back to article BOFH: The bastard wants to know

IT is a complex business and let's face it, hard to keep up with. At some stage in your career you're going to pass the point of no return where the next technological leap means as much to you as human rights to a defence contractor. But have you passed this point already? Are you just pretending to be the IT expert that you …


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  1. Tony Barnes


    No story this week then...?

  2. Mark Cavanagh

    bastard user from hell?

    The other day I was searching for older episodes of BOFH, and came across this:

    Any thoughts? Personally, after 2 or 3, I gave up on it, as it just seems... a rip off, and a very nasty one at that.

    More proof that you can't beat a good bofh!

  3. amanfromMars Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    New Beginnings, BOFH. The bastards want to know

    Thank God for Shredders, Simon. :-)

    PS..... What's a Shredder?

  4. andy gibson

    The answer to Question 6

    should be "A ZX Spectrum"

  5. Chris Purcell

    "it's functionality"

    Okay, Dan, I'm only gonna sing this one more time: Ohhhhhhh, If you want it to be possessive, it's just "I-T-S," but if it's supposed to be a contraction then it's "I-T-apostrophe-S." Scallywag.

  6. Alastair Dodd

    Strangely enough

    as I started replying the shredder started working on it's own and ran for a couple on minutes...

  7. Rosuav

    Blue pill? Bah!

    Sorry, too late, I already took the red pill. And put it in the shredder.

  8. Nazlfrag


    Ah, the old 'Give it a couple of slaps on the side and say it's probably a loose wire. Then get someone to phone the help line.' I call it the Fonzie method. Just remember to give a big thumbs up and make an elongated monotonous droning sound when you slap it. Note - this method fails on junior executives and their ilk.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    I took the blue pill

    Some of these questions were missing the real answer, like "it'll take a month, then file it in the shredder, when they come asking in a month make something up"

    Anyway, I took the blue pill

    I particularly liked the bit on the left of the results page that says "[an error occurred while processing this directive]"

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I work for the MOD

    We have a really really good shredder...

  11. Christopher A Light
    IT Angle

    Are you faking it?

    What sort of bloody stupid question is THAT?

    I mean, is there ANY other way?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Shredder's a bit quaint

    We're a paperless office here ducks.

    Meeting requests, policy documents, anything from the Corporate Data Integration Doomed Project just disappear without trace. Exchange server must've been on the blink again, mustn't it?

  13. Bart Wempe

    Missing something..

    I don't know, but I miss something in the answer lists..

    It's unrealistic to expect the various Management Monkeys mentioned in the poll to have expired by Darwinian Selective Force ( there's no shredder in the world big enough..), but I do miss the educational and satsfying "Bzzzéééért!!" option.

  14. Adam

    I got the blue pill ....

    and it tasted Goooood!

  15. Tom

    Programming Languages...

    Pre-date the VCR. Maybe the last should be something like:

    Fortran II on the IBM 1620 (a long time ago for me!). Then again I'm dating myself...

  16. Andy Taylor
    Thumb Up

    We don't hsve a shredder

    We have "confidential document handling". This is basically a big wooden box with a slot in the top. You put your paper in the slot and it slides down a slope then drops into a bag. Every week or so someone comes around, takes the bag out to a big shredder mounted in the back of their van. I think I've spotted a small flaw in this process...

    I looked at the Bastard User From Hell and it is rubbish.

    Also, does anyone else remember a similar BOFH offering (Are you a real Service Engineer?) where many of the "D" answers were: "I have everything I need in my car"? I can't find it anywhere :(

  17. Steve

    Shredder should be the only option

    Honestly, I think at some point I just started looking at the idea, shredding everything they hand me, and doing it the way I think is best, but first I tell them a budget based on how they wanted it done, then tell them it needs twice that to be reliable (redundancies you know) then do it my own way for half the original price and sink the rest into some fresh bits of kit for my gaming server nestled between the shop server and office mail server. (the front looks suspiciously like a bank of ethernet with several dozen wires plugged in and dissapearing into a wall, what it really has in it is my gaming server with a faceplate and plugs from an old cisco routing box with the LEDs plugged into the game servers HD and power LED wires, and the cabling goes into the wall and ends about an inch farther in a knot... I love it.)

  18. Chris Fleming

    Wot day is IT?

    "If u can't blind them with BS the baffle them with science" or is that the other way around. Cannot remember... 49 yrs old and still in IT, ahhhhhh!!!!

