back to article BOFH: Uninterruptible patsy supply

"What the fuck just happened?" the Boss garbles, crashing around Mission Control like a madman after dashing down two flights of stairs from the 4th floor boardroom. "Uh.... UPS failure," the PFY says calmly, glancing up from his monitor briefly. "Well aren't you going to do anything about it?" "I am," he responds. "I have …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Pooka

    Wait.... Is it thursday or friday?

    I'm baffled! But a cheap UPS should fix it....

    1. Richard 120
      Facepalm

      Confused

      I'm most confused too, I woke up thinking it was Friday, was disappointed when informed it was only Thursday, now I'm not so sure again...

      1. Dave Lawton
        Holmes

        Re: Confused

        No, it's definitely Friday, it's BOFH day, therefore it MUST be Friday.

      2. ItsNotMe
        Pint

        Re: Confused

        Not to worry...it's Friday in South Korea!!

        So Beer-up everyone!!! Cheers.

        1. DiViDeD

          Re: Confused

          Friday here in Oz too. And rest assured, I'll have a couple of coldies for you guys back in Blighty

    2. Trygve Henriksen

      Thursday/Friday...

      The clock is probably a mains-powered one, that also gets the timing from the AC. And the UPS is set to deliver 60Hz instead of 50Hz... Makes the days really fly past...

    3. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Pint

      Agreed

      I first thought yay BOFH and Friday then had blue moment when I realised wait not in dress down clothes DOH its Thursday :(

  2. Admiral Grace Hopper

    Eat your own dog food

    It's taken me most of my career to learn the art of keeping a straight face while saying, "We're using the kit that you spec'd ...", during the ad hoc lessons learned meeting that is convened at 2:00 in the morning.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Eat your own dog food

      ".....the art of keeping a straight face...." I always find it helps to think of Bambi's mum getting shot at those points. Right before you pass on the email trail from the cretin in question in which you laid out the risks and they replied completely ignoring them. It then helps to say bumph like; "But pointing fingers isn't going to help here, so let's look at what we need to do to fix it." What you actually mean is "Let's look at how much extra consulting I'm going to charge you to fix it," which of course you will have - coincidentally, just as a contingency, of course - already have prepared in advance. Ah, good times, good times....

    2. Vic

      Re: Eat your own dog food

      > "We're using the kit that you spec'd ..."

      I *never* say that.

      i always use something like "The kit specifically required by document <blah>". Then, when pushed on the question of "well, who wrote that document?", I have to mention that my memory is not what it once was, and I'd have to look that up.

      All the time, the git in the corner who actually specified the crap is turning puce. It's about this point where he finally owns up (as he's going to get found out anyway...)

      Vic.

    3. Marshalltown

      Re: Eat your own dog food

      Heh. Many moons ago - the '90s actually - I and my wingman were told to build some servers, since it was cheaper than buying them. We went shopping and came back with all the parts, highest quality we could grab within the budget set. The owner nearly fainted though when he saw the cases we got. He insisted we wait while he dashed off to trade in the cases for far less expensive stamped pieces that were vaguely prismatic in form and which lacked right angles in any plane at any corner. The covers were also oddly non-Euclidian. Tightening down a cover caused the MB to torc, popping out cards and memory like a Las Vegas slot machine hitting a jackpot. Just sliding the cover on was OK, but of course left the innards exposed the inside to a fair bit of rapid cruft accumulation. The boss liked to bring in his Golden Retriever to work. The cases lasted until shedding season led to a strong odor of burning hair.

      When asked what the hell WE did, we simply explained that 1) those cheap cases could not be properly closed up without causing equipment failure, so the covers didn't serve much purpose except to keep errant paper planes from shorting something critical, and 2) the hair that had caught fire and ruined the video card was not off OUR dog. Sadly, we had to rebuild everything.

  3. fearnothing
    Thumb Up

    There goes another Boss? UPS-idaisy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Icon fail.

