Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Silverfast and Lion

Sorry for the following rant...

Since I upgraded to Lion (OSX 10.7) my scanner hasn't worked. When I started a trouble ticket with the makers of Silverfast I was informed that it was incompatible with Lion, but that a new version of Silverfast (version 8) was immanent and that does work with Lion. OK, annoying but something I could live with as the new version was only about a month away. (I usually shoot 2 to 3 rolls of film a week and develop them myself, scan the negs and put them up on Flickr - so a month was a big deal, but not the end of the Earth).

Whilst I was killing time waiting for the new version, I though I would see if I could find a little more about the problem. This is where I found a little architectural quirk that worked in the companies favour. They have a launcher application that you run and then choose which one of their suite of products you want to use, and it is then executed. As I only have the scanner application this is redundant in my case as I always click on the scanner icon. You'll see why this is relevant in a moment.

Apple changed the CPU in their hardware about 5 or 6 years ago from the PowerPC CPU to Intel Core based CPUs. Naturally this changed the instruction set and therefore code that was written for the PowerPC would need to be rewritten. That's a lot of applications that would need to be changed almost overnight, so Apple created something called Rosetta that allows your to execute PowerPC instructions on an Intel CPU. They then created an application compatibility program called 'Universal' (which has a special logo) that means an application has been written for the Intel Macs.

As I said above, this was a number of years ago. Apple kept support for Rosetta in several releases of their operating system whilst developers transitioned their applications from the old architecture to the new. In the latest version of OSX (Lion) they finally dropped support for Rosetta after several years. This was well publicised and I checked my main applications to make sure they were Universal before I upgraded to Lion.

Can you guess where I'm going with this? The launcher application was a Universal application so had Apple's Universal logo on it. The scanner application that it launched was a PowerPC application, so could not run on Lion. This seemed a little sneaky to me as I saw the Universal logo on the launcher and assumed the whole application was Universal, not just a small part. This did not make me happy. :(

The next bit annoyed me even more. Silverfast came bundled with my scanner. Because I bought my scanner more than 2 months before the release of Silverfast 8, I wasn't eligible for the free upgrade to version 8. But I could upgrade at a discounted rate. Why only 2 months? That seems unfair to me. :(

So, I grudgingly paid the upgrade cost. It wasn't that much (about €30) and I was itching to get back to scanning again. I installed the new version with baited breath. It doesn't work either! >:( So I now have another trouble ticket open with them to get this sorted out. They sent me an automated email saying they were experiencing an unusually high volume of technical support requests and that they will take longer than usual to respond. I get the feeling I'm not the only one having problems.

So, in short, I am not a happy customer.

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