Cleanly Removing the Zune Software

If you’re having Zune syncing problems, the first thing you’ll probably try is to uninstall and reinstall the Zune Software on your PC. Unfortunately, this may not solve the problem since the uninstaller software will miss certain installed DLL files, and will not clean up the registry file on your PC system. So what can you do?

Fortunately, someone has developed a program called UnZoone which will clean up all of these straggler DLLs and registry entries that are associated with the Zune Software. Using UnZoone will help you initiate a clean removal of the Zune Software, after which you can do a reinstall which should help resolve any syncing issues.

You can get UnZoone from this link.

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What Ever Happen to Personal Integrity?

On one of the Zune Forums I visit, there are numerous postings by people who brag about getting “free stuff” from Microsoft and various online vendors. From what these people explain in their postings, they are not really getting free stuff, but rather are being deceitful and dishonest so they can steal from vendors. For example, one person explained how he lied to Microsoft Support so he could get them to send him a new set of Zune Premium Earbuds. He also encouraged others to do the same, as he was proud of his accomplishment. Another poster bragged how he lied about not receiving merchandise he had ordered so that he wouldn’t have to pay for it. Note, that most of these posters are adolescents, so it doesn’t surprise me that they feel proud or entitled to this “free stuff”.

So what ever happened to personal integrity or being an honest person? Why do young people brag about stealing, or wear their thievery as a “Red Badge of Courage”? I would certainly hope that these few individuals who are lying and stealing are in the minority of their peers, but I’m afraid that is not the case. Aren’t parents teaching their children to be honest people?

Of course, it’s this kind of stealing from corporations, defaulting on credit card debit, etc. that contributes to the increasing cost of consumer goods. I also believe in Karma, so what you do to others will eventually come back around and get you. Continue reading

Still Zune-less… But Surviving

As you may have read, my Zune 80 stopped working early last week (the video display doesn’t work), so I’ve had to live without the use of my precious Zune. I normally use my Zune for watching a recorded TV Show while I’m in bed before I head off to sleep, so I’ve been using my old Dell Axim X50V (Pocket PC) as a substitute. Since my Axim has a 640×480 high resolution screen the videos look nice, but the lithium battery on the Axim is a few years old and doesn’t hold much of a charge. I can probably watch one 45-minute show before the battery is completely drained. What’s nice is that my Axim has a replaceable battery, so I can pop in my 2nd charged battery if I want to watch two shows in one evening. Still, it was more convenient using my Zune since I could watch about three 45-minute shows before the low battery light came on.

Even without my Zune, I’m still recording my favorite TV shows with my TV Tuner card and having the DVRMSToolbox utility automatically process them and save the converted WMV files into my Zune video sync folder. These new recordings will be waiting for syncing with a future Zune.

Hopefully, this coming week I’ll get the FedEx box that I’ve been waiting for to send my Zune back for warranty repair. Then after that, I’ll cross my fingers and hope my Zune will be repaired or replaced relatively quickly. You never know, if this repair process turns out to be a nightmare, the “Zune Tips Weblog” may turn into a “Pocket PC Video Tips Weblog”!

Life Without My Zune

As you may have read from my previous posting, my Zune 80 is currently out of commission. The LCD display simply won’t turn on, so my Zune is waiting for it’s FedEx box so I can ship it to Texas for warranty repair. I don’t expect to have my Zune back for about a month, and hopefully the Zune I’ll be getting will work ok and not have any problems.

So in the meantime, I’m back to using my old Dell Axim x50v Pocket PC as my multimedia player. Going from a device with 80 GB of storage to 1 GB (SD Card) is going to be tough, but I’ll have to manage. I typically use my Zune in the evenings to watch recorded TV shows just before I go to sleep, so I’ll be using my Dell Axim for that function. With the limited storage, that means I’ll be copying and removing files every other night or so.

Of course, all of this happens just before my out-of-town business trip, where I was planning to use my Zune for entertainment on my flight.

Jericho’s Run Ends

The season finale for the TV show Jericho aired last night, and it was also the last episode for the series since the show was canceled by CBS. I actually liked the finale, as it gave some closure in certain areas, left a few openings for pondering, and didn’t give you a dissatisfying cliffhanger ending. I now have to think of Jericho as a two season mini-series, since we won’t be seeing any more episodes. It’s too bad, since it was a great show and I certainly would like to know how the US civil war pans out and how the people of Jericho survives.

