Sometimes it’s easier than we make it.

I just lost a ridiculous amount of time burning an ISO so that I could update a blu ray player.  It all started when Quantum of Solace wouldn’t play in my new cheap  Insignia Blu Ray player.  At first I was worried that there was something wrong with the player, but eventually I decided to check for a firmware update.

I wonder what the less technically inclined do when their blu ray players need firmware updates.  Seems like a really poor idea to release movies in a format that requires a firmware update.   I’m sure it has to do with updating copy protection schemes.  Strike one against blu ray for making things more difficult than they should be.

Now, despite the ethernet port that is built in to the Insignia NS-2BRDVD player, they don’t offer direct Internet firmware updates.  Strike one against Insignia for making things more difficult than they should be.

So I ventured into my office to find a support website. Sure enough there was a firmware update available for my new Blu Ray player.  It comes in the form of a cd-iso image.  I’ve played with plenty of iso images in the past when burning linux distro’s so I figured no big deal.  Unfortunately, when I went to fire up the free third party cd burning software that came with Vista it complained that the software was not installed or had become corrupted.  I suspect it really means that my Windows registry is broken in some form or another. Strike one for Windows.

“Not to worry”, I thought to myself, “I have other 3rd party software that I already own.  I’ll just install that.”  So I set about installing some old cd burning software I had sitting around.  After the install I was asked the standard, “Would you like to reboot now?” question.  For some reason, this was the first time I’d ever thought about that statement.  Who would ever actually like to reboot after installing software?  Obviously, any sane person would prefer to use their new software right away….  But I digress.  Strike two for Windows.

After installing the third party program I found that my CD/DVD burner wasn’t recognized.  (It’s a Lite-On, which I believe is one of the larger manufacturers right now).   Strike three for Windows.

So I went in search of a software update for the third party program.  I was pleasantly surprised to find an update, which I dutifully installed (again rebooting afterward.).  Once Windows restarted I tried the 3rd party software again and again it didn’t recognize my player.  I read the FAQ and it said the software may not have drivers for my drive.  This struck me as ridiculously silly because Windows has had built in hardware drivers for over a decade.  Indeed, I installed the software using a the drive the the burning software now declined to recognized.  Does the software really have to access the hardware directly to control a burner?   Strike four for Windows.

And the final strike was against yours truly and is perhaps the silliest (and also the one that makes this article appropriate for Linuxgems).   After all this trouble I copied the iso to my MythTV (sitting literally inches from the blu-ray player).   I right clicked the iso, and followed the prompts and 30 seconds later I had an iso ready for my blu ray player.  I was so used to the decade old idea that it was easier to burn stuff in Windows that I didn’t even try it in Linux.  When I did my eyes were opened by how overly complicated I had made things by not trying Linux first.

Final tally:

Blu ray: 1 strike

Insignia: 1 strike

Windows: 4 strikes

Me: 1 giant strike

Playing/converting .wma files

Want to play .wma files in linux. XMMS doesn’t know how to read them, but mplayer does! You can use mplayer to convert them to .wav files which xmms will be able to read.

Here is how you convert them. Note the “-aofile somefile.wav” that is how we specify the output filename.

mplayer somefile.wma -ao pcm -aofile somefile.wav

And here is how you play them without converting them (same thing but without an output filename):

mplayer somefile.wma -ao pcm

Mplayer is available prepackaged on RedHat and Gentoo. Also, through the miracle of the internet, you can also get it straight from the source in Budapest, Hungary at the Mplayer project home page