back to article BOFH: Hasta la Vista... luser

"But I installed Service Pack 2!" our user whines at the PFY. "Installing SP2 on Windows Vista is like putting out a burning turd. Best possible outcome, you've got a steaming turd!" the PFY snaps. "But it's so slow!" "Uh-huh." "I've got 3 gigs of memory," he sniffles "Adding memory to Vista is like adding paper to a …


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  1. Manta Bloke

    if i only had a quid each time this happened

    I would be able to retire

    PS you owe me a new keyboard :)

  2. Andrew Moore


    Reminds me of the time I had to "fix" an ancient laptop (which only had a 800x600 display). The browser was so clogged with extra tool bars that the webpages only appeared in a tiny window (I'd say about 200px high) at the bottom of the screen.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: hmmm....

      A bit like word if you turn on all the toolbars, ribbons, add-ons etc then?

    2. Fatman

      Re: The browser was so clogged with extra tool bars ....

      like this poor bastard?

  3. bugalugs

    tis the festive season

    to have 3 in a row !

    1. Maverick
      Thumb Up

      Re: tis the festive season

      and before 10:30am = coffee level not quite pre-pub level <yet>

      "size of the hammer" PMSL, love it

  4. Peter Ford

    Hang on...

    What sort of person installs the printer in darkened stairwells?


    I see...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    and there I was

    thinking that the BOFH was fantasy :P

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fond(ish) memories of...

    The Ask toolbar

    That McAfee system check thing

    and a zillion other "optional" yet pre-checked, automatic opt-in crap installation shit that I have to UNINSTALL AND NUKE FROM ORBIT... again and again and again.

    Thank you, I feel much much better now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fond(ish) memories of...

      Forgot to mention that thing that pops up all the time to tells me that the Oracle Java update checker's SSL certificate has expired.

      ORACLE PLEASE RENEW IT! It only expired about a year ago after all.

      1. Peter W.

        Re: Fond(ish) memories of...

        Would also help if Oracle would make the updater installed with 64-bit Java actually install the newer 64-bit version instead of installing the 32-bit version at the latest release level alongside the older 64-bit build.... :S

    2. Adam White

      Re: Fond(ish) memories of...

      Be wary of this week's Flash update...

      1. pepper

        Re: Fond(ish) memories of...

        Java has that crap now too, now it really has decended into malware for me. Alas I need it for my minecraft fix..

    3. Lost in Cyberspace

      Re: Fond(ish) memories of...

      If a PC has Ask Toolbar, it will almost certainly have lots of other crap.

      Conduit, MWS, Alot, etc

  7. Lee Dowling Silver badge


    Personally, I find the amount of blackmail available given the usual contents of your average home PC is more than worth the user fulfilling the request of never darkening your door with that device ever again.

    Worked on a teacher's home PC once, years ago, that they let their teenage son loose upon. Let's just say that in the two hours of cleanup, I learned why that particular teacher couldn't control a classroom - they couldn't control their own ten-year-old son.

    Premium-rate modem diallers so great in number they were fighting for control of the modem (and, in a way, prevented a much worse phone bill than could have been possible with only one of them), all of them gained from pornographic sites. So many popups (pornographic) that you literally couldn't do anything without dropping to safe mode. An IE toolbar that was so deep it was unusable.

    Months and months and months of recorded Internet history popping up on their virus scanner and being ignored by all users of the computer. It was so bad, it was embarrassing to be trying to clean it (but clean it I did) with a woman in the room.

    Teacher's comment? "He's a scamp, isn't he?"

    Shortly after, they asked for my help again. I gave them the details of the school disciplinary teacher and a copy of the school's behavioural and Internet access policies and told them to apply them at home.

