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Incompatibility problem between Nero and Sony laptop docking

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Incompatibility problem between Nero and Sony laptop docking

Postby Rudy on Thu Jan 01, 1970 6:17 am

Does anyone know why would Nero be capable to damage the firmware of the Sony laptop docking station?

See notice from Sony support:

http://www.ita.sel.sony.com/support/news/nero.html
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Postby cfitz on Thu Jan 01, 1970 6:17 am

I don't know why, but the warning they give is pretty explicit. Scary. If I were you I would begin my search for new CD-RW burning software.

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Postby Ian on Thu Jan 01, 1970 6:17 am

Ahead Software sent me an email about this and they said its total BS.
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Postby cfitz on Thu Jan 01, 1970 6:17 am

Despite the fact that the mechanism for this problem is mysterious*, to say the least, given my and others personal experiences with the many bugs in Nero and their lack of response to them, I wouldn't rule out the possibility that this problem is real, nor would I unskeptically accept Nero's assertion that it is BS. With the potential severity of the problem and the readily available alternatives to Nero, I personally wouldn't risk it.

cfitz

*Nero does, as far as I know, install their own ASPI layer, and that could be causing the issue either directly or indirectly.
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Nero and Sony Vaio Notebook PCG-R505EC

Postby ueberlein on Thu Jan 01, 1970 6:18 am

Dear all,

let me please clarify the situation as follows:

1. Sony in the meantime has taken off the comments off the website,
which you will notice, if you click on the link.

2. Nothing of the sort is known to us. In our testing Nero performs fine
on the mentioned Notebook series and no issues have been addressed
to us from Sony. (BTW: I actually burn with exactly that notebook - no
problem!)

3. Nero installs its ASPI layer in its own Nero directory in the attempts to
avoid conflicts such as these, where as we admit that bugs will and do
occur, which is a logical consequence of any software package. Our
OEM and enduser techsupport takes care of these in a fast and easy
fashion. As most Nero users know, we come out with a new Nero build
at least once a month, which usually resolves all matters brought to our
attention.

4. As to Nero changing or modifying any recorders firmware, this feat is
simply technically impossible as anyone in the industry who has done
any repair on recorders can verify. It would take a firmware upgrade
utility to even create the potential for such an occurence.

We hope to have clarified the situation entirely and thank all the Nero
users for their continuous support! Burn, baby, burn!

Ahead Software Inc.
Udo Eberlein
President
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Postby dodecahedron on Thu Jan 01, 1970 6:18 am

my my, what a quick response (18 hours).
and from the PRESIDENT of Ahead Software, no less! :o :o :o

I wrote to Ahead tech support about a problem i had with their software in June, and still no response, no solution. :x :x :x

i guess Ahead thinks highly enough of CDRLabs forums to warrant a response. too bad they don't think i'm that important too.
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Postby cfitz on Thu Jan 01, 1970 6:18 am

dodecahedron wrote:i guess Ahead thinks highly enough of CDRLabs forums to warrant a response. too bad they don't think i'm that important too.

Seconded. Of course, I wouldn't expect the president to respond. But it would be nice if tech support responded. I personally have two outstanding, unanswered requests that have been gathering dust for quite some time now.

As far as the points Mr. Eberlein made, two are either misleading or outright wrong. Point two is misleading. Mr. Eberlein states that Ahead's tests have shown no problems with the series of notebook computer in question. I don’t question the honesty of his statement in general. But, just because Ahead’s tests have not found any problems does not mean there are no problems. After all, if all of Ahead's tests conclusively determined that Nero is free of errors then there would be no need for the monthly bug fixes Mr. Eberlein describes. Second, it isn't clear from Mr. Eberlein's statements whether or not the docking station was part of Nero's testing. This is an important point because the problem was not with the notebook itself but rather with the docking station. Which brings us to point four.

Point four is wrong because the Sony news release did not make claims about recorder firmware being modified. Instead, it stated that the PCGA-DSM5 docking station's firmware could be damaged. And, speaking as an electrical engineer and software engineer with a good deal of experience in embedded systems, I have to disagree with Mr. Eberlein's assertion that it is utterly impossible for any firmware to be modified.

