back to article Those IT gadget freebies you picked up this year? They make AWFUL Christmas presents

An eerie green glow is radiating from my 1960s sideboard. Arming myself with the only weapons at hand – a TV remote control and a cushion from the sofa – I guardedly edge towards the ghastly rectangular cuboid of varnished beech. A dull, distant thumping can be heard, growing louder as I make my approach, and ultimately …

  1. Roland6 Silver badge

    USB storage sticks with woefully inadequate capacities (4GB if you're lucky)

    I've found it handy to keep a couple of these "inadequate capacity" sticks in the bag...

    There are always colleagues who want a copy of a document/presentation etc. but for reasons known only to them they never carry a USB stick, not even the 64Gb one you lent them yesterday...

    1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

      freebie USB sticks

      I still have an old BT freebie stick with a massive 125M storage.

      (not much use as I rip music at FLAC)

      But it's main failing is the case is so FAT you cannot get the thin into a spare USB port if there is another plug next door.

      Huge thing for the tiny chip inside

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: freebie USB sticks

        "But it's main failing is the case is so FAT"

        Right there is an example of why you shouldn't go all Bob on us. I was trying to work out why its formatting was a failing.

        1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

          Re: freebie USB sticks

          I was thinking that FAT can store files larger than the size of that disk, so what's the problem?

      2. Unicornpiss Silver badge

        Re: freebie USB sticks

        Let's not forget how ungodly SLOOOOW the freebie flash drives are. It makes you wonder if they've somehow adapted floppy technology for the crappy things.

        1. Korev Silver badge

          Re: freebie USB sticks

          Let's not forget how ungodly SLOOOOW the freebie flash drives are

          I have some from storage vendors that are incredibly slow; it makes me wonder why they want their logo on the side of a snail disguised as a thumb drive.

          1. Unicornpiss Silver badge

            Re: vendors and slowness

            I rather feel the same way. I work for a company known for manufacturing and when our Marketing dept. gives out cheap crap to visitors and partners, it does make you wonder what impression is made. Pens that quit writing after a day or two. Slow, small flash drives, .7A output cell phone chargers that you hope won't burn your house down, cheap plastic stuff in attractive gift boxes. (I swear more effort was made in engineering the container than the contents)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: freebie USB sticks

          Just slow one would be good. My current employer has indulged in some cheap 4G giveaways with something like a 50% failure rate.

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            Re: freebie USB sticks

            THIS is the only acceptable shape for a usb stick. Sleek , small , metal, not too fat to use up the neighbouring socket.

            It boggles my mind that it has taken 20 years to design a hole for the usage of putting string , chain , or keyring through that dosent immediately snap off, losing your memory stick.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: freebie USB sticks

              "It boggles my mind that it has taken 20 years to design a hole for the usage of putting string , chain , or keyring through that dosent immediately snap off, losing your memory stick."

              It's still wrong. It leaves your keyring dangling from the plugged in memory stick. I don't think supporting a heavy keyring was one of the design requirements for USB.

              1. DropBear Silver badge
                Trollface

                Re: freebie USB sticks

                "It's still wrong"

                Ah, but see, that's what quick disconnects are for. One of them keeps my USB stick attached to my keys, the other is for the AAA-cell mini-flashlight (the swiss army knife is permanently attached, being the heaviest item of them all it supremely doesn't give a #### about what else it lugs around). Yes I do carry that thing in my pocket, thanks for asking, although now that you mention it maybe I should consider an alpinist-rated belt clip (and a properly sturdy utility belt to match)...

                1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                  Re: freebie USB sticks

                  "Yes I do carry that thing in my pocket, thanks for asking, although now that you mention it maybe I should consider an alpinist-rated belt clip (and a properly sturdy utility belt to match)."

                  It all gets out of hand so quickly...

                  My alternative is https://www.integralmemory.com/product/courier-usb-flash-drive but its an old & slow one. I see they're doing a USB 3 version now so maybe it's time for a change.

                2. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

                  Re: freebie USB sticks

                  I don't know how you lug all that around. It annoys me that I have a separate fob and key for my car.

            2. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: freebie USB sticks

              >THIS is the only acceptable shape for a usb stick

              Bit big! :)

              Being mostly a laptop user, I much prefer the ultra fit sticks. The key advantage is that they don't stick out too much and so when you have to either move or quickly pack away your machine you don't have to worry about the stick sticking out the side...

