back to article Door creaks and girl farts: computing in the real world

A few weeks ago I dissed the expensive new Apple MacBook Pro for trading a downgraded component spec in return for a pretty display and solid-state memory. In passing, I gave an example of this downgrade: the lack of a CD drive. Several readers helpfully commented that they hadn’t used CD media in ages and wouldn’t miss an …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    </rant> It's called progress - if you missed IR so much there was a simple and cheap solution - get a USB IR adapter - problem solved. If we hold on to the past what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

    1. Weeble
      Thumb Down

      RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

      Yes please. We still have software tied to non-upgradable parallel security keys. [No, USB adapters don't work.]

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

        Perhaps you should upgrade the software - I've not seen a parallel port in years and years. You must be the 0.01%.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

          When some of these packages are north of £100k a seat, you tend to think twice.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

            Probably to buy new - must be what 10-15+ years old by now? So you are more like the 0.0001% so just use a PC with a parallel port and accept that you probably do not need a spangly new Macbook to run your 15 year old software.

            1. Aaron Em

              Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

              You know, if clicking on the 'Anonymous Coward' icon resulted in a smack across the gob, we'd get less of this kind of nonsense --

              1. Andus McCoatover

                Smack across the gob for AC?'s?

                Sadly, you'd simply just knock the mask off...Then we'd know...

          2. Franklin
            Thumb Down

            Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

            "When some of these packages are north of £100k a seat, you tend to think twice."

            I don't know, I might be a bit cynical, but...the way I see it, if I pay that kind of dosh on a bit of software, I kind of...err, expect good support for it.

            True story; I had a client a while back who sold rather pricey prepress workflow software. Not quite that high, but well into five figures per seat.

            Got called out to a customer's site to install it. As is typical of these kinds of situations, the hardware the client had specified during the planning and speccing phase wasn't even close to the hardware waiting for me when I rolled into the server room. Chief among the differences: lack of a parallel port. And, naturally, our dongle didn't work USB. Didn't work in a parallel port card, either (don't ask me why; I have no bloody clue).

            So I spent about a week of near-sleepless nights on site, glued to my phone, talking with our developers as they rolled out a patch to let it work with a USB dongle, downloading builds via FTP and trying them out, until we had the problem sorted.

            You know why?

            BECAUSE WHEN YOU SPEND THAT KIND OF CASH ON SOFTWARE, YOU BLOODY EXPECT TO GET GOOD SUPPORT, THAT'S WHY. If you're spending six figures on software from a vendor who won't support machines without a parallel port, it's time to get a new vendor.

        2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

          I, too, used to work in a place where parallel-port dongles were required for software security. This was third-party industrial control software for controlling very large laser printers. What exactly do you suggest upgrading it to?

          IIRC, the machines controlling these printers had Windows NT on them, precisely because of obsolesence.

          1. Volker Hett

            Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

            "IIRC, the machines controlling these printers had Windows NT on them, precisely because of obsolesence."

            Ok, so not really meant for macs :)

            I have an old Canon FS2710 slide scanner I still use for negatives from my trusty old Leica M2 loaded with Agfa APX 100 from 100 feet rolls in reloadable cartridges from the early 60s.

            But that is so nerdy, it can't be real world. Who knows how to mix developer or fixer today?

        3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

          Another prayer for parallel printer ports - I have a number of memory/mcu programmers which are perfectly operational and which would cost a couple of thousand quid to replace, and for which even the manufacturers are unable to provide a USB solution. So I have to keep an ancient laptop running simply to service these devices.

          I bemoan the lack of both parallel and proper serial ports - though for most functions USB->serial adaptors are a suitable replacement, the parallel port was a device which could be used *simply* to interface at a logic level with the outside world, with known timings and delays. This is simply not available on USB equivalents.

          Modern computing devices are increasingly becoming things simply to be served entertainment upon; their use for control is severely constrained.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

            No-one is saying ditch your 'old stuff' but do not expect the rest of us to have our tech hampered by a parallel port that is frankly thicker than the Macbook Air I use.

          2. Geoff Campbell

            Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

            Oh for fuck's sake, what are you, a bunch of whiney lusers?

            15 seconds - 15 *whole* seconds - with Google got me this:


            You're welcome.


            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

              It's funny how you assume that my modern, up to date computer has a PCI slot that can be used to add a parallel port.

              1. Geoff Campbell

                Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

                Well, yes, OK, fair point. A further ten seconds got me this:


                Anything else you're having trouble with today?


          3. JimC
            Thumb Up

            Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

            And another for parellel ports: I keep an old win 98 laptop primarily for connecting to the parallel port scanner, and I'm damned if I'm going to throw out a perfectly good piece of equipment just because its unfashionable...

            1. Volker Hett

              Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

              "And another for parellel ports: I keep an old win 98 laptop primarily for connecting to the parallel port scanner, and I'm damned if I'm going to throw out a perfectly good piece of equipment just because its unfashionable..."

              And why don't you want to keep the Win98 Laptop?

          4. Steve Todd

            Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

            If you want a bloody parallel printer port then what exactly is wrong with buying a PCI or PCX-e adapter card for a desktop PC? They'll support all the funny ECP/EPP modes that USB adapters won't. If your OS won't support PCI-x then it won't support a modern motherboard with a parallel port, so why the heck should we all pay for a port that we don't want and won't use?

          5. Will Godfrey Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

            Right on the button! Basic parallel and serial ports are dream of simplicity to set up and phenomenally reliable long-term. That's two things you can't say about ANY modern comms.

            Maybe that's why both are still available on many industrial computers.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

          Along with operators of CNC and laser cutters, I doubt a software upgrade would fix a hardware issue.

          1. Captain Underpants

            Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

            Yeah, I work in a research department where the lab kit in use has an actual operational lifespan at least 5 times longer than the average machine that will be used to interface with it. The software & hardware requirements make for interesting (to say the least!) support offerings, but it at least keeps the job from being dull.

            Of course, there are cretins on here for whom "computing" means "operating a web browser and office productivity software", so of course they don't see the loss of hardware connectivity options as a bad thing...

            1. Chris Parsons Bronze badge

              Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

              @Captain Underpants

              How bizarre that some cretin should down vote your post. I'm with you, and envy you an interesting support role.

            2. F Seiler

              Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

              yeah it's funny how how some "tech" people think how computing is reinvented every two years. Funny again how most of the most fundamental algorithms and protocols i actually make use of were developed mostly somewhere around 20 years before i was even born.

        5. uncle sjohie

          Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

          Some of our customers, local governments to be precise, dictate the software, and the version of that software you have to use for the job, in the tender. This means, that as engineering firm, we still have to use software , secured with parallel dongles, just to get contracts. Some of our acoustic modelling software uses different calculating modules, and the specify those too.

        6. Munchausen's proxy
          Thumb Down

          Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

          'Perhaps you should upgrade the software - I've not seen a parallel port in years and years. You must be the 0.01%.'

          Typical IT. "You shouldn't do what you've been doing that has always worked. You should pay more money and do what we tell you to do."

        7. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?


          0, Waffle on about mobile, the cloud and a new computing paradigm but not actually solve any problems

          1, Reassemble the team that wrote some specialist CAD/microwave simulation/plant process planning app from the 90s

          2, Buy some new $N*10k version and retrain everyone, revalidate all your models in the new SW and redo all the certification

          3, Buy lots of spares of that last motherboard that had a parralel port, or a decent PCI bus that can take a card that sits at the right address.

          I know which one I would pick.

        8. NogginTheNog

          Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

          You must be blind then - they're STILL on the back of nearly every desktop I see in every office I visit.

        9. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

          In other words, if it isn't useful to you, then everyone else should get along fine without it.

      2. A J Stiles

        Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

        I believe under these circumstances, you're actually allowed to hack out the licence key checking stuff, as it comes under the heading of interoperability.

        Might be worth offering the vendor an ultimatum -- "We wish to use what we have bought and paid for, for its rightful purpose. Either provide us with a compatible solution, or we will be forced to hack open your software in order to do this" -- and seeing how they respond. They may actually say something that gives you permission to tinker.

        And next time you're procuring software, insist on the Source Code to prevent similar shenanigans in future.

        1. The Axe

          insist on the Source Code?

          Insist on the source code. Are you for real? For something that costs thousands, the whole point it is so expensive is becasue it's proprietary and secret. Have you tried asking for AutoCAD's source? You'll get laughed out of the building.

          1. A J Stiles

            Re: insist on the Source Code?

            Well, AutoCAD and the like are only making any money in the first place because people are still buying their software.

            If enough people decided just to stop buying their software unless they quit shafting the people who pay their wages, then they would have either to move with the demands of the market or go bust.

            1. Triggerfish

              Re: insist on the Source Code?

              Yes and then wait around for something to come up thats as useful, there is a reason AutoCAD is a industry standard.

              1. Richard 12 Silver badge

                Re: insist on the Source Code?

                AutoCAD is rubbish compared to the various solid-modelling packages, like SolidWorks.

                (And heck, even Google Sketchup is better for most of the things AutoCAD is actually used for)

                There's a reason the car manufacturing industry (and probably a lot of others) never used AutoCAD. SDRC Ideas was not exactly great, but it was actually 3D and not the 2.5D that AutoCAD is.

                - I personally think that AutoCAD is probably indirectly responsible for a great many of the cost overruns on building sites. I see so many "Oh dear, we'll have to move that now the air handling ducts are in..."

          2. asdf

            Re: insist on the Source Code?

            Actually you could probably get the source code fairly easily for AutoCAD. All you need to do at worse is shell out $1.609 billion or so to buy Autodesk. Still very very reasonable if you compare what joke companies like Groupon and Instagram are going for.

            1. tath

              Re: insist on the Source Code?

              The fact that Autodesk is worth around the same as a service that makes your pictures go yellow makes me wonder when the fuck someone replaced reality with this bizarre construct I seem to inhabit now.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: insist on the Source Code?

