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A Fond Look at Some Obsolete Ports 528

StealMyWiFi writes " has a lighthearted look at ten of the best obsolete ports. The biggest surprise is that C-NET claims Firewire is obsolete, which will come as a surprise to the millions of people worldwide who are still using it, especially in light of the story that Firewire is due to get a massive speed boost! The same could be said for their claims about SCSI, although from a consumer point of view I guess that's fairer."
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A Fond Look at Some Obsolete Ports

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  • not obsolete... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheSHAD0W ( 258774 ) on Friday March 28, 2008 @05:55PM (#22899670) Homepage
    ...Now only if it were secure []...
  • Missing option (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hcdejong ( 561314 ) <.hobbes. .at.> on Friday March 28, 2008 @06:02PM (#22899772)
    ADB. It was brilliant in its day, better than USB in some areas, e.g. it included the ability to switch your computer on/off from the keyboard.
    Also, Apple made a habit of including ADB ports in its monitors, so you could plug your keyboard and mouse into the monitor. Pity that never caught on either.
  • by Neil Blender ( 555885 ) <> on Friday March 28, 2008 @06:02PM (#22899776)
    If you ever get the chance, pull a running scsi drive out of a computer. Hold it your hand and try rotating your wrist. Very nice angular momentum demonstration. The platters are spinning so fast the drive will counter your wrist rotation quite forcibly.
  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Friday March 28, 2008 @06:05PM (#22899810)
    anymore? I know the drives are built better but that comes with the price premium.

    Less CPU usage? (Although with multiple cores, I assume something like that too becomes less and less important.)
  • by kithrup ( 778358 ) on Friday March 28, 2008 @06:12PM (#22899924)

    Sure... SCSI gives you the ability to have more drives per controller. And if you don't have NCQ on the SATA drive, SCSI is going to be quite a bit faster (assuming roughly-equivalent data rates, of course -- not comparing SCSI-I to SATA here :)).

    For most people, however, SATA is probably good enough. And USB for when they need some extra (but much slower) storage.

    Server people, however still like SCSI. Even if it's Serial-Attached SCSI these days ;). (But a bunch of SATA drives in a FibreChannel RAID box is still a way to go.)

  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Friday March 28, 2008 @06:14PM (#22899946) Homepage Journal

    When USB actually works for audio/video, I'll be impressed. If you've ever hung out on an audio board trying to help people with computer problems, you find two things are consistently true: 1. People with FireWire audio interfaces rarely have problems that can't be clearly and quickly pinned on a poor choice of FireWire card. 2. People with USB audio interfaces constantly have problems with random pops and crackles. There are exceptions to both rules, but the difference in reliability is staggering.

    And video cameras basically just plain don't use USB at all. You might find a few camcorders that provide USB for reading still photos off of flash cards, but that's about it. Okay, so there are a few low-end flash-based MPEG solutions out there. None of the better gear (e.g. HDV) uses USB, though. It's all FireWire. Outside of really low-end gear, USB isn't even in the running.

    The thing is, IMHO, what's really dead is USB 2. For disks, eSATA kicks its butt every day and twice on Sunday, bus-powered disks notwithstanding (and even that limitation is changing RSN). Thus, eSATA will likely obliterate USB for external drives in the fairly near future, for both cost and performance reasons. For A/V tasks, FireWire leaves USB in the dust. The only devices USB supports well are input devices like tablets, mice, and keyboards. As a result, USB 3 will probably be largely or completely stillborn, and USB will eventually be relegated to slow devices like flash sticks, keyboards, and mice, as it really doesn't do anything else very well....

  • by je ne sais quoi ( 987177 ) on Friday March 28, 2008 @06:20PM (#22900034)

    I used to be a huge firewire fan but when it comes down to it, USB just flat out beats the 1394 standards.
    How so? I back up my system and synchronize my laptop to my desktop using both firewire 800 and USB 2.0 and the firewire is faster. One great thing about firewire is that I use it as an internet connection with my desktop as the server. Just enable internet sharing under preferences (Mac OS X) and the desktop acts as a DHCP server for anything plugged into the firewire. Then I just plug my laptop into my desktop and then run rsync. No foolin' around required. My opinion about the mac book air was that it looked cute, but no firewire 800 means I won't ever get it because I've grown so used to the ease of using it.
  • by Neil Blender ( 555885 ) <> on Friday March 28, 2008 @06:30PM (#22900160)
    Nah. I came across that when I was tasked with turning 50 busted servers into as many working servers as possible. That was when I learned about durability and the fact that processors could be hammered into wood beams quite nicely. The pins are like little nails. I had a nice little column of pentiums.
  • Re:not obsolete... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by prockcore ( 543967 ) on Friday March 28, 2008 @06:43PM (#22900306)
    Um.. no, it's a problem with firewire. It's part of firewire's spec that devices have full DMA access.

