back to article That old box of tech junk you should probably throw out saves a warehouse

Reg readers in the US and UK are about to enjoy long weekends – perfect occasions, and timing, for a spot of spring cleaning. But as we discover in this week's edition of On-Call, our weekly reader-contributed tale of tech support traumas, that might be one chore it's wisest to set aside. To understand why, meet a reader we'll …

  1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Happy

    Hmmm

    I have quite a large draw full of various wall warts - maybe I should advertise them as for sale to desperate techies.

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm

      me too , i'm surprised this was even an issue when it came up in the factory.

      I've even been through them all with a marker pen and labelled the volt / amp to avoid squinting at the tiny writing each time I need a certain voltage providing for something.

      Roland yanked out the power supply, one of the maintenance team wired it into conveyor belt control panel

      I'm surprised this maintenance team couldnt provide 5v at 2a without Roland's help.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmmm

        Watch out for PAT testers who will put their bloody stickers over the info bit, despite the other side of the PSU is completely flat and bare.

        1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm

          In my experience only the first five words are needed.

          1. Solviva

            Re: Hmmm

            Indeed! Ours was Steve AKA the plastic Scouser.

        2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm

          I worked in a university engineering department with a VAX 11/780 where PAT testers blew over thirty monitors in one day doing inuslation tests on the. Downside: no computer access for a week. Upside: the VT200s were replaced with VT420s.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmmm

          I had to look up PAT tester.

          And... seriously? You guys do that?

          I am so glad we have nothing like that at all on this side of the pond.

          The Wikipedia article on it seems to suggest that perhaps you're getting somewhat more sane about it over there. "Using the results of the previous tests, the HSE decided that further portable appliance tests are not needed within the foreseeable future or at all for certain types of portable equipment." Yeah, we've always known that here, stuff gets tested at the factory and can safely be assumed to not need to be tested again for the life of the equipment unless it's visibly damaged.

      2. cosmodrome

        Re: Hmmm

        Did the very same. Just -knowing my handwriting- I used a label printer. I could easily imagine myself trying to read #@$%! hieroglyphs in faded ink in the dark...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmmm

        I have one of those too, they are very useful.

        The place where I work has the kind of manager that doesn't like keeping stuff around and will frequently purge the spare parts, I went in one day and all (most?)of the laptop power supplies were gone along with the video cards and most of the HDDs. Aside from that he is a great person.

        1. Zarno
          Pint

          Re: Hmmm

          's/purge/sell for beer money/'

          FTFY

          Icon because above.

        2. rcxb Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm

          My fix for that is a 2-step removal process.

          Clean anything you want out of the equipment room, but move it into the (locked) storage shed.

          If nobody asks to get the stuff out of the storage shed for a month, it can be discarded.

          1. midgepad

            Month

            5 years

          2. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

            Re: Hmmm

            If nobody asks to get the stuff out of the storage shed for a month, it can be discarded.

            Really ?

            I thought it was one of those universal rules that everyone knows, the quickest way to find out that you need something is to ... throw it out. I find that if I throw out any of my old rubbish*bits of useful stuff and raw materials - then within a week I'm likely to find a use for it.

            * As SWMBO likes to call it - though she's slowly coming round to realising how useful it can be having such things around to make/fix things with.

          3. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: Hmmm

            There's a lot of things that only happen once a year.

        3. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm

          "the kind of manager that doesn't like keeping stuff around"

          We had a few of those when our company adopted the 5S methodology. We just took to storing our spare parts with greater care and cunning. 5S came to stand for "Same Stuff, Stashed Somewhere Sneaky".

        4. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm

          "I went in one day and all (most?)of the laptop power supplies were gone along with the video cards and most of the HDDs"

          That sucks since they likely just got binned. Back in the bronze age when I was in school, we'd get some boxes of electronics donated by various local companies. There would be classes where we'd go through it all to see what was truly trash, but we also wound up with loads of salvageable parts. I think we learned more from all of that surplus stuff than we did with new components. Every company should see what they can do to support local schools and kids rarely have money to buy new kit, but have lots of time to bodge together something.

      4. PRR Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Hmmm

        > I'm surprised this maintenance team couldnt provide 5v at 2a without Roland's help.

        At my work, I was a lowly departmental mouse-cleaner and all network operations were handled by well-salaried and degreed network specialists.

        And I knew none of them could diagnose below invoice level (if a box gave trouble, buy a whole new box).

        One morning the building network was out. Before I called it in, I took a snoop in their closet. Because before the PC, I was fixing and building lots of electronics in other fields.

        The router was dead. No lights, no volts inside. Supposed to be 12V and 5V. Hmmm. As GlenP here said, that's the old external disk drive power supply. Up to a point, but it wasn't much inside and I felt sure it would not strain my disk warts. Took a look in my closet. Wrong wires not a problem, soldering things was my best skill. Hid the wart behind the rack flange. Booted right up. Never called it in. Nobody noticed. It ran that way, bodged, for a decade until they upped the lines from 10-speed to 100-speed with new routers just because.

        1. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

          Re: Hmmm

          With a previous job hat on, I used to look after a campus network where the config and maintenance contract were handled by a local university network team. One day I noted that a switch had a noisy fan, and simply popped a new fan in - a few quid for a generic fan of the right size, and a couple of minutes soldering to connect it to the original connector. To me this was "just routine maintenance", to the guys I worked with at the university, this was well "above and beyond".

          1. David 132 Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Hmmm

            > To me this was "just routine maintenance", to the guys I worked with at the university, this was well "above and beyond".

            …and to the team whose responsibility it was to do the maintenance, it was “demarcation! A grievance matter! Alright lads, down tools, all out…”

            1. mdubash

              Re: Hmmm

              If only there were more unionisation, salaries might be better...

      5. mirachu

        Re: Hmmm

        Yeah, 5V@2A sounds like a USB hub wallwart.

      6. Dimmer Bronze badge

        Re: Hmmm

        One of the hottest and power wasting devices in a Datacenter is a power brick. Grab a flir and take a look at your cabinets, it will surprise you.

      7. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmmm

        I'm not, as anyone with extensive experience with Raspberry Pi's will tell you, not all 5v 2A power supplies are equal. If ever there was a power specification that was dodgy as fuck, it's 5v 2A.

        There are a hell of a lot of crap 5v 2A power supplies that are extremely noisy and as a result, very unstable. The closer you get to the 2A draw, the worse it becomes because of the voltage drops.

        When you jump up to 12v, the problem isn't nearly as huge. In fact, for a lot of 5v based stuff, I will use a 12v power supply with a buck converter...because it is way less likely to become a problem at some point and you can provide just a little bit more than 5v (which is what happens on decent 5v PSUs)...most 5v devices can tolerate up to at least 5.25v..some can go as high as 5.9v...most 5v PSUs (the shit ones), are exactly 5v or just a smidge over at 5.05v-5.1v...and a lot of 5v devices cannot tolerate going below around 4.8v...dropping down to 4.8v or below is quite common under high loads on a shitty supply and this is where random crashes / stability issues occur.

        You can get lucky with a naff 5v 2A power supply, but only if your current draw is consistent and way below the 2A. After around 1A, things get dodgy.

        1. G2

          Re: Hmmm

          +1

          my Mio MiVue J85 car dashboard camera is the same when it comes to the 5V power from the in-car lighter socket adapter.

          If the voltage drops below ~4.8 volts the camera will either turn off suddenly or behave as if it crashes and reboots in an infinite loop - and it will do this even if it actually has an integrated lithium-ion battery, that one is so tiny that it does not really work when the voltage dips for more than a 1-2 seconds.

