11th > May > 2002 Archive

Click here for the full BOFH range

2001: A BOFH Odyssey

BOFH 2001: All the episodes, bagged and tagged Back on the Helldesk with BOFH BOFH: This hardware is dead... It has ceased to be... BOFH gives good slide BOFH gets to the back of the Q The Bastard school of anger management BOFH: how to upgrade your Quake Server BOFH: Swears, Lies and Videotapes BOFH plays Golf! BOFH: My mate, automate BOFH: The Rise and Fall of Little Voice The Bastard goes Wireless Bastard plan 437f BOFH gets exercised The Bastard formerly known as Roger BOFH: To Catch a Thief The Bastard plays with Fire BOFH mans the Helldesk BOFH and the Linux Evangelist BOFH vs CEFH*,one:nil Bastard Satisfaction Bastard Security Troubleshooter BOFH: Cardiac arrest or Cancer? It's BOFH Disaster Recovery Time BOFH, the HellDesk and the Novel Losing Your Edge? Take The BOFH Test Arise Sir BOFH I Spy with my Bastard Eye The BOFH Self-Helpless Guide The BOFH Content Management System The Trivia Quiz - BOFH-style... The BOFH techno-zealot alert BOFH: 'Twas the night before Christmas Channel BOFH The Compleat BOFH Archives 95-99 BOFH is copyright © 1995-2002, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights
Simon Travaglia, 11 May 2002

BOFH gets his mobo working

Episode 2Episode 2 BOFH 2002: Episode 2 So I'm sitting in Mission Control when The Boss bowls in with a complaint about some advice I'd given a geek from the helldesk last week. "He says the motherboard/processor/memory combo you told him to buy is crap!" he mutters. "What, the Gigabyte/Athlon/DDR?" I enquire, wondering what sort of paint thinner he's been tipping on his breakfast cereal. "True, it's not THE fastest processor out, but the price performance makes it a sure winner!" "He says it's slow," The Boss whines, starting to get on my tits. "How slow are we talking - as slow as the Microsoft software registration process?" "I don't know - he says it's as slow as his original machine!" "A PII with 32 Megs of memory? I hardly think so!" "He claims you deliberately recommended a crap box to him!!" "Bollocks! What operating system is he running?" "Ah... Windows X.P" "Ah yes. Not so much resource hungry as resource addicted. But still - what hardware's in it?" "I don't know! Here's his configuration page - you see if you can work it out." The Boss passes over a page of paper that looks to be the output of some generic system config utility, and I give it the old fisheye. Most disturbing is the handwritten note at the bottom 'and PCI/ISA Bridge'. "What's that?" I ask, pointing to the note. "Something your assistant recommended so that he could reuse his old disks and stuff to keep the total price down apparently." "Did you also ask the guy if he wanted to go on a camping trip?" "Wha? Why?" "No reason. So this Bridge card - what did it look like?" "How on earth would I know? Apparently your assistant did all the installation work! Moved his files and everything!" In the far recesses of my mind I hear the sound of a 1p piece hitting the pavement. "Ah! I'll get right onto it," I respond, reaching for a large hammer. . . . Ten minutes later . . . "So you moved his computer to a new case." "I never!" The PFY cries. "Sorry, let me put that a different way, You moved his computer to a new case." "What's different about that?" "This time the cattleprod in my pocket is charged