The time machine that doubles as a toilet.

News Archives - July 2006

: Nero: Burning ROM or Burning WRONG?

July 30 2006

When it comes to desktop software, normally I'm quite picky and tend to get frustrated easily. For example, my graphic-creation workflow is fairly unique because the "normal" path (Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator) is painful for me. Firefox doesn't behave exactly how I want it to so I use Mozilla instead. Most RSS aggregators I've tried have too much bloat, but NewsGator is pure integrated-directly-into-Outlook bliss, etc...

Anyway, hopefully you get the idea — I really have an incredibly low tolerance for badly designed or engineered software. There are only a few very rare cases where I haven't uninstalled something that's upset me, but that's only because I'm forced to use it, no matter how bad it may be. Yes, I'm talking about you, iTunes... Grrrr. :x

The software I use to burn CDs and DVDs is a little German program by the name of Nero: Burning ROM. For a little bit of trivia, it is actually one of Germany's most famous and popular exports, after Mercedes Benz and the David Hasselhoff fan. Fact.

I've been using Nero for at least 8-9 years now, so all the stuff I mentioned above is a sort of testament to Nero. Having used the software for such a long time (and over so many revisions), the fact it hasn't managed to piss me off yet is amazing.

Well, that's not entirely true — Nero has pissed me off once...
A few months ago I came across a problem in Nero (a bug or an oversight, I don't know). Despite my best efforts, Google didn't present a solution but it turns out a lot of other people have also run into the same problem (and the same brick wall). I eventually solved the issue so I'm posting it up here on Pants in the hopes that Google will send people in the right direction to get the answer. Infact, this may actually be the first useful update in the history of the site...!

The problem:

It turns out that even though the Joliet file system and the software both support it, you cannot (easily) burn files with Unicode filenames using Nero. What this means is that if you have files with Japanese characters in the name, or Chinese characters, or even if you have files with funky dîãċŗĭtĩčş somewhere, you'll have trouble burning them to CD in Nero.

As demonstrated by the crude animation to the right, when you add Unicode files to a Nero compilation, the files and/or folders are added but the filenames are not retained. Not only that, but you can't even proceed to burn the disc because the compilation has errors.

Some of the common "solutions" I've found on messageboards suggest I should either:

  • Rename the files
  • Try using <different product> instead
  • Find, purchase and install a non-English version of Windows, or
  • Use Linux
Renaming the files is obvious but should be unnecessary. Using Linux or a second Windows installation seems like overkill, and all the other burning programs I've tried have the same inability to handle Unicode filenames. But alas, there is another solution to the problem...

The solution:

It seems so simple really... Here is how I can burn Japanese files using Nero:

  1. Open the Control Panel.
  2. Select Regional and Language Options.
  3. Go to the Advanced tab.
  4. Under the first group (Language for non-Unicode programs), change the drop-down selection from "English (Australia)" to "Japanese".
  5. Press OK.
    You'll be asked to reboot your machine.
Now here's where it gets interesting... You'd think it's just a matter of starting up Nero and that's it, but there's a bit more to do first:
  1. Once your machine has rebooted, open Nero.
  2. When you are prompted to create a new CD/DVD compilation, go to the ISO tab.
  3. From the Character Set (ISO) drop-down menu, select "Multibyte" from the list.
  4. Press New to create the compilation.
  5. Add the desired Unicode files to the compilation, then burn!

The problem (with the solution):

Although the method above works, it's kinda dodgy for two reasons.

Firstly, the "Multibyte" character set option (step #8) only exists when Nero is running in non-English mode. Why they've done this I have absolutely no idea, but if you're like most people and running Nero in 'English' mode, then you'll only see three character sets instead of four. This is incredibly stupid.

The second problem is that just like Nero doesn't behave when it's running in 'English' mode, you'll probably find that many normal programs you commonly use start behaving strangely when Windows is half-running in 'Japanese' mode (from step #4 above). Fonts and interfaces will display incorrectly, certain dialog windows will contain only Japanese text, and some programs will immediately crash back to the desktop when you start them.

The only way to avoid seeing these problems is to return Windows back to full 'English' mode by following steps #1 through #5 again, which means you'll need to reboot again too. If you're happy to sit through two reboots just to burn a CD, good for you. Personally, my machine stays on 24/7 and normally goes a couple of months between reboots, so I didn't really want this hiccup interfering with my setup. What I needed was a slightly different solution...

