Sunday, February 15, 2009

Learning more than I wanted to starting out....2/14/09 (and 2/15/09, and 2/16/09...) version

2-16-09:'s word of the day today is:
interminable: seeming to have no end
...quite appropriate to THIS tale!!!

So we have a whole bunch of VHS tapes, mostly kid's movies from when our daughter was young, that take up a lot of space and are in some cases becoming damaged from overuse, so we've decided to convert some of them to DVD. Simple enough, right? You just capture the output of the VCR into the computer and then write it to a DVD, right?

Hmmmmm, well, maybe. Here are the steps I had to go through BEFORE what follows:

  1. VCR hookup to the TV/tuner card in the computer (had to find correct dongle)
  2. Repeatedly crashing Windows Movie Maker and Windows Media Encoder
  3. No sound in the feed from the VCR (need the RCA cables along with the S-Video cable)
  4. Overnight encoding resulting in full disk (didn't realize could set Encoder to a time limit)
  5. Had to re-encode video with Windows Media Encoder becuase it had no "index"
  6. Attempt to use AdobePremier to create DVD. Was able to add "markers," but not able to get Premier to recognize DVD-RW.
  7. Conversion to AVI (using Premier), with thought of using Nero to create DVD.
  8. Nero kept saying there was no disk in the drive.
  9. Went to Office Depot to get new DVD+Rs thinking maybe the ones I had were corrupt.
  10. Still, no response from DVD-RW
  11. Attempted Driver updates - no newer driver (it's using generic Microsoft drivers)
  12. Firmware flash to change Firmware from BGS4 to BSOY (stock)
  13. Attempt to use Lite-On BSOY driver....says it already has latest Lite-On driver
Then, I decided to search the Microsoft site for an updated generic driver. I typed "Microsoft atapi driver" into Google. Second on the list was the following:

how to enable 48-bit Logical Block Addressing support for ATAPI ...
Describes Microsoft Windows XP SP1 48-bit Logical Block Addressing (LBA) support ... To determine if you have the latest ATAPI driver, verify that you have ... - Similar pages -

This was the first I'd heard of "Logical Block Addressing," but I saw the "To determine if you have the latest ATAPI driver," and decided this might give me something useful, so I clicked it.

I read

"This article describes the Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1) 48-bit Logical Block Addressing (LBA) support for ATA Packet Interface (ATAPI) disk drives that can increase the capacity of your hard disk to more than the current 137 gigabyte (GB) limit."

This was a hard drive issue, clearly, and not what I wanted. So I typed "atapi dvd" into the Microsoft search box, and it offered to auto-complete this to "atapi dvd drivers download," so I accepted that. This brought me to an Advanced Search results page, with a few things near the top that didn't look especially relevant, so I searched the results on that page for "dvd." I found this entry on the list:

List of fixes included in Windows XP Service Pack 2
(811113) - ... com/?kbid=330232) Debugging cannot debug drivers ... Windows XP Does Not Recognize a DVD-RW Disc: Base ... 816764 ( ATAPI ...
While I've kept my computer updated with the service packs, the "Windows XP Does Not Recognize a DVD-RW Disc" looked very promising, so I followed the link. It brought me to

a list of Microsoft Knowledge Base (KB) articles that describe the fixes and updates that are contained in Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2). This article is primarily intended to help IT Professionals and corporate helpdesks to support and maintain a company’s computer system.

If you are running Windows XP SP2 on your home computer, notebook, or small network, and you have questions about Windows XP SP2, please visit the following Microsoft Web site:

Clearly, Microsoft would prefer if I not pursue this line of inquiry, but I am not one to easily accept that I'm not able to handle the role of an "IT Professional," so I searched the page for "DVD" and found:

818733 ( Windows XP Does Not Recognize a DVD-RW DiscBase operating system

and clicked on the link, taking me to "Windows XP does not recognize a DVD-RW disc". I read under "Symptoms":

When you insert a DVD-RW disc into the DVD drive of a Microsoft Windows XP-based computer, Windows XP does not recognize the disc. For example, you do not see any files on the disc.

YES! My problem exactly. So then I read under "Cause":

"This issue occurs because the Universal Disc Format driver, Udfs.sys, tries to read the DVD-RW disc by using a packet length of 32 blocks instead of by using a packet length of 16 blocks. CD-RW uses a packet length of 32 blocks, but DVD-RW uses a packet length of 16 blocks.

Hmmmm...... This certainly could account for exactly the problem I was having (wouldn't read any DVD, whether commercial, homemade data, or blank. But the resolution offered was to upgrade to the latest service pack, and, as I've said, I keep my computer up-to-date using automatic update. Below that recommendation, however, was a section entitled "Hotfix information," which said that "A supported hotfix is available from Microsoft. However, this hotfix is intended to correct only the problem that is described in this article. Apply this hotfix only to systems that are experiencing this specific problem."

