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

"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...

"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?

"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?

“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

“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

"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

"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

"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

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?

"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...

"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

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

"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;

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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!

"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
bofh_sidey

BOFH: The back-up backdown smackdown

"So is all the data gone?" the voice whimpers over the hands-free. "Did you take a backup like I told you?" I ask. "No." "Then yes, it's all gone," I say. "You either put a backup client on your laptop and back it up to the backup server or connect an external disk and use that - but if you use nothing..." "I don't understand …
Simon Travaglia, 06 Jul 2012

PFY vs Bearded 80s Netscape Bore: BOFH

bofh_toppy You know what it's like. Some idiot in senior management buys a crap bit of software online - with functionality that's already built into Outlook, but is just slightly different - and it has to be installed right now. And the moment you double-click on the installer you know you're in trouble when it tells you …
Simon Travaglia, 15 Jun 2012
bofh_sidey

BOFH: Siri, why do users lie?

bofh_sideybofh "My bloody voicemail isn't working. Again." the Boss snaps. "You've forgotten your PIN number again, haven't you?" the PFY asks. "No, it's just not working!" "What's not working about it?" "It won't let me log in. It tells me there's a message but won't let me log in." "Because you're using the wrong PIN …
Simon Travaglia, 11 May 2012

BOFH: Dawn raid on Fort BOFH

bofh_pic You know, sometimes I wish someone just had the balls to say they want a new iPad cos it looks cool. That they have no clue of what the f$*# they’d use it for, but their kids think they’re great and they can’t be stuffed forking out the money themselves for one so they figure the company should just get one and save …
Simon Travaglia, 23 Mar 2012
Click here for the full BOFH range

BOFH: Moon landings, Pong and the case of the smoking server

"It's about your assistant," the Boss says, looking around carefully as he nods me into his office. "Yes?" "He told me something yesterday. Something disturbing." "Oh, I wouldn't believe everything he says, he's prone to making outrageous statements. I mean the goat lived and the charges against him were dropped." "What …
Simon Travaglia, 17 Feb 2012

BOFH: The Cloud Committee Calamity

"Slipped in front of a bus. Fell FROM a bus. Fell in front a Circle line train. Jumped or fell off the Hungerford Bridge. Fell in front of a black cab. Jumped in front of a minicab; stepped into an open manhole; fell down some stairs; and crossed against the lights at Oxford Circus and was hit by a cab," the Personnel bloke …
Simon Travaglia, 10 Feb 2012
Click here for the full BOFH range

BOFH: The Explosive Christmas Evacuation

Everyone loves the last day. The prospect of holidays ahead always puts people in a good mood which in turn leads to generosity, indulgence and poorly-thought-through dalliances in front of recording devices. But more than that, in the season of goodwill those in the service side of the company get some recognition for the …
Simon Travaglia, 23 Dec 2011
Click here for the full BOFH range

BOFH: The day the office budget bombed – literally

“And this was the extinguisher here, was it?” the Health and Safety feeb asks. “That’s the one!” I say. “And you don’t know of any reason how it came to be filled with diesel instead of water?” “None!” the PFY lies. “But then it may have been like that when we took the building over!” Luckily the H&S droid isn’t likely to …
Simon Travaglia, 18 Nov 2011

BOFH: Licence to grill ... stupid users

... "Hello, You're speaking with Simon – or rather, Version 3.1 recurring" "Sorry?" my user asks. "Version 3.1 recurring. Speaking." "Can't you just give me Office 2003 back?" he whines. "Sorry, Office 2003 is ancient history – like calculator watches, white jeans for men and the expression 'snazzy'." "Why?" "It was …
Simon Travaglia, 11 Nov 2011

BOFH: We don't need no stinkin' upgrade

"But I just want to go back to the way it was..." my user whines. "What, when computers crashed every 10 minutes?" "No, I..." "Where the Print function acted more like the combination of the Hang and Discard Changes functions?" "NO, I JUST WANT MY MENU BACK!" "You mean you don't like the ribbon? It's new!" "I don't care …
Simon Travaglia, 04 Nov 2011

BOFH: Hordes unleashed... by a RAM upgrade

BOFH Volume 5 It’s the same old story – you make some tiny change and before you know it they're oozing out of the woodwork. You know who I'm talking about – the idiots. They notice that your signature uses Garamond instead of Times Roman and before you know it they're on the phone wanting to know if there's a new …
Simon Travaglia, 21 Oct 2011

BOFH: Where's my free fondleslab?

