Monthly Archives: May 2009

When Videos Only Play Audio

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Filed under Arcade, Media, Troubleshooting

image I recently was doing some work with some videos. Things were working just fine at one point, but then I installed the latest version of JRiver Media Center (version 13).

Whammo. My videos wouldn’t play anymore. Well, actually, they’d play audio, but the video was just black.

I thought it was the particular app I was using, so I tried Media Center, and Microsoft’s Media Player. Same result.

From past experiences, I figured something had hosed a codec (codecs are utility libraries installed on your machine that code and decode video and audio files, each format has it’s own codec).

But, where to start looking?

So, I did some googling and found a great page that lists all the various FOURCC codes for codecs:

http://www.fourcc.org/fcccodec.htm

From that, I found a little app you run against a specific AVI to determine what codec it uses, called GSPOT:

http://www.headbands.com/gspot/v26x/index.htm

Running that against the AVI in question yielded the XVID codec.

Alternatively, just view the AVI in a hex editor and look at the header in the file:

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You should be able to pick out the four character CC code fairly readily.

Then, from the table at FOURCC, I went to the xvid codec page:
http://www.xvidmovies.com/codec/
Downloaded and installed. Presto! Videos with audio and video again!

It’s just that simple :)

Duke Lives

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Filed under Games

image Sad news from several days ago. Apparently, 3D-Realms, the team behind the original Duke Nukem 3D, has called it quits.

I’d known the follow-up to the original was long overdue, but I guess there were more problems than just getting the code done.

At any rate, in reading about this story, I discovered something very cool. A complete port of the original Duke Nukem 3D, targeted for Windows, called EDuke32, using all modern support code, including updated audio drivers, and support for OpenGL rendering engines.

Not only that, but there’s a whole fan base that have re-rendered all the level textures in full hi res! The difference is absolutely astonishing and really breaths new life into a wonderful old game. I actually found a deathmatch level I’d designed back in the day (sept 22, 1996 to be precise, the file still had the last modified date on it), loaded it up with EDuke32 and, with the textures from the hi-res pack, it looked spectacular. Far better than it ever did originally.

If you were a fan of Duke back in the day, it’s definitely worth the download.

Cisco VPN Headaches, The (new and improved) Solution

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Filed under Cisco, Troubleshooting, Vista

image I wrote about my headaches with the Cisco VPN client some time ago.

I thought I’d resolved those problems, but as is the case with most things computer, I had not.

At least part of the problem, as I discovered some time ago, is that the 5.0.0 version of the Cisco VPN client didn’t properly deal with network interfaces coming and going, so in cases where that happened, the client would often end up trying to connect to the VPN host via the wrong network adapter.

How would network adapters come and go, you might ask? After all, they’re physical cards in the machine.

But not so! If you run VMWare or Microsoft’s Virtual PC, those apps create “virtualized” network adapters that come online as you start the program (and in some cases when you start each individual virtual machine) and can go offline just as frequently.

The solution (or so I thought) was to do a hard reset of Cisco’s VPN service. That worked, mostly. But it still wasn’t 100% complete. I still sometimes had trouble connecting that would, in the end, require a reboot.

Fast-forward to yesterday, when I couldn’t get connected even after several  reboots, and I decided enough was enough.

Sure enough, some Google searches revealed that there is NOW a new version of the Cisco Client, the latest I was able to find is 5.0.4.0300.

One point to note is that this is all under Vista 32. From what I understand, XP has none of these issues.

Anyway, after a lengthy and pretty painful install, this new version appears to completely fix the problem. No Service resets required at all.

The Install

The biggest problem is the actual installation of the new version.

First make sure you write down all the connection details from your existing VPN connections. Once you’ve got the new version installed, you’ll have to reset all those details back to what they were. This includes the host name (or ip address), passwords, username, etc).

Uninstall the old Cisco VPN client. For me, this took several reboots as the uninstall appeared to hang several times. Eventually, it did uninstall itself, though.

At this point you can try to install the new version, but I received a message that the “Deterministic Network Enhancer” wouldn’t install properly.

I had to manually uninstall the “Deterministic Network Enhancer” from my network connection properties dialog before Cisco would complete a successful install.

To do that, click on the Windows button (the old “Start” button), select Control Panel, and Network and Sharing Center”.

Find you network adapter listed and click View Status.

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On the resulting screen, click Properties

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and on the next screen, click the Deterministic Network Enhancer and uninstall it.

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Then, you should be able to install the latest Cisco VPN Client and not have any more connection problems.

Google to find the latest version.

First Flash Coding

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Filed under Uncategorized

image I had the opportunity to take on a Flash project recently. Never touched Flash before but I’d had it ever since I picked up a copy of Dreamweaver MX (the 2004 version, version 6, I still use FireWorks regularly).

From what I can tell, there’s been lots of improvements to Flash and ActionScript, but mostly in the areas of video and multimedia, which, for this, I didn’t need.

The idea is to create a preview of a text message, with font selection, sizing, coloring, etc. Initially, maybe only a half-dozen options, but eventually, incorporating a plethora of options (wavy text, anyone?).

It took a good deal of web queries and tinkering to get past the initial Flash hurdles (like how the heck to you actually place a movieclip onto the stage, much less create a new movieclip!). Is it just me, or is making the user “create a new symbol”, a completely non-intuitive way of creating a new movie clip? Maybe it’s just the old version. But I’m not sure I want to pay big $$$ to find out if any of that non-sense ever got straightened out.

Initially, I’d placed a chunk of code in the action area for the main frame, (there’s only one frame in this “movie”), but when I ran it, I happened to notice that it was being run over and over again. I’m guessing that’s because Flash, is, at it’s heart, an animation/movie creator, so that made a certain amount of sense.

I also found through combing the help file, that what I probably needed was the OnClipEvent On Load event. But that was only available on an actual movie clip object, and I couldn’t seem to create one of those.

Long story short, I’ve gotten something working in relatively short order, it was less painful than I expected, and in the process, I’ve gained a whole new level of appreciation for those guys out there cranking out Flash games.