Well, my system was experiencing "the problem that is described", so I followed the link to the hotfix, and got a page with a "Agreement for Microsoft Services," which (of course) I didn't read but accepted, and got to a list of languages available, chose English, entered the required email address and Captcha code, and clicked "Request Hotfix." Soon, it arrived in my inbox.

Mmmmm.....I rubbed my hands. Would this do it?

In the email, there were a bunch of warnings:

This hotfix has not undergone full testing. Therefore, it is intended only for systems or computers that are experiencing the exact problem that is described in the one or more Microsoft Knowledge Base articles that are listed in "KB Article Numbers" field in the table at the end of this e-mail message. If you are not sure whether any special compatibility or installation issues are associated with this hotfix, we encourage you to wait for the next service pack release. The service pack will include a fully tested version of this fix. We understand that it can be difficult to determine whether any compatibility or installation issues are associated with a hotfix. If you want confirmation that this hotfix addresses your specific problem, or if you want to confirm whether any special compatibility or installation issues are associated with this hotfix, support professionals in Customer Support Services can help you with that. [and then some contact information and then this:]

Before you install this hotfix


If you decide to install this hotfix, please note the following items:

Do not deploy a hotfix in a production environment without first testing the hotfix.

Back up the system or the computer that will receive the hotfix before you install the hotfix.

Hmmmmm, I thought. Should I "back up my system"??!?! That seems extreme for this particular solution. However, they seem serious about this. But, what the heck, what could possible go wrong? :-)

So I downloaded the hotfix, ran the self-extractor, typed in the required pasword, and it unzipped some files onto my hard drive:




Should I read the text file? Well, since there are two executables here, I guess I should. Besides some legal stuff ("this is provided As-Is, etc), it said, under "Installation Instructions":

1. If this hotfix was delivered with hfx.exe then it can be installed by running hfx.exe from the appropriate platform directory.

Um, but it wasn't. There's no "hfx.exe" file. Just those two executables. Hmmm....

This made me nervous. I decided to do a little further investigation.

So I typed "Uniform Disc Format Driver packet length dvd" into Google. There were a bunch of Linux-related things talking about the very problem I was having, but nothing Windows-related on the first page. So I added "udfs.sys" to the search, and found about half-way down the page:

[SOLVED] Can't write DVD - Ubuntu Forum

10 posts - Last post: Dec 19, 2007
My DVD drive doesn't show up. Disc name is greyed out, ... system> ... /dev/hda /media/cdrom0 udf,iso9660 user,noauto,exec 0 0 ... [ 15.754365] Uniform CD-ROM driver Revision: 3.20 .... FORMAT allocaion length isn't sane or at the CLI I get: ... I followed that link. It deals with Linux, again. The posts are mostly one guy talking to himself. The final post is:

"I solved the problem. I swapped the DVD player out with another one and it works. Probably was some sort of firmware issue but I don't know why."

Hmmmm.....I'm beginning to think that isn't such a bad idea. However, I do have this hotfix that I could run. Thinking maybe I should just find out a little bit more, I typed "Q818733_WXP_SP2_ia64_ENU.exe" into Google.


How about, "udfs.sys windows dvd"? A few entries down, I find this:

[PDF]Re: windows wont recognize dvd ramFile Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View as HTML
replaced the original udfs.sys and cdfs.sys. (C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers &. C:\
WINDOWS\ServicePackFiles\i386) with. Re: windows wont recognize dvd ram ...

Hey, it mentions the hotfix!!!

I also was checking into the
udfs.sys file that may
caused this problem. Im not completely sure
if this HotFix from
is the cure. I'll check back after I get the
model number and let you
the outcome.

Towards the bottom of the document, I found this:

I recently bought a Toshiba RD−XS24 DVD−Recorder. It
has a huge HDD but
I'm mainly interested in transfering the recorded videos to
computer, so I started recording on DVD−RW and
DVD−RAM discs in VR
mode, but my system (Windows XP SP1) wouldn't "see"
anything at all.
Microsoft has a HotFix (KB818733), but there is no direct
dowload, so I
looked for the files udfs.sys and cdfs.sys on the Internet and
found them on eDonkey (version 5.1.2600.2180 for both of
them). I
replaced the original udfs.sys and cdfs.sys
(C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers &
C:\WINDOWS\ServicePackFiles\i386) with
the ones I dowloaded and the problem was immediately
solved. Now, my
system sees the VRO (mpeg−2) video files and I can copy
them easily.
When replacing the .sys files Windows will warn you against
doing so,
but ignore the warning (you should keep the originals
renamed just in
case something goes wrong).