            No one is saying do not use parallel ports - but for your 1 in 10,000 requirement do not expect every laptop made to be installed with one - especially when there are plenty of good alternatives (USB adapters) that would solve most of these issues.

          4. F Seiler

            Re: insist on the Source Code?

            there are both cases of course. It's apallingly clear that you can't force such a company, but it's doubly blind if you don't insist on the code where you actually could, just to save a few bucks or have easier negotiations in the short term.

        2. F Seiler

          Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

          upvoted, not because i'm an "open source" advocat, but because buying binary can lead to some unfortunare circumstances where you are forced to a) hack around failings in the manu firmware and b) are either forced to threat them to kill if they dont give out source/permission to hack or b2) buy the company as a whole.

          All because someone thought it was ok to buy in custom drivers without insisting on the source code and the manu is incapable to fix the problems by themselves (i.e driving multiple cards in the same device; not related to parallel ports but close).

      3. Paul Crawford Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Parallel printer ports on motherboard

        If you need older hardware support in a modern computer check out the DFI EL620-C ATX motherboard, it has a parallel port (you need a bracket/25D/ribbon cable thing unfortunately as it is not rear-facing), two rear facing serial ports (and more inside), PS2 mouse & keyboard, 4 rear-facing USB ports, and two Gigabit Ethernet ports.

        Oh, and it also has 3 ISA slots for industrial cards like we use!

        Supports the older socket 775 CPUs unfortunately, but Intel still make the Q9400 quad core one (and others) if you can find a supplier that is not utterly incompetent to actually sell you them.

      4. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

        Yes please, we have a £15,000 printer that we are NOT going to trash because some crappy £100 PC doesn't have the right connectors.

    2. Eddie Edwards
      Paris Hilton

      Don't know about you but the missing IR on the iPhone is a complete joke. What, one LED? And I could control my entire media center with it, probably with a super-duper app that even my ex-wife could have figured out. "Use Wii now". Easy. No more tech support phone calls because she can't operate a projector and a DVB and an AVR simultaneously.

      But, no. And I don't see a USB IR adapter available for iPhone either. No doubt some enterprising soul has built one to hang out of the headphone socket and is driving it using audio. But let's stop, before this becomes a rant about Apple's hardware secrecy program, and someone asks why I'm not using Android.

      1. Naughtyhorse


        Why aren't you using android. leave the dark side behind you

        1. Manu T

          Re: so...

          Because as with the everything this article is about. Android isn't the solution either. It sucks. In fact ALL of the new kids on the block particularly Windows Phone 7.x, iPhones and Android suck. They removed too much important features that some of use take for granted. Some examples:

          Gone is simple effortless USB-syncing with your local PC (or mac) (this is a WP7 issue)

          Gone is full 2-way call recording. A feat even an old SE K750i could accomplish and which is becoming increasingly important as more and more countries ban phone and drive usage.

          Gone is proper multitasking which is so odd since all the new phones pack a lot more punch. I just can't understand why a 400MHz ancient windows mobile device has desktop-like multitasking yet their +1GHz Windows Phones 7 successor is severely crippled in that respect. The same with iOS. I remember Apple being the laughing stock because Mac OS 8 had horrible multitasking. Again iPhones have a lot more power then old 68x00 equipped macs of yesteryears and yet has such limited multitasking.

          We're not progressing but regressing. The current crop of smart phones are dumber than some devices of yesteryear. In t gets worse. Soon Android will be void of flashplayer. At this rate, it means that our +600 euro quad core handheld-monster well not be any better than a stupid 40 euro cheap WAP-phone.

          Even trivial things like a simple notification light is becoming a problem (although I can't see why they couldn't use the leds from their capacitive bottom buttons (e.g. LG 4x HD).

          Why don't those bloody morons make a true innovative without compromising for once.

          Or do you think that a cheap-looking ugly plastic slaps crammed with high-tech innards justifies these high asking prices?

          BTW. Who can help me in my quest for a modern Android device with full 2-way call-recording?

          1. spiny norman

            Re: so...

            I was with you as far as "Android isn't the solution either. It sucks". After that you lost me.

            I'm not even sure that it's Android that sucks. My HTC is bogged down with so much rubbish installed by HTC and Vodafone, it's hard to tell which is to blame. Yes, I could root it, but why should I have to?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What happened to IR on 'phones? Long gone are the days when I could turn the idiot-box off in the pub without anyone knowing. They'd get bored playing with it eventually. If you do it manually, you have to guard the bloody thing.

      Actually, given you seemingly seriously suggested a USB IR adapter, I think you must be trolling.

    4. LarsG

      Finally, I am not alone,I am not alone!

    5. Pypes

      You'd be surprised at how much modern industrial kit runs over parallel and serial ports (including the 25 pin variety.of the latter) There are even some nice plug-and-play serial over 2.4Ghz wireless solutions so you can fire up that CNC from your laptop while you sit on the grass next to the carpark smoking a fag.

    6. This post has been deleted by its author

    7. KnucklesTheDog

      Some of you use old Windows PC software which requires a parallel port, and this is relevant to an article about the new Mac Book not having IR or a CD drive?

      Maybe as it's not a completely suitable device for one or two of you Apple should shut up shop?

  2. frank ly

    Can you still get Spangles?

    I haven't seen them for a long time (in the UK).

    1. Captain Hogwash

      Re: Can you still get Spangles?

      Sadly no. Some Gort decided that they belong in the past.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Can you still get Spangles?

        Why not phone up the factory and see if they will make them just for you - when they stop laughing put the phone down. I suppose it worked for Wispa.

        1. auburnman

          Re: Can you still get Spangles?

          They did make a brief comeback some years ago - I still remember an excited Gaby Roslin sharing the news on the Big Breakfast, which probably gives you an idea of how long ago. Wouldn't give them to a baby though - choking hazard and all.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Can you still get Spangles?

            I remember trying them. Bought them in Woolies, and think it was in the 90s. Nostalgia ain't what it used to be, they were horrible.

        2. Rocket

          Re: Can you still get Spangles?

          Why not phone up the factory and see if they will give you the source -erm recipe, etc, etc

    2. Steve I

      Re: Can you still get Spangles?

      You can over here in The Netherlands, I think. I snatched some from a baby this morning on my way from the airpiort.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Surely I can’t be the only person who doesn’t like it when manufacturers take things away from me just because it’s easy for them to do so."

    It's not necessarily because it's 'easy' - but what do you do if 95% of your customers never or very rarely use a CD/DVD drive but 95% of your customers would benefit from a faster CPU, better screen etc. which drain more juice - so require a larger battery. It's certainly a lot easier to have an external CD/DVD drive for the few times I may need one than cart around an external battery or AC adapters I may not otherwise have needed.

    1. Dave Bell

      Having an external drive with a reliable connector is a decent solution. Of course, when we're also hearing that such standard connectors as Ethernet are vanishing as well, we can wonder just what the designers are smoking.

  4. Roy Nottroy

    Who wants a crappy mechanical spinny-plastic-disk interface taking up so much space and making clunk-noises in a piece of high-density techno-loveliness? Especially when it might get used once a month at most? Nobody. Apple have it spot on (again): If you need to get files off a CD, do it over a network, or use a USB stick. The retina MacBook isn't aimed at people who still want to drive around in a Ford Escort. Get with the programme.

    1. Jediben

      Further to this point, should we even be putting data onto mediums such as CD any more except for backup? The use case of the girl wandering into the office with a bunch of 'files' could have been solved far more eloquently if she had utilised the correct format for this transfer of data. A USB stick would have much greater breadth of compatibility with devices (many tablets have USB ports, phones have adapters, all desktops/laptops/tanktops have USB) and it is re-usable. It sounds whoever supplied her with the files runs an office ill-equipped for modern (and I mean the last 15 years) use.

      If it' was the IT manager's colleague, then she is bone-idle enough to not notice that not a single CD drive exists on any of the machines that presumably she has seen every working day and has no excuse.

      If she was the author's colleague.... well, you know what they say about assumptions...

      1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge


        ...make an ass out of you and...umptions?

        1. Annihilator Silver badge

          Re: Assumptions...

          @Uncle Slacky, I've always known assumptions to be "the mother of all fuck ups", but I did spend an unhealthy amount of time watching Under Siege 2.

          I'm possibly missing the point of this article though - it ends with the author smugly noting that pretty much no other PC in the office had an optical drive (and nobody to date had noticed), and using that fact to cane the latest Mac that has no optical drive, thus joining the same gang as the PCs in the office.

          In short, if you want a laptop with a CD drive, buy one. But might want to consider there are plenty of people who don't use one. No product is going to make everyone happy.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        USB stick assumption.... I've had incompatibility issues loads of time, why can't the manufacturers get together and actually have ONE standard that works between all OS's, even if its just for file transfer...

        Sure Fat32 works, but NOT if you want to work with files over 4gb!!!

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      "Get with the Programme"

      I can reliably inform you that I will never, ever, "get with the programme" if, as I suspect, this consists of being a douchebag hipster who owns a high-spec Macbook so that he (or she) can use it for nothing more than sitting in a trendy cafe arseing about on FaceBook. That is a programme I want no part of, thank you very much.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Get with the Programme"

        Bitter - may I suggest a job as a barrista.

      2. Dave Bell

        Re: "Get with the Programme"

        The idea of a retinal display is a good one, but it looks as though the compromises needed to get them into a Macbook limit the system usability. Going by what a friend says, Apple does things in a different way to the general PC world. And the Apple way suits his needs.

        Looking at the comments as a whole, some people don't seem to realise that there are alternatives to doing things the fashionable way.

        And nobody has seemed to mention SCSI.

      3. Volker Hett

        Re: "Get with the Programme"

        No problem for me, I sit in a less trendy pub with my Macbook arsing around five virtual and two physical machines. And although my Macbook still has an optical drive, I don't have any media with me.