              This was also my complaint about compact flash drives et al, they tended to stick out too far making them unsuitable for use as an auxillary drive.

            3. Martin an gof Silver badge

              Re: freebie USB sticks

              THIS is the only acceptable shape for a usb stick

              Well said, totally agree, but can you point me in the direction of such sticks that don't say "Kingston" on the side and either fail after a couple of months, or last for ever but have write speeds that wouldn't tax my old Viewdata modem?

              Generally quite like Kingston stuff, but I've bought a load of this-shaped Kingston stick; the USB3 ones didn't last at all and were only marginally faster than the Viewdata-rated USB2 sticks.

              M.

            4. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: freebie USB sticks @Prst. V.Jeltz

              I have to disagree with you there This tiny thing is the perfect size - not metal but not enough sticking out to be bent when a wheelie chair is slammed into it.

              Plus it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb plugged into a car usb slot (64GB of rock, metal, industrial... saves filling up the phone with music).

              Someone (Roland6 I'm looking at you) beat me to this.

              1. Roland6 Silver badge

                Re: freebie USB sticks @Prst. V.Jeltz

                A use - other than in the laptop/AiO, to which I've put these tiny USB sticks is as log drives in Draytek routers; because they don't draw attention to themselves in the same way as a longer stick does, so users tend to not see them and so leave well alone...

        3. Hero Protagonist

          Re: freebie USB sticks

          "It makes you wonder if they've somehow adapted floppy technology for the crappy things."

          It's actually a miniature Tardis, the interior of which is large enough to fit an actual floppy drive.

        4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: freebie USB sticks

          adapted floppy technology

          Presumably, the old style 'glaciers move data more quickly' Commodore serial ones?

          Yes. I am that old. I used to sneer at those sad VIC-20 types from the security of my red-function-key bedecked BBC Model B..

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge

            Re: freebie USB sticks

            Presumably, the old style 'glaciers move data more quickly' Commodore serial ones?

            A QL Microdrive, surely?

        5. fajensen Silver badge

          Re: freebie USB sticks

          Let's not forget how ungodly SLOOOOW the freebie flash drives are.

          The daemon inside allows itself some time to relish the entropy created from your precious data!

      3. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: freebie USB sticks

        Huge thing for the tiny chip inside

        Chip? You sure it's not core memory?

    2. Dave K Silver badge

      "I've found it handy to keep a couple of these "inadequate capacity" sticks in the bag..."

      Agreed, I've got half a dozen 2GB/4GB ones kicking around for the same purpose. It's always a risk when someone wants a copy of an urgent document and doesn't have a spare flash drive to hand.

      I've been there before...

      "Oh, I'll bring it back in 20 minutes" they say cheerily whilst you delicately hand over the only spare flash drive you can find in your drawer, a 128GB platinum-plated flash drive with go-faster LED that was given to you by a cherished relative just before their recent death. And you know within 5 minutes it'll be sticking out the front of their desktop PC with a dribble of coffee down one side - right before that moment when they shove their wheely chair back into it, thus bending the USB connector over at a 30 degree angle. That's if you ever get it back at all...

      No, always better to give them a small, crap, flaky one that you don't care about one way or the other.

      1. jake Silver badge

        I've got a bucket of 64 Meg ones.

        No typo, Meg. Got 'em for "free" in some boxes of crap that I inherited from a startup that went titsup. Handy for almost any file I'll ever need to transfer ... Yes, I said bucket. As in just shy of 5 gallons. They were a promo with our logo, supposed to be given away at trade shows that we never went to.

        1. FuzzyTheBear
          Coat

          Re: I've got a bucket of 64 Meg ones.

          Raid array anyone ?

      2. Franco Silver badge

        I get mocked for that frequently, I've got a little wallet for USB sticks that should carry 6 but as they are mostly the thin key shaped ones there's about 15 in there. Most came free from Microsoft or Symantec or some other such company.

