BOFH: Bad Hair Day

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SANS - Survey on application security programs

Episode 23 BOFH 2000: Episode 23

I think I'm going to have a seizure. I've tried to calm down, I've counted to 10, I've even played a couple of games of sneaky-cheat Quake II against a couple of feebs from marketing who can't figure out why they kept exploding when I shot them with an ordinary looking pistol.

But it's not working. I've had enough. The week has gone on one day too long and they've finally got to me. The users, The Boss - even the PFY is getting on my tits....

..It all started this morning when I had to put a simple proposal in for the purchase of a swag of new disks to replace the old crap that sits in a standalone cabinet hanging off a SCSI-1 chain on one of the larger Database machines. Disk that's so old it's got marks from Noah's screwdriver on the side. And he wasn't much of an installer if the cabling's anything to go by...

Be that as it may, I slap together a quick document and push it over to The Boss.

"There's no competing quote for the equipment," he says, skimming down the page.

"Company policy is that a competing quote isn't necessary when the purchase is under 2000 quid," I respond.

"Yes, but there's several disks here, which, with VAT, totals... 2014 pounds," he replies, after bashing some numbers into his desktop calculator and – finally - managing to get them in the right order.

So 10 minutes later I'm back in his office with TWO orders for two sets of half as many disks.

And he signs them off. Well, wanders off to the secretary to borrow her dictionary to see just whether Disc or Disk is the preferred spelling.

"I can't believe you did two orders to avoid getting a competing quote," he says smugly as he returns, just letting me know that I can't put one over on him.

I've no doubt his smugness will last well up to the time he discovers the wallet on his desk strangely empty, his coffee cup strangely full, and his voicemail diverted to a phone sex line.

I take the order up to Beancounter Central, only to find the beancounters won't be processing it today. (It's Accounts policy to send out all orders in the morning mail. And by now it's past 11am.)

My offers to type it myself are rejected. There are no exceptions. Rules are rules.

But that's OK, I can put up with that. Then I get back to Mission Control and the PFY's having a deep and meaningless with the latest woman of his dreams...

"I *SO* agree" he gushes, gesturing to a console message warning of a tape drive needing a cleaning cartridge.

Being the benevolent type, I slap the tape in the drive and pop down to an early lunch.

And wouldn't you know it, I'm just getting my second pint in when a group of furry-teethed geeks from the electronics company down the road bowl in.

"And I said to him: 'you can't port Debian to a car computer - IT'S NOT AN OPEN SYSTEM' - WAAAAA HA HA HA!" one of them cries, setting the rest of them off in a fit of laughter.


I make a break back to work only to find The PFY on the phone, the Tape warnings still unresolved, a consultant wanting someone to help him with his computing problem (which he no doubt caused), and a couple of users stacked up on hold because all the helldesk people have gone to lunch at the same time...

Something has to be done.

I get rid of the users in record time with a two-word solution involving sex and travel (disguising my phone line as a helldesk extension in case any of the callers has a digital phone), and then decide to tackle the PFY problem.

I indicate the tape warnings that he's been ignoring for the last hour or two then show him the plug of death, which to all intents and purposes looks like a plug with a single throw heavy duty switch where the cable should be. Not knowing what it is, the PFY seems unfazed.

Which incidentally is what his desk and phone are when I plug in then push the button, grounding the live wire and popping the circuit breaker.

"What the hell di..," The PFY starts, stopping abruptly when he sees me passing a small parcel to him. He knows two things: (1) the mailroom only delivers parcels at 10 and 3, and (2) most parcels don't have highly conductive tin foil on them. "I'll just get those tapes then.."

Problem solved, it remains only for the attack of the killer consultant with his problem of doom. Sure enough, seeing me alone in the office, separated from the herd as it were, he decides to strike.

"I've been having a few problems installing NT," he burbles, wandering over and showing me a piece of paper with the "error text" written on it. "There's no floppy in the drive," I murmur.

"No, there ISN'T a floppy in the drive!" he cries triumphantly.


"The machine doesn't recognise the CD drive and NEEDS a boot floppy to load the NT disk," I respond.

"No it doesn't! It's never needed one before."

Double sigh

"It does. It's uncommon, but it happens."

"Look, I should know, I install these things all the time!"

"Uh-huh." I sigh yet again, then have a minor brainstorm. "OH, Actually! What service pack is the CD you're using."


"Ah, use Seven, it has the CD drivers built right into the CD."

"But how does that work?"

"You've heard of data readahead?"


"Well this is the same thing, it's an enhanced readahead which allows the system to cache the driver for the CD."

The glazed expression tells me all I need to know about the credibility of that particular lie.


"Help yourself, they're in that silver package over there..."

One high-pitched scream later, a small battery powered inverter kit drops to the floor. The Boss, ever on the alert for something to make his day pass quicker, investigates.

"What's going on here?" he asks ignoring the doubly glazed expression on the consultant sitting in a courier basket.

"Oh he's just pleased because the latest enhancement to Solitaire arrived today."

"YOU'VE GOT A BETTER SOLITAIRE!" the boss gasps, his day peaking.

"Yeah, the install disks are in the shiny parcel on the floor - haven't had a chance to.."


Ah, maybe it isn't such a bad day after all. ®

BOFH is the Bastard Operator From Hell. He is the creation of Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his copyright.

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