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Looking for a 486 in all the wrong places.

S. A. Modena samodena at csemail.cropsci.ncsu.edu
Thu Apr 15 06:15:17 EST 1993

In article <MAILQUEUE-101.930414140138.320 at goodall.uncg.edu> KIRCHOFF at goodall.uncg.edu ("Bruce K. Kirchoff") writes:
>    A month or so ago I posed a message asking for your opinions of
>various 486 computer vendors......
>    I purchased a Gateway 486-66 VESA system with.......a local bus ATI
>video card with 2 megabytes of video memory,...
>.....................In general, I am
>happy with my choice......
>...........  The video is my one disappointment.
>The problem is in the video driver mach32 driver).  This driver is
>apparently still under development.......
>Bugs in the driver also cause errors when running WordPerfect for Windows
>version 5.1.  These errors cause the program to hang and sometimes
>make the file I am working on unreadable - I loose my whole file
>following an error.......
>Apparently the fancy video card/driver that I purchased is not
>completely functional.

In recent issues of InfoWorld, there have been columns pointing out that in
general there is no relationship between Windows accelerator graphics
adaptor performance and price.....to boot, the video adaptor market has
engaged in "driver" fraud: concentrating on writing drivers that put effort
into detecting when the driver is being subjected to a WinMarks test suite
so that the driver can "cheat" and achieve unrealistic "performance"
numbers that are not reflected in every day  use performance or
*reliability*.   In addition, writing a driver that is fast and
manipulating 16 colors is an order of magnitude easier than writing one
that is fast and manipulating every pixel's "color palette."

>    Even worse that the above problem was Gateway's response when I
>spoke to them about a new versions of the driver.  I was left with the
>impression that they were not overly concerned with my
>dissatisfaction with the driver I was sold.  

They have bigger problems on their mind right now: officially, their market
forecast of units-to-be-sold in the immediate future was wrong by a factor
of two.....that doesn't sound bad, except that missing the mark by a
few HUNDRED-thousand units strains the entire system from ordering parts
WORLD-WIDE to finding enough warm bodies at minimum wage in South Dakota
can a "problem" for a company that has grown from a garage operation five
years ago to nearly 1 BILLION $ in annual sales.....ah, success!  :^)

>....................... The technical person I
>spoke to did not seem to know much about the mach32 driver or its

Again, the person answering the phone was drafted off the street at minimum
wage...and I'm not exaggerating.

> ........He could walk me through how to set it up on my system,
>but had little knowledge of its capabilities (or lack thereof).  

And he was reading it off of a sheet in front of him.  GateWay has
officially committed to "beef up" technical support...which for most new
Gateway purchasers means holding their hands and walking them through the
"elementary" aspects of PC usage, such as how to make the B: floppy the
current drive. 

>..................................................Am I
>pushing the technology envelope by purchasing a high performance
>video card?  

No, if you had bought the machine from a VAR (value added reseller) who
specialized in CAD machines or multi-media or color separation desktop
publishing....but then, they recoup that expertise build up by charging
a respectible price for guarenteeing that the 16-million color video
adaptor/driver combo is one that will not also trash your disk's FAT (File
allocation Table).  :^)  Gateway offers a fantasic video card knowing full
well that fewer than 1-in-1000 purchasers will actually attempt to use that
feature!  My Cirrus Local Bus adaptor can "theoretically" paint as many
colors as yours...but I don't even own a piece of software that could test
that display capability....and why would you load that driver while
running WordPerfect anyway?  :^)

>............perhaps, but it seems more likely that I am pushing
>Gateway's technical competence.  

It is a truism in the PC hardware/software market that unexpected success
(i.e. avalanche-node growth) almost always destroys the company by driving
profits strongly negative.....and that depends far more on business
incompetence than on computer incompetence in the Gateway case...we shall see
whether Gateway is still in business one year from now....NorthGate is
managing to hang on after a similar implosion after explosive growth...

> ........  Taken as a whole, my computer is
>great!  ........

That counts for plenty!  :^)  I'm glad it worked out.
>Bruce K. Kirchoff                     Phone:  919-334-5391
>EMAIL: kirchoff at goodall.uncg.edu      FAX: 919-334-5839

|     In person:  Steve Modena     AB4EL                           |
|     On phone:   (919) 515-5328                                   |
|     At e-mail:  nmodena at unity.ncsu.edu                           | 
|                 samodena at csemail.cropsci.ncsu.edu                |
|                 [ either email address is read each day ]        |
|     By snail:   Crop Sci Dept, Box 7620, NCSU, Raleigh, NC 27695 |
         Lighten UP!  It's just a computer doing that to you.    (c)

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