        At 2 extremes, I have a very old 64mb Dell USB stick that is (physically) huge and has a Windows 98 boot disk on it. Occasionally useful for BIOS/firmware flashes. At the other, a couple of 64gb which aren't actually that useful as for some reason HP kit doesn't like installing Windows from anything larger than an 8gb stick.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          At the other, a couple of 64gb which aren't actually that useful

          I have some very useful ones with USB-C *and* USB-A connectors (slide the slider one way and USB-C. Slide the other way and, as if by magic, the USB-A appears).

          Useful for (allegedly) moving stuff from my USB-C Macbook Pro to my USB-A work laptop.. (formatted, sadly, with FAT-32 as the lowed common denominator).

          1. Dave559 Bronze badge

            Lowest common denominator filesystem

            We have finally got USB to be the (nearly) universal connector for almost everything (well, just in time for it to evolve into USB-C), we really need an useful unencumbered modern filesystem to go along with it, when transferring files between different OSes.

            FAT is too small for many files nowadays, NTFS support is iffy on Mac and Linux, etc. Would it perhaps really be too much to hope for, for every OS to have full read and write support for ext4 or similar?

        2. Mage Silver badge
          Alert

          Small and smaller

          My excellent digital camera uses a 4 M byte flash (for stills, the video is on 8mm tape!).

          I have some 32 M Byte SD cards

          I have a few 4G SD cards and CF cards.

          I put an adaptor in the EE PC to replace its 4G Flash PCB with a CF socket. It has a 32G card in it, allowing in place updates to the Linux Mint + Mate desktop on it.

          No mistype on the Ms above.

          I remember PDAs with 64K static RAM based CF cards using coin cell for backup before Flash was available. Mid 1980s.

          Is the smallest the IBM PC type Clock/RAM chip on some portable gadgets in late 1980s with 64 bytes RAM kept alive by a coin cell (5 years)? I recovered some of those on old 486 & Pentium I wanted to keep that had the battery epoxied in. Easy with a Dremel type cutter and possible with knife to cut case and solder a CR2032 holder instead of the now flat battery. Some old PCs will not do ANYTHING at power on if the battery is dead and/or CMOS corrupt. There ARE things that need an old PC.

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge

            Re: Small and smaller

            I remember PDAs with 64K static RAM based CF cards using coin cell for backup before Flash was available. Mid 1980s.

            There's one of those in the Casio?/Sharp? (it's elsewhere, so can't check) handheld I found at a thrift shop recently.

            Is the smallest the IBM PC type Clock/RAM chip on some portable gadgets in late 1980s with 64 bytes RAM kept alive by a coin cell (5 years)?

            Not as small regarding storage, but I have a 2k SRAM chip that's got two recesses for coin cells (CR1220 IIRC) in the casing.

          2. Arachnoid

            Re: Small and smaller

            " Some old PCs will not do ANYTHING at power on if the battery is dead and/or CMOS corrupt. There ARE things that need an old PC."

            Don`t forget the Compaqs which had the bios on the hard drive so you had to download the correct replacement firmware from their website on a new hard drive install......

    3. AndrueC Silver badge
      Facepalm

      I worked for a company once that decided to hand out branded USB sticks and cleverly put our software on them. Unfortunately the marketing department never came to ask us how big our package was (ooh er missus) so when the - several hundred - USB sticks were delivered they were too small(*). Naturally the same order included small flyers that accompanied each stick telling the lucky recipient how to install our software from the stick.

      (*)On the plus side it meant we didn't have to address the thorny issue of how we were going to get our software onto the sticks. Another simple matter that, again, the marketing department hadn't seen any need to consult us about.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        I worked for a company once that decided to hand out branded USB sticks and cleverly put our software on them.

        Ahh.. the good old days. Where sticking a freebie-USB stick in (ooh-er!) wasn't an invitation to play host to the latest exciting 0-days..

    4. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Linux

      Smallish sticks make handy Live USBs

      I've got a freebie 1Gb drive (shaped like a gold ingot for some reason) that's just right for live-booting Puppy, or antiX, or Q4OS, or heads (Tails used to fit, sadly no longer), or 4M, or even Lubuntu. Of course, it's USB 1, so a little slow, but still useful for recovery & maintenance if needed.

      1. Unicornpiss Silver badge

        Re: Smallish sticks make handy Live USBs

        I had a clear blue 256MB one with our company logo that was studded inside with various colored LEDs. When you plugged it in, the lights would blink in amusing patterns giving a little light show. I used it for years as a "Ghost" boot disk for imaging before this simple, reliable process was superseded by a more cumbersome, aggravating, approved process. I still have it, though its utility is pretty limited these days.

