Monday, June 27, 2011

WMP12 Audio CDs do not play in Car or Stereo

Windows Media Player 12 (Windows 7 WMP) Audio CDs do not play in Car, Stereo or other non-computer players. The Burned disk is not playable.  This article explains how to fix this problem.

Problem: Windows 7 Media Player (WMP) 12's burned Audio disks will not play in a non-computer audio player.  The disks will not play on an older home stereo or the car stereo.  These devices report various errors, such as No disk, Invalid Disk, Not a music CD, etc..

This is not the obvious problem where a "Data / MP3" disk was burned.  You may find some Windows 7 computers can burn disks without these problems.

Symptoms:
  • Disk was burned as an "Audio" CD and something was clearly written to the disk
  • Stereo (non-computer) reports "No Disk" or Invalid Disk
  • WMP may show the disk as "Unknown" even though a Title was saved
  • Burning the Disk at Slow Speeds; without Gaps; as "WPL", etc, makes no difference; all burned disks fail.
  • WMP files are saved MP3 in the original library, but this is immaterial.
  • Burned disk plays in the computer that burned the disk and that copy of WMP shows the tracks even though Windows Explorer shows only 1 file
  • Windows Explorer shows one file, "Files Ready to Be Written to the Disk (1), with a filename of desktop.ini. No *.cda files are found on the disk
  • Disk may or may not play in a different computer
  • I suspect you have Windows 7 Home Premium or Windows 7 Ultimate installed, along with "Windows Media Center"
Example Windows Explorer View of failed disk:

Burn Notes:

Before burning an Audio CD, note the following well-known points:

Most Car CD players (especially older players) cannot play "data" or "MP3" music CDs. The CD's must be recorded in "Audio" format (commonly called Redbook). This article assumes you are trying to spin a standard, traditional Audio CD.

The CDs must be burned on CD-R disks. Do not use CD-RW or DVDR. Also, some ancient CD players can only read "74" minute CDs but almost all modern disk blanks are 80-minutes. This is probably not an issue with your player because all devices in the past (factoid:) 15 years can read 80-minute disks.

You can store your WMP music library as MP3 (recommended). The format the music is stored as is immaterial to this problem. When all issues are resolved, you can still use the MP3 files to burn audio without manually converting to AAC, WAV or other formats.


Standard WMP Audio Burn Steps:

When burning an Audio CD, use these WMP 12 settings, assuming you want to spin a standard Audio CD. Likely, you have already tried these steps, and failed, but these are required settings and need to be discussed. However, I suspect the real solution can be found near the end of this article.


A. In WMP, click the [Burn] tab and then "Clear list" to start fresh.

B. Drag an album or tracks from your library to the Burn list. If the album is currently playing, consider clearing the play list in the [Play] tab before burning, just to be safe.

C. In the Options pull-down
  • Confirm "Audio CD" is selected
  • Choose "More Burn Options"

D. In "More Burn Options"

Set Burn Speed to "Slow" for the most reliable results
[x] Automatically eject the disk after burning (checked)
[x] Apply volume leveling across tracks (optional)
[ ] Burn CD without Gaps (unchecked)

Choose "WPL" in "Add a list of all burned files to the disk in this format"
[ ] Use Media information to arrange files in folders on disk

Click OK to save the options.

E. Near the [Burn] tab, click "Start Burn"


Solution to the Audio CD Problem:

Although the steps above are required for any Audio disk, my computer still failed to burn a valid disk. I found the solution after noting that one of my Windows 7 computers correctly burned disks while a second did not.

The difference between the two machines was "Windows Media Center" was installed on the failing computer. Un-installing Media Center, then re-installing WMP solved the problem. Follow these steps.


1. In Windows Control Panel, open "Programs and Features"


2. On the left Navigation, click "Turn Windows Features on or off". This takes several moments to open.


3. In "Media Features",

[ ] Uncheck "Windows Media Center"
[ ] Uncheck "Windows Media Player"

This de-installs Windows Media Center and Windows Media Player. WMP will be re-installed in a moment. Windows will prompt that some features will be disabled. Continue and reboot when prompted.

Note: During the re-install, your Music Library (music collection) will remain as-is and will re-attach in a moment.


4. After rebooting, return to the Control Panel, "Programs and Features."
re-Open Media Features,


[x] Re-select the "Windows Media Player" option and click Ok.

This re-installs WMP and your existing music library will automatically re-attach.


5. Audio CD's should now burn properly. Test with the settings from above.

Re-installing (0nly) WMP resolved the issue; originally, the author left Windows Media Center un-installed for the first test. Upon later testing, I found Windows Media Center can be re-installed without damaging the Audio burn solution but I did this in a two-stage install. I did not test re-installing both programs at the same time. Your comments on this would be welcomed.


