back to article BOFH: New toys

"What's the timeframe on the install of that videoconferencing device?" the Boss asks, bowling into Mission Control, dressed, as the saying goes, like a pox doctor's clerk. "Yeah, good," the PFY says looking up from the assorted pieces of hardware on his desk. "No, I wanted the timeframe till it's in place, not a status." " …


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  1. Rob

    Nice to know...

    ... I'm using the same tricks as the professionals :)

  2. Michael Sheils

    Good job

    But when will the boss's learn not to question there collective greatness?

  3. Harald Paterek

    Reminds me of this new kit we got in college

    I went to college in the States and participated in the Student Government. One day we got a new PC with Windows 3.11 on it. The computer shop delivery guy asked the small crowd present: Who is in Engineering College? A few hands went up. We were sternly admonished not to take the thing apart...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the name of science

    It would be wrong not to take something cool apart.

    I recently spent £20,000 on some test equipment, it would have been wrong not to have seen how it worked!


  5. Dave

    RE:Taking Things apart

    It's Tech Law!

    You have to take new things apart, "No user serviceable parts" - yeah, pull the other one!

    For starts im not a LUser anyways, then they always have stuff you can fiddle with - i fixed an old tape deck ones with a piece of string(!)

  6. call me scruffy

    No User Servicable Parts...

    I remember one vendor who routinely published field change notifications.

    Sure you COULD take it to a field service office and get it fixed free of charge, or you could download the handy-dandy guide from the vendor's own site, kiss your warranty good bye and break out the iron.

    The only "NUSP" label I ever saw was on a SMPSU... I took that at it's word.

  7. Byron "Jito463"

    I think I've lost my roots

    I got into computer repair because I loved to tear things apart and find out why they worked. Anymore, I don't really do that stuff. I think I need to get back to my roots and start ripping stuff apart again.

    Now where did I place that drill...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This could be the reason...

    why so many manufacturers use black hot glue to fill or at least cover the pcb of the device after assembly. Good examples are the newer xbox360 consoles. They tamper and chipping proof and perfectly unrepairable...

  9. Trygve Henriksen

    Lucky bugger, getting kit built by pros...

    I've been busy racking a HP VSL-system this week...

    The SAN-switch, the UPS and the VSL-controlelr all went in without problems, but...

    I had to TAP the holes in the side of the drive-array because someone at the factory forgot to do it...

    Also, the crates...

    (It came in two crates, one with the VSL and the other contained a 14U rack)

    They were probably stacked on top of each other when they left HP, but were of course separated before they arrived.

    I wonder why the 'Shock-patch'(75G) and the 'Tip'n Tell' stickers were all on the crate with the empty rack?

    Incidentally, the original 'Proliant DL360' logo was left in the box the VSL-controller arrived in. (Saved me from opening it to find out what kind of kit it really was)

  10. Gavin


    yeah i do that to all our new servers, my boss has now resorted to hiding the screwdrivers when we get new kit.

  11. Stu

    Just annother day in the office

    At the begining of the week, our shipment of several new blade servers arrived.

    The whole tech team reached for their screwdrivers and took one each.

    2 trusted hours later, 5 blades are put back together, installed and almost configured as the rookie of the team bursts into the server room almost in tears mumbling "How can we put this back in there!!???".


    And there went our spare budget this quarter.

  12. Michael Born

    And new kit is not user serviceable

    Personally speaking, when it comes to 'NEW' kit, I feel techincally OBLIGED to take the bastard apart to check what it does/how it works!

    However, I know several hundred 'Service Engineers' (Spanner jockeys) who would bakl at getting a screw driver out to open thier flies!!!

    MY best one was taking a Xerox Phaser apart for a laugh, and then watching the workshop teams trying to put it back together again (while I held the main mounting to the fusing assmebly behind my back!!!)

    Oh how wonderful those days were - Now with the advent of rivets, it means you just have to change your spanner/screw-driver for a cordless drilll and cover the unit with a pillow to drown the noise out!!!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dynamic Duo getting soft

    I think the BOFH and the PFY need another round at the helldesk. A lot more equipment has been screwed over than people this year.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    'The only "NUSP" label I ever saw was on a SMPSU... I took that at it's word.'


    That's how you tell the men from the boys.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Of course, every engineer does this, the more expensive the kit, the quicker it comes apart!!

    Manufacturer repair centres are too slow, so you fix the kit yourself and it's always better to know what it SHOULD look like before it dies... that's my excuse and I'm sticking with it.

    My boss actually bought a DV camera a couple of years ago with the sole reason of recording taking kit apart so we know which screw goes where!!! How many times has it been used for this purpose? It's a lot easier to just claim "oh, those were the spare screws which the manufacturer supplied, they don't actually DO anything".

    Oh, we also have a drill to hand constantly... if nothing else, screwdrivers are just too damn slow (even electric ones)!

    And no-one can claim to be an engineer without a bare minimum of: soldering iron burns, lacerated thumbs (wire cutters are for wimps), and the experience of mains electric shocks (yes, plural), and HT shocks.

    Maybe not that last one these days - TFTs just don't compare to the bang you get from a 21+" CRT HT lead!!!

    And don't forget the old adage of "experience is directly proportional to the amount of equipment ruined"

  16. Tom

    Proper equipment for a good engineer

    Includes a pocket screwdriver (like the one I have) right next to the ball point pen and sharpie marker in my pocket. Always at the ready!

    Any good engineer has ready access to these things.

