Making a digital camera talk to my computer.
December 27, 2005 6:26 AM   Subscribe

I borrowed a Samsung digital camera, but I can’t get it to work with my computer. Please help. (Using XP)

It’s a Samsung SCD23. It has software with it which I have installed. However, when I plug the camera in to the USB port on my laptop, then ask Windows to search for and install the drivers, I get this message. Should I continue to do the installation?

Also, once it’s installed, the instructions are very ambiguous about what is supposed to happen. All I want to do is take video that I can edit on my laptop. So, since I only get one question a week, please tell me how to solve any problems that you think may arise after the driver installation.

I’ve never done this before, obviously. Thanks for the help.
posted by crapples to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
the message is "unavailable"
posted by andrew cooke at 6:29 AM on December 27, 2005

Response by poster: I don't know why the link in my question isn't working, but here's the picture it was intended to reference:
posted by crapples at 6:29 AM on December 27, 2005

You should click "Continue Anyway," as it's just Windows XP looking for a digitally signed driver. Many manufacturer's don't have the time to get their drivers signed by Microsoft before it's time to ship their products.

After Windows installs the drivers and says your device is ready to use, it should mount your camera's storage card (be it compact flash, SD, or whatever) as an external drive. You can view the files in My Computer, track down the video file you are looking for, and drag & drop.

If when browsing your files you only see a list of file names, you might want to select "thumbnails" from the View menu to get a quick preview.
posted by Ekim Neems at 6:32 AM on December 27, 2005

Response by poster: Ekim: Thanks. This camera records onto a digital tape. It looks just like a regular little cassette tape. Will that also show up as a "storage card" or some sort of other external drive?
posted by crapples at 6:36 AM on December 27, 2005

this is the driver from their site. if i were you, i'd try that and, if that gives the same message, continue past the warning.
posted by andrew cooke at 6:38 AM on December 27, 2005

you can only download photos, not videos (according to review here).
posted by andrew cooke at 6:41 AM on December 27, 2005

(which, presumably, are stored in memory rather than on the tape).
posted by andrew cooke at 6:41 AM on December 27, 2005

sorry, to be completely clear, that's over usb (acording to the link above). presumably you can download videos in other ways (by playing back into a tv card in the computer, but hopefully through simpler methods too - i don't know).
posted by andrew cooke at 6:43 AM on December 27, 2005

(link in your question isn't working because there's a double quote at the end of it)
posted by altolinguistic at 6:47 AM on December 27, 2005

You may have some difficulty getting video off the camcorder via USB. Some camcorders only support it for downloading still images; others can only push reduced-quality video over USB (comparable to a webcam). According to this forum post, the SCD23 is the latter kind.

If the budget permits and your system has a PC Card slot, you would be better served by a FireWire (IEEE 1394) card--they start around $20. Your video editing software should recognize the camcorder natively over FireWire and capture at full quality.
posted by disarray at 6:48 AM on December 27, 2005

Background: A driver is a piece of software that runs at the highest privilege level ("kernel mode" or "ring 0") which means that it has unrestricted access to do anything it wants, including read and write any memory, IO ports, etc. This is usually necessary because these drivers need to perform very low-level functions that would be restricted by the system were they to be normal programs.

This also means that if a driver is not written with care it can cause great havoc. In fact the cause of most "blue screen of death" crashes are due to driver problems -- either poorly written drivers or failing hardware that causes a driver to corrupt the integrity of the system in some way.

As you have seen many hardware devices / peripherals require kernel mode drivers in order to function. Naturally since these devices are not made by Microsoft, the drivers are also written by some non-MS third party. This means that the quality level can vary widely, especially because driver writing is a rather arcane field that is filled with some amount of black art -- skills that the majority of programmers do not possess.

However, here is the rub -- every time Windows dies with a BSOD, people tend to blame Microsoft because they assume it is Windows that has caused the fault. This is complicated by the fact that due to the nature of how drivers work, it is very difficult to determine the name of the driver that caused the fault. For example it may have been a cascading failure, caused originally by a faulty third party driver, but only triggered by a particular action of a microsoft driver. For this reason the BSOD cannot and does not list the name of the driver that caused the fault, and so everyone just assumes it was Windows.

This caused a mountain of headaches for Microsoft, especially when Windows 2000 was first realeased since the NT line of operating systems required whole new drivers compared to the previous Windows 9x line. So there were a number of very poor quality drivers floating around, written by incompetent third parties -- often hardware manufacturers that considered driver development a low-priority nuisance. Microsoft was the one that was getting called when these faults occured, yet they had absolutely nothing to do with the reason for them and no control over the faulty driver code.

So they applied a cryptographic technology to the problem, and enabled drivers to be signed. By default windows ships with a trusted list of keys, basically those under the control of Microsoft. This means that they can put their "magic stamp" on a driver if they deem it to be of sufficient quality. They also set up a large compliance lab called WHQL, which has a long and elaborate set of tests meant to suss out these shoddy drivers. The theory being that if they could somehow certify drivers, then they could enable the operating system to reject unsigned drivers and thus improve the overall stability level of the system.

So this is why you see the prompt when you try to install an unsigned driver. It means that for whatever reason the person that wrote the driver did not want to go through the WHQL certification process. In a lot of cases this is a harmless error because the process is costly, time consuming, and a large headache. However, you should note the fact that you're using unsigned drivers. It could mean that you just don't have the right version of the driver -- there might be a WHQL one available on their site. Or it could mean that the manufacturer just doesn't care about driver quality. Or it could be a number of other things.

At the end of the day, you should try to only use signed drivers, but it's certainly not the end of the world if you can't, and as long as your system is stable then there is absolutely nothing wrong with installing an unsigned driver.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:23 PM on December 27, 2005

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