August 17th, 2009 • 7:02 pm
A few weeks ago, I got a promotional e-mail from Roxio inviting me to purchase the latest version of its flagship CD/DVD recording software for Mac OS X, Toast 10 Titanium Pro, for a special price of $100. (It’s normally listed for $150. The special price meant that it was the same price as Toast 10 without the “Pro” part, i.e. without the extra software.)
I didn’t really need to upgrade my existing copy of Toast (Toast 8 Titanium, purchased in early 2007), which was still working fine and meeting my needs. But Roxio tends not to have very attractive purchasing options once you skip a version number, so I knew that if I ever decided I needed to upgrade my copy of Toast, I would have to pay something close to the full price anyway—and now for that price I could get the “Pro” version. The only extra software that I was really interested in was the SoundSoap SE 2 application, but I figured the whole thing might be worth the expense at this point in time.
At first, things went fairly smoothly. Roxio even gave me the $100 price in Canadian dollars as opposed to US dollars. The Canadian dollar has been shooting up in recent times, but still, it hasn’t quite reached parity yet. So that was decent of them.
But I started to suspect something had gone wrong in Roxioland after I downloaded the large (675 MB) disk image and attempted to mount it on the desktop in order to install the files. Here is what I got:
I had seen this “invalid checksum” when attempting to mount a disk image before, but as far as I could remember it usually happened when I was attempting to mount a partially-downloaded disk image or a disk image file that was incomplete because of some other reason (aborted download, bad copy, etc.).
I double-checked the size of the disk image to make sure that it matched the size indicated on the download page on Roxio’s web site. It did. So it didn’t look like the file was incomplete. With my limited broadband connection, I wasn’t about to try downloading the same file a second time just in case (at that point, I already had a suspicion that it might not help). Instead, I launched my existing copy of Toast 8 and attempted to mount the disk image within Toast 8, with a view to burning a physical volume of the installation disc. I needed a physical backup of the purchased file anyway, so I thought I might as well kill two birds with one stone.
Unsurprisingly, the disk image mounted just fine in Toast 8, without an error message. I then proceeded to burn the disk image as an installation disc onto a blank DVD-R with Toast 8, which went without a hitch. (I also discovered later on that I could have simply instructed the Finder to skip the checking process while mounting the disk image, which would have enabled me to mount the disk image on the desktop without having to burn a DVD, but like I said, I needed the physical backup anyway.)
I mounted the installation disc thus created onto the desktop and installed the applications from that disc. Again, that went without a hitch.
Still, I was a bit concerned about the integrity of the files, given the error message that I had got while attempting to mount the disk image in the Finder. I launched the Toast 10 application itself, and it appeared to be working fine. I also proceeded to install the other pro applications, including SoundSoap SE 2, and that seemed to be working fine as well.
But then Toast 10 told me that I needed an update (to Toast 10.0.2). That was on the very day that I purchased Toast 10, but, like most big corporations, Roxio seems unable to make sure that even the downloadable versions of the products it sells (forget about the physical copies) are kept up-to-date. This Toast 10 disk image that I had just downloaded dated back to January 2009, and now I needed to download a 10.0.2 updater (dated April 2009, so they had two months to incorporate it into the downloadable version of Toast 10…).
And so on I went to that updater page and proceeded to initiate another 400MB+ download…
The next day (I do this type of downloading overnight), I double-clicked on the 10.0.2 disk image to mount it on the desktop… And guess what? I got an error again! This time, instead of a checksum error, it was a “codec overrun” error. But the end result was the same: the Finder was refusing to mount the disk image.
At that stage, I was ready to throw all caution to the wind and force the Finder to mount the disk image by skipping the checking process. That worked and the disk image was mounted on the desktop. But when I tried to copy the new Toast 10 application folder to my hard drive in order to replace my existing Toast 10 application folder, during the copying process I got a new Finder error, this time apparently suggesting a problem with the Toast application file in the disk image (and not just the disk image file itself).
Great. Did this mean that the disk image was actually corrupted and that the files were no good? I wasn’t entirely convinced. So I tried to use the same trick as with the original Toast 10 disk image. I mounted it in my existing copy of Toast 10 and tried to burn a new installation disc based on the updated disk image.
This time, however, the burning process itself failed, with some kind of obscure and totally unhelpful error number. I wasn’t even able to eject the coaster, so I ended up having to restart my entire machine just to get rid of the bloody thing, and then I proceeded to do some research online, which confirmed that I was far from being the only one with this problem. I also decided to stick with Toast 10.0.0 for the moment (at least that version was installed and seemed to be working OK) and take the time to submit a tech support request to Roxio via their web site. It was, of course, a rather foolish thing to do, but part of me feels adventurous that way—sometimes. It can also provide material for entertaining blog posts on occasion (not that I am claiming that this one is!).
To Roxio’s credit, I got answers within a fairly reasonable time frame. To Roxio’s discredit, the answers were pretty useless. (And I also won’t mention the numerous ugly little things that are wrong with Roxio’s web site for tech support.)