  8. PaulStevo

    It should be law or soemthing that you have to opt IN to bundled software not out. Why would I want to change browser whilst installing Flash ffs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It should be law that anyone who is even CONSIDERING adding this shite to a software install should be shot, to be replaced with slow, measured beating to death if they defaulted to opt out as well. Anyone not even bothering to ask should have "child molester" tattooed on their forehead before being sent to a serious offenders prison with shower soap dispensers mounted about only a foot from the floor.

      I'm really a peace loving, gentle chap who habitually nurses sick baby seals back to health, but this ever increasing flood of crud that accompanies any moderately interesting software has started to seriously bug me..

      Anyone seen my meds? Anyone?

      1. TRT Silver badge

        There. Fixed it for you. 'Ows about that then, guys and gals?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Browser bars and Antiviruses

    Ah yes, nearly every time I see most of my relatives it is either as a result of a death, marraige or Windows.

    Even the former 2 you get "You still working in IT? My laptops running a bit slow....", so after the wake / reception (delete as appropriate...) you take a look.

    I've seen dozens of browser bars that make using IE like reading a newspaper through a letterbox.

    Whatever bloated crap PC World installed on it, followed by some other internet security package from a cover CD, then some other AV "solution" from some obscure company with a name like "Somintec" that you suspect may be causing more of the virus issues than solving.

    Boot up is slow, again due to the PC World bloat (does it really need to boot OneNote every time?), those 3 or 4 printer - scanner drivers (why does a printer need to have a 300mb application constantly in memory?), 3 or 4 digital camera drivers (again, why does a huge application sit in memory on the off chance that a now broken 3 megapixel digital camera is connected?), huge drivers for the video card, keyboard and mouse (!), "diagnostic" software from the laptop manufactuer that obviously is as use as a chocolate heatsink, and several updates such as Java, Adobe, the aforementioned printers, digital camera etc.

    If it is a machine of a certain vintage you may even get greeted by a bonzi buddy, and the mouse cursor will be some system hogging "comet cursor" picture of a football or a slightly different coloured arrow.

    Then the P2P apps, the torrent apps that upload their episodes of Breaking Bad constantly and the popups to login to MSN messenger (who still uses this?) and then some application to put a picture of their cat on the desktop of their Windows 7 starter netbook through some obscure overengineering which reminds me of the device in the Simpsons that the US embassy had to ensure that the toilet flushed the right way - and that ties this meandering post in with today's excellent BOFH :)

    1. James Micallef Silver badge

      Re: Browser bars and Antiviruses

      Bonzi buddy omg!!!

    2. Darryl

      Re: Browser bars and Antiviruses

      Wow, you just described my father-in-law's PC which is still sitting on my desk at home after a full format-n-reinstall. I think the only thing in your list that he didn't have was a bonzi buddy

    3. wim

      Re: Browser bars and Antiviruses

      "Even the former 2 you get "You still working in IT? My laptops running a bit slow....", so after the wake / reception (delete as appropriate...) you take a look."

      I counter that with.

      I am sorry I do everything with linux now. The latest windows I used is windows 2000. But if you have a linux system I ll be happy to help you out.

      No takers after that.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Browser bars and Antiviruses

        Yes, outside of work, "I don't know about Windows. It's too new for me. In school we learned about about Windows 3.1. I know a little about Windows 95. Windows XP? Oh no, I don't know about that. I'm really falling behind the times. I need to brush up on my skill set. Maybe I can take a look at it. Oh no. This is completely different. I have no idea what is going on here. Sorry." Encouraging doubt in ones abilities sometimes can pay off.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Browser bars and Antiviruses

        Some good ideas!

        I tried them both before though.

        Re: Linux - "I only use Linux now at work and at home, got fed up with Windows and wont have it near me."

        "Lynn Icks? Is that the penguin? This is a Dell Latitude. Keeps popping up with this 'Cannot find webpage' every time I boot in." and I got dragged in somehow.

        Re: Windows - "I haven't even tried that Vista so I wouldn't even know why your wireless connection keeps dropping". (I wasn't lying - despite getting a complimentary copy from attending the Irish Technet launch, I neglected to install it, my most recent Windows experiences at the time being XP and 2000.)

