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Ask Dave
by Dave Hamilton

He from whom all Mac knowledge flows...

IE Java Freezes & Playing DivX On Your Mac
April 20th, 2001

Happy Friday the 13th! This April is fool of all kinds of mischievous days (get it? "April is fool" Oh... sorry...). Anyway, today we talk about some strange problems with running Java through Internet Explorer, and we discuss the way to get DivX-encoded videos to play successfully on your Mac! If you have a question of your own, you can e-mail me, or ask in the comments below. Alternatively, the Ask Dave/Tech Support forums are there for everyone to take a stab answering your questions, so feel free to post it there, too! For now, read on!

Ronald Fokkema writes, "In some cases, and always with electronic banking, my browser (Internet Explorer 5.0 nl) gives the signal 'applet reloading' and then my iMac SE freezes. So nothing reloads actually. Sometimes the system comes loose after a long while, but mostly I have to restart. When I then try again the same thing happens again and again. I have tried using Netscape and, while that works better, it's not in the right language so I'm still stuck with a (very different!) problem."

Ronald -- The "applet reloading" message indicates that the bank and/or Web site through which you are connecting is using Java. With Netscape, Java is handled internally by the browser. With Internet Explorer, though, Java is handled by the operating system, specifically by a part called Mac OS Runtime For Java (commonly called MRJ). My recommendation would be to update to the latest version of MRJ (2.2.4), which is available for download from Apple. I have found that, in many cases, this update will fix problems on various Web sites.

Whitee Lee writes, "I already read some past messages from your site, but still I'm having a hard time figuring out how to play AVI formatted files on the Mac. I downloaded Indeo video versions 3,4, and 5 but still it does not work. I looked up the video information and the data said DIV 3 instead of IV 3. Can you help me to play AVI file through QuickTime Player on my Mac?"

Before we get into the magic answer here, let me stress once again that AVI is merely a common interface that data files and programs alike can use to view and manipulate video files. It is not, in and of itself, a unified "format." Rather there are many formats in which movies can be encoded and still work within the AVI framework. Indeo Video is one of those formats, as is Sorenson and so forth.

Now, based on the information that you've given me here, it appears as though this movie was compressed with the DivX format. This is a relatively new format that uses MPEG-4 compression to achieve high-quality video at low file sizes. It tends to work fairly well, but the software is still in its infancy and, as such, is all still being released as "beta." There are supposedly two ways of playing DivX movies on your Mac. The easiest is to go to Project Mayo's Open DivX for Mac section and download their codec. Presumably, that would allow the QuickTime player to play the movies directly without any additional software. However, I have not been able to get that to work on any machine I've tested. The software that HAS worked for me is from the Mac DivX :-) Source, and has recently been updated to beta 10. Using this software is a bit more cumbersome. You need to first have Microsoft's Windows Media Player v6.3 installed (don't worry, the link is available from the aforementioned web site), and then you need to run their DivX Player b10. At that point, you can view the movie directly with the DivX Player or, if you prefer, you can open it up in QuickTime player and it will work there, too. The latter option is nice because you get all of QuickTime Player's various scaling features and such.

So, be brave, download the software, test it out, and enjoy!

That's it for this week, folks! Feel free to send your questions to me at [email protected], or ask in the comments below. I'll see you in a few weeks!

PS. Have a Nice Day.

is President and CEO of The Mac Observer, Inc. He has worked in the computer industry as a consultant, trainer, network engineer, webmaster, and a programmer for most of the last 10 years. During that time he has worked on the Mac, all the various Windows flavors, Be, a few brands of Unix, and it is rumored he once saw an OS/2 machine in action. Before that he ran some of the earliest Bulletin Board systems, but most of the charges have since been dropped, and not even the FBI requests that he check in more than twice a year.

Ask Dave is here to answer all the Mac questions you have. Networking, system conflicts, hardware, you ask it, he can answer it. He is the person from whom all Mac knowledge flows....

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