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Old 04-08-2009, 01:07 PM
mikiem mikiem is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2009
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Default Portable SMC -- How & Why

I've been doing video for a while, & yesterday got a chance to play around with a Fuze 8GB, to see what it would handle; some people enjoy crossword puzzles -- I enjoy this. I was only partially successful... Iíd read posts that said use one video converter or another, and Iíd read where dozens of owners found that only the Sansa Media Converter worked. While itís indeed possible that somewhere out there a software alternative exists, I throw my lot in with the group that says use the SMC. The Problem: SMC is a Really, ***REALLY*** nasty bit of work! If itís not too late, my personal advice is DO NOT install it as is Ė instead turn it into a Portable App Ė but first, why I think you should bother...

For what is essentially a very simple task, converting video, the SMC_4_256.exe install file I downloaded from the Sansa site, makes far too many changes to Windows. There are dozens of video converters out there, and by & large comparing their Windows footprint to SMC is like comparing a grain of rice & a softball! At the very least, use a free program called Universal Extractor to unpack SMC_4_256.exe into the set-up files in their own folder. Then remove the sub-folder called: ď3rdPartyAppĒ. If/when you then run Setup.exe, youíll get a warning message [just click OK], but youíll avoid having an older version of DirectX installed, an older version of Microsoftís visual C runtime, an older version of Windows Media and so on.

The SMC install doesnít play nice, & will not in my experience skip these installations if they are already installed. Skipping them in the worst case (if you then have problems) means simply downloading and installing the latest versions from Microsoft, or if you donít want to bother, running the separate setup files in that ď3rdPartyAppĒ folder. Not skipping these installations might cause problems with other software you have installed, and getting things working can then take much longer. As it is, removing that sub-folder and running SMC setup will still make roughly 3500 changes to your Windows Registry in XP! [as recorded by the free program InstallWatch Pro]. Talk about taking things over & bloat. But SMC doesnít stop there...

SMC includes code licensed from Intervideo, the WinDVD folks now owned by Corel. It includes quite a bit of code actually, including a bunch for things like disc burning & DVD navigation etc. that in SMC (for the Fuze at least) are irrelevant. WinDVD & the [in my opinion] much more compatible & popular PowerDVD often conflict with each other. SMC uses DivX encoding, and included files can take over from DivX software you already have installed. I have no idea why it installs a driver called InterVideo ASPI Shell [1999-2003], or itís potential effects on installed CD/DVD burning software.

Harder to pin down when it comes to unintended consequences, most times when you edit &/or play audio/video in Windows, Windows chooses between the installed Direct Show filters to simplified, read & play those media files. When Windows has more than one choice, & it picks the wrong one, you usually have some sort of problem [thatís 1 reason VLC is so popular, using itís own rather than Windows installed DS filters]. And you guessed it, SMC installs a whole bunch of these Direct Show filters, greatly escalating your chances of having problems.

As an alternative Iím recommending folks try the following to convert SMC into a Portable App that can run from your hard drive or an USB stick or whatever, not making all these permanent changes to Windows that can cause all these sorts of problems. On the plus side itís very simple & itís free & it doesnít take long. On the down side I had the Fuze for a matter of hours, so I canít say the portable version will do everything with every conceivable media type -- I canít say that of the original. Iím not posting the portable version because 1) the kind folks at prefer only open source apps be posted, 2) I didnít have time to really test true portability Ė if the portable SMC done on one system worked just as well on another.

* * *

TO convert SMC_4_256.exe to a Portable App I downloaded that file from the Sansa site. The program I used for the conversion is Portable App Creator from here: Portable App creator is a bit different to install, so please read the docs etc with it Ė long story short, the installation program sort of puts the actual program youíll use together, which is explained when you read the docs & post.

Creating the portable app version of SMC, or any program works best on a PC where itís never been installed. I feel itís important to back up the Windows Registry first using ERUNT Ė Google and youíll see lots & lots of sites providing ERUNT downloads. Itís also useful to create a Windows Restore Point (I do that second). Of course if you want to do a full image backup, thatís even better. Then run Portable App Creator, following the programís really easy directions, installing SMC_4_256 (minus the 3rd party folder) to an USB stick Ė this creates the stand-alone version, including all the registry settings & even the driver.

The next step, because the Portable App Creator isnít perfect, is putting the system back the way it was Ė the reason for the extra trouble creating the portable app version is you donít want 3500 registry changes etc. Unless you did a full backup, which youíd now restore, uninstall SMC through Control Panel [Add/Remove programs or Vista/Win7 equivalent] with the USB stick removed, because Windows Restore isnít perfect either. Then restore the Restore Point, then restore the ERUNT backup.

To use the Portable SMC, or any portable app created this way on your hard drive, copy the portable programís folder to your hard drive, navigate to the ďDataĒ sub-folder, open & edit the path in the .ini file. For SMC opening this ini file looked like this:
Drive = PA
Folder = PortableApps\SansaPortable\App\SanDisk
File = Sansa Media Converter.exe
You just need to change the path [Folder = ...] to reflect wherever youíve put it.
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