back to article BOFH: Remote access malarkey

"...And so you can just log in to my machine and look at it whenever you like?" our user asks indignantly. "Uh-huh," the PFY says, fixing the user's printer settings while he's talking. "And I don't have to give you permission or anything?" "I'd have assumed that was implied by ringing the helpdesk?" the PFY says. "Yes …


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  1. Khyle Westmoreland


    That thar BOfH evidently be missin' out on International Talk Like a Pirate Day! Ye'd have thought he'd be makin' the scurvy dog boss walk t'plank for talkin' t'him like that!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    A Return to the Bastard of old

    I read this and started reminiscing about the old BOFH stories from last Century! Brings back memories, and warms the cockles of my cold bastard heart!

    Simon! You've done it again!

    Wish we had full remote admin priviledges over our users machines! lol

  3. Jamie
    Paris Hilton

    How true.

    I can surf the net and play games, or access a machine remotely to see what some beancounter has been doing. Honestly, unless the machine is owned by Paris there is not a prayer of the user peaking my interest enough.

  4. hi_robb

    Ah remote access

    Another great BOFH and so true. The number of times in the past I've had users switch off their PC's when I jokingly remark about seeing everything they have been up to, when I've done a bit of servicedesk stuff :-)

    Stupid idiots do not realise that this just makes us all be really interested in having a damned good poke around.

    Mines the one with the MSTSC in the back pocket

  5. Stuart


    Just what was needed on a friday afternoon!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Just polished off a tasty lunchtime pint, and I come back to BOFH... nnnnice!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Remote malarchy

    Reminds me of using netbus at Uni to pop-up browsers to and alike, what fun!

  8. Sam
    Thumb Up

    Ah, The Macallan...

    Obviously a man of taste!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Oh pure genius

    I wondered what the gotcha would be, Simon your a genius!

    The past couple of weeks didn't quite tick the spot, this one is absolute classic, I've not laughed so hard is a long time - please give us more fearless-yet-subtle torment of the users.

  10. Jon Beck

    Back to his old tricks...

    You have to love it when the BOFH gets settled into new digs, and goes back into his comfort zone.

    Deleted files, terrorizing the helldesk, and basically being the true BOFH that he can be.

    Well done Simon!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    A backup??

    The BOFH's slipping - surely you'd be scheduling a bulk erase of the hard disk instead, that way the luser wouldn't have to worry about people poring over his "private" documents anymore!

    Still - good as ever, and I even managed to find it ok! :-)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Having not long started a remote support role...

    this one strikes a chord... like it.

  13. Richard
    Thumb Up

    So Bloody True....

    ...It never ceases to amaze me how every now and then an otherwise sane user suddenly starts believing that they, their email, and their personal files and instant messages would become so interesting for an administrator that they would forgo .......

    This is so Bloody true.... Why is it that the (L)users never seems to get this? .... even after you´ve taken the time to patiently explain it to them while beating them around the head with a copy of the company IT Usage policy... preferably rapped around a brick!

    As ever the BOFH Rules...

    Role on next Friday!!!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    El Reg frontpage nightmare

    I'm assuming that this superb BOFH is missing from the front page of the site's story feed for a good reason?

    But hey - thumbs up to Simon, reminds me of tech support in a school... some amazing stuff was on user's machines, even though they tried to filter it.... Those where the days...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    Reminds me of the days of days gone by when users asked for more space in their home directories..

    Reminiscing with a happy grin on my face or is that the three pints at lunch time..

    Paris, she back.....

  16. Del Merritt


    I liked the Olde Waye of BOFH showing up as a news piece. But I confess that I did see this edition in its new location and guise.

    I don't know - new El Reg and New Facebook in the same week. Next thing that will happen is a new Google. Hmm.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Keep your head down....

    "...because then we start wondering what the hell it is you have that you don't want us to see. And before you know it the administrator concerned has passed you on to someone such as myself whose sole purpose is to keep you talking long enough to fire off a backup of the contents of your hard drive."