WOW! This is another solution! Do I get the sys files from the 'net and replace them, or do I do the hotfix?

I needed to know the versions of the drivers. So I fired up the control panel and went into the "system" applet and then into Hardware and then to the Device Manager, and for some reason my DVD-RW was MISSING from the list. Hmmmmm......

I'm thinking to myself, maybe there's something unstable in the operating system....maybe I should just reboot my computer, and this problem will be solved? be continued.....

So I rebooted, and the DVD-RW drive returned to the list. I looked at the properties, driver, details, and got a list of drivers, but no udfs.sys listed there. So I looked in My Computer under Windows/system32/drivers and found usfs.sys, version 5.1.2600.5512 and cdfs.sys, same version number, both created 4/13/2005. In other words, when Windows XP Media Center edition was first installed on my gateway. These versions are HIGHER than the "new" ones listed in the PDF page mentioned just above. But maybe I do need to replace them?

Or do that hotfix?

Before going further, I decided to test the DVD-RW again by putting a full DVD data disk in it. Again, no response.

I decided to go to to find out if there are newer versions of the udfs.sys or cdfs.sys files. Turns out, it's a peer-to-peer file sharing system similar to Limewire, and most users use a client called eMule, available at I didn't really want to get into that, so (for now), gave up that approach.

Time to do the hotfix, I guess. be continued.....

So I "did" the hotfix. I wasn't entirely sure how to do it, so I just ran the first *.exe file. Something flashed on the screen that I couldn't read....then I get this message:

Hmmmm..... not very reassuring.

So I tried opening a Command window (Start....Run...."command") and running it from there:

Same exact error. However, I notice that behind that error message is another little pop-up window:

What the heck? "o:\..."? I have a drive o. It's an external hard drive. I look there, and sure enough, there's a directory there, O:\9a56ff9f258d505a5f3c30. In that directory are a few files, including the offending xpsp1hfm.exe:

I wonder if I should run it.

Why not? (At this point, I'm just throwing stuff up on the wall.) So I click "okay" on the error message, and then switch back to the window showing that odd directory on O:.

Strange! The contents are gone, and in their place is this:

Hmmmm..... So I follow the shortcut, and it takes me right back to the same place:

Damn, that's odd!!! The files were there just a moment ago. Now it's a circular shortcut reference!!!

This is getting bizarre.

I decide to run the executable again, but don't click the "ok" on the error message. There's a new directory in O: now, called O:\75e7fb32d55e3dbbabde5f2c2792. It has the files in it.

I wonder if I click "Ok" will THIS directory now have a circular shortcut in it?

I decide not to find out (yet), and run the xpsp1hfm.exe. Here goes nothin'!

And, in fact, I get another error:

Will it run in a command window? (They certainly don't make this easy!!!) When I click "ok", the directory is now gone. I realize that the circular shortcut above must have been something *I* created, preventing the directory from being erased.

So what do I do now? I decide that maybe the file got corrupted during the download process, and go back to the email and download and extract it again.

Same thing. Ugh.

So I think it's time to try a different tack. I had read somewhere that someone with a similar problem had solved it by switching the DVD-RW and DVD-ROM drives so that the latter is the master and the former is the slave drive. So I shut my computer down and open it up, and switch the drives. (They are both set as "Cable Select," so I simply switch their position and reattach the cable so that their roles are switched. Then I restart and make sure that the "Master/Slave" roles are switched. Yes. But no, the DVD-RW still doesn't read DVDs.

I am about to give up. I could just buy a new DVD-RW drive and it would probably work fine. Maybe this one is just defective?

I notice in the Control Panel (when I check to make sure the roles are switched) that device 1 (the DVD-RW, now the "slave") has an odd indicator:

Notice under "Current Transfer Mode," it says "Not Applicable"? What the heck does THAT mean? Clearly, there's something going on with that drive.

Just to be sure, I check on my wife's computer to see what that setting says on hers. Both drives are listed as "Ultra DMA Mode 2."

Hmmmm.... this seems to be the first indication that my COMPUTER is aware that there might be an issue with the DVD-RW. Just to be sure, I check to make sure it still can read CDs (in case what happened when I switched them is it got disabled). It works to read CDs.

Time to investigate DMA!! (Understand why this post it titled "Learning more than I wanted to starting out"?) be continued...


Cepheid said...

Craig: did you ever solve the DVD disk read issue?

Craig A. Cunningham said...

Thanks for the reminder that I never got back to this.

What I ended up doing was purchasing and installing another DVD recorder. Everything worked fine as soon as I did that. :-)

Bel said...

OMG u went through EXACTLY what I am going through now I think I will become a M$ system expertise soon!

This post has made me laugh but I don't want a new driver coz mine is nice n cute n has lightscribe llf :'(