back to article BOFH: Go on, beancounter, type DROP TABLE asset;

"Don't put that there," I snap - calmly, but firmly, as a Beancounter goes to drop a chunk of IT detritus on my desk. "What?" he asks, feigning innocence. "That. Don't put it on my desk, it doesn't belong there." "But it's IT equipment!" he bleats. "It's IT crap and it doesn't belong on my desk - any more that real crap …


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  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Mostly_Harmless Silver badge

    phrase of the day

    "dropping tables like a epileptic removals man"

    I like it :-)

    1. Jad
      Thumb Up

      Re: phrase of the day

      Agreed ... a good end to a 4 day week :)

    2. Blubster

      Re: phrase of the day

      "dropping tables like a epileptic removals man

      I like it :-)"

      As do I, a very cromulent expression.

  3. nuked
    Thumb Up

    "we'll come to the chairs later"

  4. Michael H.F. Wilkinson
    Thumb Up


    The beancounter should have heeded the warning sign:

    Danger! Dropping tables! Hard-hat and further protective clothing required.

    or the more generic:

    Here be dragons

    when approaching the BOFH's den

  5. mastodon't

    Back with bang (and screams)

    Friday at last!

    seems like months since the last one, time for a lunchtime livener

    Cheers to all and have a wonderful weekend

  6. Gordon 10 Silver badge

    Best BOFH for ages

    I particularly liked the Aneurism line

  7. DrStrangeLug

    Ah, good old BOFH, a role model for modern IT professionals everywhere.

    Whenever I get those stupid "Would you like to us your opinion of our site?" crap I always sign of with my nom de plume, DROP TABLE SURVEYS; .

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      XKCD reference

      1. nichomach

        Re: XKCD reference

        Ah, Little Bobby Tables, a perennial favourite...

    2. John G Imrie

      You nees a new Nom de Plume


      is much more fun

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Thanks Simon.

    After many years, I now put down my coffee before reading BOFH.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's friday.

    The temptation to drop a whole database and leave by the nearest exit is strong this afternoon.

  10. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

    Two in a fortnight

    Is it christmas?

  11. stanimir

    Truly Good Stuff, although beancounters should not have DDL privileges. I just wish the PFY was a bit more involved.

  12. K


    But the evil needs to begin sooner :D

  13. Juillen 1


    A bobby tables day!

  14. thosrtanner
    Thumb Up

    You *know* bad things are going to happen when the BOFH starts to be helpful.

    The pink mist though That produced a brown mist on my monitor. I can't stop laughing.

  15. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    Did Simon forget

    the off-site DR copy? Or does he manage that 'facility' (i.e. his garage) for a fee as well?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Did Simon forget

      We once asked a customer for a restore of a database (test environment, they have their own dba's) and were told we might have to wait a while while they find the tape.

      'you mean retrieve it from the library?'

      'no... err, we've sort of lost it.'

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Did Simon forget

        Also, one of our servers tape drives decided to give up the ghost, one of my colleagues spotted the alarm when logging into it one day. He phoned the people at the data centre.

        "Oh I did wonder why there was a red light on it"

        "The one next to the words 'error' by any chance?"


        "So how long has it been on"

        "A while now"

        "And you've just been changing the tapes"


        1. Why Not?

          Re: Did Simon forget

          happy BOFH day to me, Happy BOFH day to me.....

          Its like turning up to a new (to me) customer to restore all their data as they had deleted it, ask for the backup tape and they reply - "oh the helpdesk told me you would install the backup after you had restored all our data ......"

      2. philbo

        Re: Did Simon forget

        I'm sure half the people here have a story like this: going back on-site to fix a customer's ID card database, I find that the tape in the tape drive was the one that I put there five years earlier, and the backup on it was the one that I had taken all those years ago.

        Nobody had clicked the "make a backup" icon once. Sigh.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Did Simon forget

          Nobody had clicked the "make a backup" icon once. Sigh.

          Which is why you automate backups with a scheduled task and a robotic tape changer. Although at a former employer the tape changer looked like it had been constructed from perspex and aluminium oddments in a school technology lesson, and managed to jam a tape in such a way that it unspooled all over the machine room floor.

          1. reno79

            Re: Did Simon forget

            My best one was made out of Lego Technic. Never failed once in over three years of use.

            And no I'm not joking.

        2. Midnight

          Re: Did Simon forget

          My personal favourite is finding the same tape you put in weeks ago still in the drive and a box full of unused blank tapes on the next shelf over, even though you know the full backup takes three tapes.

          Apparently the helpful folks on the night shift didn't understand why the tape kept popping out of the drive and just pushed it back in every time. That caused some kind of meaningless warning to appear on the backup console, but there was no reason to read it as selecting "OK" made that go away as well.

        3. Marshalltown

          Re: Did Simon forget

          My favorite was an elderly couple whose son had given them a used computer. They were keeping their household books on it. Called out to upgrade the software for their book keeping and discovered that the son hadn't bothered to explain what a floppy disk, or that their computer had a floppy drive. They had been under the impression for three years(!!) that the slot in the front of the computer was for ventilation.

    2. Blofeld's Cat

      Re: Did Simon forget

      "the off-site DR copy?"

      No - that's been outsourced to somebody called /dev/null for ages now.

    3. TeaLeaf

      Re: Did Simon forget

      @Peter Gathercole

      Not too far off one of our off-site storage providers; the tapes were stored in a barn!