          Such voltage dips are normal when the engine starts and many in-car power adapters are not designed for it (including the one shipped by default by Mio !!), and modern start&stop systems for cars mean the engine starts and stops every time a traffic light lasts more than a few seconds ...

          ...thus with a bad adapter (and the default included one too) the camera crashed and reboots every time the traffic light turns green (and engine starts).

          (i fixed this by getting a different adapter that can also do USB-C power delivery at 3Amp 5/ 12 / 24volts - 24v is used on many trucks)

      8. el_oscuro

        Re: Hmmm

        Isn't 5v at 2a also the specs for a standard USB charger? If you had a multi meter and a soldering gun, you could probably adapt the plug to a USB cable pretty easy.

        1. cyberdemon Silver badge
          Meh

          What a waste

          I was pretty disappointed when I got to that bit and discovered that this once-mighty Sun workstation was butchered for the want of a phone charger.

          I bet whichever greybearded engineer who owned the antique machine was pretty hacked off to find what had been done to it, too. Probably, the only copy of the SDADA code that ran on the borked control panel was on that machine, along with the CAD for the whole plant. And, as Sod's law would have it, anything other than its original power supply will cause its aged HDD heads to crash next bootup.

          Could this idiot really find no other 5V 2A power supply in the premises, or was he just too eager to brag about knowing where the PSU_EN was on an old AT PSU? It would at least have been an entertaining story if he had mixed up the red and yellow.

          Can anyone donate a few more quality On Call and Who, Me? articles? Our dear old Reg seem to be running a bit low lately.

          1. RichardBarrell

            Re: What a waste

            It was only an Ultra 5. Just about the lowest end thing that Sun ever produced that wasn't explicitly marketed as a thin client.

    2. Howard Sway Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm

      About half a million people on eBay have already had that idea - and there will be some Chinese company manufacturing dubious replacements, no matter how obscure or ancient the kit they were made for is.

      1. rcxb Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm

        Afraid not. We had to keep shuffling around our old scan guns and (RS-232) label printers because we couldn't find parts or reasonably priced old stock, and the cost to replace the software talking to them was prohibitive.

        1. fromxyzzy

          Re: Hmmm

          Key word there is 'reasonably', most of the companies offering those odds and ends price high and rely on the desperation (and flexibility of 'not my money') of techs under pressure to make the sale.

          Really screwed up the hobbyist market, because people who find old bits of kit think they're sitting on a gold mine because of those prices.

    3. Flightmode

      Re: Hmmm

      A local second-hand store has a big box full of wall warts of varying specs, polarities and connectors, priced at next to nothing. Whatever you need, you can probably find it there. (To be on the safe side, bring a multimeter to test that it works before you buy.)

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Gimp

        Re: Hmmm

        & a dummy (Icon) load to ensure it works with a load.....

    4. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Hmmm

      We currently have on in our lab. Separated into 5V, 12V, and "Other". Also a collection of OEM switching supplies from previous projects...mostly 24V.

      You would (or would not) be suprised how often we dip into those bins. And IT (we're Engineering...we do designs for clients) knows where to come if they're caught short.

      One hand washes the other, and there's never a problem getting more RAM, or a mouse, or a cable, or whatever we need.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm

        Bonus points if they've all got the barrel connectors cut off because you needed that 5V@3A supply but with the connector from that 12V one so break out the soldering iron

        1. NITS

          Re: Hmmm

          If I come across a coaxial barrel connector that's got negative on the center terminal, I color the outside of the barrel with red Sharpie felt-tip marker. It doesn't seem to hurt the connectivity, and doubtless has kept some of the magic smoke retained.

          I have found it useful to keep a silver Sharpie marker on hand, to write on the black wallwart housings.

          If I end up cutting barrel connector cables to mix-and-match size and voltage to equipment, I sometimes use Anderson power pole connectors rather than soldering the leads directly. Makes it easier to adapt to test the next thing.

          And I keep a 1270 battery handy with a PowerPole pair on it, in case I need to power something for a few minutes' test where an extension cord would otherwise be required. E.G. a ceiling-mounted CCTV camera, or the small TV/monitor that I use to view its output.

    5. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm

      My box of obsolete tech has saved multiple people multiple times... old cables like a DVI to HDMI, PS2 keyboard even an old KVM switch that only had PS2 inputs and an old USB2 external HDD caddy that took IDE drives that saved some ones very sentimental photos that they never had backed up anywhere else on an old system.

      Even a DVD/RW came in handy... my mediaserver still has a BDrom/DVDRW installed for emergencies because my older car still has a 6CD changer, doesn't do mp3 and the bluetooth was phone only and recently failed... and it only has an ipod classic input and the now 16yr old 120GB ipod I have plugged into that is struggling and it's so basic that you can only select play/skip and if you want to switch a playlist, you have to dig it out of the glovebox, unplug it from the car, select and start the playlist before plugging it back into the car again... and you get no song info displayed on the touchscreen.

      I would replace the headunit, but it's integrated with the HVAC and everything else... and whilst you can buy these cheap android units... you have to get one complete with the console surround and they're notoriously unreliable and never get updated. So when I had the chance to grab another head unit & dvd drive from another car... I did so for spares.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm

        "My box of obsolete tech has saved multiple people multiple times... old cables like a DVI to HDMI, PS2 keyboard even an old KVM switch that only had PS2 inputs and an old USB2 external HDD caddy that took IDE drives that saved some ones very sentimental photos that they never had backed up anywhere else on an old system."

        Your definition of "obsolete" and "old" appears to wildly vary from mine. Most of what you describe as such above is still in use on my kit at home, including the PS/2, VGA only KVM :-)

    6. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm

      "I have quite a large draw full of various wall warts"

      Just a drawer? I have half a shelf unit of wall warts sorted by voltage and current.

      I've been going to estate sales and grab all of the power supplies I find. A 12v 1a supply with a bog standard plug can be had pretty cheap, but if it has Sony branding on it, it suddenly will sell for 2-3x the price on eBay. At the estate sale, the whole box of them goes for a dollar. The same goes for Dell laptop supplies and similar. I use the surplus power supplies all of the time for various projects.

  2. trevorde Silver badge

    Drawer of redundant tech

    Has *lots* of cables but *never* the one I need, so I have to buy yet another cable. And a spare.

    1. BenDwire Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Drawer of redundant tech

      And a spare.

      Argh! And I though it was just me that did that ...

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Drawer of redundant tech

        And a spare.

        Just the one, dear?*

        *Quotation of the late June Whitfield's most famous line in 'Absolutely fabulous' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JT1LDByklQ

    2. Diogenes

      Re: Drawer of redundant tech

      Or the cable is an inch (@25mm) too short. Really annoying when it is 5m, and the next size is 10m.

  3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    For 2A @ 5v a USB phone charger would probably have done the trick.

    1. BenDwire Silver badge

      Or a couple of Nokia ones wired in parallel !

    2. Contrex

      Anyone who's tried to run a Raspberry Pi 4 on a random phone charger will tell you that they don't necessarily provide a stable 5v at all loads, and they'll tell you that the official Raspberry Pi power 4 supply is rated to provide 5.1v up to 3.1A.

      1. Old Used Programmer

        Or any official RPF PSU from the Pi2B (5V, 2A) onwards. Pi3B was 5V, 2.5A.

    3. emfiliane

      I wonder if that was a typo, and it was supposed to be 20A. Now that would be well beyond USB, but perfectly good with the ULTRA 5's PSU, which can output 22A on the 5V rail.

