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More on Rendezvous/ZEROCONF

The Idea Basket has an interview with Stuart Cheshire, Chaiman of the ZEROCONF Working Group. Stuart's vision for Rendezvous/ZEROCONF is far-reaching and compelling:

Rendezvous is not just about making current networked devices easier to use. It is also about making it viable to put networking (i.e. Ethernet) on devices that today use USB or Firewire, and it is also about making it viable to use networking in areas that you wouldn't have even considered before Rendezvous. Imagine a future world where you connect your television and amplifier and DVD player with just a couple of Ethernet cables, instead of today's spaghetti mess of composite video, S-Video, component video, stereo audio, 5.1 Dolby, Toslink optical audio cables, etc...

My long-term goal, from before I even started at Apple, is to eliminate the need for disparate incompatible technologies on your computer. Right now your computer may have SCSI, Serial, IrDA, Bluetooth, USB, Firewire, Ethernet and AirPort, all communication technologies that each work a different way.

My hope is that in the future -- distant future perhaps -- your computer will only need one wired communication technology. It will provide power on the connector like USB and FireWire, so it can power small peripheral devices. It will use IP packets like Ethernet, so it provides your wide-area communications for things like email and Web browsing, but it will also use Zeroconf IP so that connecting local devices is as easy as USB or FireWire is today. People ask me if I'm seriously suggesting that your keyboard and mouse should use the same connector as your Internet connection, and I am. There's no fundamental reason why a 10Mb/s Ethernet chip costs more than a USB chip. The problem is not cost, it is lack of power on the Ethernet connector, and (until now) lack of autoconfiguration to make it work. I would much rather have a computer with a row of identical universal IP communications ports, where I can connect anything I want to any port, instead of today's situation where the computer has a row of different sockets, each dedicated to its own specialized function.

One row of identical ports, connecting everything from mice and keyboards to digital video and audio? That would be a huge leap forward in ease of use.

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