Simon Travaglia

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Simon Travaglia is the author of BOFH, the Bastard Operator from Hell, the long-running series about a rogue sysadmin. He lives in New Zealand.

BOFH: An architect and his own entirely avoidable downfall

Episode 12 "Well, you know what they say," the Boss says, faking sadness. "The candle that burns twice as bright..." "... Should be thrown into the pool of diesel from a safe distance?" the PFY responds. "No, the candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long." "Is that a thing though?" the PFY asks. "I mean, if you're talking …
Simon Travaglia, 28 Aug 2015

BOFH: Why, I LOVE work courses. Please tell me more, o wise one!

Episode 11 "... and so we thought that you might like to attend this two-day workshop in effective leadership techniques," the Boss burbles, rounding off the professional goal-setting exercise that company policy obliges him to do with me and any other contractor with a contract that's rolled over for more than five years. "Well to be …
Simon Travaglia, 14 Aug 2015

BOFH: Knitting bobble hats on the steps of the guillotine

Episode 10 "Good news!" the Boss blurts, rocketing into Mission Control in a frenzy, “I’m going to be heading a new working party to improve website usability." "You poor bastard!" I gasp, "I didn't even see it coming!” "See what coming?" the PFY says, lugging a box of recently replaced hard drives out of the server room. "The boss …
Simon Travaglia, 07 Aug 2015

BOFH: My diary is MINE and mine alone, you petty HR gimps

Episode 9 "Wow, that's like the Matrix!" the Director's PA gasps. "Yes, it's what we call a terminal session," the PFY chips back drily. "It's so... green." "Yes," I sagely nod. "It's a monochrome terminal session, green on black." "I don't know what that means." "Back in the day - when IT required more skills than it took to use …
Simon Travaglia, 31 Jul 2015

BOFH: Don't go changing on Friday evenings, I don't wanna work that hard

Episode 8 "It's just a small change!" the Boss whines. "It's not a small change, it's a Friday afternoon change," I say. "We don't do those. We do Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoon changes if you want, but not Friday. If it's urgent we might do a Friday morning change, but it has to be pretty urgent. Lives must be at …
Simon Travaglia, 26 Jun 2015

BOFH: Step into my office. Now take a deep breath

Episode 7 "Oh this takes me back to the early days of ST225s!" the Boss burbles. I am getting a personally tailored lesson in being careful what I wish for. On one hand, the PFY and myself wanted a new Boss who at least knew which end of a keyboard he could shove up his arse when he asked for the ability to type Norwegian potato …
Simon Travaglia, 05 Jun 2015

BOFH: Getting to the brown, nutty heart of the water cooler matter

Episode 6 "..and so we just mix all the ingredients together like this, tip it out onto a surface like so, and roll it into a roughly cylindrical shape. Now we just push in the extras and then pop it into the freezer for a few hours till it's nice and hard and easy to handle. And we're done," the PFY says with a flourish. I can't …
Simon Travaglia, 15 May 2015

BOFH: Explain? All we need is this kay-sh with DDR3 Cortexiphan ...

Episode 5 The PFY has crossed the line. Even though he knows better, he's attempted to explain something technical to management. I don't know why he did it – he's aware of the risks, and yet he still did. "KAY-SHING – not CASHing" he says, speaking slowly so the Boss can understand. "But surely it's the same thing?" "It IS the same …
Simon Travaglia, 18 Apr 2015

BOFH: Never mind that old brick, look at this ink-stained BEAUTY

Episode 4 *Crash!* "Oh, I'm terribly sorry, I appear to have accidentally nudged it off the table" I say, as tears well up in the owner's eyes. "I've had that since university!" he gasps. "I didn't think they made 150 DPI scanners in the neolithic era – or had scanners," I sniff. "It was perfect," he wails, dropping to his knees. " …
Simon Travaglia, 27 Mar 2015

BOFH: Mmm, gotta love me some fresh BYOD dog roll

Episode 3 "Oh, Bring Your Own DEVICE!" the PFY blurts in mock realisation. "Of course Device!" the Boss snaps "What did you think it meant?!" "Bring Your Own DRINK" I say, nudging a half consumed case of chilled Newky Browns from under the desk that the PFY and I have been working on for the past half hour. "Bring Your Own Dog," the …
Simon Travaglia, 20 Mar 2015

