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back to article Door creaks and girl farts: computing in the real world

A few weeks ago I dissed the expensive new Apple MacBook Pro for trading a downgraded component spec in return for a pretty display and solid-state memory. In passing, I gave an example of this downgrade: the lack of a CD drive. Several readers helpfully commented that they hadn’t used CD media in ages and wouldn’t miss an …

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Anonymous Coward

</rant> It's called progress - if you missed IR so much there was a simple and cheap solution - get a USB IR adapter - problem solved. If we hold on to the past what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

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RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

Yes please. We still have software tied to non-upgradable parallel security keys. [No, USB adapters don't work.]

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Anonymous Coward

Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

Perhaps you should upgrade the software - I've not seen a parallel port in years and years. You must be the 0.01%.

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Paris Hilton

Don't know about you but the missing IR on the iPhone is a complete joke. What, one LED? And I could control my entire media center with it, probably with a super-duper app that even my ex-wife could have figured out. "Use Wii now". Easy. No more tech support phone calls because she can't operate a projector and a DVB and an AVR simultaneously.

But, no. And I don't see a USB IR adapter available for iPhone either. No doubt some enterprising soul has built one to hang out of the headphone socket and is driving it using audio. But let's stop, before this becomes a rant about Apple's hardware secrecy program, and someone asks why I'm not using Android.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

When some of these packages are north of £100k a seat, you tend to think twice.

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Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

I, too, used to work in a place where parallel-port dongles were required for software security. This was third-party industrial control software for controlling very large laser printers. What exactly do you suggest upgrading it to?

IIRC, the machines controlling these printers had Windows NT on them, precisely because of obsolesence.

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Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

Another prayer for parallel printer ports - I have a number of memory/mcu programmers which are perfectly operational and which would cost a couple of thousand quid to replace, and for which even the manufacturers are unable to provide a USB solution. So I have to keep an ancient laptop running simply to service these devices.

I bemoan the lack of both parallel and proper serial ports - though for most functions USB->serial adaptors are a suitable replacement, the parallel port was a device which could be used *simply* to interface at a logic level with the outside world, with known timings and delays. This is simply not available on USB equivalents.

Modern computing devices are increasingly becoming things simply to be served entertainment upon; their use for control is severely constrained.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

Probably to buy new - must be what 10-15+ years old by now? So you are more like the 0.0001% so just use a PC with a parallel port and accept that you probably do not need a spangly new Macbook to run your 15 year old software.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

No-one is saying ditch your 'old stuff' but do not expect the rest of us to have our tech hampered by a parallel port that is frankly thicker than the Macbook Air I use.

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Boffin

Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

Oh for fuck's sake, what are you, a bunch of whiney lusers?

15 seconds - 15 *whole* seconds - with Google got me this:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Link-High-IEEE-Parallel-Printer/dp/B00109V6JO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1341576504&sr=8-1

You're welcome.

GJC

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Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

You know, if clicking on the 'Anonymous Coward' icon resulted in a smack across the gob, we'd get less of this kind of nonsense --

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Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

I believe under these circumstances, you're actually allowed to hack out the licence key checking stuff, as it comes under the heading of interoperability.

Might be worth offering the vendor an ultimatum -- "We wish to use what we have bought and paid for, for its rightful purpose. Either provide us with a compatible solution, or we will be forced to hack open your software in order to do this" -- and seeing how they respond. They may actually say something that gives you permission to tinker.

And next time you're procuring software, insist on the Source Code to prevent similar shenanigans in future.

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Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

And another for parellel ports: I keep an old win 98 laptop primarily for connecting to the parallel port scanner, and I'm damned if I'm going to throw out a perfectly good piece of equipment just because its unfashionable...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

Along with operators of CNC and laser cutters, I doubt a software upgrade would fix a hardware issue.

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Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

Yeah, I work in a research department where the lab kit in use has an actual operational lifespan at least 5 times longer than the average machine that will be used to interface with it. The software & hardware requirements make for interesting (to say the least!) support offerings, but it at least keeps the job from being dull.

Of course, there are cretins on here for whom "computing" means "operating a web browser and office productivity software", so of course they don't see the loss of hardware connectivity options as a bad thing...

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Parallel printer ports on motherboard

If you need older hardware support in a modern computer check out the DFI EL620-C ATX motherboard, it has a parallel port (you need a bracket/25D/ribbon cable thing unfortunately as it is not rear-facing), two rear facing serial ports (and more inside), PS2 mouse & keyboard, 4 rear-facing USB ports, and two Gigabit Ethernet ports.

Oh, and it also has 3 ISA slots for industrial cards like we use!

Supports the older socket 775 CPUs unfortunately, but Intel still make the Q9400 quad core one (and others) if you can find a supplier that is not utterly incompetent to actually sell you them.