      Downvoted, because if ever a post deserved the get-me-coat icon...

  4. hplasm
    Happy

    Heh heh heh

    "...and an orange Ghostbusters light came on"

    I need some of these!

  5. jake Silver badge

    "Uninterruptible patsy supply"

    That's the idiots who actually keep reading this drivel, right?

    Honestly, the entire BOFH thing was tired & derivative of itself before it left Usenet. Stop it, already. You've been embarrassing yourselves for over a decade.

    (Yes, I've been waiting for a suitable headline. No, I didn't read the bilge.)

    1. auburnman
      Thumb Down

      "No, I didn't read the bilge."

      If only you'd gone one step further and not bothered commenting.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Uninterruptible patsy supply"

      Nearly there mate! 10/10 for content. Now all you need to do is lower your standard of English and fuck off to a tabloid comment section.

      1. jake Silver badge

        @AC 08:55 (was: Re: "Uninterruptible patsy supply")

        ::eyeballs redtop masthead::

        ::eyeballs "post your own message" section::

        Seems to me I have fucked off to the tabloid comment section.

        What was your point again? I think mine still stands ...

        1. Marshalltown
          Pint

          Re: @AC 08:55 (was: "Uninterruptible patsy supply")

          Jake is merely bitter because he's a "boss" and discovered long ago just how much respect that earns him.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Uninterruptible patsy supply"

      Do people still bother reading jakes comments?

      I always thought it was quicker just to down vote regardless and move on to something more interesting

      1. Rob
        Go

        Re: "Uninterruptible patsy supply"

        I still read his comments, I think of it as doing my bit for 'care in the community'.

      2. Jedit Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        "Do people still bother reading jakes comments?"

        Not really, and I don't bother downvoting them either. I'm of the belief that he does it deliberately in an attempt to get as many negs (read: "as much attention") as possible. Being the most unpopular person on a message board still makes you the most of something, after all. Far be it from me to help stroke his ego.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Uninterruptible patsy supply"

      If I were you I'd ask for my money back.

    5. Wombling_Free
      Mushroom

      Re: "Uninterruptible patsy supply"

      So you were reading this before it became popular right? Back when it was still obscure?

      Get on your fixie and go ruin someone else's pub.

      Bloody hipsters.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Uninterruptible patsy supply"

        "Get on your fixie and go ruin someone else's pub."

        I am stealing this.

    6. Killraven

      Re: "Uninterruptible patsy supply"

      The BOFH will remain topical and enjoyable for longer than everything! Yahoo! will! continue!, then+ Google+ comments+ will+ endure+, longer+ than+ facebook...bitch will...bitch be...bitch annoying...bitch and until after the term freetard is no longer used for people with a difference of opinion.

    7. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: "Uninterruptible patsy supply"

      Wow, your comments do seem to get a LOT of down-votes, don't they. I have to conclude that you are either an elaborate troll, or an elaborate tool...

      1. Rob
        Coat

        Re: "Uninterruptible patsy supply"

        I don't think there are any laws stopping you from combining the 2 so that you have a trolling tool, elaborate or not.

        1. Swarthy Silver badge
          Paris Hilton

          Re: "Uninterruptible patsy supply"

          A trolling tool.. a trool?

          1. Openminded Cynic
            Coat

            Re: "Uninterruptible patsy supply"

            There is no Dana only truul.

      2. Andrew Moore

        Re: "Uninterruptible patsy supply"

        how about 'an elaborate trooll'

    8. Spiny_Norman
      Trollface

      Re: "Uninterruptible patsy supply"

      ODFO. If you don't want to read BOFH don't. Nobody is forcing you to. Perhaps you could spare your words of wisdom for a more appreciative audience?

    9. This post has been deleted by its author

    10. Fatman

      Re: You've been embarrassing yourselves for over a decade.

      Go crawl back under your rock!!!!

