“Dear God,

“I am selling home PCs for $1500, and I would like to ensure that I will have installation, driver, compatability and operation issues, so that while I make only $50 markup on the hardware, I can ensure thousands of dollars per system of support and maintenance contracts.

“Hard drives and memory: people tend to know about. Video cards are what kids talk about in the school yard.

“So please, dear lord, invent a hardware concept that we can give a name to fool consumers into believing is a simple, standard piece of hardware. One that people won’t even realize is there. And yet one which there are thousands of different drivers for, versions and instances and revisions of the same hardware to make them all incompatible. And make it so that, to tell which is the right one, you need to get an electron microscope.”

Unfortunately it was God’s day off or he’d have declined. Instead, we got the AC97 sound chips.

Folks, when you buy your new computer, remember: AC97 is to sound what Splenda-substitute is to sweetners. In short, if you intend to plug speakers into your computer, buy a soundcard. Spend $15 on a soundblaster. That’s an instant saving of hair, trust me.

Incidentally – last year, maybe 2004, I bought an Abit AMD motherboard. I could not get the thing to run stable. When I finally went to the Abit website, they had a BIOS patch which fixed “numerous stability issues” – by disabling the AC97 chipset which was technically incompatible with AMD CPUs (something to do with the memory hole?). They dropped support for the line of motherboards within about 3-4 months.