Appliances and science projects

Tuesday, October 9, 2007 – 8:47 AM

Last night I tried to sync my iRiver H10 20Gb with all my latest music for an upcoming trip to Boston. Easy right? It’s an appliance.

Plugging in the H10 resulted in the familiar ping of Windows XP (SP2) finding a new USB device and then… nothing happens. The H10 worked fine in UMS mode, it appears as a disk drive just fine so I knew it wasn’t a hardware issue. In the default MTP mode (to sync with WMP) it refused to appear. Opening the device manager shows that the drivers are installed but the device isn’t detected. The error message is suitably cryptic, something about a service being unavailable.

There’s a very scary thread on the misticriver site with lots of fixes involving editing the registry and such like to get your device to work. Is this really what’s expected of casual users? “That’s OK Mum, just run REGEDIT.EXE and…”. Seems like a no-no to me.

I ended up reinstalling the firmware with no effect. Eventually I found something on the Microsoft support site suggesting there might be an issue with Windows Media Player 11 and the H10. Lots of other challenging fixes like “remove the battery from your player”. I can see it now. My mother has just nuked her Windows install with REGEDIT and how she’s going to take a screwdriver to the back of her H10. This is no longer an applicance, it’s a science project. 

Eventually I uninstalled WMP 11 and the associated Windows Media Format 11 runtime rebooted the machine a couple of times and everything works fine. It took up several hours of my evening and involved missing large sections of NBC’s Heroes.

We’ve been talking about this a lot lately over lunch. If a group of computer savvy developers struggle to get their PCs to work as intended what hope is there for people who don’t have the option to start a science project when the appliance fails? As software developers we owe it to our customers, whomever they are, to give them applicances not science projects!

  1. 4 Responses to “Appliances and science projects”

  2. Get yourself a Mac. When you plug it in.. it just works.

    By Scott Densmroe on Oct 9, 2007

  3. Let’s just say I didn’t choose the iRiver. It was chosen for me.

    By Ade on Oct 9, 2007

  4. Hi,

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    By quba on Jun 22, 2009

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  2. Sep 27, 2008: Windows Home Server and Squeezebox | #2782 - Agile software development and best practices for building Microsoft .NET applications.

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