For What Its Worth

Computing stories, Without a good driver hardware is a brick.

The next time you read a hardware review, look for what they said about the drivers and see if there are any warning signs about waiting for a driver upgrade.  

#1 Graphics card drivers
In the mid 90's when PC based CAD work was coming of age, the graphics cards used in the PC were a critical component.  The card we settled on was built by a smallish company,  but it outperformed all the competitors.  Lets call them company E.   When looking at the cards the competitors had newer, "better" hardware and usually won all the "]tests of the day.  The problem was in every day CAD use the competitor cards just didn't cut it.   What was the difference, the driver for the card.   Company E took great care to assure the driver and card worked together flawlessly.   Company E cards were often hardware light compared to the competitors, but the driver got the hardware to work at full potential. 

In the late 90s I built a PC and got lulled into buying one of the competing graphics cards.   Tests looked good etc., but the driver was not good.   It was painful when it flaked out on simple games of the day. It took over a year for the company to come up with a driver to make the card work to potential.  The driver support quickly dropped soon after.   High dollar card with a short usable lifespan because of poor driver software in my opinion.

#2  The Scanner
In 1998 I bought a new scanner.  In it's day it was fantastic, built by company "C" in Japan and high dollar.   On the box it promised it would work with Windows 98.   Problem was the software didn't quite work. Only about 1/2 of what was advertised worked in Windows98.  The Windows 3.1 drivers did not upgrade well.   I had a partial brick.   Going thru the U.S. website did not help.   I investigated the company's web site in Japan and found a support address.   I sent a very nice letter in English with a copy of the Win 98 promise on the label.  Since I knew Japanese culture some, I was able to use wording that was respectful, but when interpreted with Japanese "indirect understanding" made a point.   Basically the interpretation was, "I understand computer technology is tough and I await your ability to catch up".    3 days later I got a note in my email to go to the Japanese web site and down load the new software.   They had purchased a 3rd party software package that would work the scanner and put it up for download for their scanner customers.    It worked for many years, but sadly there was no Windows XP version of the software.   It was used by an acquaintance for many years still on his old W98 system.

#3 USB cards
So what prompted this remembrance?   I went thru 3 attempts to get a USB3 card in my new computer that would work as it should.   The first card barely functioned at USB 1 rates and the driver had no updates.   the second card worked, but the driver conflicted with another USB device and they both ended up hanging from time to time.   After a determined search I found a card a lot of computer techs used that they said worked great.   So what was the difference?  Fundamentally they used similar hardware and a USB 3 card is not a major design problem today.  The key was the driver.   A very good driver that made the card work and didn't cause havoc with other devices in the computer.

Happy Computing, VHubbard.  Transcribed Sept 2015

Back to the hardware page