back to article Why did I buy a gadget I know I'll never use?

It could get steamy in here. I have stripped off the layers and am now looking to turn up the heat. I’m looking forward to an afternoon of delightful tenderness with plenty of oohs and aahs. I certainly don’t want things to be chewy. Preparing the Brussels sprouts for Christmas dinner is always a challenge. The Dabbs …

I had one of the original Texas Matrix calculators. I bought it myself to use in the office 'cos I hated the hand-cranked IBM machine with a passion.

I was working on programming bars for IBM punched tape recorders then, and could only count to two. ( 0 & 1)

Trouble was, it didn't auto-off and so with the novelty value of everyone competing with the ESSO OIL tricks, it got through two PP9 batteries a day. Seriously expensive technology that set the bar for IT equipment prices to this day.

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Happy

been bought, borrowed or stolen in the first place

Raises finger, guilty as charged... and yes, I have those bins and boxes under my desk too!

I guess we all need a bigger place for out stuff?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLoge6QzcGY

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Re: been bought, borrowed or stolen in the first place

If you can fit them under your desk, you don't have enough of them.

GJC

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Anonymous Coward

Re: been bought, borrowed or stolen in the first place

Mea Culpa ... raised the floor in spare bedroom

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Devil

Sprouts - the Devil's vegetable

There's only one way to deal with them. Boil ferociously for five hours, to make sure that they are dead, then throw them away.

No, I don't like them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sprouts - the Devil's vegetable

Saw this on another website - no idea how true it is though - FWIW, I was taught about the crosses so that they would cook better.

Brussels sprouts were housing tiny demons

If you were to eat a Brussels sprout or even a little cabbage back in Medieval Britain, you would be especially susceptible to falling ill thanks to the demons that hide within the leaves of these satanic vegetables. At least, that’s what they believed, for whatever reason. The way that this was combated was by cutting little crosses into the base of the veggies before cooking them.

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Thumb Down

Re: Sprouts - the Devil's vegetable

I was taught about the crosses so that they would cook better.

Don't cut crosses, they make the sprouts overcook. It's an idea dreamt up by people that think the right way to serve cabbage is as a purée.

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Re: Sprouts - the Devil's vegetable

I think the tiny demons are the evil farts that sprouts engender.

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Misty-eyed

My selection of Power Supplies is broad enough to make anyone weep. I'm particularly fond of my fine collection of Nokia Phone Chargers Throughout The Years. I'm sure there should be a Collector's Edition Box Set in there somewhere...

But I think what I have most pride in is my collection of PS-2/USB adaptors for keyboards and mice. These little green and purple dongles nearly 2" long make me smile every time I find another one in the back of a drawer; actually I can see ten of them from where I'm sitting... They'll come in useful one day.

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Re: Misty-eyed

Those sort of adaptor plugs make great desk toys for fiddling with as one contemplates the ineffable wossnames of the universe. Always fun to see how high a column of stuff-plugged-into-other-stuff one can construct. IEC power converters are my favourite currently, and Ethernet T pieces and terminators were excellent back in the day.

GJC

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Misty-eyed

Does no-one else have a big box, lined with anti-static bags, full of every SIMM and DIMM module from every computer that you ever broke up and scrapped? Am I the only one?

Or a collection of ISA and PCI SCSI cards, just in case?

PS - Is anyone looking for a pair of 30 pin 256K SIMM? I have 20 going spare......

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Re: Misty-eyed

See above, under "eBay". Bits of old PC hardware pricing has a classic bath-tub curve. For some years you can't give them away, then they start increasing in value again as they become rarer and sought after.

GJC

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Re: Misty-eyed: RAM

I've got every sort, including 1K DIL chips and ones for a Pentium Pro.

They don't take much space. Hence grow,

Baffled by variety of ones for laptops.

Discovered the CMOS / RTCC modules all dead when fixing up an old P4. However easy to hack open battery connections and add a CR2032 socket. The Compaq lunch box wouldn't even start video without replacing it.

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Happy

Re: Misty-eyed

...every SIMM and DIMM module from every computer that you ever broke up and scrapped...

