back to article BOFH: Press 1. Press 2. Press whatever you damn well LIKE

"You're the one who wanted it," I tell the Boss in response to his fuming. "I didn't bloody want it at all!" "Yes, you distinctly said you wanted some call screening that would filter out the timewasters who hadn't read the FAQs from the helpdesk queue." "Yes, but I di-" "It had to be FIFO, had to be able to distinguish …

  1. BenBell

    You are in a maze of backup tapes. Press 1 to thank the BOFH for saving you from another boring Maintenance Friday!


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward



      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

        Re: Re:

        Nah, maintenance should be for Thursdays, not Fridays.

        Fridays are either for beer, or so you have time to fix anything that the Thursday maintenance broke so you don't have to do it on the weekend (before then going to the pub for aforementioned beer to celebrate).

        1. Ol'Peculier

          Re: Re:

          Although if you do break something on the Friday, you get to go in over the weekend.

          On overtime.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Re:

            > overtime.



            But seriously,

            Overtime, in IT?

            1. BillG

              Re: Re:

              You can't get tech support without the Amulet of Yendor.

              1. Stoneshop Silver badge

                Re: Re:

                Actually, it's the Amulet of Vendor you need

              2. Matt Bryant Silver badge

                Re: Re: BillG

                "You can't get tech support without the Amulet of Yendor." I presume you need it to defeat the Balrog?

                1. Number6

                  Re: BillG

                  No, you just need the correct pass for that. I think it's got Youshallnot on the front.

                  1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

                    Re: BillG

                    You cannot reach the file.

                    A huge Cryptolocker bars the way.

                  2. P. Lee Silver badge

                    Re: BillG


                    1. Myvekk

                      Re: BillG


                2. Stoneshop Silver badge

                  Re: BillG

                  I presume you need it to defeat the Balrog?

                  This day and age, it's usually the Billrog you need to defeat.

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Do you want your possessions identified?

                Happens to me every bloody time.

            2. Ol'Peculier

              Re: Re:

              If I need to work over the weekend, yes.

        2. BenBell

          Re: Re:

          If we break things on Fridays, we get the Ops team to keep it ticking over the weekend and deal with it Monday. If it's something important, we get time and a half plus half in lieu.. and the company picks up lunch. Of course we do maintenance on Fridays!

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Just translated the main points into German for my support colleagues... I don't think they will be getting any more work done today! :-D

      1. Richard Altmann


        So you´re located in East Germany then, where after 25 years, still noone learned english. Well, they are too busy burning refugee homes.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: @bid_D

          West Germany and not everybody can speak English or understand it well enough to understand humour.

          And we have a large refugee camp here in the area and the people are accepted by the community.

          1. TAJW

            Re: @bid_D

            Your first mistake is thinking that ANY Germans have a sense of humor.


        2. robertcirca

          @ Richard Altman

          I think I can see (not hear) a German accent in YOUR English.

          So what about your Spanish? You still do not speak Spanish after so many years? Do you still think that Spanish is the native language in China?

          Mental heatsinks from THINKTOOFAST CO. are known for giving you problems every once in a while.

          And please excuse me if my English is not perfect - I am a confessig German.

        3. Dave K Silver badge

          @ Richard Altman

          Tell that to my East-German wife, who happens to speak English fluently, along with most of her family...

          1. big_D Silver badge

            Re: @ Dave K

            That is the problem, too many racial stereotypes. I married a German woman, who lived her whole life in a small town in the countryside. She learnt a bit of English in the school, but never got a chance to use it after that.

            We have been together for several years now and she doesn't speak any English.

            In the big towns, East and West, North and South, a lot more people speak English - and are often happy to get the opportunity to practice it. In the countryside, not so much.

            When I first moved here, I didn't speak any German, but went to German language school. About 9 months later I visited a friend near Hanover and we were sat in his office and he told me, that if I didn't practice my German, I would never be able to speak it fluently. I then politely pointed out, that he was the only German friend I had who still spoke mainly English with me! :-D

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cheap Machines

    Won't work where I work, if we get a non standard machine in because our Hell Desk is owned by the company that owns us we get charged a set amount for an image to be built for it (Every few years because new features added tend to not be tested on said machines).

    Anon because I don't want said Helldesk to deliberately want to charge me when something else breaks.

  3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    > xyzzy

    You are in the pub. There is a glass of beer here.

    1. Crisp

      A hollow voice says...


      1. Myvekk

        Re: A hollow voice says...


    2. John G Imrie

      > Drink beer

      You drink the beer

      > Sit

      You shit on the floor

  4. Alister Silver badge



    Brilliant, I'm just off to amend our Asterisk conf files for the IVR menu

  5. 27escape
    Thumb Up

    Great idea

    Need to create a twilio script to do this!

  6. JimC

    See icon.

    However I wonder how many bemused PFYs are wondering WTF this is all about?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm 28 and I spent 2-3 years of my high school life playing MUDs. You may be surprised, some of us young folk get this kind of thing.

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        You don't know frustration....

