Thanks for the great reply. And yes, the PP is certainly already dead. If it were not for some amount of legacy stuff there would ultimately be more USB connections in that space.
Any port would work just as well.
What I am looking at is using something like a Motorola MCH6811 type of MC as a front end to effectively integrate anything.
Thinking that one only because I have one and have done a reasonable amount of MASM programming.
Are there other options with other ports for more low level communication? Not sure about the MCH for interpretation of high level, but if I need to pursue different MC not a big deal either.
I don't have a specific application in mind, and acknowledge a lot of home automation is now readily available through Zwave enabled devices. Just trying to understand potential capabilities. I don't need to do it today.
There's a ton of good stuff on microchip.com if you like low level...
Very affordable ICSP (serial programming), programming PICs are a snap.
Hope that helps