1406: "Universal Converter Box"

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby phlip » Wed Aug 13, 2014 12:11 pm UTC

HES wrote:Why can't you link two computers with male-male USB? I assume there's a sensible reason.

Well, that you can do, but technically speaking you're not directly connecting the two computers together, but rather both computers are connecting to a USB device that's small enough to hide inside the cable (or the connectors on each end)... in this case which emulates two RS232 ports connected by a null-modem cable.

You can probably also get something similar for Ethernet, where it has a pair of USB NICs and a crossover cable in one bundle, but I'm having trouble finding actual examples of that. I think that's what this is, but it could just as easily be some proprietary POS... which you can also definitely get from a couple of different places.

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enum ಠ_ಠ {°□°╰=1, °Д°╰, ಠ益ಠ╰};
void ┻━┻︵​╰(ಠ_ಠ ⚠) {exit((int)⚠);}
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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby shokoshu » Wed Aug 13, 2014 1:27 pm UTC

HES wrote:Why can't you link two computers with male-male USB? I assume there's a sensible reason.


There is. You really don't want to tick off Putin. (He got nukes.) :mrgreen:

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby 3rdtry » Wed Aug 13, 2014 1:47 pm UTC

HES wrote:Why can't you link two computers with male-male USB? I assume there's a sensible reason.

Because USB is designed as a strict "smart host, dumb device" protocol, which makes little sense today, but that was decided in 1994 and those were other times.

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby Neil_Boekend » Wed Aug 13, 2014 2:57 pm UTC

Nowadays it starts to vary which device is faster. Hooking a Galaxy S5 up to a P1 133 mhz would traditionally be done with the S5 as dumb slave. In terms of operations per second (and just about everything else) however the S5 is far faster.
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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby squall_line » Wed Aug 13, 2014 5:27 pm UTC

PinkShinyRose wrote:
squall_line wrote:I'm still trying to figure out what a "male USB to male USB" converter would even be used for. USB cords are almost exclusively all male-ended, and the USB standard pretty much guarantees that one end will be USB-A on one end and USB-something-else on the other end. There are VERY few USB-A to USB-A cords in existence, because B-ends are usually used for power-drawing devices, while A-ends are used for power-delivery devices.

So, that said, what would USB-A-male to USB-A-male be used for? Why would you want to "convert" from one connection type to the *exact same* connection type?

squall_line wrote:generally, hubs are used for such things.

How would you connect your laptop to a USB-hub?


I'm lost...
<.<
>.>
Is this a trick question? o.0

You would connect a laptop to a USB hub the same way you would connect a desktop to a USB hub: the hub either has a dedicated USB-A-ended cable hard-wired to it, or it has a USB-A cable with a USB-B end that plugs into the hub.

A USB hub isn't like an ethernet hub; you can't just plug a USB-A into one port on the hub and talk to another device connected to a different port on the hub; the hub has an input and an output and communication has to go up through the host if you want one device to talk to another. The hub also has to receive power either through the host cable or through a dedicated power supply.

Unless I completely misunderstood the question... :?:

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby PinkShinyRose » Wed Aug 13, 2014 6:59 pm UTC

squall_line wrote:
PinkShinyRose wrote:
squall_line wrote:I'm still trying to figure out what a "male USB to male USB" converter would even be used for. USB cords are almost exclusively all male-ended, and the USB standard pretty much guarantees that one end will be USB-A on one end and USB-something-else on the other end. There are VERY few USB-A to USB-A cords in existence, because B-ends are usually used for power-drawing devices, while A-ends are used for power-delivery devices.

So, that said, what would USB-A-male to USB-A-male be used for? Why would you want to "convert" from one connection type to the *exact same* connection type?

squall_line wrote:generally, hubs are used for such things.

How would you connect your laptop to a USB-hub?


I'm lost...
<.<
>.>
Is this a trick question? o.0

You would connect a laptop to a USB hub the same way you would connect a desktop to a USB hub: the hub either has a dedicated USB-A-ended cable hard-wired to it, or it has a USB-A cable with a USB-B end that plugs into the hub.

