Archive

Posts Tagged ‘player’

Watch media files with VLC

Whilst Windows Media Player suffices for most video files, it’ll refuse to play some without installing numerous codecs. These codecs can cause slowdown, and some video types don’t have codecs that work with Media Player. Therefore, you’re going to need an alternative if you want to play some odd video files. VLC Media Player allows you to this, and best of all, free of charge.

Playing a .vob file in VLC

Playing a .vob file in VLC

When running the software you’ll be greeted¬† by a simple interface. VLC lacks the media library and such features that Media Player sports, but it seems to be intended for a slightly different purpose. Media is opened from the ‘Media’ menu, where you can then browse through your folders to find the file, folder, or disk that you want to play. You can even open media streams from a local network through the same menu.

The quality of the playback seemed to be pretty good; possibly better than Windows Media Player’s offering, but with no obvious differences between them. However, it’s difficult to judge since Media Player won’t play most of the files which VLC will, so I can’t compare. The interface, whilst not being the most attractive offering, is feature-rich and customisable if you’re willing to explore the menus and options within. I was very impressed with the various choices which are available; everything from audio output to network proxies can be set. This plethora of options lets you customise just about every detail of the software, allowing you to make it work exactly the way you want it to.

If you think of yourself as being one of those artsy types, you might not be impressed that VLC doesn’t, visually speaking, look quite right when compared to most of your other software. Luckily, like-minded people have come to the rescue by creating skins which can be downloaded from the VLC website. These can be downloaded and applied to your player to change the way it looks. You might want to consider the Media Player theme, which makes it look the same as Windows Media Player – the software you’re probably used to grappling with. Or, if you’re a fan of Apple’s brushed aluminium style, you might wish to opt for an iTunes or Quicktime lookalike. However, all these themes seem to take it upon themselves to hide the menus away, making them difficult to access, and unless I’m missing something, making some of them impossible to access until you revert to the default theme. This is fine if you just want to open files, but I like to have easy access to the menus at whim.

VLC is a smashing little bit of software for playing obscure video and audio files. It’s also very small in size and pretty lightweight, so it won’t be a drain on your hard-drive or system resources. You can download it from www.videolan.org.

More file formats for Windows 7

For a long time Windows has supported only a very small number of file formats; this is set to change. It looks like

With the inclusion of the .MOV file format, Windows users will no longer need to download Apple's Quicktime

With the inclusion of the .MOV file format, Windows users will no longer need to download Apple's Quicktime

the ususal practice of downloading codecs for other media file types or third-party software capable of playing particular file-types may come to an end in the next release of Windows – ‘Windows 7’.

The betas showed testers that Windows 7 is going to be able to play many more file types ‘out-of-the-box’, and that looks set to increase with the addition of the .MOV file-type. The announcement was tucked away on the Windows 7 Blog. The .MOV file-type, which is often used by digital cameras, is the primary file-type used by Apple’s Quicktime video player software; currently those who wish to play these files on Windows must download the Quicktime application from Apple.¬† Having the codec included in Windows would make the process of playing the files much quicker by bypassing the need to download other software. This may see an uptick in the use of Windows’ own Media Player software.

Adobe left the door unlocked

The past week or so has seen two critical security vulnerabilities surface in Adobe’s products. The first, discovered on the 20th February, is a vulnerability in the Adobe Reader software, used for reading PDF files by both home and business readers. Currently a malicious PDF document could run code on a computer which allows them access to the system. This vulnerability is currently ranked ‘Extremely critical’ by Secunia, the industry leader in security warnings.

Adobe Reader and Flash have both been affected by critical security vulnerabilities

Adobe Reader and Flash have both been affected by critical security vulnerabilities

Adobe Flash Player, another extremely popular and common product, was also found to have several major security issues. The alert for Flash Player was made just five days after Adobe Reader’s. However, this vulnerability is not deemed to be as dangerous since in order to be exploited the user must be physically using the computer. Nevertheless this could pose a risk in businesses, where a malicious user may exploit the vulnerability and gain access to personal information stored on the computer or network, even potentially gain privileges on the computer network in order to cause damage to the system or gain further access to sensitive information. This set of vulnerabilities creates a list of four currently unpatched and critical issues which affect Flash Player 9 and 10, Flash CS3 and CS4, as well as Adobe’s relatively new AIR product.

It is advised that users do not open PDF files from sources they do not trust. Some also suggest that alternatives are used in the place of Adobe’s Reader application – such as Foxit. Fixes for the issues are not expected until 11th March.