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Vista’s Video Nasties #1

November 7, 2007

Vista busy cursor After my early trials and tribulations with Vista, as detailed in earlier posts, and having briefly sought refuge in XP, I have for the last few months been settled in a sort of Vista comfort land. Some improvements to hardware, a few key updates from Microsoft and finding workarounds to some of the most annoying problems had combined to bring me to the point where everyday use of Vista had ceased to be painful or aggravating.

But then I decided to start dabbling in video work, for the first time in earnest since acquiring a Vista PC. I’m now in a world where the COM Surrogate crashes with alarming regularity, the video tools I try to use (eg meGUI) stop working and even Windows Explorer keeps going down. To add to this disconcerting mix, a couple of days ago Outlook 2007 crashed while downloading mail (it looked like a buffer overrun stopped by DEP) but I couldn’t really tell whether that was related to all the other crashes or if it was something genuinely up with Microsoft Office. In any event, Vista invited me to install the latest Office updates and Outlook seems to have been fine since.

The Explorer crash seems to be associated with video files that have been consigned to the Recycle Bin, in particular videos encoded with codecs that Vista or possibly DEP don’t like. I would open the Recycle Bin and select all the files, to see how much space the Bin was taking up. That would be enough to crash Explorer. Selecting the one problem file would also do it. I could not delete it singly – any attempt to highlight it for deletion would bring on the Explorer crash – so I had to empty the whole Bin.

I also tried running DEP at its less intrusive level, where it only guards against exploits in Windows components, but that did not stop the flurry of crashes so I turned it back up to full coverage again.

My confidence in Vista has been shaken again. I’m well out of comfort land and have had to return to XP for recent video encoding work. Not satisfied that this is sustainable in the long run I’ve started the slow painful process of finding workarounds so I can encode my video reliably in Vista.

I will continue to document my experiences on this blog, in future posts under the Vista’s Video Nasties series. The aim is to arrive at robust methodology for creating high quality video that I can upload to one of the better on-line video hosts such as Vimeo. I will document the definitive process for anyone who is interested.

Wish me luck and patience.

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