Random Thoughts – Randocity!

iTunes 10 and Windows 7: We’re Back (stupid fixable problems)

Posted in Apple, ipod, itunes, itunes bugs, windows by commorancy on September 14, 2010

In an earlier randosity article, I discuss permissions issues related to iTunes 8. We’ll, these issues have now returned with a vengeance in iTunes 10. Does Apple not actually test their software on Windows? I mean, seriously, it’s not that hard to fix this issue when installing.

Apple’s weak Windows developers

Clearly, Apple only focuses on Apple. When it comes to Windows, they just vomit out the software without thought to what crap it really is. Come on Apple, fix your crap. I’m tired of dealing with these issues that are so easily resolved.

How can Apple permanently fix this problem? Simple, the iTunes installer needs to uninstall iTunes fully and clean up all iTunes registry entries completely. Then, the installer should reinstall iTunes from a clean setup. Apple should NOT do the install-over-whats-existing-thing and hope it all works. This clearly doesn’t work.

Anyway…

If you are an iTunes 10 user and you continually keep seeing THIS WINDOW when launching iTunes:

Stupid iTunes 10 Startup Window

Stupid iTunes 10 Startup Window

… and that says “Please wait while Windows configures iTunes” …

Then, follow these instructions in my earlier randosity article to fix the registry permissions for iTunes.

Ok, so the earlier fix doesn’t work. But, you can read the article as it has some relevant information about what causes the issue. Anyway, this word doc attached contains the commands necessary to reset the registry permissions on iTunes and QuickTime registry keys.

Note, since WordPress doesn’t allow attaching functioning scripts as part of the media, I have created this Word doc with the commands. You will need to use the following steps to create the script. Note you will need to quit out of iTunes before you run this command.

Steps to create the reset.cmd command from resetit.doc:

  • Save the ResetIt.doc file to your hard drive
  • Open it with MSOffice or OpenOffice
  • Press ctrl-a to select everything in the doc, ctrl-c to copy it
  • Launch Notepad (Start->All Programs->Accessories->Notepad or Windows Button->All Programs->Accessories->Notepad)
  • In the Notepad window, press ctrl-v to paste
  • In Notepad, File->Save As… and save the file as Reset.cmd in a location you can easily find*
  • Launch a command prompt with Start->All Programs->Accessories->Command Prompt using right-click selecting ‘Run As Administrator’
  • In the command prompt, cd to where you saved Reset.cmd
  • Type in ‘reset.cmd’ into the command shell

Note that this script will take a few minutes to run. Once the script completes, try starting iTunes. If you no longer get this panel, it’s fixed. If you do, then you may need to run this reset script 2 or 3 times more to fully repair the permissions. The reason is that subinacl (the command that’s used to reset each key in the registry) doesn’t continue locating more keys and repairing them once an error occurs (even when it’s successful at changing things). Make sure your login account in Windows 7 is an administrator account.

I have found that the permissions were relatively easy to fix, but the difficulty is with Microsoft’s subinacl.exe command. This command doesn’t seem to work properly to drill down to keys below. This is why you will see lots of duplication in the script. The script needs to run the command multiple times to drill down and get all of the keys. This is also why you may need to run the script several times. If you find you don’t have subinacl.exe, you will need to download subinacl.exe from Microsoft.

Second Note, uninstallation of iTunes and reinstallation may not resolve this issue as the registry keys may not be deleted on uninstallation (due to permissions problems). Therefore, uninstalling and reinstalling probably won’t work. Even still, the new keys may install with the crap permissions that the existing ones already have and you’ll be right back in the same boat. The fix is to make the keys readable and writable by the current user and the administrator.

Come on Apple, fix your crap software.

*Make sure that notepad saves the file as reset.cmd and not reset.cmd.txt. To do this, in the Save As requester, make sure to type in only reset.cmd. Double check to make sure it didn’t append the .txt extension. If it does, you will need to rename this file and remove the .txt portion to run the script.

Disclaimer: The script described above modifies registry keys and is used at your own risk. These keys have been checked against what Apple uses, but following the steps above and modifying the registry is not without risk. Therefore, each user who follows these instructions assumes all risk when creating and running the above reset.cmd script.