      Friggen hated those old Optiplexes with proprietary PSU connectors that only had a 12V, I'm going to take a wild guess that's what the story was referring to.

  4. Korev Silver badge
    Coat

    Which means we can make an esoteric pun by observing that a Sun workstation "sparced" the warehouse back to life. Because Sun used Sparc processors – geddit?

    Nice one Sun!

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Flame

      These puns are on Sun Fire today...

      1. b0llchit Silver badge
        Coat

        Too sunny for me!

        1. Korev Silver badge
          Coat

          What? It's not Sunday...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            What, are you saying the Solar-is too bright?

    2. Korev Silver badge
      Coat

      He sounds like Sun guy...

    3. that one in the corner Silver badge

      Must keep re-fusion urge to convey-or belt out - feelings about puns that eclipse my best efforts.

  5. Dave K

    Every discerning tech should have a TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC. In fact, when supporting oddball kit, many may even have a TRFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC (That Room Full Of Old Tech You Should Probably Have Thrown Out But Kept Just In Case).

    Many years back, working at a University with numerous odd labs of experimental kit to support, I had a TRFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC which came in very handy from time to time. One example was that we had two motion tracking systems (Optotrak 3020s - a £35k piece of kit). One of them was all set up with a Windows XP control PC running Matlab and worked a treat. A colleague was asked if they could get the other one working in the same way for an important experiment: "Of course, not a problem".

    At least, until it turned out the second Optotrak was an older system with an ISA controller card, yet the version of Matlab we had required Windows XP. A problem given that ISA had become pretty much obsolete in the late 90s, yet XP hadn't been released until 2001. Yet, in my TRFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC, I'd retained various odd PCs of different specs, and soon managed to find an early Pentium III system that still had a lone ISA slot, yet had the performance to cope with Windows XP. Swap a bit of RAM around as well, and the motion tracker fired up just fine.

    1. MacroLens

      Impressive! That "can do" spirit along, knowledge of systems, expert eye and years worth of savings all intersected in that one moment.

    2. Spoobistle
      Thumb Up

      That old box

      We got a fancy piece of analytical kit. About 3 or 4 years later the supplier came with an improved design of its "Injector". As we had a bit of budget slack and it wasn't too expensive, I laid out for it. Of course I kept the old one in a box in the back of a cupboard on the basis that new improved doodads sometimes aren't any such thing, but it was fine. The old one stayed in the cupboard and survived several tidiers up, put off by a low but menacing growl.

      So about a decade later, an email arrives from the supplier's senior service engineer: "You wouldn't be any chance still have...?" Of course I did. I never got a clear explanation of why they wanted an old one, except that it was a customer demand, but I did get a full service on the machine (long out of contract) and the sort of intangible brownie points with the supplier that have kept the system in service on a tight budget since. And a good story to tell the whipper-snappers that come round from time to time poking in my cupboards!

    3. sten2012

      THFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC (house) here

      And nothing that esoteric I need to support. Certainly nothing mission critical.

      Probably time for a sort out I'm learning from these comments

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Yes, when you really HAVE to have a clear out, reading these sorts of articles and especially the comments generated, educates you greatly on just what might be actual disposable rubbish, what might have some ebay value and what is really worth keeping :-)

        Of course, no matter what you dispose of, you'll almost always find a need or use for it sometime early next week, but at least you can try to learn from others experience and reduce the odds a little.

    4. Andy A
      Mushroom

      In production, the rule is "If it works, don't fix it" - and then one day it DOESN'T work

      Of course, though we officially support the office kit, we get "consulted" about production machines.

      At one place, a machine with ONE WEEK of production left to do failed. The PSU had got sick of the dirt being accumulated.

      In the dark corners of the production area, I extracted an ancient Compaq box from the filthy space under the machine.

      I dug around in my scrap pile and found another Compaq, about 5 years newer, with an IDE interface and an ISA slot which could take the weird full-length interface card which drove the hardware. I cloned the existing drive thinking it might not last another week, and returned a much shinier box to the Black Hole.

      It booted its copy of MS-DOS 5 and production could restart. I returned to the day job, updating WinXP machines to Win7.

  6. chivo243 Silver badge
    Stop

    My Mantra*

    Always keep one of everything! Sometimes two or three! One of my previous bosses loved the idea, and it came in handy. Then he left, and the new boss said "Get all this old crap out of the storage room!" Before we could comply we were presented with a need for terminator of some sort, my colleague said, we have one! And lo and behold it saved the day. I got to keep my hoard of old parts, but I did have to scale it back.

    * I learned it from my grandpa, he was a part time television repair man back in the 50's and 60s. He had drawers and drawers full of tubes, it was my job to test all the tubes taken from dead TVs. When my dad passed away, I found a trove of "Just in case something breaks" bits and bobs.

    Icon for stop throwing out working parts!!

    1. drand

      Re: My Mantra*

      True. The guy I took over from, proper electrical engineer, used to say "If you haven't got three, you haven't got any." Turns out I'm still filtering out what's really useful from his stash, as he decided to keep at least six of everything, even when the kit it was intended for had been in storage for ten years 'just in case'...

      1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

        Re: My Mantra*

        "he decided to keep at least six of everything"

        More likely he decided to keep three times three of everything, and rummaging over time had whittled it back to two times three.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My Mantra*

      For those of us in warmer or more humid climates, I think the cable or device has to be thrown out when it starts suffering from sweating plastic syndrome.

    3. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: My Mantra*

      98% of what I have is crap. But, which is the 2%?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: My Mantra*

        Easy to find out. Throw it out.

    4. Stork Silver badge

      Re: My Mantra*

      Many years ago I had my car fixed by a guy in Birkenhead who seemed to specialise in alternators, starter motors and similar. All the room under his workbenches was filled with old parts, just in case…

      1. H in The Hague

        Re: My Mantra*

        "Many years ago I had my car fixed by a guy in Birkenhead who seemed to specialise in alternators ...."

        Which reminds me that years ago a friend had the dynamo on her vintage Volvo replaced by an alternator. She gave me the old dynamo to put in the e-waste bin next time I went to the tip. Never had the heart to do that. So it's sitting in a corner somewhere.

        Any takers?

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My Mantra*

      "One is none, and two is one". Always have at least three spares of everything!

    6. Nifty Silver badge

      Re: My Mantra*

      "Before we could comply we were presented with a need for terminator of some sort, my colleague said, we have one!"

      Must be the one that said "I'll be back".

  7. GlenP Silver badge

    PSUs

    Any PSU with 5v and/or 12v is never thrown out - they come in useful for all sorts of things!

    The 5v/12v ones for powering external drives are especially useful for model railways controlled by RasPi's (yes, I'm that sad)!

    1. that one in the corner Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: PSUs

      How can anyone be sad when they have a model railway?!!

      So, is it in the chuff-chuff style or the whiiRRR WHOosh era?

      1. GlenP Silver badge

        Re: PSUs

        A bit of both - the current in build is definitely chuff-chuff, a narrow gauge Quarry Hunslet, the one Ive put on hold for a while is 1960s coal depot so a mixture of diesel and steam.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: PSUs

          Does it have a James May Flying Scotsman type of realistic chuffing sound?

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dscVNvcGf0

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: PSUs

            From watching Hornby: A Model World" it seems all the new kit is digitally controlled with the trains having digital recorded sounds of the actual locomotives wherever possible, so quite a bit more than just "chuff chuff" of old using a bit of sandpaper and an offset cam :-)

            1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
              Unhappy

              Re: PSUs

              But that just takes most of the fun out of it

    2. NXM Silver badge

      Re: PSUs

      How true. Our dishwasher died and fault-finding revealed it's internal (and infernally designed) 5V supply had snuffed it.

