back to article BOFH: On the PFY's Scottish estate, no one can hear you scream...

BOFH logo telephone with devil's horns "Obviously we're after sustainable," the Boss burbles. "Yes, sustainable is good. I'm thinking of a mix of solar and wind generation - low carbon footprint building materials, potable and non-potable water storage and filtration in the workspaces, natural and borrowed light..." "Sounds …


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  1. James 51

    They forgot about printing on recycled paper too (that seems to cost 3x).

    1. Chris Miller

      Ah yes, recycled paper. Let's overlook the fact that trees grown for woodpulp are a crop, and the concept of recycling paper makes as much sense as recycling wheat. No, let's collect our waste paper, take it in a fume-belching lorry to a factory, where it can be mashed up and treated with lots of nice environmentally friendly bleach (because there'll be a lot of toner and ink mixed in and no-one wants to send out bank statements and bills printed on muddy grey-brown paper). Environmentalism in action.

      And don't even get me started on 'recycling' bottles ...

      1. James 51

        Recycling plastic makes more sense I think due to the difficultly in growing more oil.

        I know we keep finding more but we're going to run out at some point (how ever near/far that point may be) and plant based alternatives to digging it up will only yield so much.

        1. Nigel 11

          Not running out of oil

          We won't run out of oil, we'll jut run out of oil that's cheap enough to burn as fuel or to throw away as low-value packaging. There are huge numbers of oil finds that flowed a little oil and were then plugged and abandoned as hopelessly sub-economic. To get oil for use as a high-value petrochemicals feedstock, the day may come when it's worth re-opening those wells to extract said feedstock at $1000/barrel, $10,000/barrel or whatever.

          1. Paul Wells

            Re: Not running out of oil

            Wasn't $100 a barrel the proce barrier which was going to change how we use oil? Didn't seem to happen then.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          How do we actually know we'll run out of oil at some point? If the greenies are right and our usage of oil is going to cause mass extinction, then the rotting carcasses of those extinct animals will eventually generate more oil.


          1. petur

            We are not running out of oil, it is just becoming harder and harder to get it out of the soil, so the cost will increase and with that the problem will probably fix itself.

            Years ago I read a prediction of 50 years, so we still have some time to go and probably get inventive to stretch this a bit longer, but you can bet that when oil becomes too expensive some clever people will be making money off the replacements ;)

        3. Terry 14

          Until you realise that most manufacturers will only allow 10% of recyclable material to be used and you cane get this from the sprew ( the material that is used in moulding a component, but is not a part of the component).

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Bleach shouldn't work on toner. I imagine they use much worse things.

        But I have been told that "recycled paper" is in reality the stuff left after trimming (there is a lot of border on most commercial print jobs) which is recycled. Office paper doesn't get recycled to office paper.

        There have been attempts at really environmentally friendly printers (e.g. the Ricoh Gelsprinters) but they haven't caught on.

        1. Allan George Dyer

          Re: Bleach?

          I think the "recycled paper" is about 50% trimmings from commercial print jobs, and 50% water. Based on observation of the guy holding a hose on the bales of offcuts.

      3. Aldous

        You missed the bit where instead of recycling in the host nation the cardboard and paper is loaded onto boats and sent to China.

        Now its true they do this because the boats would be going back nearly empty but paper does weigh something and shipping is a major cause of pollution/carbon.

        Nevermind though its green so people can feel less guilt when they buy the whizzbang6xgti (so much better and cooler then the normal whizzbang 6) which they can then write about how green they are on facebook before driving their 6 kids down the street.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          recycling fibers

          Shipping good quality cardboard and wood chips to china has more to do with the lack of high quality fiber for making paper and cardboard in china. If you've ever had to deal with shipments from china you'll have noticed their cardboard comes only in shitty, terrible and already disintegrating qualities. Theres few domestic sources of high quality wood fiber to make high quality paper and cardboards. This means there is a high demand for recyclable fibers. And this in turn means shipping companies can make a bit extra by shipping recycled wood and cardboard fibers back to china in otherwise empty ships.