BOFH: The ONE-NINE uptime solution

Episode 2 "So what's the problem again?" the Boss asks, lurching into Mission Control like a Dalek with stepper motor problems. "We're not sure - it's not internet connectivity because we can get to other sites ok, but we're definitely having problems with the email site." "We shouldn't be!" he snaps back, presumably thinking that a …
Simon Travaglia, 27 Feb 2015

BOFH: The Great HellDesk geek leave seek

Episode 1 "Well that would be on the form, surely?" the H.R. person burbles smugly over the phone. "It sort of is," the HellDesk user replies, "only it's hard to see because the characters are all blurred." "They'll be blurred because your browser doesn't support downloadable fonts," H.R. replies in a know-it-all tone. "What browser …
Simon Travaglia, 20 Feb 2015
Stained glass angels

BOFH: A miracle on PFY Street

Episode 17 Christmas! Who doesn't love Christmas?? Most of the company as it happens! It's true, many of the staff here have an element of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder when it comes to Christmas - and not just because of the PFY and myself. The last day is always one full of trepidation, alcohol and a little sprinkle of emotional …
Simon Travaglia, 26 Dec 2014
Chicken Jalfrezi and rice with a beer. Pic by Shutterstock

BOFH: Capo di tutti capi, bah. I'm having CHICKEN JALFREZI

Episode 16 We have new Director, just in time for Christmas! It appears that, through some convoluted twist of fate, our former Director took a dagger in the back for "creating a hostile workplace environment". APPARENTLY his misogynistic leanings "fostered a culture of a male hierarchal structure" and he's been made an example of by H.R …
Simon Travaglia, 13 Dec 2014
Santa Claus on his laptop

BOFH: Santa, bloody Santa

Episode 15 "HE PUNCHED HIM IN THE FACE!" the Director shouts, gesturing both wildly and furiously at the absent PFY's desk. "Well yes," I say calmly, "but let's be reasonable about this - he WAS asking for it." "HE WASN'T BLOODY ASKING FOR IT!" the Director shouts again - in serious danger of bursting one or two major cranium-based …
Simon Travaglia, 06 Dec 2014

BOFH: Everyone deserves a little DOWNTIME

Episode 14 Isn't it always the way that when you're hours from the office sporting only a smartphone with a dodgy data connection that something critical claps out back at work. And then something's wrong with the VPN so you have to gain access through a convoluted chain of remote desktop, ssh and telnet links just to end up with a …
Simon Travaglia, 28 Nov 2014
Cthulu springs from desktop printer

BOFH: WHERE did this 'fax-enabled' printer UPGRADE come from?

Episode 13 Cthulu springs from desktop printer "This is exactly what I'm talking about!" I snap at the PFY. "Specifications created by people with absolutely no knowledge of what they need so they specify the absolute top-end kit just in case!" "What's that, then?" the PFY asks, looking up from his game disinterestedly. "The bloody …
Simon Travaglia, 22 Nov 2014
Milla Jovovich in Resident Evil

BOFH: An UNHOLY MATCH forged amid the sweet smell of bullsh*t

Episode 12 Keeping up with the changing face of IT is a pain in the arse at times. Half the time I'm looking at some bleeding edge technology wondering what the hell it does, who would want it and whether it's worth the effort. All too often the answers are "No idea", "no one" and "no". Still, it grates a bit when a consultant is called …
Simon Travaglia, 15 Nov 2014

BOFH: SOOO... You want to sell us some antivirus software?

Episode 11 "Yes, but with our antivirus software you can be guaranteed that we will track and locate 98.97 per cent of all known viruses," the caller says. "Tell me, where did you get the 98.97 per cent from?" "What do you mean?" "Well you say 98.97 per cent - not 99 and not something like 96, so you've obviously got a reason for it …
Simon Travaglia, 08 Nov 2014
big red wheelie bin and pallet full of rubbish in London street

BOFH: Stop your tiers – when it comes to storage, LESS is MORE

Episode 10 "You'll never guess who I just saw in here!" the PFY blurts, entering Mission Control with a mainstream IT mag in hand. "One of the Royal Family using a tablet?" "No." "A movie star or football player with a new bendy iPhone?" "No." "A vendor-sponsored review of new technology with a shameless suckup review of their …
Simon Travaglia, 01 Nov 2014
Confused computer keyboard

BOFH: The current value of our IT ASSets? Minus eleventy-seven...

