back to article BOFH: Back in the saddle

“How are you doing?” I say cheerfully, extending my hand in greeting to the two cabling guys that the beancounters got to shift some data cabling around – without telling us. “Clint and... John isn't it?” “Ay?” One of them says. “I'm Steve and this is Dave.” “My mistake,” I say. “I was obviously thinking of Clint Eastwood …


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  1. Danny
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    good old days

    ahhhhh, reminds me of the old stories, nothing strikes fear into a handful of insurgents like the threat of an overnight stay in the elevator (or a permanent stay in the airtight tapesafe for that matter).

    Thumb Up

    thats how you do it...

    gonna get me an axe!!

    nice one Simon, brilliance.

  3. Dr. Mouse
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    Absolutely top notch. Been a while since the bean counters were brought down a peg or two.

    Although I think there could quite possibly be a lift malfunction anyway shortly after the call out is authorised. Unreliable things, lifts, you never know....

  4. Alex
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    "And my iPod, he sniffs" i laughed so hard i peed a little =))

  5. JakeyC
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    “BT doesn't count!”

    Ah, how true.

  6. D@v3
    Thumb Up


    Yes, but why did you have to put an axe through my LCD monitor and my desktop machine?

    pure class, nearly made me choke on my sandwich.

    thumbs up coz there's no coffee on keyboard / choke on lunch icon

  7. Adam White

    Best of BOFH

    Muffin chokingly good.

  8. Eric Dennis


    Simon, you are my hero.

    You are a hero to millions of IT Techs world wide who only wish we could handle situations like you do. PRAISE THE LAWD FOR THE BOFH!!!! LOL!!!!!!

  9. Anonymous Coward


    >I was thinking more along the lines of 240 Volt up to 20 Amps

    I love the smell of fried beancounter in the morning.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Now that's just well out of order !

  11. Phil Standen
    Paris Hilton

    @Adam White

    Comments like that should have Paris icons :-D

  12. Simon B
    Thumb Up

    5 star

    Top stuff as ever :) keep up the good work :D

  13. Jon Beck

    He's Baack!

    Well done, and glad to see that the PFY and BOFH are both back into their correct supervisory roles!

    I was getting a little nervous about where they were headed, but with the new diggs, maybe we'll see new ground being broken in BOFH-dom?

    Here's to hoping!

  14. Trygve Henriksen
    Thumb Up

    Spliced Cat6?

    Remember those small clips that are sometimes used to splice phone cabling?

    When we renovated one of our locations, we found that EVERY BL**DY cable going out of the patch board was spliced with those up in the roof. And the splice was at the same place of all of them...

    On another location, we got the cable cowboys to pull a 4pair fibre cable between the server room and a comms cupboard in the other end of the building...

    The first pair had a broken wire...

    The second pair had the fibres swapped around...

    Never bothered to test the last two...

    Unfortunately, a bl**dy beancounter signed off on the contract before we in IT spotted the shoddy work...

    (A few of the Cat6 points never really worked, either. )

  15. Chika
    Paris Hilton

    OK, then. Here's another Paris icon...

    The only good beancounter is a baked beancounter! ;)

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cat 6?

    The BOFH has been mugged if he had a cat 6 system installed. Waste of money.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Another nice one

    240 at 20 Amps. That's Hot :D

  18. !!11oneeleven

    In the real world,...

    ...talking to cable cowboys like that will most probably get you a random tool >2Kg in the face.

  19. Sir Runcible Spoon

    Doobrey wotsit

    "BT doesn't count!"

    JakeyC: Ah, how true.

    AnonC: Now that's just well out of order !

    Which bit? BT?

    This is almost exactly the comment I would made had someone not already saved me the bother :)

  20. psini
    Paris Hilton


    A "baked" or a "naked" beancounter?

  21. Ogberi

    BOFH Mugged?!

    Never! The paperwork clearly states that the wire is cat6, as does the sheathing of the wire. It's amazing what a hacked-up DeskJet printer can actually print on nowadays. Of course, it helps that 8 conductor serial cord is flat like a phone cord. so much easier to keep straight in the machine! Plus, it's a bargain! Cat6 is in cost-per-feet, serial cord is pennies per ton. Why do ya think they've been more drunken than usual lately?