up." "Ah. OK, so I might have pulled a quick one." "Indeed. And now he's found out about it." "He can't have! I added 32 Meg of memory to the motherboard, slapped it into a brand,spanking new case, 'upgraded' it to XP, then changed the screen resolution!!! I also put that 'System Config Reporter' program you wrote which just displays whatever it's been told to report. Should work like a charm!" "Obviously it hasn't. You can't just steal someone's upgrade and not expect them to notice. They expect a speed increase over all the other machines in their area. It's a status thing. The newest machine has to work better!" "So you're saying I should have given him the upgrade his department paid for?" the PFY asks. "Of course not! Letting a helldesk geek have a shit-hot box just to play minesweeper and freecell between disservice calls is criminal!" "Oh. So I should have upgraded my box, and given him my old stuff?" "Of course not. Even that's still a damn good upgrade!" "Well what else could I have done to make his machine run faster?" "The keyword here is comparatively faster. It has to run faster than everyone else's because it's new." "But how can I do that if I can't upgrade it?" "It's obvious. You sneak in and downgrade everyone else's. Just pull half their memory out." "They'll notice!" "No they won't - they're sheep. Anyway, you just start a rumour that it's a network problem and they'll complain about that - setting us up for a gigabyte-to-the-desktop project." "I think you're forgetting the people we're dealing with. These are helpdesk people!" "Good point. Grab any additional memory out of their video card, and drop the CPU speed jumper down a notch while you're at it." . . . One day later . . . "And as you can see, the machine works appreciably faster than earlier models." "It's way faster than mine," one of the guy's fellow geeks corroborates confusedly. "In fact even boot time is increased!" I add. "Mine doesn't even boo,t" another of the lesser intelligent member of the Helldesk adds. "I think there might be something wrong with the Network.." Shooting's too good for them... "It's still pretty slow," the Helldesk geek in question whines. "I'm sure it's not much faster than my original machine." "Ridiculous!" I respond. "How long does it take to boot." "About two minutes." "And what about that machine over there." "Just under five minutes." "So it's twice as fast as the other machines!" "Yeah, I suppose it is!" he gasps, seeing the silver lining after all. (It's just bloody sad.) "Mine still isn't booting," the really SAD geek says. "I think the network must be affecting DOS, cos that won't even load." "Can't you do something about that?" The Boss demands. "I suppose I could upgrade his network connection." "OK, do that!" "I'll go find get the.... six thinwire ethernet cards and some T connectors..." The PFY responds. "Fantastic!" the geek burbles. . . . the next day and six adaptor upgrades later. . . "You realise there's only one 'upgrade' left after this?" The PFY asks. "Yes I know, I'm just finding the OS2 disks now." It's just sad... ® Tune in to http://www.salmondays.tv for a live-action comedy vid-strip, inspired by our beloved BOFH BOFH 2K+1: The whole shebang The Compleat BOFH Archives 95-99 BOFH is copyright © 1995-2002, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.
Simon Travaglia, 11 May 2002

