BOFH tracks down Arsonist

...and saves PFY's skin

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Security for virtualized datacentres

Episode 9 BOFH 2000: Episode 9

"I'm sorry, but I find this a little hard to believe," I say, shaking my head in a manner backing my implied convictions.

"That's what they said you'd say," The Personnel Droid says, waving a piece of paper containing some evidence of the latest complaint against the PFY and my good self.

"Well, I'm simply flabbergasted."

"Yes, they said you'd say something like that as well," he replies.

"Who's 'They'?" I ask.


"Who in Accounts?" I ask, not really knowing where this is heading.


"Everyone?! How can everyone in accounts have a complaint against me!!?" I cry, still no nearer knowing what exactly is going on.

"They say that you deliberately triggered the sprinkler system in their office to annoy them."

"That's preposterous - we don't have any control over the fire system whatsoever - it's completely remotely managed," I cry, whilst simultaneously wondering just how the PFY must have done it.

"I'm well aware of that!" our accuser snaps. "However, the Fire Inspector believes the optical sensors responded to the smoke that billowed out of a machine that had recently been serviced. A machine which was found to be stuffed with oil-soaked newspaper!"

Problem solved. You've got to hand it to the PFY, he has a way with combustibles. Not my chosen method of giving a good soaking, but still, worth a couple of brownie points for effort.

"I'm sorry," I respond, doing my bit to cover for the PFY, "but I still can't see what that's got to do with us, as we don't actually service desktop machines any longer. As anyone in accounts will tell you, the service contracts for machines were outsourced, for a hefty sum I might add, to a third party."

"Yes, we've spoken to them, and they say the machine was working perfectly when it left their office."

The Buck Stops There

"Well of course they'd say that! What engineer would ever say it was so buggered they sent it back? The thing could be ON FIRE IN THE COMPUTER ROOM and they'd say it was just performing self tests. Engineers LIE - that's the first thing they teach them!"

"And what about this then?" my accuser asks, presenting the piece of paper to me.

Hmmm. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, and I'm not talking about French Tourist's breath... The delivery docket for the courier from the service people bears the PFY's signature. Which is ridiculous - the PFY would never use his own signature - he'd either uses someone else's (Typically The Boss's) or slap on a wiggly line that looks like Charles Manson's polygraph.

"It's obviously a fake," I respond, having my doubts nonetheless.

"Well it just so happens that I have a specimen signature - supplied BY Accounts - for a purchase order he recently filled out. And would you look at that - it's a perfect match."

"Yes, thanks Cilla," I respond, comparing the two signatures, "but doesn't it strike you as odd that the signatures ARE a perfect match?"

"Not at all, it just proves he's not very careful!"

A small amount of haggling later the Personnel bloke is forced to accept that the PFY's signature counts for nothing - anyone could have tampered with the parcel between delivery and desktop. Though he wants to speak with the PFY alone about it.

"I'll see what he's doing today", double clicking on the "Calendar" icon on the PFY's desktop.

Unbeknown to all, an SMS message immediately rockets thru to the PFY's cellphone to indicate he should go into hiding. Useful things those desktop calendars.

"Oh, look at that!" I cry, pointing at the error message on the screen "His calendar is corrupt."

"Wasn't it corrupt the other day when I was looking for him?" the boss asks, smelling a medium-sized rodent.

"Yes," I respond, "I blame large software houses with poor quality control!"

Eventually, The Boss and The Personnel Droid get sick of waiting and disappear to greener pastures after extracting a promise from me to let them know the MOMENT the PFY shows up. I while away the time by examining the evidence; I make couple of phone calls and reach my conclusion.

Later that afternoon, I meet the PFY in the lift and I spend some quality "Emergency Stop" time filling him in on the details. A blip on my pager tells me that my quarry has just swiped itself out of the office and into the lift area.

"Going down?" I ask pleasantly, as the beancounter concerned looks up, startled.

Half a floor later we stop for some more quality time.

"So why'd you set your machine on fire?" I ask.

"I didn't set my mach..."

"Don't lie to me. I know you picked up the machine from the couriers, I know you faked my assistant's signature from the copy of the order you were processing, and I know the paper inside the machine was the Financial Times - which, because of the lack of breasts and sport, has only two readers in the building - the CEO and you.

AND, you were absent when the excreta hit the airconditioning..."

"I..." he starts

"Did it?" the PFY suggests


"Why?" I ask, intrigued.

"BECAUSE I CAN'T STAND THEM!" he blurts, "ALWAYS BLOODY ASKING ME INANE BLOODY QUESTIONS!!!! 'What does this message mean?'; 'Where's the ANY key?', 'How do I get out of this program?`, `What's a good password?' I HATE IT, THEY CAN'T LEAVE ME ALONE!"

Suddenly it all becomes clear. Ever since last week's tutorial session, departments are annoying their own people instead of us!

"I can... Empathise with you," the PFY says, switching the Emergency Stop button off. "Now you know what we feel like some days. But using my signature... "

After his profuse apology we let him go and get back to Mission Control. I have to admit that it's good to have a kindred spirit in Accounts. Someone who we can see eye to eye with. Someone who understands the idiots we have to deal with. Someone who's going to get blamed for all the oil-soaked newspaper that the PFY and I are going to be stuffing into machines tonight.

Yes, it sure is good... ®

BOFH is owned by Simon Travaglia: don't mess with his copyright

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