  16. Lloyd
    Thumb Up

    A pleasant return to form

    I haven't read BOFH in well over a year (basically back to when it came off the rails) and that was a pleasant return to form, it may have been that I was swearing at an UPDATE statement at the time because it wasn't using the index unless I forced it with a hint but hey, I enjoyed it nonetheless.

  17. Simon B
    Thumb Up


    Thoroughly enjoyed that one :) Welcome back oh BOFH overlord :)

  18. pipp
    Thumb Up

    Fantastic stuff! Great to have the BOFH back :-)

  19. Crisp

    Polishing the fingernail scratches off the window frame

    You've got to take care of the evidence.

    Or at least make sure that it points in someone else's direction :)

    1. John G Imrie

      points in someone else's direction

      I thought that was taking care of the evidence

  20. The New Turtle

    Excellent - there was a sense of eager anticipation from the moment the word 'delete' was first used.

    Sherlock Holmes, because he'll be called in to find the missing backup.

  21. ecofeco Silver badge

    Okay, well we can forget that WHERE clause for a start

    < there goes another keyboard

  22. Daniel B.

    Ahhh... the good old DELETE...

    only surpassed by the WHEREless UPDATE, when someone ends up realizing they've set the email field to '' on the whole table too late, after getting the response

    UPDATE 0 3958293

    Geeze, isn't that single statement taking too long?

  23. Herby

    This goes into the category of...

    Worse Than Failure (or better known as WTF).

    Of course coffee spray over the keyboard might fit in that category as well.

    Isn't SQL so nice :-)!!

  24. Marshalltown

    Ah - the pink mist

    Ok, please log in as root. OK? Goooood. Now type "cd /".

    Done that? Excellent, now type "rm -rf *". Done that? Fine.

    Yep it will take a while.

  25. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    "I'll login you into ..."

    Did you really smash your way through that cacophony of syllables, instead of saying the more mouth-friendly and more gooder English: "I'll log you in to..."

    1. perlcat

      Amusing. Criticising Simon's grammar.

      "That's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it works."

  26. Jen 3

    Off-site backups?

    Those would be the tapes that are in the cardboard box sat on top of the floor standing server, whilst the on-site backup was the tape that was in the actual drive?

    1. jjk

      Re: Off-site backups?

      "Those would be the tapes that are in the cardboard box sat on top of the floor standing server,..."

      ... overhanging just enough so that they fall on the passing beancounter's head... distracting him for long enough to let him step on the missing floor tile... making him stumble and hit his head on a strategically placed chair... and fall on a piece of old carpet that just *happened* to lie around...

    2. Fatman

      Re: Off-site backups?

      No, they would be the tapes that sat next to the old CRT for more than 3 years, and may have been slowly erased by the magnetic field it generated.

      I once had a QIC (quarter inch cartridge) tape drive band snap during a high speed rewind; the resulting mess INSIDE the cartridge was a sight to behold.

    3. Pedigree-Pete

      Re: Off-site backups?

      My off site backups were the ones found in someones back garden right after my car was raided in the local pub car park. Stupid theif thought there would be a laptop in that laptop bag.

  27. Spiny_Norman

    Or a feature of SQL*Plus that bit my colleague

    A jobsworth clown bounced a Linux server 3 times in15 mins without telling us, Hundreds of seriously fscked files that had to be cleaned out manually. Fortunately we had a list of the file ids so colleague fires up sqlplus & DELETE FROM (huge_table)

    WHERE FILEID IN (list of 10 file ids); This runs fine so:

    DELETE FROM (huge_table)

    --WHERE FILEID IN (list of 10 file ids);

    WHERE FILEID IN (list of next 10 fields);

    Whoops. 1.4 billion rows deleted before he wondered why it was taking a while. It took us a week to reprocess all the zapped data. Shame he hadn't RTFM...

  28. The Gopher

    SQ Hell

    Well it was HELL for the Beancounter ;) The BOFH back to his best i see...

    Now where did I put that bulk eraser....

  29. davidp231

    Pure brilliance.

    Gotta love SQL. Always fun and games when the BOFH is 'encouraging' someone to play with SQL.

  30. kjdavies

    Almost ran UPDATE without WHERE

    1. Richard 120
      Thumb Up

      Re: Almost ran UPDATE without WHERE

      I ran an update without a where once

      fortunately I did an export beforehand

  31. Rosuav
    Thumb Up


    This is why you should *always* have a transaction open. Oops, something went wrong... hit Ctrl-C, type 'rollback' if the SIGINT doesn't automatically roll you back, start again. If the worst comes to the worst, you just kill your client session and the server will automatically roll its transaction back. Of course, this does assume you're using a sane database engine; I use PostgreSQL, others also work, just avoid MySQL.

    The BOFH clearly knows this, hence the explicit 'commit' to seal the assets' (and DBA's) doom.

  32. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge


    Love this command :D

    Makes recovery soooo much harder :D

    And welcome back, oh mighty BOFH :)

  33. DrAJS

    Update as a select

    This works well in SSMS:

    select * from <table name>

    --update <table name> set <field> = <value>

    where <clauses>

    Run the whole statement, check you are updating the rows you want and then highlight from the update command and hit F5. It's not idiot proof but it is fool proof.

    Every time I show that to someone they say "Oooh, that's a good idea!".

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