  18. Stuart Oram
    Thumb Up


    Love it! Thanks!

  19. Peter Kavanagh


    ... thank God it's Friday!

  20. Josh

    True Classic

    Wow... This just reads like one of the classic BOFHs. Is it just me or does the BOFH slowly go back to his roots?

    More of this, please. And maybe some news about the "Bastard Batcave from Hell" as well. ;p

  21. dervheid


    as usual!

  22. Ben Oldham
    Paris Hilton

    Found it!

    Excellent job Simon - just off for my 3 pints complete with chasers now.

    Oh, and please can we have a link on the front page, for some reason clicking on the word "Sods" is frowned upon here...

    Paris cos i've clicked on enough sodding links to her...

  23. greenmantle
    Thumb Up

    Another classic

    Users definitely create a lot more suspicion when they get ansy about privacy...

    Good episode!

  24. Ash
    Gates Horns


    Is my friend.

  25. Peter D'Hoye
    Thumb Down


    Why isn't this on the front page????

    another thumbs down for the new website layout....

  26. Michael McLean


    lol really like this one, i hate it when people ask for help then moan about RATs

  27. Robert Biebricher


    Will they never learn? You don´t wake a sleeping tiger. Never! Especially on a Friday afternoon after a deliberate amount af Macallan.

    Well, play with fire, get burnt.

  28. Mark York
    Thumb Up

    Typical User

    Classic - Love the new BOFH logo.

  29. Daniel Gallacher
    Thumb Up


    A welcome return to BOFH of old!

    User Privacy.... Never heard of it!

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Classic BOFH

    Fantastic - Users need to be kept in line......Always nice to have something to hold against them.

  31. Buford

    Who's machine is it??

    Fix it, but don't touch it. Typical user BS. If I had to get up from my desk to fix every issue, they couldn't afford the mileage charges. When did things change where a user thinks that they have the right to privacy on a machine that they do not own?? If they only ken that we can also connect to their home machines. What morons.

  32. toddmori

    classic BOFH

    and I even like the new section link... after I found it

    -Flames, because I actually said something nice about the new layout....

  33. Bob H


    Where was "del /s *.*"?

    Removing the users account was usually the standard policy..

  34. Rosuav

    As we're all friends here...

    ... wait, since when was the BOFH anyone's friend? Ah yes, I remember. There was an episode in which that occurred... 2003, the BOFH-father. Yes. Alright, carry on!

    Glad to see a new episode. And hey... it STARTS with user paranoia instead of having to CREATE it half-way through!

  35. TrixyB

    Fooking Top Notch Simon

    I had this very conversation only yesterday! Keep up the brilliant Friday afternoon work. Both down the pub and on El Reg.

  36. Conor

    but I wanna know...

    what the user was doing on his machine that was so important to hide!

  37. Dcope
    IT Angle

    Only those that squark.....

    ... the loudest have the juciest worms, allways loved the shock of users when there mouse started moving after riniging up for support, shame i dont do it much anymore:(

    excelent BOFH user interaction, wonder if he had to break out the emergency LART!

  38. Skinny
    Gates Halo

    Most Amusing

    Seriously though, the advent of easy access remote control has made the life of anyone working in IT, especially support personnel, SO much easier and less stressful.

    I sometimes think back to the bad old days of having to talk a user through repairing their own monitor, when I couldn't see what they could see, and was reliant on them telling me what was going on, which seldom, if ever, seemed to bear any relation to what was actually on the screen.

  39. David Hixson-Ward
    Thumb Up

    Ahhh, remote access

    Absolutely spot on.

    Next person that rings me is in for a treat!

  40. Chris


    Simon, you should be knighted.

    A while back I worked at a place where I was the sole SA.. I always told my users that I was monitoring everything... when in reality I couldn't give a flying fuck what they looked at, I was more interested in reading the reg and something awful!

    But the fear kept them in check. Happy days!

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Said it a million times

    I am not fricking interested in what might be on your desktop/laptop, leave me alone whilst download some more DVDs for the weekend.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Excellent, as usual.

