Sunday, May 06, 2012

Fix for Audible Format 1

How many times have we bought something, especially in computer technology/software, and found out that the makers don't have a clue how to fix a problem? But, some little guy has figured it out and posted the fix on the internet?

Awhile back a relatively new LG external disk drive just stopped being recognized by my computer. LG didn't have a fix, but this guy did. So, instead of throwing the drive away and vowing never to get another LG, I'm still using that drive. I wrote to LG saying they should give this guy a reward, but no comment back from them.

Well, all yesterday I was trying to find a fix for an Audible book file. It seems the current Audible player no longer plays Format 1. I have one book I got in 2005 that was only available in Format 1 and is currently not available. OK. So, surely Audible would have an older Audible player available for download that would play Format 1, right? Wrong. When you click on the file now, you get the message:
"Format 1 is no longer being supported by Audible for desktop playback and CD burning. You can re-download this file in another format from your library. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause."
Only you can't download it in another format. It's only available in Format 1. [Frown.] They have live customer chat service with polite people, but no fix. They only direct me to call or write the company for technical support. [Frown. All I want is a reader.] I do internet searches trying to find someone with the same problem and a fix. No luck.

So, I go back to my old computer (which is in the basement and set up for backup emergency use in case the current one fails), hoping that the computer I used it on with an older Audible Manager will work. No, apparently there was an Audible Manager software update to the 2009 version which also doesn't support Format 1. [Frown.] If Audible knows they have sold lots of Format 1 book files, why not just keep an old reader available for installation?

Oh, but I have an old Palm Zire 31 that handled Audible files. [Search, search . . . here it is. Recharge. Load in the file (which fortunately is on my hard drive since it no longer will download from my online Audible library)]. Nope. Doesn't play either.

I go back to internet searches. Into page 4 someone has a stray comment. The commenter says he/she can play Audible files on the Jornada but only Format 1 (not Format 2) using Microsoft Reader. The posting was written in 2002. I search online there is a free version of Microsoft Reader updated in 2005. I'm hoping Microsoft hasn't done significant upgrades from 2002 to 2005 so that Format 1 no longer plays.

I install it, drag the file to it, and, voilĂ , IT PLAYS!

So, I open the sound recorder accessory and record the whole 5 hour plus file so I will have it in a usable format in the future.

This "fix" for playing Audible Format 1 files is my contribution and a token of thanks to all those people who have discovered fixes based on work they have done (sometimes hours or even days of work) and posted them for free out of the goodness of their heart. I have a file folder of "fixes" for different computer/software problems so I can find them easily when either I need them again or a friend needs them.

Why clueless creators/manufacturers like Audible and LG who supposedly know their products inside and out haven't made the effort to publish simple, free fixes is beyond me.

Thanks to Ten Mile Island (and MaxRedline) for a title fix on this post.


Ten Mile Island said...

Published a link. You may want to re-think your headline.

And, you're doing God's work. Thanks.

T. D. said...

Thanks, TMI, for the link and kind words. And please give me a suggestion for a better headline. Go right to the point on the Format 1 fix?

MAX Redline said...

Ya, the cluelessness can be a total pain - though I agree a better header would be "Audible Format 1 fix" or something along that line.

Good finds, in any case - bookmarked.

It's worth noting that in some cases poorly written software can cause problems - some years back, I had some folks call with identical, weird issues: one day their system worked; the next it was a doorstop. When the third guy called, even I began to suspect a pattern, so I asked if he'd installed anything recently. Got back to the other two; they'd installed the same program - a free antivirus called Flushot.

So I downloaded it to see if we had a bit of malware going on, and was able to replicate the problem - my system went dead as a doornail. Now, this was a heck of an interesting problem; the scans had indicated no malware in the program, yet suddenly I had nothing - no hdd, no floppies, zip.

I could see why the callers had been a little freaked out. After a bit of testing, which definitively showed that nothing worked, I pondered. And pondered some more. Eventually it occurred to me to try to take a look at BIOS. That worked: they system had no hard disk drive, no floppies, no peripherals. Fortunately, I'd recorded the hard disk parameters in my notebook, so I just entered them and reenabled the floppies and other stuff. Save, reboot, and voila!

So what was going on? Not malware - just poor coding. The program kept records of its processes in memory, but when it used its allotment, it didn't begin overwriting its early data - instead, it went to the CMOS and started recording in that memory; eventually overwriting all of the hardware settings, at which point the system becomes a doorstop.

So I called back the guys and walked them through the restoration, and wrote up an article about it for Computer Shopper. The program apparently disappeared shortly thereafter.

T. D. said...

Great comment, Max! As good as the post itself. Incompetence and its fruit. Sigh.

MAX Redline said...

Not as good as the post, TD - that's what jogged my memory of that incident. It took several hours to fix the issue, then track through the code to find the why. Good intentions+poor coding=bad result. At least no lasting damage.

Ten Mile Island said...

Just did a google search. I was number one for "fix for audible format 1" and you were number two!

T. D. said...

Max, you fixed bricked computers. I'd say that trumps not being able to open a file. :-)

TMI, congratulations on being #1! Heh. :-)

James Nicholas said...

You guys are having too much fun over here!

T. D. said...

Yep, JN. Glad you're joining in!