Digital was famous for custom connectors, and I suspect, contributed to it's downfall.
Yet another Apple keynote has just whizzed by without so much as a squeak of useful criticism. The non-revelations in the opening keynote of Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco this week confirmed just about everything that had already been leaked. To summarise, there will be an iOS upgrade that looks like …
Not just custom connectors, they also used standard connectors - wired in a completely non-standard way. Their copper version of FDDI used RJ45 connectors but was incompatible with UTP Ethernet cabling. Happy memories of raiding the local Maplin's for parts on a Saturday afternoon to make up new cables...
SONY are just as bad, they'll hang on to a custom port/memory card/mp3 alternative/(mini)-disc format until it's quite clear they've lost all customers. Then they ditch it without any hit of backwards compatibility...
At least Nintendo had the good sense to use fit the 3DS with a standard SD port, even if they couldn't be bothered to fit the correct number of analogue sticks.
I suspect the only positive contribution Job's reality distortion field was that the flavour of the day tended to get ignored in place of things "that just worked"TM - that at its best it made iOS products flow much better than their rivals. At its worst it frustrated power users and sent them running to Android.
I couldnt give a rats ass about Skewmorphism - but I do want my product both to look good and just work - something Apple forgets at its peril.
I used to try and keep one of all the Apple adaptors to loan to speakers at conferences - but there are more than 20 of the damn things, so now when we host conferences, printed prominently in the information packs is the caveat:-
"All our display devices use standard connectors - VGA, DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort. If your device uses a proprietory connector you will need to bring the adaptor necessary to connect with these interfaces".
I hate to tar with a very large brush, but an awfully high proportion of folk who use these devices with proprietory connectors seem to think that reading the conference blurb is beneath them. Hey ho.
You could try having pictures of the ports that you do use with large type reading:
If your laptop doesn't have a port on it that looks like one of the above, you will have to bring your own adaptor.
Obviously people will not bother reading it and turn up without, but then you can really patronise them by pointing out that the ignore instructions most children could follow. And patronising self-important arseholes is one of the joys of IT, right?
Has much changed in the world of Apple?
• AAUI-interfaces for networking?
• DB-15 to VGA connectors if you wanted to use a PC monitor?
• Apple's special SCSI connectors, especially for the early Powerbooks.
• PlainTalk microphones
To be fair to Apple, though, the ports on the back of the macs stayed the same between 1986 and 1997 and for those who bought into the Apple ecosystem, cables and peripherals could be reused. Peripherals usually came with the relevant cables too.
....it just works.
You've obviously never been in the situation of desperately trying to identify a resolution that some crappy projector and your laptop are prepared to agree on then?
 Ideally one where both the laptop screen and the projection retain some semblance of legibility.
> It just works...
VGA plugs come second only to SCART in the 'worst possible plug design' category. There are too many pins. The pins are too long and flimsy. When you plug them in there's always that worry: "Is one of the pins slightly misaligned? If I push harder will I bend it completey out of shape?
And if you try to bend the pin back - using the clip from a Biro lid - with minutes to go before the prsentation starts - it almost always breaks off.
I didn't realize there was a competition for "worst possible plug design."
What about component video via RCA plugs? Too many pins, and you have to arrange them manually. Always a fun activity to do on an HDTV mounted to the wall. Now I finally have a use for the flash on my phone's camera.
But the greatest fun is if you unexpectedly find yourself needing to plug into a projector that takes component via BNC plugs.
I'm not terribly fond of barrel plugs, either. Nothing intrinsically wrong with them, but they come in a great diversity of sizes. I especially dislike how a couple of my HP laptops have very slightly different sizes for the barrel plug, making their power supplies incompatible.
.. do try and keep up.
Just because your SCSI leads and your 44Mb SyQuest drive do not work with your MacBook Pro Retina display is not really Apple's problem.
You want to connect your iPhone 5 to your existing iPhone 4 cabling? £20 for the Lightning adaptor. Want to use your 27" screen with your shiny new MacBook Air? Buy the Magsafe1 to Magsafe2 adaptor (£18). Got a LaCie Firewire drive? Trying using the USB 3 plug instead.
If you're going to pay £1800 for a laptop then perhaps you shouldn't baulk at £20 to make it compatible with older hardware. As for the MacPro "Soho bin" ... definitely want one of those!
"If you're going to pay £1800 for a laptop then perhaps you shouldn't baulk at £20 to make it compatible with older hardware."
As I've written in these comments before (to many down votes) at that price and mark up the £20 adaptor should be included! It won't cost the manufacturer £20 probably something closer to the fancy folded packaging.
Adaptors and converters should not be free with the device. Instead, they should be dirt cheap if bought with the device.
