I did it!
God Knows how long after the official launch, I finally
got a system with Windows 2000 server installed and added to
my “local cluster” of machines (currently two NT4 SP6 and
a W98SE Vaio laptop).I felt I had left long enough for the
early bugettes to be flushed out since Service Pack one had
been out a while and was generally regarded in discussions
groups as OK.
But the main reason I
am contemplating leaving the stable world of Windows NT4 is
that there are a number of video editing products that work on
Windows 98 and threaten to work on W2K but not with NT4. NT4
is pretty much abandoned to all but “service releases”
henceforth, and all MS development effort is on W2K and the
new Windows ME.
One such video product
is the Pinnacle DV500 firewire (IEEE1394) and video capture
board, which comes bundled with all manner of stuff, including
Adobe Premiere and some effectsware. Like all the bundles that
promise to bring the power of Dreamworks to your PC, it’s a
neat looking bundle of fun, but not quite as simple to live
with as it might be.
After a lot of arseing
about attempting to roll our own Windows 2k systems from the
same parts that worked fine with Windows NT4, but getting no
end of blue screens during the install process, I succumbed
and decided to use the experience of others in the first
instance. So I got a dual 800MHz P3 system from Big Red
computers, and had them pre-install the DV500 card and
software. I’m glad I did, since the (well hidden) Windows
2000 tweak for the DV500 install CD is a 100Mbyte download
from the Pinnacle web site (or a CD ROM in the post). And like
I said, it’s nicely hidden.
But I found out the
hard way. After upgrading the Windows Media Player to version
7, several things stopped working – noticeably AVI files
captured with the DV500 don’t play in the new windows media
player. I assumed that some codec installed with the DV500
driver had been overwritten, so I reinstalled from the DV500
CD ROM supplied.
If you go to the
www.Pinnaclesys.com website and follow the “support” links
to FAQs, you might expect to find something said about Windows
2000 (since the product as shipped doesn’t) . The link ends
up on a page that says
“Please use DV500 driver 1.2 for
Windows NT & windows 2000. This driver version also
supports Windows 98 & Windows ME”
No link to any other information at all.
No clues to even check to see what driver is installed. Zippo.
So I used the DV500 CD provided, and proceeded to watch the
system crash itself to bits. I had to take out the card and
uninstall the software – otherwise it simply blew up before
getting anywhere near started without any chance of a
I got there in the end after called Big
Red who recounted their experiences (they too learned the hard
way) and pointed out that there was another CD in the set of
bits provided that was the downloaded DV500 W2k installer.
The tab marked “downloads” on the
website did lead to the Windows 2000 DV500 information – but
then the problems with the Windows Media Player version 7
remained – it simply won’t play AVIs captured by the DV500
– so in the effort to get a support address to query, I
ended up emailing the PR people and got an email address for
someone in the UK office that allegedly would be able to
assist. Nothing heard, and that did know I was writing a piece
on the device, so what chance regular punters have, I don’t
The Pinnacle website lists a 25p/minute
support line – which is quite modest by some standards. But
that support line happily puts you on hold (at 25p a minute)
and at 4.55pm, then announces that they have all buggered off
home since they close at 6pm CET!
Pinnacle, I think you need a slap.
The rest of you need to be aware that desktop video is
still as nasty an experience as it ever was, with product
incompatibility, instability and simple “pot luck” too
much in evidence. It’s wonderful when it all comes together
and works, but be prepared to compromise and work around. Not
for the fainthearted.