back to article BOFH: Carbon neutrality

"What're they for?" the PFY asks as the Boss rolls in a trolley load of brightly coloured plastic bins. "They're for our recycling initiative," the Boss responds. "Red for plastic, white for paper, yellow for cardboard and blue for polystyrene." "What about glass?" the PFY asks. "Glass is to be sorted by colour into bins …


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  1. Ryan Bass
    Thumb Up

    Excellent stuff

    Can't beat some casual undermining of climate change.

  2. Roger Greenwood

    "yoghurt-eating fruitcake in a hemp suit and sandals"

    F*****g superb.

    I think I saw someone like this the other day looking far too eager in a working environment. Better hit the alarm button quick.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    The definition of a REAL computer

    "A REAL computer has ONE speed and the only powersaving it permits is when you pull the power leads out of the back!" I blurt. "In fact, a REAL computer would have a hole in the front to push trees into and an exhaust pipe out the back for the black smoke to come out of."

    Sir, I salute you - that paragraph is pure, comic gold.

    Anyone know a good way of getting coffee out of keyboards? :-)

  4. Bob

    Ever notice...

    that when spokem Kick and Kcik sound the same? this reverse nastiness might have something to it ;)

  5. brimful

    Carbon neutral computing.

    Graphite conducts electricity

    Graphite is a form of carbon

    Computers need electricity

    Brainwave - Make the computers out of carbon thus making your computer carbon neutral.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    I want a REAL computer!

    Brilliant, the line about stuffing trees into a hole in the front that had me in tears with laughter :)

  7. Nick Palmer
    Thumb Up


    Cruelty to smug enviro-hippies should be on the list of sports to be added for Beijing...

  8. David Abbott

    But what about...

    ... all the carbon they'll use getting to the other side of world to undo all the nastyness.

    It's a worry ;-)

    Now what the hell am I going to do for the rest of day, oh look it's pub o'clock already!

  9. Anonymous Coward


    Loving the explanation of carbon credits - completely agree.

    Still, unlike the BOFH not to spot an opportunity here. Surely he would be setting up a company like Carbon Analysis Support Holdings (or its friendly acronym for the cheques) and making a mint out of the boss?

  10. John Wills

    Best one yet...

    ... and I've read them all

  11. Rosuav

    And of course...

    ... Simon and Steven will have to go around the world to do their unkicking etc. Will they fly? Will they carbon-offset the flight? Except... flying is neutral already, because you balance one takeoff with one landing!

  12. Jamtits
    Paris Hilton

    Carbon credits sounds like a modern karma system

    Just with pseudo science bollocks instead of mystical bollocks.

    I'll take the former, hemp usage in those religions involves more than making mere suits out of it.

    Paris because this BOFH made me philosophical, and so does Paris.

  13. Steve

    Trees, shmees...

    My computer runs on kittens!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Is that the boss or the PFY?

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Carbon neutrality

    At the risk of sounding like a "yoghurt-eating fruitcake in a hemp suit and sandals", recycling has a pretty minimal impact on net carbon emissions.

    Recycling relates to the availability of global resources, not climate change, so anyone who thinks that sorting your waste is "doing your bit" for global warming is sadly mistaken.

  16. Pete


    Steven is the PFY.

  17. Silvergunner

    This has to be the Truth about Green Computing

    "A REAL computer has ONE speed and the only powersaving it permits is when you pull the power leads out of the back!" I blurt.

    That sums up all the trouble i've had getting Vista to stop switching into Powersaving mode. Still, maybe the BOFH and PFY should have recommended switching the new 'carbon neutral' machines into "Hardware Power Saving Mode" - 115v instead of 230v.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @ ac's "recycling has a pretty minimal impact on net carbon emissions"

    One word. Aluminum. If you're going to tell me that the 90% reduction in electrical consumption for recycling as opposed to refining bauxite is minimal, on a metal we seem to be using everywhere, your definition of minimal is as exaggerated as Al Gore's minimal carbon use.

    I choose PH, as she is at least honest about her consumption.

  19. Carol Yates


    I never knew that the PFY was a Steven - I'd thought that he was a Wayne or a Jason - he's gone up in my estimation. Simon and Steven...has a trustworthy ring to it, don't you think? No way would people like this shaft you!

  20. Simon Ball


    You are aware that extracting resources usually requires energy - and in some cases, quite a lot of it - aren't you? For example, extracting aluminium from bauxite requires about twenty times as much energy as melting it down and re-casting it.

  21. Hans Mustermann

    Re: Brillant

    "Still, unlike the BOFH not to spot an opportunity here. Surely he would be setting up a company like Carbon Analysis Support Holdings (or its friendly acronym for the cheques) and making a mint out of the boss?"