  43. Anonymous Coward

    So true

    ...just so true...

  44. Geoff Kennedy


    Ok.. no one died... I'm hoping ofr a part II where a certain Boss and certain lUser take the high jump.... into a dumpster filled witl glass

  45. Danny
    Gates Horns


    You're not thinking like a true BOFH. Why kill a luser when it's more fun to completely destroy their lives instead.

  46. Name
    Paris Hilton

    So different, so very different from the home life of our own dear queen

    I've had this precise conversation with hapless users- and one in particular, who was a dead ringer for a prototype Nathan Barley. He seemed most offended when I asked what made him imagine that anything he could do, say or know would be of sufficient interest for me to spend time poking through his email, or his machine. I also pointed out that the location of his porn stash was relatively common knowledge, such that you didn't need root-level access to find it anyway.

    Suffice it to say that he performed a deeply splended mime that reminded me of a goldfish, leaving me free to take advantage of the freshly-brewed coffee that someone with an above room-temperature IQ had just prepared to get us through the morning.

    (Paris, because maybe her data might occasionally be interesting)

  47. mittfh

    @Peter D'Hoye

    Not on the front page? Surely any BOFH worth his salt would know how to type in "<CTRL> t" by now? Only takes me 6 seconds - which is noticeably quicker than moving the mouse up to Bookmarks and scrolling down the list...

    I'm also the kind of person that quite often guesses Wikipedia URIs, rather than using the site's built-in search facility.

    Meanwhile, if ye want t' abuse lusers whilst takin' advantage o' "International Speak Like a Sea dog Tide", but cannot master th' linguistic subtleties o' buccanneer-speak, then try headin' o'er t' this link:

  48. Geoff Kennedy


    Isn't it MORE fun to destroy their lives first... then kill them off?

  49. Nick Palmer
    Thumb Up

    Fabulous stuff, well done!

    Classic BOFH - and yes, I've had that little chat too...

  50. Skinny

    One other thing

    I realise that you're putting the BOFH story in a frekily huge box to the side of the main stories, AND in the BOFH section at the bottom of the page, but I have to say it made it harder to find.

    The huge box looks like ad advert, so I of course, didn't pay it any attention.

    The stuff at the bottom is so far down the page, and below the 'do not miss' banner that I actually forgot there was stuff that far down.

    Can you please also leave the article appearing in the stories list as normal? Oh who am I kidding, I'll probably get used to it, but old habits die hard you know.

  51. Anonymous Coward

    stick a fork in me

    I know, I's not BOFH.....though quite nice this round, but seriously folks...I just can't take these two:

    the user peaking my interest enough


    rapped around a brick

    got my coat and going to get my pint(s) now...and I need and deserve them

  52. Andrew Culpeck

    Whos looking at my PC !

    This is scary its so familier :-)

  53. Anonymous Coward

    ah clueless end lusers

    And their ability to get totally bent out of shape when they realize their stash of pr0n or illegal MP3's is and has always been ultimately under my control. Loved it Simon, brilliant as always.

    I'll get my coat as I'm off for a lunch time drink anyway.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Ah yes! 'My monitor is black!'

    'Have you switched it on?'

    'I've pushed every button and thrown every switch!'


    'OK, have you checked the electrical cord? Sometimes the cleaning crew get a little careless.'

    'There's a little yellow light on the front of the monitor.'


    'Have you turned the computer on?'

    'Oh! Oh! Thank you so much!'

    clickety rm -rf /home/[user-id]/* clickety.

  55. Scott Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Scarily Familiar

    I have had this question so many times that I know the words off by heart...

    My answers?

    It's not your PC, its ours. If you are polite to us, we will let you borrow it for a while.

    We have over 2,500 accounts. I am not going to find much by randomly opening accounts.

    We use AD and/or Centennial to automatically check all computers for large ammounts of media files.

    If we find stuff (and we will), you had better hope that we just delete it!

  56. Nick L

    Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Jim lad

    I remembers the days of three pints with chasers at lunchtimes, and I remembers the days of BOFHs articles likes this ones.

