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Mon, Feb. 13th, 2017, 07:51 pm
USB C. Everyone's complaining. I can't wait. I still hope for cable nirvana.

Things have been getting better for a while now. For smaller gadgets, micro-USB is now the standard charging connector. Cables are becoming
a consumable for me, but they're cheap and easy to find.

But it only goes in one way and it's hard to see and to tell. And not all my gadgets want it the same way round, meaning I have to either remember or peer at a tiny socket and try to guess.

So conditions were right for an either-way-round USB connector.


Apple led the way with its symmetrical Lightning connector:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightning_(connector)

This introduced millions of customers to a USB-sized single plug for data, audio & power that could go into its socket either way. That
"primed the pump".

Then a design student published a, well, um, a design for a USB plug that could go in either way:

http://dornob.com/double-sided-usb-solves-painfully-universal-design-problem/

This was widely admired and discussed, or as they say now, "went viral". I think some companies implemented it but it violates the USB formal spec.

(Not that that bothers the cheapo vendors -- e.g. I have both external hard disks and a laptop cooling stand that both take a USB A to A cable. I.e. the computer-end connector on both ends. This is highly illegal -- you could connect 2 computers directly and blow at least one of them up thereby -- but nobody enforces the rules.)

The bi-directional plug and Lightning both demonstrated that this was desirable, possible, and that there was demand.

Also, there were the bodges of USB 3 extensions to the micro-USB spec such as this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB_3.0#/media/File:Connector_USB_3_IMGP6033_wp.jpg

... and this...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB_3.0#/media/File:USB-3.0-Stecker_(Typ_B).jpg

And commentary such as this:

http://www.theverge.com/2013/9/5/4696874/galaxy-note-3-usb-3-0-power-connector-explained

Sort of Siamese-twin double connectors -- big and ugly and a very visible kludge.

Something Had To Be Done.

USB C is the result.

And although owners and prospective owners of the new MacBook Pro laptops are complaining widely that they *only* have USB-C ports, it's actually a good thing, IMHO.

As this eloquently explains:

https://medium.com/@ageitgey/the-new-macbook-pro-is-kind-of-great-for-hackers-64c1c577a4d2#.bfca5smcu

The higher-end MacBook Pro has 4 of them -- *and nothing else*.

You can plug the power cable into any of them. Doesn't matter. Plug a display in to any of them. Doesn't matter. Phone, memory stick, wired network cable, docking station. Any port. Doesn't matter.

Plug the power supply into the MacBook, the MacBook charges. Plug the same cable into your phone, the phone charges. Plug the phone into the MacBook -- same cable -- the phone charges and syncs.

I really like the idea of a small silent computer that's got a bunch of ports and anything plugs into anything. 2 or 3 screens? Just works. Sync several phones? Just works. Where's the power socket? There isn't one. Plug it in anywhere. If it fits, it works, either way round.

Mon, Feb. 13th, 2017 11:34 pm (UTC)
vicarage

It did annoy me to discover that different usb cables charged at different rates, and I had to read this kind of thing. http://www.extremetech.com/computing/115251-how-usb-charging-works-or-how-to-avoid-blowing-up-your-smartphone

I don't mind different generations of USB improving the data rates, as that bit is clever, but as a power cable, daft.

Mon, Feb. 13th, 2017 11:49 pm (UTC)
liam_on_linux

I was not aware of that myself.

Blimey. Not good.

I did have a nifty little 4-port multicharger with 2 high-power & 2 normal ports. It died. The shop replaced it. The replacement died. The shop said "we're not doing those any more," and gave me my money back... a year and a half on!

I have one of these now: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/10291881/

Cheap, does the job, but no fast charging.