Old 10-12-2008, 10:52 PM
m_k m_k is offline
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 277
Default Firmware update and audiobook probs (related?)

Hi, I'm basically going nuts here... seem to be in a double-bind -- am running Win2K, which Sandisk doesn't really like at all (me, I prefer it to XP and Visturd).

I have a couple of Sansa Express (1GB model) which I want to use for listening to audiobooks. (I have been using my 2GB "Clip" as a beaucoup sweet audiobook listener and voice-note-taker -- works great, but, no MicroSD support, so... here I am.)

The double-bind: I have updated the Expresses to 01.01.05A, using similar to the same method I've used for the Clip, the c250, and the e260 -- download the firmware, unzip, copy, restart (with the others), and, with the Express, download the Express Updated (.exe) and run it, which stuffed the 01.01.05A into it.

After searching every few days for the past week or so I have concluded that there is NO way to upgrade above 01.01.05A on the Express other than via the standard Sansa updater, and, there's a new version available.

The double-bind is that I can't run the updater on Win2K -- and when I try to run it on our Visturd machine, it crashes at step 3 (the actual download of the firmware), telling me to try again later. Utterly worthless error message.

So, I do some searching, and see a note to the effect that it won't work through a Proxy. Well, there ya go. We're running Windows ICS (Internet Connection Sharing), with the Win2K machine "serving" the modem (yes, on top of everything else, we live in one of those parts of the country that has NO high-speed Internet availability).

So, I can run the updater on the computer that has a connection it would like, but it rejects the OS -- or, I can run it on an OS it likes, but it refuses to talk through the network.

Does anyone know if Sandisk will EVER make the higher-than-01.01.05A firmware available for "the rest of us"? (What about people running Linux etc?)

Now, the other half of my nightmare... I've been trying to upgrade the FW because I read that 01.01.05A has problems with the card handling. So, I was hoping it would let me use the card for listening to audiobooks.

I copied a slew of audiobook files (MP3) to a 4GB card. I spent a lot of time in Mp3Tag making sure they are properly set up with chapter numbers and all other fields that make it friendly for the Clip, and they work there without a hitch, so I know my tagging isn't the issue.

The problem is that the files do not show up at ALL in the Express! Well, I take that back -- they show up when I am copying them to the card -- or, when I go back in to look at the card (S.E. connected to USB port). So, I know they're there.

But, when I fire up the player, it's as if there wasn't even a card in the slot! NO files show, either in Audiobooks (where they show on the Clip), or, under the music menu, not even in the "all" selections.

Plus, when I go into Settings, it does not reflect the presence of the flash card. I don't know if that's a quirk of the Express (maybe Express doesn't show card info there?), or, a firmware bug, or whatever.

So, kind of at my wit's end here. I've asked my wife to drive around and see if she can find a place with a hotspot they make available, and if so, I guess I'll have her try flashing the firmware via her laptop, but that's a last ditch effort -- it gives me the willies just thinking about it. Heck, I'm not even all that relaxed when flashing on this machine that sits behind a UPS. To try it on a battery operated computer, on a *wireless* connection, subject to everything from a car with a noisy ignition pulling into the next slot, or an overworked restaurant employee bumping into the router... that's just asking for trouble, and I don't want to find myself no longer searching the "how do I upgrade" threads due to spending all my time in the "how do I unbrick my Express?" threads.

Can anyone help me get a handle on what's going on here, what my real options are, and what I might expect if everything was working OK? Thanks in advance.
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Old 10-12-2008, 11:01 PM
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advcomp2019 advcomp2019 is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 4,838

Yea, I know what is going on here. I have tried to find out how to pull that update off my Express or updater, but have not found out a way to get the update. That update does a reboot to the Express, and I can not find the temp files that it uses.
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Old 11-24-2008, 09:52 PM
m_k m_k is offline
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 277

Update: I formatted the SD card (4GB) via Win2K (selected FAT rather than FAT32, since I saw some thread either here or on the sandisk site saying FAT32 was problematic). I then copied ONE MP3 file to the card, and booted up the player. Shazam! It worked!

I also noticed (when I went back to copy the files back that I'd moved off for the format) that the player had added about a half dozen index files and whatnot.

