9 hours in my undies

Melodifestivalen 2010

What a strange day it’s been. I’m hoping to head off to bed soon and forget the whole thing!

Tomorrow we have a small, but expectant gathering of the faithful to watch a DVD of the final of Melodifestivalen 2010 in a nearby pub. As I write this, the final hasn’t even commenced. In fact, it doesn’t commence for about 6 hours. At which time I will be well and truly asleep.

In order to pull off this miracle of delayed broadcasting, my best friend Yoda will – all being well – download the final from the internet after it has been shown. He will then bring it to me to convert into a DVD image. And that’s where today’s crazy day comes in…

The DVD has to be ready by no later than 12 noon tomorrow – er, actually it’s today now. Arghh! The conversion process from the .avi file takes some time. We don’t have a lot of time . We may be able to play it for everyone on the big screen direct from the .avi file. But, then again, maybe not. So a “proper” DVD version is essential.

I spent nine hours today, sitting in an old T-Shirt and the undies I wore to bed last night, trying to find a program that would do the video conversion in a speedy manner. There’s all sorts of programs that do it slowly but they won’t cut the mustard given our tight timeframe.

Last night I bought Roxio Creator 2010 from the Roxio website. It took about 4 hours to download overnight and another hour or so to install this morning. Only for me to find it doesn’t work. I recently had the same experience with another Roxio program and it took their customer service section two months to resolve my issue. I did end up getting a refund which was nice – but two months to resolve a simple issue is clearly unacceptable.

So it was a real kick in the gonads this morning to realise the same problem was happening with Easy Creator 2010. The “Convert & Copy” function just refused to start. The button wouldn’t work. It was the same with DVD Copy Premier Version 4 a few months ago.

I previously had purchased another Roxio product called “Copy & Convert Version 3.” This did work – effectively but slowly. So that’s why I tried DVD Copy Premier and now, Creator 2010. All to no avail.

I spent part of the day trying to lodge a support ticket whilst also begging for help from their customer discussion Forum. The general consensus was that each Roxio product was conflicting with the other. They would have to be uninstalled and only 1 re-installed. Roxio had already uninstalled DVD Copy Premier as part of the set-up of Easy Creator 2010 on my PC. But there’s uninstall and really uninstalled.

Once you’ve installed a Roxio product on your computer, getting rid of it completely is no easy task. I spent another hour or so today downloading instructions from the Roxio website to completely uninstall my Roxio products. This involved multiple processes including installing a Microsoft clean-up application and also editing and deleting entries from the Windows Registry – something that is quite terrifying because one wrong move can see your PC become inoperative.

Meanwhile, my discussion forum friends were now advising me that, even if I did manage to successfully install Easy Creator 2010, Roxio had taken away the ability to convert divx files to DVD. Now I assumed buying the full version of Roxio’s flagship program would enable me to convert anything to/from anything. But not divx files apparently. So if the Melodifestivalen download happens to be in divx format, I’m screwed.

Meanwhile, I trawled the internet looking for other programs that promised to do the conversion I needed and fast. I installed a couple with varying results. One did the job quickly but the sound on the resulting disc sounded very tinny and lacking in bass. Enough to make me discount it as a solution.

Another program, which initially seemed promising, kept crashing about 2/3rds of the way through the conversion. I did finally manage to complete a test conversion but the picture on the resulting disc kept distorting – like a series of waves through the picture. So that was the end of that one!

Meanwhile I’ve been going back and forth into the Roxio discussion forum to see what others are suggesting for me. It’s always terrible when you’re a newbie and your first post to a forum is all about demanding instant help from others. I feel dreadful doing it – and a couple of the forum members haven’t been that helpful. Luckily, a couple of others have been wonderful.

After I have some much needed shut-eye, I intend to reinstall Roxio Creator 2010 to try and do the conversion and resultant DVD using instructions posted by a helpful forum member. Fingers crossed.

This evening, after getting out of those undies and having a hot shower, I spent a couple of hours putting together a video compilation of highlights & my favourite songs from this year’s Melodifestivalen. Something to play prior to the actual final tomorrow – er, I mean, later today!

The new Windows Live Movie Maker is, quite frankly, a pain in the arse. Yes, it has more features – you can add captions for example – but the way the work area is set out is clumsy and awkward – even compared to the old XP version of Movie Maker. What I attempted to do tonight took me twice as long as it should have. Live Movie Maker crashed a couple of times but I had pressed “save” after each edit just in case that happened. I wasn’t taking any chances!

After finishing the compilation, I then had to save it to DVD format. This took some time – not an unreasonable amount of time – but I am really knackered and I want to go to bed. I then find that creating the DVD is a further process with Windows DVD maker which now wants to “encode” the DVD file before burning it. Presently it is at 6.3%. It has taken the entire time I’ve been writing this blog entry to get just 6% done.

I just don’t understand why these programs have to be so unfriendly, complicated and agonisingly slow. My PC is a Core2Duo with 2gb of ram – it’s not something out of the dark ages. I have Windows 7 which is the latest hoo-ha from Microsoft. Surely that’s enough to enable things to just “work” (and make sense while you’re working on them)?

I am so disappointed in Roxio primarily. Easy CD Creator which became Easy DVD Creator which became Easy Media Creator which became, finally, Creator 2010….has been around for eons. It isn’t cheap. I don’t understand why it doesn’t just work. I don’t understand why potential conflicts between it and other Roxio programs weren’t solved years ago. I don’t understand why Roxio programs so contaminate my computer, it’s operating system and registry that they become virtually impossible to get rid of completely. Roxio programs seem to be like nasty viruses or colds that won’t go away.

I’m also annoyed with Windows Live Movie Maker and DVD Maker. By now, Microsoft should have made these products state of the art, slick, intuitive and fast. But they still seemed bogged down and rooted in some bygone era of computers.

16 hours after I started, I still don’t have a rock-solid video conversion solution nor a completed compilation DVD to show for my efforts. God knows what fresh hell awaits me when I wake up later this morning!

And the crazy thing is that, after the two discs are shown tomorrow, that’ll be it for them. They’ll end up in another pile of crap somewhere in my abode. Never to be used or probably even found again. SVT Sweden will release their official Melodifestivalen 2010 DVD in a month or so and Yoda and I will dutifully pay way too much money to send away to have copies flown to Australia for us. And Melodifestivalen 2010 will be done and dusted in our minds….until the pattern repeats itself next year.

Maybe by then someone will have invented a software program that converts all file formats quickly and efficiently, creates and burns DVDs and does it all without the user needing to have a PhD in software design.

Then again, pigs might fly.

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