        "Its on <ISP> you see. They said to reboot the router and reboot the Windows but it did nothing." and I got dragged in again, if only in desperation at the level of customer service of a certain cable provider.

      3. Black Betty

        Re: Browser bars and Antiviruses

        Only works if there's a doctor in the family, but boy does it work.

        He asks you about his computer, you drop your strides in the middle of x-mas dinner and ask for a his opinion on your hemaroids.

  10. mark 63 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    i feel sick!

    pretty good this week, good examples of the absolute shite that people install on thier pcs

    but the idea of people plugging thier own machines into my network is stomach churning!!

    they cant even bring a usb stick in :)

    or install stuff,

    or open the registry

    or run command

    or go to any non approved websites

  11. The New Turtle

    Love "the size of the hammer".

    I've never been able to understand the attraction of 'free software' that is of no use. but that people install anyway.

    I also had an 'interesting' time helping a young friend reinstall windows on a 3 week old Tosh laptop. Windows installed in about 35min, but the Tosh crapware took literally 2 1/2 hours. There was a 1 second opportunity to abort the crapware installation before it went right ahead and did it regardless of user wishes. It seems that almost everyone is trying to foist garbage on (L)users these days.

    1. Peter Simpson 1

      A "friend"...

      ....acquired a corporate WinXP Pro install disk. No more crapware on "his" PC, and "he" can wipe and reinstall any time without any pesky activation requirements. Works under VirtualBox as well.

  12. mark 63 Silver badge

    new dept for bofh?

    I see with "odds and sodds" apperantly disappearing BOFH has moved into "Data centre" ! must be trying to hide from lusers

  13. Peter Simpson 1

    I only fix Windows machines once

    ...and only for very good friends (and family, of course). If they can't afford an upgrade to a Mac, I explain to them that even if I succeed in removing all the malware, it will just eventually grow back. Then I ask them what they use their PC for. It's usually mail, browsing, music and digital camera. If iTunes is involved, I recommend a Mac; if not, I ask them if they'd consider trying Linux, with the caveat that we'll save their Windows drive and they can go back to it any time. So far, all have chosen Linux...and stuck with it!

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      I only fix Windows machines once

      So do I. It involves gravity.

      1. Moof

        We just fix it by formatting it and installing Ubuntu.

        1. perlcat

          My fix for relatives' PC issues

          is to allow all my calls to roll to voice mail. If it's a PC problem, it's 'delete' for the message.

          If they buttonhole me in public, I use my home cell to page my work cell, and I take off on my "important call".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I only fix Windows machines once

      I did that for my partner's laptops. Vista and Win7 Starter upgraded to Linux.

      Browsers and the rendered sites are platform agnostic, doesn't matter if it's Windows, Linux, OSX or some tablet.

    3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: I only fix Windows machines once

      A mac? Seriously? Apple are responsible for half the crapware that keeps trying to install itself on my PC in the first place. Why do I need to update Quicktime? Why do I also need to get iTunes and Safari at the same time? The day iTunes manages to install itself on my PC is the day the windows CD comes out and it gets wiped and reinstalled from scratch.

      1. Mike Flugennock

        Re: I only fix Windows machines once

        A mac? Seriously? Apple are responsible for half the crapware that keeps trying to install itself on my PC in the first place...

        Sorry, but I have to disagree here. I've been using a Mac pretty much exclusively since 1985, and the number of times I've had to fend off a crapware installation could be counted on the fingers of one hand.

        There is the issue of Macs shipping with little fistfuls of pre-installed turds -- usually trial versions of MS Office or iPhoto or iMovie or iLife or iWork or some similar iCrap, and whatever the current version of Safari was (when OSX came in) -- but it's always been a small amount, not really increasing that much, and easily gotten rid of.

