USB Overdrive, new life for abandoned hardware

By | 2017/02/13

This post is a note of appreciation for Alessandro Levi Montalcini‘s USB Overdrive for macOS. I put off buying this software for a couple of years, making due with sub-rate work-arounds and inadequate stop-gap drivers for a slew of random USB devices that have come and gone: The Xbox 360 controller that refused to work; An array of mice and keyboards that if I were to line them all up, could probably populate a small computer accessory boutique or at least a Shopify store. Every time I plugged one of these things in, I’d search for a driver and would see mention of USB Overdrive and pass over it, opting for some other imperfect solution.screenshot of USB overdrive

Today I finally bit the bullet, shelled out my $27 and bought a copy. I wish I’d done it sooner. My Cyborg RAT7 wired mouse stopped working with macOS Sierra, the company Mad Catz (formerly Saitek?) having stopped updating the driver software in the hopes that it would force me into buying a newer mouse from them. I tried multiple combinations of drivers and software from their site with no success, some of which requiring painful operations to remove from my operating system.

Not today, Mad Catz! After a few minutes wangjangling some settings, remapping the 8 or so buttons to how I like them, I was back in business, putting away my trusty Apple Trackpad for another season. I still love this mouse and it works very well.

And that’s the thing. Hardware shouldn’t be disposable. Companies shouldn’t be churning this stuff out with the expectation that people will just buy another one in a year or two or three. Why aren’t we building things to last? Rather than filling up landfills with still-functional products, how about building something that looks nice and works well and continue to support it for as long as possible? What a concept.

So, thank you for all your hard work, signore Montalcini. Thank you for giving us something that hardware vendors should have been doing all along. And for doing it well. And for doing it for over 15 years! You deserve some kind of medal, but all I got you was this blog post.

Put your words in the talk hole!