A USB hub isn't like an ethernet hub; you can't just plug a USB-A into one port on the hub and talk to another device connected to a different port on the hub; the hub has an input and an output and communication has to go up through the host if you want one device to talk to another. The hub also has to receive power either through the host cable or through a dedicated power supply.

Unless I completely misunderstood the question... :?:

You didn't, I just never noticed the USB-B port in any of the hubs. I never actually used one.

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby Flumble » Wed Aug 13, 2014 9:15 pm UTC

What a funny hub —a type B connector for the to-master socket so the user is presumably more likely to attach the computer at the right place to the hub.
Though, if it does matter where you plug in the master, then it's likely that the hub has some (weird) switching mechanism to allow higher transfer speeds or save money on the onboard chip.

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby Mr. Goodwraith » Wed Aug 13, 2014 10:05 pm UTC

Back in the late 1990s when I worked for Black Box Corporation and the company still sold lots of bits in their catalogs that connected things to other things, I worked up a B&W brochure that could be faxed or emailed showing the pinouts for a huge number of different connectors; I think it ran to about 25 pages. Because teh Intarwebz was relatively new and there were so few official or reliable sources for pinouts, I ended up cribbing a big chunk of material from the Bronze Age site Tommy's Pinout Collection (mirrored pieces of which linger around the Web to this day). Memories...

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby johnms » Wed Aug 13, 2014 11:24 pm UTC

hamjudo wrote: johnms wrote:What? No IBM 360/370 Bus and Tag channel cables?

I managed a bunch of computers in 1987 that shared a computer room with an IBM 360/370 ...


I was a university systems programmer in the 1990s -- one of the last holdout VM/CMS student datacenters out there long after most universities had gone to Unix and the like. We had 3081 and 3090 CPUs, 3350, 3380 and 3390 disk drives, 3420 tape drives, Series/1 terminal controllers, even an ancient 3705 terminal controller that was still in service for those who wanted to use TSO/MVS. We ended up being the ones who installed cables. For those who have never seen one, an IBM channel cable is a long cable -- from a few feet to a hundred feet or more, thicker than a garden hose, with a block connector at each end the size of a paperback. And there were two of these cables needed for each connection. And if your peripheral controller had multiple CPU connections, you could get better performance by installing multiple sets of cables. So your floor would fill up with hundreds of these things. Oh yes, and each connector had a bank of about 50 fragile little gold-plated pins that oh-so-easily bent. So you had to muscle these cables to where they needed to be, then delicately slide them into the sockets, gingerly tighten them down with a screwdriver and hope you didn't bend the pins. You probably did.

The most insane installation I ever participated in was when we added the 3090 CPU and had to run channel cables from each peripheral to the new CPU. Days of pulling channel cables.

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby shieldforyoureyes » Thu Aug 14, 2014 2:18 am UTC

Bus & tag eventually got replaced by something that used fiber, right?

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby Coyne » Thu Aug 14, 2014 2:58 am UTC

conorjh wrote:How could the RS232 be forgotten when it was once immortalized in song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDlj0jBtYmQ

As a lucky individual who worked with RS-232, I can tell you, "We might be better off that it's forgotten." Ugly restrictions on length and speed; voltage driven instead of current, which ensured noise sensitivity; behavior that drove many an implementer insane.

It is truly amazing that an interface designed to connect a computer to a modem (via a 6-foot cable) was pressed to do so many things that didn't involve connecting a computer to a modem; and didn't involve a 6-foot cable (I set up a system that delivered RS-232 over twisted pair at distances up to 1800 feet).

