Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Unfulfilled Potential
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The Universal Serial Bus (USB) is a relatively new hardware system for computers and other devices to communicate with each other. Up to 128 devices can be "daisy-chained" along a USB serial-data path. All the devices automatically identify themselves uniquely, USB connections can be safely made with the power on, and the operating system either knows immediately what new device is attached, or knows to ask for a driver. The connecting cable is designed so that the end-plugs are different; it is impossible to plug the wrong end of a USB cable into a USB socket. As it happens, all the USB sockets built into computers are of the same type. It is therefore impossible to connect two computers together via USB, without using a "hub". WHY NOT? It wasn't so long ago that it was common for 2 computers to have their serial ports connected together, as a "null modem" means of communicating with each other. USB offers the chance to build a whole Local Area Network (LAN), but only if a computer can have either end of a USB cable plugged into it! So what we need is a couple additional USB sockets in every computer, just so they can be daisy-chained together. (An alternative would be a card that plugs into a computer's motherboard, and offers one of each type of USB connector, but this is too much like paying for an Ethernet (or some other sort of) LAN card.)
Vernon, Jul 12 2000

EZ USB LAN http://www.ezusblan.com/
Simply connect two computers via a USB cable and you're away! It just couldn't be simpler! [NickTheGreat, Sep 28 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]

It may about to become "official", folks http://slashdot.org...33259.shtml?tid=126
A modification to USB 2 seems to be about to allow the connection of many gadgets, that don't have a "master/slave" relationship. "Peer to peer" may be the appropriate description. [Vernon, Oct 02 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]


       USB is not a simple peer-to-peer system like RS-232 or 10bT. Those asymmetric connectors aren't just for convenience; there's a big difference (at several protocol layers, from physical to application) between a USB "master" and a USB "slave".   

       In short, USB was designed to be a hierarchical tree, with one master device at the "root", supplying power to the whole thing and controlling everything. USB really was designed as a better peripheral connector, not a local area network.   

       That said, you *could* add electronics to a computer to make it act as a USB "slave" (a device as opposed to a controller), so that one computer could appear on another computer's USB device chain. Then you could set up application protocols for internetworking. But as long as you're adding extra hardware, why not just make it 10bT? It's a lot faster and goes a *lot* further (USB v1 only goes 15 feet!).
egnor, Jul 12 2000

       So what you are saying is that the designers of USB didn't want it to offer any competition to other and more expensive ways of connecting computers together....
Vernon, Jul 12 2000

       Baked, but I'm far too lazy to find an appropriate link. Try searcing for yourself or look for a local Fry's. I do believe you'll be surprised.
dontthink, Jul 29 2000

       True, I witnessed this first-hand whilst on work experience.
NickTheGreat, Aug 02 2002

       egnor: USB 2.0 supports speeds of 480Mbps; in terms of raw speed it should be quite comparable to most 10bT, if not better. You are correct, though 15-foot limit on USB connections, however, would tend to very much limit the usefulness of a USB "network". I think some P2P USB devices exist, but such devices internally have two USB slaves and stuff to exchange data between them.   

       Vernon: Communications hardware and software are often simpler and cheaper in asymmetric systems than in symmetric ones. USB expects timings and protocol control to be implemented at the root. Consequently, other devices don't have to generate the timings themselves, and the root doesn't have to listen for timing/control information that nobody's going to send. Additionally, all hubs will have well-defined upstream/downstream paths. USB is designed to be cheap yet effective; use of an assymetric design helps further that goal.   

       Besides, if you want an ethernet, just buy ethernet cards (or USB to ethernet adapters). They're pretty cheap these days.
supercat, Aug 02 2002

       I've got a USB LAN running right now, connecting a laptop and a desktop. A $25 USB Network cable (available at Frys or on Ebay) is all it takes. No hardware to install on either system if both have USB ports and you are sharing files and an internet connection (with a software router). Watch out for the USB file transfer cables, which use a proprietary file transfer program and don't support IPX, TCP/IP and NetBeui.   

       For most internet applications, USB 1.1's 6Mbs is more than adequate (faster than my DSL), and file transfers are still quick. Cables that support USB 2.0 will be able to transfer data faster than 100baseT networks. Using a USB hub and additional cables you can link many systems together.   

       USB LAN is an excellent networking solution for a small home office.
frantik, Sep 26 2002

       And its plug and play, and now with a 15 ft 'active' usb extension cable and the original cable's 10 feet, I can be up 25' away, and supposedly i can be up to 50 feet with more extensions.   

       I'm typing this on the USB LAN'ed laptop right now actually.   

frantik, Sep 27 2002

       Delightfully brief; have a croissant, and maybe some line breaks here and there
Zircon, Sep 30 2002

       It's nice to know that even if the idea is NOW baked, it wasn't when I wrote it down, two years ago. So, how many of those who voted with fishbones, now want to change their votes? See, if it was really/inherently a bad idea, it likely would not have found enough kindred spirits out there, to bake it into reality....
Vernon, Oct 02 2002

       I think it probably was baked back then, vernon, just not widely so.   

       In any case, the fact that you had this idea independantly is certainly to be applauded.
yamahito, Oct 02 2002


       too late?
brian0555, Feb 25 2003

       I'm posting this anno because I received a private email about this Idea, but when I tried to reply to that email, it was declared "undelilverable".   

       The essence of that reply-email was to point out that the Half-Bakery is a place for half-baked ideas, notions that the poster is often not sure how to make work (and sometimes doesn't care). So, I am not the person to ask, about more information about how this Idea became baked. Sorry.
Vernon, Aug 15 2006

       Fishbone for a complete non-idea. There are already USB cards that have the different ports you speak of, so your idea is reduced to "include them in more computers".
ironfroggy, Aug 16 2006

       [ironfroggy], note the date on the original Idea. did those USB cards exist in 2000?
Vernon, Aug 16 2006


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