Episode 9 "Ahhh... Just found some... uh... anomalies with the asset inventory checklist," our friendly neighbourhood Beancounter says to the PFY. "What anomalies?" I ask. "You didn't fill it out," the Boss says. "I bloody did!" I gasp. "You wrote at the bottom 'all present and correct' and signed your name," the Beancounter responds …
Simon Travaglia, 29 Aug 2014

BOFH: We CAN do that with a Raspberry Pi, but think of the BODIES

Episode 8 BOFH "So what we'd like to do is have the lights turn on in the foyer when people come into the office," the Health and Safety rep says. "Yep, put a PIR+Daylight sensor unit in," I say. "One of the sparkies could do that for about a hundred quid - or £150 if he's got a holiday coming up." "Yes, but what we'd like to do is …
Simon Travaglia, 23 Aug 2014

BOFH: The Great Backup BACKDOWN

Episode 7 "So I see that backup check went well?" the Boss asks, trying to drag me into a conversation that will have nothing to do with me, but sounds technical enough that I would be an idiot and say... "What backup check?" the PFY pre-empts me. NGAAAAAAARGH! "The backup check," says the Boss. "The Financial Director wanted to be …
Simon Travaglia, 01 Aug 2014

BOFH: You can take our lives, but you'll never take OUR MACROS

Episode 6 "...And I can't seem to import all of the data I need," the user explains. "And you're importing into Excel from what... a CSV file?" the PFY asks. "Yes." "And the import fails?" "I just stops. It says something about resources." "So perhaps you should get rid of some of the data in the spreadsheet?" "It's an almost empty …
Simon Travaglia, 27 Jun 2014

BOFH: On the contrary, we LOVE rebranding here at the IT dept

Episode 5 "Now remember - there are no wrong answers in this exercise," Janice, the huggy-feely HR type says in a non-threatening manner. "What about SH*TBAG?" the PFY blurts. "Well that's more of an outburst than an answer," I point out gently. "Oh," the PFY responds. "My mistake." Getting caught up in exercises designed to "enhance …
Simon Travaglia, 13 Jun 2014

BOFH: Oh DO tell us what you think. *CLICK*

Episode 4 "Your first mistake was asking for input," I explain to the Boss as he scans the huge volume of new email in his Inbox. "You really don't want to do that." "No," the PFY echoes, "Never do that." "Why not?" "Never seek user input on a technical document unless what you're asking about is so vague as to be useless," the PFY …
Simon Travaglia, 17 Apr 2014

BOFH: On the PFY's Scottish estate, no one can hear you scream...

Episode 3 "Obviously we're after sustainable," the Boss burbles. "Yes, sustainable is good. I'm thinking of a mix of solar and wind generation - low carbon footprint building materials, potable and non-potable water storage and filtration in the workspaces, natural and borrowed light..." "Sounds fantastic," the Boss burbles some more …
Simon Travaglia, 21 Mar 2014
iPhone 2.2.1 update

BOFH: He... made... you... HE made YOU a DOMAIN ADMIN?

Episode 2 "Yeah, so we just need you to upgrade these machines," the Beancounter says. "Upgrade them to what, Windows 8?" I ask, suppressing the gag reflex. "No I mean upgrade them with the updates." "Oh, so you mean upDATE them, not upGRADE?" "It's the same thing!" he simpers. "Not at all. An upDATE is when the system stays …
Simon Travaglia, 21 Feb 2014

BOFH: Attractive person is attractive. Um, why are your eyes bulging?

Episode 1 “What brings you down here then?” the PFY asks the Director after he popped through the door unannounced. “Oh, I wanted to give you a heads-up on your new manager.” “Really, has Roy left?” the PFY asks, knowing the answer only too well. “Yes. He messaged me over the break saying he wouldn’t be coming back. Something about …
Simon Travaglia, 07 Feb 2014

BOFH: It's DANGEROUS to go alone. Take THIS

Episode 13 “I can’t smell anything,” the Boss says, leaning back from his half-consumed plate of the last of the onion bhajis at the staff cafeteria. “Well you wouldn’t, would you?” the PFY says. “Why not?” “Because we’re professionals.” “I’m a professional!” the Boss says defensively. “Please,” the PFY says sadly - but almost kindly …
Simon Travaglia, 29 Nov 2013