  22. NickS

    Since when . . .

    . . . did the BOFH advise beancounters of possible lift incidents . . . he's mellowing with age imo. Better to tie the CAT6 to the lift and watch the whole floor full of 'clipped to skirting board' dissapear :)

  23. Jesthar

    Re: Cat 6

    "The BOFH has been mugged if he had a cat 6 system installed. Waste of money."

    Knowing the BOFH, I suspect you'll find it's the Boss, the Beancounting software and the Corporate Entertainment budget which will have been mugged... ;)

  24. Andrew Moore

    Ah memories...

    Reminds me of the time I came across an unknown length of Cat5. Couldn't work out where it went or what it was connected to- all I did know was that I hadn't installed it. Anyway I cut the cable and waited for the complaints- which told me exactly what the cable was being used for.

  25. Clint Sharp



  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Clint and John the cable guys

    One of my clients, a fairly large retail outlet, had them in a few years ago. They hcked into the back of a CAT5 socket to install a phone line for the fire alarm monitoring. I found the socket wouldn't work for a network printer, traced it to the patchbay and pulled out the unauthorised wires piggybacked behind - at lunchtime on a busy day in December.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    Good but not harsh enough

    Shoddy cable work and no mention of the 'cable tester' whats going on?

  28. John Grasett

    Reminds me of the really old days...

    When I pulled coax around the ceiling the college where I was BOFH - gosh, these days people come in and do it for you? I even had the 3 bladed cutting tool and the crimper to attach the BNC connectors. Ah, the joys of trying to find a bad connection in a lab with 30 or so PC's in it...I bet I still have one of the termintors I kept on my keyring around here someplace....

    ...mines the coat that the 80's called and wants back.

  29. RW

    Cowboys pulling cable

    Okay, color (colour in UK-speak) me dumb, but wothehell is it about data cabling that makes it so hard to Get It Right?

    Friends bought a new townhouse, price closely approaching $CDN10^6, and on moving in discovered that all the in-wall data, telephone, and video cabling had been installed by a cowboy, none of the terminations were labelled, and a good fraction of it simply didn't work.

    At that price they should have gotten cabling installed by Vestal Virgins during the dark of the moon to the sound of flutes and cymbals.

    Is it really that tricky?

    As for cowboys, while reading this installment of BOFH I had an epiphany: that's why there are endless security problems, such as the CookieMonster just lately reported. Too many people involved in the programming & systems field are themselves cyber-cowboys for whom any old kludge will do the trick.


    Can we have a new Paris icon please, mit Stetson hat?

  30. Nic Brough


    >Anyway I cut the cable and waited for the complaints- which told me exactly what the cable was being used for.

    Ah, the best BOfH tactic of all - simple, cheap, effective and works every time.

    I once found a server in a cupboard. Uptime was a couple of years, but we didn't have root, and it was tightly secured, so difficult to work out what it was for. Boss wanted me to investigate "using all the tools available, but without compromising the system". In reality, it took me about 30 seconds to work out my only option was a reboot off a live CD, and as a reboot was going to take it down anyway, I just pulled the network cable and went to the pub for a couple of hours...

  31. Gerrit Tijhof
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    "Useful things to do with Cat 5: the missing manual", one of the books I'd actually buy!

  32. Marty McFly Silver badge

    Undocumented cables and mystery servers...

    As posted to techweb:

    The University of North Carolina has finally found a network server that, although missing for four years, hasn't missed a packet in all that time. Try as they might, university administrators couldn't find the server. Working with Novell Inc. (stock: NOVL), IT workers tracked it down by meticulously following cable until they literally ran into a wall. The server had been mistakenly sealed behind drywall by maintenance workers.

    My coat is in the closet... Who the heck drywalled my closet closed?

  33. Anonymous Coward

    I'm surprised

    they weren't shown the proper way to run the wire down the stairwell.

