Lenovo trifecta in play?



  • A gem from a Lenovo user manual: 

    To use the Lenovo USB port replicator, you must first install the
    device driver onto your computer. Connect the USB port replicator to
    your computer and Windows plug-and-play will install the hardware
    device drivers for each port. Attention: You must install the USB port
    replicator software before connecting it to your computer. Otherwise,
    the USB port replicator will not work properly.

     

    Maybe I'm missing some gramatical cue on the proper order; english is not my native language. I'm guessing it was not the manual author's either. This left me confused. 



  • @Kl4m said:

    Maybe I'm missing some gramatical cue on the proper order; english is not my native language. I'm guessing it was not the manual author's either. This left me confused. 
     

    I agree it is written a bit confusedly:

    "Attention: You must install the USB port
    replicator software before connecting it to your computer. Otherwise,
    the USB port replicator will not work properly."

    This might be re-written: 

    "Attention: You must install the USB port
    replicator software
    before connecting the USB port replicator to your computer. Otherwise,
    the USB port replicator will not work properly."

    The manual means you must install the device driver (the software) before physically attaching the hardware to your computer.  Lots of manufacturer of generic devices (e.g. wireless usb adapters, printers) will tell you this; I think it's because they don't want the generic Windows drivers to be installed (if you attach the hardware first).  The generic drivers might prevent the hardware from working properly.  Or, they might prevent the manufacturer's drivers from being installed later on.  Or it might be harder (or more troublesome) to install the manufacturer's drivers after the generic drivers have already been installed.

    In general, I think they just want you to install the manufacturer's drivers before attaching the hardware as a precaution.  (Please correct if I'm wrong, if any Windows hardware devs are reading this.)



  • Isn't a USB port replicator normally called a hub?



  • They should have junked the entire paragraph for a simple description like "Please install enclosed software before connecting the device to your computer." Saying anything more will just open further possibilities for confusion.



  • @Lingerance said:

    Isn't a USB port replicator normally called a hub?
     

    No. Two different things.



  • @pitchingchris said:

    They should have junked the entire paragraph for a simple description like "Please install enclosed software before connecting the device to your computer." Saying anything more will just open further possibilities for confusion.
     

    Yeah, I agree.  I've seen Quick Start Guides with big step-by-step diagrams that essentially say: INSTALL SOFTWARE FIRST (Large picture of CD/DVD being inserted in drive). ATTACH HARDWARE SECOND (Large picture of USB cable being attached to device and PC).



  • @CodeSimian said:

    Yeah, I agree.  I've seen Quick Start Guides with big step-by-step diagrams that essentially say: INSTALL SOFTWARE FIRST (Large picture of CD/DVD being inserted in drive). ATTACH HARDWARE SECOND (Large picture of USB cable being attached to device and PC).
     

    Me too, I usually see those when the person brings it to me and can't figure out what they did wrong (hint: They didnt read those two instructions).



  • @MasterPlanSoftware said:

    Me too, I usually see those when the person brings it to me and can't figure out what they did wrong (hint: They didnt read those two instructions).

     Even if you install the software second, you can usually just go to device manager, find the device, and click update driver, and it will almost always detect it and install itself. But that is too complicated to tell an average user.



  • @pitchingchris said:

    @MasterPlanSoftware said:

    Me too, I usually see those when the person brings it to me and can't figure out what they did wrong (hint: They didnt read those two instructions).

     Even if you install the software second, you can usually just go to device manager, find the device, and click update driver, and it will almost always detect it and install itself. But that is too complicated to tell an average user.

     

    Hey, I am not complaining, anytime it is a paying customer I am getting paid the same to fix it, or to install the thing from scratch. 

    They can do whatever they want. If they really mess it up, I can just charge more anyway.



  • I think I counted no less than three STOP! INSTALL SOFTWARE FIRST warnings when I opened up a Canon digital camera that I had received as a gift last year.

    I laughed, put the unopened package containing the CD back in the box, and plugged the camera in anyway.

     

    libgphoto found it just fine.



  • @Benanov said:

    libgphoto found it just fine.

     

    So did Windows Explorer.



  • @MasterPlanSoftware said:

    @Benanov said:

    libgphoto found it just fine.

     

    So did Windows Explorer.

    That's because Microsoft has a monopoly on Operating Systems.  The digital camera didn't want to be found, but M$ strong-armed it into cooperating, probably with threats of legal action and a few thrown chairs.  When you use Linux, the hardware finds you, because it wants to be free.