        Like playing treasure Island on cartridge for the vic 20 without a manual at the age of 5... I remember dancing when I finally made it to the island from the bar you start in (I'd drunk it dry iir so nothing left to do)

  7. TitterYeNot

    Ah, nostalgia...

    >You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door.

    >There is a small mailbox here.

    1. Roger Varley

      Re: Ah, nostalgia...

      Halcyon days, when you didn't need beefed up specs, hi-speed graphics to play decent games. All that was needed was a little bit of imagination and some very clever designers from Infocom.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Ah, nostalgia...

        very clever designers from Infocom.

        Colossal Cave/Adventure predated Infocom, IIRC it was Will(?) Crowther in the mid-70s. I have Fortran sources somewhere, I remember spending weeks trimming it to run in the 25Kwords available on an ICL box at Uni. These days you can get it as an Android app :)

        1. Roger Varley

          Re: Ah, nostalgia...

          That's the rest of the afternoon sorted. Thanks

        2. Andy A

          Re: Ah, nostalgia...

          Many years ago, one of my occasional tasks was to head to some outpost, install a modem and with it a 3276 terminal.

          The Official Test was to sit down and play Colossal Cave for half an hour or so.

        3. Jos V

          Re: Ah, nostalgia...

          sudo apt-get install bsdgames



          Oh well. Memories..

        4. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Ah, nostalgia...

          "Colossal Cave/Adventure predated Infocom"

          So did the Star Trek adventure (played on a PR1ME) - who remembers being reassigned to the Faerie Queene?

          1. Somone Unimportant

            Re: Ah, nostalgia...

            That would be "Ye Olde Faerie Queene", with 6 torpedoes instead of 10, wouldn't it?

            Ahh Primos...

            GO GAMES

        5. Trooper_ID

          Re: Ah, nostalgia...

          ah yes, well I recall playing Adventure on the 1903T, and then, when everyone one had left the building, we booted up Star Trek, it usually crashed the system after about half an hour though.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This was a game called FIST that was a telephone game just like this

    I understood it would take about 8 hours of premium line time even if you knew all the correct moves in advance...

    Now turn to section 400...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That cost-cutting move: so, SO true..

    Instead of the most effective solution – jumping off the balcony

    Even if the rest wasn't a welcome and thoroughly amusing flashback (and a frankly insanely brilliant achievement if you manage to code this into an IVR), that one line is already good enough to make my week and weekend.

    Ah, this is pure art..

  10. earl grey

    you haven't had enought

    Have another.

  11. bpfh

    On our desk phones...

    8 will get you reverse, not go forward into mission control...

    I want to pitch this to my boss for our customer support hotline. We won't solve your problems, but you will have a fun time whilst we endevour to provide our best and upmost efforts to ignore you...

  12. Alistair

    Mainframe version

    kept us busy while the scheduler loaded on sunday mornings. And at least we looked like we were working.

    1. CP/M-80

      Re: Mainframe version

      MUD? Banned at our Uni yet still installed and available. Like they were testing us or something.

      1. sonic

        Re: Mainframe version

        I remember Adventure being deleted from the server at Uni (Imperial College, London) - only for the mail spools to become "overful" as we mailed ourselves a copy as we logged off :-)

        Perfect training ....

  13. Dr. Mouse

    Brilliant, as per usual!

    Instead of the most effective solution – jumping off the balcony...

    Amen to that! As for the rest in that block, be glad you don't work here. Every time I suggest to the boss that we get standardised, supported kit, I get told it's too expensive. We now support 4 different OS's on around 10 makes of machine across several sites, all with different specs, drivers etc. We have no installation media, no idea which machine is which, and to top it all off he wants to get rid of the one AD DC we have (serving only one site, the rest using local accounts because having servers there is "a waste of money").

    1. thx1138v2

      Time to call in the contractors. I'm awaiting your call.

      After paying next year's mortgage, I can blow up all the HDD drives and force new equipment purchases for you that I'll outsource to Romania.

      It usually only takes 10 - 12 iterations of the above to get your way. Of course the count starts over every time you get a new manager which makes the balcony very useful.

  14. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Big Brother

    'You see some pale bulbous eyes staring at you...'

    Big BOFH is watching you...

    Might have to ponder a set-up of that scheme though. Sounds almost as much fun as phone racetracking - a nice long chain of phones all forwarding to the next one before looping back to the start. Always good for a quiet Friday afternoon whilst you nip off pubward.

  15. TechnoTechno

    8, 8, 2, arrrgrh **BRRRZZZ**

    Absolutely brilliant!

  16. Oh Matron! Silver badge

    You wait – time passes...

  17. Mindfart

    Missing de data_center/bofh tag again :)

    Or did bofh move to weekend?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In company where tickets could only be raised by helldesk not by mere techies

    Q) Can you raise a ticket so I can resolve a Network fault betweek two European cities

    HD) What system is impacted by the fault

    Q) The primary Mainframe running the EMEA region

    GD) You need to try re-booting the Mainframe before I can raise a ticket

    Q) Erm...