Free stuff bundled in the box is a problem because people who buy a lot of stuff end up with tonnes of redundant junk - the world's limited resources cluttering their cupboards and drawers and kitchen counters.
"You want to connect your iPhone 5 to your existing iPhone 4 cabling? £20 for the Lightning adaptor. "
You want to connect your Nexus 4 to your existing five year old Nokia brick cabling? Same Micro USB cable....
In fact, I'm still using the micro USB cable from the aforementioned nokia brick to charge my new phone, my kindle, my tablet, and the phone of anyone who pops round, except iphone users because the usb to dock connector cable I had fell apart after a couple of years of use.
Dabbsie needs to wake up, smell the coffee and get an Android phone and an ordinary PeeCee.
I can't quite see why anyone would pay extra to be wound up like that. Most of us find that our kit is perfectly capable of producing moments where the only sensible course of action is to go and repeatedly bang our fucking heads on the wall, without going out of our way to identify and purchase something expensive with that function deliberately built in at the time of manufacturing.
Weren't you just complaining about how USB is horrible because it can be plugged in only one way? Also, I don't know what your visual acuity is so that mini-DisplayPort "does not look much smaller to the original." It's less than half as wide and somewhat thinner, and I don't remember Apple ever using full-size DisplayPort. My problem with mini-DP is that the original didn't have audio, so I have to worry about how old is the MacBook Pro and which mini-DP-to-HDMI adapter I'm using.
The Lightning connector is irritating because I need to collect all new adapters, but it can be plugged in both ways. That ease of use resolves a lot of my angst, but my angst increases again when I think about how it's patented. However, my need for plugs has declined quite a bit since I got an Apple TV.
Meanwhile in USB land, I have to contend with not 1 USB, but 7 connectors and 3 standards. There are USB A, USB B, mini-USB, micro-USB, and USB 3 versions of USB A, USB B, and micro-USB. I have an entire drawer full of mini-USB cables that have become redundant because of micro-USB, which "does not look much smaller to the original" in my view. But it's easier to tell which way is "up" on mini-USB. And now I need to worry about whether I'm plugging my device into a USB 3 or USB 2 port, in addition to any USB 1 hubs that might still be floating around.
The sooner we can switch everything to standard wireless, the better.
There are at least two more USB 'standards', don't know if they are supposed to be mini or micro.
Charger for 3DS, and charger for Sennheiser BT headphones.
My pet peeve is the utterly stupid use of a single microUSB B socket ,where there is enough room to fit 3 full size B sockets, and the box is larger than the device it replaced. (Creative, I'm looking at you here, amongst others)
Besides adding free adapters to ease the pain of movement to a new port architecture, Apple could've moved to Micro USB a long time ago and been more standards compatible. Most of their new customers came from Android, where they already have left over micro USB to USB cables that could be repurposed. That makes more sense than this "lightning port" that really doesn't do anything other than connect or charge the device no better or faster than the 30 pin cable before it. Having to contend with the 30 pin adapter was bad enough.
Never used Windows in my 40 years of existence but my recent iMac purchase left me cmpletely baffled when I wanted to connect an external monitor to it.... The ports at the back were USB and thunderbolt and like the author I'm sick of Apple's attempts at enforcing "standards" through their proprietary means a firewire 400, 800 and whatevever the hell that thing is that charges the new iphonesand. costs a fortune....
Anyway, I searched everwhere to find a thunderbolt to DVI connector (yes the external monitor is an Apple display) and I even went a RTFM.... In the end, two days later after giving up too easily, I heard that the thunderbold connection is the same as the mini-DVI socket on previous macs. I honestly said WTF because not only has the name changed but the symbol has as well, while all the time the actual port is the same!
A quick borrow of a mates miniDVI to DVI adaptor and it was confirmed. I parted with another €40. Yup, fool me once...
I rate this story very highly because of this pure corporate bullshit. It honestly is damned annoying.
Amazing, a series of vague opening statements, followed by a long whinge about cable/connector incompatibility, and the strange behavior of Apple in desiring to make maximum revenues from their customers, keeping them in a closed peripheral market corral, convenience be damned.
Fortunately, El Reg's Andrew Orlowski was on the job, went to the event, and was not channeling a Harpy.
This entire story could be replaced with "This article is unintentionally left blank," with more profound import.
I guess you don't remember the pre-iPhone days when it was a business strategy to make all phone chargers/connectors incompatible with each other, and Best Buy literally had shelves full of connectors that you had to squint at for 15 minutes before you found the one that exactly matched the make and model of your phone. Even the rare phone that had a standard USB connector was sometimes engineered to only charge when connected to its proprietary charger. (I had a Motorola that did this, annoyingly.)
Apple should be commended for keeping the same connector for all its mobile devices for the last ~10 years. They are the good guys here, not the bad guys.
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