* Posts by Timbo

616 publicly visible posts • joined 6 Jun 2007


If you're Russian to the Moon, expect traffic: Moscow's Putin a lander into orbit


oh dear....

As of today (20th August) it seems that LUNA-25 has crashed.

Might be due to a malfunction, or maybe a crafty Ukrainian drone collided with it and it then took a nose dive to the lunar surface.

I just hope it hasn't contaminated anything there, like many thousands of gallons of otherwise pure ice, or maybe Putin just wants to lay waste to anything that might of use to any other (peaceful) nation.

Nice icon to perfectly highlight a post.

UK voter data within reach of miscreants who hacked Electoral Commission


Re: Electronic voting

"I wonder if we will see a flood of spam mailshots arriving through our letterboxes shortly?"

The data breach was some time ago - Spring 2022 - going by the fact that it's taken 14 months for news of this breach has been made public.

So, IF the any part of the database has been downloaded, one can assume it has already been traded multiple times on the dark web and hence if any significant people were being scammed as a result, it would have happened by now.

Either way, for this data to be on an internet connected computer system and accessible (to whom?) once a login/password was entered, shows a complete disregard for installing best-quality security systems to prevent "bad actors" from getting in. :-(

Farewell, Aeolus: Doomed ESA weather sat reenters atmosphere over Antarctica


Surely ALL satellites...

...should have a built-in mechanism to allow them to either:

a) be de-orbited safely,


b) use some remaining fuel, so that the satellite is directed to "skip" off the Earths atmosphere (which might have happened to any returning Apollo Command capsule if it got its telemetry wrong) and hence go off into the darkness of space, never to be seen again?

Otherwise, I think a few older, retired astronauts (aka Space Cowboys) can be launched into orbit and strap PAMs (Payload Assist Modules) onto redundant tech and then said satellites can be sent off into the void?

NASA to store pair of probes it's built but can’t send to target asteroids


Re: Send the probes after Snoopy!

"Knowing what damage it may have incurred would be incredibly useful "

I'd prefer to send a mission to see what happened to the TESLA Roadster car that was deployed to some long term orbits around the heavens.

The whereisroadster.com website is still online and reporting where it is !!

Fan facts:

If the battery was still working, Starman has listened to Space Oddity 538,711 times since he launched in one ear, and to Is there Life On Mars? 725,891 times in his other ear.

Starman has completed about 3.5598 orbits around the Sun since launch.


Re: Cheap

"nothing is really lost."

apart from the small matter of just under $50m from NASA's overheads.

That could have bought maybe 2 spanners for the ISS :-) (as various tools have been lost on spacewalks outside the ISS).

Software picks out more satellite photobombs in Hubble image


Re: Time to move the telescopes

Well, they did with the James Webb and it is at Lagrange (L2).

But they had to sacrifice the ability to service / refuel the telescope in the near future, whereas for Hubble, they have carried out servicing missions.

One would assume that for future optical telescopes, the success of the JWST will mean that new deep space telescopes will also be put into much higher orbits, assuming that we do not have any problems occurring due to Kessler Syndrome event(s).


Offshore wind power redesign key to adoption, says Irish firm


and here, from the same day, about the interim report on the damage to the Nord Stream pipelines:


European air traffic control confirms website 'under attack' by pro-Russia hackers


But surely...

..and good IT professional, can design a solution whereby specific "foreign" and/or "unknown" IP addresses (that is those who are not authorised to access said systems) can be easily prevented from accessing anything by a fast acting firewall/gateway system?

For sure a massive and targeted DDoS campaign (using VPNs no doubt) could flood said gateway(s), but by now, with so many miscreants causing untold havoc, there must be a better way of protecting any important infrastructure/systems?

for reference:


RIP Gordon Moore: Intel co-founder dies, aged 94


Re: And I had just bought some more Xeons, too…

I bought a no-name motherboard for an i486 at a computer fair in London for about GBP 100. (as I had already got myself a 486DX-33 beforehand).

At the same show I bought 4x 4 Mb of RAM SIMMs to go with it, at GBP 100 per SIMM, so that made the total GBP 500.

The crazy thing was that where I worked, they had 2 Hewlett-Packard PCs in the sales office: one was a 286 @12 Mhz and the other was a 286 @10Mhz.

