How can a piece of software change its behavior like this?

About 6 months ago I bought a new Dell laptop that runs something called IDT High Definition Audio CODEC as the sound driver/controller. One feature that I liked about it was that the mixer (that you open at the bottom right corner of the task bar) would add a new slider pot for every piece of software you had open that could produce sound. Even better, it remembered what you set, so if you muted or adjusted the volume on the mixer for something, every time you opened it again it would retain those settings.

A couple of months later I made the mistake of buying MS Word and Excel and I noticed the very next day after installing them that this individualized memory function was gone from the mixer. It still remembered what your overall volume setting was, and whether you had muted all sound, but any single program you opened would have to be adjusted or muted. Talking to an MS service rep for this and other problems, he swore up and down there was no way at all the MS products could have caused this problem. Sure, I thought. Anyway, he did suggest I should try reinstalling the CODEC, which I did, but without improvement. A couple of months later I found there was an updated version available, so I installed that too. There actually was a substantial performance improvement in my sound, but the memory function didn’t come back.

Now, just today, not doing anything at all with the sound driver or anything else, the memory function returned. Like out of the blue, all on its own. The only reason I found out it is that I opened a game I play pretty regularly, and found that I didn’t have to mute it like I’ve had to for months now.

Oh, FYI, I’ve looked though all the tabs and details and “advanced” buttons on the sound controller, and never found any switch that turns this memory on or off, or even mentions it for that matter. And I have decent anti-virus software that screens pretty much every day, so I don’t think that is the problem.

So, how can this software forget how to do something for months, and then suddenly remember how to do it again, without fiddling with it at all.

Just as an aside, one thing I really like about this computer and this software is that if I can hear something online, I can make a very high quality recording of it, which is something a lot of computers (including my previous one) can’t do.

Sounds like something you should be talking to Dell about, not Microsoft.

Edit…a quick google shows that Dell is quite aware of issues with the codec, and there are forum threads on it going back to 2008. So if you don’t have support anymore, I suggest checking out their forums. One of the 2008 threads did show that Microsoft products were, in fact, installing adjustments to that codec. But there was no fix at that point. Again, old thread, so…

I was still under a 90 day warranty for my MS software so I could talk to them for free. I couldn’t do that with Dell, though I looked through what online “knowledge bases” if their that I could find, and couldn’t find anything relevant.

The other thing I have experience with is how these companies will just blame the other ones and ping pong you back and forth between them. I was fairly sure the MS installation was to blame, as I found the problem the very next time I opened a game with sound, and I don’t doubt the Dell would have blamed them, just like I did. Maybe I was wrong, I dunno.

Hell, maybe it was one of the 10 gazillion Windows patches that have automatically installed since I bought the thing, though I haven’t gotten any updates I’ve noticed in the past few days.

I should reiterate that my real question isn’t about how or why it broke, but how it fixed itself. AFAIK my computer doesn’t do any upgrades without explicit permission from me, as I have the security settings fairly high. Even those programs that are set to autodetect upgrades don’t install them without me pushing an ok button. The last thing that I updated was Adobe Air, maybe a week ago. There were some Windows updates about the same time. My drivers don’t update unless I fo looking for an update, download it and install it.

I suspect that modern programming involves a lot more high-level metacode than we realize.

I’ve found several instances of Microsoft programs changing their behavior. Outlook is particularly quirky that way. It alters, almost daily, the way it displays information. Yesterday, out of nowhere, it complained about not being able to see an archive .pst folder…and yet I had changed nothing. MS Word often makes little changes in its own options and settings.

They’re trying to be helpful (I think…)

Truth to all of it. I haven’t done tech support for a while, but when I did support HP Pavilions, dios mio, such a mess. All the software thrown on there, and even though it wasn’t up to us to support it, inevitably it was us that were called when one of the programs didn’t work anymore, and trying to sort out that mess, even with someone on the phone doing what you ask them, isn’t easy. Trying to diagnose from a few paragraphs…well, yeah.

Even on my own computer, which I lock down as well as I can <since I’m so old-school I used to have to shut down 90 percent of the processes so that the remaining 10 percent stood a chance> things still happen that make me go ‘WTF’. I sure miss the days of DOS-capable Windows. =/ Of course, it’s been a while, so I probably wouldn’t know what to do with it anymore.
But there are days the /deltree win command looks pretty good.

Oh, yeah, I had my first PC back in 1985, and I remember the command prompt with fondness. It was actually possible to know pretty much all the DOS commands.

I remember the days when almost every program came on one floppy disk, and hardly ever more than three. Shit, I remember floppy disks! I remember when Word Perfect and Lotus were the standards, and MUCH better than the comparable MS crap.

But I also remember when rendering a 3-D object could take half a day…

Ahhhh, the golden age. Slower, but in many ways better. :slight_smile:

Couldn’t agree more! I just like having options, such as having Windows do what I tell it to do instead of it telling ME what to do. :stuck_out_tongue:

/random About a 12 years ago, some friends were moving and I was helping, and they had 2 or 3 boxes full of floppies, some of them the big, REALLY floppy ones. At that point floppies were still in use, but the friends were SURE that /drive A: was on it’s way out <they were right, but I didn’t believe it at the time, hehe>.

So instead of moving the floppies, we elected to toss them off the third-floor balcony of the apartment comples. We COVERED the lawn, and yeah, those suckers can fly!! It was fun, along the lines of the “Office Space” printer scene.

Windows itself was the work of the devil. I think it all started going downhill after DOS 3.3

I wonder if the OP’s problem could be an example of “DLL hell”. The MS update installed a new DLL, (a shared library executable file), which the audio program also used. MS is infamous for varying DLLs with various releases.

The audio program was designed to work with one version, another version gets installed, problems happen.

(My worst personal experience is when I installed Visual Studio years ago and it broke WordPerfect.)

Eventually, a more compatible DLL could have been installed.