It's an interesting interface historically. As I noted, it was originally for computer-to-modem only; and in a day when modems were too dumb to dial or even to pick up the phone. All of that had to be commanded by the computer...no fancy little microprocessors back then. A typical conversation between computer and modem was intended to be something like this:

  1. Modem (via RI wire): Duh! The phone is ringing, what do I do?
  2. Computer (via DTR wire): Pick up the line.
  3. Modem (via DSR wire): Duh! Okay, I did that.
  4. Computer (via RTS wire): Turn on the carrier.
  5. Modem (via CTS wire): Duh! Okay, I did that. Hey, I think you can talk.
  6. Modem (via DCD wire): Duh! Hey, I hear a carrier.
  7. Modem (via DSQ wire): Duh! I think the carrier is good enough to be able to read reliably.
  8. Computer (via TD wire): Here, send this data.
  9. Modem (via RD wire): Duh! Here's some data I heard on the carrier! (Actually, it was handing whatever crap data it heard on the line to the computer via RD all along, but the message via DSQ meant, Duh! I think this is good data now.")
  10. (Repeat from 8 as we hold a conversation, hopefully. If the speed and moon phase is correct. When the conversation is over, proceed to...)
  11. Modem (via DSQ wire): Duh! Hey, the signal quality is bad.
  12. Modem (via DCD wire): Duh! Hey, I don't hear the carrier anymore.
  13. Computer (via RTS wire): Turn off the carrier.
  14. Modem (via CTS wire): Duh! Okay, I did that.
  15. Computer (via DTR wire): Hang up the phone, dopey.
  16. Modem (via DSR wire): Duh! Okay, I hung up the phone.

Note that none of these steps require any intelligence in the modem, greater than the relay needed to answer the phone line. Which was the whole point: The modem was originally a supremely dumb piece of hardware intended merely to allow communication over a phone line. All told there could be up to 22 wires to command a stupid modem to do what a modern modem with its own microprocessor can do with a 4-wire USB plug; and the modern modem could get its power through the USB cable to boot (the dumb modem had to have a separate power cord, because RS-232 carried no power).

Okay, kind of got that? Okay, now imagine faking all those signals between a computer and a terminal, with no modem in between. Or just faking some weird combination, because every moron who made an RS-232 device thought it should be done a different way (Standards be damned). Imagine that the people who make the RS-232 device can't even follow the electrical connection specs. Imagine being officially restricted to a 50-foot cable, because no one ever imagined a terminal would be farther from the computer than that, without a modem between.

Imagine being restricted to 38,400 bits per second over that 50-foot cable. (Or less: The best we could do over those 1800-foot lines I mentioned was 1,200 bits per second.)

I lived that, and it wasn't fun.

You young whipper-snappers have no idea how easy you have it these days.
In all fairness...

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby addams » Thu Aug 14, 2014 3:22 am UTC

Without people that doggedly made it work we would all be walking up hill both ways to the Library.

I am so grateful.
I would not have done it.
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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby Neil_Boekend » Thu Aug 14, 2014 6:45 am UTC

Coyne wrote:It is truly amazing that an interface designed to connect a computer to a modem (via a 6-foot cable) was pressed to do so many things that didn't involve connecting a computer to a modem; and didn't involve a 6-foot cable (I set up a system that delivered RS-232 over twisted pair at distances up to 1800 feet).

Why didn't you convert to RS485 and back? Or use fully RS485. That was designed for longer distances (differential signalling over twisted pair removes a LOT of noise).
I have no experience with those converter boxes but they are quite widely available even now. I expect them to be common back when RS232 was in.
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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby Mr. Goodwraith » Thu Aug 14, 2014 9:39 pm UTC

Neil_Boekend wrote:
Coyne wrote:It is truly amazing that an interface designed to connect a computer to a modem (via a 6-foot cable) was pressed to do so many things that didn't involve connecting a computer to a modem; and didn't involve a 6-foot cable (I set up a system that delivered RS-232 over twisted pair at distances up to 1800 feet).

Why didn't you convert to RS485 and back? Or use fully RS485. That was designed for longer distances (differential signalling over twisted pair removes a LOT of noise).
I have no experience with those converter boxes but they are quite widely available even now. I expect them to be common back when RS232 was in.

