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Comment third of three? (Score 4, Insightful) 47

One of the most important characteristics of a planet...

There's three characteristics, and this is probably the least important. But if you consider all three to be "the most" important, then I suppose it's one of them. That seems like a pretty silly way to express yourself, though. Personally, I'd probably just say "one characteristic".

Also note that we're talking about the IAU definition, which is not necessarily the only definition. Dictionaries still haven't accepted the IAU definition, and may never do so, because the IAU defines a planet as orbiting the sun, while science fiction writers continue merrily talking about planets around other stars, and show no signs of changing.

Comment Re:Not replaced: serial and parallel ports. (Score 1) 210

That's because most (but not all) USB serial devices use +5/0v rather than +/-12V. Most but unfortunately not all of them are tolerant of +-12V. By the same token, some 12V serial devices will communicate with a TTL serial port and some won't.

Going by spec, it's the TTL level port's fault if they don't communicate, but it's so common these days we might as well consider TTL the standard and 12V operation is a bonus.

The TTL level ports started showing up well before USB was a thing.

Just to make it worse, there are now 3.3V "serial" ports in the wild and some of them do not tolerate TTL levels! That's not good, but at least they are implemented only as header pins on the board and not a 9 pin D.

Comment Re:Not replaced: serial and parallel ports. (Score 1) 210

It may be excessive in some sense, but USB serial has absolutely replaced serial ports on desktop and laptop machines. I can get all the serial ports I want by plugging in inexpensive USB serial devices. The microcontroller in the device may be excessive, but no more so than the glue logic for a PCI device would be just to transmit at 115,200 bpx MAX.

I agree completely on the parallel port. The only remaining use I have for a parallel port is as poor man's GPIO lines. Unfortunately, for reasons that elude me, the standard for USB parallel ports doesn't accommodate that at all.

Comment USB is a support nightmare (Score 4, Interesting) 210

Unlike ethernet, which is pretty much standard from platform to platform and basically trivial to support, USB code is completely different between linux, OS X, and Windows, and is a mess, API-wise.

I write software defined radio stuff, and after one incredible nightmare getting a USB SDR to work on all three platforms using conditional compilation (I did succeed), I swore off. No more. If it doesn't have an ethernet interface, or a USB-to-ethernet server app compatible with the standard SDR protocols that makes it appear to me as an ethernet SDR, it's not happening.

Luckily, some of the best SDR manufacturers out there have done it right. Andrus, AFDRI, and RFSPACE. And there are some servers that have been built to hide the abortion of USB, but so far they are very much platform-specific, for the very reason I described above.

USB. Ugh.

Many people are unenthusiastic about their work.