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The problem with multiple choice

    Especially multiple choice when given a fairly random group of self-selected pollees is that most of the questions can't be honestly answered by anyone ... For example, the following is honest:

    1: I am that consultant ... My internal network is just fine, TYVM.

    2: I never talk to marketing types[i] ... Hype bores me.

    3: Ordered THREE MONTHS AGO? I reject it at the dock as it's likely slow, weak, small and expensive compared to today.

    4: If it happened, all of the above. However, see 1, above.

    5: In 30+ years it hasn't happened yet ... Probably won't anytime soon. Parts is parts. Sure, they mutate a bit, but most changes haven't been all that radical, year to year. Or even decade to decade, for that matter. Smaller and faster and more powerful, certainly. But different? Not really.

    6: I'm not a programmer. I can fix b0rken code, mind, but I'm not artistic enough to come up with new code more complex than simple filters.

    7: A (and the only "question" that I can answer honestly, given the choices ...)

    8: See 1, above.

    9: Equally split between A and B. Also, see 1, above.

    10: See 1, above.

    [i] Although I do play with telemarketers, when the mood suits me.

    P.S. Please lose the icons. This isn't AOL or MSN.

  20. Chaitanya


    Sad - after all of the BOFH's adventures we come down to simply shredding the document, and not... exterminating the source of the problem.

    Think 'locking in the tape safe'. Think 'halon'. Think 'pushing off the window on to a skip full of crushed glass'. Think 'locking in the comms room'. Think 'fat manager with cactus plants falling into an open lift'. Think 'overvoltage cattle prod'. Thin.... BZZEEEERRTT



    Some sarcastic comments:

    Tom: Programming.... wait is that something like VI? Oh, PEARL, I think its ... 30th anniv? - now THATS programming

    Steve: Just be sure you don't have anyone from your company reading this

    Chris: I'm 22, and still OUT OF IT!!

    Thanks for being a good lard & chip buttie and reading all the way down here!!

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Question 1 definitely had an answer missing...

    Take one look at the report, realise that the consultants are trying to maximise their profit; get some other experts in.

    Never mind the blue pill, pass the gin.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    I know the one you mean

    "If you can't astonish them with brilliance, baffle em with bullshit, as I recall.........."

  23. Sceptical Bastard

    Paperless? No problem

    Quote: "We're a paperless office here ducks."

    The Guttman algorythm is your friend. Or a degausser.

    As a last resort, a 2am accident with peroxide/hydoxyl, five gallons of petrol, a 9V battery, and a cheap alarm clock takes care of inconvenient data - but remember to take your valuables out of the office the day before.

  24. Steve Cooper

    @Mark Cavanagh BUFH

    Just read the whole sorry 12 episodes - seems pretty old (talk of megs of space being useful).

    It's really crap actually - don't bother reading them anyone!

  25. Aubry Thonon


    What kind of BOFH questionnaire is this? "Shredder"? *That's* the best you could come up with? Where are the "seemingly accept what's happening but arrange it so someone else will get the blame while I get the money" options? *THOSE* would be proper BOFH responses.

  26. Douglas Norton

    Not a shredder in sight

    This morning PFY is industriously re-virginizing the third of seven bricked iPhones he bought from eBay.

    "Good idea of yours." This is a begrudging admission, I should of thought of it myself. "Those phones will be great for sweetening a few deals."

    "I am going to give one to that new PA upstairs." The PFY is grinning at his blatant innuendo, "I think I am in with a chance there."

    Having failed to make first base with the very same PA the previous evening, I think not. I am about to offer to swap an iPhone for her mobile phone number, but just as I open my mouth to speak, there is a scraping sound from the door to Mission Control.

    The scraping is generated by the half dozen boxes of fanfold paper intentionally blocking the door, our early warning system. The simplest are the best.

    "Houston, we have a problem!". PFY scurries to hide his endeavours with a couple of ITIL manuals.

    "Hi, Boss." Perfectly faking his innocence, PFY ingratiates himself using all the skill's I've taught him.

    "I want you to set up this questionnaire. Put in on a web site and get everyone to fill it in."

    The Boss is not in the mood for idle conversation. He crashed and burned with the same PA.

    "No worries, I'll set it up for the day after tomorrow, Friday afternoon" promises PFY.

    "Why Friday afternoon?, can't you do it sooner."

    "Well no-one is doing any real work then, so they might as well use that time for filing this in."

    "We have a server side plug-in just made for questionnaires." My turn to get some credit. "We can use that."

