Archives / Search ›

Why is Mac OS X USB so broken? I realize I probably have a more complicated USB setup than 99% of people, but inevitably I have to perform various weird procedures to get my USB devices working after I've been away from my desk. Sometimes my machine crashes in the process; I file bugs, sometimes they're fixed. This time, after finally getting both my keyboard and trackball to work properly, I see this message several times a second:

USBF:   542976.918      Microsoft Trackball Explorer\M-.[0x56eba00]: error setting feature. err=0xe000404f
USBF:   542977.142      Microsoft Trackball Explorer\M-.[0x56eba00]: error setting feature. err=0xe000404f
USBF:   542977.366      Microsoft Trackball Explorer\M-.[0x56eba00]: error setting feature. err=0xe000404f

Every second or so, the trackball resets, so if I'm dragging something at the time, it's as if I released the mouse button. Unplugging and re-plugging the trackball doesn't help. Even better, the message appears whether or not the trackball is actually connected. [Logging out and back in fixed the problem.]

Mac OS 9 USB was not this bad; in fact, it seemed downright elegant when I wrote a USB driver for it. It had some neat features like auto-downloading drivers which OS X doesn't have (yet? ever?). This is progress?

On the other hand, having to spend 5 restarts upgrading the NVIDIA drivers for a dual-display GeForce4 on a Windows 2000 box tonight made me appreciate my Mac. When you upgrade drivers, you're warned to uninstall the old ones first or bad things might result. After the upgrade is complete, you've lost all your display settings—back to displaying on a single monitor, in this case. When you change one setting, a dialog box informs you that the control panel must close because it might flake out otherwise (I wish I were joking). The default dual-display mode is to make Windows think your monitors are both one gigantic screen, which means among other things that the taskbar won't sit at the bottom of the top monitor. There's an option to make them appear as separate monitors, but it's somewhere different from where you set up the dual display features.

NVIDIA seems to think if you cram every imaginable option in there, someone will find use for all of them. They have something akin to an OS X-like drawer in their interface. It pops up when you click a tab, animating its appearance. Except the drawer isn't wide enough to hold the tree view full of option panels, and it's not resizable. You can close and open it manually (why?) with some bizarre looking controls, and there's also an animated pushpin that seems to do something but I'm not quite sure what. Now that's great UI.

Comments are closed.