Sunday, February 06, 2011

Windows 7 compatibility and "home network" expansions and new (musical) devices (The USB-MIDI Problem on W7)

Well, I’m getting ready to upgrade at home with a new HD videocam, and a digital piano (88 keys), and a little checking shows big trouble if I try to use Windows 7.

First, I see that Microsoft has a site for checking devices for W7 compatibility. (Count the operating systems since Windows 3 – there are indeed 7).  It’s here.  But it doesn’t look like it has a list for digital pianos. And some checking, for example, of the Casio PX130, shows USB compatibility up to Vista and no mention of W7 (link).  Then I find a “social answers forum” (here) on Microsoft with a pessimistic discussion in mid 2010 about the difficulties in getting W7 to look at a vendor’s driver, and then a definitive “answer” as to how to get around it.  Yamaha also has a W7 workaround here for the USB-MIDI driver issue. 

Which brings us back to the Mac.  If you want to work with video and musical instruments, it looks like the Mac is much easier.  Apple sells a cheaper Final Cut now for video editing, and “Logic” is Apple’s product to interpret digital music files sent from digital instruments and write them onto staffs (and then look at them on the iPad, without printing them – see my “drama blog” Jan. 20, where I talk about getting my own music setup  ).   It seems like musicians are pretty far removed from the Microslop world, and Microsoft hasn’t done anything to make it easier for this part of its potential market.

Then I looked at something else.  I have both a home Netgear router connected to Comcast, and a Verizon MiFi.  If you do “ipconfigs” on the command line on any PC, you get ipv4 addresses based on “192.168.1.(2 to 16).  But if connected to MiFi, then no wireless devices (like the printer) are accessible, and the last node can be reused, because the MiFi and Netgear don’t know about one another.  This seems to cause some conflicts.  On the older XP laptop, if I try to connect to MiFi, it thinks I’m creating a new address and asks for the 40 byte encryption key. But if you reboot, then it connects to MiFi.  Then it won’t connect to my Comcast router, from Verizon Access Manager (get the same encryption warning) but it will just with the wireless icon.
In the mean time, the last node on my “master home computer” has inched up to 15 (this may also be because of snow-related power failures), according to Netgear's "Attached devices" list (you go to and enter "admin" and "password").  Right now, I’m using nodes 2, 4 and 15.  Once it goes over 16, I hope it’s smart enough to go back to 3, which is unused, and then 5, and not try to go to 17 and fail.

It looks like my W7 machines (and I think Vista did this) also show IpV6 addresses.    

I have a feeling that the big stars on Sirius XM (like Taylor Swift and Kelly Clarkson) have all this taken care of for them. The Mac has made it easy, and Microsoft doesn't seem to care.

Update: Feb 7

Best Buy tells me that all accessories sold in their store are Windows 7 compatible, although Microsoft says vendors are supposed to display the compatibility trademark.  Best Buy also says that users should always use the drivers from the Internet ("the Cloud") whenever possible, rather than those on CD's, which may be out of date at the time of purchase. So the user question on how to override Microsoft (above) is wrongheaded.  

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