A brand new laptop

The laptop I was waiting for found its way to my desk last week. I had a Dell Windows recover CD, which I thought would help me install everything.

So I installed Windows first, only to see then that the CD doesn't come with drivers. No network drivers... I felt like a caveman. What is a computer without network ?
I ended up installing Linux sooner than expected, just so I could download the drivers in Windows.

Anyway, I have my new laptop. It has 1GB RAM and a ATI Radeon X300 graphics card. It also came without CD-drive but with an extra battery in its drive-bay. I'm not complaining :) I still had the CDRW/DVD-ROM combo drive from the stolen laptop. This drive was delivered by Dell by mistake. We had ordered a DVDRW drive and after they sent it, they didn't come back to pick up the combo drive. All in my favor.

I've installed the Quake 4 demo and the Call of Duty 2 demo on my laptop. Both run very nice :)
But now the time has come for installing codecs...

I get a sickening feeling when I think of Windows and Codecs at the same time and I hope I won't puke all over my laptop because of it, while typing this...

Last time I installed the ACE Mega CoDecS pack and everything seemed to work after that. So thats where I start from again. I looked up where I can download it and was presented with this site. Note how it says:

Suggestion : In most situations, you do not need to install codec/filter packs and certainly not every codec/filter that comes with these packs. In fact, you may run into problems if you install too many codec/filters on your computer. It is Highly recommended that you only install the codec/filters that you absolutely need.

Well how nice. So I don't have to install everything. But then, what DO I have to install ?
Why are there so many codecs to begin with ? As Andrew Tanenbaum once said: The nice thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from

So, how can I find out which codecs to install ? I look around the site some more, hoping to find a FAQ. Instead, I find the next best thing: a forum.

Right there, in the "Video & Audio Codecs" section, the first sticky note helps me.

Determine the codec for your .AVI files

If you are running into problems playing back your AVI file, especially if you are getting the dreaded "codec not found" error, then you should try afreeCodecVT, a free software produced by the very moderator of this forum. afreeCodecVT allows you to load in an AVI file, and it will tell you which video/audio codecs are needed to playback this file and also where to download the codec:


Let's install that
First it complains that Visual Basic runtime files are out of date. Luckily it doesn't panic and start formatting my harddrive or anything. Instead, it install pretty nicely. Afterwards it tells me that the software will update itself automagically. Very nice... when reading it. I wonder if the good news will hold up in practice.

I already don't like this tool.
I comes with its own type of widgets, meaning it doesn't even look like a Windows program. It's all in black, with custom controles. Blah. I'm not sure if it's this program or my new mouse, but after every click, I can't click on anything in the program. I have to switch to another program and then back, just to get mouse focus. This is gonna suck. Anyway, I managed to load an AVI file. I says I need and MP3 audio codec and XviD MPEG4 codec.

Genius !
I was typing in this window (and had typed quite a lot) when I wanted to see hidden files and folders, and see the extensions on all files. Windows then went on to refresh THIS window and erase all of my text. GODDAMNIT

So what happened: I clicked on the MP3 audio codec link in the afreecodec program, it loaded a site over this window (I complained about that but it got erased...). I downloaded it, it was in RAR. I then downloaded ExtractNow and had to manually associate all archiving formats with it. Then I extracted the archive, which contained a read.me file (not readme.txt mind you, that would have been too convenient)

I started reg.bat after seeing what it does (registered an .ax file)
Now I should be set for audio.

Next is the video codec...
done. (no details, the program once again opened its site in this window)

I should now be able to play this AVI. And it works! Except that it uses the horrible Windows Media Player by default. That has got to change. I've grown quite fond of BSPlayer in Windows. A disturbing fact arises: BSPlayer now has a Pro version which is BUY-Ware. I don't like this development and I hope it will not affect the quality of BSPlayer in the future...