    3. E_Nigma
      IT Angle

      Once a Moth Is Often Enough!

      If you had to build anything for a business user, you'd know that if they needed something once a month, then you'd need to deliver it. Omitting the optical drive from a flashy ultra-compact is one thing, omitting it from a business workhorse is quite another. It's still common enough and no other technology has replaced it completely.

      But the manufacturers and vendors that deem themselves big enough allow themselves to dismiss such pedestrian reasons. Newer tech makes better marketing material and pushes margins up and omitting older stuff, making the new devices difficult to use with the 'old' ones, forces the users to replace kit more often - sometimes even that which for all intents and purposes still does the job more than adequately.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Once a Moth Is Often Enough!

        We buy PCs with perfectly good CD drives and USB ports. Our IT bods then install the security software that prevents us using them

      2. DJV Silver badge

        Re: Once a Moth Is Often Enough!

        Yes, but how often are Moths? Is there a timetable? Do they only come out at night? Are they compatible with Butterflies?

        We must be told!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I see your mistake there

        You used "Mac" and "business" in the same sentence.

    4. 100113.1537

      CD vs USB - please infect me!

      Try infecting me with a virus when I transfer files around a room full of computers on a CD, whereas a USB stick......

      Some of us work in the real world that means outside the North America and Western Europe and where the chance of an meeting an infected computer is about 1 when you have a room containing more than 2 computers. And yes of course you can make your USB stick non-writeable and then one of the participants flicks the little switch to turn this off while they are waiting for their turn.....

      There is a big world out there people and it is not populated by the latest and greatest, but by the cheapest and most easily fixed.

    5. hplasm

      Is it me...

      or are there a lot of snarky barista types on here today?

      I'll have a black coffee, with milk- when you can spare a minute from pouting.

    6. Manu T


      "The retina MacBook isn't aimed at people who still want to drive around in a Ford Escort. Get with the programme."

      It's clear to me. Apple is regressing into a toy-maker. Fisher price for adults. Their best succes a fucking MP3-player their second best succes; a mediaplayer with a phone. What's next?

      A game console? See and behold the new Nintendo DS... euhm... macbook "pro"....whoahahahaha!

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      quite a lot of people, actually

      "Who wants a crappy mechanical spinny-plastic-disk interface taking up so much space..."

      Well, there are people, in real business you know, who have to follow procedures on deliverables, i.e. delivery on tamper-proof media (software, documentation) for archival and audit trail. Internal CD or DVD is quite useful for them. Especially when your USB ports are turned off by policy.

      However, it's not that useful for Mom&Pop or Two Garage Geeks type of enterprise you are probably more familiar with. On that I agree.

      1. M Gale

        Re: quite a lot of people, actually

        "Who wants a crappy mechanical spinny-plastic-disk interface taking up so much space..."

        Anybody who buys music from a shop?

        Yes I know, it might be hard for those up in a Jovian orbit to realise that some of us might visit the real world on occasion. You know, where shops are made of bricks and mortar, and have physical products in them. Including CDs, and DVDs!

        And no, streaming shite and buying the right to download an MP3 is not an acceptable substitute. Not unless you're paying my traffic bills.

      2. Volker Hett

        Re: quite a lot of people, actually

        Macbooks WITH optical drives are still available. It's not that they produce just on laptop, you know.

        And in a parallel Universe in a small country named Germany the authorities demand electronic delivery of data, in Microsoft formats! No Macs are harmed in the process.

  5. Crisp

    In the real world, doors creak and girls fart.

    Which is why we have hinge oil and vagisil.

    And honestly, if you're out of the house with a phone that's down to it's last 15% of charge, then you *should* be carrying around a charging cable in your bag.

    1. Roy Nottroy

      Re: In the real world, doors creak and girls fart.

      > hinge oil and vagisil

      I have it on good authority that these are the same product, in different packaging.

    2. Mephistro

      Re: In the real world, doors creak and girls fart.

      "Which is why we have hinge oil and vagisil"

      I understand the part about hinge oil, but how does Vagisil prevent farts?

      1. Goldmember
        Thumb Up

        Re: In the real world, doors creak and girls fart.

        "I understand the part about hinge oil, but how does Vagisil prevent farts?"

        Turn off Safe Search in Google, and type 'fanny fart' (probably not recommended while at work).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In the real world, doors creak and girls fart.

      hinge oil? was that a typo or did you deliberately use an "H" instead of an "M" ?

    4. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: In the real world, doors creak and girls fart.

      40 bucks buys a compact external usb dvd writer, 50 bucks buys you a decent external battery for tablets and phones.

      Apple made a choice, most likely after considerable research and thought. As much as I dislike them, they have come out with a damn fine product. The choices they have made are not resulting in the end of the world, no puppies have been harmed, if you need a dvd drive, buy an external one. If your phone goes flat carry an external battery. Those of us that actually work in the real world rather than being paid to write about pretending to work in it come across problems all the time, we just figure out solutions. Like how canon's wireless transfer system is expensive and overrated, but wireless usb dongles are cheap and do the job better (wireless live view). Do I berate canon? Does it mean they make crap products? Hell no, just some thought required. Then again, thinking is hard, bitching is easy.

      1. LinkOfHyrule
        Paris Hilton


        This stuff works on hinges, minges, ir sensors, optial drives, rusty parallel ports, dongles and baristas. It cures ALL problems! Get with the programme and squirt some will ya!

  6. Chris 171

    For music alone, long live the CD...

    In the real world I like the music I buy to sound the best it can, nothing like a big fat .wav as far as Im concerned.

    Granted this then gets broken down to a 320kbps mp3 for mobile use but at home on the system, I want it all.

    apples fault entirely of course, you dont need to buy CD's when you can DL from the horror that is itunes.. apparently....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: For music alone, long live the CD...

      I'm guessing you have super ears but I do not reckon most people could hear the difference between a 256kbps AAC (from the iTunes store) or 320kbps MP3 or original CD.

      Many people would like to think they could but a best upgrade would probably be a cotton bud and reversal of the effects of age.

      1. Chris 171

        Re: For music alone, long live the CD...

        Maybe not super ears but your right, most probably couldnt, or dont care.. they were happy with 128k for long enough....

        With a decent separates system lossy files really are obvious & Im not ready to give up the happy feeling I get from the physical ownership of music just yet either.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: For music alone, long live the CD...

          OMG 'happy' feeling - yes owning a round piece of plastic makes me feel so special and happy! Listening to music is good - owning physical music is pretty crappy. Yes I'm sure there are people who just love to slide their vinyl records out and listen to it in analogue glory - for the 99.99% rest of us we would probably rather have the convenience of our own playlists and being able to carry around our entire music collection on our phones.

          1. Chris 171

            Re: For music alone, long live the CD...

            World would be a boring place if we were all the same right?

        2. Steve Todd

          Re: For music alone, long live the CD...

          Happy feeling? More like the kind of brainwashing that HiFi nuts go through to convince themselves that they can hear the difference between a £5 and a £50 digital interconnect.

          I've got a decent separates system with a dedicated HiFi grade DAC (96k 24 bit), and though I can easily spot the difference between 320k OGG files and 256k AAC, I'm damned if I can hear the difference between FLAC and 256k VBR AAC.

        3. Volker Hett

          Re: For music alone, long live the CD...

          "With a decent separates system lossy files really are obvious & Im not ready to give up the happy feeling I get from the physical ownership of music just yet either."

          Ok, makes sense, but you wouldn't burn MP3s to CD so you can hook up your macbook to the system and play the CD from there, would you?

      2. Elmer Phud

        Re: For music alone, long live the CD...

        The Apple solution is so good they are now letting mere mortals use FLAC on some dev-i-ces.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: For music alone, long live the CD...

      > you dont need to buy CD's when you can DL from the horror that is itunes..

      Or vice versa- you don't have to use iTunes! Buy the CD for less than the iTunes download, and rip it at home- to a lossless format if you want, and listen to it on a Cowon or Sandisk portable player.

      But even having said that, it is possible to download (or buy on DVD-A discs) music of higher (technical) quality than CDs, since it can be 24bit 192 Khz.

  7. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Because a CD is such a good solution compared to a simple USB memory stick? After all, one fits in a pocket or onto a keychain, the other doesn't. One can effortlessly store 10-12 times the amount of data as the other and do so in a smaller package. One is considerably faster than the other and can be easily rewritten as often as required, without having to wipe and rewrite the whole thing every time.

    And as noted by a previous poster, this is why we keep a USB CD/DVD for the occasional times when needed.

    Of course, this is before a cretinous laptop manufacturer decides that you don't need USB or that you only need a single port or the ports that are there are not the normal size...

    1. David Webb

      Dunno about that, my PC has a nice blu-ray drive which would need a pretty big USB pen drive to catch up to it in size, but on the other hand, a PC is for entertainment purposes whilst a Mac is for office work... wait, that advert......

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        >whilst a Mac is for office work

        You mean MS Office on OSX still has menus and is usually found on a 16:10 screen?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I've seen USB sticks up to 128-256Gb and of course small USB hard drives at 1Tb+

        How big did you say your blu-ray was... oh not that big - never mind.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple have not 'ditched' gigabit ethernet but most offices offer 'wireless' access these days which usually suits mobile workers better. Apple provide a pretty cheap (and tiny) USB or Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapter - think the USB one is about £15-20 and the Thunderbolt one about £20-25 - you leave on in your computer bag should you go to somewhere that does not have wireless. It's no big deal unless you are just looking for fault.

    I'm sure in 5 years time you will still be wanting a wafer thin laptop with super battery life but packed with every bit of legacy tech (CD drives, IR etc.) - pretty sure on the new Macbook Air it's SO thin you could not even plug an ethernet port in - what then? Ever heard of the saying 'wanting to have you cake and eat it'?