I brought my 486 in to work (as the firm didn't want to buy a PC for me, preferring instead for me to hand write reports for our office secretary to then type out !!) and I got abuse from our chairman for doing this...until I pointed out to him that I was freeing up the secretarys time (from typing up my reports) so she could then spend more time doing work for him !!).

All I had to do was to run a long parallel cable from my PC to the office HP LaserJet so I could print stuff out. Them were the days !!

Techie fired for inventing an acronym – and accidentally applying it to the boss



"That's something to Shout about"

Oh, VERY well played Sir !!

Just a shame it isn't the "First of May" today, but I won't "Boom Bang a Bang" on about that "If I were you" as "I Don''t Wanna Fight" about it" so I "Hope you understand" !!

But Lulu did have/has got a great voice... she's 74 now, and is still touring :-)


Anyone want an International Space Station? Slightly used


Re: um

"...but it would still need a strap on Saturn 5 to get things in motion."

I'm sure they could use a stage from the SLS and use this to nudge the ISS higher and over time it'll break free.

Or get Tommy Lee Jones/Clint Eastwood to strap some PAMs to it:


Zoom chops president it hired less than a year ago


Re: stock options totaling $45 million over four years

"Well, he still collected a lot of Zoom lolly."

I see what you did there...well played !!

(and for those NOT in the know: [url]https://www.pinterest.com/pin/150729918753907684/[/url] )

Three billion objects, 10TB+ of data – yup, it's the largest-yet survey of our galaxy


"Things have come a long way since William Herschel's attempt to map the shape of the Milky Way Galaxy..."

Indeed...as a boy, and armed with a copy of the Observers Book of Astronomy, I had thought that all the observable stars and galaxies that we could see were all "within easy reach" and not that far away (relatively).

But the numerous new telescopes have since shown that we no matter how good these instruments are, the more we look, the more "objects" we find, and that these are not just massively distant from us, but also (due to the expansion of the universe), they are going to become UNobservable - as they move away from us faster that the SOL.

Fragged, fragged and thrice fragged! 20 years of id Software’s Doom


Not long to go...

..until 10th December 2023, when DOOM will be 30 years old !!

Anyone feeling old yet?

(And I still have 3 or 4 CDROMs of WADs...as well as the expansion packs for QUAKE !!)

BBC is still struggling with the digital switch, says watchdog


Too many "heads in the sand" technophobes run the BBC

When the UK started the switch to digital TV, in November 1998, the BBC FAILED to recognise the fact that they could then have implemented a subscriber based service (instead of a paper TV licence) for the required external Digital TV receivers, using a "conditional access module".

And then with the growth of the internet and the higher download speeds available with "fibre to the street", they have FAILED yet again to take on the likes of Netflix/Amazon Prime etc by offering an online "subscription based" streaming service for all their TV channels, as they continue to "push" their outdated "iPlayer" and "Sounds" apps...

I know the BBC are highly fearful of their income from TV licence money reducing significantly (as more consumers use other sources of entertainment and do not renew their TV licences) and they still employ 3rd parties (at vast expense) to visit consumers homes in order to "police" and take to court any "TV licence evaders" - and yet this could so easily have been avoided years ago with a basic subscription service.

And they still pay Sky to broadcast their TV channels for FREE when they could easily make a standard charge of say £5-10 per month.

Soyuz leak puts a stop to planned ISS spacewalk and work on Nauka module


Re: Well

"They can't blame sabotage by a homesick NASA astronaut this time."

...or maybe the Russians can blame Ukraine's "Special Forces" for hitting the Soyuz with a well aimed cork fired from a bottle of a combination of Coca-Cola and Mentos ?

The cubesats lost in space from Artemis Moon mission


It took a very long time...

...to recover the Orion capsule from the Pacific ocean landing site.

I was watching live on the NASA Youtube channel until just after splashdown (17:40pm GMT) and then switched to the KSC Newsroom YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Si2iks2-T34) and the capsule was eventually hauled into the well deck of the USS Portland at 23:40pm...

Admittedly, none of the recovery boats touched it for about 2 hours, as they were waiting for the ammonia gas (used in the cooling system, designed for the eventual astronauts) to vent off - and once they had clearance, they could then start lashing guy ropes and a rubber ring around the capsule.

