The BOFH Self-Helpless Guide

Men are from Mars, Users are from Uranus

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Episode 28
BOFH 2001: Episode 28 "So," The PFY blurts as I rattle away on the keyboard on my latest epic document. "What about a quick game of Unreal Tournament? Just you, me, and some users who think they're playing opponents who can be killed?"

"Would LIKE to," I comment, "but I'm working on my last epic..."

"Really. Do you need some quotes?" he asks, cranking up his creative juices in a flash. "What about 'A user needs the admin password like nitroglycerine needs a good shake'? No? How about 'If you can keep your head while all around you are losing theirs, you probably have a CD writer on your desktop'?"

"Yeah, well it doesn't REALLY fit in with the Content of my new book," I mumble, trying to focus on the right word to finish the page.

"Which one is that?" The PFY asks, looking over my shoulder. "'Feel the fear and call us anyway'?"


"'Men are from Mars, Users are from Uranus?'"

"No, but it feels that way sometimes."

"'I'm OK, You're.. in hospital'?"


"'Zen and the Art of Computer Maintenance'?"


"So it's a new book you're working on then?"

"Indeed. It's not my normal type of Self-Helpless guide, but something real."

"No more deep and meaningless stuff?"

"Well, I didn't say that, I just said this one is going to be different."

"You're not writing a '..for Dummies' book are you?"

"No, but you're very warm," I respond, flipping to the cover page.

"WINDOWS XP for RETARDS!" The PFY reads over my shoulder. "I like it!! Although isn't the word 'IS' missing from the title??? So anyway, what's inside?"

"Oh, it's just Windows XP notes I've scabbed from various websites, slapped into a nice font with bolding and underlining here and there - with a bright coloured cover on. And - my favourite - to make up content, I'm loading XP screenshots from all over the place."

"Screenshots?" The PFY asks disdainfully.

"Yes, if it wasn't for the screenshots and the large font size, the whole thing would be about 40 pages long. But WITH the screenshots and liberal font size, I'm probably looking at a 200-250 page beauty!"

"They'll never buy it. No-one's that stupid!"

"Don't you believe it. I'm just printing the cover now, basing the book around the idea that there must be someone out there who has problems reading even the simplest of technical docs. Someone to whom '...for Dummies' books are overly technical. Someone who's easily impressed by bright colours, pictures and the Comic Sans Serif font set. And speak of the devil..."

We both pause as The Boss trundles in with an expression that can only mean one of two things - He's confused, or the laxative that The PFY slipped into his chocolate eclair is working.

"MMMMMmmm," The Boss mumbles - extending the suspense a little longer. "Does anyone know where this came from?"

He holds up the aforementioned full-colour cover, fresh from the "Management-Only" colour picture which is normally reserved - because of cost - to important documents like Company Reports, Pie Chart Graphing and late-night pornography.

"Ah, the XP for Retards book!" I cry. "It's printed, Excellent! I've been waiting for that!"

"For 'RETARDS'?" The Boss asks, not too impressed with the lack of PC.

"I don't know," I respond. "I think it's some marketing thing by the company that sells them - you know, appeal to the people who want that stuff that other books skim over."

"Yes.." The Boss responds, getting interested now. "So why are you printing it?"

"Oh, well, it's available on the website for a discounted price because they don't have to do the shipping, packaging, printing, etc. You just download it and print it yourself - straight from their website, which means you get the latest revision!"

"Now that IS a good idea" The Boss says. "What's the book like?"

"See for yourself!" I cry, pointing to the large stack of plagiarised data and pictures that I call my own.

"..Yes.." The Boss murmurs, leafing through the document and liking the Picture to Text ratio (as expected). "And how much did it cost?"

"A hundred and eighty quid."


"RETAIL," I comment, revising The Boss's gullibility factor (sadly). "But off the Web... 100."

"It still sounds a little steep!"

"True, but they do ship you an 'Advanced Retard' CD, as well as a complimentary T-shirt."

"A free t-shirt?!" The Boss gasps, sold. "And how do you order?"

"Well, you order it from the 'Society of Hardware and Information Technology Helpers, Executive Administration Division' website - you're a member aren't you?"

"Uh, no.."

"Really? Everyone says you are."

"Oh. Well maybe I am then, I don't know. I'm a member of so many things..."

"Yes, well, just go there, enter your User code and Password, and they'll let you order it through their arrangement with one of the major Online Selling sites. But you'd have to do it today as it's the last day of the free t-shirt offer."

"Oh! Right! And if I've mislaid my User code details?" The Boss asks, jiggling about in the manner of someone hearing nature on call-waiting.

"Well, I suppose I could order it for you. But then, no, I've maxxed my card out on the other books with the same shirt offers."

"Other books?" The Boss blurts, needing to get away, but not wanting to miss out on the opportunity of the company paying for his clothing.

"Yes, there's a series of ten?"

"All 100 quid each?"


"OK!" he gasps through clenched teeth. "Here's my card, order them - make sure you get a receipt!"

The Boss minces away at full speed after slapping his card down on the table while I fire up Amazon and start browsing the DVD section.

. . .

"Ah, he'll be back soon!" The PFY says, eyeing the corridor to Mission Control nervously while I put the finishing touches to my 1000 quid order.

"No he won't."

"He will! He went to the Gents at the end of the corridor!"

"The Gents with the internal door handle removed?" I ask.

"Ah!" The PFY cries, enlightened. "You bastard!"

"No, no," I cry defensively. "A BASTARD would have expoxy resined the cubicle doors shut last night so the poor bloke had nowhere to go..."

"You're a bastard aren't you?" The PFY asks, recognising professionalism when he sees it.

"In the flesh, In your face, and on my way to the T-shirt printing website."

"So you're actually going to print shirts."

"Who would miss the opportunity of getting their Boss a T-shirt with a RETARD motto on the back?"

"What motto?"

"Well that's where you come in. I need ten, ASAP."

"Ok. What about 'RETARD' with an arrow pointing up?; 'RETARD' just by itself; 'RETARD AND PROUD OF IT'?...."

and so it goes.... ®

BOFH is copyright © 1995-2001, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.

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