      2. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

        Re: Smallish sticks make handy Live USBs

        "Of course, it's USB 1, so a little slow"

        I'll say. That's 12Mbits/sec = 1.5 MB/s tops.

    5. Tikimon Silver badge

      I ask my users to give me any unwanted USB sticks they collect at conferences. They are the "See ya, thanks for all the fish" loaners I'll never see again.

      Please sir, can I have some more flash drives?

      1. Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge

        We have an inexhaustible supply of small, worn and utterly crap USB sticks at work; the source is the various PC clusters provided for our students. USB sticks, invariably exceedingly crap ones, get left in these rooms continually.

        We remove them from machines, and "recycle" them as needed.

    6. Montreal Sean

      Small USB thumb drives

      I find it useful to have a few sub-8GB drives for firmware/BIOS updates.

      Some don't like drives over 8GB.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      2-4GB sticks are perfect for Windows installers, live distros, esxi boot drives, lending drives that you know you are not getting back. I keep half a dozen in my bag at all times. Saved my rear plenty of times.

  2. Teiwaz Silver badge

    My Modern definition of Middle Class

    Having alcohol in the house and not drinking it.

    I usually fail on boredom/excessive and repeat curiosity. Bottles of 'green stuff' tend to get drunk eventually, sip at a time or all at once, one particularly depressing evening.

    1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

      Re: My Modern definition of Middle Class

      I'm on hormone treatment for Prostate cancer -- main problem is hot flushes (ask yer missus) which are made spectacularly worse with alcohol.

      But people keep giving me booze -- I have loads of wine and a fair collection of single malts and gins.

      I've informed my consultant that (hopefully) in a year or so when I can stop the Hormone stuff, I intend on getting in to serious training to be an alcoholic.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: My Modern definition of Middle Class

        I intend on getting in to serious training to be an alcoholic.

        I can help with the training - as long as you provide the booze.

        (t'missus tends to pass out at just the smell of a whisky cork so my drinking is mostly solitary.. Still, her tolerance for red wine has improved - it takes a whole glass to send her to sleep now rather than just a few sips. My nephew however has inherited the family ability to drink vast quantities of red wine with little apparent effect and no hangovers the following day)

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: My Modern definition of Middle Class

      I thought the definition of middle class was still... having fruit in the house when no one's ill .

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: My Modern definition of Middle Class

      Having alcohol in the house and not drinking it.

      Depends on the type of alcohol.. I've got a few mostly-empty-but-saved-for-a-special-occasion malt whisky bottles in the cupboard - mostly of rarities that I've collected at some time or another.

      And, annoyingly, I looked some of them up online. Some of the bottles at I paid £30 for (which was a lot in 1990) are now worth well above £2000 if unopened.

      Still - a single malt in the glass is worth several left in the bottle. Or something like that.

      (Still buying nice & rare whisky - it's just the standard price has moved up to more like £45-£60 for a cask strength).

    4. MrBanana

      Re: My Modern definition of Middle Class

      The other big clue to something suspicious in the bottle is the shape of it. The more outlandish the shape the worse the contents are likely to be. Anything like a bottle that has been humorously stretched to be 50cm in length, or if it is shaped like a Spanish galleon in full sail, will invariably contain paint stripper.

    5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: My Modern definition of Middle Class

      "Bottles of 'green stuff'"

      I seem to vaguely remember seeing a bottle of "green stuff" when I was a very young kid. So young that I can't remember where, parents drinks cabinet? Grandparents drinks cabinet? All I remember was it looked thick and creamy and was the pale(ish) green colour you see inside a mint Aero bar. Some you posting here sound like the type of people who can identify what this stuff might have been.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: My Modern definition of Middle Class

        Banananana flavoured usually.

        Doesn't seem to involve any actual banananananas though.

  3. jake Silver badge

    Cheap-ass freebies.