    The real skill is the re-assembly to return the "defective" items to the store to get a replacement item to properly "fix".

    No user servicable parts - bah - I'm no user!

    Please remember to use caution around mains voltages. For some reason they activate human reflexes much more violently (*SIGH*)

  17. John Watts


    OK, at face values it's true - servicing a hard drive isn't really viable, ditto for motherboards, processors and all of the other bits that the kit's made of - but you can still service the whole thing by replacing the unservicable parts!

    That said you can replace a leaky capacitor on a motherboard (if you are hardcore - I'm not!), unbend the pins on a processor (well you could on a 486, but then of course it was me that bent them in the first place whilst farting about) and (not really applicable to new kit) you can always resort to the sharp tap with a hammer to unstick stuck heads on a dying drive to do that back-up you should have been doing regularly.

    In any case it's not like you can actually 'use' the kit whilst you've got it open so NUSP can be safely ignored as it's a paradox.

    That said you'll be pleased to know that old IBM 486s could withstand sweat dripping off my nose onto the board whilst running - water-cooling anyone?

    They don't make 'em like they used to.

  18. Alex

    Pork Scratchings in the packing is so right

    Many years ago the company I worked for was taken over by one of the biggest Taiwanese Plastics & Rubber manufacturers. Soon we received some new plastic phone cases manufactured by our new parent company so we could review them.

    We unpacked them and the packing consisted of condoms that had failed quality control, luckily before the lubricant had been applied. Gave us a laugh anyway.

  19. Steve Sherlock

    No user SERVICEABLE parts

    I never claimed to be servicing it - I'm just seeing how it works...

    My 8 month old son is walking in my footsteps too. He looks FAR too natural with a screwdriver in one hand and a 20 quid electric toy of some sort in the other.

  20. Gregg Bond

    Warrantee Void Stickers

    ....are also known as fun reduction seals.

  21. Antony Pearce

    I remember just the opposite

    We once had a delivery arrive from SUN consisting of about 30 separate boxes. My mate and I grabbed screwdrivers and static straps and set to work. Pretty soon there was one system sitting in front of us with Solaris being installed.

    The next day, SUN rang up to organise an engineer to set it up... we said it already was and boy did they get confused...

  22. Hugh_Pym

    I remember...

    ...having the job of putting NT server, etc. on a new IBM server for a client. When I got to the office there was a stack of about 20 separate boxes and a 200 page instruction manual, Old school style.

    Still, the instruction manual made a useful paperweight to stop the packing manifests blowing away when the case fans started up.

  23. Morten Ranulf Clausen


    "That said you'll be pleased to know that old IBM 486s could withstand sweat dripping off my nose onto the board whilst running - water-cooling anyone?"

    I once ripped open my thumb on a graphics card while doing stuff to a RAID controller in a machine of that ilk (the dip switches had a tendency to shift by themselves so I was trying to glue them down without turning the machine off - downtime was not appreciated). The blood poured freely (I kid you not - I didn't know I had a major artery in my thumb but I must have*) so for a while that computer was blood cooled. Now tell that to young people today and they won't believe you.

    * OK, so maybe there wasn't much more than a few millilitres but it looked impressive. On the table and the floor and my T-shirt too. Still got the scar. Ah, the memories of battles past...

  24. Eric Dennis

    "Tamper proof"?

    This reminds me of how laptop computers use to have hex screws so that the average user could not open them to attempt to repair their own machine. I learned how to repair computers by taking them apart. First thing I do when I get one is open the case and see what's there. I managed to repair my own Dell Laptop (out of warranty) with this knowledge.

    Cheers Mates!!


  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I find it somewhat frustrating the frequency that service techs get referred to as engineers, or indeed refer to themselves as engineers. None of the service 'engineers' that I have ever dealt with would have the faintest idea of how to design the hardware that they are working on. The term Engineer is earnt by achieving the university qualification and accreditation to make you an engineer. It took me over 4 years to earn my engineering degree. I find it frustrating that the term is so over-used that you can now never be sure of the level of person you are dealing with in an organisation. "Oh I'll get one of our engineers to talk to you" doesn't necessarily mean that you'll be speaking to someone with the level of understanding that a true engineer would have. It could be someone that just started working there 12 months ago and has used a screwdriver a few times...

    It annoys me that people are allowed to call themselves engineers when they are not. After all, there are serious fines for calling yourself a doctor when you have no formal qualifications.

  26. Steve Evans

    Essential tools

    I've found the modern mobile phone camera is an essential tool when pulling new stuff apart... Far easier than trying to remember or document where things plug back in.

    The PFY should try this in future, it would have saved his miss-aligned daughterboard.

  27. dreadful scathe

    seen Heroes?

    not enough engineers on tv - but i did like the bit in Heroes when "Mika" immediately took apart his brand new laptop - we can all hope that we get so good at what we do it seems like a super-power ;)

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Swiss Army Knife -

    always at the ready. I do all the really technical stuff at work - some people look amazed when you unscrew something, change a jumper or part or reconnect a wire and get it running again. Black magic! I think technical staff training has been really dumbed down as of late.

    I upgrade my own Macsand Suns, saving myself a fortune.

    Nick m0NjP

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    REAL Engineers

    Real engineers are the mechanical / electronics craftsmen who can walk up to a piece of gear they have never seen before & figure out how it works (and fix it if needed).

    The majority of 'University Engineers' don't have a clue where to start with real-world factory machinery or control systems, quite a bit of which is probably older than they are..

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