          1. Marshalltown


            ... imports hay from California. That will be costly this year. You can bet that if they don't waste arable land raising animal feed, they won't waste acres on paper fiber crops either.

        2. Frumious Bandersnatch

          and shipping is a major cause of pollution/carbon.

          Really? Ships have diesel engines. Diesel engines become more efficient the bigger you build them. This wikipedia page rates fuel efficiency "of rail and ship transport [as] generally much more efficient than trucking, and air freight is much less efficient".

          So do you have any argument to back up that claim? Or are you really trying to say that transporting stuff is the problem? What's the solution, if not using the most efficient transport systems (ie, rail and ship) possible?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: and shipping is a major cause of pollution/carbon.

            Calling it a cause of pollution is correct. Just because it is more efficient than other similar methods doesn't mean it doesn't pollute.

      4. petur

        Unless you've done the math I would refrain from such anti-eco-xyz rants, also because your anti-green rant ends up full of holes. Like forgetting that hauling those dead trees from a forest to a factory involes more lorries and machinery producing nice fumes.

        1. nichomach

          Hate to point this out...

          ...but we do a lot of paper recycling in the UK as well; the company I work for built a plant that's currently chewing through 640,000 tonnes p.a. and given that it's in the UK it doesn't get to play fast and loose with truly nasty chemicals.

      5. Rick Brasche

        now they do a lot of bleaching with oxygen. Pure O2, cryogenically stored on-site (Weyerhauser, early 1990's) at significant energy cost to produce, transport in large dewar bottle trucks, where a significant portion is lost due to venting while stored and travelling through pipes.

        Not sure there's a net savings there either.

      6. Dave 32

        Recycling bottles

        Ah, yes, recycling bottles. It they were serious about that, then they'd make bottles with a 12 inch opening instead of those little half-inch openings. After all, it's devilishly difficult to hit a half-inch opening to refill them after you've consumed the contents. ;-)


        P. S. I'll get my coat. It's the one with the "dry" pockets.

      7. HamsterNet

        Dont forget

        That new paper production is actually powered by the waste produce from the trees used to make the paper, whereas recycling paper takes up massive amounts of electrical energy..

    2. Trygve Henriksen

      The only GREEN way of handling paper is...

      Not Effing use it!

      In my organisation we had a big problem of users coming to a location, connecting their PC to the network to read email or browse lolcats or whatever, and of course printing the sh!t to one printer or another...

      Checking WHICH printer is set as default before printing?


      That tended to waste a bit of paper. Especially when they accidentally sent long documents to one of the A0 Designjet plotters...

      Now we're using a system 'Papercut' combined with card readers on all larger printers.

      Anything they send to the printer but doesn't actually print out within 3 days is automatically deleted.

      A 10% saving is easy to achieve with this...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The only GREEN way of handling paper is...

        But I'm sure the hardware, installation, maintenance and electricity to run those card scanners costs way more than the 10% reduction in paper waste did. That makes your company the sucker.

  2. davidp231

    Best way to start a Friday.

    1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      Re start a Friday

      Yeah, problem is it puts me into pub mode. And not the kind with going back to the office afterwards. Then again, it's not really a problem.

  3. Beamerboy

    Ahh BOFH..

    It's been too long, how I have missed you! You know back in the day we used to get one of these every's what made Friday a Friday!

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: Ahh BOFH..

      Indeed, although in the gaps in between our dear Mr Dabbs does seem to be slowly metamorphosising into a PFY, to quite entertaining effect for a Friday afternoon read instead.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    This would be funny except ...

    I worked all to close to an office of a well known government organisation who stuck an anaerobic composter in the basement car park of their city centre office.

    Nothing quite beats the smell of fermenting banana skin, and putrefying rancid sandwich after your morning Starbucks (then again waste animal fat rendering plants do but that is a different office and another story).

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: This would be funny except ...

      But, but, but! You've got to have the green stuff in the plans!

      Otherwise the architects all sulk, the poor dears. Then they get smears on their weird designer glasses, and get tear stains on their pristine hi-vis jackets.

