Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Monday, 9 March 2009

A great - if unheralded - step forward

When computers were steam-powered I read Computer Shopper every month and imagined I understood it all. But the years rolled by, the complexities increased and my desire to understand shrivelled. I wish now I’d hung on for a little longer because during this time the USB socket/lead system was introduced.

These days USB is almost universal. From where I’m sitting I see it linking my mouse, my camera and my Skype to the computer. Round the back there are more links. Why get excited? It’s just a simple plug and socket. But it’s the word “simple” that excites me especially when I remember one of its predecessors. The dreaded Scart lead (see inset).

Scart leads still connect TVs to video recorders and once they were the standard link between printers and computers. Engaging Scart meant aligning a huge cumbersome 32-pin plug with a 32-hole socket. Bend a pin and you were done for. Now even a person interested only in poetry can unite a USB connexion. A great step forward but I’m still unaware of the theory.

IN THE INTERESTS OF SCIENCE This Cote de Beaune Villages has an odd history. Part of a clutch of cheapies it was bought for €1 at least twelve years ago to fill a hole in the wine rack at our French house. Its intended function was decorative, never gustatory. The house was sold ten years ago and this bottle ended up in a futile kitchen wine rack (Six slots vs. seventy-seven in the rack that matters) here in Herefordshire. The futile rack has been purged in the kitchen renovation and the bottle must now go. Cheap wine like this does not mature in bottles but I will taste it before disposing of the rest. Watch this space.


Plutarch said...

A few years ago this person, who is interested in poetry, had to deal with a Scart lead. "Not a very satisfactory device, " said the engineer, who brought round the new television; "it's a French invention." I recall that various alternative qualities of Scart were available at the time. Probably still are. Some were very expensive. "They're made with gold," said my informant". May be he was pulling my leg. But I had some poetry to get on with. All I wanted was for the bloody thing to work.

Julia said...

Scart leads and their 32 pin plugs are the pits! For a good article on how USB works, check out this article. There are more basic explanations out there too, but I thought you might like this one for its thoroughness and accessibility.

Barrett Bonden said...

Plutarch: Gold plate is used in some Scart cabling but I suspect it doesn't raise the efficiency to that of USB. Not a promising subject for a poem.

Julia: That was a thorough article and no mistake. What's so wonderful is that all we, as users, see is a connection lead that couldn't be simpler. However, I feel I am under-achieving given that USB permits the connection of up to 127 devices. I was aware of, but had temporarily forgotten, USB's other magic quality - providing power. Thanks.