Re: [telecom] Goodbye to copper? [Telecom]

Yep, but that is essentially a political decision and highlights

> that such things hold back the use of potentially better > technologies. > > You have to wonder if the costs of the newer technologies (in the > long-term) would drop if they were to totally replace the older > incumbent. > > The issue (I suppose) is that by tying up old ways of doing things - > either by fixed rates or just our attitudes of resisting change - we > miss out on the benefits of the newer alternatives (or at least have > them reduced).

Many of the "benefits of the newer alternatives" are benefits for only certain groups or hard-core techies and by their complexity make earlier technology unavailable to many of those used to the older technologies, which may fit all their needs, because of the need for extensive training needed to make use of either the older or the newer technologies. Wes Leatherock

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So true. The breakup of the Bell System was aggressively sought by a _narrow_ group of business interests. (Many of the benefits claimed to be from divesture _already_ were on their way, like customer owned equipment and cheaper long distance).

Newer alternatives is a forced obsolence of perfectly good hardware before its worn out because new software, imposed on the marketplace, won't run on it. Example: old computers can't support the latest web browsers and old web browsers can't access most sites on the web. Example: people are forced to get broadband access instead of dial up because the 'bit bloat' is so large dial-up becomes too slow.

Example: As previously mentioned, film and processing is harder to get, and Kodak discontinued Kodachrome, forcing serious photographers to spend $$$ on new digital cameras even if they were perfectly happy with film.

Example: people who had little use for a cellphone were forced to get one since payphones became so scarce and expensive.

Over the years, there have been many cases were 'hard core techies' pushed hard for something new and greatly exaggerated the merits and ease of use. Example: historically IBM lagged behind on technology but became and held the market leader because of _application_ and support, not technology. The first Univac was technologically superior to the first IBM computer, but IBM's people were better at making the new computer do useful work for people, which is what counted.

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In fact, there is "techie snobbery" which looks down on anything easy to use. A lot of the disparagement of Windows in favor of UNIX comes from peole with that mindset. It's popular and easy to use, so it must be bad.

***** Moderator's Note *****

(Full disclosure: I'm a member of the Boston Linux & Unix User Group)

No disrespect, but I believe it's not that simple.

I started using Linux in the late 90's, because I had a technical problem to solve and I couldn't afford to buy a pre-packaged solution for Windows. I continued to use Linux because I'm able to set it up myself, configure it for what _I_ want, and update/upgrade features, security, and basic functions without giving up my Christmas vacation to do it.

The laptop I'm using now has Autocad on it, which isn't available for Linux, so I'm constantly shifting back and forth between the Unix and the Windows world, which is a PITA. I don't like Windows, because it's too prone to viruses and because it requires very expensive upgrades every 3~4 years. Microsoft has achieved every monopolist's dream: a self-fulfilling prophecy where everyone uses Windows because everyone uses Windows, and that has allowed the company to lock-in most software houses to the Microsoft model.


Bill Horne Temporary Moderator

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I'm sorry -- I find the following views somewhere between heavily Luddite and a little bit paranoid.

I'm with you all the way on being fearful of unregulated commercial interests and unregulated free-market capitalism distorting and exploiting technology for their benefit, to the detriment of all the rest of us. That's an endless threat, in every facet of society.

But cell phones are great inventions; digital cameras are great inventions; cell phones with built-in cameras are great inventions; fiber optics and the internet and widespread broadband access are great inventions -- they, and many other technological advances like them, make all our lives better, at every level of society.


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Many of us fought the switch to DTV for years, not out of "Luddism" (a motive I ascribe to the Greens -- but I digress) but because the real purpose of the DTV switch was to impose two forms of unwarranted and excessive controls in the name of "intellectual property"* protection: the "broadcast flag", which allows broadcasters to make some content unrecordable; and the shorter effective range of DTV broadcasts, which for many of us makes it no longer possible to bring in stations we used to be able to get.

Weigh that against the one noticeable benefit of DTV -- better hi-res pictures for those who want to spend a mid-four-figures sum on a big screen TV -- and it's a very bad bargain. Let the rich get their super signal from cable or satellite, as most of them do anyway.

I do not count the relinquishing of each station's second channel as a benefit of the switch, because it was only created as a result of the law that forced the switch in the first place.

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John David Galt

For server side applications nothing beats Unix/Linux. That's why I run VMWare on my machine and I have a standard Debian LAMP setup running in a Virtual Machine.

There is also an Ubuntu VM but I don't use that as much as the Debian VM.

***** Moderator's Note *****

I'm allowing this post because "Sauce for the goose," etc. However, let's not turn this into a OS war, OK?