At Black Box we sold some RS-485 stuff (as well as RS-422 and RS-530), but it was never as popular as RS-232. And people wanted it on the darnedest connectors; they'd send RS-232-type signals through everything from HD15 (VGA) plugs to 4P4C (phone handset) jacks.

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby Coyne » Thu Aug 14, 2014 11:14 pm UTC

Neil_Boekend wrote:
Coyne wrote:It is truly amazing that an interface designed to connect a computer to a modem (via a 6-foot cable) was pressed to do so many things that didn't involve connecting a computer to a modem; and didn't involve a 6-foot cable (I set up a system that delivered RS-232 over twisted pair at distances up to 1800 feet).

Why didn't you convert to RS485 and back? Or use fully RS485. That was designed for longer distances (differential signalling over twisted pair removes a LOT of noise).
I have no experience with those converter boxes but they are quite widely available even now. I expect them to be common back when RS232 was in.


First of all, RS-485 barely existed in the general computing industry. You couldn't get a terminal with an RS-485 connection, without special order. I suspect that was partly the mob factor: "Everyone else is doing RS-232; what's good enough for everyone else is good enough for us."

Second, even where it was available, RS-485 was hideously more expensive. I'm reaching here a bit for memory of the period, but I think it was on the order of $80 additional per terminal for RS-485. We were installing 400+ terminals; (400x2x80) = $64,000 (x2 = 2 ends, computer+terminal).

The terminals were on a special sponsorship deal for about $150 each, so we would have been adding roughly 50% to the project cost for RS-485. And we would still have had to run the same wire. (Lots of variation in RS-232, remember? We were using 2 twisted pairs per terminal, which is what RS-485 would have needed.)

RS-232 might have sucked, but it was the game we had.

Mr. Goodwraith wrote:At Black Box we sold some RS-485 stuff (as well as RS-422 and RS-530), but it was never as popular as RS-232. And people wanted it on the darnedest connectors; they'd send RS-232-type signals through everything from HD15 (VGA) plugs to 4P4C (phone handset) jacks.


I was aware of those even at the time, but the boxes generally ran around $250 each. Two converters per circuit...

Black Box is a great company, but it was out of our price range.
In all fairness...

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby NathanWagenet » Fri Aug 15, 2014 6:31 am UTC

It's missing the umbilical cord.

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby Neil_Boekend » Fri Aug 15, 2014 6:57 am UTC

Oh right, 400 sets changes the equation a bit.
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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby johnms » Fri Aug 15, 2014 11:32 pm UTC

I think that later IBM mainframes went to something called fibrechannel. That was after my time though.

There was a strange and interesting set of economic circumstances in our data center. The university had already paid for and constructed a huge machine room with a raised floor especially designed for mainframe cabinets. Our electric bills were being paid by a different department of the university and were effectively off budget. Other datacenters were disposing of their big heavy power-hungry mainframe equipment as fast as they could. The net effect was that older IBM mainframe equipment -- the bus and tag variety -- was so cheap that the various used mainframe dealers would practically give it to you for free if you would sign a service contract for the equipment. The service contract wasn't very expensive either. They had warehouses full of the equipment, all in good working order off lease, and a maintenance contract on a disk pack meant that if yours died they would just grab one out of the warehouse. So we went through this long phase where we were hauling out refrigerator-sized 3380 disk drives, and replacing them with refrigerator-sized 3390 disk drives. We had a hell of an impressive machine room for a while. Of course, we could have replaced it all with a single rack of modern disk drives, but that would have cost more money, and it would be a little rack sitting in the middle of a 10,000 square foot machine room, which would look totally ridiculous. Ah, IT departmental politics!

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby addams » Sat Aug 16, 2014 2:59 am UTC

I remember those big impressive mainframe computers.
Our's had glass between the room with the machine and us.

We could see them.
They could see us.

It was underground.
Is that so funny?

Protected and Safe.
Destroyed by its off spring, The Internet.
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
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Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby RealGrouchy » Sat Aug 16, 2014 10:50 pm UTC

It's entertaining that so many people are pointing out the ones that Randall missed as though he'd update the comic to add it; though he has done that previously with the "map of the internet" (albeit not due to user comments but a changing situation).