BOFH: Resistance is futile - we're missing BEER O'CLOCK

Episode 12 "It's quite possibly the worst sound I've ever heard!" the Boss snaps. "So you've not heard duelling banjos played on the bagpipes?" I ask. "Or... anything.. on the piano accordion?" the PFY adds. "It's unprofessional!" he continues. "No it's not, having NOTHING would be unprofessional - this just implies a lack of concern …
Simon Travaglia, 22 Nov 2013

BOFH: One flew over the PFY's nest

Episode 11 "He's what I refer to as a... megalotechno," the psychiatrist explains happily to me. "Completely devoted to IT - it's so rare to capture one alive. We've tried to study him of course but he's much too geeky for our standardised aptitude tests." "Mmm," I murmur non-committally, following him through pale green corridors and …
Simon Travaglia, 15 Nov 2013

BOFH: GOATSE? No, I said goat fetis... you know what, forget it

Episode 10 "It's happened again!" the Boss blurts, tripping into Mission Control in a flurry. "Yes, well, if you frequent those kind of websites you really should expect that," says the PFY evenly. "I... What kind of websites? Expect what?" "Oh, so we're not talking about your goat fetish?" "What bloody goat fetish!?" The Boss snaps …
Simon Travaglia, 08 Nov 2013

BOFH: Is WHAT 'running slow'!? GOD

Episode 9 Sometimes it feels like my life consists  mostly of waiting. Long, long periods of waiting. I don't know how much of my time has been spent watching little dots slowly ticking over a monitor as a kernel loads, the moria-like spinning of /-\| characters on the screen while a RAID card configures or the slow crawl of a progress …
Simon Travaglia, 01 Nov 2013

BOFH: Welcome to Helldesk, ma'am, may I take your bags?

Episode 8 "You're looking stressed!" the PFY says to the Boss, who's behaving more irrationally than usual. "What?" the Boss responds. "Stressed," the PFY says. "You. Look. Stressed." "Oh. Yes," the Boss says, looking around in a semi-dazed manner. "Have a stack of Service Desk Candidate's CVs to look through." "What for?" "For …
Simon Travaglia, 04 Oct 2013

Nasty BOFHses. It burns us! It burns...

Episode 7 "Where's my car park gone?" I ask Security as I wander into the building in a very irritated manner. "What car park?" Security asks "My Car park. Basement level 2. Right beside the lifts. Now apparently somewhere inside a large concrete room." "Oh, that. Well we can't really talk about that." "How about a hint?" "I... Well …
Simon Travaglia, 23 Aug 2013

BOFH: Backup server's failed? We have a backup backup server

Episode 6 I bloody hate SRTs (or Server Room Tourists as they're more commonly called). "And... what does this one do?" the new Boss asks, pointing at a server front panel. "That would be the frontend of the company portal," the PFY nods knowingly. "And this one?" he asks, gesturing to the panel below. "The redundant frontend for the …
Simon Travaglia, 16 Aug 2013
Cthulu springs from HP desktop printer

BOFH: Don't be afraid - we won't hurt your delicate, flimsy inkjet printer

Episode 5 "There's a problem with my printer," a user whines down the phone at the PFY. "The multifunction - what, is it jamming again?" the PFY asks. "No, it's my desktop printer." "Put it in the bin and use the printer in reception," the PFY says in a manner that bears all the hallmarks of professionalism. "No, no, it's just not …
Simon Travaglia, 26 Jul 2013
Beginning SQL

BOFH: Go on, beancounter, type DROP TABLE asset;

Episode 4 "Don't put that there," I snap - calmly, but firmly, as a Beancounter goes to drop a chunk of IT detritus on my desk. "What?" he asks, feigning innocence. "That. Don't put it on my desk, it doesn't belong there." "But it's IT equipment!" he bleats. "It's IT crap and it doesn't belong on my desk - any more that real crap …
Simon Travaglia, 31 May 2013

The BOFH is BACK: And it's cloudy with a 90% chance of beatings

Episode 3 "I just need you to go through it for me once," the user whines down the line at me. "You mean once more?" I reply. "Once more?" he snivels. "Yes, as I already went through this with you a few weeks ago. You said you understood, you even wrote something down." "Really - are you sure that was me?" "Positive." "How can you …
Simon Travaglia, 24 May 2013