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[Full disclosure: I have 60 computers in my house. Besides three Apple ][ class computers (Apple ][, Apple II+ and Apple //e), and an IBM PC 5150, the installed, working and fully-networked PCs include the following OSes: 38 Linux/BSD, 13 Mac, 18 Windows (3.1 through Vista). I don't work for anyone (disabled and retired), and I don't own any stock other than AT&T's ESOP.]

You blame "snobbery" because you simply don't understand. I call that "Microsoft FUD": Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. I'll not use the term "ignorance" because you will likely misinterpret that word to imply you are "stupid" when all it indicates is not yet [having] learned.

You claim Windows is easy to use? With all the multitudes of security problems, requiring bloated add-on software to stop viruses, Trojans, malware, spyware, crackers, etc.? Windows IS bad! Microsoft is a liar and a thief, and there are court documents to prove that fact. I won't associate with a thief nor give them my money.

You should try a Unix/Linux OS and see the difference. I'm speaking from

32 years of experience with "PCs" Apple, Mac, Windows, Unix/Linux. Anyone who badmouths *nix and praises Windows just doesn't have the first-hand wisdom to make such claims.

Windows is "popular" like a Chevrolet is "better" than a Rolls Royce, eh? Numbers mean very little, especially when Windows was forced on the buyer by Microsoft. You had no choice but Windows, or buying expensive Mac hardware to run the Mac OS. And there is absolutely no way to count the numbers of Linux installs. Plus you need to believe the numbers the convicted liar feeds to you! ;-)

There is noting easier to use than Linux. It can do far more than restrictive Windows could ever do. You are just ignorant to the possibilities, or you have no needs beyond playing solitaire while not connected to any network. But that is your choice, and I am not implying I should take your power of choice away.

Get it and use it and see the difference for yourself. It is free of cost and free of restrictions, something you cannot claim for Windows or the Mac OS.

Here's a link to download what is probably the easiest OS in the universe for a new user:

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You will discover that computing is fun again!

Exactly! Set it up to do what *YOU* want, instead of what [Microsoft] forces upon you.

I have AutoCAD 12, 13, 14, LT 97, 2000, 2000I, 2002. I am running AutoCAD 2000I under Wine 1.0 on Ubuntu 8.04 LTS just fine (I think I also ran it on older Ubuntu 7.04). I haven't tried any of my old LISP stuff though, so I can't say if that works or not. If you don't need LISP, then go for it. Heck, go for it anyway, and let me know how it works. ;-)

I also run FileMaker Pro on Wine, and occasionally 40tude Dialog for testing news servers. It's been months since I last turned on a Windows PC, and that was to grab some old data files to use on a Linux box.

I was surprised AutoCAD worked because I had read it wouldn't, and had retained a Windows XP PC just for AutoCAD.

Just goes to show you that if you want to know whether a computer can or can't do something, there is nobody better to ask than the computer itself: The ultimate authority! (That might also be read as "don't trust what somebody says.") ;-)

Reply to
John F. Morse

On Sun, 28 Jun 2009 13:30:26 -0400, MC wrote: ........

Just download and install the (free) VMWare Server product and you can run Windows *inside* Linux accessing it in a much more convenient manner than "switching" (which I assume means rebooting).

You can even download their free tool to convert an existing Windows install into a VM - no need to do reinstalls etc.

There are many other VM options but I have been using VMWare Server (I prefer the 1.0.x over 2.x) for a few years now and it is most functional.

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David Clayton

Thanks for pointing those things out. Very good points.

This makes for an example, per my earlier post, some of these changes benefit a very narrow group.

I didn't [give] much thought to it since I have cable and the change was transparent to me. But somewhere I heard that cable will only provide analog service for three years, then it goes digital too. The cable company is pushing customers now to switch to digital, which is free. (Although one needs a box for each set and recorder and there is a rental charge. . . )

Good points, too.

I was curious about how motion pictures are made and got a book from the library. It mostly dealt with the fnancials, and I was shocked at the mishigosh that goes on between proposal and actual filming of a feature motion picture; none of which has anything to do with the entertainment or artisitic merits of the film.

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On Sun, 28 Jun 2009 10:25:18 -0400, wrote, in part:

Further example(s): omission on newer computers of "legacy" ports (RS-232, SCSI, parallel printer ports; and dual PCMCIA slots). Perfectly good serial and parallel printers, serial modems, SCSI external ZIP, Syquest, and hard drives, and PCMCIA devices of all sorts become "doorstops" once the ports they need to connect to become unavailable on new machines.

