back to article BOFH: An UNHOLY MATCH forged amid the sweet smell of bullsh*t

Keeping up with the changing face of IT is a pain in the arse at times. Half the time I'm looking at some bleeding edge technology wondering what the hell it does, who would want it and whether it's worth the effort. All too often the answers are "No idea", "no one" and "no". Still, it grates a bit when a consultant is …

  1. Flippy

    "How can you die of a vision-related illness?"

    Love it.

  2. Denarius
    Thumb Up

    yes, yes, YES!!

    Sorry Alastair, couldn't help it with exclamation marks. The remote possibility of the BOFH breeding. I won't sleep for weeks. That consultant rings so true to life in so many companies I have lurked in. Congratulations Simon, an excellent mid-weekend read.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon
      Thumb Up

      Re: yes, yes, YES!!


      '"See," Gina says, "I do this crap year in year out, and I hate it – but it pays really well'

      Wow, that's my career all in one line :D

  3. unitron

    What's a female BOFH?

    Operatress? Operatrix?

    1. Denarius

      Re: What's a female BOFH?

      A variant of Dominatrix, except not interested in getting the client any release. I don't want to know. Whats the icon for fear ?

    2. watkin5

      Re: What's a female BOFH?

      She would be an Operator.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What's a female BOFH?

        I think Operatrix would be the female equivalent of Operator (Dominatrix is the feminine version of Dominator, and the Moderatrix was the female Moderator of this very forum)

        1. stucs201

          Re: What's a female BOFH?

          Bitch Operatrix From Hell

          1. Anonymous Dutch Coward
            Thumb Up

            Re: What's a female BOFH?

            Seems about right: my words.exe (aging but useful Latin dictionary):


            rix SUFFIX

            -ess, -or; -er; indicates the doer; one who performs action of verb (act.ess);

            operatrix N 3 1 NOM S F

            operatrix N 3 1 NOM S F

            operatrix N 3 1 VOC S F

            operatrix N 3 1 VOC S F

            opero, operare, operavi, operatus V (1st) [EXXDX] Later lesser

            work; operate (math.);

            operor, operari, operatus sum V (1st) DEP [XXXBX]

            labor, toil, work; perform (religious service), attend, serve; devote oneself;

            1. Mephistro
              Thumb Up

              Re: What's a female BOFH? (@ Anonymous Dutch Coward)

              Holy Mother of Cheesus! I need another dictionary just to understand words.exe's output! :-)

          2. David Given

            Re: What's a female BOFH?

            This also has the advantage that you don't need to change the notepaper.

      2. Rob 5
        Thumb Up

        Re: What's a female BOFH?

        I see what you did there, watkin5. Have an upvote.

    3. T. F. M. Reader

      Re: What's a female BOFH?


    4. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: What's a female BOFH?

      Bob, until they've survived their probationary period. Or in exceptional circumstances where your own survival is less certain, call them whatever they'd like.

  4. Cipher

    Oh nooeessss...

    Has the BOFH met his match? In both senses of the word...

    Guess I'll have to stayed tuned next week, same Bat Time, same Bat Channel...

    Really good stuff!

  5. DJV Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    Out BOFH'd by a primary BOFHess! Excellent stuff! There had better be a part 13!

  6. chivo243 Silver badge

    "Like money on expensive consultants?" I ask

    A couple of years ago, we had a consultant company audit our operation. Then after interview after interview with all the different focus groups and their subgroups, a shiny wonderful report was produced with lots of big tech company's logo's plastered all over it. It was a real piece of work. However, in the first section, it faulted the organization for having an understaffed IT department. Funny how that consulting company isn't ever mentioned any more.

    So in the end, if they had spent the money used for the consultant, they could have hired another IT staffer, and surely better performance from the IT group, which is what they wanted in the first place.

    1. MrDamage Silver badge

      Re: "Like money on expensive consultants?" I ask

      In a company I once worked for, we referred to all of the consultants as seagulls.

      They fly in, make a lot of noise, shit on everything, and then fuck off with your chips.

      1. zen1

        @ MrDamage Re: "Like money on expensive consultants?" I ask

        Sir, that was probably the most brilliant analogy for a consultant I've ever heard. My I use it, please?

        1. Fatman

          Re: @ MrDamage "Like money on expensive consultants?" I ask

          I was about to write: You do know that analogy also applies to Manglement?