6. Optionally, return to Media Features and re-check (re-install) Windows Media Center. Test again. CDs should still burn properly. The Author did not test checking both WMP and Windows Media Center at the same time during the original re-install.


Your un-registered comments on this article are welcome.

Related articles:
Adding an MP3 folder to your existing WMP library
Streamline Windows 7 (including how to move the WMP library to a different data folder)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Website Recommendations

Website Recommendations. Worth repeating

Besides this site, I have found these sites to be particularly interesting.
This posting is periodically updated.

Podcast:  99% Invisible 
http://99percentinvisible.org

Bezier Curves - a primer.
Interactive Mathematics


Industrial Design and Artwork, various
http://www.coroflot.com


A Vision of Students Today:
A remarkable video by Professor Michael Wesch. An anthropological study.
Searching his name will also bring up other similar videos. Check this one out first.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGCJ46vyR9o&NR=1


and this: The Machine is Us




Other Videos on Public Education:
RSA Animate - Changing Education Paradigms


Gapminder:
Statistical analysis of various trends, such as birth rates, HIV, CO2 emissions and others. This is very interesting information, presented by Hans Rosling. This is part of a GNU project called TEDTalks.
http://www.gapminder.org/videos/


Photography:
This is one of the finest collections of juried photographs I have found.
Start by clicking the top-menu "Photos" link.
http://1x.com/



Photoshop Disasters:
Be prepared: This site is time consuming.
http://photoshopdisasters.blogspot.com/2009_10_01_archive.html


xkcd.com Comics
Computer and scientific humor
http://xkcd.com



A SHORT LOVE STORY IN STOP MOTION
from Carlos Lascano on Vimeo.
Beautifully done; wonderful music. I have come back many times to view this short film.


A collection of interesting Video and Print advertisements. I particularly liked this one:
Adweek.com/AdFreak

A nicely-done song. 
Give it a minute or so to see the humor.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9NF2edxy-M

The history of the world in One Minute
http://www.themarysue.com/melodysheep-our-story-earth-montage/



Keywords:
website recommendations recommended websites favorite websites

Sunday, June 5, 2011

InkJet Printers

Commentary: HP or Epson Printers - Probably neither. It is time to abandon home color printing.

I am unhappy with my HP Photosmart D7160 printer.

It has 6 ink cartridges and, at any given time, one of them is out of ink. Although the cartridges are relatively inexpensive ($15), they seem to conspire with each other, saying, "hey Magenta, why don't you run dry this week."

I occasionally use the printer, probably printing 40 sheets a month, along with a photograph or two. But this must not be exciting enough and the printer gets bored. It starts a cleaning cycle, preening like a cat, and this consumes prodigious amounts of ink. Because the cartridges are so small, there is never enough ink to print when I actually want to.

There are other problems. Last month I needed to print a portrait and 45 minutes later, I succeeded. Part of this was operator-error; part was not.

Here is a typical print job: It printed from the wrong tray. I had the photo-paper in up-side-down. There was a line in the print and it had to clean itself. It printed landscape instead of portrait. The driver set itself to Draft. The driver changed to regular paper instead of Photo-paper. It printed 3x5 on 4x6 paper. A cartridge ran out of ink. I installed a new cartridge. It had to clean itself. A second cartridge is sucked dry.

I could have driven downtown and back in the time it took to resolve all of this. On top of this, the prints are not waterproof and they apparently fade. With all the hassles, I'm ready to toss it and try something else. Of course, the problem is 5 of the 6 cartridges are still full and it seems like a waste to trash the whole thing on the account of one cartridge. But this is enough and I am done.

What I'm going to try is going to the local photo store and let them do the printing. By all accounts, this is cheaper than doing it yourself.

As I was reaching this decision, I researched the differences between HP and Epson printers and came across an interesting article.

http://www.timhunkin.com/a115_inkjet%20print%20longevity%20tests.htm

Mr. Tim Hunkin did a series of tests, comparing the two brands, inks and papers. The un-dated article discusses HPs Vivera inks and Epson inks.

In summary:
  • Buy Ink from the OEM manufacturer
  • Buy paper from anyone
  • HP Vivera inks rapidly fade when exposed to light or air
  • HP inks do not clog as easily
  • Epson inks do not fade
  • Epson inks can clog when not used
He also refers to this site, which has a lot of other interesting Inkjet articles, including Myths of Digital Inks (horribly formatted; virtually unreadable - note sent to vendor).

In Conclusion

Color printing at home is too expensive and should be abandoned. Everyone should quit, sending HP, Epson, Lexmark and Canon a message. Let the local photo-lab do the printing for a fee. I'll report on my findings in a future post.


Keyliner Comments: HP Vivera Ink Promotion