        Very early on, got hip to bullshit like browser toolbars, weird custom cursors and the like, though I must confess that for a short time in the late '80s, I was really into the Talking Moose.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: I only fix Windows machines once

          On windows they insist on installing everything Apple ever wrote for Windows - when all you want to do is copy a song to your iWhatsit. Then this stuff all does 300mb updates everytime you start the machine

  14. BitDr

    Accurately describes...

    Most of my customer base. Just yesterday I cleaned up a browser that had toolbars consuming one third of the available screen real-estate, and that was the least of the issues.

  15. Spoddyhalfwit

    Not sure this is just vista.

    If you install P2P apps and all that other crap on any system its going to slow it down.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Not sure this is just vista."

      Ah but P2P and other crap on a vista system is like putting a trailer full of lead on a Nissan Serena diesel vs the same on an Aston Vantage.

      1. redniels
        IT Angle

        Re: "Not sure this is just vista."

        no no, you're wrong: adding P2P and other crap on a Vista system is like putting a 2nd turd on an pre-existing turd. It only gets nastier, stickier and stinks more. This was a turd story, do not try to change it to a car one!

        A turd is a turd. it never gets to be an Aston Martin!

        (maybe on one or worse; in one... but never ever be one.)

  16. TRT Silver badge

    Invoice: One new keyboard.

    "Adding memory to Vista is like adding paper to a blocked toilet. Best possible outcome: you've still got a turd. Albeit disguised a little."

  17. Simon Round

    We've all been there haven't we!

    Reminds me of the time a (L)User brought their daughters laptop to me that she was using at collage.

    "It's running a bit slow. Could you take a look at it" he asked.

    I was feeling generous that day. I soon regretted my benevolence.

    A BIT SLOW!!!!!

    It took about 1 hour to startup and about 15 minutes between mouse clicks. Popups all over the place. Toolbars galore. antivirus software having a meltdown. Malware trying to download more rubbish. Hard drive thrashing itself to death, Dialers looking for modems and the network card being hit big time by software trying to replicate over the network. No way was it getting connected to my network.

    In the end I booted using a LiveCD and cleared out the Malware. In total I found over 1500 seperate instances of malware. Once these were gone the computer could actually run reasonably well allowing me to clear out the rest of the rubbish.

    Possibly the worst case I've ever had to misfortune to sort out.

    Beer: Because the cheeky git didn't even buy me one.

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: We've all been there haven't we!

      I'm afraid the best answer is to give the luser a USB memory stick and tell him to copy everything he needs to keep onto that, because the only way to cure a computer that badly infested with malware is to re-format the disk and start again(*). If s/he demurs, refer him to the shop s/he bought the thing from or to the manufacturer's warranty page. After a few round trips, s/he will beg you to wipe it!

      (*) Only a slight lie ... it's certainly the best, the most reliable, and the fastest. Apart from a big hammer or creative use of an ITIL manual, that is.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We've all been there haven't we!

      @"Beer: Because the cheeky git didn't even buy me one."

      This. Spend hours disinfecting a laptop, and you barely get a thanks.

      Yet if you dropped your car off at a mechanic friend / relative, and they spent a few hours degunking the engine or cleaning the air intake, you'd be inclined to slip them a few beer tokens at least.

      1. pepper

        Re: We've all been there haven't we!

        I have a policy that if it would take me more then a hour it will be formatted. Since in the same time I can install and reconfigure a OS of choice.

        I usually do give those that ask a headsup and see if they have anything backup themself(you do save your files to the d:\(DATA, in most default setups) do you?). So far, people have always been happy. A short introduction in what to do and not to do and telling them that if something looks fishy, it IS fishy usually solves a lot of problems.

  18. damian fell

    ITIL manual

    Finally a sensible use for an ITIL manual - if only mine were still shrinkwrapped in wipe-clean plastic.