          BUT, I don't like how it reads, so let me fix it:

          You do know that description1 also applies to Manglement?

          1 Seagull: As in "flies in, creates a mess, shits all over the place and then flies off, leaving you to clean up afterward."

      2. chivo243 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: "Like money on expensive consultants?" I ask


        Have an upvote for clearly correcting my nice way of putting it!

      3. David 18

        Re: "Like money on expensive consultants?" I ask

        Thanks MrDamage, a genuine guffaw that made heads turn in the open plan office.

    2. dan1980

      Re: "Like money on expensive consultants?" I ask


      "Funny how that consulting company isn't ever mentioned any more."

      Their mistake was to tell the truth rather than say what the managers wanted to hear. Successful consultants will get a feel for what the management is pre-disposed towards and what they are against and product a report that caters to that.

      Managers can help streamline this process by engaging a consultant that deals with whatever solution they (the managers) are already considering.

      For example, if you want to move to a 'cloud' service then engage a consultant that specialises in cloud computing or - even better - is from a company that sells cloud services.

      That, after all, is clearly the best way to get a balanced, unbiased opinion.

      1. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: "Like money on expensive consultants?" I ask


        Actually they had said all the right things in all the other sections of the report, maybe staffing should have been the last section, and maybe more people would have tired of the tripe, and not read cover to cover...

      2. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: "Like money on expensive consultants?" I ask


        The classic example of this is in education.

        The then government, already wanting to see "phonics" as the be all and end all of teaching reading. (It being simple, cheap, easy for the electorate to understand, popular with the big publishing companies who could sell schools lots of cheap kit expensively and a good sound bite) appointed a "commission" to decide the best way to teach reading. Chaired, of course, by someone who had already made clear that he believed that phonics was the be all and end all of teaching reading.

        You'd never have guessed his conclusion (would you?).

    3. Marshalltown

      Re: "Like money on expensive consultants?" I ask

      Heh, there is no company on the planet, for profit or NPO that doesn't want to reduce the staffing levels in hopes of a bigger bottom line. You might think NPOs would be immune but that is not true, and in some instances, like healthcare orgs, not even humourous. The plan is inevitably to be "more efficient," keeping the client/patient happy by smiling more (no joke). My SO works in a hospital where the management thought that a patient's stay should be pleasant (in hotel terms of pleasant) and that less face time with nurses for instance could be repaired by the nurses smiling at the patient.

      Nurse rushing in to room to turn off call on for half an hour: "There you are Mrs. *****!"

      Smiles broadly.

      Patient no response: "How are we today??"

      Even broader smile: "I'm so sorry it took so very long to respond. There's only me on the floor at the moment, and I was attending to another patient."

      Nurse whispers, "They've let go all the attendants."

      Patient: No response.

      Nurse: "Mrs. *****? Are you awake? I have to take your vitals while I'm here. Oh my gosh!" Hits emergency button.

  7. Trollslayer


    in years!

  8. Anonymous Coward

    that was an interesting twist

    I can't wait to see how this turns out.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: that was an interesting twist

      I can't wait to see how this turns out.

      She'll never marry him. He might get two weeks of shagging in France if he agrees to pay for and take the wine...

      ...or he might find out later that she prefers her men a little younger, when the PFY returns exhausted and tanned two weeks later.

  9. Paul Johnston

    Highly unlikely

    We use consultants on £1000+ a day, it's unlikely they would bend down to pick up £2000!

    Anyway blackmailing a sysadmin when there are accountants and HR people still alive is just so wrong !!!

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Highly unlikely

      Now a politician might do it for £2000 - they are cheap - but a professional would be asking for much more and not so directly in my experience. She's an amateur and she's going to get caught.

      1. Anonymous Dutch Coward

        Re: Highly unlikely

        Caught? Beware, I hear vision-induced terminal accidents are quite common this time of year...

  10. Clamps Silver badge


    awesome. we have to hear more of the fbofh!

  11. Clamps Silver badge

    "next week, same Bat Time"

    i wish i had that kind of blind optimism

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Ok, how about

      "next week, same echo location"?

  12. Will Godfrey Silver badge


    I feel a sudden lurch in the entire space-time continuum.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Re: Wow!