    Me, I toss 'em into a military issue 30-06 ammo box. When it's full, I seal it into a wooden box, completely surrounded with expanding foam. Then I bury it as a time capsule, the marker reads "not to be opened until <50 years>". No idea why I started this tradition, seemed amusing at the time. I know when I started it, it was right after the last CES show I attended in 1993 ... I wonder what they'll make of all those AOL 3.5 inch floppys layered in with the other junk when they dig it up in 2043, should I not be there to explain (I fully intend to attend!) ...The next box has a selection of AOL CDs, amongst other tat :-)

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Cheap-ass freebies.

      Archaeologist #1: "What on earth could these silver things have been used for? I can't see a practical use, though they're quite decorative."

      Archaeologist #2: "Nope, I can't think of anything practical either. But they were carefully buried, so they must have had considerable importance to the owner."

      Both archaeologists look at each other as understanding dawns. "RITUAL PURPOSES!"

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Cheap-ass freebies.

        Both archaeologists look at each other as understanding dawns. "RITUAL PURPOSES!"

        This deserves more upvotes than I can possibly supply. It only funny because it's true..

        1. Justicesays

          Re: Cheap-ass freebies.

          Obviously Prayer Fans

  4. Mage Silver badge

    Horrible green stuff

    Amazingly people once did think it healthy to add radium to a drink.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Horrible green stuff

      "Amazingly people once did think it healthy to add radium to a drink."

      And put it in toothpaste.

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Horrible green stuff

      Surprised you didn't link to the infamous clips from TOS and TNG

      1. Commswonk Silver badge

        Re: Horrible green stuff

        When I saw the first mention of this green liquid I immediately thought "Green Chartreuse", which I have to admit is something of an acquired taste.

        I am now tempted to go and buy a bottle as I rather used to enjoy it a good many years ago, and in all likelihood there would be little risk of there being any other demand for it.

        All mine.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Horrible green stuff

          I thought, Midori. Which is simply foul stuff.

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Horrible green stuff

          When I saw the first mention of this green liquid I immediately thought "Green Chartreuse", which I have to admit is something of an acquired taste.

          The sort of taste that, once you have aquired it, you wondered why you bothered?

          (Sounds a bit like absinthe - there are easier and more palatable ways of injesting mild hallucinogens..)

        3. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: Horrible green stuff

          When I saw the first mention of this green liquid I immediately thought "Green Chartreuse", which I have to admit is something of an acquired taste.

          My first thought was creme de menthe. A drink so sweet you should not only avoid it if there's diabetes in your family, you should avoid it if there's diabetes in your country.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Horrible green stuff

          "When I saw the first mention of this green liquid I immediately thought "Green Chartreuse", which I have to admit is something of an acquired taste."

          A lot of things that come from Grenoble are shit.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Horrible green stuff

            A lot of things that come from Grenoble are shit.

            The Chartreuse distillery is in Voiron, many km from Grenoble.

        5. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Horrible green stuff

          When I saw the first mention of this green liquid I immediately thought "Green Chartreuse", which I have to admit is something of an acquired taste.

          Not half as bad as that abomination invented by French ski stations, the Green Chaud. Hot chocolate with a shot of Chartreuse added. Just say no.

        6. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Horrible green stuff

          My dad was given a bottle of Green Chartreuse in the early 70's as a Christmas freebie from a supplier. Fearful stuff. A few sips were all you needed. It came out of the cupboard every Christmas Eve till I left home. In retrospect I don't miss waking up on Christmas day with burnt lips.

          1. fajensen Silver badge

            Re: Horrible green stuff

            There is a bar in Århus, Denmark (Le Coq) who has the current world record in selling Chartreuse, 1897 bottles in 2016. The first bottle of the day is 10 DKK about a quid, so get there Early (and be found face-down in the canal a couple of days later by rescue dogs)

            http://aarhusupdate.dk/hvad-er-chartreuse-den-groenne-munkelikoer/

  5. Aaiieeee

    Re-gifting is an art

    My aunt gives gifts that leave you unsure if you are a loved nephew or another name on a list; there is never enough evidence to be sure either way. My brother gives gifts and says "I didn't like it". After realizing he shouldn't have said that he says "its quite good though, it's one of the better ones available".

    The most recent gift from my brother was an electric toothbrush from Lidl.

    1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

      Re: Re-gifting is an art

      My mother gave my dad's mom a hat she thought she might like for xmas one year and got it back the next.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Re-gifting is an art

        I got 3 £1 notes in a card once, from an uncle. They apparently couldn't quite spring to the full fiver. This was in the 80s, a year after the pound coin had come in, so the notes could be changed at a bank - but not spent.