Apparently, for whatever reason, the Express needs those files (I am guessing it stores index state on the card rather than the main memory, to obviate the need for lengthy database update EACH time it's fired up) -- and (still on "for whatever reason") those files were NOT on *this* SD card, rendering the card invisible to the player's OS, even though it was clearly readable (as evidenced by my ability to copy files on/off it via Windows).


Well, I now have a nice *cheap* (I think I paid $12 for the Express on Woot) player -- that WORKS -- with 5GB and 768 files (mix of music and audiobooks). I think I paid about $6 for the card (also via Woot -- a cheapskate's paradise).

Still... I want to update the FW, for the improved audiobook handling (on my Clip, audiobooks are managed *separately* from *music* -- but on the Express, I have to wade through the music (selecting "Audiobooks" genre helps, but still, it's less than ideal) to get to the books (and if I "shuffle" I'll get random audiobook content interspersed with the music -- again, far from ideal.

At least the player is now *usable* -- and a 5GB player in the sub-$twenty range can't be beat, IMO.

Next problem is with my Clip -- newly discovered: If I use the equalizer to play an OGG file, the sound is incredibly choppy -- like having a fast tremelo setting cranked up to max level. If I turn the equalizer off, the sound is perfect.

I need to be able to use the equalizer because of the combination of bad hearing (excessive noise exposure in my youth has left me with very poor high freq. hearing, and constant loud tinnitis), and the fact that a lot of what I use the player for consists of OLD radio shows (50-60+ years old, poor audio quality at best). I *need* to tweak the equalizer so that the shows are listenable.

Turning the equalizer off and on as I navigate from one show to the next is a PITA, and I'd really like to be able to avoid it.

I just downloaded an MP3 version of the program to use for the time being, and, to be able to listen to on the Express, which does not have OGG support at all, at least not with the *.05 firmware (I don't recall whether or not I read that the new *.12 version, which I've so far been able to install, has OGG support, so it may be moot at least insofar as the Express is concerned.)

FWIW, the *one* OGG file I tried was found on this page:

The audio quality was excellent, and I did not need to use the equalizer, but, I still needed to turn it off for that program and back on for the others (with the Clip).

Does anyone know if this is a known issue with the Clip? (Yes, I'll be posting it to the Clip forum, but as long as I'm here, if anyone knows, don't hesitate to reply!)
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Old 11-24-2008, 09:57 PM
m_k m_k is offline
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 277

PS: I saw "somewhere" (sensory overload -- can't recall if it was here, or on the Sansa forum) that someone had managed to spelunk the *.12 update files for the Express (he found them in his Temp folder, and archived them in an .RAR file).

I downloaded the archive -- and, looked at the contents -- but did NOT try to install them. Call me paranoid, but I am nervous about executing binaries from unknown sources (the poster had all of ONE post -- the one linking his upload). Yes, we all start *somewhere*, and everyone has a "first post" -- but generally it's not an executable. Still, the odds are that the guy is on the up and up. But, with the kind of world we live in...

Does anyone know if that upload will indeed update the Express to the latest FW "offline" (without any unwanted "stuff" happening)? Has anyone tried it?

I don't know why Sansa won't package this version for manual updating like they did with earlier vers. Sure would make life easier for those who cannot get the "easy" updater to work.
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Old 11-24-2008, 10:13 PM
m_k m_k is offline
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 277

PPS: After copying approx 3.5GB to the SD card, and firing up the Express, it did a quick database update (*really* quick) and then something I'd not seen before, a message warning "Refresh Database Do Not Remove SD"

That message did NOT seem to want to go away. It was there *so* long that I thought the player had hung, and I began a web search for that string. While I was searching, it did in fact complete the operation -- it wasn't hung after all, just taking a LONG time to index the SD card.

The next time I turned it off and on again, it showed me that same screen, and I groaned, thinking I'd be there for another ten or fifteen minutes (my ballpark guess as to how long it took the first time), but, it only stayed on screen for a few seconds, and then was gone. Whew!

I don't know if that kind of uber-long update is par for the course (sure would be nice if they'd put in a progress bar so we'd *know* it wasn't hung up), but for anyone else going down that path, if you do see it, don't give up, don't yank the card, turn off the player, etc. Just wait, for a LONG time. (I am guessing that for a *bigger* card, with more content, it'd take even longer. If I were to put in a filled-up 8GB card, I'd go grind some coffee and brew it nice and slow...)