    1. rich_a

      I hardly think £15-25 is "cheap" for an ethernet adapter. If anything, Apple should have used a smaller proprietary connector for ethernet which is identically electrically to an RJ45 one and then supplied a free RJ-45 to smaller connector adapter - this is what telly makers are doing to allow massive SCART sockets to be connected to their itty bitty flat panels. Having everyone in an office work from wireless sounds great until you realise that the contention of a WLAN with many people on it makes it slow and increasingly useless.

      I don't agree with everything Mr. Dabbs says, but he is kinda right. Apple have a history of removing "old" hardware just a little too soon. Those of us who remember the original iMac also remember that Apple did a roaring trade in overpriced USB floppy drives and probably made them much more money than if they just inserted one inside the thing in the first place

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You are just tight - £15 on a £1500 laptop is 1% and the fact is I bet only 5-10% of owners ever need to buy one.

        Adding a 'smaller proprietary connector' would have also drawn criticism (probably more) and have been an extra cost only a few people actually need.

        Wireless these days is far, far better - most people on a wireless network will be just loading / saving small documents, picking up email and browsing the web - of course in your power office where you are flinging around huge CAD drawings. I'm not going to say it's a quick as wired as it's not but there is a simple solution - get the adapter if your workload requires it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @rich_a: "Those of us who remember the original iMac also remember that Apple did a roaring trade in overpriced USB floppy drives and probably made them much more money than if they just inserted one inside the thing in the first place"

        When I heard that Apple was dropping floppy drives from its lineup, I almost cheered. I had come to dread seeing anything come into the office on a floppy disk - you'd put the disk in, sit and wait while it sat whirring and grinding away for a while, then watch the progress meter with bated breath wondering if it would make it the whole way. The capacity of a floppy was already pathetic by that time, and they were the number 1 source of hardware failures.

        1. rich_a

          Hi Ralph. I mostly agree with you. Floppy disks were crap. However in the late 90's when the iMac debuted they were an inexpensive way of transferring and carrying around documents and spreadsheets. Net access was not ubiquitous, uploading 1.4MB of data took an age over the nowhere-near 56K modems everyone used and "cloud" storage services didn't exist anyway. A few people had zip drives, but they had their own problems and weren't present on many computers at all. IIRC the first USB flash drives came out a few years after the iMac, so they weren't around for the first generation.

          I'd bet 50p that the majority of the first gen iMacs were sold with a floppy drive. People needed to carry around their work somehow!

          1. Wheaty73


            I had a 1st gen iMac and didn't buy a USB floppy with it. Ethernet worked fine. Flash drives did exist, but they were huge (in physical terms) and tiny (in capacity). I had a 64Mb one with a bright yellow cap about the size of a hilighter pen, which cost me an arm and a leg.

            I did however buy a USB floppy/card reader combo a few years ago to get access to a single file on a DD disk I found in the attic. Still use it as a card reader - not so much a floppy drive.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          Up voted for getting bated right.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Those of us who remember the original iMac

        "Those of us who remember the original iMac also remember that Apple did a roaring trade in overpriced USB floppy drives and probably made them much more money than if they just inserted one inside the thing in the first place"

        I remember the original iMac and I'm pretty certain that Apple did not make a USB floppy. They all came from 3rd party accessory manufacturers.

  9. Joe Harrison

    It's all synergistic you know

    These questionable decisions don't just cause problems in isolation. There's also our other cost-saving favourite; not giving you Windows installation media when you buy a PC these days.

    Which leads to the ridiculous situation of your new optical-drive-less computer popping up stern warnings that you really should get three blank DVDs ready and click here to make a backup.

  10. Efros

    3 year old laptop

    Has an IR interface used zero times, had a dvd rw until about six months ago at which point I pulled it and replaced it with a second HD bay, prior to this it had been used twice in 2.5 years. Apple MacBook I have has a "superdrive" which hasn't been used at all in its 3 year lifetime, but then the MacBook hasn't been used much either.

  11. geekclick

    Anyone who works "in IT"..

    Should carry a USB CDRW/DVDRW drive by default. My laptop has no optical drive built in but came bundled with a USB one, has been one of the most handy peripherals i have ever kept in my kit bag! The time of the built in spinning storage (both HDD's and Optical) is nearing its end but bundling a USB one with the machine should be the standard.

    For all those knocking on about USB drives etc, when was the last time you installed an OS from one? Its a ballache in the extreme hence why OS discs are still discs....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Anyone who works "in IT"..

      You work in IT - really? I install OSs from USB sticks all the time and loathe if I had to do it using a CD/DVD.

      Apple ship OSX Lion on USB by default or it's downloadable. We have images for Windows OSs that we can download. It's 2012 not 1995.

    2. Andrew Waite

      Re: Anyone who works "in IT"..

      OS install from USB stick?

      I do it regularly, both for live boot scenarios and full-blown builds. Take a look at unetbootin, and join the spaceshop generation.

      CD/DVD make good coffee cup holders, but that's about it.

      1. Aaron Em

        The "spaceshop generation"?

        Well, I would, but I haven't been by KSC lately --

    3. Mark 65

      Re: Anyone who works "in IT"..

      @geekclick: Installing an OS from a USB stick is an absolute dream. Way quicker than spinning media. So much so that I have several sticks that I have bought for the sole purpose of hosting various OS installation media - buy it, load it on, label it, then just keep it for whenever it's needed. Even create your own slipstream install on one.

      My carry everywhere USB drive on my keyring contains various bootable OSes for system recovery etc created with MultiSystem on Linux. That is something I'd recommend for IT people for the inevitable "can you take a look at our PC" moment when you're round someone's house for a social call. At the moment I have (from memory) Puppy Linux, RIP Linux, Darik's Boot and Nuke, Ubuntu and a persistent store area on the one stick.

      I accept the point about optical drives being necessary - clients prefer media on them to USB sticks due to the nature of the medium being finalised - but I wouldn't go back to installing an OS off of them unless I really had to.

      1. Goat Jam

        Can you look at my PC?


        Try it, it's not that hard.

        If you have difficulty saying the "n" word then there are any number of suitable get out clauses.

        "I'm a network engineer, I don't do PC support" is an old faithful.

        Persistant naggers then get "Ah, I see you use Windows. I work with Unix, don't know anything about Windows, sorry".

        Still don't know what this "Windows user" icon means.

    4. Volker Hett

      Re: Anyone who works "in IT"..

      For all those knocking on about USB drives etc, when was the last time you installed an OS from one? Its a ballache in the extreme hence why OS discs are still discs....

      5 physical Windows 7 Desktops today without any media, look up PEX.

      2 Windows 2008r2 virtual Servers from Image files

      1 Knoppix from a USB stick.

  12. paj

    For occasional use, you can always buy a USB CD drive - and in the past I expect you could have bought a USB infrared port. I think they're doing exactly the right thing stripping out components that are only used occasionally. It's not just the cost - they're saving you carrying around deadweight too.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    CD/DVD is dying - USB drives are super cheap and fast - think I last paid under £20 for a 32Gb one which can hold a LOT more data than a few CDs or DVDs. Move on. Is IR really a better solution these days - no - that's why it's not included and if you need an USB IR adapter I'd imagine Amazon have them for a few quid.

    I have not used IR on a computer for perhaps 10 years now. I have an external CD/DVD drive in my drawer - perhaps use it 2-3 times a year. Laptop makers started making the CD/DVD drives removable so you could have nothing (save weight) or put an extra battery in instead. Ask almost all notebook users and the extra battery is the preferred option.

    1. Nigel 11

      DVD-W still has a niche

      One writeable DVD costs less than 20p and holds nearly 5Gb. Cheap enough to give away freely and/or stick in the post. 8Gb USB sticks are at least twenty times more expensive.

      Yes, you can send 4.6 Gb by network these days, and without pain on a LAN. However, at DSL upload speed? OK, it might complete overnight and it probably will beat the post, but that's not very convenient . Especially if there's more than one person you need to send a copy to.

      Despite this, I don't object to computers lacking a DVDRW drive. I've got a dinky little USB DVDRW drive that powers itself off a single USB socket. If you don't have access to one, there's something wrong with you or your employer.

  14. MJI Silver badge

    Isometimes need a floppy drive

    But my new work PC doesn't have one.

    Just what you need when testing a floppy disc output (still in use in the real world)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Isometimes need a floppy drive

      So - get a USB floppy drive - this is not rocket science. I've not used a floppy drive in perhaps 5 years but even back then I used a USB drive - think it cost about £20 - so probably cheaper now.

      Some of these guys would have some frankenstein with CD/DVD drives, floppy drives, parallel printer ports, IR and whatever else god-damn-best-forgotten technology the rest of us have left behind.

      Still use candles at home (as your main source of light)?

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Isometimes need a floppy drive

        USB FDD are about a tenner, I have several USB floppy drives because I support legacy products that have them.

        However, what about the actual floppy discs?

        The disks you buy these days seem pretty rubbish, not lasting very long and I gather there's only one factory making them.

        When they stop, then what?

      2. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Isometimes need a floppy drive

        Someone still has one so not too bad.

        I used SUBST!!!!

        My home PC has

        Floppy drive

        DVD writer

        BluRay writer

        quite a few USB

        serial - don't think there is parallel


        KB/M connectors




        Very little I can't connect it to, childrens home computer even has MIDI & optical digital.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "So - get a USB floppy drive - this is not rocket science"

    .... not going to do much to help me with my paper tape though!

    1. MJI Silver badge

      paper tape

      We were lucky there - the kit was converted to network before we want to Windows.

      Machines - lots of different connections

      Paper tape


      Network connections - how about when one using NETX IPX and they downgrade their server to Windows.

  16. Simon Aspland

    CD-R/DVD-R Still have a place...

    Until the price of USB sticks come down to 'throw away' levels, there is still a place for CD-R/DVD-Rs.