Don’t rent at Blockbuster Express Kiosks

Posted in business, fraud, scam, scams by commorancy on September 6, 2010

[Updated: 04/15/2017 — In 2012, Redbox purchased all of the remaining Blockbuster Express kiosks which have now become Redbox kiosks. The original article follows.]

I’ve rented at both Redbox and now Blockbuster. I’ve never had any difficulties renting or returning at Redbox. However, at Blockbuster I had the worst experience when returning my movie. Note, this was the first time I’d ever used Blockbuster’s machine. Note, Blockbuster’s machine sucks.

Poor Vending Machine Design

I’ll start by saying that DVD rentals via vending machine, not the best idea. Yes, that includes Redbox. The issue isn’t renting, it’s returning. If you rent at a store, returning the DVD is actually simple… drop it off in the bin. At a vending kiosk, you’re have to wait to turn in the movie because you have to use the screen to initiate the return function. This means, you have to stand in line and wait until everyone else is done. Stupid.

These machines are monstrous, yet they can’t even provide a proper return mechanism. My experience with Blockbuster returning a rented DVD was horrible. I stood in line 20 minutes waiting to return my movie (singular). After all that, the time was a couple minutes past 9 and Blockbuster still charged the extra $1 fee. Seriously, there is no grace period at all?

The worst part is, however, that when I called customer service, they refused to refund the money. They offered a promo code instead. Hello, no, I want a refund, not a promo code. After the debacle that is the returns process, I don’t intend to rent from their shoddy vending machine ever again. I’d already made that decision right after they charged me the extra day’s fee. This is why I didn’t want a promo code. The bad customer service experience was just the topper that capped it all.

Return Mechanism

These hulking machines are huge. There should be no reason why there isn’t a simple return and go slot (i.e., no waiting). It’s completely ludicrous that you need to wait for someone else to finish their long transaction before you can return a movie. It seriously needs a drop and go slot. A slot that always accepts returns no matter what someone may be doing on the rental side. Their computer already knows that that specific movie copy is tied to my account. There is no reason to have to initiate anything. An always-active returns slot is a no-brainer. Yet, these kiosks don’t have one. Neither does Redbox. However, there are far more Redbox kiosks around. If one is that occupied, I could just drive to another. Unfortunately, with the Blockbuster kiosks, you had to return your discs to the one where you rented. You couldn’t return at just any kiosk even if you did know where another one was.

In this case, the kiosk should shutdown all new purchases for 20 minutes prior to 9PM to allow for express returns. This would put the system into return only mode and allow those only needing to return to push their way through before the 9PM deadline. This prevents those people who want to spend 15-20 minutes hogging the kiosk reading every movie synopsis and hemming and hawing over ever title in the unit from doing immediately before return time.

Blockbuster go boom

It’s no wonder Blockbuster’s kiosks are now a thing of the past. They really had no idea of customer service or how to operate such a rental service to the public. I’ll stick with Redbox, thank you very much. I’ve had no issues with customer service or returns at Redbox. Yet, on my very first call to Blockbuster customer service (I waited on hold for at least 10 minutes), they were unwilling to even do what I requested (refund the extra day fee that they don’t rightly deserve).

So, I called the bank and the bank reversed the charges. Too bad Blockbuster.

Here’s your word of warning. If you want to rent from Blockbuster’s kiosk, you may experience something very similar with returns. Not only is customer service an atrocious process, they won’t even issue refunds when appropriate. Worse, if you go even 1 minute past 9PM when returning, they will stick you for that extra day’s fee (no grace period). I have no respect for Blockbuster and I do not intend to rent anything further from either their stupid kiosk or any store they own.

While these rentals are cheap enough, it’s not worth the hassle when you want to get a refund for ill gotten charges. Believe me, Blockbuster needs to shutter the doors and go away. Let’s hope Redbox makes that happen (and they did) and oh, Blockbuster, you should really take a look at Redbox to see what customer service really is, m’kay?

[03/15/2017 Comment: This article was written before the Blockbuster kiosks were bought out by Redbox in 2012. Thankfully, these Blockbuster kiosks no longer exist. They have all been replaced by Redbox kiosks which are much more abundant and easy to locate and use… thanks to the Redbox app. I leave this article up as a history of how Blockbuster kiosks functioned and as a testament to how bad Blockbuster’s customer service was at the time.]

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