The first response I got from Roxio jumped on the fact that I had (carelessly) indicated that my current system was 10.5.8, which was still in beta (AppleSeed) form at the time. They promptly referred me to this page about using Roxio’s products with beta or release candidate operating systems.
Fine. I went to my wife’s laptop, which had a pristine copy of Mac OS X 10.5.6 with no AppleSeed foolishness or anything resembling a software hack. And of course I was able to reproduce the codec overrun error right away when attempting to mount the disk image in the desktop.
So I send a new reply with that information. The next day, I got a follow-up from Roxio, saying:
If you are recieving a ‘Codec Overrun’ when trying to unzip or install your Bonus Audio Tracks, try removing your Quicktime Plugins:
Please open your hard drive and go to:
Create a new folder on your desktop and move all the contents from this Quicktime folder into this new folder, then reattempt.
I was not surprised by this, because I had read online about other Roxio customers going through the same thing. What on earth does mounting disk images in the Finder have to do with QuickTime codecs? Your guess is as good as mine. My guess is that the Roxio tech support staff is totally clueless and thinks that the error message is actually about QuickTime codecs. And of course, the response mentioned the Bonus Audio Tracks disk image, which is in fact a separate disk image provided with the Toast 10 Pro package that I had not mentioned at all in my bug report. Apparently the guy assumed that, since I was encountering a “codec overrun” issue, that meant that I was attempting to mount the disk image with audio tracks, not the one with the application, and that I didn’t know what I was talking about. Makes perfect sense. It’s obviously much easier than trying to reproduce what the bug reporter actually says in his message.
In any case, on my wife’s laptop, I made sure that there were no QT codecs in the folder in question. (There was only one, AppleIntermediateCodec.component, which is included by default in Mac OS X, but I removed it just the same.) Of course the problem was still occurring. So I sent another reply.
The next day, I got the following response:
Try with a different with a different browser like Firefox.
1) Confirm you have the latest version of Stuffit Expander
2) Launch the Stuffit Expander application and use the File -> Open command to
select the Toast update.
3) If the update will not open with that process, it is likely that the download did not
complete properly and it needs to be re-downloaded.
So now we are not talking about QuickTime codecs anymore, eh? It’s all about Safari and Firefox and StuffIt Expander, all of a sudden.
Never mind that Safari is the default browser in Mac OS X, and that file archives and disk images are handled by the Finder and its own built-in tools by default. (The Toast 10 Pro package comes as a disk image compressed in a Zip archive.) I couldn’t imagine how using a different browser and a different file expansion/mounting tool would help, but I followed the instructions, which meant that I had to re-download the whole shebang (although by then I was on vacation in Montreal and could use my sister-in-law’s cable connection, so it was much less painful).
Amazingly enough, it worked (although not without one further hitch: see below). In other words, the resulting disk image file did not cause a codec overrun error when mounting on the desktop and I was able to copy the application files to my hard drive without problem.
I still had to reproduce the successful operation on my 10.5.8 system at home, which I did when I got back from vacation (not the downloading part with Firefox; just the mounting of the resulting disk image in the Finder and the copying of the files).
But I couldn’t help but send another reply to Roxio indicating how absurd the whole thing was:
When I download the 10.0.2 updater with Firefox 3.5.1 and try to unzip it with the latest Expander (11.0), I get the following error:
An error occurred attempting to expand ‘Toast_Ti_1002_539_Updater.zip’. Format error. Error #17540.
This process leaves a folder called “Toast_Ti_1002_539_Updater1248987583.tmp” in my Downloads folder, containing the disk image. I am able to mount that disk image and install the Toast 10 folder from there.
1) Why should I have to use Firefox when the default browser for the Mac is Safari?
2) Why should I have to use Expander when the default utility for unzipping zip files is built into the Finder?
3) Why do I have to deal with an error message in Expander and then find by myself that there is a file inside a temporary folder that should not even be there that is the actual disk image that I want?
You call this user-friendly Mac software?
And here is the final response I got:
1) When one web browser does not behave as expected using another is often the easiest solution.
2) When one utility does not behave as expected using another is often the easiest solution.
3) That is strange, good to here you got it working correctly.
So apparently it does not bother them that their flagship Mac OS X software does not install properly with the default Mac OS X browser and the default Mac OS X archive expander. They’d rather recommend that you use a third-party software and a third-party utility, which does not even work properly. Do they have contracts with those guys?
It’s all quite sad, and has left a pretty bitter taste in my mouth. To my mind, Roxio is still living off the mental credit that it accumulated with Mac OS users in the early days of disc burning on the Mac, when it still made really Mac-friendly software (under a different company name). I still need Toast, which gives me more flexibility that the built-in disc burning options. But I sure do not like the more recent trends in Roxio’s evolution, which emphasize features that I don’t care about apparently at the expense of preserving the quality of the most fundamental aspects of the software.