        Anyway Mum was quite annoyed by this, and bought them off me, just so she could send them back to his children for their birthdays.

        They went round the family for the next year, until somebody decided to be the grown up and got them changed - or alternatively gifted them to the other side of their family in order to start the whole process again.

        He was a good uncle. I remember when I was 5, they got me a Marks & Spencer gift set for christmas, St Michaels aftershave and talcum powder. If you're going to make that little effort, why not just not bother?

        1. W4YBO

          Re: Re-gifting is an art

          "I remember when I was 5, they got me a Marks & Spencer gift set for christmas..."

          My Great-uncle was a geneticist at Oak Ridge National Labs and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Go 'Heels!). Usual Christmas gifts were "thinkers" like a Chess or Go set. The absolute best gift from him was a large capped test tube chock full of his test subjects - fruit flies. Did you know that it's damn near impossible to get just one fruit fly out of a test tube full of them?

          For some reason, just gift certificates from then on.

        2. MrT

          Re: Re-gifting is an art

          I remember my sister receiving a silver necklace from my gran one Christmas in the 80s - the sort that was a hair-thin chain seemingly unable to hold even the tiny random charm that it came with. When my uncle saw it, all carefully presented in a small plastic bag, he recognised it as a cracker gift from his house the previous Christmas.

          Around the same year, gran also gave me a jumper. From Greenwood's. The trend at the time was for tight-fitting attire, and this would have been perfect for someone several chest sizes smaller who wasn't a rugby player with a prospective military career, so off it went to be swapped. The shop weren't sure what to do as the jumper was not stocked any more, being a three-year out of date item.

          Gran. Great in many ways, but took the old 'wartime thriftiness' a bit too far at times.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "I once made the mistake of trying a sip. Just once."

    Reminds me of a long project in Luxembourg. At the end of my stint I decided to bring back a present for my house mate. The local shops had various brands of the local spirit called "Poire Williams".

    The novelty was that an empty bottle was put over a budding pear on the tree. When the pear was ripe there was a full size fruit trapped in the bottle. A brandy made from the Williams pear was then added. It looked very pretty on the shop shelves. The trees in the orchard look strange while they are festooned with what appear to be a collection of empty bottles.

    With a large price range I opted for a middle one. When opened we found that it was like paint stripper in both taste and chemistry. $deity$ knows what a cheap bottle would have been like.

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      "it was like paint stripper in both taste and chemistry."

      Ahhh so you had a good Willy then... Trust me you DONT want to know what a bad one tastes like...

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      like paint stripper in both taste and chemistry.

      So, similar to grappa then? I once got very, very sick after drinking grappa (admittedly, flavouring it with Blue Bols[1] might not have been the wisest choice but at least it mostly took away the taste of the grappa).

      Coming up it tasted pretty much the same as going down. And was a bright, lurid green.

      [1] We were students and it was the only thing we had.. I mean, what sort of a student in the 1980's had both grappa *and* blue bols?

      1. Commswonk Silver badge

        So, similar to grappa then?

        Arrgh! I tried it once on a holiday at Larke Garda; an experience that I am unlikely to forget for its memorable horror. (The grappa, not Lake Garda!)

        Stuck to Limoncello after that... much better.

        <sigh>

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Grappa can be very good, especially if the proprietor pours it out of an unmarked bottle just taken from the freezer - just make sure it is transparent and not yellowish. Also good in an espresso.

    3. Anonymous C0ward

      Poire? Yep, I've had that on a few skiing trips. It's lethal.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      My brother went to former Yugoslavia to help the EU paying for the reconstruction of all those historical buildings that were thoroughly shot shot up.

      Everywhere he went there was some muscular dude in jeans, white T-shirt, large watch and black shades "organising things" and offering Raki in 4-finger measures in the local taverns during project meetings;

      Everywhere else, "on site", where old dudes offering home made Raki in jam-jars .... He always waited for peuple to drink first, fearing a trip to the kidney-donor-center, blindness and cirrhosis, the whole time.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "I mean cheapo giveaways [...]"

    When ordering eBay items with "free postage" it often means you are paying the postage several times over when several of the same thing are sent in the same package.