[sheepish look]

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Re: Misty-eyed

Just had a quick look in my desk drawer, I counted 12 "spare" modules.... The smallest one is 512mb , they have been there for at least 2 years, just sitting there waiting patiently for a donor box..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Misty-eyed: RAM

I raise my glass to your 1k DIL chips. Just in case you ever come across a ZX81 16K ram pack, that needs repair? Right?

I think I have some 2716 eproms in a box somewhere. Used those by the bucketload in one job I worked in c. 1990.

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Re: Misty-eyed

"Does no-one else have a big box, lined with anti-static bags, full of every SIMM and DIMM module from every computer that you ever broke up and scrapped?"

Convince your SO that they are for a Christmas Wreath when you have enough of them. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/235383517998244985/

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Re: Misty-eyed

But I think what I have most pride in is my collection of PS-2/USB adaptors for keyboards and mice.

Hah! I have some AT/DIN5 to PS/2 adapters. And PS/2 to AT ones as well. add in the USB-PS/2, along with a wireless keyboard dongle, I'm sure I could hook up a wireless keyboard to an IBM-XT.

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Re: Misty-eyed

"Does no-one else have a big box, lined with anti-static bags, full of every SIMM and DIMM module from every computer that you ever broke up and scrapped?"

Does anyone not have one?

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Re: Misty-eyed

"But I think what I have most pride in is my collection of PS-2/USB adaptors for keyboards and mice. "

My very old 4-way KVM started off with no adaptors and now sports a USB to PS/2 adaptor in every port, it being PS/2 only and all my PCs being non legacy nowadays.

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Go

eBay

Every couple of years, I have a big trawl through the storage tubs, and sell everything that looks like it still works, and which I can identify. Quick photo, list at 99p starting bid plus a couple of quid postage. A lot will sell for that 99p, some will go a bit higher, but some go silly, for no reason I can fathom - I recently sold a 15 year old Roland MIDI synth thing for three times the new price, to a chap in Italy, who was delighted with it, and old Nokia phones and tablets are perennial good sellers.

Be prepared for a couple of buyers complaining that their purchase doesn't work or didn't arrive - just refund them immediately and in full. Life's too short to argue.

Anything that I can't identify goes back in the tubs for the next round in a few years, of course.

This normally nets a few hundred quid, which can of course be spent on new, even more useless, gadgets and cables.

GJC

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Municipal Tip/Recycling Centre

There is an alternative to hoarding that gives its own pleasure:

Chucking stuff in skips.

Very liberating.

Make sure to apply for your déchetterie card in France, Mr Dabbs. You can even weigh the stuff you are binning. And your car.

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Coat

Re: Municipal Tip/Recycling Centre

Chucking stuff in skips.

Not as much pleasure as digging through the skip (dumpster) and finding a piece of equipment that only needs a slight bit of repair to be fully functional!

// could explain the pile-o-crap in my garage...

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Re: Municipal Tip/Recycling Centre

Back when I worked at an IBM complex, my afternoon exercise/walk involved me making the circuit around the 700-series buildings to poke through the electronics recycling bins. Have more than enough toner cartridges to keep my NetPrinter12 stocked until it dies (and well beyond). Although I find myself sometimes wanting the printer to die just so I can throw them out.

But what to do with the pile of T40 and T60-series port replicators and docking stations. And everyone in the family could have a USB floppy drive of their very own.

Unfortunately, right now I need a usable mid-tower case (the one I have is missing the HDD cage) for a working motherboard I was given recently. And I'll actually have to *buy* extra drive rails for my x3200.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Municipal Tip/Recycling Centre

"Unfortunately, right now I need a usable mid-tower case[...]"

Dumped a pile of them a few weeks ago. On the last tech refresh all the youngsters had wanted black cases - and water cooler fans needed newer style cases. Stripped them down to only bare metal for the modern equivalent of the rag&bone man. Each one reminded me that the PC had cost the best part of £1k several years ago.

Anyone want a P4 motherboard? Actually about a dozen.

