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Episode 4 BOFH 2000: Episode 4

So I'm not in a particularly good mood - but what's new?

I go to sign up for a First Aid refresher course (in my business it pays to be on the safe side -- you never know when something might go right). Only to find out that I'm not permitted to go because the ratio of First Aid people to staff is already excessive.

So I'm going to have to wait until one of the current First Aid certficate holders leaves the organisation before I can spend two days at the pub in work time - I mean, uh, refresh my first aid skills... of course.

Ah well, patience is a virtue, and all good things come to those who wait. AND, you win some and lose some, which is what I say to the PFY when we draw straws to see who's going to shut their hand in the door, so we can find out who the current certificate holders are...

"Bastard!" the PFY comments - the sore loser, while I palm the bits of broken off straw into the bin where he can't find them. Serves him right for not being professional enough to cheat.

And then I spot the other bits of broken off straw in the bin...

I'm just about to berate him for bad sportsmanship when the boss rolls in at top speed (ten feet a fortnight) to discuss a printout he's found on the printer.

And then I remember that only this morning I was working on the screenplay for a Bastard movie called A Few Good Simms, to star Jack Nicholson as me, Demi Moore as the unrequited love interest and Tom Hanks as the Boss. (I would have used Tom Cruise, but that's just cliche)

"What's this?" the boss asks, handing over a wadge of pages. I flip to the end to my favourite part...

Bastard: "You want answers?"

Boss: "I think I'm entitled to them!"

Bastard: "YOU WANT ANSWERS?"

Boss: "I want the truth!"

Bastard: YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!

Son, processes live on a system that has finite resource. Resources guarded by people with System Admin experience! Who's going to look after that system? You? The support guy who drools so much he has a drip tray?

I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom.

You weep for lost sessions and curse system admins - you have that luxury! You have the luxury of not knowing what I know - that session killing, while tragic, saves resource - And my existence, while incomprehensible and expensive to you - saves resource!"

You don't want the truth because deep down, in places you don't like to talk about at user group meetings, WANT me on the system - you NEED me on the system!"

We use words like "I/O wait", "Pagefaults", and "CPUtime", as a backbone of a life spent sorting out user-caused problems. You use them as a cop-out for downtime at Management meetings.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a person who connects and disconnects under the very blanket of the very performance I provide, then QUESTIONS the manner in which I provide it. I'd rather you left a nice message with helldesk.

Or read a linux admin manual and checked out the performance monitors. Either way, I don't give a DAMN what you think you are entitled to!"

Boss: "Did you kill -9 the Database Server?"

Bastard: "I did my job - I kept the system running!"

Boss: "Did you kill -9 the Database Server?!"

Bastard: "YOU'RE GODDAM RIGHT I DID!"

. . .

Having looked over the page, I give the boss his answer

"It's a printout of that movie - whatever it is - one of the staff must have printed it"

I slap it into the recycling bin before he thinks of grabbing it back, then go on the offensive.

"Was that all you came in for?"

"No, no, Apparently someone's complained that they gave you a tape of data to load onto the system and you erased it - claiming it was virus protection an-"

"So did we find a virus on the tape?"

"Of course not - it was erased!"

"Sounds like a good protection mechanism to me!"

"You can't bloody erase people's data when- "

"We didn't erase their data, the tape was blank when it got here," I say, nipping his indignation off in the bud.

"And what about their second tape, which they had verified before they had it sent?"

"There was no sec..." I start, then notice the PFY doing a very thorough job of examining the ceiling tiles for signs of stress.

"..ondary data on those tapes. Just the labels and that was it."

"I'll show you!" the PFY chimes, entering the conversation at long last, dragging the boss into the computer room to gaze upon the tape stackers.

Barely a minute later he's back... alone.

"Ohmigoodness," he gasps, "there's been a terrible accident! A tape library's tipped over onto the boss's foot and he's trapped!"

Mission Accomplished.

Scant seconds later we have all the department First Aiders in the computer room discussing the best way to treat a crushed foot.

. . .

"Strange that the Halon system activated," the PFY says later, down at the pub, discussing the recent resignation of two of our first aiders.

"Yeah. Hey - wanna do a first aid certificate?"

"What does it involve?"

"Another pint for me to start with..." ®

BOFH belongs to Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his copyright.

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