      Of course when the engineers get involved in the spec later, the green stuff might actually be made to work. With a following wind and a bit of hope. But that's OK, as then the beancounters come along, they'll take it all off the spec anyway. But none of us begrudge the effort, because a happy architect is worth all the wasted time and effort. Oh yes.

      [But like the Murphy's, I'm not bitter.]

      Hmmm, quicklime and a shovel you say? Forest up in Scotland? Hmmm. interesting. Checks diary... tappity... tappity... change meeting location... now onto the next... New meeting request accepted. Excellent! Books hotel in Scotland... do we need meeting facilities? Oh no, I don't think we'll use those... I plan by the green agenda. All meetings to be outdoors, to inspire us with nature... tappity... tappity... It's just possible you could save my life...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This would be funny except ...

        Do remember that, apart from one return, "train tickets" need only be one way. Every little helps ....

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

          Re: This would be funny except ...

          Reminds me of this London Underground poster, with apologies to the blogger for any excess traffic (as I can't find the image online anywhere else).

          Henry with Anne Boleyn and court, with tagline "A return trip to the Tower, and a single for my wife".

        2. Anonymous Coward

          Re: This would be funny except ...

          A further thought ... I do know the location of either an urbane composter or indeed a waste animal fat rendering plant the smell from both would doubtless be marginally improved by your organic waste suggestions.

          Travel to either would have a far more acceptable carbon footprint to "your companies green policies" than the pine forests of the Scottish highlands.

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: This would be funny except ...

            an urbane composter

            I've heard of refined fuels, but isn't that taking it a bit far?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: This would be funny except ...

              Bugger I had thought make sure I spell that urban and not urbane when I typed the comment. Ripley's believe it or not ... but is true.

        3. d3rrial

          Re: This would be funny except ...

          "Do remember that, apart from one return, "train tickets" need only be one way. Every little helps ...."

          Wouldn't it be environmentally better than, if all tickets were return tickets with the seats on the return ride empty? Train has less mass (due to seats being empty) and thus requires less energy...

  5. Matt Bryant Silver badge


    Surely, instead of sending the PFY on a suicide mission to the boardroom, a few invites to a 'truffle digging day in Scotland' ("every participant gets their own commemorative shovel and bag of lime") would have been more BOFHish?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ending?

      "a few invites to a 'truffle digging day in Scotland' ("every participant gets their own commemorative shovel and bag of lime)"

      Absolutely. And then take 'em out piecemeal - sorry, I mean, take 'em out for a MEAL...

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Ending?

      Grouse shooting.

      Now, who was it who was grousing about the carbon footprint?

  6. ElReg!comments!Pierre

    they won't need these 70k in equipment anyway

    Not after everything is moved to the cloud (surely that would not be equipment budget).

    Which is where I tought everything would go sour, with someone taking a short but entertaining flight from the retreat environment to the tiered greenspace. Possibly a duo flight even.

    1. Thomas Whipp

      Re: they won't need these 70k in equipment anyway

      Of course the bit of me that's run budgets knows that the equipment budget is likely capital (and thus subject to amortisation over a number of years) and any consultancy would be revenue (which is booked straight to costs).

      Therefore typically a £70k reduction in equipment would provide something like a £23.3k consultancy spend within the budget year (and probably creates £23.3k savings in years 2 and 3 which could then go to savings targets in those years without needing to do anything else).

      I'd therefore be particularly annoyed about exactly how they'd nicked my budget.

      1. Corinne

        Re: they won't need these 70k in equipment anyway

        "Of course the bit of me that's run budgets knows that the equipment budget is likely capital (and thus subject to amortisation over a number of years) and any consultancy would be revenue (which is booked straight to costs)."

        Not in the old days in the Civil Service - consultancy was always capital costs. So contract staff could come out of capital rather than current, meaning you could have more staff that weren't included in running costs (which permy staff were).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: they won't need these 70k in equipment anyway

      Oh yes, the mythical cloud... its not like the cloud has datacenters is it???

      oh no...

      I hate the idea of my data being stored in cloud storage... unfortunately there are not real good open source alternatives to dropbox/google drive yet... (own cloud is OK, but it is PHP....)