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MJI
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Re: Municipal Tip/Recycling Centre

I had to do this with some electronics.

Removed hard disk

Put on ground

Parked on it

Chucked in electronics skip.

Served me right for not getting a Humax then, as the manufacturers refused to update the Freeview box firmware, even though hardware was OK.

Learnt my lession, only buy Humax PVRs now.

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Re: Municipal Tip/Recycling Centre

"Parked on it"

I really do miss my old Land Rover.

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Dear Mr Dabbs...

In order for sprouts to be edible, even to we few who can appreciate the finer qualities of an overpriced green vegetable that tastes like a cross between warmed-up Irn-Bru and a donkey’s fart, they cannot be fried, boiled or microwaved. They must be steamed.

You do realise that it is possible - nay, even preferable - to steam other vegetables? Our steamer is permanently resident on a kitchen worktop as it is used several times a week. A Steamer is for life, not just for Christmas.

OTOH I have to confess that Madame Commswonk bought a popcorn maker several years ago and ferociously resists any suggestion that it be relocated somewhere more suitable, such as the dustbin. It takes up valuable space in the cupboard where I keep the slow cooker (a valued possession that I have had for >35 years) and which, yes, does get used from time to time.

@ 0laf: Sprouts...Par boiled then roasted with pancetta and Parmigiano. Or tossed with said pancetta (or bacon) and chopped chestnuts.

The idea of the Lakeland Catalogue being "kitchen pr0n" is one that I find more than slightly amusing.

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Re: Dear Mr Dabbs...

As a vegetarian, I don't normally cook vegetables as a side-serving but as an ingredient, except for Christmas dinner (to accompany the inevitable nut roast - the only time I make one of those either).

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Anonymous Coward

Over the years my neighbours and friends have become used to my "Tardis" garage contents. They are genuinely disappointed if I don't have the thing they desperately need when the shops are shut.

Often it is for a school project that has to be delivered next day. Requests for ink cartridges at 6am on a Monday - to print their weekend's homework - can be a bit trying.

On Christmas day a neighbour found they had bought all their Xmas food - and forgotten the normal milk. So they were not surprised that I had a spare litre.

The request for bolt cutters to free someone's bicycle was a thing too far though.

The people who pride themselves on having "no clutter" can be annoying. They borrow something they need to do a specialised job then don't return it. On politely enquiring whether they have finished with it - the response is "oh we threw it away - it wasn't expensive was it?". Well no - but you can't buy it nowadays.

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Happy

I've even got the bolt cutters!

Amazing how often someone has said, "I need a..." and I've had one in a shed.

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Happy

...my "Tardis" garage...

Would that it *were* bigger on the inside. That would solve a lot of problems with SWMBO.

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Pint

It's Nice To Be A Miracle Worker.

I was walking across a car park & I was asked by a Harley Davison rider if I had jump cables in my vehicle (No kick starter & battery flat), while I was digging them out I heard his lady say:

"Why did you ask him that for?"

"He looked like the sort of guy that would carry that sort of thing just in case".

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The request for bolt cutters to free someone's bicycle was a thing too far though.

And you were right in denying that; it's the domain of cordless angle grinders, to set you off from the low-life bicycle-pinching yobbo's.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's Nice To Be A Miracle Worker.

"He looked like the sort of guy that would carry that sort of thing just in case".

Stopped one evening to help a young lady who was obviously struggling trying to change a flat tyre. Then another car pulled up and the driver got out. I anticipated saying "No thanks - all under control" - except he asked for directions to somewhere.

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Anonymous Coward

>"The people who pride themselves on having "no clutter" can be annoying. They borrow something they need to do a specialised job then don't return it. On politely enquiring whether they have finished with it - the response is "oh we threw it away - it wasn't expensive was it?". Well no - but you can't buy it nowadays."<

The worst kind of 'No clutter' people are the ones who'd rely on me for just about everything that needs a tool, cable or PSU for this and that, and were never shy of commentating - as I rooted through my stock to supply them with what they desperately needed just then - 'Oh! I don't know how you can live with all this clutter, it would drive me mad'.