The idea that he might do so, however, reminds me of the guy who in 2005 designed the 15-gesture version of Rock-Paper-Scissors with the nice geometric pattern indicating what beats what, then updated it to the 25-gesture version, which received incredulous reviews. Then he updated it to a 101-gesture version in 2006, which was so big it required an unwieldy 320K Flash 8 file to demonstrate.

So in the interests of accelerating this process, I'd add two converters:
- Prism
- Mormon

There are numerous wireless standards he could have used also, including RF, Bluetooth, 802.11a/b/g/n/q/x/y/z, miracast, and that one that Apple uses for its TVs and such.

Oh, and on the first page someone asked about Magsafe 4, and I don't think that question was answered. I'm not sure if [url=https://www.google.com/search?q=magsafe+3+connector]MagSafe 3[url] is even a thing, but I suspect what Randall was going for here was that MagSafe4 would be so strong that the cable would break before the connector releases.

- RG>
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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby fatunga » Mon Aug 18, 2014 12:22 am UTC

Coyne wrote:It is truly amazing that an interface designed to connect a computer to a modem (via a 6-foot cable) was pressed to do so many things that didn't involve connecting a computer to a modem


So what you're saying is, RS232 needs its own comic. :)

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby exotica » Mon Aug 18, 2014 1:55 am UTC

Did Apple's lawyers threaten to sue xkcd if lightning and/or 30 pin connectors were included? :) I'm surprised magsafe made the cut.

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby Coyne » Mon Aug 18, 2014 4:01 am UTC

fatunga wrote:
Coyne wrote:It is truly amazing that an interface designed to connect a computer to a modem (via a 6-foot cable) was pressed to do so many things that didn't involve connecting a computer to a modem


So what you're saying is, RS232 needs its own comic. :)


:)

This one would work with small mods. Change all the ends to a random mix of DB-9 male, DB-9 female, DB-25 male, DB-25 female, a mix of proprietary RS-232 formats, and label them with 42 different brands/device types, and you'd be all set.

Except for the brands/device types that would be incompatible, of course.


Important discovery: You, know, there is an important subtext to this comic that I don't think anyone caught. There are, all told, 42 connectors+modes on the converter box.

So this box would be "the answer to life, the universe, and everything," right?
In all fairness...

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby Coyoty » Mon Aug 18, 2014 2:36 pm UTC

addams wrote:I remember those big impressive mainframe computers.
Our's had glass between the room with the machine and us.

We could see them.
They could see us.

It was underground.
Is that so funny?

Protected and Safe.
Destroyed by its off spring, The Internet.


They were titans.

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby addams » Wed Aug 20, 2014 3:07 am UTC

Coyoty wrote:
addams wrote:I remember those big impressive mainframe computers.
Our's had glass between the room with the machine and us.

We could see them.
They could see us.

It was underground.
Is that so funny?

Protected and Safe.
Destroyed by its off spring, The Internet.


They were titans.

Yes.
Yes, they were.
In Greek mythology, the Titans (Greek: Τιτάν Tītán; plural: Τιτᾶνες Tītânes)
The Titians were a primeval race of powerful deities.
Descendants of Gaia (Earth) and Uranus (Sky).
They ruled during the legendary Golden Age.


They were immortal giants of incredible strength and were also the first pantheon of Greek gods and goddesses.

Yes, They were.
Their Preists were an amazing bunch of Optimists.

Turning blue in their turtlenecks and lab coats.
It was Cold in there.
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Some of us see The Gutter.
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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby tups » Fri Aug 22, 2014 8:51 am UTC

Neil_Boekend wrote:I am disappointed that there is no 95 nor 98 octane. Modern engines can correct their timing for lower octane levels but older engines would crap out at such crappy fuel.