    1. digismith

      Re: ITIL manual

      As a Teir 3 desktop support

      We had to go through the whole training

      We have NO interest or involvement in any project as minor shop monkeys we do what the larger better paid monkeys tell us.

      WHY DID THEY WASTE OUR TIME LETTING THE TICKET QUEUE grow to almost 100 tickets in the week that it took the 5 of us to complete the master level training.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ahh the memories...

    ... of being asked to sort out a friends PC. My standard thing is to boot it from a linux disk, copy all their stuff to my network drives, and then re-install (its often simpler than trying to rid bloody vista from all the crap they load which does not have a decent uninstall facility).

    Only to find the checker on my server going ping, ping, ping. On searching, by system had thrown a hissy fit at the hidden folder deep in the folder hierarchy, with all these strange files. Well, you have to look don't you. You know you don't really want to know but then just one peek at whats causing the server to ping and ....

    BLOODY HELL - So thats what his wife looks like... nude, and there again in S&M gear, ohh and theses these ones from a BLOODY HELL, who knew there was a wife swapping club in our town?

    Now where was that book on Blackmail for fun and profit.

    I don't normally post as AC, but I still have the copies and this is a nice little earner.

    (True story!)

    1. Mike Flugennock

      Re: Ahh the memories...

      ...On searching, by system had thrown a hissy fit at the hidden folder deep in the folder hierarchy, with all these strange files. Well, you have to look don't you. You know you don't really want to know but then just one peek at whats causing the server to ping and ....

      BLOODY HELL - So thats what his wife looks like... nude, and there again in S&M gear, ohh and theses these ones from a BLOODY HELL, who knew there was a wife swapping club in our town?

      Now where was that book on Blackmail for fun and profit.

      I don't normally post as AC, but I still have the copies and this is a nice little earner.

      Why does this remind me of a stupid old Benny Hill sketch?

      Benny: Got any nude photographs of the wife?

      Little Bald Guy: Why, no!

      Benny: Want to buy some?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ahh the memories...

      Ooh, crikey. Brings back a memory that I thought I'd managed to suppress. I once agreed to reinstall Windows on a friends computer, so he duly dropped the machine off along with a USB hard drive that contained a back up of all the personal files he wanted me to put back on. He kindly suggested I have a poke through the "My Videos" directory for any films I might want to copy for myself. Rather unkindly the films included one of his "bigger boned" wife cavorting naked that he'd given the filename of a Hollywood blockbuster - presumably to obscure the real contents for anyone browsing the file listing.

      1. perlcat

        Re: Ahh the memories...


  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WTB article ratings this one made me snort. Good work :)

  21. A J Stiles

    I'm so glad we run an all-Linux shop here

    If people bring Windows machines in, they run the risk of getting "Service Pack U" installed.

    People know better than to ask me questions about Windows -- I haven't had to use it myself since 98 SE.

    1. Rick Giles

      Re: I'm so glad we run an all-Linux shop here

      Are you in the States? Do you have any job openings???

      I wish they would switch to Linux where I'm at. They would be so much better off.

      I up-voted you as some Wintard fanboi must have down voted you.

    2. Fatman

      Re: I'm so glad we run an all-Linux shop here

      Around WROK PALCE, the in-house joke is to put a bio-hazard sticker on a WindblowZE infected hard drive.

      Is the build of that service pack 12.04 or 12.10???

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Occasionally did odd jobs like this at work

    Had a doctor at work bring in his home machine once as it was making a noise...

    Took the cover off and found a disconnected hard drive hanging from one screw. Power was connected, but ide wasn't and was blocking the fan. It had also been removed from the bios (days of manually added disks)

    Fitted the disk properly, sorted the fan and powered up. 2nd was chock full of porn. Some really filthy stuff as well.

    When the guy came back, he had his 2 teenage sons with him & asked what the issue was.

    When we explained about the 2nd disk & that we'd reconnected it the 2 sons went pale (the family was indian too so no mean feat!)