    I think you'll find out that in the real world, that's usually already taken care of by someone higher up the corporate pyramid. The consulting company may be owned by some manager's wife, or son, or brother, or simply his best buddy's (best buddy being the one who splits the profits with him.) And probably also handles the carbon credits part at only 400% markup.

    You'd be surprised how many times things like those happen. And I don't just mean in pretending to be eco-friendly. I've seen pens and paper bought from some manager's wife's company at 10 times the cost you'd pay for them at the corner store. I've seen maintenance contracts in which some manager's best buddies (see the above definitions) got several hundreds of thousand a year as sort of a base price for the maintenance. As in, if they actually had to also provide support or do any changes, well, that's extra money. I've seen at least one project where the PHB _demanded_ graphics everywhere, even splattered across the tabs and as backgrounds for the forms, because he wanted to pay big money to his best buddy's graphics design company to make them. Etc.

    Basically, it's a myth that management is buying overpriced crap just because they're stupid and gullible. And that a small fish like the local sysadmin would just need to register a bogus company to get some of that money. In reality, 9 times out of 10, that facade of incompetence and of buying anything that the nice marketting guy hypes, is just a facade. The real story is one of corruption and dishonesty. They don't do it because they're stupid, they do it because they can syphon corporate money into their own pocket.

    So maybe the local sysadmin _could_ take part in that scam... if he offered to give half the profit back as a bribe, directly into the CEO's pocket. But even then, only as long as the CEO doesn't decide to cut the middleman and register a company for his wife doing the same thing.

  22. Robert Moore
    Thumb Up


    "My computer runs on kittens!"

    funniest thing I heae ever read. Started laughing, sprayed coffee everywhere, the boss is looking at me like I am nuts.


    I am off to order that as a bumper sticker.

  23. Tim

    Oh Boy

    That made me howl with laughter. Thank you.

  24. Jsmoran

    @ Hans Mustermann

    Well, in other companies this may happen, in THIS company CEO's wife/son/brother/best buddy would end up electrocuted with a cattleprod, or shut in the basement, or photographed naked, covered in raspberry jam while being licked and whipped by a leather-clothed, tattooed bodybuilder and the pics posted on some S&M porn site.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Best friends' company..

    @Hans, I've seen an entire IT department - including several dozen of Unix engineers - being forced to get their MCSE degree at a training center that was, incidentally, owned by a good friend of the new IT director.

  26. noodle heimer


    The best analogy I've seen for the whole carbon offset circle jerk is that it resurrects the ancient Medieval practice of buying Indulgences for Sins.

    No one understands how it works, the theology's rather muddled, and you have to deal with specially frocked invividuals to work it (nowadays, hemp and sandals)

    This applies also to the carbon trading schemes many in the US want to put into play as part of their, ahem, industrial policy every bit as much as it does to the lowly sobs who send off a few hundred a year in guilt money to offset visiting Granny on an airplane.

  27. RW


    "their MCSE degree"

    An MCSE is not a degree, nor are its holders engineers -- at least not in countries where "engineer" is a professional designation e.g. Canada, where "P.Eng" after your name really means something.

    Footnote: I'm not sure what the final outcome was, but when MS started touting MCSE in Canada as "Microsoft Certified Software Engineer", the P.Eng.s had a thing or two to say about this misuse of a jealously protected professional designation.

  28. Roland Volz
    Paris Hilton

    Another Opportunity Gone

    Agree in bulk, but I'm surprised the BOFH is against virtualization -- it makes remote IT troubleshooting a breeze and would allow him to work from the pub if set up correctly and he hid it from the Boss.

    Paris because it relates to not working for a living...

  29. Hans Mustermann

    @noodle heimer

    Actually, the most distasteful part about buying indulgences, was that you could plan ahead to sin and buy an indulgence for it. In fact, you could buy the indulgence in advance, and many a knight going to war did just that: stocked up on indulgences for rape and murder first.

    So in effect, it actually encouraged antisocial behaviour. The message wasn't "love thy neighbour" any more, it was equally acceptable and encouraged to buy an indulgence and then go kick your neighbour's arse.

    Whether intentional or not, it didn't encourage people to become better men and try to avoid temptation. You could just buy your indulgence, fully planning ahead that you're going to do a bit of murder, a bit of rape, a bit of adultery, etc, as soon as the opportunity presents itself. After all, if you already bought your indulgence, why would you want to even try to resist temptation? And if even the Lord doesn't find anything wrong with it once you bought your indulgence, why would you?

    Which pretty much applies to today's carbon trading schemes too.

  30. Nordrick Framelhammer
    Black Helicopters

    @Simon Ward

    I would suggest warming the keyboard rapidly uising a naked flame. Acetelyne works wonders in making sure that the coffee no longer makes your hands sticky with coffee and sugar residue and also prevents those annoying sticky keys.