Since I do not have the details, I obviously can't say with any certainty, but I can imagine that the docking station maintains configuration information about connected peripherals in some form of nonvolatile memory in order to facilitate docking and undocking. And I can also imagine that such configuration information may be updated to reflect driver changes such as the installation of Nero's ASPI layer. If this is the case, then it is certainly possible that the interaction between Nero's drivers and the docking station's firmware could result in corruption of the nonvolatile configuration information, thus rendering the docking station inoperative. Again, this particular paragraph is all speculation, but it does represent at least one dissenting voice from the industry that Mr. Eberlein invokes as being unanimously in defense of his company.

To me it sounds like there is an ongoing disagreement between Ahead and Sony regarding this issue. Either or both side's positions could be wholly or partially correct. But given the claimed seriousness of the problem, if I owned the docking station in question I would personally avoid using Nero, and probably even temporarily uninstall it, until both sides agree upon a final conclusion.

Note that I do not consider the removal of the article from Sony's site as conclusive evidence that the article was wrong, as Mr. Eberlein implies. Sony may be doing more investigation in light of Mr. Eberlein’s forceful assertions that Nero is blameless. I am sure that Mr. Eberlein, as president of Ahead Software, can work with Sony to resolve this issue. I'm also reasonably sure that if it turns out that Nero is completely blameless that Mr. Eberlein will be able to convince Sony to update the original article with a correction stating as much. In the meantime, better safe than sorry...

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Postby Inertia on Thu Jan 01, 1970 6:19 am

cfitz

Thanks for the very cogent and knowledgeable evaluation of this warning and denial by ueberlein.

You have given very good advice as well. :)
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Postby CCampbell on Tue Nov 12, 2002 9:13 pm

At Udo's Request, and with his help, we were able to make contact with Sony US division.

And with Chris O'Brien's help at sony, we were able to set up a test system and duplicate this error, and help to narrow down the causes and when its caused.

It is caused by our Installer program, nothing to do with Nero or InCD directly, just the install process. In the past this same installer was known to replace the Systems Lower and Upper Filter drivers that would cause the CDROM/DVDROM and Recorders to no longer show up in Explorer, and show as driver conflicts in the Device Manager.

The below solution would return the drives back to normal operation:


Open regedit and go to:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Class\{4D36E965-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318}

Now delete the keys:
LowerFilters and UpperFilters.

Now reboot and your optical drives should function again.


However, with the Sony Vaio Docking station attached, it is somehow corrupting the Docking stations firmware. We have not yet figured out how, as Sony and Ahead both agree it should be impossible. :-?

We have found that this only occurs with the installers that came with Nero release from Nero 5.5.7.2 to Nero 5.5.8.4. Any releases of Nero before or after these versions would not cause this to occur. And for the Sony Docking station, it has to have firmware version AD1830 - Epson Chipset. Any other version of firmware or chipset and this would not occur, regardless of what version of Nero used.

As you can see, a very unusual bug, but a bug none the less. Sony will be sending a system with the Docking station and firmware to our Engineers in Germany in the hopes we can isloate the cause and prevent it's reoccurrance in future installers for Ahead Products.

Once this firmware has been damaged, the only solution it to reinstall the firmware for the docking station.

We are sorry for the trouble this has caused, and we will take steps to prevent any such issues in the future.

Sincerely Yours,

Craig Campbell
Ahead Software Inc
US Tech Support Manager
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Postby Ian on Tue Nov 12, 2002 9:23 pm

Craig,

Thanks for the follow up. It's good to know that Ahead and Sony are working together to resolve this problem.

Ian
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Re: Nero and Sony Vaio Notebook PCG-R505EC

Postby Inertia on Wed Nov 13, 2002 4:17 am

Quotes without comment8)

ueberlein wrote:2. Nothing of the sort is known to us. In our testing Nero performs fine
on the mentioned Notebook series and no issues have been addressed
to us from Sony. (BTW: I actually burn with exactly that notebook - no
problem!)

4. As to Nero changing or modifying any recorders firmware, this feat is
simply technically impossible as anyone in the industry who has done
any repair on recorders can verify. It would take a firmware upgrade
utility to even create the potential for such an occurence.