BOFH: My HELPDESK HELL - lies, phones lines and statistics

Episode 2 "I'm just a bit worried about these statistics," the Boss says, lurching into Mission Control with yet another swadge of meaningless numbers. "Told you so," I respond. [FLASHBACK TO A WEEK AGO] "I'm a bit worried about these weekly statistics," the Boss says, lurching into Mission Control with a swadge of meaningless numbers …
Simon Travaglia, 15 Mar 2013
shutterstock_interview_sidey

BOFH: Climb the corp ladder - and use your boss as a bullet shield

Episode 1 "It's like progress bars," I say to the PFY during a discussion about the relative merits of the company management as we ride the lift to the CEO's office to fix some laptop crisis. "All too often the bar itself bears no relationship whatsoever to the amount of time you're going to wait. In the same way the salary of a manager …
Simon Travaglia, 22 Feb 2013

BOFH: Cannot terminate PFY instance... ACCESS DENIED

Episode 14 "Have you seen this?" the PFY says, looking up from our revised contract document. "What?" I ask. "Did you realise there's a penalty clause in our contract for early termination? We have to give the company 2 YEARS notice of termination of contract?" "Sounds about right. It works both ways though - they have to give us the …
Simon Travaglia, 30 Nov 2012

BOFH: The Great Patch Mismatch

Episode 13 "It's just a minor ROM patch." the service engineer bleats "It'll only take five minutes." "Yeah... Nah," the PFY says. "It's minor - just addresses a couple of memory leaks and and cookie issues in the web interface." "Yeah. Nah," I repeat. "It's just the interface - the UPS will be completely unaffected!" "Nope," the PFY …
Simon Travaglia, 23 Nov 2012
Windows_desktop_011

BOFH: Hasta la Vista... luser

Episode 12 "But I installed Service Pack 2!" our user whines at the PFY. "Installing SP2 on Windows Vista is like putting out a burning turd. Best possible outcome, you've got a steaming turd!" the PFY snaps. "But it's so slow!" "Uh-huh." "I've got 3 gigs of memory," he sniffles "Adding memory to Vista is like adding paper to a …
Simon Travaglia, 16 Nov 2012
bofh_sidey

BOFH: Can't you just ... NO, I JUST CAN'T

Episode 11 "EVERYONE IS A F**KING EXCEPTION!" the PFY snarls - beating me to the very same exclamation by nanoseconds. "What do you mean everyone is an exception?" the Boss asks. "It's the life of a bloody systems admin, people want you to make exceptions for them!" the PFY shouts. "Passwords, web filters, extra file space. People want us …
Simon Travaglia, 09 Nov 2012

BOFH: Tenacious B and the Printer of Destiny

Episode 10 "The printer's jammed again," the Director's PA says, ducking into Mission Control for a brief status update. To be fair the PFY asked for this level of information when he suggested she notify him of any problems. As far as poorly thought-out pickup techniques this one has far outlasted his patience. The moment an orange light …
Simon Travaglia, 02 Nov 2012
Cornish maiden bearing platter of genuine Cornish pasties. Photo: Cornish Pasty Association

BOFH: Uninterruptible patsy supply

Episode 9 "What the fuck just happened?" the Boss garbles, crashing around Mission Control like a madman after dashing down two flights of stairs from the 4th floor boardroom. "Uh.... UPS failure," the PFY says calmly, glancing up from his monitor briefly. "Well aren't you going to do anything about it?" "I am," he responds. "I have to …
Simon Travaglia, 18 Oct 2012
bofh_sidey

BOFH: Our Excel-lent new boss and the diagram plan

Episode 8 "Okay, I get what you're saying, but what does it mean precisely?" the Boss asks. "It means that we're giving the app support people a VPN connection so they can login remotely, and we'll put them on their own VLAN with firewall pinholes to permit them to access the App server and Database server, as well as having limited …
Simon Travaglia, 10 Aug 2012

BOFH: Shove your project managementry up your mailbox!

Episode 7 "So it's agreed then. You'll codify the project and I'll reach out to the developers for the SDK that you need?" the latest IT project manager asks. "By 'codify' you mean I'll write the program and by 'reach out' you mean email?" I respond. "Yes." "Why not just say email?" "I... because I might phone them." "So why not say …
Simon Travaglia, 27 Jul 2012