    There are patches to disable firewire dma (even on windows), but some firewire devices will break.
  • by Typoboy ( 61087 ) on Friday March 28, 2008 @06:47PM (#22900354) Homepage

    Firewire has time coded packets for a/v data.
    USB does not.

    Firewire allows connection of multiple hosts together, and has a simple chaining topology as well as hubs, USB does not.

    I call fail.
  • by Naughty Bob ( 1004174 ) * on Friday March 28, 2008 @07:19PM (#22900650)

    If you're going to call something 'god-awful', try to know what you're talking about.
    I worked as a recording engineer for a little over 2 years, but quit because the popularity/glamour of the job keeps the wages down.

    MIDI was a revolution in about 1986, but has stood largely still since.

    If you compare what was going on in 1986, computer-wise, with today's tech, you'll see that there's been the odd improvement.
  • by harrkev ( 623093 ) <[gro.ylimafnoslerrah] [ta] [dsmfk]> on Friday March 28, 2008 @07:20PM (#22900660) Homepage
    AMEN! MIDI is still just as useful now as it ever was -- not bad for a standard that is over 20 years old.

    A lot of keyboards now have USB connectors, but that is basicly building a USB-to-MIDI adapter into the keyboard.

    USB can't really replace MIDI, as USB is a firmly-fixed one master controlling many slaves type of arrangement. With MIDI, there really doesn't need to be a master, as such, and I can imagine some setups where master/slave setups just wouldn't work, or would at least make the software a lot more complicated.

    Now, MIDI could do with a bit of freshening up. Perhaps quadruple the bandwidth (while still being backwards compatable), and switch to mini-DIN connectors.
  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Friday March 28, 2008 @07:22PM (#22900676) Homepage Journal

    Regardless of specification, USB has a massive, almost ubiquitous presence, which translates to an unstoppable inertia. Only something which is 10x better, but can use the same sockets stands a chance.

    Flip that around and I doubt you'll agree: Microsoft Windows has an almost ubiquitous presence, which translates into....

    USB is ubiquitous in terms of the port being provided. It is not remotely ubiquitous in terms of devices that connect to it except in the consumer space. Even there, however, it is already starting to fade away in many areas. More and more printers are starting to offer networking capabilities built-in, up to and including Wi-Fi in many cases. Most homes don't just have one computer anymore, so the days of having a cheap USB printer hooked to the computer don't cut it. In the keyboard/mouse arena, Bluetooth is rapidly gaining ground. Wireless USB might take some of that market back, but even still, it significantly reduces the number of things people will do with traditional wired USB. The use of USB for hard drives will almost certainly start to wane; it is already almost as cheap to buy a drive case with eSATA as one without, so the chicken-egg problem of eSATA adoption is pretty much taken care of. We'll almost certainly see more major manufacturers adding eSATA in the near future. At that point, there won't be any real reason to continue using USB for hard drives (apart from using it for existing hardware, of course).

    The long and the short of it is this: USB's only purpose for existing in the long run is for small, portable devices that need power, e.g. flash sticks that you carry on your keychain. For everything else, the trend is clearly heading towards shared peripherals that you can use in a multi-computer household and towards wireless connectivity in general. I'm definitely not a "cable fanboi" as you put it. In my opinion, at least in the medium term, wires are dead. Cable TV is dead, too, except as a provider of IP networking. They just don't know it yet.

    USB 3 will almost definitely be stillborn. Why? Because it offers no real advantages over USB 2 + eSATA. By requiring an optical connection to get the faster speed, USB 3 will almost certainly require substantially greater parts cost than USB 2 in order to get any additional performance, making it significantly more expensive for motherboard and drive vendors to adopt than eSATA, all without offering any advantages over eSATA. Basic rule of consumer economics: higher cost -> fewer purchases. Also, the cables will likely be dramatically more expensive, less flexible, and more fragile, leading to an erosion of consumer confidence.

    The most important reason USB 3 is DOA, though, is that there are nearly zero devices out there other than hard drives and Gig-E dongles that can realistically take advantage of the extra bandwidth beyond what USB 2 offers. For storage, eSATA will be firmly entrenched long before USB 3 becomes deployed broadly enough to matter. Since Gig-E dongles are pretty much a niche market, that makes USB 3 a complete non-starter. The potential simply isn't there. Not to mention that if it is designed as badly as USB 2, the CPU hit for high throughput transactions will make people want to throw the drive in a dumpster.

