jazzbuff wrote:"One of the usb devices attached to this computer has malfunctioned, and windows does not recognize it"
I'm assuming that you are using a standard USB audio compliant device like the original poster.
You'll need to try the device in another computer. If the same thing happens then the device or its lead are faulty.
Absolutely correct. If Windows does not recognise the device then Audacity cannot use it.
All of you should unplug all other USB devices, then use the "Safely Remove Hardware" icon in the System Tray to eject the USB cassette player. The USB device may not be listed there, but if it is, wait until Windows says it is safe to remove the device, then unplug it at the USB connection and at the mains if applicable.
Next, plug your device into a spare USB port (not a USB hub), and switch it on if it is mains powered.
Wait a few minutes then completely shut down the computer and restart it. Wait for the computer hard drive light to stop flashing before checking in the Windows sound control panel if the device is recognised.
The USB cable often is the problem. If the above does not help, try another cable and make sure it is connected tightly both ends. Bear in mind these sort of devices are mass produced and cost only a few dollars to make.