    In the example described, the girl with the CD full of files, yes she could have brought them on a USB stick, but if she needed to leave the files there with a post it note 'cause the bloke who wanted them wasn't in the office, would she rather leave a £5-£20 memory stick? or a 15p CD?

    1. Jediben

      Re: CD-R/DVD-R Still have a place...

      Er... why not just copy the files to a PC in the office and he can get them whenever he wants, and she can leave with the USB stick...

      1. Simon Aspland

        Re: CD-R/DVD-R Still have a place...

        So you'd be happy for someone to come into your office, attach a USB stick to your PC and copy files onto your desktop when you're not there?

        It's not a very 'polite' thing to do, and opens her up for 'what did you do to my PC?' questions etc...

        1. Jediben

          Re: CD-R/DVD-R Still have a place...

          A machine in the office, not the specific machine of the user who is not present. If no machine can be accessed then you're out of luck. But then again...

          How exactly is a CD appearing on someone's desk with a postit note any more secure than the files appearing on the local drive/server after an authorised logon from a user with credentials? Are you really going to pop that disc in your drive?

          1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

            Re: Are you really going to pop that disc in your drive?

            Yes, because I don't have a stupidly configured computer that runs anything presented to it, and there is a good reason to expect it is valuable to me. Even with Windows one of the first things I do is disable autorun on *ALL* media via the registry setting.

            How would any other media be safer? Infected USB are depressingly common...

        2. WahWah

          Re: CD-R/DVD-R Still have a place...

          No, I wouldn't be happy. That's why we have a file server.

  17. Ian Ferguson
    Thumb Up

    Brilliant article

    I can empathise completely, especially with the infra-red.

    In 1999, I could use my Handspring Visor's infra-red port to instantly control my TV and stereo from one screen.

    In 2012, my LG TV has an iPhone app for controlling it over WiFi. Lovely, except that every time I want to use it I have to connect to WiFi, launch the app, wait for it to find compatible devices on the network, then select the TV, all before I can push the 'volume up' button. And no chance of using it to control the stereo.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Brilliant article

      You can buy an IR dongle for your iPhone, or make your own: Google 'DIY iPhone IR dongle'. It works with apps that generate an IR signal from a WAV file, since it is constructed from an old 3.5mm jack and some IR LEDs.

      1. TheOtherHobbes

        Re: Brilliant article

        Yes you can.

        But why should you have to get out a soldering iron when it would cost Apple nothing to build in an IR LED and knock out a driver for it?

        There's no problem including GPS, a magnetometer, a gyro, an accelerometer, two cameras, a proximity sensor, water sensors, a custom processor, MP3 audio hardware, WiFi, and a graphics accelerator.

        But apparently an IR LED is an extra too far.

  18. Kwac

    Was it here?

    Was it on El reg that I regularly see comments regarding security & USB ports?

    1. John 110

      Re: Was it here?

      It could have been. Where I work all USB ports are locked down and don't let you plug a stick into them unless it's an authorized encrypted one (like the supplied ones that crashed the PCs when they tried to run their setup program). When reps and visiting lecturers turn up with a USB stick, we just laugh... (then we dig out our non-networked laptop with the CD burner and burn a CD).

      <aside>One visiting lecturer turned up with a USB stick, which when we finally (illegally) accessed the contents contained a .key file. Sigh. </aside>

  19. Dave 126 Silver badge

    We all have different favourite 'little things'

    Little things such as; IR port, external volume knob, Caps-Lock indicator, cursor key placement, USB port spacing, Middle Button under trackpad...

    Some people might care about some of the above, some might not give a hoot. Personally, I'd like the dummy ExpressCard in my laptop to be something useful, such as being a case for spare SD cards, or housing a screen-cleaning duster or a CD marker pen.

    If you've gone to the effort of carrying around a few DVDs, then it isn't much extra work to carry an external drive to play them on, since its barely bigger than a DVD case.

  20. Lis 0r

    What's it like to live in the distant past, Grampa Dabbs?

  21. Suricou Raven


    Why are they so crazed over making it so thin? Shaving off a few milimeters isn't going to do anything for useability, and the macbook series are already thin enough to fit into any bag. What possible benefit is there to making it any thinner, even ignoring the compromises of reduced functionality and increased cost that such dimensional squeezing demands?

    1. Jediben
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Thiner?

      Haven't you heard? A shaved one is MUCH better!

    2. Nigel 11

      Re: Thiner?

      Thinner makes it intrinsically more fragile (wrt getting bent). Something I'm sure the manufacturers have thought long and hard about. Convince the punters to pay more for a less durable product. Yes. Oh YES.

  22. Tom7
    Thumb Down

    I got rid of the optical drive in my laptop two months ago and replaced it with a spinning HDD to make up for only having a 128GB SSD. I've been lugging the optical drive around since, "Just in case," but I've never needed it and might as well chuck it, I reckon.

    1. Aaron Em

      The day you chuck it

      will be the day before the day you need it.

  23. Joefish

    No-one took it off you.

    If you want to stick to your old ways, stick to your old machine.

    Jesus H. Ghostbusting Christ, it's not rocket science.

    1. M Gale

      Re: No-one took it off you.

      Meanwhile, on the Starship Joefish, where hardware lasts forever...

      ...but back in the real world, things break.

      And spinning disks are far from dead.

  24. Mephistro

    The devil is in the details...

    Transferring some ancient-but-needed piece of legacy software from a CD to a thumbdrive takes time, some knowledge of what you are doing, and may well be impossible due to copy protection. As an IT pro, being paid by the hour, I've nothing against Apple or any other PC maker removing the CD drive from their products, but customers may feel differently when they find out that the cost of doing this just once is probably bigger than the cost of including a CD drive in their machine.

    Also, ripping music or video takes some time and effort, and there are times when it's not cost effective. Imagine that, while on a trip/holiday/whatever you want to, say, watch all the Godfather films in your laptop . If you don't have a CD drive, you'll spend several hours ripping the DVDs. And if something goes wrong chances are you'll notice it when you are in that log cabin in the woods or in that 10 hours flight. To top the cake, you won't probably want to watch those films again in a long long time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The devil is in the details...

      If you are an IT professional surely you would be 'expert' enough to carry around a £20 USB/DVD drive rather than rip them off?

      1. Mephistro

        Re: The devil is in the details...

        If I had to carry around everything I could possibly need to perform my tasks, I'd need a fucking lorry. IMO, carrying around a bulky piece of hardware that you'll need to use five or ten times a year at most would be beyond silly. And no, I'm not ripping off my customers. When this kind of situation happens, I always advise them to buy one of these USB DVD drives, so the next time they need to repair/reinstall their software they can do it by themselves.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The devil is in the details...

          Bulky piece of hardware - surely you jest - an external CD/DVD drive is barely larger than a standard CD 'case' - if that's your job would think it pretty minor and has the benefit that you can use it on their machine or yours. This is just so not rocket science but too many people want everything from the past as well as all the new stuff as well. Holding on to the old stuff for too long holds us back.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The devil is in the details...

      Both problems are solves by a CHEAP external drive - this is not rocket science - stop looking for problems when the solutions are so obvious and easy. My external DVD drive is barely larger than a standard CD casing - it's no 'effort' to carry it along with a few DVDs on those rare times I may want it.

  25. Jon Double Nice

    Honestly, kids today!

    I bemoan the day they dropped support for wax cylinders, and after I'd gone to all the trouble of converting my cave paintings to that format.

    Where can you buy C90 cassettes now that Woolworths has closed down?

    Don't policemen look young nowadays!

    1. Soruk

      Re: Honestly, kids today!

      > Where can you buy C90 cassettes now that Woolworths has closed down?

      Last time I looked, both Maplin and Poundland had them.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You know...

    ... i started reading and I thought you were having a ridiculous moan, (some corporations remove CD/DVDs and switch off USB on machines to help stop viruses coming in) As I read on, I realised you do, however, have a point.

    Much of our networking and telephony equipment still falls back to a serial console cable should all else fail; and the hardware that is easiest to hulk around the site to take to the edge stacks is ... surprise surprise ... a laptop.

    Many machines don't come with serial ports any more and those that do, seem to have some form of crazy hardware implementation going on that causes XP to report that the port is already in use when you even try to use hyperterm; the same happens with some USB/serial converters as well, and yet other of these devices have caused the creation of a brand new COM port with every boot.

    With my CD drive dying in the car, I bought an SD/USB-FM player for a fiver, (saved me a three figure sum for a new stereo and a replacement face plate to fit a standard stereo in a non-standard car) but as long as CD/DVD/BluRay beats solid state for mass production costs, then disk is here to stay.

    I have had a number of pieces of equipment (most notably PDAs) that were rendered useless when COM ports vanished from laptops. You couldn't hulk a desktop around when you worked out of a suitcase in foreign hotels.

    There is only one solution to the problem that I have found ... which is that if the unit doesn't come with the features that you want ... then don't buy it. Spend your money with someone else instead and let the thoughtless manufacturers rot in hell.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You know...

      USB serial port adapters are el cheapo these days. How much legacy crap do you want - why no token ring, what about this SCSI device I want to plug in??

      Windows XP - you make me laugh.

      Why not write to Tesco and complain as there is no water trough for your horse?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You know...

        Writing crap like that, no wonder you had to stay anonymous!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You know...

        You know, I sat and thought on your ridiculous response and thought... what the heck, even dippos like you deserve a response.

        Firstly, you failed to read teh part when the USB serial ports don't work, one of them even causing a fresh logical COM port to appear every time the machine rebooted.

        Secondly, if you have a spare seven figure sum in your bank account, then you can throw it my way to replace a networking and telephony system.

        Thirdly, even new switches come with COM ports for console.

        Fourth, we use what the business dictates we use. You're laughing at the wrong person and, if you happen to be a UK tax payer, then you can laugh at yourself, my friend.

        Fifth and finally, I have no reason to write to Tesco as I don't have a horse. When you made those stupid comments, it was clear that you were riding it out of Sanity Ville.