      Ed(w)i(na)'s in the space time continuum?

  13. BenDwire Silver badge

    Dyslexia rules KO ...

    Am I the only one who read it as "so I can go back in time and *excrete* Simon Cowell" ...?

  14. zen1


    OK, is it me or am I the only one who finds this female character arousing?

    1. perlcat

      Re: Swoons

      You are not the only one. She slams my doors, too.

  15. Trygve Henriksen


    She's not a genuine BOFH!

    She drinks expensive wine, not Guinness!

  16. Terry 6 Silver badge

    But yeah

    In every field there are these types, usually coming from big named companies, who vacuum up a big chunk of the budget to issue a bullshit report based on a mythical expertise that is often invented by the company that employs them. It's all smoke and mirrors, but with the force of the big consulting agency wafting them onwards. There never seems to be any real evidence to support the underlying assumptions and any "research" is usually created by themselves to justify their own claims.

    Management consultants are the worst, since they are all, by definition, NOT managing anything if they are out being consultants. And, I should add, education management consultants are the worst of the worst ( I know, I've done the training). They aren't managing *or* teaching. I wouldn't leave any of them alone in a room with the silverware.

  17. ortunk

    last audit came after a two day system crash due to not investing in some software that we use crititcally, estimated losses about 4 million USD in retail operations :)

    so auditors came armed with VMWare and Windows expertise however we are running legacy systems on RedHat4 (Yep!), Oracle 10g, and CentOS and Debian stable distributions with only one Windoze server, their report included a schematic taken from "netstat" readings that put the NMS at the center of all things, thinking it was the most critical server (As it is talking to all the servers :P )

    The following was the last meeting:

    - Upgrade RH4

    - Sorry can't do that legacy software and all

    - Upgrade Oracle 10g

    - Sorry can't do that legacy software and all

    - Server with name WATSON is very critical

    - No it's not, that's NMS

    - Your windows server need upgrading

    - Could you do it while logged on? (I really hate that server takes 45 minutes to restart :)

    - Switch all your VMWARE hosts to vmnet adapter from e1000

    - Like hell, get the f*** OUT!

    1. Apdsmith

      Ha, we just upgraded _to_ Oracle 10g! Up until July it was on 9i (and no, that box doesn't have any internet access, thank you for asking) - joy of legacy systems, eh?


    2. Vic

      we are running legacy systems on RedHat4

      Ha! And I though it was just me...

      "rpmbuild -ba" ftw...


  18. channel extended


    I worked for a large, multi state, bank here in the US. One audit recomedation was that we upgrade the OS2 running on our IBM 3890's to XP, 3890's run Pentium II, 233 MZ, 512 mb, 2GB hard drives. The real hold up was legacy software that REQUIRED ie6. All connected with Server 2003. Pray tell which upgrades first?

  19. oneeye

    laughed so hard i nearly blacked out!

    This is the first episode I have come across,and thank you. I'm waiting for the line..."i have the whole thing recorded,so get your skanky butt out of my sight!"

  20. Trevor 7

    Simon wouldn't slip up that much

    Simon knows that if the power play did not go well he would need evidence the consultant had it in for them.

    She should know a lot better than to admit its fake when on the client's premise.

    She'll get her 8k but the report will have an emphasis about needing additional IT spending.

  21. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    One Small Step for Man into Women ..... One Giant Quantum Leap for Man and WomanKind

    "Ideally I feel the company's direction is shaped by the desires of our client base and yet we've really not done any in-depth work - as a discovery exercise - on what THEY will be looking for from US. Whilst we have some idea about what attracted them to the company in the first place, it's difficult to know whether the technology adoption we've currently got in play is tailored to their future needs without some form of rigorous investigative process. Otherwise, REALLY, we're leading a horse to water before we shoot it in the head."

    If anyone can make anything out of that load of swill they've got my vote.

    Thanks for the vote, Simon T.

    And is … "What I'm more concerned about is that we're investing in hardware capable of several million tera mega flops whereas we might be better placed changing our focus to scopable tapered bandwidth provision with a view to getting full saturation of our core technology platforms, which would, in the broadest sense mean that we're effectively utilising our investment to the tune of 95 to 100 per cent”….. fine wine steganography revealing modi operandi et vivendi for successful expanding capture and failsafe enough retention of leading intelligence readership with virtually remote controlling command support of IT governed and governing space places/SCADA Operating Systems/CyberSpace Command and Control Centres of QuITe Excessive Exceptional Exclusive Executive Excellence ….. XSSXXXX Quantum Internetworking Tech for Virtually Impregnable Savvy Introducing Omniscient Node Lode/SMARTR IntelAIgent Source?