      A small 5V brick from the spare parts box later and it was going again!

    3. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Re: PSUs

      I bought a nifty device to allow me to control my automatic garage doors over the Internet. It worked a treat until one day, it just stopped working. Wouldn't even reset per the mfr's instructions ("hold this button down for 10 seconds until the blue LED flashes). Turned it off and on again, and it was good for another two weeks. Same thing happened again, and again, it wouldn't reset.

      "Hmmm...", I thinks to myself (having designed a few of this type gadget), "processor's off in the weeds and isn't coming back." What could cause that? Well, it's often bad power...and I look at the cheap Chinese wall wart accusingly. Head for the box of wall warts and choose one with twice the current output, from a supplier I trust. Splice in the oddball coaxial power connector and fling the manufacturer supplied wall wart in the bin. No further trouble.

      Check the forums...LOADS of folks complaining about intermittent outages. I send a note to the manufacturer's support email, suggesting the take a look at the power supply they're shipping with these units. Get no response (but then, I didn't expect one). I've done my good deed for the day. Post to the forum that changing the power supply might be something to consider (because someone might listen there).

      1. Brian 3

        Re: PSUs

        Yes to this! Also, I like really old non-switching units for some things - my optical to electrical audio converter picks up an atrocious amount of interference from the USB hub's default power supply, but a chonky old 5v 2A rectified transformer doesn't have all that switching noise.

        I was selling a dishwasher recently on kijiji, and looking at the others for sale to set the price, I noted that you could have a 1 - 3 year old Samsung for FREE or $50 at most - all of them said failed main boards. I wonder if they maybe just have dead power supplies.

        1. Andy A

          Re: PSUs

          Any failed Samsung <insert device type here> is almost certainly caused by the horribly cheap capacitors they used.

          If they had spent a whole extra dollar on the unit, they would have extended the life by 10 years.

          But if the whole business model is to sell a new <insert device type here> every year to the same people, which method brings in the most profit?

      2. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: PSUs

        My first TV recorder used 23 Watt 24/7 and had a 24 watt power supply. That’s the first time I bought extended warranty. Yes, just after a year it stopped working. Got a new tv recorder (same price, but twice the capacity), a new extended warranty for free, and gave the old recorder with a cheap 60 watt power supply to a mate.

      3. Cheshire Cat
        Pint

        Re: PSUs

        Have an upvote for this, and a vBeer, because you remembered to post the solution to the forum

    4. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

      Re: PSUs

      I have one powering the automobile CD player in my shed. 120v in, music out. Been working great for years.

    5. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      I got sick

      of having to root around in boxes to find the right power supply (and having too many boxes in my small unit) so I bought a cheapish but pretty decent programmable power supply. It should serve me until the USB-PD thing is sorted out.

    6. el_oscuro
      Mushroom

      Re: PSUs

      That sounds wicked cool. In the days of TRS-80s and Apple ][, I had a project to make a controller for a flashing model railroad crossing This project involved a bread board, a control chip, resistors, capacitors, diodes, and such. It was powered by a 6v battery. Just as I had everything set up and was getting ready for a final test, I accidentally connected the battery with reverse polarity.

      The chip literally caught fire and exploded. Cost me a whole $3 to get a replacement.

  8. imanidiot Silver badge

    TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC vs managers

    It is my experience keeping TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC is VERY hard to actually keep around. Every once in a while people come along that think they know better in a position of supposed authority and the fight begins (over and over again) to keep TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC. And a lot of times it still disappears when your back is turned.

    In my time in a final test/product qualification role I had a rack full of boxes of spares and cables. I could replace anything obscure in the system with a known good part (especially the known good part is important) and had bypass cables to bypass any cable or hose in the systems we had under test. I fought to keep that stuff around for the entire 4 years I worked there and regularly made use of it (still in proto-ish phase so lots of niggles to sort). By the time I moved on to a new role in the company it took about 2 weeks for everything (about 10 to 20k worth of parts) to be thrown out. If I had to conservatively estimate judging from just the issues I've been involved with since, they've lost at least 200k of time and parts due to not being able to efficiently diagnose problems since. Managers always think they can just order a spare part and it'll show up within a few hours. The reality (especially for obscure qualification tool parts for which we don't even have a full set of documentation) is of course very different.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC vs managers

      "just order a spare part and it'll show up within a few hours"

      Even the cost of those few hours mounts up over time.

      1. that one in the corner Silver badge

        Re: TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC vs managers

        Not to mention the loss of knowledge and can-do spirit 'cos the young lads are no longer being shown how to recognise when you can grab the similar part from the previous model but they added two more lines to the cable, which can be rigged with one of these (yes, I *know* the packet says "floppy drive" but look, it uses the same connector).

    2. phils

      Re: TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC vs managers

      They seem to be TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJICPHOBIC

      1. that one in the corner Silver badge

        Re: TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC vs managers

        Gesundheit

    3. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

      Re: TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC vs managers

      I had a boss who decided to tidy the software cupboard. In the era when licence keys were printed on the box.....

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC vs managers - You Forgot

        While Managers might be reasoned with just, the greater peril is:

        TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC vs SWMW\SWMBO\SO.

        1. Cheshire Cat
          Facepalm

          Re: TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC vs managers - You Forgot

          Oh yes, SWMBO just hates my boxes of spares, even though they have proven useful several times in the past.

          1. VerySlowData
            Happy

            Re: TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC vs managers - You Forgot

            Luckily, my SWMBO doesn't as she is a great collector of sewing and kitchen stuff just in case...on the other hand my TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC has taken over the shed/workshop and is threatening my inside house room! It has been very useful for repairs over the years.

            1. imanidiot Silver badge

              Re: TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC vs managers - You Forgot

              TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC grows to fill the available (and unavailable space). And then just a little bit more. That's just one of the universal rules of physics.

          2. Down not across

            Re: TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC vs managers - You Forgot

            Seems to be universal. i resolved that by buying a house with large loft and outbuilding(s).

    4. Zuagroasta

      Re: TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC vs managers

      My buddies at the old pharma firm used to write my name in BIG BOLD letters with marker on any box/machine they wanted to keep - after the idiot manager got herself in trouble having to buy the expensive kit she had publicly forced me to throw away (with the attendant shouting match, threat of firing, dressing down from the global IT ppl and intolerable smug face from me)

      No box with my name was thrown away, EVER. Fear of the crazy old man kept them reusing those boxes for 3 years after I was gone, until management realized that there were 5 guys with the same name, but the one that kept a server mounting rail beside his desk, labeled “UART Enterprise Edition”, was indeed out, and used an office move as an excuse to throw the stuff out; it found its merry way to my IKEA plastic tubs and those of my buddies, of course.

  9. SVD_NL Bronze badge
    Stop

    The one law of TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC

    The one law of TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC is that as soon as you *do* throw it away, it turns into TBOOTYHTOBSHKJIC: That Box Of Old Tech You Have Thrown Out But Should Have Kept Just In Case.

    Guaranteed that within a month or two you need something that you vividly remember being in the box you just threw out.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: The one law of TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC

      I moving house to another country, and I'm sure I'll be kicking myself for binning a lot of things I just didn't have room for...

      1. DaemonProcess

        Re: The one law of TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC

        Like my box with the ancient ISA hard disk that contained the private keys for the 600 bitcoin I bought in 2010. I even made sure it was destroyed and bent with a hammer before I took it all to the tip. This will haunt me for the rest of my days.