One day I agreed with them and chucked the lot of it, then stood by to see the face the next time they 'desperately' needed something, I threw open the garage door for them to see it full of - my car.

Then watch with satisfaction, as I supply them with a obsolete part number and sit back with the popcorn as they start phoning around trying to find what it was I threw out last week.

Empty space ruled supreme - at least for a while, until the wife caught wind of the room going begging - and I lost the acquaintances of quite a number of 'friends' who used to drop by for free parts.

Anonymous posting is essential given the feathers I've ruffled in my neck of the woods as I notice that the clean-sweep freaks empty shelves have begun filling up a bit and I've realised that quite soon I will be calling on them... Mwahahahah!

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Coffee/keyboard

Attic

I must clear out the upgraded PCW256 (512K RAM, 720K DS SD floppy added). Loads of ISA cards, old motherboards, cables, genuine IBM AT stuffed with VGA card and maybe three AST RAM cards and IDE HDD. Also must chuck the MFM drives, various SCSI drives, ZIP and Bernoulli drives and boxes of cables.

A half dozen boxes of old PCBs from test gear, radios etc in workshop.

Dabbsey has been secretly visiting my home office and kitchen. We now have the never used multi-chopper in a box ready to junk.

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I was grinning along as I read this until I got to the bit about the drum of telephone cable. Too close to the truth for comfort....

Tech Hoarders Anonymous anyone?

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Anonymous Coward

Doing this year's new Xmas lights I needed 12v cable. There was a roll in the box with the remainders from when the house was partly rewired in 1990. In fact I couldn't really bear to cut it - so the hoardedsaved lengths from the 1980s tree lights were used instead.

I do regret throwing away (recycled) all the shorter lengths of high amperage cables though. My figurative sculpture hobby has reached the size where I need to make a metal armature. To stop the clay slipping off you need to wind copper wire round the struts to give a ridged surface. The price of a small spool of copper wire is eye-watering.

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"I was grinning along as I read this until I got to the bit about the drum of telephone cable."

I have a drum of Cat 4 (yes, that's right) if you need it.

The best stock of telephone cable was taken when a manual switchboard was decommissioned in 1976. Not very long but a really thick bundle of tinned single cores with all sorts of different coloured insulation. It solders beautifully. I've been snipping bits off to hook odds together, repair PCBs with broken tracks etc. ever since.

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"Tech Hoarders Anonymous anyone?"

Anonymous Tech Hoarders LONdon, ATHLON for short.

Meeting at the pub nearest Reg Towers, first Tuesday of the month, 7:30pm. Drinks and munchies provided from El Reg tea and biccies budget. (aka the El Reg lecture series)

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I hate throwing things away...

Not because I'm an excessive hoarder[*] - I actually quite like the feeling of dumping large quantities of obsolete tech in the local rubbish dump's skip.

However, from long experience, I can pretty much guarantee that as soon as said tech is definitely beyond all possibility of rescuing, I'll find a need for it. Similar applies to the various bits of craft junk stored in overly large tupperware boxes.

Admittedly, the opposite applies to needle-nosed pliers and stanley knifes. No matter how many I purchase, these will always vanish into thin air at even the merest suggestion that they could be useful...

[*] Well. Not hugely. Ish. Much. *ahem*

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Braised sprouts are great. Ordinary saucepan (ours are cast-iron). Strip the sprouts of outer leaves, chop in half. Melt some butter, bung in the sprouts, cook on medium heat for a few mins until they're beginning to brown, put on the lid, turn down heat (or off) and let them steam for a few mins more. Add a little bit of hot water if needed to stop them sticking.