  31. Kunal
    Dead Vulture

    Indulgences for Sins

    Honestly, the specific thing I see wrong with the carbon credit system that it allows companies to assume they have the illusion of some more time to get in gear, which they don't.

    The good thing is that emerging non-established infrastructures would have the funding to get it right in the meantime, which is of course, a very good thing.

    It's just phrased wrong. It's not a sin-balancing carbon offset. It's a carbon tax claiming mechanics in a "free" market. I wish it were implemented as such.

  32. Brian Miller

    I have a real computer

    It weighs 105lbs, chews down 10A at 120V, and runs HP-UX. Ah, the Hewlett-Packard PA-RISC dual proc J2240 workstation! (No, I don't leave it running all the time.)

  33. Anonymous Coward

    ...and carbon offsets leads to a whole new slogan

    riffing off of an old tootsie pop commercial:

    "How many bong hits does it take to get to the center of your marketing strategy?"

  34. Anonymous from Mars

    Cleaning a keyboard

    Easiest way to clean a keyboard is to (1) wash in on the top rack of a dishwasher, then (2) let it dry for five days. It's worked perfectly for me. If there's a lot of fur and hair in your place, you may also want to get some tweasers to pull out all the clumped fur / hair.

  35. john


    One example, aluminum, doesn't negate the point. For the most part recycling has little to do with carbon reduction. In most cases resource extraction, working on a large scale, is less carbon creating than collecting and processing everyones little box of recycled goodies.

    In the case of paper and cardboard, harvesting opens up huge carbon sinks. Young, growing trees absorb far more carbon than mature trees. In this case recycling has a negative effect on carbon reduction.

    Does it save carbon to recycle glass or plastic? I doubt it. Those are probably at best carbon neutral compared to extraction.

  36. David Cuthbert

    The black smoke...

    ... is liberating carbon so that trees can absorb it!

  37. Nathanael Bastone

    @ Anonymous Coward

    "Still, unlike the BOFH not to spot an opportunity here. Surely he would be setting up a company like Carbon Analysis Support Holdings (or its friendly acronym for the cheques) and making a mint out of the boss?"

    Hilarious! you should be writing these! "oh, just make it out to C...A...S...H"

  38. John Griffiths

    Carbon Credits

    The best thing about carbon credits if you're Bono or a PM is that they let YOU continue living exactly as you did while forcing those less well off to bear all the pain.

    I'm sure they weren't looking for such a solution but it's handy that it came up!

  39. Simon Harris


    "Brainwave - Make the computers out of carbon thus making your computer carbon neutral."

    That day might yet come - the carbon transistor already exists:

    Hmmm... and to think back in 1981, I suggested to my chemistry teacher that since germanium and silicon were used as semiconductions, maybe carbon could be too, and he didn't take me seriously

  40. Richard Williams
    Dead Vulture


    You're going to have a fight to become carbon neutral in three years, seeing as how it's 2008 already ;) Unless the PFY has managed to create an unstable time vortex in the sub-basement. Now THAT'D be a good place to get rid of evidence!

  41. William Gallafent


    Glass recycling generates less CO2 than making new glass from raw materials.

    Plastic recycling generates less CO2 than making new plastic from raw materials.

    Or see wikipedia or other obscure and difficult to find references.

  42. alex

    We're dooomed

    As the BFOH prolly knows - we are all dooooomed anyway. The dinosaurs did jack shit about it and neither will we!

  43. Mark

    @Nick Palmer

    Surely they'd only be smug environmentalists when we were all doing what they asked?

  44. Anonymous Coward

    Soot is good

    All of the marketing speak has got people confused - it is CO2 and Methane that are bad, soot is just fine - it doesn't rot into Methane, and is unlikely to become CO2 either!

  45. Karl

    Other metals

    If it's so much easier to create a mine, dig up the ore, refine it, transport it accross half the planet, and throw it away - why do people go through the bother of recycling lead from a church roof?

    Random statistic: Manufacturing a computer chip uses 80% of the energy used in its lifetime.

  46. Alan Esworthy

    @Simon Ward

    I have found the best keyboard cleaning solvent to be ETOH (ethyl alcohol) at 40% concentration by volume with water, produced from fermented wheat, distilled in a copper kettle, and filtered through charcoal. Hold the keyboard upside down and spray the ETOH sparingly up into the keys. When the drips become clear, you are done. Note that ETOH is highly hygroscopic and will absorb water from the air and become diluted and useless after its original packaging seal is broken. Also, the fumes can be troublesome if the remainder is not kept well chilled. A convenient way to dispose of the unused portion is by ingesting it in refrigerated 40 ml glass beakers. HTH!