I'd have thought that *inclusion* of legacy ports would have become the selling point -- instead, it's their *omission* that's being touted as the "good thing".

(Sigh!) Cheers, -- tlvp

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I strongly believe more thought must be given to the _negative_ impacts of any new technology, and that responsibility belongs to both the inventors and marketers. Admittedly that is not an easy task, esp in a free market economy.

The automotive industry was, for the most part, resistant to mandatory safety applicances the government enacted in the late 1960s, such as seat belts and certain protective hardware. What troubles me is that it was known back in the 1950s such stuff would save lives but it took so long to get them into cars and get people to use them.

Historically the old Bell System gave strong thought to benefits and problems of new technology. One thing they did (which sadly has been been lost) was a trial of new technology in one region before rolling it out nationally. Usually they learned of problems that were corrected before the national rollout. (For instance, the Princess Phone required a redesign so it wouldn't slide around).

Note that the Bell System DID move forward despite finding problems. They worked hard to solve them. To me, it is inexcusable that VOIP was initially rolled out with terrible transmission quality or incompatibility with 911 databases.

As mentioned before, stuff like sabotage (viruses, malware, etc), hacking, and spam are very costly and disruptive, and protections thereof should've been installed before the Internet was rolled out in a big way. The Internet _has_ been responsible for ruining a number of people's lives (even killling a few), and I resent it that 'e- world' advocates blithely refuse any responsibility. If someone allows a 12 year old kid to drive my car and he kills someone with it, that adult certainly is morally responsible for the act, even if not legally; the adult should've known better. Those who aggressively pushed the growth of the e-world, and push they certainly did, ignored the risk of unprotected proxy servers and abusive or dangerous users.

Someone was fired and arrested for having illegal laptop content, and it turned out the content was placed there by malware that slipped through anti-virus software. These things seem to happen often, yet it seems extremely rare that the perpetrators of such sabotage are punished or barriers placed to block overseas submissions.

I suspect almost all readers of this newsgroup are savy enough to keep their protection software up-to-date and wouldn't be victimized like that. But sometimes techies forget that lay people out there don't think about those things, especially under the hood stuff like caches, and can get burned.


As to being a Luddite, it's ironic that two new technologies I feel have no negative drawbacks--CDs for music and ICs for home electronics--are ones where people spend a great deal of money to be 'retro'. People still like vinyl records and tubes for high-end stereos; both of which are very expensive to support. I like the fact that even a basic TV set or radio/CD player has much higher quality and fancy features for a modest price, especially compared to units a decade ago; thanks to cheap electronics.

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Please post the title of the book.

A number of years ago I read a very long web page on legal shenanigans with startup bands by record labels. I think it was The Problem With Music by Steve Albini

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Tony Toews [MVP]

Pardon me?

[Windows] is not easy to use, not by a long shot.


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Scott Dorsey

Solutions are available. I have many devices that require RS-232 for usage and/or firmware updating such as astronomical telescopes, postal scale/meter, [EP/EA]ROM burners, label printers, my weather station, etc. PCI and PCIe cards are available for desktops (and PCMCIA cards for laptops). One PCIe dual RS-232 card that works well for my newer desktops can be seen here:

Another solution, even more general, is an Ethernet "terminal server" such as this small one I've had for over 10 years:

Drivers for the EL-2 are for (all) Linux, Solaris, UNIX, Windows, AIX, HP-UX, and more. Central Data was acquired by Digi, more info here:

Here's something new, a Linux-based Ethernet USB hub for sharing printers, scanners, USB thumb drives, external USB drives, etc. on one's network:

which is identical to the Silex SX-5000U2. Only works for Windows (so far) but we're pushing for source code per GPL which is just a matter of time per:

SCSI, parallel and about eleventy-seven bazillion other interfaces are readily available for PCI and PCIe desktop expansion slots from Fry's, Newegg, MWave, and many others.

Dell Latitude (business) laptops still have a DB-9 serial port last time I checked; no other laptop manufacturer supplies RS-232 serial AFAIK.

USB appears to be a preferred interface nowadays, but be aware that some chipsets used in USB-to- converters are "troublesome" (to put it kindly).

Reply to
Thad Floryan

Sometimes the "protection" is a misnomer, and I'm referring to anti-virus programs by the majors. Some of the criminals have developed extremely clever methods of getting malware onto systems from infected websites that require no action or clicking on the part of the innocent user.