      More than once Simon's tales have caused an uncontrolled mouthful of coffee spit out over my keyboard.

      Now, just where do I send that bill????

  6. geejayoh
    Go

    Not a satisfying pay off.

    Whilst boss-death is good, I was kind hoping for a summary execution at the hands of fuming board members sure to the boss's skimping on equipment and a subsequent triumphant rise in the IT budget. But I guess I'm too much of an idealist.

    1. Fatman

      Re: Not a satisfying pay off...a subsequent triumphant rise in the IT budget.

      Which should be funded from the amounts docked from the Boss' pension fund as he is fired for incompetence.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spooky. Just read this right after a brief power failure, and was considering getting a new UPS for my home system setup too..

  8. Harvey Trowell
    Pirate

    Mmmm, uninterruptable pasty supply..

    Read the title all wrong at first attempt. Now I'm hungry.

    1. SW
      Pint

      Re: Mmmm, uninterruptable pasty supply..

      Upvoted as you beat me to the punch.

      *Goes out to find a pasty (pastie) to go with my pint.

      1. Fatman
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Mmmm, uninterruptable pasty supply..

        I must ask my boss if she would start bringing in some every morning for the AM break.

        <shock>

        You said pastie, shit, I thought you said pastry

        </shock>

        OOPS!!! I bet that didn't go over too well.

        Paris icon, because, well, she knows about pasties, I guess.

    2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Mmmm, uninterruptable pasty supply..

      ".....Now I'm hungry." I used to know a tape monkey that used to warm up his Ginsters by putting them on hot equipment (SPARC servers and APC UPS units usually).

    3. Irongut Silver badge

      Re: Mmmm, uninterruptable pasty supply..

      Yeah I was expecting pasties as well.

      Now where is the nearest Greggs to here?

      1. earl grey
        Happy

        Re: Mmmm, uninterruptable pasty supply..

        Not the kind of pasties i was thinking about, but this'll do.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mmmm, uninterruptable pasty supply..

      These are not the pasties you are looking for...Move along.

  9. RyokuMas
    Thumb Up

    Ah, electricity...

    It's been too long since BOFH played with any serious electrical hardware (bring back the pinch-that-wasn't!). The only thing better would be a small fire. Or a bloody big fire.

    They put a defibrilator in our office recently. I only had to look at it before the first-aider told me very firmly "No".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ah, electricity...

      They actually trained the pfy and I on using it here. I think they wanted to show that the failsafes mean that no voltage can be delivered unless the heart is in vfib....

      And I am sure that there is no way the safety measures installed couldn't be bypased in any way.... And the paddles definately couldn't get connected to the metal chair.....

      Anon as we don't want those HSE lot poking around, some spots in the local woods are already 2ft higher than they used to be...

  10. Graham Wilson
    Stop

    There's no excuse for IT to bypass UPS issues.

    In my experience, UPSs are, to the IT establishment, essentially a Cinderella technology--they've no idea how the technology works but they take it for granted until the midnight of its failure.

    Few IT-ers have the vaguest notion about the chemistry, operation and charging of Planté's lead-acid cell, and probably only a handful across the whole country would have ever heard of the Nernst equation with respect to the charging of such a cell and that it's integral to the reliable charging and longevity thereof. Thus it's little wonder that this black-box is simply ignored until the morning after the disaster.

    Methinks UPSs should be taken away from IT in the same way that incoming mains power is left to electricians and power distribution authorities. It's not that IT shouldn't care about UPSs, of course they should. Rather, others more suited to their management should be responsible for them and that IT should be told and *know* key parameters such as incoming power reliability statistics, UPS supply reliability parameters etc.; in addition, they should have immediately to hand emergency numbers for the those responsible for both incoming mains power and UPS maintenance. Such info should be well integrated into well-established emergency procedures to deal with power outages.

    All too often, IT just buck-passes UPS issues. Procedures and policies thus should ensure that this cannot happen.