  • @Lingerance said:

    Isn't a USB port replicator normally called a hub?

    A port replicator is an add-on for laptops that gives you ports that aren't normally provided on a laptop, like PS/2, parrallel, serial and DVI.  My only experience is with the kind that connect through a proprietary interface, but I suppose Lenovo provides port replicators that connect via USB.  This means it probably doesn't provide video outputs.  Docking stations are basically the same thing, but usually they provide more ports and at least one PCI slot, so you can add additional cards.  AFAIK, those always connect through proprietary interfaces, but my only experience is with Dell equipment, so there may be other options out there. 



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    AFAIK, those always connect through proprietary interfaces, but my only experience is with Dell equipment, so there may be other options out there. 
     

    They usually do, but a good example of where you would need a USB replicator is on the Inspiron 9300. Since it is a 'Desktop Replacement' it has no docking station, and no docking station interface.

    Your only option is a USB replicator.



  • The problem with the Software CDs delivered together with some hardware product usually is that it contains more than just the drivers. I can't count the occasions where people have installed software that they didn't need and that didn't behave - and then I had to clean up their computers. I keep telling people that they shouldn't install all the software on all the CDs that falls into their hands. Not even if those CDs claim they NEED to be installed. The notorious Acrobat Reader 5.0 is the first of these, others are those useless photo viewers / photo album organizers. The worst I've seen is a DSL router that insisted on installing IE 5 (while IE 7 was long on the market) and immediately configured it in strange ways - where said router was connected via ethernet and the standard operating system stuff would have been just fine.



  •  @TheRider said:

    The problem with the Software CDs delivered together with some hardware product usually is that it contains more than just the drivers.

    That is a good reason to throw away that CD and use the built in Windows driver. 

    If Windows doesn't have an existing signed driver, then I don't want that hardware on my machine.

    The most notable exception being modern graphics cards... but I still would rather throw the CD away, and just download the driver from the manufacturer's site.

    So much crap hardware out there.... Yuck.



  • @TheRider said:

    The problem with the Software CDs delivered together with some hardware product usually is that it contains more than just the drivers.
    Sometimes this really annoying userland applet is bundled with the driver installer, I have two mother boards whose sound card drivers include programs that pop-up whenever I plug something into a port, or remove something in the port, they will not activate said port unless I reboot the machine (the second, which is my brother's computer is much move forgiving in this regard). I threw in an old SB Live! card just to get a sound-card with sane drivers, two bad that cut my available vanilla PCI ports in half. I also like how our school computers have 113MB driver, we have yet to figure out what it's for (it claims to be for the network card, but we already have that), this driver installer (along with sound, network and video) come from a share on the instructor's machine which (As far as we know) came from HP's site. [/rant]



    Out of curiosity, what exactly are the files normally needed for the driver? Is it just the inf?



  • @Lingerance said:

    Out of curiosity, what exactly are the files normally needed for the driver? Is it just the inf?
     

    Well, the .inf file is just the description of the driver. Sometimes, this is enough to get the hardware going. Modems, for example, don't need more than an inf. Other drivers may require additional files such as dlls or other stuff. These files will be referenced inside the inf file. The .inf file, of course, is a simple text file that can be edited with notepad or the text editor of your choice.



  • @TheRider said:

    The .inf file, of course, is a simple text file that can be edited with notepad or the text editor of your choice.
    As I understand it, inf uses a similar format to ini. though I am curious to as why there are two extensions.



  • @pitchingchris said:

     Even if you install the software second, you can usually just go to device manager, find the device, and click update driver, and it will almost always detect it and install itself. But that is too complicated to tell an average user.

     

    I tried to do something like that with a German IDSN card (Fritz! PCI) and Windows 95. It quite killed the OS. I could somehow convince it to boot again but then Device Manager told me I had NO hardware drivers installed at all.



  •  

     @hallo.amt said:

    @pitchingchris said:

     Even if you install the software second, you can usually just go to device manager, find the device, and click update driver, and it will almost always detect it and install itself. But that is too complicated to tell an average user.

     

    I tried to do something like that with a German IDSN card (Fritz! PCI) and Windows 95. It quite killed the OS. I could somehow convince it to boot again but then Device Manager told me I had NO hardware drivers installed at all.