    The only thing USB 3 has going for it at all over eSATA is that it provides power for devices, and since powered eSATA is coming later this year, even that "win" in the USB column will be gone. I'm not saying drive manufacturers will stop shipping USB silicon, but if a drive manufacturer is choosing whether to switch from USB 2 to USB 3 or keep selling USB 2 and add eSATA, it's a no-brainer, and USB 3 doesn't stand a chance of winning that battle. Thus, in the long term, eSATA will dominate. It's just a matter of time before USB ports become largely irrelevant, having given way to networked devices, wireless protocols, and eSATA. Anyone who believes otherwise is kidding him/herself.

  • by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Friday March 28, 2008 @07:24PM (#22900696) Homepage Journal
    Media folks like firewire because it actually performs better for the kind of data transfers they do than USB. If you look at the plain consumer-level specs of USB and Firewire, it seems obvious that USB is "faster", but that is not always the case. Which is why many ignorant folk (including, alas, myself) have asserted that USB had superseded firewire.

    As for MIDI, that sort of thing isn't peculiar to the recording industry. Sometimes a bad design continues to be used just because it isn't worth upgrading. The QWERTY keyboard is a prime example.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28, 2008 @07:36PM (#22900790)
    That was the best home version of Mortal Kombat anywhere. It looked, sounded and played like the arcade, complete with blood and finishing moves (unlike the grey blood and black screen that you got on the versions for consoles of the time).
  • by Ilgaz ( 86384 ) * on Friday March 28, 2008 @07:48PM (#22900902) Homepage
    Lets not forget the ultimate practical inventions on SCART (which is still used!) like sending TV/Display "Switch to me" signal. (I guess over pin18) It is amazing that people designed HDMI missed it.

    In Europe, when you turn on a set top box, it will send a signal to TV from a special pin saying "Switch to me" and your TV will automatically switch to the device. If it is high end TV, it may ignore with a setting though. Some devices also send "Release my channel" and if your TV is wise enough, it will go back to last input source (or tuner). At least my cheap DVB-S receiver does it.

    They design a digital interface in 2000s and forget to put such thing in spec. HDMI could get much more popular if people didn't to click a button 4-5 times to switch to a satellite.

    Another guy mentioned: You design a thing which should replace SCART, promise people it is not just evil DRM, it is for ease of use and you still make it "Can be plugged one way only". At some houses, replacing a broken HDMI cable may need 2-3 guys, to handle the display.

    CNET is a IT oriented site, they have hard time to understand the TV World and why TV guys always "Stick with working thing". SCART is a thing from 1977, it will be there until EBU decides it is obsolete. TV doesn't work like computers, you can't fool around with standards unless there is absolute need for change. Whoever designed SCART and made it patent free (or cheap) with such scalability deserves a award for it.
  • Re:modem port? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xSauronx ( 608805 ) <xsauronxdamnit@gmail. c o m> on Friday March 28, 2008 @08:06PM (#22901066)
    gsm is pricey and no better than a modem (if that good) in some areas i worked for a wISP in kansas, and one customer put our gear on a tower he had to get our service, because he hated dial up and tried his cell provider...but their nearest high speed tower was 35 miles away and literally dial up speeds (if that) also, he didnt want satellite because of the lousy speed/latency (our equipment was the same price, but much faster) fwiw, i came across more than one mint condition windows 98 CD while i was there as well, belonging to systems with *original* windows installs. talk about being creeped out. it was like a time vortex.
  • Am I the only one... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by afabbro ( 33948 ) on Friday March 28, 2008 @08:53PM (#22901394) Homepage
    ...who saw the headline and though the article would be a list of ports like 23 (tcp) and 117 (uucp)?
  • Re:modem port? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kozz ( 7764 ) on Friday March 28, 2008 @09:02PM (#22901452)
    My in-laws live just a 10-minute drive from Oshkosh, WI, which happens to be a college town also. But where they're at, they can't get DSL and the only cable company doesn't provide service any closer than 2 miles away. His only option for TV programming is satellite dish, and for Internet -- you guessed it, dial-up (blech!). And these days, nobody in their right mind would pay the going rates for ISDN.
  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Friday March 28, 2008 @10:33PM (#22901980) Homepage Journal

    And of course, let's not forget the connector screws where 1/1000th of a turn was the difference between a 'loose' error prone connection and a broken off screw. And who can forget the cables that were fully as flexible as rebar.

  • Re:C-Net (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mr2001 ( 90979 ) on Friday March 28, 2008 @11:07PM (#22902156) Homepage Journal
    USB uses an antiquated SCSI command set, unfortunately. That's why, even though you can fit 4 TB or more into a Drobo, it has to be split up into 2 TB volumes.
  • Re:C-Net (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Digi-John ( 692918 ) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @04:19PM (#22906772) Journal
    Anybody who does real computing (Yeah, your Alienware is cool, I'm not talking about that) probably wants RS232. I use it all the time to get console on a variety of devices. You all may be familiar with the BlueGene supercomputers? The development board I use to test things for that platform uses RS232 for a console.
    USB to RS232 is crap.

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