Now, some fans are talking about doing more letter writing and sending nuts to the CBS executives (as they did when Jericho was canceled after the 1st season), but I don’t think any amount of campaigning will bring back Jericho for a third season. The networks are interested in viewership, and Jericho‘s ratings were not much higher the 2nd time around. The only hope, is that Jericho might find a home on the cable network SciFi channel, so we’ll have to see if that happens.

So what show does CBS plan to fill in Jericho‘s time slot? Looks like a new episode of CSI: Miami … oh boy.

It Finally Happened: My Zune Stopped Working!

At exactly 3 months of ownership, my Zune 80 stopped working.

So how did it happen? I was syncing my Zune to my PC this morning and noticed that the Zune Software on my PC displayed an error message. I pulled the Zune from the cradle to take a look at it, and the screen was black. I looked closer, and noticed that the screen was very dimly lit (and nothing was displayed). So, I tried everything I could think of including:

  • Doing a reset
  • Erasing all content button sequence
  • Erasing all content and firmware button sequence
  • Full charge from wall outlet charger

What’s strange, is that I can hear the scrolling sound effects as I scroll using the center pad, and I could blindly play music on my device. The only issue is that the screen was blank. At times the display did show a brief pixelly screen when I blindly pressed the center pad button (maybe when it was trying to display something on the screen), but nothing I tried fixed the blank screen problem.

So, I called the 1-877-GET-ZUNE support line help. I’ve never had to call this support line before, but I have read several postings on forums that describe wild horror stories (e.g., having to talk to people in India with thick accents, or talking with a support person that has no clue what a Zune really is). Fortunately, the person I spoke with (Michael) was able to understand the issue I was having and proceeded to set up a repair order for my Zune. The steps for sending my Zune in for repair (under warranty) are as follows:

  1. Microsoft sends me an empty box via FedEx in 3-5 business days
  2. I put my Zune in the box and ship it to their repair facility (in Texas?)
  3. After about 10-15 business days, I should get my Zune back via FedEx

Michael did ask me if I had damaged my Zune (e.g., dropped it, spilled liquid on it, have a cracked screen, etc.) and noted that if it did have damage they would not repair it and would simply send it back at my cost. Since my Zune is in pristine condition, this wouldn’t be an issue for me. Also, Michael stated that depending on how busy the repair shop is, it might actually take longer than 15 business day to repair my device. In addition, I might get a refurbished unit as a replacement if that was deemed more appropriate. Since I’ve taken such good care of my Zune, I hope they can repair it, as I’d rather have the same unit back than get a refurbished unit that could have other problems.

So here I wait for the FedEx box to take my baby away. It will be tough not having my Zune for a while, and I’ll let everyone know how the process continues…

In case you’re interested, here are a few links to some Zune repair horror stories:

Just how long does it take for the repair center to return your item?

The Twilight Zune, or the ongoing Saga of Zune repair and (non) customer service

Video Codec Hell!

When I first got my Zune 80 back in December, I installed and tested out several different types of video conversion software on my laptop. Cucusoft, MediaCoder, Aimersoft… you name it, I tested it! Of course, I uninstalled each of them since I didn’t need them after my testing (and the fact they were mostly “trial” versions), however, some of them would leave fragments of themselves on my laptop system. Registry file entries, unused DLLs, etc. were still hanging around causing problems with my current video converter. In some cases, video converters will install their own video codecs which can be outdated or be simply inefficient. Not a good environment for converting videos.

For me, the usual symptom is a badly produced WMV video file when using Windows Media Encoder, or missing audio in the file. This almost always can be traced back to a bad or conflicted video/audio codec on the computer system. I was having such a problem with a recent video conversion on my laptop, so much so that I decided to hunt down and clean out all the corrupt and viral video codecs and start fresh. Thus, began my crusade to wipe out the codecs!

I started by going to “Remove Programs” and uninstalling everything I had that could possibly install a video codec. That included any video codec pack, or any “Movie Maker” software (I had ULead Movie Factory installed). Versions of FFMpeg, MEncoder, etc. were all stripped off. Once I was confident that I had everything that I previously installed removed, I started up the application called GSpot which has an option to display all installed video and audio codecs on a system, and highlight those codecs that were “bad” since they were missing a file. Continue reading