08 November 2008

OverDrive Video Optimizer Sucks

Some time ago I saw a flyer at a branch of the New York Public Library touting an online library where one can borrow movies and more. I knew not to expect to find the latest Hollywood blockbusters available, but I do watch really old, classic movies from time to time. I never found the time to actually try to borrow any movies, until recently when my son became interested in the classic Short Circuit. It's been 22 years since the movie came out, it should be old enough to be in any library's online collection. It is indeed, but the only hurdle is that the required software runs on Windoze only. Fine, that's what I got Parallel for. I have enough of Windoze at work and don't want any at home, but the sad truth is that there are software out there that only runs on Windoze.

First I had to download the OverDrive Media Console software. Because I don't use Windoze much on the Mac via Parallel, I also had to download Windows Media Player. Through the Brooklyn Public Library's eMedia site, I downloaded some .ODM file that is supposed to lead me to the movie Short Circuit. Although the web site said that it's over 500 MB, it downloaded very quickly. Turned out it's kinda like those BitTorrent file.

Since I installed Windows Media Player after OverDrive, I automatically thought WMP would be used for opening the ODM file. To make matter worse, WMP did not flat out refuse to load the file but instead offer to try it anyway. Of course, it failed. Next, I managed to open the ODM file with OverDrive but then it complained about some WMP security being outdated. The error message did say that I would have to do something under the Tools menu of OverDrive, but because the outdated security was with WMP, I went to WMP and naturally couldn't find any options to update the security setting. To make things worse, the default fancy skin for WMP didn't readily show a Tools menu, you would have to switch to Classic skin first. It would be so nice to have the Check For Updates menu option like all Mac apps. Finally, I got OverDrive to update WMP's security, and the only hurdle was to download the large file for viewing. Yup, when I loaded the ODM file and clicked Play, it didn't automatically go ahead and download the file then play, but instead had to present an error window. Why can't the software just do whatever necessary to get the movie to be played?

What a painful experience that was. Compared that to the typical purchasin experience with the iTunes Music Store and I can see why the iTMS is popular. I have no idea how many use the eMedia service, but if it can be streamlined a lot more more people will make use of the resource.

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