Well, there is the difference between RON and MON, and the AKI, the first being in common use in the EU, and the latter in the US - hence US AKI's are 2-5 points lower then RON in Europe. The anti-knock properties of the fuel are the same though.
AKI 87 ~ RON 91; AKI 91 ~ RON 93 and AKI 93 ~ RON 98

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby Neil_Boekend » Fri Aug 22, 2014 9:20 am UTC

tups wrote:
Neil_Boekend wrote:I am disappointed that there is no 95 nor 98 octane. Modern engines can correct their timing for lower octane levels but older engines would crap out at such crappy fuel.


Well, there is the difference between RON and MON, and the AKI, the first being in common use in the EU, and the latter in the US - hence US AKI's are 2-5 points lower then RON in Europe. The anti-knock properties of the fuel are the same though.
AKI 87 ~ RON 91; AKI 91 ~ RON 93 and AKI 93 ~ RON 98

Standadisation is a b*tch, aint it.
Curses to the standard that was devised second.
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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Aug 22, 2014 4:16 pm UTC

We should create a new standard to unify both the US and UK standards…
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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby orthogon » Fri Aug 22, 2014 4:27 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:We should create a new standard to unify both the US and UK standards…

Yes. We could call it MORON.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby Coyne » Fri Aug 22, 2014 7:51 pm UTC

Neil_Boekend wrote:
tups wrote:
Neil_Boekend wrote:I am disappointed that there is no 95 nor 98 octane. Modern engines can correct their timing for lower octane levels but older engines would crap out at such crappy fuel.


Well, there is the difference between RON and MON, and the AKI, the first being in common use in the EU, and the latter in the US - hence US AKI's are 2-5 points lower then RON in Europe. The anti-knock properties of the fuel are the same though.
AKI 87 ~ RON 91; AKI 91 ~ RON 93 and AKI 93 ~ RON 98

Standadisation is a b*tch, aint it.
Curses to the standard that was devised second.


With multiple standards, it usually doesn't happen that way. Instead, the standards are created in total isolation from each other, and grow until the boundaries between their areas of use collide.

What happens at that point depends on a whole range of issues including marketing issues, political issues, and dependent standard issues, among other things. It is hard to eradicate a widely used standard, no matter how much conflict there is. Consider U.S. measures versus metric: They were telling us in school in (*ahem*) 1962 that U.S. measures were going away. How well did that work out?

orthogon wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:We should create a new standard to unify both the US and UK standards…

Yes. We could call it MORON.


Sounds all around amusing to me.
In all fairness...

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby PinkShinyRose » Sat Aug 23, 2014 1:41 pm UTC

Coyne wrote:What happens at that point depends on a whole range of issues including marketing issues, political issues, and dependent standard issues, among other things. It is hard to eradicate a widely used standard, no matter how much conflict there is. Consider U.S. measures versus metric: They were telling us in school in (*ahem*) 1962 that U.S. measures were going away. How well did that work out?

Yet your example is a purely US problem. In most countries switching to SI or similar units for most official documents went just fine. A better example might be PAL vs. NTSC.

EDIT: Annoying phone with its crappy UI

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby Coyne » Sat Aug 23, 2014 9:44 pm UTC

PinkShinyRose wrote:
Coyne wrote:What happens at that point depends on a whole range of issues including marketing issues, political issues, and dependent standard issues, among other things. It is hard to eradicate a widely used standard, no matter how much conflict there is. Consider U.S. measures versus metric: They were telling us in school in (*ahem*) 1962 that U.S. measures were going away. How well did that work out?

Yet your example is a purely US problem. In most countries switching to SI or similar units for most official documents went just fine. A better example might be PAL vs. NTSC.

EDIT: Annoying phone with its crappy UI

No argument there. As I noted, they were teaching metric in 1962, with the vague idea that we might change over in 10 years. Meanwhile, 50 years later... :lol:

I merely extend that to other considerations with changing standards.

With RS-232, it wasn't so much political partisanship as marketing and interoperability concerns (not that RS-232 was great at interoperability, you understand). It started with the marketing problem. Joe the salesman: "We have a great terminal." John, the customer, "It says here it doesn't support RS-232." Joe: "Yes, RS-485 is a much better standard." John: "Well, my computer is RS-232. Goodbye." Seriously.