        1. that one in the corner Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: The one law of TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC

          You icon, sir

        2. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

          Re: The one law of TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC

          Could be worse. I looked at it in 2010 with a thousand dollars in my hand and said nah, looks like a scam to me. I was right, of course, but anyone in at 2010 was at the top of the pyramid, and I'd have enough to win a US Presidential election today if I'd bought it then.

          1. el_oscuro

            Re: The one law of TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC

            I bought Netflix at IPO for about $6 a share and sold it about 5 years later at $70. Nice profit. But that was before streaming, when they were still just renting DVDs.

    2. call-me-mark

      Re: The one law of TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC

      A law so universal that the generalised version was in the Meaning of Liff:

      NOTTAGE (n.)

      Nottage is the collective name for things which you find a use for immediately after you've thrown them away. For instance, your greenhouse has been cluttered up for years with a huge piece of cardboard and great fronds of gardening string. You at last decide to clear all this stuff out, and you burn it. Within twenty-four hours you will urgently need to wrap a large parcel, and suddenly remember that luckily in your greenhouse there is some cardboard...

  10. Kevin Johnston

    Important rule

    If you have such a Box/Room, always go in looking for something else or you will never find the bit you really want. Hands up all those who dive into such storage and immediately find the bit they were looking for a couple of days ago and just couldn't see

    1. Potty Professor
      Facepalm

      Re: Important rule

      When I was rebuilding my Range Rover Classic I bought lots of parts and stored them on a purpose built rack in the garage/workshop. Fairly near the end of the rebuild I went to get the special bolts that hold the brake calipers on the axle tube, but they were conspicuously absent from the rack. In desperation I sent off for another set of four, which took about a week to arrive. Next day I went into the workshop, and there, on the bench, were the original four special bolts. Anybody need four off M12 Extra Fine (0.75mm pitch) twelve point head high tensile bolts?

      1. H in The Hague
        Pint

        Re: Important rule

        "Next day I went into the workshop, and there, on the bench, were ..."

        I reckon most of us have variations on that story.

        Here's one for the weekend -->

        1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

          Re: Important rule

          My usual workaround is to give up looking and go work on a different project. Pretty soon the neglected items pop out of hiding and start dancing and singing to attract attention.

        2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

          My variation

          is ordering something on ebay you know you have but can't actually find. Sometimes does indeed turn up before the grey parcel arrives.

          1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

            Re: My variation

            Or it arrives, and you put it on the shelf. Next to the ones you bought last time.

  11. Andy Taylor

    TRFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC (Those Rooms Full Of Old Tech You Should Probably Have Thrown Out But Kept Just In Case) - aka TNMOC (The National Museum Of Computing)

  12. mmonroe
    FAIL

    The boss chucked mine out

    I had a filing cabinet drawer full of power supplies for laptops, tablets, etc that the collage had scrapped. These often came in useful. The bloke who PAT tests everything used to complain about having to go through the drawer, and I suggested he didn't and I would get the supply PAT tested if I issued it. While on was on holiday, the boss decided to chuck the lot out. A few weeks later, his wife came to ask if I had a power supply that would fit her laptop. "I probably would have had, but you had better talk to your husband". I understand the replacement was quite expensive...

    1. ChrisC Silver badge

      Re: The boss chucked mine out

      Your PAT tester seems a little eager - the company we use will only test stuff that's clearly visible on/under a desk or workbench on the day, or has been specifically stuck in the pile of things to be tested regardless. If it's out of sight in a drawer or cupboard, it doesn't exist as far as they're concerned.

      And poetic justice served to your boss there, hopefully they learned from the experience and gave you more latitude to keep old stuff hanging around jut in case in future...

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: The boss chucked mine out

        Many PAT checkers are paid per device, so they try and test everything they can find. Once my old boss was daft enough to let one into our server room (which was also the store room), and I had to physically restrain him from unplugging the servers to test them.

        Plus, PAT stands for "Portable Appliance Testing", the whole point is testing things like laptop chargers, which are regularly moved around, and might end up having damaged cables etc. over time. You don't need to test devices that are plugged in once and never move for years.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The boss chucked mine out

          Plus, PAT stands for "Portable Appliance Testing", the whole point is testing things like laptop chargers, which are regularly moved around, and might end up having damaged cables etc. over time. You don't need to test devices that are plugged in once and never move for years.

          Tell that to the council drones who insist that we have to take all the stage lights down from the lighting bars every year to get them PAT tested (PATted? RAS syndrome!), plus unplugging all the servers, switches, etc...

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: The boss chucked mine out

            Tell that to the council drones who insist that we have to take all the stage lights down from the lighting bars every year to get them PAT tested (PATted? RAS syndrome!), plus unplugging all the servers, switches, etc...

            Just make a video recording of such a council drone insisting on PAT testing such a non-portable and working stage light and make sure it fails the test, thereby making it non-working. Then tell that drone he (or his department) is now liable for the replacement as it was destroyed while undergoing a clearly unnecessary test insisted on by him. When he starts protesting, tell him you got the evidence on video and will make it public if/when necessary.

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: The boss chucked mine out

            Tell that to the council drones who insist...

            The same council drones working under a policy of "test everything, test every year", despite the rules around test frequency, ie there aren't any. Even better the councils who insist all new equipment is tested, when the regulations specifically state that new equipment should be supplied in a "safe" state.

            On the other hand, any and all devices that have a mains lead and plug on them should be tested at reasonable intervals, including lighting rigs, or the snack vending machine near the staff kitchen. Maybe only once every 2-5 years though, depending on risk assessment such as is the main lead accessible, does the device get moved around at all that may cause wear on the cable or plug, or the cable gets moved during daily/weekly floor cleaning etc. But that sort of assessment, knowledge and skill is something the testing person is supposed to have, not some some random, arse-covering policy maker at the top of the org bing overlay cautious due to lack of knowledge and skill.

            Oh yes, special rules for IT kit too. Things like switches and servers that never move. Not only can you reduce the testing frequency, but you only need to check and test the cable if it's detachable at both ends, not the device itself, in most cases. but again, down to the skills and knowledge of the testing person.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The boss chucked mine out

            I'd suggest you point them to this fine document:-

            https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg236.pdf

            and also

            "Is portable appliance testing (PAT) compulsory?"

            No. The law simply requires an employer to ensure that their electrical equipment is maintained in order to prevent danger. It does not say how this should be done or how often. Employers should take a risk-based approach, considering the type of equipment and what it is being used for. If it is used regularly and moved a lot eg a floor cleaner or a kettle, testing (along with visual checks) can be an important part of an effective maintenance regime giving employers confidence that they are doing what is necessary to help them meet their legal duties. HSE provides guidance on how to maintain equipment including the use of PAT."

            from here:

            https://www.hse.gov.uk/electricity/faq-portable-appliance-testing.htm

            1. David Nash Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: The boss chucked mine out

              Don't worry they will probably scrap all these safety rules soon saying they were EU red tape.

            2. Rob Daglish

              Re: The boss chucked mine out

              I've pointed people this way in vain many times. PAT Testing is a lovely little deception (scam) when you get down to it - someone who has been on a course so they are deemed "Competent" but knows in reality F/A about what they are doing, being paid on how many devices they test, so they will test everything in sight, regardless of whether it's sensible or reasonable to do so. One guy I'm aware of recorded a series of items as their component parts rather than as a whole so it went in as three tests instead of the one it should have been... around 400 times.