        Don't get saddle sore on the ride out.

        1. LinkOfHyrule

          Windows XP - you make me laugh.

          I use windows XP on a 6 or 7 year old PC daily - you must be pissing your pants. I bet your desk chair stinks, the amount of urine that must pass through it on a daily basis when you laugh so hard at all your co-workers using their laughable computer systems.

        2. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: You know...

          You need a better USB-Serial adapter then.

          The real problem with these USB serial ports is that most don't actually support all the signalling lines and 'standard' baud rates. It's really hard to tell whether or not a given one will work either.

          If your device needs 9600/8-N-1 and no flow control, you'll be fine. Anything else...

          The quality is also extremely variable - I've used some really great ones and some real dogs.

  27. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Some plusses:

    Infra-red: Intuitive line of sight, doesn't cause interference, starts instantly, fairly easy to set up, works with all the old kit.

    Optical: Resilient to drops, moisture, magnetic fields; was once ubiquitous, cheap media.

    I don't see the need on a new Retina Macbook, though- its OSX is onna stick, and any video professional who pays the asking price is going to use it with external redundant storage anyway.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Some plusses:

      Optical - CDs are pretty large now for the amount of data they hold - DVDs are not much better. All optical media can get dirty and scratched easily. Slow to read / write and access the data compared to USB devices.

      IR - does not always work reliably in bright rooms and of course is only line of slight - I can control my Apple TV in the lounge from the kitchen (if I wanted to).

      1. Nigel 11
        Thumb Down

        Re: Some plusses:

        You could always buy 8cm mini-CDR and even mini-DVD-RW disks. Most drives can hack them. Smaller capacity, of course.

        Slower? Hardly. DVD 16x is 22 Mbytes/second. Most USB thumb-drives are slower, at least when writing. Kingston Data Traveller Hyper-X 16Gb is 16Mb/s write, 25Mb/s read, and that's a premium model. Cheap ones are often around 5Mb/s.

        1. Snafu 2

          Re: Some plusses:

          Plus only a few USB sticks come with read-only switches..

        2. Steve Todd

          @Nigel 11

          You do realise that when a DVD drives says that is 16X, thats the PEAK speed. Depending where you are on the disk surface transfer speeds can fall to 1/2 of that.

          That aside, the real problem with DVDs for speed is the time they take to spin up and seek to the right piece of data. USB flash is almost instant. With DVD it can take more than 10 seconds to spin up and 0.1 to 0.2 seconds per seek.

        3. Mark 65

          Re: Some plusses:

          "Slower? Hardly. DVD 16x is 22 Mbytes/second. Most USB thumb-drives are slower, at least when writing."

          Nigel, Nigel, Nigel. Please navigate to the following link before issuing such statements...


          The top drive on there has a 139MB/s write speed. Although that requires USB 3.0 you can be sure that it is capable of saturating a USB 2.0 port. In short, modern USB sticks shit all over optical media. Installing an OS from one is so much quicker. I don't even agree that cheap sticks are poor - you can easily get some that outperform the named brands. What is certain is that it can be a minefield if you don't research it first.

  28. Lallabalalla
    Thumb Up

    Oh yes

    I always carry a USB floppy drive around, just in case.

  29. Peter H. Coffin

    I consult. It is MY JOB to make things easier for clients. That means that yes, there is a USB DVD drive in my bag of kit. There's even a USB floppy drive in that bag of kit. Along with a couple USB 802.11a/b/g/n gizmos and a couple of spare card readers in case someone needs to show me something on a CF card. Instead of complaining about what modern hardware does without, I prepare to do with. Do I need that all the time? No. But when I do, I look like fasking GENIUS for having it along.

    1. Rampant Spaniel

      Sweet jesus, a consultant with common sense, I'm shocked the others haven't tried to off you yet.

      But seriously, you are entirely correct. The points made above about usb to serial adapters and network comms gear are valid, but for the vast majority of folks, especially those the retina is aimed at, they either won't miss the superdrive or will buy an external drive. For those bitching about the size of external drives, whilst you can get 5 1/4 inch sized external drives, you can also get ones that use laptop size format drives making them a lot smaller and usually powered from the usb.

    2. Nigel 11

      If you want a random client to upgrade you to demigod, also carry around a USB to SATA adapter and a stand-alone Linux distro with ddrescue on it. Then when you hear about someone who has lost data on a disk drive that's making clicking noises, ddrescue it. It doesn't always work, some drives die too quickly, but you sure gain a believer when it does work!

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The real world?

    Are we talking about computing in the working world or the retirement village? The tech world moves at a tremendous pace - you either change and adapt or drop out. I can't remember when I last saw data brought in on a CD/DVD; maybe 5-6 years ago? And only Microsoft still installs an OS or software from DVD (and that finally looks like changing too).

  31. ravenviz

    "People of Earth, the time has come to mature as a civilisaton"

    You've 'gort' to be kidding!

  32. Dr. Ellen

    Belt and suspenders

    I keep old stuff. Old media, old programs, old computers. I don't necessarily use the old stuff every day -- but I have a USB floppy drive and a USB DVD drive. (I gave up on the 5 1/4 inch drives some while ago, and have never messed with 8 inch drives.) So I can get away with a netbook, and still install programs from CD or DVD, or even read old floppies -- but I don't have to carry the drives around with me. For *that* I can use SD cards and thumbdrives.

  33. HalfNice

    The past isn't dead. In fact, it isn't even past.

    I love rediscovering old CDs at boot sales (am I the only one with a shameful addiction to 80s & 90s music?) and ripping them to my PC for transfer to my phone. So, even though I am as cutting edge as the next geek, I still need a CD drive, thank you very much.

  34. TakeTheSkyRoad

    Things I need a CD drive for...

    Windows reinstalls : Yes you can boot from USB but my windows dics are CD/DVDs (no I don't want to use Linux)

    Backups : USB is great as a quick dirty method of shifting files but I've had enough fail to show it's not reliable. At this point someone will suggest backing up to the cloud but burning my photos to CD is FAR easier.

    Games : Sure there's Steam etc now but many games most come on disc (with nasty copy protection)

    Actually that's it but those are REALLY important.

    I have a Acer W500 windows tablet pc with no drive and it's a pain, the games I've bodged by making ISO images but that only works with the older games. Backups I can do with my main PC so that's fine but if I want to reinstall it one day I really hope it detects and boots from a USB Drive nicely.

    Maybe I'm slow to change since I still have a floppy drive fitted and I really haven't needed that in years, not since the windows install stopped needing to read the controller drivers on install.... it's nice to have it there though

    1. TakeTheSkyRoad

      Re: Things I need a CD drive for...

      I think much of my thinking is based around having many USB Drives fail on me so I just don't trust them. Also they are not a complete solution at the moment so one day I will completely retire my optical drive but not yet.

  35. Phil Endecott


    I bet that the user who says they've not used a CD for a year has also not made a backup for a year.

    For me, CD/DVD is primarily a write-only archiving medium.

    1. drgonz0

      Re: Backups

      How can anyone backup to CD? Get a simple network attached hard drive. Heck get 2 and keep one off site. Stop living in the past. I'd spend all day backing up to CD or DVD for that matter. I've got a sweet jazz drive if you want it you can back up to that. 2 whole gigs makes your CD look like a floppy.

  36. Captain Underpants

    There's an awful lot of bellendery going on here that basically amounts to "I reckon Solution A is so awesome for all circumstances that I have no problem with Solution B being deprecated despite still being useful and having a different use case".

    Providing the option of a laptop or desktop with no integrated optical drive is one thing, insisting on its absence in the latest model for no real reason another thing entirely ("Oh, it's thinner" is not a feckin' compelling reason on a 15" laptop, especially one whose chassis design was already at the lightweight end of the spectrum). I'm amazed at the people suggesting that those who need them "just buy/use dongles" - the entire point of wanting integrated components is to not have to carry a load of annoying peripherals around! I'm not sure what's so hard about this.

    Oh, and for that matter - if the laptop costs the best part of two grand and has deprecated an onboard option that every other bloody vendor still has as an onboard option, then too %^&*ing right the vendor should throw it in as a freebie. Trying to go for the Ryanair "no-frills" sales pitch doesn't work when you're charging premium prices.

  37. Charlie Stross

    My Retina Macbook Pro so DOES have gigabit ethernet ...

    ... It came with a Thunderbolt to GigE adapter in the box. (Came in right handy for that very first 200Gb Time Machine backup ...)

    In addition, the rMBP works absolutely fine with the bog-standard Apple USB Superdrive they've been selling for yonks for the Macbook Air and Mac Mini (server model -- which has no internal optical drive, due to having a second hard disk).

    Shorter version: if you want a lighter 15" Macbook Pro AND all the girly-fart features, you need to carry a small bag of peripherals. Or you can travel light and use Bluetooth file transfer or DropBox or something.

    1. Captain Underpants

      Re: My Retina Macbook Pro so DOES have gigabit ethernet ...

      @Charlie: I grudgingly concede that being able to shave a couple of pounds off a 15" MBP is worth it to some folks (not to me, but then I've managed to avoid re-calibrating my internal value for "heavy laptop" since the cheapy Dell I had years ago, whose weight was forgiven on the basis that it cost very very little indeed).

      However, when you're having to re-introduce something like wired ethernet (where real-world wireless transfer rates are still orders of magnitude slower than real-world gig-e transfer rates) with a dongle, it means the vendor's done something a bit silly. It was silly but kind of understandable with the Air, but with the rMBP it just seems daft. It's a bit cheeky to say "Device X has function Y" when what you actually mean is "Device X plus peripheral Z has function Y".

      It should be taken as a given that I feel very much like a luddite right now for disagreeing with Charles Stross in a comment thread...between this and Andrew Orlowski using the term "disruptive technology" with a straight face the other day, I think I may have ended up in the Twilight Zone somehow... o_O

  38. Jeremy Chappell

    Taken away?!