Integrating both with a terminal was hugely expensive at the time, so RS-485 was always an optional selection and, usually, an exclusive selection. You could have RS-232 or RS-485, not both; and you couldn't change your mind later. So you couldn't transition easily, which is why the marketing issue; because it was also an interoperability issue. If you had a mix of terminals with both standards (not that anyone did) your connectivity problems would increase hugely. So that fed back to, "We only want RS-232."

RS-232 is mostly obsolete now, but that's not because it was superseded by RS-485. The latter is now more prevalent because the RS-232 uses went away in favor of built-in modems and high speed networks. Now, we're getting computers that don't even have RS-232 (this one doesn't). Lots of USB, FireWire, Network, even a phone connection and an internal modem (but those will go away, too). But most interestingly, that doesn't mean my computer has an RS-485 port. So RS-485 didn't take over, RS-232 effectively died out.

(RS-485 was used really heavily for control systems, but cheap Ethernet is driving that out as well, so I suspect RS-485 is dying out as we speak.)

Standards and their environments are interesting beasts.
In all fairness...

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby PinkShinyRose » Sat Aug 23, 2014 10:33 pm UTC

Coyne wrote:
PinkShinyRose wrote:
Coyne wrote:What happens at that point depends on a whole range of issues including marketing issues, political issues, and dependent standard issues, among other things. It is hard to eradicate a widely used standard, no matter how much conflict there is. Consider U.S. measures versus metric: They were telling us in school in (*ahem*) 1962 that U.S. measures were going away. How well did that work out?

Yet your example is a purely US problem. In most countries switching to SI or similar units for most official documents went just fine. A better example might be PAL vs. NTSC.

EDIT: Annoying phone with its crappy UI

No argument there. As I noted, they were teaching metric in 1962, with the vague idea that we might change over in 10 years. Meanwhile, 50 years later... :lol:

I merely extend that to other considerations with changing standards.

With RS-232, it wasn't so much political partisanship as marketing and interoperability concerns (not that RS-232 was great at interoperability, you understand). It started with the marketing problem. Joe the salesman: "We have a great terminal." John, the customer, "It says here it doesn't support RS-232." Joe: "Yes, RS-485 is a much better standard." John: "Well, my computer is RS-232. Goodbye." Seriously.

Integrating both with a terminal was hugely expensive at the time, so RS-485 was always an optional selection and, usually, an exclusive selection. You could have RS-232 or RS-485, not both; and you couldn't change your mind later. So you couldn't transition easily, which is why the marketing issue; because it was also an interoperability issue. If you had a mix of terminals with both standards (not that anyone did) your connectivity problems would increase hugely. So that fed back to, "We only want RS-232."

RS-232 is mostly obsolete now, but that's not because it was superseded by RS-485. The latter is now more prevalent because the RS-232 uses went away in favor of built-in modems and high speed networks. Now, we're getting computers that don't even have RS-232 (this one doesn't). Lots of USB, FireWire, Network, even a phone connection and an internal modem (but those will go away, too). But most interestingly, that doesn't mean my computer has an RS-485 port. So RS-485 didn't take over, RS-232 effectively died out.

(RS-485 was used really heavily for control systems, but cheap Ethernet is driving that out as well, so I suspect RS-485 is dying out as we speak.)

Standards and their environments are interesting beasts.

So it was like vendor lock-in, but unintentional, and with standards available from various vendors.

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby addams » Sat Aug 23, 2014 11:01 pm UTC

It is obvious from that Post;
We need another Standard Standard.

This time, it will work.
We are Scientists. Are we Not?

This is our 16th Standard.
We have Records.

We even have Examples of each failed attempt.
Some of the failures did not fail by much.

I would not know they were failures,
if we were not still trying to fix the original problem.
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
by mr. Oscar Wilde.