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Unhappy

Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

Some of our customers, local governments to be precise, dictate the software, and the version of that software you have to use for the job, in the tender. This means, that as engineering firm, we still have to use software , secured with parallel dongles, just to get contracts. Some of our acoustic modelling software uses different calculating modules, and the specify those too.

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FAIL

insist on the Source Code?

Insist on the source code. Are you for real? For something that costs thousands, the whole point it is so expensive is becasue it's proprietary and secret. Have you tried asking for AutoCAD's source? You'll get laughed out of the building.

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Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

'Perhaps you should upgrade the software - I've not seen a parallel port in years and years. You must be the 0.01%.'

Typical IT. "You shouldn't do what you've been doing that has always worked. You should pay more money and do what we tell you to do."

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Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

Options:

0, Waffle on about mobile, the cloud and a new computing paradigm but not actually solve any problems

1, Reassemble the team that wrote some specialist CAD/microwave simulation/plant process planning app from the 90s

2, Buy some new $N*10k version and retrain everyone, revalidate all your models in the new SW and redo all the certification

3, Buy lots of spares of that last motherboard that had a parralel port, or a decent PCI bus that can take a card that sits at the right address.

I know which one I would pick.

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Holmes

Re: insist on the Source Code?

Well, AutoCAD and the like are only making any money in the first place because people are still buying their software.

If enough people decided just to stop buying their software unless they quit shafting the people who pay their wages, then they would have either to move with the demands of the market or go bust.

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Anonymous Coward

What happened to IR on 'phones? Long gone are the days when I could turn the idiot-box off in the pub without anyone knowing. They'd get bored playing with it eventually. If you do it manually, you have to guard the bloody thing.

Actually, given you seemingly seriously suggested a USB IR adapter, I think you must be trolling.

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Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

@Captain Underpants

How bizarre that some cretin should down vote your post. I'm with you, and envy you an interesting support role.

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so...

Why aren't you using android. leave the dark side behind you

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Stop

Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

If you want a bloody parallel printer port then what exactly is wrong with buying a PCI or PCX-e adapter card for a desktop PC? They'll support all the funny ECP/EPP modes that USB adapters won't. If your OS won't support PCI-x then it won't support a modern motherboard with a parallel port, so why the heck should we all pay for a port that we don't want and won't use?

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Finally, I am not alone,I am not alone!

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Re: insist on the Source Code?

Yes and then wait around for something to come up thats as useful, there is a reason AutoCAD is a industry standard.

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FAIL

Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

You must be blind then - they're STILL on the back of nearly every desktop I see in every office I visit.

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Joke

Re: insist on the Source Code?

Actually you could probably get the source code fairly easily for AutoCAD. All you need to do at worse is shell out $1.609 billion or so to buy Autodesk. Still very very reasonable if you compare what joke companies like Groupon and Instagram are going for.

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Unhappy

Re: insist on the Source Code?

The fact that Autodesk is worth around the same as a service that makes your pictures go yellow makes me wonder when the fuck someone replaced reality with this bizarre construct I seem to inhabit now.

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Windows

Smack across the gob for AC?'s?

Sadly, you'd simply just knock the mask off...Then we'd know...

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Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

Right on the button! Basic parallel and serial ports are dream of simplicity to set up and phenomenally reliable long-term. That's two things you can't say about ANY modern comms.

Maybe that's why both are still available on many industrial computers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

In other words, if it isn't useful to you, then everyone else should get along fine without it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

It's funny how you assume that my modern, up to date computer has a PCI slot that can be used to add a parallel port.

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Re: so...

Because as with the everything this article is about. Android isn't the solution either. It sucks. In fact ALL of the new kids on the block particularly Windows Phone 7.x, iPhones and Android suck. They removed too much important features that some of use take for granted. Some examples:

Gone is simple effortless USB-syncing with your local PC (or mac) (this is a WP7 issue)

Gone is full 2-way call recording. A feat even an old SE K750i could accomplish and which is becoming increasingly important as more and more countries ban phone and drive usage.

Gone is proper multitasking which is so odd since all the new phones pack a lot more punch. I just can't understand why a 400MHz ancient windows mobile device has desktop-like multitasking yet their +1GHz Windows Phones 7 successor is severely crippled in that respect. The same with iOS. I remember Apple being the laughing stock because Mac OS 8 had horrible multitasking. Again iPhones have a lot more power then old 68x00 equipped macs of yesteryears and yet has such limited multitasking.

We're not progressing but regressing. The current crop of smart phones are dumber than some devices of yesteryear. In t gets worse. Soon Android will be void of flashplayer. At this rate, it means that our +600 euro quad core handheld-monster well not be any better than a stupid 40 euro cheap WAP-phone.

Even trivial things like a simple notification light is becoming a problem (although I can't see why they couldn't use the leds from their capacitive bottom buttons (e.g. LG 4x HD).

Why don't those bloody morons make a true innovative without compromising for once.

