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BOFH: Burying the hatchet

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Remote control for virtualized desktops

Episode 28

There's something about a newly refurbished building that just appeals. Whether it's the contrast of old and new (i.e. the ancient glass fronted axe cases in the stairwell which no-one in their right mind would install these days, versus the almost ubiquitous security cameras which everyone seems to be installing these days) is hard to say....

One thing that remains the same, though, is the users. While the PFY's engaged in some scheme to disguise the true size of the server room, I'm spending my valuable time teaching a user how to fix the poorly designed software with the cowboy installer that he's just downloaded from the web and stuffed onto his machine – with the usual unexpected results.

And the worst thing about teaching a user how to do something is that it's always about ten times slower than doing it yourself and akin to using the world's laggiest KVM solution as you instruct them where to put their mouse, which button to click, when, and what do once they've clicked it. It's all because of a new policy the Boss has decided to adopt for IT support – something to do with teaching a person to fish (which, once we considered the high levels of mercury in seafood, was fine by the PFY and myself).

Still, it's a challenge to even the most patient of people when your user fails to grasp the simplest point and click concepts – especially when you know that the moment you leave the room they'll be paraphrasing your instructions in an effort to pass themselves off as an IT guru.

“You want to open the INI file with WordPad and remove the line which says 64 bit,” I say.

. . .

“No, the INI file,” I repeat.

. . .

"The one with DOT I-N-I at the end,” I say helpfully. “No, NOT THAT ONE! The one with the same name as your application. Just quit out of that one, that's your machine's boot order. No DON'T SAVE IT, you've chopped a line off the top! DON'T Re..! Why the HELL did you reboot?!” I snap, thinking for a moment about the 'sanity instillers' in their easily-broken display cases in the stairwell. Then about the security cameras...

“I'm... going to have to go back to my office and get a boot CD,” I say, exiting before something bad happens.

My trip to our new Mission Control for Knoppix therapy is intercepted by the Boss.

“I suppose this ridiculous plan is your idea!” he snaps, oozing the sort of sarcasm which will see him second in my mental list of “people most likely to come into contact with a rusty fire axe in the next few hours if they're not careful”.

“What plan, what idea?” I ask.

“Follow me!” he snaps, leading the way through Mission Control, down the shiny new services corridor, into the server room, stopping momentarily >bip< >bip< to read a text message from the service desk's call escalation paging system.

“It's... beautiful!” I say, admiring the PFY's handiwork as I step into the server room.

“It is isn't it?” the PFY says proudly.

“It's like being in a geeky Tardis!” I gasp, looking around me happily.

“I know!” the PFY bubbles, to the Boss's annoyance.

“How long did it take to put them up?” I ask.

“I started last night,” he admits. “And finished about half an hour ago.”

I have to hand it to the PFY, it's like a work of art – there must be at least a thousand mirror tiles covering the walls of the server room - making the place look ten times its half-size.

“I had a few boxes left over so I did the corridor as well,” the PFY adds, still smiling away to himself.

“And the glass door?” I ask.

“Not just ANY glass door,” the PFY says. “It's 42mm armour glass and weighs so much it needs special hinges. Not only can it can stop a bullet, it can also stop an IT manager who has a parallax error because the corridor walls are mirrored too..."

“Ah, that'll account for the smudge,” I say.

“It's a stupid idea,” the Boss says, >bip< >bip< pausing to read yet another text helldesk message. “And dangerous too.”

“Stupid?” I say. “But with these mirrors we'll be able to see a service lamp from almost anywhere in the room. And safe because you'll be able to find faults before they turn into something much worse!”

“It's stupid,” the Boss says. “And I want them removed!”

“But they're glued on!” the PFY replies. “They'd rip all the wall lining out!”

“And it might be asbestos,” I add, just for old time's sake.

“It's not asbestos and the walls can be relined,” the boss snaps. “That's what we've got a decorating budget for.”

“What do you think paid for the mirror tiles?” the PFY asks. "Not to mention the door!"

“I...” the Boss says, winding up for a real whine. >bip< >bip< “Oh for Pete's sake, would you go and look at that application install at finance!”

“I was on my way when you grabbed me,” I respond, now feeling suddenly cheerful. “Anyway, it's only one machine.”

“It was one machine before, but it's all of them now,” he says, reading from his phone. “They'd all installed that application, which was fine till they used your instructions to fix it.”

“MY instructions?!” I seethe, feelings of cheer gone.

"Yes - and you'd better get a wiggle on as there's a pay run due this afternoon."

"Get a wi.." I gasp, before the finality of the situation grabs me. "Of course, I'll get right onto it - but could you do me a favour and get the door to the stairwell?"

"I... suppose so."

. . .

>tinkle<

. . .

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