Scanners. Why’d it have to be scanners?

8 Feb

Do you ever get tired of having to buy a new scanner to work with your new computer?

I’ve used personal computers for a long time. There was only one on campus when I was in high school–I think it was an Apple IIe–in the Physics classroom, and I was one of the 3 or 4 students interested in learning to program on it. The first I ever owned was a Zenith Z-181 purchased when I was in college, a 12-lb. MS-DOS machine with two, count them TWO, floppy disk drives. It was seriously called a “portable computer” back then. Well, it had a handle. My second was a Mac SE, which actually had a hard drive! My third was my first Windows machine, an HP Vectra of some iteration or other.

For every computer I’ve owned, I needed drivers for any peripherals I used, mostly printers and scanners. For my oldest machine, I needed a compatible driver for every program I’d use with a given peripheral. Mac and Windows changed that–I could use a single driver on a computer for my printer, and it would work with all the appropriate programs I’d use. Every time I’d get a new computer, though, it would almost always have a new operating system that required new drivers for any peripherals I hoped I could still use.

Scanners have always been the questionable computing sidekicks for me whenever our family has upgraded to a new computer. More often than not, if anything were to stop working with a new system, it would be the scanner. Scanner manufacturers have no interest in writing new drivers for old equipment; I can’t really blame them. Scanner prices for simple flatbeds had gotten so low in recent years though, that when our old Canon stopped working when we upgraded to Windows XP (I think that’s when it was, anyway), we just got a new Canon. We’re still using that one.

Several years ago when I started using Memory Manager and learned how phenomenal it is to have instant access to finding exactly the photo I’m looking for, I got it into my head that I’d really like to scan all the film we have used for our family photos. We purchased a Nikon film scanner that scans slides and negatives at 4000 dpi, and can scan a strip of film at a time–I can throw in an APS roll and it will scan the whole thing without my having to do anything but start the process. Even with automation, though, scanning takes a long, long time. So many other projects have taken higher priority that it was never finished. I balked at the prices being asked by storefronts for high-resolution film scanning, and I don’t want to trust a shipping company with my precious negatives, so I paid some trustworthy teenagers to start the scanning job. But teenagers get really busy, too. I’ve just got to block off time to get it done myself.

Here’s the rub: they don’t make scanners like this anymore, and the last operating system Nikon supported with this scanner was Windows Vista 32-bit. I’m now running Windows 8 Pro 64-bit. No dice on driver compatibility. I experimented extensively with the possibility of running a Virtual PC with Windows XP on it. Hyper-V wouldn’t pass through USB devices*, Virtual Box seemed to work with every USB device except Nikon scanners, and I was in the middle of setting up VMware Player to try when I ran across a forum post written by someone trying to accomplish the same thing. One of the responses mentioned a program called VueScan.

VueScan has come to my rescue. It replaces the software that came with the scanner (it’s better anyway) and doesn’t use the manufacturer’s scanner driver. I’m using the Windows version of VueScan, but there are also versions available for Mac and Linux. You can, and should, try it with your own hardware before purchasing it. I bought a license with upgrades for a lifetime because I know from experience that this software will keep me from having to purchase new hardware down the road. Until I want to, anyway!

*My genius husband did get the scanner working with Hyper-V when the scanner was attached to a networked USB hub; however, since I am working on this project during a weekend away with some girlfriends, I didn’t want to have to bring the hub and a network router along with everything else.

© Carolyn Gordon and Cropping with Care, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Carolyn Gordon is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carolyn Gordon and Cropping with Care with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Carolyn Gordon is an independent consultant and the opinions and content on this site are not necessarily endorsed by Creative Memories. Memory Manager is a trademark of Creative Memories. Windows, Vista, MS-DOS, and Hyper-V are trademarks of Microsoft Corp. Virtual Box is a trademark of Oracle. VMware Player is a trademark of VMware. VueScan is a trademark of Hamrick Software. Mac and SE are trademarks of Apple Inc.

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