    Maybe I should have been more specific. I was talking about XP.



  • @Lingerance said:

    As I understand it, inf uses a similar format to ini. though I am curious to as why there are two extensions.
     

    INF is for setup information (e.g. device drivers, shell extensions),  and INI is for storing configuration.  You can right-click on an .INF and select "Install".  Not so with .INI. 



  • @TheRider said:

    The worst I've seen is a DSL router that insisted on installing IE 5 (while IE 7 was long on the market) and immediately configured it in strange ways - where said router was connected via ethernet and the standard operating system stuff would have been just fine.
    When I lived with my parents we had exactly that, except that it used PPPoE, so it had to be installed. And ofcourse a Linux newbie like myself couldn't get any of the PPPoE daemons to work with it either, so I pretty much had to stick to Windows.
    Oh well, at least the Norton IS that came bundled with it was a separate install.

     



  • I think you guys are missing something. It's not just bad grammar, it warns you not to plug it in before installing the driver, but then tells you that Windows will automatically install the driver after it's plugged in.



  • @Cap'n Steve said:

    I think you guys are missing something. It's not just bad grammar, it warns you not to plug it in before installing the driver, but then tells you that Windows will automatically install the driver after it's plugged in.
     

    Yes, it is unclear writing:

    "To use the Lenovo USB port replicator, you must first install the
    device driver onto your computer. Connect the USB port replicator to
    your computer and Windows plug-and-play will install the hardware
    device drivers for each port. Attention: You must install the USB port
    replicator software before connecting it to your computer. Otherwise,
    the USB port replicator will not work properly."

    "You must first install the
    device driver" means you have to run the device driver installer (as in InstallShield, MSI, NSIS, etc.) provided on the CD.  This will copy INF files and driver files to your hard drive, but it will obviously not install the device on your system (since it is not attached).  You will not see any new devices in the Device Manager.  Think of this as "driver preparation".  So this instance of "install the device driver" really means "prepare the system with some necessary files, but don't actually install any devices".

    "Connect the USB port replicator to
    your computer and Windows plug-and-play will install the hardware
    device drivers for each port."
    Once you attach the device, Windows will "install" the drivers for each of the devices provided by the port replicator.  This instance of "install" means that each of the devices will show up in the "Device Manager" and the appropriate drivers that were prepared in the last step will now be associated with those devices.

    A lot of technical writing isn't clear because it is hard to translate this stuff into plain English. (My attempt was pretty bad.)  In this case, it seems the phrase "install device drivers" is overloaded with 2 meanings.

    Maybe a simpler way to put it would be: the first step is installing drivers and the second step is installing devices.  But that wouldn't be 100% accurate nor would it be conventional.

    Again, one of the reasons it has to be done this way is if you attach the hardware first, you may get Windows generic or outdated drivers and the manufacturer may not want that. 



  • @CodeSimian said:

    A lot of technical writing isn't clear because it is hard to translate this stuff into plain English. (My attempt was pretty bad.)  In this case, it seems the phrase "install device drivers" is overloaded with 2 meanings.
     

    Oh yeah, this reminds me of that friend of mine who keeps complaining to me about his computer. He cannot, even if his life depended on it, grasp the conceptual distinction between a) downloading software from the internet, hopefully storing the one installer file in some sensible place, and b) installing what was previously downloaded by launching the installer and let it "do its thing" (copy stuff into "Program files", the registry, and so on) so that later c) the newly installed software can now be used.

    Several times, when that software needed to be reinstalled for various reasons, I sat down at his computer and asked him, where he had stored the installers. He stared at me with a blank expression in his face. What was I talking about? He always "installed that stuff directly from the internet". Duh.



  • @Lingerance said:

    I also like how our school computers have 113MB driver, we have yet to figure out what it's for (it claims to be for the network card, but we already have that), this driver installer (along with sound, network and video) come from a share on the instructor's machine which (As far as we know) came from HP's site.
    I think I've seen the driver you're talking about, though I don't remember what it's bundled with.@Lingerance said:
    Out of curiosity, what exactly are the files normally needed for the driver? Is it just the inf?
    Usually the .inf file and the files that are in the same folder. You can try to provide just the .inf (and the .cat file - that's the digital signature) file when Windows is looking for a driver, and it'll ask you for the specific .dlll/.sys files when it wants them.



