So enough with the long post titles and security for a little while (I might return to it later though!).
I have been using VLC for watching DVD’s and movie files on my MacBook so far and apart from a few crashes (I am using nightly builds of the universal binary, so that is forgivable :) it is suiting me pretty well and while it doesn’t play everything it does a great job with most things.
Stepping back a little, part of my initial dislike for Apple came from QuickTime because it (along with iTunes of course) is pretty much the only exposure to Apple software that your average Windows user has. The main reason I didn’t get along with these apps was based around the memory and CPU overhead of running them (especially iTunes) but it also really annoyed me that the free version was so crippled, lack of full screen playback being the biggest shock. Now I am on Mac OS, there is no overhead and both QuickTime and iTunes load in a reasonable amount of time and don’t eat massive amounts of memory although the silly restrictions on QuickTime Player are still there.
Anyway, on with today’s issue. I double clicked an AVI file today and QuickTime Player launched to play it (I hadn’t associated AVI’s with VLC) and I was presented with the error message on the right.
I click the continue button and QuickTime is going to install the new codec/plug-in that I need to view this? Unfortunately not, clicking the button opens a browser and a web page full of plug-ins. No indication of which one I need at all.
The movie file I want to watch is probably XviD or DivX format (although I have to guess this because the original error message is so vague) so I start reading the descriptions of the plug-ins on the web site. Nothing sounds promising so I search the page looking for any mention of DivX or XviD, nothing. There are 11 plug-ins and codecs here, what am I supposed to do, install them all?
Consider a complete newbie coming across this. Do they need the “powerful, faster-than-real-time nondestructive codec” or the “ACT-L2 Codec” that “delivers full-screen, full-motion video of VHS/DVD quality at 200 – 1200 Kbps.”. Go read that page as a user without technical knowledge, it is terribly written.
Now, I haven’t actually downloaded any of those plug-ins because I don’t think I need them (but please correct me if any of them do actually contain a DivX or XviD codec) and I did find codec plug-ins for both formats with fairly simple Google searches but this is still a horrible user experience.
I have now associated AVI with VLC and I won’t have to worry about it again but I had to blog it because it sticks out like a sore thumb amongst much of the other bundled software, the majority of which is very well written and usable.
On the same subject, I hear that Flip4Mac is finally going to release a universal binary beta of their WMV3 plug-in for QuickTime. This hasn’t been a major issue for me yet and the only movies I have come across that won’t play are those from Channel 9 but it is good to know because QuickTime under Rosetta is like running it under Windows again :)