1000s of websites are being infected since early April 2009 by the Russian Business Network (RBN, a hacker group) who pays commissions to infect web sites (mostly with the IFRAME exploit which uses long- standing bugs with Adobe Reader (even the latest version) and Adobe Flash). I've fixed several peoples' websites in just the past 4 weeks, and it's not clear how the websites became infected (one web site is running FreeBSD/Apache).

If you see or find something like the following in any of your *.htm* or *.php files (with a space between "." and "cn" for safety):

"... iframe src="http://hotslotpot. cn/in.cgi?income64" width=1 height=1 style="visibility: hidden">

Reply to
Thad Floryan

VoIP was initially rolled out with the exact same transmission quality

-- 8-kHz mu-law (or A-law in Europe) -- as traditional telephony. This happened well before VoIP systems were ever connected to the PSTN and 911/112 access was even possible. VoIP as an idea is more than fifteen years old, and the current technology is more than ten years old.


Reply to
Garrett Wollman

On Mon, 29 Jun 2009 22:08:08 -0400, Thad Floryan wrote: .......

I have had some experience with USB-Serial adaptors, and some of the cheapies just simply don't work correctly. I have had pretty good results with Belkin and Targus ones though (in Windows).

I recently had to source replacement PCs for a retail environment and we required two (genuine) RS-232 ports for legacy peripheral equipment. It was not that easy to find hardware with the capability of two native serial ports (I didn't want to use 3rd party cards) but I eventually found HP SFF machines that did.

I had to order the second serial port adaptor kits separately, and apparently the quantity (16!) was so great the HP had to scour the planet for them....

I suspect in the upcoming years it will become even more difficult to find legacy interfaces.

Reply to
David Clayton

As in the past, thanks for all these pointers; my Googling came up with

*none* of them. Though my focus is more on what adapters might be available for notebooks/laptops than for desktop machines with accessible chassis.

Cheers, Thad, -- tlvp

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You're very welcome!

As someone else just commented, legacy interfaces are dwindling. Several years ago I saw a PCMCIA RS-232 card at Fry's (in the store) but there are none on their website checking just now.

Newegg has two PCMCIA RS-232 cards; visit and do two searches, one for "PCMCIA RS-232" (finds a SYBA card), and also for "PCMCIA RS232" (finds a Koutech card). That's it. I'm pleased with the PCIe SYBA RS-232 cards and they have drivers for both Linux and Windows. interfacing to the MOSCHIP family of parts on the card.

A Google search using either "PCMCIA RS-232" or "PCMCIA RS232" finds some, too.

Here's another thought: some docking stations for laptops do provide a D-9 RS-232 interface and, possibly, even a parallel printer interface.

For some things, RS-232 simply cannot be beat. Heh, I remember one time some

20 years ago I visited a friend at HP Labs on a Friday night and we had this crazy idea to see how far RS-232 would operate. We wheeled in a 5000' spool of Belden cable, attached DB-25 connectors to both ends, and operated an HP computer terminal at 9600 baud over that spooled cable onto an HP computer. It actually worked even though the waveform was horribly distorted as viewed on an oscilloscope.

Try that with USB. :-)

This just reminded of yet another "legacy" RS-232 device I have for reading program and data paper tapes I punched on a TTY ASR33 back in the 1960s using an acoustic 110 baud modem over the PSTN:

That reader operates at 110, 150, 300, 600 and 1200 baud and still functions fine reading 40+ year-old 8-level paper tapes. I'm a pack-rat and hang on to everything. :-)

Reply to
Thad Floryan

When competently setup and operated, today's VoIP provides excellent audio quality.

Several of my VoIP clients running asterisk on their LANs have/had a PRI to the CO and voice quality is/was exemplary with never any glitches.

One IT client whose infrastructure I literally built from the ground up began with Centrex on my recommendation (10 people at the start), later upgraded to a really great PBX with the best voice mail I've ever had the pleasure to use, then was "forced" by the 10th CEO (in 6 years) to "upgrade" to a VoIP service in which he had a vested interest (and it was located halfway across the USA), at which time telephony services hit rock bottom at that client due to frequent outages misconfigurations at the VoIP provider to the day that client went belly-up 6 months later. The client couldn't get out of the PBX maintenance contract (3 years' duration as I was originally instructed to order) and ended up with monthly payments to both the PBX and VoIP companies in addition to having to literally abandon the $50,000 or so of equipment (the PBX itself and both the wired and wireless phones (wireless for the customer support people)). That VoIP was a horrible mess, and I recall overhearing the Board Chairman firing that (next-to-last) CEO. Sigh, they had an excellent PBX and there was no reason at that time to go VoIP especially since the company had already begun downsizing/outsourcing.

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