    Is that El Reg’s novel noble reconstituted raison d’être, for there is no possible viable reason why it shouldn’t or couldn’t be in these days of new ages and anonymous autonomous zeroday vulnerability exploits to negotiate and monetize?

    And bravo, Simon T, for introducing such a succulent saucy Gina for the gander. She’s surely bound to have captivating BGFs and Stellar Mates too. It is certainly only natural in such fields of endeavour and expertease.

  22. Neil Barnes Silver badge


    "Would you marry me?" instead of "Will you..."

    Subjunctive mood; condition contrary to fact. It ain't gonna happen...

  23. Bloodbeastterror


    Nice piece. I recognised it well. I had an interview with a consultant a few weeks ago in which he used the most abstruse and nonsensical logic to try to persuade me that my time-recording project qualified for R&D tax relief because the people were recording working time and that their work must be doing something innovative *somewhere*...

    Like I said, parasites...

    1. ElReg!comments!Pierre

      Re: Parasites

      Round here an estimated 2 BEEELLIONS euros per year in Research tax breaks go to big finance groups on these grounds. There are even consulting outfit that openly specialize in getting these for banks and insurance companies. Research labs, on the other hand, are not funded and have to work with unpaid labour ((half the staff -that's including office workers and all- are students on specifically tailored contracts that allow not to give them a cent who are then sent direct to unemployment) and most of the Unis are on the brink (with some already officially bankrupt).


  24. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

    Worst nightmare

    Nothing worse, people telling you what to do to "improve" which normally involves selling you their services, saying you have security holes when their automated test doesn't check it properly and the person compiling the report doesn't check it properly. Well that and auditors saying this audit entry needs more information (Almost had to raise an accident form for that).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Worst nightmare

      Sounds like SecurityMetrics - - a complete bunch of useless, parasitic twats that have almost no idea what they are doing or selling! And I speak from experience.

  25. Christopher Aussant

    I for one don't fear for Simon at all. I've read the archives several times and seen him deal with this type of succubus before. He'll be fine. However, the PFY might have to go to France to install some Windows Inclusion Network Extension racks....

  26. dan1980

    There are three types of 'consultants':

    1. - The ones that produce meaningless drivel.

    2. - The ones that are there to spruik their own services.

    3. - The ones that actually help.

    It is amazing how much money you can make simply by telling people what they want to hear.

    1. localzuk Silver badge

      A lot of organisations ignore their own staff's expertise for whatever reasons (many simply think they're just trying to get budget increases I guess), so getting an external "consultant" to say exactly what you've said previously is a good way of hammering home your message, even if it does end up costing you a chunk of cash.


      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        A lot of organisations ignore their own staff's expertise


        I don't understand what you are saying here. Are you in a position to employ the consultants yourself?

        Or one of the frontline staff who get consulted on from a great height?

        If the former, be very careful. The consultants you hire may well decide that there is more butter for the bread with the people upstairs who you are trying to influence. You can't simply trust them to say what you want them to, if there is a better offer available. Or to put it another way, you might find that you become the meat in the sandwich.

  27. RyokuMas
    Thumb Up

    Been here before...

    He'll have something up his sleeve... or in his pocket... to ensure that the correct natural order is restored.

  28. Dr. Mouse

    Still wrong

    While this is undoubtedly the best BOFH I have ever read, it is still wrong to the nth degree to be reading it on a Monday morning!!

    BOFH needs to be released on Friday lunchtime!

    El Reg: I don't care that you are trying to promote your weekend edition. On a weekend I barely touch the internet, and by Monday morning my stress levels have dropped to the point where BOFH is not as funny.

    On a Friday lunchtime, my loathing of the users peaks, knowing that I have to put up with them for several hours more until I can go home and chill for the weekend. This is the perfect time for BOFH, and used to look forward to checking whether you had released a new one, reading it as soon as I saw a new one. I noticed this had come out on Saturday, but couldn't be bothered to read it until this morning.

