Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/08/08/bofh_2008_episode_27/

BOFH: Smash + grab

RIP an awful lot of hardware

By Simon Travaglia

Posted in BOFH, 8th August 2008 11:08 GMT

Episode 27 The long-awaited weekend has almost arrived! The migration of the server room to the new site and the transfer of our 'crucial' services to the successful tendering party (ie our ghost facility) is about to commence.

"But I still don't see why we need to pay a data transfer fee!" the Boss whinges.

"Because they'll need to put a high speed link into the building for the weekend to enable them to transfer out data to the new hardware," the PFY says, never one to miss an opportunity to gouge the company for an extra couple of hundred quid. "Otherwise they'd have to copy over the VPN link, and that'd take days to complete."

"Why do they need to take a copy anyway?" the Boss whines. "They're taking the servers with them!"

"It'll save on recovery time if the servers get damaged in transit," the PFY says.

"But surely that's their problem?" the Boss says. "In any case why don't we just buy more tapes and you two backup the systems before they go?"

"It's the least costly option," I respond, not wanting to spend a Friday night at work pretending to backup data just to claim the overtime. "If you were to pay us overtime it'll work out to be more expensive than putting the temporary data link in."

And so it goes. The work the PFY and I are putting into convincing the Boss that he should pay us some lager money is starting to be more effort than we first thought. It's getting to the point that one of us is likely to say...

"You're right!" the PFY snaps. "I'm sure nothing will go wrong. We'll say no more about it!"

"Yes," the Boss concurs. "After all, we're dealing with professionals now."

. . . Later that night . . .

>Crash!< >C-Crash!< >Bang< >Crash<

...

>Bang!< >Crash< >Kerash< >Clatter!<

...

>Crash!< >Crunch!< >Bangity< >Crash!<

. . . Early the next morning . . .

"W-what happened?" the Boss gasps, surveying the wreckage at the bottom of the stairwell - a pile of computer hardware and cases liberally salted with inventory stickers removed from the premium servers we moved to the ghost facility, along with a selection of computing hardware picked up from the local Oxfam shop.

"Bit of a trolley disaster," I shrug. "I was on the front and the PFY was on the back when one of the castors fell out of its socket."

"What the hell were you doing carrying the computers down the stairs in the first place?!"

"The freight elevator was in use with the furniture."

"I... this is going to be an insurance job," the Boss whimpers, looking at the crushed equipment.

A couple of hours later an annoyed insurance rep shows up, and things start looking a little hairy. Instead of looking blankly at the rubble and reaching for the chequebook, he starts sorting things into their component piles. While the mess - the guts of half a dozen inkjet printers, several 10 meg hubs, a pile of old servers, a broken portable air conditioner (the PFY was 'in the zone'), and two filing drawers of ISA cards (still in the filing cabinet - the zone is infectious) - might be enough to dupe the Boss into believing that half the contents of the computer room have done a two-floor freefall, this bloke isn't fooled as easily.

"Hmmm" he says, doing the full CSI workup on the stairwell bannister. "Yes..."

"What?" the Boss asks.

"Just a moment," he says, climbing some more stairs. "Mmmmm..."

"What is it?"

"Well, let's see," he says. "I can see from the marks on the wall and on the bannister suggesting that the servers fell a completely different way to the networking gear. And the filing cabinet fell another way altogether. At first glance it would look like someone had simply... thrown all this equipment off the 2nd floor landing, and that no accident took place at all."

"Are you absolutely sure?" the PFY asks, waving his money machine card out of the Boss's line of sight.

"Er... as I said, at first glance you'd think that was the case - and that the wreckage at the bottom of the stairwell was just the usual end-of-life crap that only ever gets moved anywhere when an IT crowd has to vacate their workspace - but I'm not so sure. I'll need to take a better look. And I'll need your technical people to give me a hand with the investigation. Perhaps we could meet up again in... ten minutes?"

...Ten minutes and one extortion (so large it verged on being proctology) later...

"Yes, well I think we've sorted it out and we'll accept your claim," the agent says, while patting a large lump of the PFY's cash safely stashed in his pocket. "It obviously happened as they described and you've lost several expensive top-of-the-line servers. This >scribble< is your accept claim number, which I've rung through to our 24-hour line so you should be able to replace the kit as of Monday. So if there's nothing else..?"

"Only my laptop," the PFY says. "The trolley ran it over - which was what caused the castor to fall off the trolley."

"Sigh. OK. I'll take a quick look before I go."

"It's just up here..." the PFY says, disappearing up the stairs.

The Boss has barely begun to discuss what we'll do with the insurance money when our conversation is interrupted by a >crash!<

"What was that?" the Boss gasps.

"Well, I'm no expert," I say. "And I'm not up with the insurance game. But I think that sounded like... a tragic accident?"