Installing Starry Night on Vista

There are several versions of Starry Night, all of which have problems when you try to install them on a rig running Windows Vista. The reason is that Vista doesn’t deliver the usual backwards compatibilities that you would expect out of a new operating system. Funnily enough, this turns out to be the solution to our problem:

  1. Open the Starry Night CD, by right clicking on the CD/DVD icon in My Computer.
  2. Locate the setup.exe or install.exe file that is the main file that installs Starry Night. This will differ depending on the version, so do a little bit of searching around if you need to.
  3. Right click on the setup.exe files and go to Properties/Advanced and under Compatibility, select “Windows XP”.
  4. Run the installer.

Thats it. This trick works with every other program that has version conflicts with Vista.

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WinXP Disk Management Utility

If you have a large hard drive and want to create smaller partitions, or want to consolidate your partitions, you can use the Disk Management utility found at:

Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Computer Management > Disk Management

There are several more advanced partitioning tools that let you create, delete, format, defragment, resize, move partitions around, modify their attributes or even copy entire hard disks from one to another. Cute Partition Manager is free and comes highly recommended.

How to Solve Choppy / Stuttering DIVX Video Playback

Several new video formats have appreared in the last few years that provide excellent compression for near DVD quality videos. DivX, XviD, MKV and the audio MP3, OGG codecs are just a few new formats that are used. If we add to those the Realplayer and Quicktime Alternative codecs, which do not require you to purchase or install the bloatware native applications we have a wide array of formats that are available to us.

Quite often I find that when I attempt to add a support for one of the new versions of these codecs that are continuously updated, it results in choppy / stuttery video playback. So here are my guidelines for clearing up your system for optimal video performance.

This guide is for WinXP:

1. Uninstall all Codecs

From the control panel, find any individual codecs or codec packs you may have install and remove them.

2. Check if any codecs have been left over :

Right-Click on > My Computer > Properties > Hardware Tab > Device Manager > Sound, Video and Game Controllers > Video Codecs. Right-Click again and go to > Properties > Properties Tab. This is a list of all of the video codecs that are installed on your system.

Note that some of the codecs here that you may not recognize are used by the Windows GUI (these are indicated by .dll or .drv, but not limited to) and removing them would result in the need for a complete re-installation of your operating system.

If there are named codecs there such as DivX Pro, or XviD 4.12 codecs (these are often the central cause of bad video payback) then go back and see if you missed them in the Add/Remove codecs panel. If you still cannot find them then download and install the program : Codec Sniper. Search very carefully for the codec you want to uninstall and do so.

I had a particularly strange problem with XviD 4.12, as I mentioned above, that would re-appear in my video codecs after I rebooted, even though I removed it from the Device Manager. Codec Sniper did the trick for me.

3. Install a Unified Codec Pack :

I have always been an advocate of minimalism, especially when it comes to system files and codecs, and despite the excellent work that current unified codec projects such as The CCCP: Combined Community Codec Pack and The K-Lite Codec Pack, I feel that the best way to ensure reliable video and audio capabilities on any computer is to install only what you need.

I recently did a review of many codec packs available and came up with a prescription, so to speak, for reliable media playback:

Before I begin, I just want to make a note about Windows Media Player 11. I have noticed for a long time now, that when a media file decides to launch with MPC11, etc it often goes online and downloads or overwrites the codecs that the rest of the system are using, in favor of the Microsoft Certified ones. However, I bet that Anime Translation groups dont give a rat’s ass about what Microsoft has certified and my anime shows started experiencing problems, such as stuttering, subtitle problems, dual audio problems and the list goes on (basically anything and everything).

Having in fact uninstalled Windows Media Player 11, from the Add/Remove Programs Menu, under Windows Components, I now have my peace of mind knowing that I’m not going to start flaming at my computer when I next decide to watch a batch of Naturo or Bleach releases.

I leave this step completely up to you and your own judgement, as I know that some people just like to do things differently, and there is nothing wrong with wanting to see a pretty interface in front of you (although, it’s invisible when you fullscreen your video, right… I’m just saying… ^_^)

#1 : Media Player Classic is a small but supercharged version of the old Windows Media Player 6.4. It is by far the smallest, most reliable and feature rich video player available and I recommend it hands down. If you have been raised in a world of WMP 11 etc, you may miss the slick interface, but I bet you will enjoy the speed and features. You can resize and zoom the image using the numberpad and even speed up or delay audio on the fly, switch audio or subtitle tracks on the fly and it is also a full blown DVD Player – just select File > Play DVD. I have been using this for years without any problems. Remember to associate your .mkv files with MPC (Right Click > Open With … > Pick Media Player Classic (you may have to search through your program files) and then tick on the [Always Open The Selected Program … etc ] radio button)

#2 : FFDShow MPEG-4 Video Decoder is the intelligence behind all the popular codec packs. It is the collection of pure decoder filters that are used to play back video and audio of all kinds you will ever encounter. During installation you can choose to let FFDShow handle every file type and then enjoy the simplest and in my opinion the best codec solution available on the net today. (Rated No.1 on free-codecs.com’s downloads, need I say more?)

#3 : Quicktime Alternative | Real Alternative. Through your life and times you will come across the occational Quicktime or high compression Realplayer .rmjb file that you want to play back, be it a movie trailer or something you had stored away. Quicktime and Realmedia were once celebrated companies, as they pioneered video playback on our PCs, but have now been reduced to an amalgamation of bloatware, spyware and everything that messes with my mojo. The alternatives work wonders. Get em, install em, forget em.

#4 : VLC: Video Lan Client is a standalone portable media player that has the ability to stream media over a network or even feed it into another application. I have never had to do this, but I keep it around because it uses it’s own internal codecs to play back media.

As a final suggestion, I would recommend that you dont update these programs unless you actually encounter a problem, at some point in the future. If you have any other problems, I suggest searching through some forums, but remember: If your video playback isnt broken, then dont fix it!