    Please stop this madness!

    1. ElReg!comments!Pierre

      Re: Still wrong


    2. Marshalltown

      Re: Still wrong

      Well, at least you have a head start on the loathing this week.

  29. MJI Silver badge

    Can we have it on Fridays?

    I keep missing them on Monday

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You know how they keep wanting to save the NHS?

    They could do it overnight, just by prohibiting the use of these types of consultant.

    (As opposed to medical consultants, who at least occasionally manage to talk sense and cost quite a bit less.)

    Equally lovely would be the decision to defenestrate NHS managers who have come from a consultancy background.

    Unfortunately, seagulls are apparently still a protected species.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Consultants eye view

    I am an indie consultant. Best thing I ever did.

    The best things about being indie are:

    a) Decent rate and tax arrangements - IF I have work (which I do, always - see below)

    b) I get to have side projects without someone thinking they own them/me

    c) I work when I want (which is pretty much all the time - see below)

    d) I dont have to deal with corporate politics and backstabbing

    e) I dont have to deal with do-nothing "leadership teams" and their "utilisation%" bullshit

    f) I dont have to carry any deadwood

    g) Im judged on what I build and not on what I promise to build

    h) I dont ever _ever_ have to deal with HR and most of all

    i) I can walk away from any project thats being unprofessionally run

    I come in, I do my analysis, deliver the work, get my cash, and fuck off.

    I only get repeat work if Im any good.

    So believe me, its in my interest to be all over your shit like white on rice. So I am.

    If consultants are screwing you over, disintermediate their asses and get an indie in.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Consultants eye view

      You're still part of the problem whereby management will seek to cherry pick your conclusions in order to shaft the people that actually do the work.

      The workers at the coal face know better than to ask a consultant. They know that all that means is that their lack of on-the-job training will be highlighted as their weakness rather than the lack of management foresight - and they're going to be made to take the blame for it. Remember, it's management that calls in the consultant. Management does that for a reason. Usually to find a justification for getting rid of people.

      Bitter experience speaking

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Consultants eye view

        "Usually to find a justification for getting rid of people."

        Even when they aren't firing there's still an alternative. Covering their backsides.

        A consultant's report is management's way of justifying their own role and blaming someone else.

        At either juncture, I've been through several episodes of consultant disease over the years.

        Consistently, at the end of it we find there are fewer frontline staff doing the work and more beancounters. Even when there are cuts being made the number of higher managers goes up.

        Where previously there were too few frontline staff and even more limited numbers of support staff behind them, after the consultancy there are often many fewer of the support and admin staff who had freed up the frontline staff to do the work, because consultants never seem to get the idea that filing reports and adding up hours takes time that could be better used with the clients. Yet, the number of suits always increases. And they somehow always need additional staff to support them. (But their's aren't called admin - so disposable- but "assistants" and are essential parts of the management).

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OMG ..

    BoFH back in the saddle... Also please make this NEB (Nasty Evil Bitch) a regular :D

  33. This post has been deleted by its author

  34. dots

    **There are three types of 'consultants':

    1. - The ones that produce meaningless drivel.

    2. - The ones that are there to spruik their own services.

    3. - The ones that actually help.

    It is amazing how much money you can make simply by telling people what they want to hear.**

    1. - we have one of these. While he's been in the industry for ages and definitely does have *some* useful knowledge, he seems to produce documents which can only be described as sloppy copy-paste work, add headers, increase line spacing and voila! a piece of drivel.

    2. - we had a few companies of those. The finance consultants may even be worse than lawyers about a) not showing up b) booking costs for rearranging flights, first class, on the account of the client and c) not understanding, writing down, looking up (if it was written down) and not remembering what the meeting was supposed to be about. However, the best example yet was a consultant hired to assess the company structure. He came up with a slight variation in task assignment and a recommendation to establish a upper-middle-manager position. then became that upper-middle-manager.

    3. - we have a few of those too. While well-meaning, they'll often go for either the most secure option, with triple backups of the second backup, thus putting everyone wildly over budget, or they come with an experimental new idea which works! in theory. nobody's been insane enough to actually try and implement it.

  35. Frumious Bandersnatch

    marriage? sacrilege!

    But then where will the next generation of bastards come from? (thinking of the children ofc)

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like