Ahead Software Inc.
Udo Eberlein
President


cfitz wrote:As far as the points Mr. Eberlein made, two are either misleading or outright wrong. Point two is misleading. Mr. Eberlein states that Ahead's tests have shown no problems with the series of notebook computer in question. I don’t question the honesty of his statement in general. But, just because Ahead’s tests have not found any problems does not mean there are no problems. After all, if all of Ahead's tests conclusively determined that Nero is free of errors then there would be no need for the monthly bug fixes Mr. Eberlein describes. Second, it isn't clear from Mr. Eberlein's statements whether or not the docking station was part of Nero's testing. This is an important point because the problem was not with the notebook itself but rather with the docking station. Which brings us to point four.

Point four is wrong because the Sony news release did not make claims about recorder firmware being modified. Instead, it stated that the PCGA-DSM5 docking station's firmware could be damaged. And, speaking as an electrical engineer and software engineer with a good deal of experience in embedded systems, I have to disagree with Mr. Eberlein's assertion that it is utterly impossible for any firmware to be modified.

Since I do not have the details, I obviously can't say with any certainty, but I can imagine that the docking station maintains configuration information about connected peripherals in some form of nonvolatile memory in order to facilitate docking and undocking. And I can also imagine that such configuration information may be updated to reflect driver changes such as the installation of Nero's ASPI layer. If this is the case, then it is certainly possible that the interaction between Nero's drivers and the docking station's firmware could result in corruption of the nonvolatile configuration information, thus rendering the docking station inoperative. Again, this particular paragraph is all speculation, but it does represent at least one dissenting voice from the industry that Mr. Eberlein invokes as being unanimously in defense of his company.


CCampbell wrote:...And with Chris O'Brien's help at sony, we were able to set up a test system and duplicate this error, and help to narrow down the causes and when its caused.

It is caused by our Installer program, nothing to do with Nero or InCD directly, just the install process. In the past this same installer was known to replace the Systems Lower and Upper Filter drivers that would cause the CDROM/DVDROM and Recorders to no longer show up in Explorer, and show as driver conflicts in the Device Manager....

However, with the Sony Vaio Docking station attached, it is somehow corrupting the Docking stations firmware. We have not yet figured out how, as Sony and Ahead both agree it should be impossible........

Once this firmware has been damaged, the only solution it to reinstall the firmware for the docking station......
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Postby CCampbell on Wed Nov 13, 2002 6:16 pm

Unfortuneately, as with any test, if the ingrediants are not just right, you may never duplicate a bug another is having.

We did test that model Sony Laptop with a docking station, but it had different firmware for that docking station, and so could not duplicate this issue. And only Sony could provide a test environment that we could duplicate this issue and then take steps to address.

And Mr. Eberlein did have the assumption that the issue was with a CD Recorder, and understandably so. But he is not a Techie and can not be expected to catch on to these issues such as you or I. :D

But I give him credit for jumping in with both feet to try and assist, knowing he would take a beating of some nature regardless of the outcome. :P


Best Regards,

Craig
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Postby cfitz on Wed Nov 13, 2002 10:03 pm

CCampbell wrote:But I give him <Mr. Eberlein> credit for jumping in with both feet to try and assist, knowing he would take a beating of some nature regardless of the outcome. :P

Mr. Eberlein gets credit for facilitating communication with Sony USA and supporting investigation of the problem, as you noted. And you certainly get credit for pursuing the investigation and acknowledging here that a problem does exist. But I don't think that Mr. Eberlein gets any credit for his first post, since it essentially whitewashed a potentially severe problem for some Sony laptop owners. I'm not saying that Mr. Eberlein deliberately misled anyone, but I think he did fall into the far too common trap of downplaying potential bad news with empty reassurance.

I personally think a simple statement such as the following would have served everyone better: "Nero believes that this is not an actual problem, but will work with Sony to further investigate and resolve the issue definitively. When we know more we will report our findings." How much simpler it is to just straightforwardly state the facts of the situation without applying any spin.

In any event, I do appreciate your efforts to resolve the problem and keep us informed regarding it, as well as Mr. Eberlein’s support of your efforts. And I hope to see more of your well-informed posts in the future. Both you and Mr. Eberlein are quite welcome here.

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Postby CCampbell on Thu Nov 14, 2002 5:33 pm

Agreed, straight, truthful, and simple is always the best. :D

And we hope to visit this and other forums on a more permanent basis to help resolve such issues more quickly.


Regards,

Craig
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Postby dodecahedron on Wed Dec 04, 2002 1:58 pm

Amen to that! :D
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One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the land of Mordor, where the Shadows lie
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