I remember back in the day – and I won’t say which day that was – when motherboards used to come with a manual; A manual which was thick enough to come in its own miniature two or three-ring binder and usually wasn’t read in one sitting. As time went on, that manual shrank to the size of a small pamphlet, then a leaflet and then it disappeared altogether for the most part. Part of this was due to the growth of the web. Why spend beaucoup bucks printing a manual when all the information you needed could be published for free on the web. This worked great until the company making/supplying the motherboards went out of business, was swallowed whole by another company, or moved the website and didn’t tell anyone – particularly you.

At the same time, things like printers, etc. were supposed to be getting more and more simple to install. The novel-sized paperback that accompanied the device was reduced to a large sheet of paper that  graphically instructed you as to what had to be plugged in where and which button(s) had to be pressed. If you needed more information, simply go to the web. Then there are the installation CD’s that would do most of the work of setting up and configuring the device for you after you answered a few simple questions like “What is the capital of North Dakota”. As (un)helpful as the installation CD’s were, users eventually found that the best approach was to go to the manufacturer’s website and download the latest version of the installation software since it had usually gone through several updates since it was originally burned to disc and packed in the box with your device. The only downside to this approach was trying to figure out just which software applied to:

  1. Your device
  2. Your OS
  3. Your motherboard’s chip-set.

Long story short; Devices and software have supposedly become more consumer friendly and easier for the average Joe to install/configure. Those of us in the business know that isn’t always the case. ZDNet offers this saga by David Gewirtz which tells you that utopia has yet to arrive.


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