Yesterday I went to Sim Lim square for the monthly (or bi-monthly) IT refreshment trip. My intention was mainly to check out network based media player. But interestingly I found out that there are shops selling PCI based serial/parallel port card. You get real serial port and real parallel port from the card. Typically USB to serial port cable can do most of the job. But typical USB to parallel cable is totally useless for interfacing to anything other than your old parallel port based printer. Therefore if you have parallel port based cheap JTAG debugger (say ARM or MSP430), then you are out of luck if you do not have parallel port with your new PC (laptop or desktop).
One of the vendor is ST-LAB (http://www.st-lab.com/). It is using MOSChip (http://www.moschip.com/pepc.php) as its brain. The single serial or parallel port version is selling at about S$23.
Another company providing chips is Oxford Semiconductor (http://www.softconnex.com/products/serial/serial.html)