It then took 4 hours to get the capsule into the well deck - I'm sure they had their reasons, but it was like watching paint dry ! Most of the time, the capsule was just bobbing up and down, so I hope that when humans return to Earth in this thing that they are not left inside getting seasick, whle some US Navy chaps frig around outside...

Raspberry Pi hires former spy gadget-maker who baked devices into surveillance ops


Re: Didn't answer the obvious ...

...and surely lots of chocolate is supplied in aluminium foil?

So therefore, hiding a Pico inside something that is supposed to resemble chocolate and hence could be covered in foil, means such a device is useless transmitting via wifi until it is unwrapped...and then what could it measure, if the device is still covered in real or even imitation chocolate?

How do you solve the problem that is Twitter?


It seems to me...

...that Elon Musk has bought a white elephant - a seemingly stupid thing to do, unless he has some way of nurturing the company into a high profitability position very quickly (as otherwise, it'll be bankrupt unless Musk spends even more money on keeping it going).

And with potentially fewer active members and fewer advertisers, clearly it might just become another "MySpace", "Napster" or "Friendster" and just sink without trace, aside from Musk who no doubt will continue "broadcasting" to fewer and fewer interested parties, until like the Captain of the Titanic, Musk and his ship will sink into the depths of oblivion....and a niice tax-write-off for the IRS to deal with !

Boeing swipes at Starlink as it finishes two internet slinging satellites


Re: Err....

At least when it comes to de-orbiting these SES birds, the manufacturing "bunch" have some previous history of how to do it :-(

Square Kilometre Array Observatory construction commences


Re: You can run but you can't hide

The SKAO quoted:

"Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX (which is currently deploying the Starlink mega-constellation), said recently in a public statement that:

“… Starlink won’t be seen by anyone unless looking very carefully and will have ~0% impact on advancements in astronomy.”

The SKAO study shows that, for radio telescopes in general and for SKA in particular, this is not the case and specific mitigation actions will be needed to minimize this impact."

So, once again, some selfish, self-opinionated, rich guy thinks only of himself and doesn't do his homework to understand the impact his business(es) will have on specific communities, in this case the scientific "world".

US Air Force reveals B-21 Raider stealth bomber that'll fly the unfriendly skies


Shades of TV detector vans ?

The US Air Force claim they will get 100 of these B-21's built...and showing off ONE of them (to allow other countries to see what is coming into service int he next few years) is a very good way of deterring some countries for flexing their muscles too much.

But I doubt the USAF will actually receive 100 planes any time soon...and robably won;t have 100 in service at the same time, given that these will (in theory) be the long term replacment for the B1 and B2.

Even so, at $692m-752m EACH, they are pretty darned expensive, so I hope we don't see a recurrence of the Boeing 737-MAX flight software problems, leading to loss of the airframe and possibly any flight crew.

And I wonder if each plane will have big enough fuel tanks to get to (and fly back from) Moscow, Beijing or anywhere else?

After lunar orbit trip NASA's Orion capsule is on its way back home


Re: 'Terra Firma'

I do not think that Artemis is "validated/approved" to make a landing on "land"...so the use of "terra firma" must be a (sloppy) reference only to the planet Earth.

Twitter layoffs were bad but Meta's mass ejections could take the cake


87,000 employees ??

I want to know exactly what ALL of these 87,000 employees are actually doing...

For sure there will be "back-office" staff keeping the hardware ticking over and people selling advertising space and the like.

They claim to have a "brilliant" search function...but you try finding a given name in a given city or in a given age range, or even a given gender (where first names are used for any gender) - it is impossible...as you can only search on the "name" parameter and nothing else !

And given the level of AI already being used to "police" FB posts, it does seem to me that FB is somewhat overloaded in the wrong departments...

How to watch NASA Jupiter probe's flyby of Earth


I wonder though...

Will Lucy still be in full working order after 12 years traveeling through space and avoiding space junk and any particulates that are in the way?

And how many El Reg readers will still be around to witness Lucy arriving and starting it's data collection...

In fact, will El Reg still be here?

Or if Putin has his way, and starts chucking nukes around, maybe no-one will be around to collect any data at all... :-(

Japan tests probe to land on Martian moon Phobos, bring a chunk of it back to Earth



nah - We've got Duke Nukem - send him in !!

India's Mars Orbiter Mission loses contact, burns all fuel, deemed 'non-recoverable'


Re: we're loosers

But ESA has been sending European astronauts to the ISS for years (but in American and Russian spacecraft)...and ESA have been involved in manufacturing many space satellites for years...and they have also been building rockets to launch these satellites as well.

