Two things that should work consistently, but don't

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I have a couple of technological frustrations that I would like to vent:

1. I plug an external hard drive into a USB port on my laptop. The drive is a USB 2.0 device, capable of transferring data at 480 Mbps. The laptop is new enough so that all of its USB ports are USB 2.0. But still, some of the time, Windows reports: "This device can perform faster. This USB device can perform faste if you connect it to a Hi-Speed USB 2.0 port. For a list of available ports, click here." Data transfers then happen at a sluggish 12 Mbps, the speed for USB 1.1, a fortieth of the speed of USB 2.0. But I can unplug the cable and plug it back in and Windows suddenly realizes that the port is USB 2.0 and gives me the higher rate of speed with no error message.

I'm running Windows XP, but I see that the same issue comes up in Windows 7.

Now, I could imagine the OS being uncertain about the device's compatibility with USB 2.0 and so throttling back to USB 1.1 speed in such a situation. But the computer's operating system should know that all of its own ports are 2.0 all the time.

2. Facebook has this neat feature: When you insert a webpage URL in the status update box, it fetches images from that page, the title of the page, and an excerpt from the page. You can pick which image to display as a thumbnail, edit the title, and edit the excerpt, then add your comment on the link in the box. It makes the links you post a bit more eye-catching than they would be otherwise.

But this feature doesn't always work, and lately, for my site, it never works. The link preview is the hostname of the site ( and the first 40 characters of the URL. You can't add a description. You can't add a thumbnail.

I've been using the link preview feature on the Michael D. Bates "fan page" to notify the 200 people signed up as fans about new blog posts here. Recently I've had some posts with eyecatching photos, but I can't show those eyecatching photos as part of a Facebook link, and that's frustrating.

Got a gripe about something that should work consistently but doesn't? Feel free to voice it in the comments.

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Brian said:


You may want to try replacing your USB 2.0 cable to see if it may be the issue. I have been having a similar issue with an external device and it turned out to have been an over-used cable.


Natasha said:

I imagine I look something like Chevy Chase does in Christmas Vacation - you know, that scene when he gets the jelly-of-the-month club instead of a big bonus - when I try to operate that part of Facebook. Sometimes it works for me, sometimes it doesn't. What's really fun is when I'm trying to paste the link into the little box below the status update field and the little box disappears. So, I click it again, get ready to paste goes away. I want to stab it.

I too think the cable could be at fault.

Brad said:

My biggest frustration with things that don't work the way they are supposed to starts with elected officials --- especially those who claim to be "conservative compatible", yet spit out errors when actual legislation is introduced. Fortunately, the problem is not as bad locally as it is on a national level.

Peter Zalesak said:

480 Mbps is a theoretical maximum. It cannot be achieved in real word conditions. Under ideal circumstances you may get to 320Mbps (or 40 MBps).

Even if it's top speed is theoretical, Peter, USB 2.0 is a far site faster than USB 1.1.

Thanks for the suggestion about the cable. So does Windows use a voltage level to determine the USB capability of the attached device?

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on February 17, 2010 11:40 PM.

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