          4. Rob Daglish

            Re: The boss chucked mine out

            Ah, our council PAT drone used to come around, disconnect the plug from the dimmer pack and test from there, then fail everything as the plugs went into the loft space and split. We used to then claim our time for going up and testing both fixtures and the cable as separate items like they should have been in the first place before we would use anything again. Same guy failed a Double Insulated baby PA amp for not having an earth...

    2. Eclectic Man Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: The boss chucked mine out

      I understand the replacement was quite expensive...

      The husband or the power supply?

    3. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: The boss chucked mine out

      I understand the replacement was quite expensive...

      Karma is such a lovely bitch ;)

  13. herman

    Golden Junque

    My Junque Bochs has saved the day on numerous occasions. The only problem is that it takes up a good part of my office and actually finding what I know is there amongst the spiders and snakes is hard.

    1. that one in the corner Silver badge

      Re: Golden Junque

      I decided to "organise" myself, starting last year. So stopped into Rymans[1] every weekend to pick up a few more Really Useful Boxes[2]. Now I can be assured that, if nothing else, The Stuff isn't being squashed beneath The Things and all The Doodads are together, by colour.

      But now the pile is over halfway up the window and every time I try to look for something, by the time all the 9l boxes on top have been moved out the way, I'm knackered and have covered the door, walling myself into my office! Send help! And coffee!

      [1] You ad could be here!

      [2] Other plastic boxes are available, but, really, do you want to?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Golden Junque

        That's what the chrome shelving from Bigdug is for, to make it easy to access all the labelled reallyusefulboxes. A whole wall covered in shelving with translucent blue RUBs, each with a printed label...

        Freaks most people out.

        1. WonkoTheSane
          Thumb Up

          Re: Golden Junque

          I direct your attention to the side wall of M5 Industries, Jamie Hyneman's workshop seen in every episode of Mythbusters.

          Wall o' boxen

          1. that one in the corner Silver badge

            Re: Golden Junque

            For some reason, the box of hemispheres keeps catching my eye. Tubing? many uses. Breathable air? Given what they get up to, the best kind of air. But - a box just labelled "hemispheres"?

            1. TSM

              Re: Golden Junque

              Looks like there's also a Hemispheres (small).

              So they must be fairly useful...

          2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

            What

            sort of equipment can you power with doll's heads.

  14. Admiral Grace Hopper

    Clothing corallary

    If you ever buy a shirt/t-shirt/pair of trousers/pair of jeans/jacket that fits perfectly and feels great, go back and buy another one or two of them. By the time the original is worn out you won't be able to find them again.

    1. SonofRojBlake

      Re: Clothing corallary

      So much this. I found a good wallet in Asda in Leicester in 1995. I bought, I think, five of them. I'm on the third, and expect to have enough to last me the rest of my life.

    2. GrumpenKraut
      Happy

      Re: Clothing corallary

      Ha, I do this. As a student I got two pairs of excellent leather gloves for about nothing. Turned out the are of *very* good quality, I am nearing sixty now and the spare pair is sitting in the drawer, still new.

    3. BenDwire Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Clothing corallary

      That's all fine while you're also the same size and shape yourself. I cannot tell you how many unused items of clothing have gone to the charity shop because of my aging and ever-expanding waistline.

      1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        Re: Clothing corallary

        Since most people eventually get to the point where they're unable to maintain body mass it's just a matter of waiting long enough and being optimistic.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Clothing corallary. go back and buy another one or two of them

      Foolish me. I found a store that sold good pocket t shirts that I liked and they last a long time. But they were the house brand and the store went bust. When they had a going out of business sale I didn't think to stock up on them.

    5. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

      Re: Clothing corallary

      I wish I had done this. I bought a Lands End lightweight jacket. It was comfortable from 50 degrees down to 10 degrees, which was surprising as it was no heavier than a windbreaker. And, it fit really well with sleeves long enough to fit my oranguanesque arms. The replacement doesn't fit nearly as well, is far more bulky and does not keep me as comfortable as the temps fall off. I still have the old one as a shop jacket and even with the burn mark and faded coloring it works better than my new one.

  15. Rufus McDufus

    Waiting for the gotcha

    I was waiting for what was going to go wrong, and predicting maybe the Sun PSU was AC instead of DC...

    Slightly disappointed sparcs didn't fly.

    1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: Waiting for the gotcha

      Those stories are on Mondays.

    2. Steve Hersey

      Re: Waiting for the gotcha

      I encountered the gotcha once when I set up a piece of test equipment based on a Sun Ultra 5, sent from my US office, in the control center of the satellite integrator in Germany. Checked the monitor, everything fine, it was 110/220V autoswitching. Plugged it into the 220V mains. Plugged the CPU in, switched it on, and BANG! Turns out that while the monitor was autoswitching, the CPU was NOT. Fortunately, I was able to get a compatible replacement supply (I think it came from the local Mega Store) and bring it back to life.

      1. el_oscuro

        Re: Waiting for the gotcha

        I had something like that happen to me. Coming over to London from the other side of the pond for a G5 summit, all of our equipment was 110 v. So we had transformers to convert the 220 to 110. Our setup was very important, so we had to test every piece of equipment in isolation plus as the full set up. So I plugged one of the laptops into the 110 v transformer and booted it up fine. Then I plugged a surge protector into that same transformer and it immediately exploded. Puzzled, we connected a volt meter to the "110 v" transformer and it was actually putting out about 400 v. Seems the lapop's auto switching power supply was capable of handling the 400 v.

    3. Woodnag

      Re: Waiting for the gotcha

      The gotcha is that ATX PSUs usually require a min load on the 12V and 3.3V supplies as well as the 5V to regulate properly...

  16. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC

    which is why TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC exists

    ok , I got the TLA in last weeks BOFH which seemed to elude some people but WTF is that ^

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC

      That Box Full Of Old Tech You Should Probably Have Thrown Out But Kept Just In Case

      (as it said in the article)

    2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC

      Read the article.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: TBFOOTYSPHTOBKJIC

        Put another way: "RTFA"

  17. Anonymous Anti-ANC South African Coward Bronze badge
    Trollface

    All spares should have a mandatory WTCLOI policy.

  18. Lazlo Woodbine

    At my last job we once found a very old pre PS/2 mouse with an RS232 connector.

    After digging through yet more junk crates we found an RS232 to PS/2 and a PS/2 to USB adaptor, when connected together the mouse worked surprisingly well...

    1. that one in the corner Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Best way to do it, these modern mice just don't have the build quality.

    2. BenDwire Silver badge

      In a nice tidy return to the original story, those were used with Sun Sparcstations back in the day.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "After digging through yet more junk crates we found an RS232 to PS/2 and a PS/2 to USB adaptor, when connected together the mouse worked surprisingly well..."

      You were lucky it wasn't an even older Mouse Systems bus mouse. I'm not sure any kind of adaptor ever existed for those other than the 8-bit ISA card it plugged into :-)

      (Or even older mice with OEM connections/protocols for anything from BBC Mcro, Amiga, ST or any of the many other unique "personal computers" that used mice in one form or another)

      1. I don't know, stop asking me.

        > You were lucky it wasn't an even older Mouse Systems bus mouse. I'm not sure any kind of adaptor ever existed for those other than the 8-bit ISA card it plugged into :-)

        > (Or even older mice with OEM connections/protocols for anything from BBC Mcro, Amiga, ST or any of the many other unique "personal computers" that used mice in one form or another)

        Those weren't necessarily older, but contemporary.

        The Mouse Systems bus never really caught on, and RS232 mice became the standard, later to be replaced by PS/2 and then USB.