    Now I just needs to gets backs to the three pints at lunchtime capability ...


  57. Craig
    Thumb Up

    i love it..

    This is the kind of story that keeps me sane, barely lol.

    I am no longer in the tech support field, but dang, bofh always saved my soul from going bleeding insane, from all the lusers and jerks calling and working with me at unknown isp's :)

    Fans of bofh really should have our support group or message board :)

  58. Herby
    Thumb Up

    Amazing what you can do with "remote access"

    Back in my support/BOFH days (1981 or so), the computers I worked on had remote access modems on them (I had designed the hardware). While these were only character interfaces, the people who ran the boxen were "dumber than cheese". We would always "ask" first, as it would lock out the control terminal at the remote location. The "fun" part was that we could call up the computer and switch operator talk paths all around. All of a sudden we would monitor the voice, and interject some remark at the proper time. "Hello there" would elicit almost a scream. Always fun.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    All I have to do is Ctrl+t BOFH

    Easy when you've set the keyword in the bookmark properties.

  60. Eric Dennis

    Clueless User

    You have no idea how many times I've been through this scenario doing desktop support. Ridiculous users seem to think that IT has to "ask their permission" to access their PC remotely and look at anything on it. The fact is that the PC belongs to the company and is connected to the company network and that the employee serves at the pleasure of the company. Most users never read the "Technology Use Policy" that they sign when they are hired, but it clearly states that the user understands that the computer they work on is owned by the company, the IT Department can and will access it at any time for any reason without either informing the user or "asking the user's permission", and that the contents of the user's hard drive as well as any logs on the PC are the property of the company as well. The silly users must think that it's like when they are at home on their home PC, but unfortunately for them, that isn't the case.

    In the case of someone who is screwing up the network printer settings for example, you wouldn't want to "ask them" for permission to access their PC remotely. In the case of a hacker doing damage to company data systems, you don't WANT them to know you know what they are doing.



    Only 3 pints on Friday, thats terrible.

  62. A J Stiles
    Thumb Up

    Thought it was just me

    And there I was, thinking it was just me who liked to login to other people's machines and alternately open and close their CD drives when I was bored ......

    Of course, their home folders are all on an NFS share "so they can move desks and take all their files with them" (cough), so I don't even need to login to their machines to see their stashes of files.

  63. Gordon Grant
    Thumb Up


    Simon, back to the classic and you have such fine taste in single malt although I might point you towards any of the islay malts, slightly smoked flavor - hmm would remind you of bbq'd bean counter .... yeah i'd do the same but I would backup and then empty his my docs / temp internet of all files etc ...

    Disturbing you on a friday afternoon is a cardinal sin - I think a reformat to windows 3.11 is in order or something as evil - setup to work on 1st boot of course...

  64. Andrew Tunney
    Paris Hilton

    @BOFH: Remote Access Malarkey

    "Sometimes," the PFY admits. "Although other times I find that if I leave the call open long enough the user'll go back into their printer settings and remember they stuffed around with the local printer/network printer combo and put it right themselves."

    Just pure gold - scary thing is that I've done this before today and it does work.

    Paris - because I am still trying to work out who is smarter; her or users...

  65. Dale MacDonald

    Clever, but not vicious enough

    Clever, funny, but not really BOFH. No bodily harm at all? Darn...

  66. Anonymous Coward

    Re: As we're all friends here...

    Actually, the BOFH is my friend. Always has been.

    Who am I, you ask?

    Why, the janitor who's never appeared in any of these stories. The only janitor in this burg with more computing gear in his house than a regular computer center.

    True, a lot of it's old kit, but I've managed to eBay enough stuff that I'm basically rolling in it. All that for helping to clean up a few minor messes, and never touching any power in the computer room. And, of course, never, ever bothering him for computer help - but always accept any help he offers.

  67. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

    What's this about Heathrow?


    Right next to the BOFH files. Got to be good.

    Is some strange Machavellian thing that is a little too sophisticated for us non geek lusers?

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