    Didn't charge him as the look on the faces was payment enough :-)

  23. Alistair

    You do IT for a living? ... Could you ....

    This is a good Friday topic, too damn many tales in the past to even try to remember.

    "size of the hammer" - great line

    I walk em through the issue, show them the fallout, and offer to give them better environment.

    Lately -- with all the horsepower I've even been able to put those things they "have to have" in a windows kvm. I create 2. One is the master image, one is the one they run. If it breaks, delete the broken one, copy the master and away you go. (444 the master first)

    1. Chika

      Re: You do IT for a living? ... Could you ....

      Backup images. Saved my life more than once.

      Pity that most home users rarely even consider them until after their system has shat itself.

      1. Marshalltown

        Re: You do IT for a living? ... Could you ....

        Nah, usually and excuse for a new system.

    2. Rick Giles

      Re: You do IT for a living? ... Could you ....

      WTH is a Windows KVM?

      1. J. Cook Silver badge

        Re: You do IT for a living? ... Could you ....

        @ Rick Giles: I reckon it's a Virtual machine that's configured to run in full screen on the machine's console, thereby giving the impression that it's the real OS that on the system.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    shiny hammer ahoy

    Well with Vista Business there is a hammer that can be applied to some effect - an upgrade to XP.

    I don't do crap-cleanups, not even for friends or soon to be ex-friends*. If we have a standard image in the office that will work on the user's hardware, I offer to reload Windows using that image. Other than that, some PC shop technician deserves to get paid to clean up the poo.

    * I did recently bend this rule - the machine in question belonged to an elderly friend who had been helped by someone who claimed to "know PCs". This clown had compressed just about every file on the system, including the Windows and Program Files directories. Nett result: treacle.

  25. Slow Joe Crow

    The stupid amazes me

    I have a laptop at home with an 8 year old Windows XP Pro installation that runs fine, but I installed the OS myself and ruthlessly stomp the garbage. Surprisingly both my 70 year old mother and 14 year old son also mange to keep their systems clean so my tech support load is light, except for my 9 year crushing her netbook, but at least the OS was clean.

    1. despun

      Re: The stupid amazes me

      Snap. . De-crap it. Go through the task manager list googling each item in turn and deciding what to nuke. Then load, de-crap and configure the aps. Then the back-up image. I'm not in IT, so it took me 2 days. Worth it, though.

  26. Marshalltown

    Ah - the good old days

    I recall a hysterical scream from the office manager one morning. Went running out to discover the owner had carelessly left her computer up, software loaded, and a magazine in the scanner. Apparently he had been scanning pr0n to "share." The OM was extremely fundamentalist - whack job actually, who expected the world to end that year (mid-'90s) - but she grabbed the owner by his nose (really) when he came in and explained the carelessness that had so upset her that if something like it ever happened again, she expected she would own the complany. Two days later I booted up, and lo and behold, my graphic program also launched! What was this I saw????? What IS that she's - well - not wearing. So, that evening upon leaving, I left my careffully dismantled chair in apparent useable shape right where it belonged. Next day, peices on the floor and astonishingly, the owner is out because he suffered a back injury working in his yard. Heh, heh, heh. It was a crappy chair anyway. I even got a new one out of it.

  27. G2

    i wish i could mod the article insightful +1

    "Only to the size of the hammer," - this is my rule too :)

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On helping friends and family with their machines

    I used to. I tried to be the nice guy. In the end, I'd rather pay for maintenance fee at the local fixitshop. I just don't have the time. I will rescue data though. I like doing that. Then I give the friend the data on his choice of media. It's a nice way to keep your hands free of turds and truly help. Fixing the computer is minor compared to saving their data. If that isn't how they feel about it, I tell them to it's time to buy a new one. I can recycle the old one if they like.

  29. Paul 129

    Is the BOFH sick or something?


    They all pay, and sight more than 10 quid


  30. Martin Budden Silver badge


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