video files to it while at my parents’ house for Christmas week. I finally got round to setting it up in my own house tonight to discover a few kinks.

I have been using Windows Media Player 11 (as it’s already built in to Vista, it’s also a free download for XP) as the server to stream from. The problem is that when I tried to browse a particular folder the Linktheater seems to freeze for a while before opening it, and then showing it as empty. When I checked my PC an error message had appeared informing me that “Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service has stopped working”. On clicking “search online” for more information Windows informed me that:

This problem was caused by DivX Codec. DivX Codec was created by DivX, Inc..
DivX, Inc. is aware of this problem and working as quickly as possible to make a solution available.

The Application Event Log contains an entry for each crash with Event ID 1000 and Task Category 100 and a description something along the lines of:

Faulting application wmpnetwk.exe, version 11.0.6000.6324, time stamp 0x4549b540, faulting module divxdec.ax, version 6.8.0.0, time stamp 0x47547cff, exception code 0xc0000005, fault offset 0x0005c021, process id 0xe1c, application start time 0x01c84be4834cb5f8.

which doesn’t really help much.

Workaround

I split the folder in two, and one of the new ones worked fine. I continued like this until I had narrowed the culprit down to be one of two files. However at this stage the folders all displayed their contents fine, including the one containing only the suspects. Now they just wouldn’t play.

After a lot of moving files and much more crashing and restarting of the Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service, I narrowed the culprit down to a particular video file. I’m not sure what the problem was as it had worked fine when streamed from an XP computer also using Windows Media Player 11; in fact it was watched start to finish without any problems.

It may be an issue specific to Vista or the DivX 6.8 codec, either way I’m happy it’s sorted.

If anyone finds out any more about the cause of this kind of problem or a quicker solution, please do let me know. Meanwhile I hope the above helps someone. Oh and the Buffalo Linktheater Wireless A & G is available from Dabs for about £95.

Vista Seems to Suck at DVD Reading

Tonight I was attempting to rip a DVD to an AVI-XviD file thinking it would be easy – unfortunately not. It’s not a copy-protected DVD or anything, just a plain old DVD-R.

First I tried VirtualDub MPEG or whatever it’s called. It seemed to be either taking ages or not responding so I gave up and ended it. Next I downloaded DVDx and tried to use it to rip the files from the DVD.

Still painstakingly slow (to the point I wasn’t sure it was still doing anything) and eventually gave up with a message about a CRC error. So, I decided to copy the VOB files (actually the whole TS_VIDEO directory) to hard drive and work from there.

It was then I realised the problem wasn’t with the aforementioned programs but with Vista itself. There were two 1 GB VOB files and the first of these refused to be copied. Vista was throwing up an error which advised me it “Cannot read from the source file or disk”. Bugger. Thinking it might be a problem with either Vista or the DVD drive I tried it in my trusty laptop (still running Windows XP Pro). It worked!

So how do I know Vista’s the problem? Well I tried to copy the file over my network back to the Vista PC and got a similar looking error dialogue, this time saying “Network Error: There is a problem accessing \\laptop\directory. Make sure you are connected to the network and try again.”

By this stage I gave up and just downloaded DVDx to my laptop, which I was able to use to copy the video to an Xvid AVI file.  Nice work Micro$oft.  Now all I have to do is successfully convert it to NTSC format and I’m flying – unfortunately that’s as much fun as pulling teeth, and much more painful.

Playing iPod Video on Your TV

Please note that this entry is about my 5G iPod Video.  Information may not apply to other models like the iPod Classic.

Getting video files to play on your TV from your iPod is actually a lot easier than I imagined it would be. If you have AVI files that you couldn’t be bothered burning to VCD/SVCD or DVD, a much friendlier alternative is to play download them to your iPod. There are two hurdles you’ll have to overcome, but in reality, the process is much more painless than converting the files to MPEG and burning them to a CD or DVD is.

Converting Your Video

Before you put a video on your iPod you will need to convert it to

an iPod friendly format. For this I recommend the free program, Videora iPod Converter. This will convert your DivX or Xvid AVI files into an iPod-friendly MPEG-4 file; I recommend the highest bitrate 1500kbps setting.

That’s it; easy! I’ve found that the time taken to convert a video file using Videora is slightly less than the play time of that video. A 2 hour video file should be converted in about 1 hour 25 minutes.

Playing On Your TV

When Apple released their video iPod they released a special AV cable for it that would connect your iPod to the red, yellow and white AV sockets on your TV, allowing you to watch the videos on your iPod on a larger screen. As it turns out, this was a bit of a scam. All they did was take a standard RCA-to-AV lead (commonly used for connecting camcorders to TVs) and send the video over the red cable (which usually carries sound) instead of the yellow one. This means that you can use a standard RCA-to-AV lead if you have one kicking about – just connect the red plug to the yellow socket, yellow plug to the white socket and white plug to the red socket. Scumbags, eh?

Don’t panic if you, like me, don’t own a camcorder and don’t already have an RCA-to-AV lead. You can buy one specially colour-coded for iPods (so red goes to red etc.) off eBay, where I got mine for £3.73 including postage!

Then it’s really simple, just go into your iPod video folder and set the Video Settings to output to TV, connect it up and you’re away.