"Well it looks like the Company's doing well," the PFY says, handing over a glossy brochure. "Really - how do you figure?" I ask, giving the Company's annual report the once over. "The bottom line looks pretty flat as far as I can see." "I was just judging by the front cover - the limousine," the PFY says "Oh that!" I say, …
Simon Travaglia, 14 Oct 2011

BOFH: No, the Fabinocci sequence

"I'm just here to do the audit," a weedy bloke says, poking his head nervously into Mission Control. "What audit?" the PFY says, reading my mind. "The safety audit – surely they told you about it?" "No, nothing," the PFY responds. "Ah," the Weed says. "Well, I've got a checklist of all the accidents that have occurred in or …
Simon Travaglia, 23 Sep 2011

BOFH: I'll get my bonus even if it kills, well, someone

"Okay, so we'll just work our way through last year's review and then move onto this year's one," the Boss says, fingering a couple of chunky wads of paper. I hate review time. The only consolation I get from it is knowing that Bosses hate it as well. Everyone hates them - except for the drones from HR for whom this is …
Simon Travaglia, 16 Sep 2011
bofh_sidey

BOFH: Beer, shinies, death by fire, rats IN THAT ORDER

Not much surprises me about middle management any more, least of all their inability to prioritise. I mean the core router could have crapped itself, the HR & Financials databases might be offline a day before pay day and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse could be in the freight elevator pressing "2" yet some "compliance …
Simon Travaglia, 19 Aug 2011
bofh_sidey

BOFH: Axe handles - occasionally quite slippery

12:34:56am. Company Stores Wakeup trigger. . . 9 ... 8 ... 7 ... 6 ... 5 ... 4 ... 3 ... SELFTEST: OK 2 ... 1 Peripheral test ... USB Boot Media ... OK Panel ... OK Cameras ... Std:OK,Infra:OK,UV:OK 3D Directional Mic OK Hi Speed Steppers 1:OK,2:OK,3:OK,4:OK SERVOS 1:OK,2:OK,3:OK,4:OK Battery OK, level 67% Servo Saw OK …
Simon Travaglia, 22 Jul 2011
bofh_sidey

BOFH vs PFY: There can be only one (on the exes chit)

So the Boss has a bit of funding that he doesn't know what to do with. Okay, the Boss always has funding he doesn't know/understand what to do with, but this time it's different. The company has decided to allocate out "Professional Development" funds to key areas of the business to permit a staff member to receive advanced …
Simon Travaglia, 15 Jul 2011
bofh_sidey

BOFH: Drunken Time Lord

"It's only 1:30pm!" the PFY grumbles, looking up from his cellphone clock. "I know," I say. "It's that variable viscosity of time again." "The what now?" the PFY asks "The variable viscosity of time. You know, how the viscosity of time is inversely proportional to what you'd like the viscosity to be." "You’ve lost me." " …
Simon Travaglia, 01 Jul 2011
bofh_sidey

BOFH: CSI Haxploitation Cube Farm Apocalypse

“Can you just come here for a moment?” Ray - the brand spanking new Boss with the IQ of a pot plant - asks, ducking into Mission Control. The PFY and I follow – after all it’s a Friday morning and there’s an hour or so till the pub opens for lunch. “Can you tell me what happened here?” Ray asks, once he’s led us to the …
Simon Travaglia, 17 Jun 2011

BOFH: Ready for the Judgment Day

"THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY DEGREE FEEDBACK!" the PFY gasps "SOUNDS FANTASTIC!!!" "Really?" the Boss says doubtfully... "Somehow I thought that you wouldn't be all that keen." "Au contraire," the PFY responds. "We here and Systems and Networks are only too keen to know the thoughts and feelings of our clientele. We hope to match …
Simon Travaglia, 03 Jun 2011

BOFH: Attack of the Global Corporate Overlords

"There's going to be a takeover!" the PFY gasps, crashing into Mission Control. "I thought you saw them off the premises," I reply, "although quite what you sawed off you never made clear. Thanks for that." "No, the company – it's being taken over!" "Really? Says who?" "Says everyone. It's all over the building!" …
Simon Travaglia, 20 May 2011
Click here for the full BOFH range

BOFH: Every silver lining has a cloud

"Code Magenta," the PFY mumbles quietly as he wanders past me on the way to Mission Control. "Code Magenta!" the Director's PA repeats in hushed tones, unable to keep her nose out of things that don’t concern her – "What does that mean?" "It's a systems code about operational availability," I lie. "We have various codes …
Simon Travaglia, 13 May 2011
Click here for the full BOFH range

BOFH: People get annoyed when you try to debug them

"You know what I hate?" the PFY asks one morning, looking up from a sheaf of bright pink pages. "Oooh!" I say "I know this! Short people. Short MEN to be more precise. Short men in authority positions. Short men in authority positions and Mac users. Short men in authority, Mac users and the fact that NO programmable remote …
Simon Travaglia, 22 Apr 2011

BOFH: In distributed denial

"Is there... something wrong with the internet?" our user asks quietly. "No, no, pretty sure it's working fine," I say, looking over to the PFY's Bittorrent machine which is sucking up so much bandwidth it’s in danger of affecting the QoS of the phone system... "It's just that I can't seem to connect to my home email," the …
Simon Travaglia, 18 Mar 2011
bofh_sidey

BOFH: This buck's for you

“What’s this?” the Boss snaps, pushing several sheets of paper over the desk at me in an annoyed manner. “Ah! Memo two thousand and eleven dash one dash one,” I reply, “workplace resiliency.” “Yes, I can read the title, but what is it?” “It’s a memo outlining the things we should be addressing for systems and networks …
Simon Travaglia, 04 Mar 2011