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Creative's software still sucks

12/06/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

This is a bit of longer term usage following up on the Creative SoundBlaster wireless that I originally reviewed a few months ago.

Recently, I decommissioned a Celeron XP box. When I did that I lost the software server for the Creative Soundblaster Wireless player, rendering it inoperative.

I did try, and not succeed, to get it to run under XP on the new MacBook. Not such a big deal as I'm not using XP on it much anyway. There are no OSX drivers for the Wireless so the server has to reside on a Wintel system.

I eventually decided to install the software on the HTPC. It's never used when the Wireless is so cohabits purposes nicely. Besides, it's significantly more powerful than the old Celeron box so I expected it to handle the piggish Creative server software better.

Right, on with the reinstall.

I installed all the applications from the CD it shipped with, figuring safer than sorry. Results:

  • Creative MediaSource: crashed every time I tried to start it.
  • Creative Media Server: can't start a "component".
  • Network setup: Network cannot be contacted.

Well, all in all, not good. All three components required for the system to work failed with the fresh install.

I then downloaded and installed all of the patches I could find on the Creative website to...no avail. Everything was still pooched.

With a bit more searching through the Creative forums, I found there was another firmware patch released in 2005 that's a bit newer than the one I had. I downloaded it from a third party site as Creative decided never to make if officially available. I patched the Wireless and... the network didn't connect, the server didn't start and the MediaSource software continued to crash.

After much swearing and vowing never to buy another Creative product, I re-did the 802.11 settings on my router and tried again. Set it to no encryption and 802.11b only (no g), disabled hardcoded IPs, and... the network is still inaccessible.

Frustrated, I decided to track down the problem with the crashing MediaSource software. I found a newer version of the software listed under a different product, downloaded it, installed it, and... it crashes.

However, before it crashes, MediaSource now complained about JET being "wrong" and that I should install an update. I went through the Microsoft site and pulled down the most recent JET upgrades I could find. None would install as apparently I'm using newer versions of code already. Thinking it might help to have the general ODBC and MDAC patches, I pulled those down too. None would install successfully for much the same reason. Eventually after much Googling, I found a manual way to reinstall the XP MDAC libraries and... it worked! The software no longer crashed!

So I push my luck and try the server. It starts!

So I push my luck (on a roll here!) and try the network setup again. It works!

I then re-did the wireless settings on the router reverting it back to 802.11b/g with WEP, reinitialise the Wireless and... it still works!

The Creative Soundblaster Wireless is now running as I'd like. Skipping on files seems to have completely stopped -- the most annoying thing from before -- and the system is much more responsive than it was when it comes to changing tracks or selecting new playlists. It's taken rather longer to get here than I'd hoped, but it works! Woohoo!

Although the problem ended up (apparently) being in Microsoft's MDAC support, I'm still not buying any more Creative-badged equipment if I can help it. This is too much effort.



Comment from: Nimble [Member]  

I’m picking up the ProdiKeys DM I ordered tonight. I’ll let you know whether the Curse of Creative bites me or not :)

12/06/06 @ 15:39
Comment from: Nimble [Member]  

Doh - Purolater was only open until 7:30, and we didn’t get back home ’til quarter to 8. The first impressions will have to wait.

I remember some of the troubles you were having with that previous box. Aggravating, especially for a music maniac such as yourself.

I wonder what sort of database back-end they’re using that would require MDAC. It could be an alternate source (custom ODBC), or Access (wash your hands afterwards with a mild detergent) or SQL Server Express, or Excel (*gigglesnort*)

I’ve found ODBC and Access to be the pickiest about installation versions. SQL Server seems to be able to take pretty much anything.

12/07/06 @ 02:25
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