    1. nuked
      Holmes

      Re: There's no excuse for IT to bypass UPS issues.

      You do realise that the BOFH stories are light-hearted and fictional don't you?

      1. Graham Wilson

        @nuked -- Re: There's no excuse for IT to bypass UPS issues.

        Absolutely. But when you've seen the buck-passing, threats of litigation etc.etc that I have with respect to UPSs, then I never miss an opportunity to proselytize the message.

        It's an issue, otherwise BOFH would use another subject.

    2. Magister

      Re: There's no excuse for IT to bypass UPS issues.

      IT don't control the UPS systems where I am working. It's been given to the Site services team (eg. electricians).

      So at the present, there are two water sprinklers from the fire control system in the server room; one above the industrial sized UPS, one above the mainframe sized telephone system. (I asked if the water was active and got a blank look; I still don't know)

      The power input cables need to be replaced as they were under specced; it's been highlighted for 2 years and there have been 2 separate occasions in the past 4 months when they were going to replace them; but the wrong stuff delivered so project put on hold.

      Add to that, there are 5 racks around the factory with UPS protecting them; 3 of these have flashing red lights indicating a fault. These have been showing the same fault since I have been here. I'm told that a request for replacement batteries was submitted and they are waiting for details of when this will happen.

      I'm not saying that Graham is wrong; it is just down to the individuals concerned. Some do a good job, some don't; that is a fact of life. IT staff are generally no better and no worse than any others.

      1. Nigel 11
        Mushroom

        Re: There's no excuse for IT to bypass UPS issues.

        Add to that, there are 5 racks around the factory with UPS protecting them; 3 of these have flashing red lights indicating a fault. These have been showing the same fault since I have been here. I'm told that a request for replacement batteries was submitted and they are waiting for details of when this will happen.

        I saw what happens if you leave a battery in a UPS for ~3 years after it first complains that the battery is failing.

        First, the battery gradually swells. Initially past the size of the aperture through which you are supposed to replace it. Good built-in obsolescence, that. So they needed a new UPS not a new battery. Then it swells past the size of the welded steel compartment it rests in, with sufficient pressure to bend the steel. By the time they'd procured a whole new UPS the old one was immovably wedged in the rack. But you couldn't actually see why it was stuck, until finally, one night ...

        It exploded.

        Not on my ship. Someone sent me the pictures.

        1. Peter Ford
          Facepalm

          Re: There's no excuse for IT to bypass UPS issues.

          Been there (nearly)

          Luckily, I got ours out before it exploded.

          But it was in the *top* of the rack, which is a tricky place to put 40+kg of batteries in the first place. When they've pinned themselves into their hidey-hole (humuhumunukunukuapua'a-style) it becomes a real mission...

      2. Fatman

        Re: There's no excuse for IT to bypass UPS issues.

        It's been given to the Site services team (eg. electricians).

        It sounds like either your electricians are lazy; or are held up by some fucking beancounter who is blocking those needed repairs.

        Case in point: The complex where I work was supposed to have the main wires from the utility transformers to the main disconnects wired with COPPER WIRE, according to the architects specs. Some stupid beancounter decided to replace the copper with ALUMINUM WIRE of the same size. An aluminum conductor has 70% of the current carrying capacity as it identically sized copper conductor. So, guess what happened on a hot summer day!!!

        All I can say is that the lawyers got richer.

    3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: There's no excuse for IT to bypass UPS issues.

      *shudder*

      The Nernst equation, just thinking of those gives me a cold sweat and takes me back to the horrible electrochemistry stuff I had to learn at uni.

      of course, the end user shouldn't have to worry, or indeed know about the internal workings of their UPS. What they do need to know is how much juice it can hold, how much power it can supply, and how many charge cycles it is good for before the battery dies. After all, it is just a glorified car battery, and you don't expect the average driver to go round fiddling with the insides of one of them.