  34. Rick Giles

    Sometimes, the Cowboys are the employees

    We had one of our satellite offices go down a while back cause some nimrod plugged in a wireless router to the LAN and it killed the DHCP server and no one could get a valid IP addy.

    Mines the one "earth leakage detector" for the wireless router, in the pocket.

  35. ChessGeek


    Too right. The only trouble we ever had with data lines was a set installed by an outside group rather than in-house.

  36. mittfh


    Ah yes, the wonders of Netware (and practically any OS apart from Bill's) - turn 'em on, leave 'em alone. Even installing new software can be done on the fly.

    Which reminds me of the infamous document: "How to crash a Novell Network" (or 50 ways to shut down/crash a Netware server) - some of those are distinctly BOFH-ish.

    Meanwhile, with the other OS, chances are the wall wouldn't have time to dry before you needed to bash it down to gain access to the server...

  37. Anonymous Coward
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    Back in the saddle indeed

    Ahh classic BOFH Simon. I see a certain bean counter and his cowboy friends meeting untimely accidents involving "insulation testers" or stair wells soon /rubs hands in gleeful anticipation.

  38. Joao Pereira
    Dead Vulture


    Ther's an app we BSOF use all the time....

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Clint and John the cable guys

    Alarm installers have to be watched every second. Some who were working in one of our buildings would just randomly grab a phone line and splice their alarm connection into it--causing the telephone user to get cut off when the alarm did it's periodic call-in. This got stopped after one grabbed the line for the business group president--the man in charge of the building. (No, the lead pipe kept handy in the switchroom had nothing to do with it.)

    Where's the cut-cable icon?


  40. Nathanael Bastone

    "Compleat BOFH archives"

    I liked this edition a lot, but what is a "Compleat" and what is it doing running around the 95-9 BOFH archives? Maybe you should put down some rat poison or something?

  41. Jan Buys
    Thumb Down


    I admire the BOFH stories, but this one was not as good as it should be.

    I mean... the axe. Come on Simon, you have written far more subtle revenge techniques.

    BUT...! I lolled at the manager's Bonsai though.

    Still: "Silence of the servers" remains my fav one and it should be the way to go...

    Signed: a big fan of yours.

  42. Anonymous Coward


    BT staple cables to skirting? That must be a lie....

    NOTE TO ALL OF YOU : Don't leave the woman at home alone when a BT engineer is coming round to move the master socket... those bastards.

  43. Anonymous Coward

    Been there ... really


    Us: Please explain why half of this cable bundle goes over the fire suppression sprinkler pipe, and half under.

    Cowboys: We installed our cables first, and the sprinkler guys put their pipe through the middle of our bundle.

    Us: So why is your bundle tied to the sprinkler pipe for support over there, hmmm?


    Us: We see you've installed the plastic collars on the conduit ends as per the spec. And we can see where the insulation has been stripped to the bare copper because you didn't install them BEFORE pulling cables against those sharp metal edges, which the collars were supposed to protect against.

    Cowboys: The spec just called for collars, it didn't say anything about order of installation. We'll be billing for the labor to slide them on over the full length of exposed cable.


    Us: We're pretty sure the reason that jack doesn't work is that it's at the end of a 968A extension spliced onto a 968B cable run.


    Me: I'm trying to understand what ahs been done so far about this user's loss of connectivity and the spanning tree error messages on the console of that nearby router.

    Cowboys: We've been experiencing some timeouts on machine in this area, so we tried replacing that advanced switch (with VLANs, etc) with a hub.

    Me: And that's when these other symptoms began?

    Cowboys: Well, yes.

    Which pocket did I leave that EtherKiller in?

  44. This post has been deleted by its author

  45. Tim

    What's CAT 6 good for?

    Lizards tail, looks like its important but its only connected to cable testers which are linked to the sysAdmin terminal which deactivates a preset range of workstation accounts on Active Directory when the cable is damaged.

  46. Chika


    Oh, come on! So what use would a naked beancounter be?

    Unless there's a conductivity issue... ;)

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