Hello, Internets. Let me tell you a sad story about how installing unsupported drivers for new audio hardware can entirely jack up your Vista machine.
When I bought Serato second-hand from a dude on Craigslist, I was advised to just install the software that came in the box and update it afterward, so that’s what I did. Yeah, I know, I’m a jackass. I even do application support for a living and should totally know better. Ordinarily, I toss whatever driver CD and go straight to the manufacturer’s website for even little things like USB wireless adapters. But the guy, he said…
So I followed the advice I was given. To his credit, the seller didn’t know I was running Vista (or he may have offered to let me out of the deal and find another buyer).
Serato installed fine, the driver installed fine. It started fine. I loaded a couple of tracks and played around with the control records, nice. Then I closed the program.
Restart. Start the program, play around, close the program, unplug the device.
Lesson #1: Ditch the Disc
Just throw it away. You don’t need it. What if it’s the latest version already? News flash: It’s never the latest version.
The BSOD said PFN_LIST_CORRUPT, and after a quick Google search to confirm my suspicion, it seemed apparent that the problem was with the driver I had just installed. No biggie—I could probably remove the driver in safe mode, restart, and be just fine. I did so, then visited ScratchLive.net to see what’s what.
Lesson #2: The device manufacturer always has the latest software and drivers on its website
You can download the latest version of Serato Scratch Live for Windows Vista, including drivers, at ScratchLive.net.
Indeed, the version of Scratch Live I had on disc predated widespread acceptance of Windows Vista, and like most application support teams, the guys and gals at Rane espouse a firm preference for XP. Let’s be clear, though: the attitude among professional DJs is that you shouldn’t even be loading this software on a Windows machine at all. Vista and XP are “supported,” but the word sort of belongs in danger quotes.
So I downloaded and installed the latest software and drivers from the manufacturer’s website. Well, let’s back up…I downloaded it. In the middle of the installation process, Windows bluescreened again. Argh.
After numerous more restarts, flailing attempts at system diagnostics, random (seemingly unrelated) process crashes and blue screens with all kinds of crazy and alarmist messages (“omg hacker got up ins yr RAM stix n yr fuked lol!!!!1one”), I turned to Dell support. I had removed what I believed to be the offending driver and was considering the possibility of bad hardware.
Lesson #3: It’s not the device manufacturer’s fault that you’re too cheap to buy a Mac
Dell support is rad, though. If you’re going to buy a PC, buy it from Dell—compared to other brands, their machines are way reliable, and their overseas technicians are good communicators and pretty freaking competent. After listening to my woes, a very nice man told me to go get a box of tissues and a phillips-head screwdriver. The screwdriver, he explained, was to “remove the bottom cover from the laptop so we can remove the memory.” The tissues, he told me, were “for just in case, buddy. Just remember that it is OK if you need to cry.”
It turned out that fully half of the RAM on my six-month-old laptop was irrevocably corrupted and had to be removed. The other half? Fine. Dell is replacing all the RAM, not just the half that died, and I’m running on the good half for now.
However, repeatedly restarting an OS (like, sixteen times…) with corrupt RAM can really jack up your action bunches. Even after removing the offending memory, I had to reinstall Vista from the CD that came with my machine.
As of now, Serato is working great, I love life, and I haven’t needed the tissues at all.
But, think hard…when is the last time you had to restart your Macbook Pro? Like, had to. Airplane rides don’t count. Seriously, can you even remember? You can’t. You restart your web browser, maybe, sometimes—not your entire computer.
My system memory was very likely going bad anyway—an outdated Serato driver was just the last straw. That said, if I had just downloaded the latest driver supported for my platform, I’d probably be happily oblivious to the fact that whatever Brand X RAM Dell stuck in my Studio laptop was about to get all lousy on me. Fortunately, it happened right away, in the privacy of my own home, away from the prying eyes of strangers.
Can you imagine? You’re playing a house party, people all like, “Wow, you’re running that on Vista? Don’t most DJs use Macs?” and your junk straight-up BSODs. Now, I’m not a strong proponent of PCs—just a PC gamer from way back—but I do get really tired of hearing people talk trash on Windows. If you’re like me, and that happened to you, Oh, Lord.
Vista is supported for Serato, and it does work reliably as long as you’re not a punk and you have the sense to download the latest driver, but the psychological damage is done. Frankly, I’m anxious. Every time I close the program or unplug the device, I hold my breath.
My friends, I think you are reading the blog of a future Mac fan.