The solution (to the problem with the solution):

By freaky coincidence, I stumbled across this last puzzle piece by accident while I was researching entirely different things... It turns out Microsoft have released a program called AppLocale, which allows you to run individual programs under alternate language settings without upsetting other programs or requiring a reboot.

Thanks to this, I am able to run Nero in non-English mode when I need to burn Japanese files but I can still keep the rest of Windows in its native/default language (English) and more importantly, now I don't need to restart my machine just to burn a disc. Here's how it's done:

  1. Download and install the AppLocale program from Microsoft. (~1.3mb)
    Or here's the direct download link to bypass their stupid WGA validation crap.
  2. Start the AppLocale program.
  3. The first step will be to choose the program you wish to run. Browse to where Nero is installed and select "Nero.exe" from the Core subfolder.
  4. Next, choose the desired language to run Nero under. In my case (pictured right) I've chosen Japanese language settings, which was listed at the bottom of the drop-down menu.
  5. The last step lets you make a shortcut to always start Nero in this language (if you use it often). Click Finish to start Nero.
  6. Follow the Character Set instructions from steps #7 through #10 above.

If anyone finds these instructions useful, feel free to let me know or more importantly, let the Nero developers know that just because English is your primary language, it doesn't automatically mean that you'll only ever be burning files with "standard" filenames.

After all, the entire point of the Unicode standard was to allow software to become multilingual-aware. At the moment Nero isn't quite 100% there yet, but they may fix it if people bug them. :)

: Oh, The Humanity...

July 18 2006

Depending on how long you've been reading Pants, you may or may not realise the full history of the site. Although today there's quite a broad range of junk content littered around the site, naturally back in the early days there was far less variety...

Shortly after Joey Pantoliano started off the site as the first Pants 'mascot', he was quickly delegated to second by the lovely and charming Miss Britney Spears. I reviewed an album, talked about her (first) wedding, admired her producer and so on... Because the site was so small back then, I even kept track of how much of the site was related to her.

If memory serves me right her 'percentage-of-site' figure peaked at around 27%, but if you check the figure right at this moment you'll notice it's a lot lower than that now — this is partly due to the fact that the site has become a lot larger, but it's primarily due to the fact that her career started to self-implode in quite spectacular fashion.

After her fourth studio album was released, she was lesbian-kissing Madonna & married a dude in Vegas (by Elvis, presumably), followed by an annulment 55 hours later. Britney now is married to a different shmuck and has already brought one poor baby into the world, with another one due shortly.

She has come under a lot of criticism in the media lately, with her husband being labelled as a womanising freeloader and Britney herself being described as an incompetent hillbilly mother after those famous baby-dropping and baby-driving incidents. In my expert opinion, all of these labels are 100% fair and accurate.

Convinced that she hasn't already done enough to damage her celebrity image, last month Britney appeared on NBC's Dateline program to defend herself. This part caught my attention:

Britney Spears, June 15 Dateline interview:
"I love him [Kevin, freeloader husband] and that's all that matters. I feel for him because he's a man and he's trying to work and do his thing and I feel bad for him," Spears said. "We are people and we just need privacy."

Now I'll highlight the important part of that last quote, just incase you weren't paying attention:

"We are people and we just need privacy."

I don't know about you, but whenever I need privacy the first thing that comes to mind isn't posing naked with a bear-skin coat wrapped around me. But hey, I'm a little weird like that...

As illustrated by the image to the right, Britney will appear in the next issue of Bazaar magazine, which will hit newsstands on July 25. Depending on how good your eye sight is, you might notice that she is not wearing any clothes.

Bear-skin coats/rugs and front cover(s) aside, there will be some tasteful shots in the issue but that doesn't explain why the shy, introverted & pleading-for-privacy Spears is naked and pregnant.
I have absolutely nothing against celebrating the female (and in this case, pregnant) form, and I must admit that she does look decent in a few of the (heavily Photoshop'd) shots — my concern is the sudden contradictory disconnect between "Leave me alone" and "Look at me!".

So in the 18 months since my last Britney-specific Pants update, she has been transformed from a 21-year old $125-million sex symbol to what many would describe as trailer trash. Personally, I stand by what I said back in my very first Britney update, which (in hindsight) is one of the most accurate and prophetic things I've ever said...: this is all Madonna's fault.

And although you don't even know who I am (nor can you, because you're not an actual person), I hope you had a happy 40th birthday today Play School.

There's more where that came from...: Return to the News Archives index.