  47. Anonymous Coward

    The Hemp Suited Bastard

    Your all bad people and when the planet dies you'll be sorry!

  48. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    @ RW

    [quote]Footnote: I'm not sure what the final outcome was, but when MS started touting MCSE in Canada as "Microsoft Certified Software Engineer", the P.Eng.s had a thing or two to say about this misuse of a jealously protected professional designation.[/quote]

    ^^ It was actually "Microsoft Certified Systems Expert", and as far as I know nobody at Microsoft cared what the P.Eng.s thought of it, all my MCSE certificates say "engineer" on them. Even though I'm not an engineer!

  49. MHW

    @ RW

    You and the rest of your engineer buddies need to get over yourselves...BTW, what railroad do you work for?

    Feel the love!

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    perhaps you need to get off your arse and spend half a decade studying in university actually working to become an professionally qualified and registered engineer.

    then you can have your say on whether bin men can be called refuge engineers or other such feel good titles that 'should' be reserved for professionals.

    Being an engineer singles you out as a professional, just as being a chartered accountant does, or as a doctor does. that's why engineers are certified to counter sign passport documents and other official documents whilst bin men are not.

    real engineers get letters after their name

    such as

    Beng, Meng, EngTech, Ieng, Ceng... (not MSCE)

    those not qualified to have those letters are not engineers, they are technicians.

    On the other hand, personally I do think that to a certain extent engineers need to get over themselves, personally I got my education and certifications to further my career, not put letters after my name (I don't use my titles though I am entitled to).

    But telling me to get over myself when you and your non-qualified friends belittle my profession, education and professional titles that I worked hard to attain is just insulting.

    like I said, try and get yourself to the skill level where people call you an engineer because of your qualifications and titles, not just that you think you have the job of an engineer and so assume the title.

    incidentally, the definition of title is

    4. a descriptive or distinctive appellation, esp. one belonging to a person by right of rank, office, attainment, etc.:

    the title of engineer should only be applied to engineers.

  51. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Carbon neutrality

    The reality is that recycling saves on energy costs to create new products. Glass is made from silica; last time I checked, the beaches were full of the stuff, and there are plenty of other sources. Hardly a scarce resource. Plastic is made from petroleum, and there's no end in sight of that. Oh wait, scratch that last bit.

    As recent commercials here in the UK have pointed out, recycling a single aluminum can save enough electricity to power a TV or a refrigerator or some such. Or perhaps a REAL computer for a matter of seconds.

  52. Dave

    @Simon Harris

    ""Brainwave - Make the computers out of carbon thus making your computer carbon neutral.""

    "That day might yet come - the carbon transistor already exists:"

    "Hmmm... and to think back in 1981, I suggested to my chemistry teacher that since germanium and silicon were used as semiconductions, maybe carbon could be too, and he didn't take me seriously"

    Carbon is definitely a semiconductor. Even back when incandescent light bulbs were made with Carbon thread filaments, it exhibited semiconducting effects (The resistance decreased with increasing temperature.). Of course, for it to really be useful, it needs to be in a certain form (e.g., nanotube, or crystalline). Thus, we have diamond transistors:

    I can see the future now. Us geeks won't be asking each other how many gigabytes of memory our systems have, or what the processor speed is; we'll be asking each other how many carats our systems have in them. ;-)


    P.S. Think that'll get more women interested in IT? Err, I'll get my coat...

  53. mittfh
    IT Angle

    Re: keyboard cleaning

    Once when I was at Uni, I took a rather long-winded way around the issue...

    Unscrewed the keyboard, removed the top portion (leaving the base and plastic/rubber sheets behind), and gave it a good scrub in a bowl of hot and soapy water. I still wasn't satisfied with the extent to which the section under the keys was cleaned, so I carefully removed all the keys...

    Surprisingly enough, 24hrs later when the keyboard was completely dry and reassembled, it worked again. Needless to say, the hassle involved in that method makes it completely impractical for all but the most grimey keyboards!


    I've worked as a school IT tech since - imagine the delight of rearranging keyboard letters so they no longer spell out "interesting" words, or spending "holidays" unscrewing 300+ balled mice to clean the rollers because I'd previously superglued the ball compartment cover on to prevent pupils castrating the rodents...

    If I was still in school IT, I'd've been tempted to imagine the fun that would ensue if the BOFH paid a visit :)

  54. archie lukas


    Qoute: "The title of engineer should only be applied to engineers."

    What type of engines do you specialise in building / repairing?

    Historical definition ruleth

  55. Chris Tucker

    Lack of an MCSE notwithstanding...

    "Qoute: "The title of engineer should only be applied to engineers."

    What type of engines do you specialise in building / repairing?

    Contemporary Babbage Numerical Difference Engines, what else?"

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