Wednesday, June 4, 2008

When drivers belong in a golf bag

In every computing day there is an opportunity to become incensed, infuriated and enraged and it usually has something to do with drivers. Drivers are the items in software that make the hardware items work. Drivers are needed for just about everything in computers. So, when they work, they are cute, adorable and lovely or we don't really consider them. However, when they fail, watch out for falling computers from window ledges! Drivers supported in stable operating systems are what made Microsoft an industry leader. When Windows 95 and Windows 98 came out, they were hailed by computing folk because they came pre-loaded with all kinds of common drivers. This made connecting a new Windows 9x to an existing printer or other device fairly simple. Yet, Microsoft knew that it couldn't possibly support all drivers forever. With each new operating system release (Windows XP and Windows Vista), only the most popular drivers in the preceding two years have been included, much to the chagrin of several new OS owners with legacy devices. In addition when Windows NT 4.0 was released and, later, Windows 2000, an entirely different set of drivers were needed because those systems were based on a different kind of operating system whereby there was an executive kernel that did not allow the applications to directly attach themselves to the central processor unit (CPU), commonly referred to as the chip. That may not seem like a big deal, but anyone who had their computers freeze under the Windows 9x operating systems knows full well of the complications that could arise should an application refuse to relinquish its hold on the CPU. Windows XP was based on the NT technology developed originally as IBM's OS/2 and then later released by Microsoft as a business solution. If an application were to "hang" under that operating system, the executive kernel would release it and allow other applications time to access the CPU. Then, the non-responsive application could be shut down without affecting the entire operating system. So, why am I talking about drivers on a day when I should be complaining about searing 90 degree heat or congratulating Barack Obama on a job well done in winning the necessary number of delegates to assure him the nomination of the Democratic Party? It's because legacy drivers for a SCSI host adapter (old technology) that were supposed to be working on two new server builds (Windows 2003 Small Business Server and Windows 2008) are both presenting me with an error that tells me the devices are not working properly. This is where experience tells me to be patient and take a deep breath. It is all part of the length and breadth of dealing with computers. Eventually, the problem will be overcome or a substitute device will be inserted that will correct the error. So, every computing day can also be an opportunity to be informed, exhilarated and enlightened. Of course, it is easy to say this after the fact. While it is occurring, it is downright frustrating. Once it is fixed (and it will be), there is a wonderful feeling of ecstasy that takes over as one realizes that no matter how dastardly these computers will be, man will always triumph. That being said, I am still tempted right now to open up a window and yell out "fore!" Temperamental drivers should never be on the roads or inside computers. However, inside of golf bags is another thing.

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