    Err, his is escaped your notice that Apple still make MacBook Pros that have an optical drive, ethernet port, Firewire 800, Audio In etc... ? Nobody is "taking it away". You can still buy that, IF you need it. You want the new "thin, light, Retina Display"? Fine, then you've got to lose something. Where will the optical drive go? How will the ports attach? (If you take a look inside the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display you'll see that most of the space it taken up by battery, and there just isn't room on the board for more ports)

    You want to "have your cake, and eat it". There is no space to put the things you're asking for. So you have to have a bigger, heavier system and you don't want to add the Retina Display to that because it'll need a bigger battery to drive it and the thing will be really heavy and bulky.

    So you have a choice, thin/light with Retina Display or larger/heavier with optical drive and legacy ports.

    Now shut your potty-mouth, grow up and make a choice like an adult.

  39. johnwerneken

    It's called marketing

    It's called marketing. Neither hardware nor software can be sold at a real profit anymore; if money is to be made it's got to be one or more of services, innovation, or sizzle. Hardware devices heterogeneity tends to disappear as margins shrink; this does it, not F'n'g Gorts. (BTW wtf is a Gort?)

    Reminds me of one of the few true features of Windows, the myriad ways of launching a single task. A PITA when trying to teach or learn, but it is how Redmond adds new bells and whistles without (at least immediately) taking away the ones I am used to and rely upon.

    1. Mike Flex

      Re: It's called marketing

      > (BTW wtf is a Gort?)

      Cousin of Robbie.

  40. Sean Timarco Baggaley

    You can't please all of the people, all of the time...

    ... so every manufacturer worth its salt only aims to please some of the people, all of the time. This is why they distinguish between different markets.

    I have no sympathy for Mr. Dabbs, whose article boils down to a very long straw-man that even manages to contradict itself.

    Annoyingly, as this article and many of the posts in this forum thread prove, many of the people these manufacturers DELIBERATELY do not target PERSIST in shoving their tiresome and utterly worthless opinions in everyone else's faces, as if THEIR particularly tiny slice of a market was the only one that mattered. Got news for you: it doesn't. If you think your market really is that big, you've just told us how many gaps there are in it to fill, so get filling and earning those millions you clearly believe the likes of Apple, Dell and HP are missing out on.

    Or, you could just find a manufacturer who makes the product you need, and buy that. Problem solved.

    No need to go pissing and moaning around the internet about how unfair it is that you have to go out of your way to buy computer kit that can support 20-year-old overpriced obsolete shite. Yes, governments can often impose idiotic requirements, but maybe it'd be in ALL our best interests if you explained why they should update their requirements every five years or so, if only to save us taxpayers a bit of money!

    Or you could just nod your head, smugly, while gouging the rest of us for millions instead. I think I can guess which direction your moral compass is pointing in given your actions so far.

    And the best solutions for developing countries are education and development, not handouts of toxic second-hand tat. Try calling the likes of Foxconn in China and asking them to build you a big batch of cheap Android-based tablets with USB sockets and cheap USB keyboards. Given that they're selling cheap Android slabs to the West for well under $100 already, there's really no need to rely on the like of OLPC and their misguided ilk. The Chinese also do a good line in cheap(-ish) solar panels.

    A little less tribalism and religious extremism, and a little more cooperation, would also go a long way.

  41. Charlie Clark Silver badge


    What terrible nightmares of the future!

    Any fule no that there is only one real supercomputer: the mighty Orac.'s_7)

    Blinking lights and pedantic!

  42. rbryanh

    Get Real

    "Let me tell you about this ‘real world’ place…"

    Thank you, Oh Arbiter of The Real, for your pretension and presumption, which provide a reliable indicator of where to stop reading whatever righteous, narcissistic nonsense you're ranting on any given day.

    Welcome to the 21st century, where journalism is first and foremost about the writer's feelings, and emotional bias is the scarf he pins to his helm when galloping off to joust with himself. It's a marvelous thing to observe… the sublime self assurance of the almost-smart.

    Everyone masturbates. Might Mr. Dabbs be persuaded to do so in private?

    1. Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

      Re: Get Real

      Don't take it so seriously, mbryanh. It's not supposed to be Pulitzer-prize-winning investigative journalism. It's just a light-hearted opinion piece for Friday afternoons, with an open invitation for readers to express their contrary opinions here in the comments. There's really no need to call me a wanker.

      1. Aaron Em

        Re: Get Real

        'Troll', on the other hand...

  43. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    F'in caps lock key?

    Please will somebody realise that caps lock is of little use, and for most non-perfect typists just a source of hassle when you accidentally touch it going for 'A' or similar.

    If dropping anything that is "no longer needed" please get rid of caps lock!

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Retire the old crap

    So should Apple add a 3.5" disk drive to their MacBooks, or 5.25" disks, or a cassette tape interface, or maybe a punched card reader?

    Retiring the old crap is part of progress.

  45. Orv

    You actually got IR to work?

    IRDA sounded like such a good idea. I never, in practice, got it to work reliably. I could occasionally get my laptop to sync to my Palm via IRDA, but most of the time it would fail halfway through and I'd end up digging out the cable. Another fun experience was having someone walk between your IR-enabled laptop and your IR-enabled printer, resulting in the printing of gibberish.

    Where I work we still have some electronic door locks that are programmed via IR from a PocketPC, and I get that to work about one try out of three. Any slight misalignment and it gives up, locking the PocketPC and forcing a hard reset.

    1. Soruk

      Re: You actually got IR to work?

      Back in 1999-2002 I used IR to tether my laptop (using a serial IR dongle) to my mobile for internet access, long before tethering was heard of let alone fashionable. Of course it helped a lot that 0845 was inclusive on Everyday 50!

      As for the bright light problem, that was very easily remedied using the cardboard core from a loo roll.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Forbidden Planet

    Thank you for reminding me of Forbidden Planet. Follow the link to see what Leslie Nielsen looked like when he was young (and alive):

  47. AdamWill


    "I, on the other hand, live in the real world."

    Stopped reading there. People who declare they 'live in the real world' are, without exception, saying 'my experience is the only one that counts and yours is just wrong'.

    The people who buy laptops without optical drives also live in the real world. In their real world, they don't need optical drives. In yours, you do. Neither is invalid; please don't attempt to treat either as such.

    1. ElReg!comments!Pierre

      Re: sigh.

      > "I, on the other hand, live in the real world."

      > Stopped reading there.

      Obviously not.

      1. AdamWill

        Re: sigh.

        Wherever you hid the camera, it must be on the blink, cos really, I did.

  48. Marcus Fil


    Yes, I was shouting. According to the dictionary on my SuperDrive equipped MBP (cmd C, cmd V):"advance or development toward a better, more complete, or more modern condition". Optional optical media then for those that have to move data across air gaps, because data sticks can't be trusted and wifi would set off alarms (no, really it would). I am taking to Apple to the small claims court for my son's less than durable MBA (cracked screen, of course). The measure of progress is that it replaced his ownership of an ageing PowerBook with a screen that had taken a direct hit from a 5.56 mm cartridge case fresh out of a brand new M4. Now the Geniuses at the 'Bar' (its a long counter, not an optic in sight, sadly) recommend customers buy nice translucent hard shells to protect the effete 'object d'art' that Apple call laptops. What is the point of making it so thin, light and shiny if I must add weight and bulk to aid its survival outside of its designer shipping box? I want a well engineered laptop that runs MacOS, Linux, Unix and Windows at push. Once upon a time Apple made them - until some lotus-eating aesthete decided he/she knew better.

  49. Oninoshiko

    optical media

    I dont have much complaint at loseing optical media, because AS THE AUTHOR POINTED OUT I have all kinds of high-speed access to support me, which does as good (if not better) of a job. The few times I have actually needed optical media, I can just go to the shelf and pull one of the 10 or so USB DVD-ROMs we keep there and use it.

    That said, physical network is something I *DO* use oftain and when I'm out of the office at conferences (hotel wifi useually sucks). This failing makes many recent APPL machines completely worthless.

  50. Richard Cartledge

    You sound like one of those who complains the iphone can't attempt to send a photo with bluetooth.

    1. M Gale

      He's not alone.

      And "just send it as an email attachment" is not a solution, at least not outside the USS Dipshit with its perfectly functioning terabit-level 3-million-G coverage.

      Yes, let's send a bunch of pictures and MP3 files halfway around the world and back again, via spotty 2G/3G will-it-won't-it coverage, to my friend sat 3 feet away from me. Think Different? Yeah, I'm sure a lot of the kids on the short bus think different too.

      Fuxache Apple, support OBEX already. Bluetooth's main uses on a phone is earpieces and file transfers.. unless you have an iPhone, where bluetooth is about half as useful as with everybody else. For no good reason.

  51. saundby

    A Socket 1155 Mobo with Parallel and Serial Ports

    ASUS P8P67-M PRO

    They need to be brought out from IDC headers, but they're there.

    Good for CNC, at least (Gecko G540)

    Personally, I'm looking forward to market bifurcation that sends the consumers out of the real computer market. The low prices on hardware have been nice, but not worth hassles like having hardware "standards" become non-standard after a couple rapid release cycles and hardware product lifetimes shorter than a mayfly's.

    Bring on the fondleslabs for consumers, leave computers to those that compute.

  52. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Get to the 21st

    century, retire the old crap.

    Great, except some of our trusty robots dont have things like USB, network connections, because industrial equipment has 2 drawbacks to today's modern world of computing

    1. they are fucking expensive... how does £125 000 for a cheapy 5 axis CNC sound? comes complete with an ancient PII pc to run it because the thing is a proven(ish) design and as for upgrading it, the licence that comes with the machine says "No compensation will be paid if the machine throws a wobbley after you install a windows upgrade patch".