  • @TheRider said:

    Several times, when that software needed to be reinstalled for various reasons, I sat down at his computer and asked him, where he had stored the installers. He stared at me with a blank expression in his face. What was I talking about? He always "installed that stuff directly from the internet". Duh
     

     

    If you're using IE, when you click on a link for a download, oftentimes you can select run instead of save.  So the installer would only exist as long as he doesn't dump his temp files and he would have "installed directly from the internet".   



  • @ender said:

    Usually the .inf file and the files that are in the same folder. You can try to provide just the .inf (and the .cat file - that's the digital signature) file when Windows is looking for a driver, and it'll ask you for the specific .dlll/.sys files when it wants them.
     

    What's more common today, though, is that the .dll/.sys files are copied to a fixed location on your hard drive, so you don't have to provide the installation media when you attach the hardware.  The issue is that the standard way to prepare drivers is only to copy the INF/CAT file (using the Win32 API function SetupCopyOEMInf()), leaving the other files on the original installation media.  That's why you were often prompted for the driver CD/floppy in the days of Win9x when you attached a new device.

    As a workaround, OEM system builders like DELL usually have a "Driver" or "OEMname" directory in the root of the hard drive.  Nvidia uses the fixed location "\Nvidia", IIRC.  Still others create a directory under "\Program Files" (this is common when the driver has a user-space application to go along with it.)

    MS has tried to standardize this by providing a "driver cache" which can be used to preload drivers, and also to store multiple versions of the same driver.  DPINST can be used by developers to preinstall drivers:

    http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms790308.aspx

    Driver Package Installer (DPInst) version 2.1 is a component of Driver Install Frameworks (DIFx) version 2.1 that simplifies and customizes the installation of driver packages for devices that are not yet installed in a computer (commonly known as a software-first installation).

    However, I think the behaviour of DPInst is a bit constrained (don't remember the details), so many hardware manufacturers probably still use the old "copy my driver files to \program files\myname or \drivers\myname or \myname" workaround.



  • Heh, once I bought a hard drive (standard, internal, IDE) where the instructions told me to install the drivers before plugging it in. Since the computer didn't yet have a hard drive, let alone any OS with which to install the drivers I decided that it was safe to ignore that warning.

    Turned out that the "drivers" were simply a BIOS extender (to allow ancient computers to address the whole thing) and FAT32 drivers for Windows 95 and NT 4.0 (not sure why they included these, this was for an 80GB drive that came unformatted in 2002).



  • @mallard said:

    Turned out that the "drivers" were simply a BIOS extender (to allow ancient computers to address the whole thing)

    That did one of my hard drives in. No computer can read the damn drive as a slave, so when one of my older computers went kaput, I couldn't get my data off the drive (I couldn't afford a backup solution at the time). It's still sitting in my office closet for the day that I can figure out how to get around that artificial boot sector.



  • @AbbydonKrafts said:

    No computer can read the damn drive as a slave
    A USB enclosure might help you.



  • @Lingerance said:

    @TheRider said:
    The .inf file, of course, is a simple text file that can be edited with notepad or the text editor of your choice.
    As I understand it, inf uses a similar format to ini. though I am curious to as why there are two extensions.
     

    Well, they serve pretty different purposes, and in a lot of ways you can see .inf files as more like programs (in a special purpose language designed for installing files) where .ini files are more like data, simple lists of (name, value) data tuples.

     



  •  Reminds me of a HP flatbed scanner I once purchased. The driver on the CD was required. It installed through a Flash applet. The TWAIN scanning dialog rendered its GUI through HTML, and all of the widgets were stored as BMPs. The driver took up over 100mb. I lost the CD and had to download the driver when I plugged into a different computer. It was uncompressed, so it was also over 100mb. It hadn't even been 6 months and the damn thing died. 

     I won't point out what's so bad about any of this, I think you can see. Also, that scanner's not the only HP product that has been very bad to me. The moral of the story: Never buy HP. 



  • @Spacecoyote said:

    I won't point out what's so bad about any of this, I think you can see. Also, that scanner's not the only HP product that has been very bad to me. The moral of the story: Never buy HP.
    HP is only fine if you buy products that aren't intended for consumers. I've got a ScanJet 5590 that comes with 2 drivers - a "consumer" Twain driver that is exactly as you described it (except that uncompressed it's over 200MB), and a "corporate" ISIS/Twain driver that is much smaller, and uses normal Windows UI.


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