So, you think they are falling behind because ESA has not sent their own astronauts into space in their own spacecraft using their own rockets. Such nit picking is unworthy !!

Was there life on Mars? Perseverance scrapes up promising samples


Not collected until 2033?

So, these samples have mostly been collected from under the surface of Mars...and they have now been put into these "collecting tubes" and just left on the surface of Mars?

And they will be there for 10+ years until something collects them and brings them back to Earth...so will these samples have been irradiated from being exposed to radiation from beyond Mars atmosphere? Seems a bit dumb to be expecting to see "formerly pristine buried soil samples" in its original state if it has then been "damaged" from being left on the surface for so long?

Don't say Pentium or Celeron anymore, it's just Processor now, says Intel


Re: Given their namings….

"They might be better off reducing the range of products. Most of of them are not especially special, just a little different."

True...but Intel and their hardware manufacturing partners want products at different price points and using the same motherboard design.

This way they can offer a $499 laptop with a slower CPU and for just another $50/$100/$200 you can get the same hardware but using slightly faster CPUs. This then allows these brands to offer a range of products at different price points to suit people with different budgets.

And limiting the range of processors has another impact: I've helped a few friends when their 3-4 year old laptops started going slowly (usually due to dust/detritus buildup inside the fan assemblies). It's a simple task (usually) to take the laptop shell apart, clean out the fans and then I've bought some faster clocked CPUs (from the same range) off "laptop breakers/recycling" firms for just a few $$ that fit the existing CPU socket and they give a nice boost for no real extra cost while also renewing the silicon paste to keep it ticking over. So, that market would vanish with fewer CPUs in each range !

FCC floats 'five-year rule' for hoovering up space junk


Irresponsible satellite operators?

It seems to me that there has been a complete lack of "accepting responsibility" from both governments and private operators with regards to de-orbiting any of their "birds" once a mission ends.

Whlle it might cost millions of $$ to build and then launch a satellite into orbit, very little thought has been given to including in the "build budget" a few extra $$ to actually make a "controlled re-entry" at the appropriate time...

And in the meantime future missions are being compromised by all this junk in NEO.

It seems to me that any future satellite operator should either build-in a "working" de-orbiting system...or maybe lodge suitable funds with an Earth based company, who will then co-ordinate the de-orbiting of the now-defunct satellite....and perhaps such a mission could de-orbit a number of similar "targets" (in similar orbits) making the cost of de-orbiting each bird cheaper...?

NASA's six-mile-wide orbital telescope is 1/6th built


No real warning for Earth then?

If this constellation of SmallSats is in orbit around Earth at 22,000 miles and according to the article:

"SunRISE's SmallSats will connect together to act as a single antenna used to detect radio wave bursts that indicate a solar event that could have an impact on human space activities."

then I very much doubt that an event that happens 93m miles away and the light from which takes 8 1/3 minutes to get to Earth, so having this telescope so close (at 0.000236559 of the Sun-Earth distance away, will give scientists about ~0.0002 * 8.33 minutes = 0.0019 minutes of "warning" - about 0.11 of a second !!

Hardly useful ?

Hive to pull the plug on smart home gadgets by 2025


Re: The hardware might be strong

"there were constraints in early DTT receivers that effectively bricked them"

In 2009, Freeview changed the data block size (IIRC) when they "updated to the NIT (Network Information Table), which some receivers could not accommodate" (info from wiki). so earlier "big box" TVs with built-in Freeview were bricked.

The TV could still be used, if you used an external set top box (Sky, Freesat, Freeview) to feed a signal into the AV input.

Whatever hit the Moon in March, it left this weird double crater


Re: Bouncy space junk?

In the article it is said that the rogue rocket was moving "end over end"...so it is quite possible that this was still happening as it hit the Moon (which has no atmosphere to slow down any such movements).

So, the double crater could just be from one end hitting the surface first and millisconds later the other end also landed, creating the second crater.

Western Digital open to spinning out flash, hard disk businesses


mmmm...I wonder what their plans are?.

So, Elliott Management own Sandisk?

And EM, also have shares in WD and want them to spin out/separate the HDD/Flash memory business...