BOFH and the VAX cluster bomb

Episode 1Episode 1 BOFH 2002: Episode 1 So I'm having a quiet six pints after work - waiting for The PFY to join me so I can shout him a lager or two - when a geeky type from the Helldesk crawls over and introduces himself. I'm momentarily taken aback by this blatant abuse of workplace hierarchical protocol, but this is shortly overcome by his intriguing question. "I was just wondering," he burbles, "if you know of a way to fire protect some equipment I've got?" "Fireproof?" I ask. "An unusual request. What sort of equipment precisely?" "A vaxcluster," he burbles excitedly. "A VAX Cluster?" I ask, suppressing a shudder. "Yes, but not just any ordinary vaxcluster - it's a beowoulf cluster." "A Vax Beowoulf cluster," I repeat, pausing momentarily to try and think of a sadder life form - coming up blank. "Yes, I've got three Alphas, Two 11/780s, a 11/730 and four microvaxes." "Yes, wel.." "And I'm rebuilding an 8530 which I got from a company that was going to SCRAP it!" "Shocking!" I concur, humouring him - figuring that anyone who would rebuild an 8530 in their own time is someone who needs gentle handling.. (and possibly locking up for a long, long time). "Although, TECHNICALLY the Alphas aren't actually VAXes, are they?" "No!" he blurts, incorrectly identifying me as a fellow Digital geek. "HOWEVER, they're early Alphas, which were the most backwardly compatible." "I think you'll find that most of that gear is fairly backward," I murmur. "Pardon?" "I said I think you'll find that you're going to need fairly hefty fireproofing. What sort of room are they in?" I ask, mentally picturing the hottest, noisiest, most cramped double bedsit in the world. "Well it's a perk of a part-time job I have looking after a standby datacentre - they let me run some of my machines there in return for me keeping an eye on the place. "Right, I see. So there's no space problems. And given the machine's age, I assume you're worrying about thermal shock? "Exactly!" "Is the cluster doing anything important?" "Well it's been calculating Pi to a new record of decimal places for almost a year now." "So you don't want to take it down to install the fire protection?" Our conversation is interrupted by the arrival of The PFY, so I get the Helldesk geek back over with a quick wave and ask him to explain his dilemma, telling him The PFY is the brains behind our infrastructure protection systems. As the problem unfolds The PFY's eyes light up in anticipation. "I suggest you use a liquid extinguisher, stored at room temperature," The PFY comments as turns from the bar with a drink for me and the Helldesk geek. "Not gas?" "No - Gas systems introduce thermal shock from their expansion - law of thermodynamics. Besides, they're hellishly expensive. However, a liquid coolant/extinguisher doesn't expand, and so can be kept at the same temperature as the equipment." "I see. And what coolant do you suggest, water?" "No, water has a problem in that it can actually act as an oxidant in very hot fires involving metals like magnesium, etc, some of which are used in computing." "So what coolant?" "Well, recent thinking seems to centre around a semi-viscous liquid like an oil." "An OIL?!" "Yes - because oil has a very low heating coefficient." "Huh?" "It takes ages to get oils to change temperatures, which makes them ideal for extinguishers." "Really?" "Of course! Think about it. How long does it take to boil a jug?" "About five minutes." "And how long does it take your chippy to warm up their vat?" "I don't know." "Well it takes about one and a half hours - see my point?" "No?" "It takes a lot longer to heat vat oil up than the water in your jug. And you know why?" "Because the vat's about 100 times the size of my jug?" "NO, because oil has a lower heating coefficient!" "Oh, I see. So what oil is commonly used?" "Generally, Industrial Diesel." "DIESEL OIL!?!! But that's flammable!!" the geek cries. "Only under very particular circumstances," The PFY responds calmly, plying the geek with yet another drink, "generally very high pressure as well as extreme heat. Neither of which you'll get in a computing environment." "I don't understand," the geek responds, dubiously. "Do you know how a diesel engine works?" "Like a car engine?" "Not at all! Diesel has such a low octane that the engine actually has to pressurise the stuff to make it ignite. AND the engine has to have heat from a glow plug to actually get the pressurised stuff to burn!" "Really?" "Of course. hy do you think most of the world's cars run on petrol?" "And it won't catch fire in computers?" "It hasn't in ours, and we've been using it for over a year now." "Really?" "Of course, what do you think those drums of diesel in the store are for?" "The generator?" "Goodness no! You wouldn't run a generator on Industrial diesel! It's crap. You'd be better running it on petrol like we do" "You run your diesel generator on petrol?" "Uhuh, and we use the diesel for our fire extinguishers. In fact, I could probably give you a barrel as we only keep it in case of a leak in the system." "I don't think I need it - we have a generator in the datacenter which I could refill with petrol, and use the diesel of!" "Right! Where is this datacentre?" "It's a couple of blocks away, in the basement of that large insurance building." "An Insurance building" The PFY mouths thoughtfully. "Tell you what - why don't you shoot there and set it all up and we could help you commission it once we've had our dinner!" "Ok!" The geek chirps, slipping off quickly. "Couple more pints before we head over?" The PFY asks. "Yeah, I spose I could fit them in. And remind me to pick up your birthday present on the way over." "What, the latest Viz mag?" he asks, recounting last year's present. "I was thinking a packet of marshmallows?" "Perfect!" ® Tune in to http://www.salmondays.tv for a live-action comedy vid-strip, inspired by our beloved BOFH BOFH 2K+1: The whole shebang The Compleat BOFH Archives 95-99 BOFH is copyright © 1995-2002, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.
Simon Travaglia, 11 May 2002