      1. earl grey
        Pint

        Re: There's no excuse for IT to bypass UPS issues.

        However glorified; it at least has the advantage of living indoors and not being subjected to the temperature extremes of out of doors. In my area that can be a full -20 to 38 C (and no, not all in one day).

        it's beer day, anyway.

    4. Pirate Dave Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: There's no excuse for IT to bypass UPS issues.

      Eh, most carpenters don't understand metallurgy and couldn't explain the difference between 1000 series carbon steel and 4100 series chromoly, but they still manage to use hammers and nails to build houses.

    5. Colin Millar
      Flame

      @ Graham Wilson

      Are you mad? You let electricians play with incoming power?

      Why do you think PAT testing was invented? - to keep the electricians away from the screwdrivers.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There's no excuse for IT to bypass UPS issues.

      Few IT-ers have the vaguest notion about the chemistry, operation and charging of Planté's lead-acid cell

      Hmm, chemistry. H2 exits and reunites with O2 with an attractive amount of usable violence. You may just have written part of the next BOFH..

    7. Rosuav
      Happy

      Re: There's no excuse for IT to bypass UPS issues.

      "... essentially a Cinderella technology--they've no idea how the technology works but they take it for granted until the midnight of its failure."

      Your post has little to do with a BOFH article, but I do like this line, and I think I may be using it.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There's no excuse for IT to bypass UPS issues.

      We've tried to get Estates to take over responsibility for the UPSs, on the basis that they're already responsible for the rest of the electrical supply system ... But they just don't get it ...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Obligatory UPS anecdote...

    A now defunct defence contractor I once worked for, set up a temporary project office in a rented warehouse to allow it to get started on a project they had just won whilst more permanent accommodation was being sorted. They'd put in a raised floor and cubicle 'offices' along the walls, but it was essentially open plan. A couple of mid-range servers (under desk type models) served-out shared drives and had been put into their own cubicle, out of the way at one side. These each had their own UPS - again an under-desk model.

    We came in one morning to find no power to the building, and discovered that the servers had crashed hard because the UPS's had been turned off.

    It was only later, when the project accountant (who always came in really early in the morning and occupied the cubicle next to the servers) overheard our conversations and fessed-up to turning them off because 'the buzzing noise was annoying me'.

    [And, no I can't remember why they weren't set to shut themselevs down - long time ago now and I wasn't the person who set them up!]

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: Obligatory UPS anecdote...

      I can't remember why they weren't set to shut themselevs down

      Mine are set to shut the servers down when the battery power reserve is down to 30%, about 5 minutes later. Usually the mains is back on before then so the server stays up 24x7.

      Except for the time the cleaner unplugged the UPS to plug in her vacuum (in a room she shouldn't even have been in), and then found the UPS "Off" button on the UPS within the five minutes, and even worked out she had to hold it in for five seconds, all because she didn't like the bleeping noise while she was hoovering.

    2. Bruno Girin
      Joke

      Re: Obligatory UPS anecdote...

      One company I used to work for, under each deak we had 2 power supplies connected to the UPS, 2 connected to normal power, clearly colour coded. The day we had a power failure we realised that in the sales department the only thing connected to a UPS backed socket was the Christmas tree.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Re: Obligatory UPS anecdote...

        ".....The day we had a power failure we realised that in the sales department the only thing connected to a UPS backed socket was the Christmas tree." We once lost an office floor after the facilities director plugged in some un-PAT-tested Christmas lights.

  12. TRT Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    "One of my personal warning signs on gear is when I get a brand name the same as the device – ie, with this UPS brand UPS from UPS Ltd, I'm fairly sure I'm in trouble. "

    Amen to that!

  13. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
    Meh

    At least they were networked

    Its not good to have UPS's on sites if you can't check them failing or screaming "Replace battery now"

  14. Blue eyed boy
    Thumb Up

    brand name the same as the device

    Was the box delivered by UPS?