    A recent trial purchase of a small LED bulb was satisfactory - so another half-dozen were ordered. In the bottom of the wrapping was a small sweet lollipop. One bulb was faulty - so they immediately replaced it. Yet another lollipop - just a different colour.

    Reminds me of when Italy had a shortage of small coins - so shopkeepers would include sweets or postage stamps as your small change.

    Amazon marketplace imposes a fixed postage cost for books. Ordering several from the same supplier you find you may have paid an extraordinarily excessive amount for p&p.

    In the early days of online independent bookshops a similar accumulation occurred on one order. When the parcel arrived there was an unexpected £5 note inside . A note explained it was the only way they could adjust the p&p in such cases.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      A recent trial purchase of a small LED bulb was satisfactory - so another half-dozen were ordered. In the bottom of the wrapping was a small sweet lollipop. One bulb was faulty - so they immediately replaced it. Yet another lollipop - just a different colour.

      It's quite common for shipments from German eBay sellers to come with a small packet of Haribo[0] sweets.

      [0] macht Kinder froh.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        It's quite common for shipments from German eBay sellers to come with a small packet of Haribo[0] sweets.

        Also the case with purchases from qwertee...

      2. elgarak1

        Und Erwachsene ebenso.

        Haribo Gummy Bears are nice gifts to take to the US. Because the standard ones here in Germany use natural fruit juices for color and flavor, and they're hard to get over there. What you get there are one made in Spain or Hungary using artificial coloring and flavoring.

    2. Andy A

      "Reminds me of when Italy had a shortage of small coins - so shopkeepers would include sweets or postage stamps as your small change."

      I'm convinced that our family started that system. In the late 60s we holidayed on the coast north of Rome. Petrol stations then had attendants, and they expected a tip. As impoverished Brits we had little spare cash, our car had a tin full of sweets such as Swizzels, wine gums etc., and these were passed on to the people who had operated the pumps.

  8. Fading Silver badge
    Windows

    Fondly remember...

    My first USB stick. A fantastic (at the time) 128MB at Full Speed (USB 1.1) with encryption software. Served me many years (at the time a 4GB IDE HDD was huge) and I think I may have it rolling around somewhere. I used to frequently load it up with firewall, anti virus, ccleaner, firefox and other useful programs when heading round to friends/family to sort out their XP home systems that had slowed to a crawl.

  9. frank ly Silver badge

    Eeeew

    "... bottom-quality earbuds that stop working after two uses"

    I always throw earbuds away after I've used them once.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: Eeeew

      Well, at least they're better than ear quality bottom buds...

    2. Alistair Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Eeeew

      I steal the earbuds that my youngest kills.

      They may no longer be functioning earbuds, but they do work as an FM antenna for the Moto.

  10. tony2heads
    Coat

    Evil green liquid

    Sounds like absinthe. Watch out for the hallucinations (from the wormwood content).

    Remember what they say: absinthe makes the heart grow fonder

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Evil green liquid

      Always had a terrible effect on my bowels... but then absinthe makes the fart go Honda.

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: Evil green liquid

        Absinthe makes the hands go fondle her

        Seems to be current excuse of groping MPs, blaming being drunk for being "hands on" with people who did not want the attention.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Evil green liquid

          Absinthe makes the hands go fondle her

          Have some madeira, m'dear.

          Rang out down the hall loud and clear

          With a tremulous cry that was filled with despair,

          As she fought to take breath in the cool midnight air,

          Have some madeira, m'dear.

          The words seemed to ring in her ear.

          Until the next morning, she woke in her bed

          With a smile on her lips and an ache in her head...

          And a beard in her lug 'ole that tickled and said:

          Have some madeira, m'dear!

          (Flanders and Swann. What a fine pair of music-hall gents they were!)

          1. Tim99 Silver badge

            Re: Evil green liquid

            On the LP introduction according to Flanders, Swann thought the song was about cake, and so it was...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Evil green liquid

      Easiest way to tell is set fire to it.

      I don't mind absinthe, Black absinthe is nicer than green.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sounds like absinthe.

      That's what i thought too, but I dread to think what kind of absinthe would come in a bottle with a label that looked like a pirate map (unless someone had decanted it into an old rum bottle for some reason...)

