Friday, August 13, 2010

I Don’t Understand Anything

As I mentioned, I reinstalled Windows on my laptop last weekend. It went okay, for the most part, though it naturally took a while to reinstall all of the programs I wanted back on it – plus some new ones – and to get back all of my customizations (even after doing the Windows Easy Transfer thing, which lets you transfer over your OS and application preferences).

One area where I had some trouble, though, was in reinstalling some of the applications from HP. My laptop is a Tablet PC, with a dual-mode touch-screen that lets you use either a stylus or your fingers, and HP pre-loaded it with some applications designed to take advantage of the touch capabilities.

I didn’t use them often, but I figured I should have them anyway. However, with the exception of the Wireless Assistant and the DVD software, I couldn’t get anything to install. It would act like it was installing, but after finishing, the programs weren’t actually there. Basically, the installer would create a folder with nothing but icons in it. And I mean that literally – actual icons, as in .ico files, the little pieces of artwork that the actual icons themselves consist of. No executables, no .dll files. Just icons.

As I said, I don’t use those apps often, but I wanted them installed, especially since one of them is necessary for accessing the webcam. Which, again, I don’t use often, but…I have it, therefore I want it to work. I’ve since learned that other programs – Windows Live Movie Maker, OneNote, Skype – are able to access the webcam and use it, but I don’t have the handy little program that would let me quickly take pictures and videos and apply different effects to them.

Oh well.

One problem I had before the reinstall, which I’d hoped would go away, involved the touch screen. If I left “touch” – as in, using your finger – turned on, it would engage in “ghost clicks.” Just randomly clicking on the desktop as if it were being touched. This could be a problem, as it frequently would launch things like the control panel, and a series of ghost clicks could start uninstalling important programs and OS components. In the past, I dealt with that by simply turning off touch, and simply using the stylus as my input device.

But, as with my webcam, if I have it, I want it to work. So, having reinstalled Windows and installed a new driver, I’d hoped the problem had gone away. Alas, it hadn’t. I decided to try downloading the driver directly from the touch-screen manufacturer. While there, I noticed that they’d apparently added all sorts of multi-touch enhancements, letting you do all kinds of interesting things by pressing one, two, three, or four fingers on the screen at a time.


So I downloaded their driver, and, per the instructions, uninstalled the HP driver. This necessitated a reboot. Once that was done, I launched the setup for the N-Trig driver…which promptly failed, saying it couldn’t detect any N-Trig hardware.

Annoyed, I checked Device Manager, and, sure enough, there was an exclamation point on something called “Unknown Device.”

Several reboots, a System Restore, another System Restore, and a lot of Googling later, I completely powered down the computer, took out the battery, let it sit for a while, then started back up.

This time Device Manager showed “DuoSense HID” under the “Digitizers” category. Yay! So I launched the driver setup, which actually started to install without saying it couldn’t detect the hardware, which looked promising. So I wandered off and let it do its thing, only to come back some time later to find that the installation had failed.

Multiple power cycles later I tried again, and this time it came up and complained that the old software was still installed and that if I clicked “Yes” it would remove the old software and shut down the computer, and that it would resume setup once I turned the computer back on.

Daring to hope once more, I proceeded.



I don’t have all of that multi-touch coolness that I’m supposed to have. Putting multiple fingers on the screen – except when doing the standard “pinching” to zoom out/in thing – doesn’t do jack.

I found another driver on HP’s site that says that it adds the multi-touch capability, but I’m wary of trying this again. I even downloaded and installed some “wintab” API that’s supposed to make the “N-act Hands-On Gestures Vocabulary” work, but no dice.

So I don’t understand. Is there something I’m missing? Presumably the drivers I (finally) installed were what was given to HP, who customized them in some fashion, but I’m pretty sure those were the drivers I had installed back when this whole mess started.

I don’t understand anything.

In any case, despite wanting to be able to do cool stuff like what you see below, I’m going to leave well enough alone for now. After all, it was bad enough when I thought that maybe I’d somehow fried the actual hardware. Most of my Googling on the subject had talked about the only resolution being to return it to HP and have them put on an entirely new screen. Which is fine, if, unlike me, your warranty didn’t expire a month and a half ago…

Edit: Ahhh...okay, maybe I understand something. Looked at the N-Trig page again and found something that says that a trial download of N-act Hands-On Gestures Vocabulary will be available in the “summer months of 2010.”

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