Or do you think that a cheap-looking ugly plastic slaps crammed with high-tech innards justifies these high asking prices?

BTW. Who can help me in my quest for a modern Android device with full 2-way call-recording?

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Boffin

Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

Well, yes, OK, fair point. A further ten seconds got me this:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0041UEFXI/ref=asc_df_B0041UEFXI8651985

Anything else you're having trouble with today?

GJC

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Meh

You'd be surprised at how much modern industrial kit runs over parallel and serial ports (including the 25 pin variety.of the latter) There are even some nice plug-and-play serial over 2.4Ghz wireless solutions so you can fire up that CNC from your laptop while you sit on the grass next to the carpark smoking a fag.

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Unhappy

Re: insist on the Source Code?

AutoCAD is rubbish compared to the various solid-modelling packages, like SolidWorks.

(And heck, even Google Sketchup is better for most of the things AutoCAD is actually used for)

There's a reason the car manufacturing industry (and probably a lot of others) never used AutoCAD. SDRC Ideas was not exactly great, but it was actually 3D and not the 2.5D that AutoCAD is.

- I personally think that AutoCAD is probably indirectly responsible for a great many of the cost overruns on building sites. I see so many "Oh dear, we'll have to move that now the air handling ducts are in..."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: insist on the Source Code?

No one is saying do not use parallel ports - but for your 1 in 10,000 requirement do not expect every laptop made to be installed with one - especially when there are plenty of good alternatives (USB adapters) that would solve most of these issues.

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Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

Yes please, we have a £15,000 printer that we are NOT going to trash because some crappy £100 PC doesn't have the right connectors.

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Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

"When some of these packages are north of £100k a seat, you tend to think twice."

I don't know, I might be a bit cynical, but...the way I see it, if I pay that kind of dosh on a bit of software, I kind of...err, expect good support for it.

True story; I had a client a while back who sold rather pricey prepress workflow software. Not quite that high, but well into five figures per seat.

Got called out to a customer's site to install it. As is typical of these kinds of situations, the hardware the client had specified during the planning and speccing phase wasn't even close to the hardware waiting for me when I rolled into the server room. Chief among the differences: lack of a parallel port. And, naturally, our dongle didn't work USB. Didn't work in a parallel port card, either (don't ask me why; I have no bloody clue).

So I spent about a week of near-sleepless nights on site, glued to my phone, talking with our developers as they rolled out a patch to let it work with a USB dongle, downloading builds via FTP and trying them out, until we had the problem sorted.

You know why?

BECAUSE WHEN YOU SPEND THAT KIND OF CASH ON SOFTWARE, YOU BLOODY EXPECT TO GET GOOD SUPPORT, THAT'S WHY. If you're spending six figures on software from a vendor who won't support machines without a parallel port, it's time to get a new vendor.

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Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

"IIRC, the machines controlling these printers had Windows NT on them, precisely because of obsolesence."

Ok, so not really meant for macs :)

I have an old Canon FS2710 slide scanner I still use for negatives from my trusty old Leica M2 loaded with Agfa APX 100 from 100 feet rolls in reloadable cartridges from the early 60s.

But that is so nerdy, it can't be real world. Who knows how to mix developer or fixer today?

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Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

"And another for parellel ports: I keep an old win 98 laptop primarily for connecting to the parallel port scanner, and I'm damned if I'm going to throw out a perfectly good piece of equipment just because its unfashionable..."

And why don't you want to keep the Win98 Laptop?

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This post has been deleted by its author

Some of you use old Windows PC software which requires a parallel port, and this is relevant to an article about the new Mac Book not having IR or a CD drive?

Maybe as it's not a completely suitable device for one or two of you Apple should shut up shop?

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Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

upvoted, not because i'm an "open source" advocat, but because buying binary can lead to some unfortunare circumstances where you are forced to a) hack around failings in the manu firmware and b) are either forced to threat them to kill if they dont give out source/permission to hack or b2) buy the company as a whole.

All because someone thought it was ok to buy in custom drivers without insisting on the source code and the manu is incapable to fix the problems by themselves (i.e driving multiple cards in the same device; not related to parallel ports but close).

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Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

yeah it's funny how how some "tech" people think how computing is reinvented every two years. Funny again how most of the most fundamental algorithms and protocols i actually make use of were developed mostly somewhere around 20 years before i was even born.

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Re: insist on the Source Code?

there are both cases of course. It's apallingly clear that you can't force such a company, but it's doubly blind if you don't insist on the code where you actually could, just to save a few bucks or have easier negotiations in the short term.

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Re: so...

I was with you as far as "Android isn't the solution either. It sucks". After that you lost me.

I'm not even sure that it's Android that sucks. My HTC is bogged down with so much rubbish installed by HTC and Vodafone, it's hard to tell which is to blame. Yes, I could root it, but why should I have to?

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Unhappy

Can you still get Spangles?

I haven't seen them for a long time (in the UK).

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