        The home computers of the 1980s did often not have a standard serial port, so the mice had to be different, usually connected to a joystick port or similar.

        I've still got all kinds of mice somewhere in a box, next to the Centronics printer cables and the 5.25" floppy drives. :-)

  19. NXM Silver badge

    farm supplies

    I mentioned to one of the staff in our local farm supplies shop that I used to go in there with my dad over 50 years ago.

    He said, 'Oh yes, we've got stuff that's been here for decades. We went up there [gestures to an upstairs storage area] the other week and found some screws priced at 1s 6d."

    For left pondians and those of a younger disposition, the UK abandoned pounds shillings and pence in 1971.

    1. TimMaher Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: 1s 6d

      So how many screws did you get for 7.5p?

      1. LogicGate Silver badge

        Re: 1s 6d

        We are talking about a rural area, so the sheep would most likely be available for free.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 1s 6d

          In 1872 the Welsh invented the condom, using a sheep's lower intestine.

          In 1873, the British refined the idea by taking the intestine out of the sheep first.

          1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

            Re: 1s 6d

            Reminds me of the Neal Stephenson quote:

            --

            She proceeded to do something quite astonishing with ten inches of knotted sheepgut. Not that he needed ten inches; but she was generous with it, perhaps to show him a kind of respect.

            "Does this mean it is not actually coitus?" Daniel asked hopefully. "Since I am not really touching you?" Actually he was touching her in a lot of places, and vice versa. But where it counted he was touching nothing but sheepgut.

            "It is very common for men of your religion to say so," Tess said. "Almost as common as this irksome habit of talking while you are doing it."

            "And what do you say?"

            "I say that we are not touching, and not having sex, if it makes you feel better," Tess said. "Though, when all is finished, you shall have to explain to your Maker why you are at this moment buggering a dead sheep."

            --

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: 1s 6d

            Nice try but remember the Welsh are British.

        2. Bebu Silver badge

          Re: 1s 6d

          I thought that might require explanation for the left pondians - the sheep not the one and six.

          But I think the later "literary" quote make it pretty obvious for all but the most obtuse.

    2. LenG

      Re: farm supplies

      Terrible decision that. It was so much fun watching foreign tourists trying to figure it out.

    3. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      Re: farm supplies

      I bought a new silencer for my 1980s Toyota a couple of years ago. The owner of a fairly large parts chain came out of his office 'to see who had finally bought that'. Apparently it had been in stock for a couple of decades. I'm impressed they had it correctly inventoried and listed on Ebay (or wherever it was sold through) after all that time. Sadly it wasn't still at a 1980s price, though not that far off given the reductions from 'list' price.

    4. saxicola

      Re: farm supplies

      I think I might know the place you are writing about.

      1. NXM Silver badge

        Re: farm supplies

        FYI Sam Turner's, Northallerton.

        Though possibly all farm supplies shops are linked via L-space.

  20. Smirnov

    Sun box

    "Roland recounted, adding that he thinks the Sun box was an Ultra 5 workstation. Whatever model it was, the machine had PS/2 ports for mouse and keyboard, and an ATAPI optical drive."

    No Sun workstation had PS/2 ports. There may have been one port (not two, as it's common for PS/2 ports on PCs) which looked like PS/2 but that wasn't PS/2 but Sun's proprietary keyboard/mouse interface. Like Apple ADB and the mouse/keyboard interface on old SGI systems, it uses a single cable to route mouse and keyboard signals to the computer (the mouse is connected to the free port on the keyboard).

    Sun Ultra 5 and Ultra 10 were the last workstations with the Sun keyboard interface, later models (Blade 100/1000 and upwards) all had USB.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Sun box

      I wish 'plug the mouse into the keyboard' had caught on more generally, the cabling is neater. There's only a handful of keyboards available which have built in USB ports, which surprises me, why wouldn't you want a USB port right to hand?

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Sun box

        I tend to prefer my USB ports to left to hand…

      2. Adrian Harvey

        Re: Sun box

        I wish the keyboard-based hub was common too! But the USB standard makes it tricky - a standard keyboard only has a low speed cable on it (the kind you can’t buy - they must be moulded to the device). And a hub would need high speed as the downstream interface might be connected to anything…. And to take that further - what happens when someone plugs in something other than a mouse to that port - say a USB drive? And it goes slow…

        Now I’m wondering what a keyboard&mouse set would be like if the mouse was hard wired to the keyboard and only one cable to the PC…

      3. Julz

        Apple

        Wired keyboard; A1243

    2. Jeremy Bresley

      Re: Sun box

      The Ultra5 would have shipped with a Type 5 or Type 6 keyboard and mouse. These used an 8-pin Mini-DIN connector (PS/2 was 6-pin). The mouse was attached to the keyboard. Not to be confused with the older Type 4 keyboards which also used the same interface but didn't have a gap between the FN keys on top (all these I've seen shipped with optical mice with the blue grid metal mousepad). And easily distinguished from the Type 3 keyboards which connected to a DB-15 port and use the older optical mouse. I think I got rid of my Type 3s along with the 3/50 and the 2 4/260s (and the ELC) before the last cross country move. Still have at least 1 Type 4 and a Type 5 or two in the box of useful things.

      And it's ironic the timing of this post as I just bought a dozen clear storage bins and 30' of hook and loop tape to start going through and sorting my collection of old cables and sort them by type a few weeks ago. Making it much more likely I'll be able to FIND that super special cable when I need it later. I think I'll be good on NEMA 5-15P to C13 power cables for a couple lifetimes though. Some of those are certainly headed to the metal recycler to buy some drinks instead.

  21. Marty McFly Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Bullshit

    "That Box Full Of Old Tech You Should Probably Have Thrown Out But Kept Just In Case. We all have one. "

    We all have multiple boxes, sometimes entire shelves or closets.

    And every time, the day after spring cleaning, I need something I just tossed out....which inevitably limits how much gets tossed the next spring cleaning.

  22. A. Coatsworth Silver badge
    Pint

    Because Sun used Sparc processors – geddit?

    URGH! That pun was painful.

    Roland, I salute you!

  23. Steve Hersey

    Effective engineers ALWAYS have a junk box

    Any experienced engineer knows that the junk box is, to misquote Dune, "a wellspring of cunning and resourcefulness." Need a weird connector to build an adapter? A custom cable to defeat the hardware interlocks? A quick and dirty test fixture? Parts to fix that device that brought the production line down? A well-stocked junk box makes all these things easier, and some of them possible in the first place. And it's a frequent source of ideas, as well.

    I regularly replenish mine by cruising the manufacturing floor and dumpster-diving their rejected material (often helpfully red-tagged with what bits to avoid 'cause they're the broken parts). Not to mention the repairable equipment they couldn't repair or couldn't be bothered to. (Seriously, how hard can it BE to replace the reverse-protection diodes on that nifty programmable bench power supply? Or, just spitballing here, to find a way to make it harder to plug the thing in backwards in the first place so you don't fry it AND its replacement?)