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SVV
Silver badge

Good solution

Try a car boot sale. Not to try and sell the stuff, but just to see wehat others are selling. You'll be amazed how much ancient tech you can find, and if you go past the half way stage of it, you can bargain people down to amazingly cheap prices as they'll be desperate not to take it home again with them. You won't be able to resist snarfing up bagloads of long forgotten stuff you might have once been impressed with when you read about it 15 / 20 / 30 years ago and can have a fun afternoon taking it all home, trying to get it to work and being vastly entertained at the sheer crapness of it all when you do. The real benefit is that you'll forget about alll the other crap that was already occupying space, as the new crap will obscure it, and the excitement of tryimg to locate a driver for all the newly aquired kit on the web, or get a ZX Spectrum / tape recorder / bag of old games combo working with your 70 inch Ultra HD telly will make you completely forget your worries. This approach can also conveneiently be applied to other ares of the house, such as the kitchen gadget collection at the same time. Constantly buying more, not fretting about whether or not to throw stuff out is the true answer to your problem.

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Car boot sales

"Try a car boot sale. Not to try and sell the stuff, but just to see wehat others are selling."

Did that once, before it opened, and got chatting to one of the professional sellers.

He'd got a huge box of useless wires, with connectors on only one end, the likes of which I couldn't imagine actually fitting anything.

He said they'd come as part of a job lot and he hadn't a clue what to use them for either, but they were his currently best selling item.

He had inadvertently stumbled on something about human nature there.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Car boot sales

He said they'd come as part of a job lot and he hadn't a clue what to use them for either,

Some years ago, an auction house near my office was selling the remains of a closed business. One item on the catalogue was an "electronic switch box". Accurately described, but for some reason they throught it was the only part of the assembly worth noting. The attached PDP-11/84 and ½" tape drive didn't get a mention. I was the only bidder, got the lot for the starting bid of £10.00.

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Professional hoarding

So, as someone who works in IT, and is also a Land Rover owner, I reckon to have all the necessary qualifications (and collections of strange gadgets) to claim professional hoarding status.

I have, of course, boxes of ISA cards, including SCSI interfaces, ATA Raid cards, 3com network cards (by the hundred) old PCI cards, AGP graphics cards, broken keyboards and mice, ATA hard drives from 40MB capacity upwards - yes you read that right, 40MB Hard drives... loads of PC cases, including an original IBM XT, an original IBM AT, and an IBM PS2, a Sharp MZ80K, a couple of TRS80 and a Video-Genie, a Camputers Lynx, and some ZX81s.

BUT, I also have a replacement Series 3 rear-quarter chassis, a Ninety front axle casing, a pair of swivels from a Discovery 300Tdi, an R380 gearbox with a broken layshaft, a complete and intact LT230 transfer box, at least 2 pairs of halfshafts, a couple of propshafts, a set of 5 steel wheels, a 2.25 Petrol cylinder head, a complete but scattered around in bits Rover V8, so cylinder heads, sump, block, pistons, camshafts, crankshaft, tappets, rockers, pushrods, and all the other ancillaries, A Smiths heater, a set of Series2A dashboard instruments, a Series3 instrument binnacle, A Series3 seatbox, a set of Discovery 300Tdi sills, inner and outer, and door pillars, A and B, One Series2A R/H front wing, quite a few rusty outriggers, and a dismantled truckcab roof.

Then, I have a welder, a compressor and a full set of air tools, and hundreds of sets, partial sets, and mostly lost sets of sockets, allen keys, torx wrenches and individual tools. Whenever I go the find a 1/2 inch spanner and can't, I buy another one, same with 13mm spanners. I recently bought a 1/2 inch socket drive which you could use in confined spaces by twisting the handle, which I thought was cool.

As too finding the actual bit of Land Rover, or particular tool, when I want it... HA, no chance...

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Re: Professional hoarding

I have a strong longing for a landrover defender despite knowing them to be pretty crap.

I fear getting one would simply feed my addiction to gathering odd tools and widgets and add odd car parts to it.

Saying that I've a washing machine, fridge and tumble drying in me garage, just in case. I need to get them to a charitable concern

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MJI
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Re: Professional hoarding

Just get one then.

But they are not a normal car, they are a utility vehicle and very good at that. They are not crap.

Howver if you want comfort buy the same age Discovery.

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Nuts bolts washers and screws

In that order in case misunderstood.

I keep all kinds of old rotating fasteners and spacers.

Believe it or not the really do come in handy when fixing things or doing some sort of DIY improvisation.

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