Those that want to Know; Know.
Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby Coyne » Sun Aug 24, 2014 7:35 am UTC

PinkShinyRose wrote:So it was like vendor lock-in, but unintentional, and with standards available from various vendors.

Exactly.

addams wrote:It is obvious from that Post;
We need another Standard Standard.

What happens when our Standard Standard conflicts with their Standard Standard? Solve it with a Standard Standard Standard?
In all fairness...

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby addams » Sun Aug 24, 2014 6:13 pm UTC

Coyne wrote:
PinkShinyRose wrote:So it was like vendor lock-in, but unintentional, and with standards available from various vendors.

Exactly.

addams wrote:It is obvious from that Post;
We need another Standard Standard.

What happens when our Standard Standard conflicts with their Standard Standard? Solve it with a Standard Standard Standard?

That is one way.
We would then have 17 conflicing standards.

The way it is handled in the Real World is a conversion manual.
In Digatial a web site does the conversations.

Then we read it wrong and find ourselves standing with a male end in both hand.
I've done it.

Its damn weird. And; embarrassing. Just ask a man.
They will give you a 'look'. A 'look' that tells you enough.

Or; Try it yourself.
"Why dosen't it work!" they yell.
"I can't plug it in." I answer.
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
by mr. Oscar Wilde.

Those that want to Know; Know.
Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby Neil_Boekend » Mon Aug 25, 2014 6:34 am UTC

Coyne wrote:RS-232 is mostly obsolete now, but that's not because it was superseded by RS-485. The latter is now more prevalent because the RS-232 uses went away in favor of built-in modems and high speed networks. Now, we're getting computers that don't even have RS-232 (this one doesn't). Lots of USB, FireWire, Network, even a phone connection and an internal modem (but those will go away, too). But most interestingly, that doesn't mean my computer has an RS-485 port. So RS-485 didn't take over, RS-232 effectively died out.


<rant>However, somehow the manufacturer of my home pc decided to use the limited port space (it's a mini pc, designed to be stuck on a vesamount, between the screen and the stand) to include an RS 232. And no USB ports on the back and only 3 on the front. Why did they think an RS232 port would be more important in this day and age than sufficient USB ports? </rant>
The vesa mount idea is good though.
Mikeski wrote:A "What If" update is never late. Nor is it early. It is posted precisely when it should be.

patzer's signature wrote:
flicky1991 wrote:I'm being quoted too much!

he/him/his

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby Coyoty » Wed Aug 27, 2014 11:54 pm UTC

addams wrote:This is our 16th Standard.
We have Records.

We even have Examples of each failed attempt.
Some of the failures did not fail by much.

I would not know they were failures,
if we were not still trying to fix the original problem.


How many Neos does it take to screw up the light bulbs?

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Aug 28, 2014 12:11 am UTC

Do not try to screw up the light bulb. That's impossible.

Instead, only try to realize the truth: that there is no light bulb.

Then you will see that it is not the light bulb that is screwed up, it is only yourself.
Forrest Cameranesi, Geek of All Trades
"I am Sam. Sam I am. I do not like trolls, flames, or spam."
The Codex Quaerendae (my philosophy) - The Chronicles of Quelouva (my fiction)

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Re: 1406: "Universal Converter Box"

Postby addams » Thu Aug 28, 2014 2:40 am UTC

Coyoty wrote:
addams wrote:This is our 16th Standard.
We have Records.

We even have Examples of each failed attempt.
Some of the failures did not fail by much.

I would not know they were failures,
if we were not still trying to fix the original problem.


How many Neos does it take to screw up the light bulbs?

What the Hell was I attempting to say.
No wonder others foe me.

If I can't read it,
what chance do you have?

Some of the failures did not fail by much.
Check. Some were good. I thought they worked.

I would not know they were failures,
if we were not still trying to fix the original problem.
that is just an ugly awkward sentence.

I know the standards failed, because we fix them.


Then I needed the Old numbers AND the New numbers.

Hey! Some one fix something!
Some poor smuck is not overwhelmed.
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
by mr. Oscar Wilde.

Those that want to Know; Know.
Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.


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