Data Centre


BOFH: What's your point, caller?

Service within 48 hours... with a smile

By Simon Travaglia


Episode 7 "Well I'm... pretty sure I didn't get it!" the PFY says, motioning his mouse aimlessly around the screen for a bit while lazing back in his chair. "Have you tried rebooting your machine?"

So it's going to be one of those problem-resolution-free afternoons...

"Really? What about the network connection, is it plugged into the wall?" he asks...

"And your Outbox - does it have a number next to it?"


"What about your Drafts folder?"


"OK so if it's not in your Outbox and not in your Drafts folder then in theory it's in your >clickety< Sent Items folder?"


"Hmm. Right, so it's not in your Sent Items folder and not stuck in your Outbox then... perhaps you didn't send it at all?" ...

"Maybe you clicked the close window icon and then said Yes to discarding the draft?"


"Do you have Outlook configured to keep replies in the same folder as the original message? If so, maybe you replied to an EXISTING message in one of your folders rather than sending a NEW message and so the reply you sent will be in there instead? Perhaps you should check?"


Suppose for a moment you're a lazy IT bastard - like the PFY. Or Me. Suppose it's a Friday afternoon and some user rings you to ask why you haven't come up to his room with a new wireless keyboard and mouse 'like he asked you for a couple of days ago'. Suppose you didn't even order a replacement wireless mouse and keyboard - or maybe you did but it's not the specific ergonomic bluetooth one with the battery level LCD display that he asked for.

Suppose it is but you can't be stuffed taking it up to him because it's a Friday afternoon and you don't want to risk getting dragged into some other problem like reconfiguring it to work with his TomTom as well.

Suppose he reminds you about that ridiculous IT service level agreement which says we'll aim to resolve all calls within 48 hours - a service level agreement widely distributed by an ex-Boss who was himself resolved within 48 hours of creating the agreement in the first place...

Obviously the first step is to deny ever receiving the message, closely followed by the second >clickety< step of deleting the message from the user's Sent items folder.

"Perhaps the faulty keyboard or mouse that you were just talking about that cancelled the message?" the PFY suggests


"Did you maybe send it from your phone and not your desktop?"


"What about the message size? Was it bigger than 25 Meg? Maybe you added some pictures to it which pushed the size over the edge? Or a video?"


"Maybe you only thought you typed the message?" the PFY asks kindly - in the tone of voice we reserve for the special cases.


"Absolutely! If you're sure you sent it I can >clickety< look through our mail server logs? When do you think you sent it? A day and a rough time would be help? ...

"OK, let me take a look. >TAPPITY< >TAP< >TAP< >CLICKETY< >TAP<. Hmmm, I'm not seeing anything. Well, not to us leastways. I see an email from you to security, 5334 bytes earlier that day, a response from them about an hour later - which is a bit of a record for them - and another email from you back to them of 12884 bytes two minutes after that, but nothing else."


"Well I don't know what to say. Have you maybe been under a lot of pressure recently?"


"No, no, of course not - but we do have to ask. What about drugs and alcohol - is that all finally under control?" ...

"What? No, I wasn't implying anything! I was just thinking - you know - memory lapses, twilight years, dead end job, no respect from your peers - sometimes these things can weigh on a man... ... Oh, he's hung up!"

And now the PFY is a hive of activity - out of his desk, bustling around the office like a madman, hitting up the scanner, the coffee machine and finally his desktop.


The PFY's activity is suspended by the appearance of the Boss who, it has to be said, is looking a little tired.

"Alright, which of you was dealing with Tom from Marketing?" he sighs lifelessly.

"Tom?" the PFY says "He said his name was John!" "I... no, it was definitely Tom. He sent you an email about a new keyboard and mouse."

"He didn't send the email," the PFY lies. "I know, I've checked."

"He says he did."

"He's looked in his Sent Items and Outbox and I've checked the server logs - nothing."

"You know what I think?" I say.

"What?" the Boss asks, visibly bracing himself for something he's pretty sure he's not going to want to hear.

"I think we should be doing random drug testing. I think a lot of these problems would be solved if we just looked a bit more carefully at the problem callers. There would certainly be a lot less memory failures."

"How about you just call him back instead?"

"Well I could, but I can't see how it will help." the PFY says, punching in the last-number callback button.


"So you dropped your keyboard and the battery holder has broken and the keyboard only works when you hold the battery in by hand?"


"Okay, well that seems a perfectly reasonably request - how about you send us a message about it?" the PFY says "as we like to resolve these problems within 48 hours?"


"We could, but we'll have to order one on Monday which should be here by Wednesday so with any luck we'll hit our service level and deliver it next Friday afternoon."


"I understand. Okay, well bye for now then and we'll be over to see you next week!"





Or not, as the case may be.

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