Anyone see a ploy here by which EM then takeover the WD HDD/Flash business, then discontinue making HDDs and then they can name their own prices for Sandisk and WD SSDs....

That time a techie accidentally improved an airline's productivity


Re: Everybody knows...

""Are you sure you want to cancel?"

Buttons available -

"OK" "Cancel"

Does cancel cancel the booking, or cancel the request to cancel...."

So, the error here is that the correct answer to the question should be:

"Yes" "No"

So, blame the person who mis-labelled the buttons. !!

New York City rips out last city-owned public payphones


Don't forget dialling 123 for the speaking clock, later sponsored by a watch manufacturer: "The time brought to you by Accurist is...."

And the Dial-A DIsc service on 160 :-) Listen to the latest chart hit, down a limited bandwidth analogue telephone line... :-)

Boeing's Starliner CST-100 on its way to the ISS 2 years late


Re: No end to end testing...

"Cost-cutting" seems to be a "thing" for Boeing to do...the 737 Max being another casualty of short cuts being made to save money...

The sad part is that lives are dependent on Boeing NOT cutting costs, so that travelling in one of their craft is safe for the "crew" and any passengers on board.


Re: Just the two failures then..

The BBC website says:

"Boeing had attempted to fly Thursday's mission in August last year but was forced to abandon that exercise when valves in the capsule's propulsion system wouldn't open and close properly on the launch pad.

This issue still requires a permanent fix but engineers were happy to let the latest launch go ahead with temporary corrective measures in place."

So, hopefully, this flight will give them enough feedback to make more permanent and lasting "fixes" before any human guinea pigs are allowed to hitch a ride.

Google opens the pod doors on Bay View campus


Air volume?

The one thing that concerns me is the amount of air volume, between the floor/desks/work areas and the internal "roof"...as that is some distance between them....and all of that air volume will need either heating (in winter) or cooling (in summer)...and that will take a lot of energy either way.

And how are they going to regulate the internal temperature, as surely some people will prefer one ambient temperature while others might prefer something slightly warmer or cooler, as per their personal preference?

NASA's InSight doomed as Mars dust coats solar panels


Re: Insight?

I think the issue with Mars atmosphere and the winds that sweep over the surface, is that:

there is no liquid (in the form of rain) that could wash the dust away - and even if there was some drizzle, that could just turn the dust into sludge

there is no easy way of "brushing" the dust away, (which could cause damage to the surface of the solar panels)

alternative mechanisms could be used but each has weight or other implications, such as motorised panels that could rotate, or maybe small off-centred weights fitted to small motors that could "vibrate" the panels, which might help shift the dust, but it might also lead to too much structural vibration and the panels might stop working.

Personally, I think the solar panels should be in an inverted V "shape" (like the 2 sides of a tent) and then rotated once the lander has landed to face-on to both sunrise and sunset...the panels themselves would then be maybe at 25-30 degrees (relative to the ground) and hence no dust could rest on the surface as they wouldn't be horizontal !

Pictured: Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way


Re: Design Flaw

"However, since we don't know what is driving the accleration, we don't know if it's permanent meaning at least two outcomes are possible: heat death through unchecked expansion; collapse back into nothingness if gravity regains the upper hand."

Both of these scenarios are equally "scary", but luckily not a single person alive today will be around to see what happens to our Universe...especially when galaxies cease to form at the end of the "Stelliferous" Era.

What is also very, very scary is that our Universe is only about 13.8 billion years old...which is nothing, when compared to the very long timescales we could be talking about in terms of how the Universe will eventually achieve it's fate. Then we are talking about trillions upon trillions of "earth" years in the future...

Personally, I find it hard enough to cope with what's hapening next week !


Re: Design Flaw

"But from the photon's viewpoint it is emitted and absorbed in the same instant with zero travel time"

Yup - Neil de Grasse Tyson did an explanation of this on one of his StarTalks videos on Facebook - well worth checking him out, as he offers many explanations of how things work within the space-time construct we find ourselves in. :-)

IBM's autonomous Mayflower ship breaks down in second transatlantic attempt


Re: The bow camera is working.

"Right now you can see the boat towing the Mayflower."

Indeedy :-)

And even though the sea looks fairly calm (despite the blocky video) the boat is "rolling" around quite a bit...hope the tow rope doesn't break.