      Well I will stop moaning about it and add it to my list of things to write I guess....

  7. Michael H.F. Wilkinson


    "Sending money to Uganda" has a nice ring to it

    As a veiled threat for those in the know

    1. Jedit

      "Sending money to Uganda" has a nice ring to it"

      Given the meaning of "discussing Uganda" as popularised by Private Eye, I would not threaten someone with sending money there. They would almost certainly think I was paying for something entirely different.

      1. Ted Treen

        Re: "Sending money to Uganda" has a nice ring to it"

        You mean that where you work, you don't get screwed?

        Must be a first...

    2. ElReg!comments!Pierre

      Re: Nice!

      > "Sending money to Uganda" has a nice ring to it as a veiled threat for those in the know

      Ho noes he's gonna become a registered Vim user!

  8. Maverick

    " . . . green printers using vegetable-based inks."

    " architect blood," the PFY murmurs."

    classic & another KB dies on a Friday :)

    1. Chika

      Wouldn't work.

      Architects don't have any.

  9. Alien8n

    The irony

    The irony is architects seem to be very good at creating designs that generate a lot of energy, just not so good at harnessing that energy (except as Jaguar melting plants). Imagine a couple of well designed window frontages that actually focused the beam onto a solar panel, rather than onto nearby parked cars, or high rise skyscrapers that directed winds through turbines instead of creating pavement level local hurricanes...

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: The irony

      You mean like that vaguely 3rd doctor sonic screwdriver styled building at Elephant and Castle that doesn't work, if I read my newspaper correctly?

      1. AlbertH

        Re: The irony

        NO wind turbines actually "work". They consume energy in low wind situations (they have to keep turning to stop them jamming) and they'll NEVER pay back the energy used to manufacture, transport, install and commission the damn things. They are as bogus as "cold fusion", just like the vast majority of "green" projects.

    2. skeptical i

      Like the Vrader Hotel "death ray" in Las Vegas? [Re: The irony] -- another wasted opportunity. (Fire icon for obvious reasons.)

      1. skeptical i

        Vdara, not Vrader [[Re: Like the Vrader Hotel "death ray" in Las Vegas? [The irony]]

        Death ray, death star; Vdara, Vader, easy mistake to make.

  10. earl grey

    save a bit of leccy

    And turn off the elevator whilst the boss and the architect are in the basement where no one can hear you scream...

  11. Fatman

    What are YOU up to, Mr. BOFH???

    "Absolutely. In fact I would insist upon it. You, me, possibly the Boss, a shovel, some lime - it would make a great day out!"

    Planning some homicide??

    You naughty boy.

    Please insure that the Board also attends.

  12. willi0000000

    i've worked with architects who can design an energy efficient building and ones that i wouldn't trust not to hurt somebody while assembling a five-piece Lego set. the key difference is knowledge. you need to understand how, where and why a building gains and loses energy.

    on-site energy collection is usually a huge waste of money, unless the site has some peculiar properties like it's own small, fast river running through.

    the most efficient designs i've seen use passive energy collection/rejection to achieve the desired savings. the use of a passive solar design also reduces heating and cooling with no parts requiring movement or maintenance. then you get into the surface treatments, what color roof and siding. an HVAC designer once told me that the most efficient heating and cooling system, both in installation and maintenance, is insulation.

    all of the requirements are, of course, location specific and require quite a lot of specialized knowledge to be properly applied. i've seen solar panel installations where the panels are shaded from the sun by adjacent buildings or placed where they won't interfere with the "look" of the thing.

    bottom line, know your architect, don't let them design you a monument to their brilliance. if they can't or won't design an efficient structure take them for a Scottish Road Trip™.

  13. Rick Giles

    "Yes, but it doesn't cancel it out geographically. If that were the case I could pay someone in Africa to filter water while I pee in your bathtub!"


  14. Frank N. Stein

    You're my hero, Simon. You are THE MAN!!

  15. herman Silver badge

    Not everything that is green is good. A week old hamburger is green and global warming is good for Scandinavia, Russia and Canada...

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