    At a prior employer, a new engineering manager insisted that we clean up our cubicles and get rid of all that junk. We nodded, agreed, and stowed it out of sight until he stopped being our engineering manager, which didn't take all that long. He wasn't a bad person, he simply didn't understand how engineers work or why that "clutter" is productive. An engineer's work space is NOT a good place to go all Marie Kondo, trust me.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Effective engineers ALWAYS have a junk box

      "a new engineering manager insisted that we clean up our cubicles and get rid of all that junk"

      Hate managers like that. You should be able to identify exactly what type of engineer someone is from the clutter on their desk. A pile of PCBs, a multimeter, all and sundry cables and testprobes? Electrical Engineer. Metal parts, calipers, printed paper drawings? Mechanical engineer. Motors, cables, PCBs, blinkenlights, power supplies? Mechatronics. All sorts of components, tools, out of service tags? Factory or production engineer. Crayons, colored pencils, soft foam bumpers on all the corners, lunch with the crust cut off the bread? (industrial) design engineer. Clean, neatly arranged desk with some carefully chosen book(s)? Useless idiot manager

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm a hoarder of psu's of all shapes and sizes, most recently needed to fix a 90+ inch tv where the standby supply had given up 2 weeks out of guarantee (so no low current 5v rail available to switch on the big supply that actually powers the tv) an old samsung mobile charger (with a proprietary plug) was pressed into use and the tv lived again.

    generally if it's below 1A output I bin it though.

    I still need to find a use for my biggest supply though, it needs a 3 phase feed and sits on it's own wheeled trolley, it outputs +12v @ 250A, -12v @ 200A, +5v @ 750A, -5v @ 250A and +3.3v @ 250A

    1. that one in the corner Silver badge

      > I still need to find a use for my biggest supply

      Christmas will be here soon enough and LED chains (buy in bulk!) will run at all of those voltages.

      Although, if some of the displays that get featured on YT are to believed, you may want to get another PSU.

      PS buy a family pack of welding masks as well!

  25. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Nobody touches my parts

    box.

    Well not so much a box, but a filing cabinet in my office.. ok theres more stuff out of the filing cabinet and spread around the office inboxes..... and my desk... and floor and other filing cabinet I took over when the previous production engineer left and his desk... ok ok I'll admit it theres enough space for 2 chairs and 2 CAD/CAM stations and maybe a coffee cup.

    But the boss has has it explained to him that somewhere amongst all the junk is the perfect part to solve tommorrow's downed machining cell in less time that it takes to call the engineers out and if he throws it all out , then it will cost him 1000's in downed machine time.

    In the meantime though , does anyone need a HP oil control valve off a machine we got rid of last year? cash offers only

  26. C. P. Cosgrove

    It's the cupboard under the stairs !

    I'm an amateur, at least in the sense that fixing things is not my employment, I do it to keep my hand in and my rates are extremely reasonable - trivial jobs and advice for free, smallish jobs a bottle of gin, larger jobs 2 bottles - and bits and pieces as well as odds and sods live in that cupboard. Every once in a while I get pressure from my beloved to clear it out. The last time I threw anything out three days later I had to go and get a replacement for something I had just sent to the dump. That was the last time I threw anything out !

    Chris Cosgrove

  27. bernmeister

    Older PSUs

    If you are a real hoarder 5V 2A PSUs should form a layer at the bottom of your odds and ends drawer. Many routers from the late 20th century used 5V external PSUs. Keep the old routers as well, you never know when they will be handy.

    1. mirachu

      Re: Older PSUs

      I have a few 9V AC warts. They're getting yeeted because 1) transformers are heavy, and 2) everything I have that uses 9V AC has a rectumfryer inside anyway, so.

  28. ComicalEngineer

    My tale on this is the person who turned up with an ancient Samsung phone on which were some family photos of a recently deceased relative which he wanted to recover in a hurry due to an impending wake. Only problem being that the battery was flat and the charger was nowhere to be seen. The Samsung connector was a proprietary one and not just a simple bayonet.

    A dig round in one of the boxes in the garage produced a car charger for the Samsung. The car charge was then wired up to my 12V model railway controller [another one with a Quarry Hunslet and a layout to suit] using a couple of crocodile clips and a minute later the phone booted into life.

    A quick SIM swap and the photos texted to a new phone.

  29. MikeLivingstone

    Sun Workstations are things of beauty

    Well I'd never think a Sun Workstation was some old piece of junk. They are very collectible.

  30. Daedalus

    Miracles are one thing

    Keeping spares is another. Apparently somebody was smart enough to specify redundant servers, but somebody else was too cheap to keep spare parts for the control panels.

    Oh well, chances are they would have found the spares had been half-inched anyway.

  31. WanderingHaggis
    FAIL

    Backup spares

    One of our offices had a literal server meltdown. Although we had backups the server was the backup machine and the ancient tape drive was end of life. Getting the data from a no longer existing model of tape drive proved very difficult and time consuming. When it comes to back up equipment two is better than one so you can fall back before you have a fail. (And have the second off site.)

  32. J. R. Hartley

    Perchance

  33. Grunchy Silver badge

    We got Granny a new M2

    No not an “M.2,” but the new “M2.” Though it also has a ridiculous teeny “Tim Cook”-size M.2. That’s the new Mac Mini for 2023.

    The last time we got her one was 2014 and whereas that still works just fine, people been jazzin up their web pages and the old tech is rather abandoned.

    Like a great silly ass Tim Cook sells ya the M2 all right, but (permanently) welds on the most pathetic M.2 money can buy. If you want an adequate storage that’s another $800 Cdn. No, Tim.

    Thankfully I can rummage in my tech box and rustle up a 500GB SATA SSD + USB 3.0 SATA adapter cord. Tim’s nefarious plot thwarted. Nice try there ya villain.

  34. Duncs1961

    I'm the company hoarder...

    My boss and fellow colleagues laugh at me, because I hoard old but working electronics parts and assemblies in a dusty corner of one of our workshops (I have worked for this particular company for 23 years now).

    However, the times I have been able to pull out of my stash some old card or PSU, or proprietary lead/connector and get a client's old system back up and running amounts to several times a year. Yes, those clients should have probably updated their systems years ago, but the fact we have been able to get their old kit fixed quickly (sometimes with parts that are now obsolete) hopefully means they will remember that fact when they do finally decide to update and will come to us the work.

  35. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Two recent accomplishments

    Not necessarily IT related:

    About 20 years ago, my '79 Landcruiser radiator sprang a leak. Replacements were pretty cheap back then, so I bought a new one. Now, that one sprang a leak. LC parts prices have gone through the roof in the past couple of decades. And became rare to boot. But wait! I tossed the original radiator in my car parts junk pile. And I found a place locally that repairs them (for about half the price of a new one). So I dropped the original off to get re-brazed. When I picked it up, I told the shop guy that I'll be back in 20 years with the other rad.

    I have a 30 year old Asko dishwasher. Recently, the drain pump sprang a leak. It still runs, but leaves a puddle on the kitchen floor. Somewhere over that past period, Asko has discontinued the model along with spare parts and all supporting documentation. And appliance parts dealers refuse to search for equivalents, even a "generic pump". So, I'm thinking that all I need is about 20 liters per minute, a meter or two of head at that flow rate, running on 120 Vac, 60 Hz. An old garden fountain pump in my garage miscellaneous box fit the bill perfectly.

    1. The Organ Grinder's Monkey

      Re: Two recent accomplishments

      Not sure which side of the Atlantic you're on, but if in the UK then the estimable Kenneth Watt at UK WhiteGoods is your best hope for all things Asko here. Aside from that I have a useful supply of Asko documentation in pdf form. Though it's mostly for washers & dryers, there is definitely something for dishwashers as I have one.

      Appropriately for this thread I should admit to having binned a dead ISE (rebranded Asko) dishwasher a few months ago...

  36. Dom 3

    Vulcan spares

    During the Falklands conflict they needed^ wanted to get the Vulcans sorted out for air-to-air refuelling.

    One crucial spare part was found being used as a crew room ashtray.

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