NASA's modified Boeing 747 SP SOFIA to be grounded for good


Re: Shame, but understandable

"The telescope's instruments operate in the near, mid and far-infrared wavelengths"

Such a shame, but I guess there is quite an overlap with JWST now, so less need for 2 different instruments (and the necessary staffing to stage and monitor the observations) to be looking at the same patch of sky.

I hope that SOFIA is put out to pasture in a suitable museum, for future generations to admire, rather than being consigned straight to the scrapyard/recycling centre.

Study: How Amazon uses Echo smart speaker conversations to target ads


Data is "king"

At the end of the day, both Amazon and Google are subsidising the "retail" prices of various IoT devices that are slurping up data (whether it is anonymised or not) and they are using this to provide advertisers with "relevant" information that the advertisers can then use to target the user with further "sales pitches" about similar products.

Obviously, for advertisers, it's a "win-win", as "targetted adverts" do work...as they have done in print media for many years.

(You only need to compare the adverts in magazines for men, compared to adverts in womens magazines...very, very different).

The issue though is that even if you bought a magazine, you can skip the adverts and just read the articles (in the full knowledge that you won't be plagued with endless adverts afterwards.

With "voice controlled" devices, you have little control over your data and how it might be used, leading to the data being used to target you later on to buy otehr stuff...so, surely an "opt out" function should be provided?

IoT biz Insteon goes silent, smart home gear plays dumb


Re: Someone has to say it so......

"* Totally Impractical for Substution Using Products" ???

Surely you mean *Totally Impractical Tech for Substitution Using Products*


Home Automation is the Future (cont)...

The trouble is that too many people are "sold" on the concept of all the things that IoT devices can do...but when the "back end servers" are shut down or the parent goes bust, then peole are left mostly with landfill products.

And if the OS is proprietary, then you are down the river / up the swannee (whichever boat you prefer !).

I had the same issue with Sonos - having equipped my home (expensively) with 4 different ZP units, plus 3 CR100 Controllers, only to find that Sonos upgraded the firmware, which then wouldn't "fit" into the available memory of each device, the new firmware didn't support the CR100's, and now, due to their use of TuneIn in their otherwise proprietary firmware, I cannot receive any non-UK internet radio stations (thanks to the recent Sony+Warner Bros High Court judgement against TuneIn) and Sonos have not offered a workaround for their older kit running on older firmware.

So, I would now only buy expensive kit, if it does NOT rely on a firms back-end "servers" and/or the OS is open source and can be tweaked by users with access to the code.

(I recall some Linksys WRT routers from ages ago, where the OS was "open" and plenty of tweaked firmware "updates" were available. The same was true with some early versions of Android, where one could "burn" a new OS into the mobile...but that seems to have stopped now).

French court pulls SpaceX's Starlink license


Re: French court freezes out non-French competition

"As for "sky pollution", AIUI, these satellites are not visible to the naked eye once at altitude, or at least, very faint."

Sadly, not quite true...even with their new "dark paint finish", Starlink satellites are still posing a threat to astronomers and asteroid-watchers as well as causing significant "interference" with the view of the night sky.

Just look at the Starlink Overpass photo here:


Starlink do not have anywhere near their full complement of 42,000 satellites in orbit yet, and Amazon plan to send up another 3500+ satellites.

Then add in the OneWeb constellation and no doubt a few others from other countries will soon be in orbit...and very soon, the chances of a "Kessler Syndrome" event occurring are far more likely...

Buying a USB adapter: Pennies. Knowing where to stick it: Priceless


Re: Cassette tapes

I used to work in the hifi retail trade and we had many tape decks come into the shop, (brought in by indignant customers claiming the machines were "faulty" and demanding refunds or new machines) as they sounded "muffled" (and clearly the owners had not RTFM).

In those days (late 70s/early 80s) you could buy bottles of isopropyl alcohol from most UK High Street chemists, and I'd get a (maybe) 500ml bottle for about 50p and it would last ages.

Add some cotton buds and the knowledge of knowing where (FYI: tape heads/pinch roller/capstan) and how much to apply (FYI: sparingly) and many faulty tape decks were sorted in a few minutes...plus the now brown gungy cotton buds were shown to the punters as proof of what happens when you don't keep the deck in tip-top shape.

PS A good alternative, if you couldn't get hold of isopropyl alcohol was:....neat vodka, which does just as good a job and unlike certain other spirits, it leaves no residue.