    "OK, I do not need the results until Monday, just make sure it's done by then." Half satisfied, the Boss wanders off and we replace the early warning boxes. PFY ssh's into his fourth iPhone.

    "What's that questionnaire all about?"

    "Dunno, I'll take a look.". I flip over the cover sheet to reveal the nastiness below. "Crap, crap and double crap!"

    "It's all about departmental performance. Personnel, Accounts etc. It even includes IT Support."

    "What are you so worried about? We have not done anything wrong, lately." PFY does not seem to appreciate the gravity of the situation. "Our critics seem to be accident prone, they are all on sick leave."

    "This is a prelude to penalizing any under performers. This could be bad for us, or more importantly you."

    "I see." PFY now appreciates my concern. "You mean we could be downsized."

    "Yep, last in, first out - and that's you."

    Actually, I am more concerned than I am letting on. This could be bad for me too. PFY does most of the work. My speciality is supervision.

    "Don't get so stressed." PFY has a plan, Thankfully I know that look. I just need to work this to my advantage.

    "Spill it." I think I know what he is about to suggest here, but I want him to believe it was his idea.

    "Well, we'll set up the questionnaire with the answers in different locations for different people, so that if someone answer mostly 'A's. well swap the answers after the fact. We can put the answers we want in the 'A' position, and match that questionnaire with their answers, and so on and so forth."

    "Sweet." My hunch was right. I'll let him run with it a little more.

    "We will need to be careful so that we do not come out shining too brightly, but we can make sure our performance is better than the rest."

    "Excellent. Set this up and I'll make it worth your while." Now to go in for the kill. "By the way, I have the mobile number for that new PA upstairs, is it worth anything to you?"

  27. ViagraFalls

    The obvious answer to #1

    ... Should be of course that not only do you shred the report, but you fail to notice you "accidently" caught the consultatn's tie inbetween some of the pages.

  28. Richard Harris

    I Think I Messed Up...

    What happens if I took both pills???

  29. Mark Roome

    Its called the 3B rule

    Bullshit baffles brains.

    We consultants use it a lot.


  30. Fabrizio Marana

    As with any multiple-choice questions...

    ... life's definitely not black-and white:

    What if you ARE the consultant?

    What if you are the VENDOR?

    What if you are the boss and these young ne'er-do-well ENGINEERS didn't do their homework properly, didn't document why they need the BFM-2007 (Remember BFG2000?) except that it looks cool and shiny and they were impressed by the mumbo-jumbo by the vendor and you're not?

    OK, I see the point: coat, hanger, pint etc...

  31. Mostor Astrakan

    <heck> <spit>

    "6. With new languages coming out daily you find it increasingly hard to keep up. In fact, the last thing you remember programming successfully was:

    A. A PHP script

    B. A Visual C application

    C. A VB script

    D. A VCR, by waiting up till the program started and pressing record"

    What's with all this "Visual" crap? Where is Perl in this list? Definitely a quiz set up by a freakin' Gates-worshipper.

  32. Jon Minhinnick

    @ The 3B Rule

    In Latin...

    Excreta Taurii Sapientium Fulgeat

    Now, what's the Latin for "coat"??

  33. Michael Born
    Thumb Up

    When it comes to the paperwork

    I find that the best method is to stick it ALL in an envelope, then post it INTERNALLY to the HR department.

    They haven't got a clue on what to do with it, so they file in on some dweebs desk for about 3 months, then when "National-Tidy-Your-Desk-Day" comes around, things kinda take care of them selves.

    Anybody who requests feedback, I say I passed it to the relevant department for processing and hand them the HR Service Desk number!

    Works like a charm!!!

    Saves on the old leg-work of having to walk to the other side of the cube-farm to get to the shredder!!!

  34. Rich

    Google ads

    Are pointing me at 10 different shredder and document destruction companies for this page.

  35. Roland Korn
    Dead Vulture

    Ads? What Ads?

    Oh, right, you use that "other" browser without the Ad blocking.

    *shakes head in sympathy*

    That explains the blue checker board at the bottom of your desktop.

    I always found it useful to have the facilities guys take care of any off-site document storage. We can't have the office drones directly accessing those files or leaving the premises during business hours now can we. Funny thing though that we seem to have misplaced a few auditors over the years. Now why is facilities in need of so many odour eater insoles I wonder? Oh, they store a majority of it off-site you say? Now what would they need so much ..... uhm never mind .... Don't really need to know.

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