  15. Push the red button Igor ...
    Coat

    Thanks guys ...

    .. I'm off tomorrow, so it really is Friday for me.

    OK, I'll get my coat!

    1. Red Bren
      Pint

      Downvoted

      Because I hate you now! :-)

  16. Dave 32

    Ultimate UPS

    We have one of the ultimate UPSes here: A bank of six 100KW class diesel generators. You know that there's something seriously wrong with the commercial electric supply when the six inch diameter exhaust stacks are blowing a column of black soot.

    Oh, yeah, best not be staring into one of those exhaust ports when the commercial power fails. Those things start incredibly quickly. ;-)

    Dave

  17. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Happy

    This whole tale

    has the uncanny ring of truth about it

    At least from any poor bloody tech who's had to argue with accounting/planning/management about the value of buying decent gear or enough of it or more usually both.

    I had to deal with one set of idiots who decided to cut down the order of 15 tools we put in to 5, we knew we'd consume 1 tool per 20 parts and where to send the customer when he only got 33% of his job done.

    1. Nigel 11
      Thumb Up

      Re: This whole tale

      A beancounter once decided to save 0.01 cents per unit by substituting a glue, on an order that said "Non-Parametrically specified, DO NOT SUBSTITUTE".

      The units were disk drives. About 100K units had to be replaced under a manufacturer recall, because they would all have failed in service within a year. (Something outgassed from the glue settled on the platters and built up in lumps until it crashed the heads).

  18. Decade
    Facepalm

    UPS? So lucky!

    My company just moved into a new facility. I work in the AV department, and one of the items I put on my wish list was a UPS system. The company hired a consultant to build the AV system, and he denied the request, saying, "The power from the utility is reliable."

    Um, part of my work is digital recordings. I have to buy my own UPS units. :(

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: UPS? So lucky!

      I'm not sure what digital recording has to do with this (is this a vague general term with a very specific meaning in the UK?), but this is where acquisition experience comes in handy. You don't specify the solution, you specify the capability requirements. In this case, it sounds like your requirement should have been something like 99.999% availability of mains power at a specified quality level (that works out to about 5 minutes of outages per year). If the utility guarantees you that, great. If the facility has backup power that can meet that requirement, great. If not, you would get some sort of UPS system. Now if they claimed that the utility could meet that requirement and the power goes out for more than 10 minutes, you sue them for breach of contract. If you/your company didn't properly specify your requirements or manage the contract, you're SOL.

  19. Herby

    As for UPS's

    The most important part is the first 'U', that being Uninterpretable. Unfortunately the bean counters don't understand this concept, and it becomes just a 'PS', or as one might put it a Piece of S***.

    So make sure those batteries are all up to snuff!!

    1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

      Re: As for UPS's

      "The most important part is the first 'U', that being Uninterpretable"

      Well, that explains the instruction manuals they come with.

  20. Fatman

    The beancounter UPS test

    For those who have fought a battle with beancounters over the need for a UPS; I now propose a test of bean counters who block requests for a new UPS, or replacement batteries for an existing one.

    That test shall consist of the beancounter being strapped into a chair with a loaded 10 gauge shotgun aimed at their head. The trigger is actuated by a solenoid that is powered by a battery, with a line powered relay keeping the contacts OPEN.

    As long as the utility power is maintained the beancounter has nothing to worry about. But, if for some fraction of a second, the power drops, then the contacts close, and the solenoid gets actuated, pulling the trigger. Then IT should ask the beancounter: Feeling lucky, punk?

    1. Kiwi
      Joke

      Unwise to point loaded gun at beancounter's head!

      "That test shall consist of the beancounter being strapped into a chair with a loaded 10 gauge shotgun aimed at their head."

      Unwise. Extremely dangerous. If the gun goes off, the resulting implosion would devastate a very large area.

      I'd suggest a combination of electrodes and testicles, but electron microscopes are still rather pricey.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022