I am in a few minutes from now going to put the Express back on the cable, delete the OGG file, and copy the MP3 version, and then I'll find out if it has to go through that whole routine again, or, if (hopefully) it can *update* the existing index.

Sure would be nice if my C200/e200 series players (all V1 type) could read >2GB cards (ONE of my e200 players is Rockboxed; I don't really prefer the Rockbox interface, and am going to be looking for the reverse-bootloader, so that I can use it as a "sub-OS/monitor program" for copying files from larger cards to main memory and so forth, without having to be quick-draw on the button EACH time I power up the player). I'd like to be able to use the same cards in ALL my SD-enabled Sansas.

I know they released a beta FW for the e200 series which *does* support 4GB cards. I also know they abandoned it, will NOT be updating the current FW for that player, and, that that the beta FW is sufficiently buggy to eliminate it as an option.

Maybe at some point, V2 versions of the e200 series will hit the street en masse (read: "cheap") and I'll be able to use bigger cards, use video *on* the card, etc. Until then, c'est la vie! I just wish they'd bothered to put the same feature set into BOTH editions of the player. The fact that they do NOT distinguish between the two editions seems to suggest that they consider them the SAME model, therefore it's troubling that they are so different in their abilities.

Yeah, gripe, gripe, gripe.

Last edited by m_k; 11-24-2008 at 10:25 PM. Reason: Forgot to turn on email notification
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Old 11-25-2008, 04:29 AM
m_k m_k is offline
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 277

Another update:

The good news is that after I got rid of the OGG file, and copied the MP3 version of the same file onto the Express (all operations done in drag/drop move via Windows Explorer in Win2K -- using "sync" mode is not possible with this OS), there was NOT a repeat of the long "Refresh Database Do Not Remove SD" screen. The message did appear, and, it lasted longer than it does when rebooting *without* having changed anything, but not even *nearly* as long as it did the first time. I'll guess maybe 20 seconds or so. And, afterwards, the reboots were just as fast as before I'd updated that file -- so, it looks like it *does* do an incremental update rather than a full re-index.

The *bad* news, though, is that it seems that random items are NOT having their tags recognized. I can't see any rhyme or reason to why *some* things do NOT show up in the "genre" listing. I *know* it's NOT a tagging issue -- I used the SAME tagging as I did for the ones that *do* show up -- and, they show up fine in my Clip when copied there.

I am *hoping*that this is one of the things that are resolved by the latest firmware. (The files did copy properly, and, if I do navigate to them -- via "the long road" rather than going directly to them via genre, or (I *think*) Album (very tired at the moment and don't recall which categories other than "genre" were acting up) -- they played fine.)

At least my Express is usable now. Prior to this, I not only couldn't access *anything* on the SD card, but, various items, if copied to the player itself, would not behave. The player was kinda flakey and shakey -- i.e., I'd play an audiobook file, and then, when I'd stop it, the player would spontaneously shut down. The quirks were random and not repeatable -- it wasn't something related to any particular file, but it *was* something that happened often enough to make me leave the player on the desk rather than in my pocket.

One way or another I will have to get that *.12 firmware installed, and hopefully it will take care of these relatively minor quirks (i.e., stuff missing from certain indices), as well as provide more usable audiobook functionality (in line with the way the Clip's latest FW handles them -- namely, *as* audiobooks, rather than as "songs" with "audibooks" genre tag).

One (hopefully) last observation on this beast -- I noticed that it will *sometimes* lose its settings (brightness, screen-on timer, shutoff timer, custom equalizer settings) when I turn it off. I haven't done any "regression testing" to see if there's a repeatable sequence of events that triggers the "forget-mode" -- and, I'm hoping it's addressed in the latest firmware. Also, I noticed that even when I restore the screen level to "full" brightness, it's fairly dim when compared side-by-side with my Clip.

It *seems* like they're both using the same display module (seems same size, and at the very least, they're both the same *type* display -- OLED), and I think I recall having read a while back that the latest firmware on the *Clip* resolved a similar issue on that platform that only manifested itself on the 4GB Clip.

Does anyone know if the latest Express FW allows the display brightness to be cranked up any higher than I'm getting with the *.05 firmware? (Same question for the issue with random stuff never making it to the indexes.) Thanks in advance!
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