    4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Evil green liquid

      Sounds like absinthe

      I tried it a couple of times. It has.. interesting results when taken with codeine-based painkillers..

      Nowadays I can't have it because of the vast amounts of sugar you need to make it palatable. I find I'm not missing it.

    5. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Evil green liquid

      Regrettably you are unlikely to see the green fairy. There is no evidence that the active ingredient (thujone from wormwood oil) has any hallucinogenic effect despite it structural similarity to THC. Perhaps absence of evidence is not essence of absinthe.

      Absinthe was traditionally diluted to about 1 part in 4 of cold water. That could explain the bad taste, but so would an "absinthe" kit (vodka, wormwood oil and a risk of kidney damage).

    6. This post has been deleted by its author

    7. Potemkine! Silver badge

      Re: Evil green liquid

      Absinthe should be enjoyed after adding water poured on a small piece of sugar to soften the bitterness.. It is not meant to be taken pure unless you want to live a similar experience to the one described in the first video.

      I remember having such a moment when trying to drink 'cul-sec' a glass of a liquor made by my dear grandma with some fruits I was unable to recognize... probably because the aforementioned liquor add an ABV rating above 80%.

      Regarding the second video (congrats for the translation!), there is something similar in my native country. It's called 'Vipérine', it's made by putting a viper alive into a bottle of (strong) liquor. It's very weird when somebody offers you to drink something coming from a bottle with a snake in it..

  11. wyatt

    I'd love some small ones for things like bitlocker keys. Seems a waste one bigger that a few MB.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Or for RAM testers, like memtest86

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Or for RAM testers, like memtest86

        Have you looked at Yumi?

  12. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    Pint

    chilli sambuca

    My local pub sells this, being almost luminous green it looks disgusting. But it tastes great, just what's needed on a cold day. I can't remember the brand, it's that good :)

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: chilli sambuca

      "just what's needed on a cold day"

      So was the nip of poteen. Having bought a bottle we discovered that that was the only circumstance in which it was drinkable. It lasted a long, long time.

  13. Khaptain Silver badge

    Les Bronzes font du Ski

    Loved the reference video to the "Les Bronzes font du Ski". I had no idea that it had been translated(subtitled) into English..

    And was that green stuff a bottle of Chartreuse Verte. It's not actually too bad...

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Les Bronzes font du Ski

      Actually, the film hasn't been translated to English. The clip you see at the end of this week's column is one that I grabbed and subtitled myself purely for the enjoyment of Reg readers.

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Les Bronzes font du Ski

        Félicitations : As those French accents and their humour are not always easy to interpret.

        As you probably also know this film has a cult status along with the other Bronzés.. They really are funny films.

        Évidement vous parler Francais.

  14. Captain Hogwash Silver badge
    Headmaster

    metric tonne

    So, tonne then. Although I understand Americans commonly refer to a metric ton.

    Hell in a handcart I tell ya!

  15. elgarak1

    Freebie USB sticks given out at trade conferences are probably still a prime vector of malware...

  16. Terry 6 Silver badge

    That's where they all went......

    Over the years I've had dozens of USB sticks. Various sizes,designs,origins. Bought, supplied for one reason or another or given as freebies. But I can never find one when I need one.

  17. pakraticus

    Sure it wasn't this green beverage?

    Sure it isn't the green stuff used at Frankie's Ice Cream

  18. MrT

    CompuScrooge...

    ... I remember having a trade account with them...

  19. Fihart

    Useless Use of USB

    Cup warmer. Rechargeable hand warmer. Desk Fan.

    Doubtless the last straw for your laptop's power supply circuitry.

    Silliest USB sticks:

    In the shape of a door key (gift from estate agent), stick which is a bare circuit board (gift from Intel) neither work reliably as they are a loose fit in most USB sockets (there's a reason for putting that metal casing around the connector).

    USB memory in the shape of a little VW with headlights. Everyone who sees it wants to nick it.

  20. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    Re: The Green Stuff (again)

    Hmm. Did Mme D's grandparents at some point work at la Usine de Retraitement de La Hague?

  21. Tom Paine Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Time... time...

    Working 60h+ weeks, I don't really have the luxury of being able to take a day off to visit a trade show. If I got the time off I'd be spending it catching up the housework backlog that's accumulated over the past four months of deathmarch :(

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