    2. they are designed to last.... no 3 year lifespan for these machines, if they dont last at least 12 years, then people wont buy them.

    So you get your new laptop and stick the RS232 cable in the machine and oh, so you buy a RS232-USB cable and find out the machine manufacturer has included custom timings on the port that the USB-232 cable cannot cope with.

    You see there are 2 different areas of the market for Apple et al to cope with, and thats the office/industrial people who want something stable and works, and the normal mass consumer who wants the latest bright shiny thing

    And it seems the bright shiny thing people are winning

  53. Infernoz Bronze badge

    USB DVDs, Apple bleeding expensive tech, so use USB sticks

    The trouble with IR is it was serial port slow, needed hardware support, driver support, and just adds hard to justify cost to mass produced portable devices; if you need it on laptops or desktops, you can still get USB IRDA versions.

    The trouble with CD/DVD drives is they run hot, so become an unreliable extra expense, and are completely pointless now that USB versions are available.

    If I need to use CDs/DVDs, the first time I use a USB DVD drive; if I will keep using the disk, I rip an ISO image file and put the ISO on a 2.5" hard drive in special external USB case which can emulate a CD/DVD drive for one of many stored ISO image files.

    Apple are just not practical, dropping Ethernet was damned stupid because WiFi is at best half the speed of even sluggish 100Mbps Ethernet and pitiful compared to 1Gbps Ethernet! The newer higher speed interface is not a decent substitute because the cables are still a way expensive specialist item, as is the hub to bridge to Ethernet.

    Most of the time I use USB sticks; they are tiny, MUCH faster, and can hold many DVDs of data.

  54. heyrick Silver badge


    With IR, shooting files around the place was tricky (stuff had to be in the right place for it to work) but doable.

    With Bluetooth, pairing, no problem. Files TO the phone, no problem. Files FROM the phone? Gave up trying to get that to work, I run a small ftp server on the phone and get in with wifi.

    Why, in the twenty first century, does it seem to be everharder to transfer files around?

  55. pgtips


    Just started reading your articles….Brilliant!

    I have an Asus UX31, no DVD drive….what did I buy….a USB DVD drive, they still have their uses!

    I for one totally agree with you ;) can't comment on a Mac Book....if i touched one i'd feel dirty!

  56. DanBowmanLeBeau

    People seem to forget

    ... that every time a company has to spend money replacing perfectly functional software or hardware just because an interface is "not used much" we all have to pay a cost.

    I work in local government and had a perfect example of this just a few months ago. We have an older PBX system which used an old, but perfectly functioning, voice mail server running Replay Plus. We were planning to replace the whole system, PBX, phones, voice mail, within the next 18-24 months for functionality purposes and to improve the services we could offer. Guess what.... voice mail server mobo fails and theres nothing that will replace it. FX phone card won't fit in anything as it is an ISA card. We hard to buy a replacement voice mail server for the next 18 months (of course, this had to be custom built to talk to the PBX.... which is going to disappear) and waste tax payers money.

    In the end it does hit us all - people are just too busy to think about anyone but themselves....

    1. Malcolm Weir

      Re: People seem to forget


      You're dead wrong: every time a company has to spend money replacing hardware, the company pays a cost. It's not "we all" having do anything, because (and follow closely here) not every buyer of hardware is a government, and even when they are, there's no good reason why taxpayers in (say) Podunk, Indiana should care about the failure of staff halfway across the globe TO MANAGE OBSOLESCENCE.

      Stuff does become obsolete. Competent folk manage it. E.g. by buying spares as they go EOL (either as new stock, or by buying other people's used systems at pennies on the pound), OR they decide that the actuarial tables favor crossing their fingers and hoping for the best.

      As to your example, finding a replacement motherboard with an ISA slot (or a parallel port, or whatever) is NOT AT ALL DIFFICULT. As another commentator showed, a few seconds with Google will find you plenty solutions (typically in Industrial Computer space). Fancy two ISA, four PCI, two PCIe, serial (five, including RS-422) parallel, bunches of SATA, gigabit Ethernet? Commell ( makes a P4BWA mobo that will keep you happy!

      All this whinging about Apple hardware ignores the bigger issue: software! Had you a PPC or (gasp) 68K system, your only hope would have been to eBay something! Yet I don't hear people yelling because a copy-protection scheme on a piece of software that they (and I) had would only work on a true compatible IBM PC running at no more than 4.77MHz on a 8088... (that was why we had "Turbo" buttons on compatibles, remember).

      Things change; deal with it... as in, manage, handle, process, accommodate, you know, DEAL with it!

  57. Nathen Fredrick

    CD From Home?

    95% of the lUsers I have dealt with couldn't burn files to CD's if you explained it a billion times.

  58. This post has been deleted by its author

  59. Ramazan


    CD/DVD drive is necessary to play SecuROM/etc-protected games. Not all of my games are on Steam, so lack of the CD drive is major issue. I already own MacBook Air and it's impossible to play e.g.Battlefield 2142 on it because:

    - I need proper USB mouse (Bluetooth one introduces huge lag) and USB CD drive (EA's copy protection) at the same time to play but there's only one USB port on my Air. I don't have USB hub

    - MacBook Air overheats in first 5-10 minutes and game slows down to a crawl

    I always viewed MacBook Pro as The notebook for gaming (CD built in, proper ventilation, more RAM, larger HDD), but Thank You Mister Allistair, you've just ruined my Apple dream once and for all (Jobs is dead and who's left are idiots).

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Obviously (you are stingy)

      So you have spent a load of $$$ on an MBA yet can't spend $9.99 on a 4 port USB Hub.

      What a load of codswallop.

      My Laptop has 3*USB2 + 2*USB3 ports yet I still need to use a USB hub. why? Because the ports are so close together that most of my USB Keys are so wide that they block the port next to the one they are inserted in.

      Accept that to save space and weight some compromises will have to be made. If you go for the lightest laptop then you have to accept those compromises. If you don't then you have obviously bought the wrong laptop.

      Beer o'clock and time for some 6x.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Obviously

      You make out like there is no solution - USB hub = £5 or external USB drive = £20.

      The problem is your want a Macbook Air that is the same size (or smaller) has a 20 hour battery, retina display enough CPU / GPU to play the latest games, less than 1kg, super thin, 8 USB ports all capable of 2A output, 6 thunderbolt ports, 4 firewire 800 ports, 2 serial ports, a parallel port, built in CD/DVD/Blu-ray, floppy drive etc.

      Last time I bought a 2 seater sports car I only expected it to seat 2 people and not be that great off road...

  60. Dropper

    CD Drives? Parallel Ports?

    If you want things like I/O and the ability to read media, don't buy toy computers. Better still, build one yourself and make sure it has everything you want plus plenty of ports/sockets for extra stuff you might decide you want later.

    Real computers can't be slid under closed doors. They are sprawling junk yards, leaking dozens of ribbon cables connected to devices no one recognises any more. They don't have cases, or at least not complete cases and they most certainly have at least 2 of every kind of port that has ever been invented.. SCSI and Firewire, Serial and Parallel, all still there, breathing life into scanners, printers, genlocks and modems.

    You can keep your shiny baubles with tiny screens that for some reason are capable of resolutions better suited to a 60" TV.. and you can keep your app-driven etcha sketches. Computers that require 2-3 people to lift safely are the only ones required on our watch, thank you very much.

  61. John Savard Silver badge

    Why a CD drive?

    I don't know about what one needs on a Mac, but occasionally a CD or DVD drive is helpful on a PC.

    For example, one might want to boot the machine from a rescue disk, if it has a serious problem. What about re-installing the operating system, for that matter?

    If one is putting a brand new blank hard drive in the computer (say it's a laptop, so it can't be first put in as a second one, or it's a replacement because the old drive has failed) then one can't go on the Internet, one can't reinstall from a recovery partition, and so on and so forth. I suppose one could set up a bootable USB drive, but that would require a second computer on which to prepare it.

    Those are the kind of "real world" things that make me chary of netbooks and other computers without an optical drive - and which previously made me value floppy drives, admittedly.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: Virtual Valerie ..

    Dear Ed: I assume this provocative prose style is yet another example of the Regs attempt to boost the number of comments. If I was fifteen all over again I'm sure I would be vastly amused by such phrases as 'something for the weekend, sir?`, 'girl farts, and non-flatulent. Trouble is such purpureus merely tends to discredit the messenger. If I wanted to read such I could go and hang out on Usenet or IRC. If it's any consolation, your prose style isn't so nearly as bad as Wired Magazine.

  63. tempemeaty

    I live in the real world too

    Yes I use a CD/DVD drive. Optical storage's advantages are still true as ever. It's optical, not going to accidentally get magnetically erased or other issues with standard hard drives. I've witnessed solid state and platter hard drives both prove their limited life spans in very very costly ways to many times now for them to be the only storage of data. I've also witnessed the strategic backup drives literally die an hour before data can be put back on the first dead drive's immediately purchased replacement. I've witnessed grown men cry at the loss of $1000 of dollars of software and purchased by download instead of on CD/DVD media. I sincerely wish and hope that no one here ever has to experience that.

    Throwing out the CD/DVD drive may be the "in thing" to do now but practical? In the real world...not so much.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Author is a prat

    Keep a dual layer USB DVD rewriter in a cupboard, along with the USB floppy drive. They cost about thirty quid these days, end of difficulty. You will only need it once in a blue moon, and when you do, it will be available and free from cobwebs.

    Superannuated QQing just for its own sake is not impressive.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Solid state memory"

    Um, as far as I recall memory has been solid-state for some time now.

    Please, it's bad enough already that the muggles don't know the difference between memory and persistent storage. Let's not propagate such misunderstandings, shall we?

    1. Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

      Re: "Solid state memory"

      Indeed, I meant storage. Thanks for the patronising comment.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Solid state memory"

        Somewhat flattering, actually, judging by the rest of the "article".

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