    Where do you go from here

  19. Mystic Megabyte

    Remember this?

    1. John G Imrie

      Re: Remember this?

      Remember, I've still got a copy with the scratch and sniff card knocking around somewhere

    2. Oblivion62

      It all comes down to this...

      I probably still have the copy I bought that ran in CP/M on an Amstrad CPC6128. I certainly still have my 19-year-old CD containing everything Infocom ever did (except the Hitchhiker's Guide, sadly.) (The ISO of it is currently mounted two feet from my right elbow, I'm nearly ashamed to admit.)

      But Infocom were responsible for the Zork series, not Colossal Cave.

      <sigh> the hours I've wasted inside WinFrotz...

      ...I wonder if I can find a usable z-machine interpreter for Android... now there's a project.

      1. CP/M-80

        Re: It all comes down to this...

        "except the Hitchhiker's Guide, sadly"

        I had a Hitchhiker's game on PC/DOS in the early 1990s. It started something like...

        "You wake up in bed. There is an analgesic on the table near you."

        I never finished it. :(

        1. Oblivion62

          Re: It all comes down to this...

          That may have been it. (There was a very unofficial HHGG adventure, not licensed, that I first encountered on a Commodore PET in about 1980, and successfully ran on a C64 a few years later, but I don't remember much about it now.) But the Infocom version (written, like LGOP, by Steve Meretzky with much assistance from the Sainted Douglas) started very like that except I think the analgesic was in your pocket. I DID finish it, unlike Leather Goddesses (which amused me by being playable at varying degrees of sauciness referred to as TAME, SUGGESTIVE or LEWD.)

          OMG. I'm a text adventure geek. I... I hadn't noticed...

          get coat. wear coat. exit.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It all comes down to this...

            "(which amused me by being playable at varying degrees of sauciness referred to as TAME, SUGGESTIVE or LEWD.)"

            A bit later on "Duke 3D" was a lot of fun because you could build your own scenarios - including simulations of real places. It was a game that was actually educational for teenagers if they decided they wanted to improve on the original version. The "how to" book was a bit pricey though. It was inevitable that someone would produce a "XXX" scenario downloadable from usenet.

            I still recognise the tune when it occasionally surfaces as a track on the radio or TV.

            1. DropBear

              Re: It all comes down to this...

              While we're talking about the HHGG - I know it's not a text adventure, but they just started selling the good ole' Starship Titanic over at GOG... for about six bucks, to boot. Just sayin'.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: It all comes down to this...

          "I never finished it. :("

          You have to be a heavy duty Zen Philosopher with the ability to see into the future to finish it.

        3. Chika

          Re: It all comes down to this...

          The game or the pill?

        4. sixlincoln

          Re: It all comes down to this...

          You mean this one?

      2. Oblivion62

        Re: It all comes down to this...

        I commend ZMPP to the attention of anyone who wants to play interactive fiction on their Android.

  20. Geoff May

    When do they get to dropping the bird?

  21. sandman

    Cheap desktops

    Oh, yes, I remember that policy. The organisation I worked for at the time got a whole bunch of them. Unfortunately I had the task of installing modem cards in them. At the end, each one had bloodstains on the inside of the case and sometimes on the board - my blood. They were so cheaply built the manufacturers hadn't ground down the internal case component edges.

    Eventually they became very good desktops because we replaced all the working bits with branded products at a cost of approximately three times that of buying decent machines in the first place.

    1. NotWorkAdmin

      Re: Cheap desktops

      Cheap desktops....another true story

      Best not name the distie, but when I was there one of the sales guys sold 20 OEM bare towers to a system builder. Next day the guy called to complain that if you stuck your thumb in the kettle socket on the PSU after disconnecting it from the mains you got a nasty shock.

      When asked how many he thought were faulty he said "All of them - I put my thumb in each one to check".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cheap desktops

      "At the end, each one had bloodstains on the inside of the case and sometimes on the board - my blood."

      Even some apparently up-market brands had the same problem. A homeworker friend had received a new work PC. I was offered dinner if I fitted some of the extra bits that had been supplied with it. The internal edges were so razor sharp that I only noticed the cuts when bloody fingermarks appeared everywhere. Future upgrades to that machine were approached very, very carefully.

  22. Toltec

    Oh Yes

    I have seen the light, I now know what UCCX should really be used for.

  23. Midnight

    Your lamp is now on. You are in a debris room filled with stuff washed in from the surface. A low wide passage with cobbles becomes plugged with mud and debris here, but an awkward canyon leads upward and west. A note on the wall says:

    Magic Word "KXYZZYERT"

    A three foot electrically powered black rod with a rusty star on an end lies nearby.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Licence stickers

    "AND come with a licence sticker " which thieving little sh1ts peel off and sell on Gumtree.

    I suspect that BofH's cattle prod is a better deterrent than our kick'em off-site with dire legal threats but actually minimum fuss approach.

  25. Nate H.

    I'd light a torch

    No grue? The Boss is in the dark long enough to attract grues, no?

    1. MrDamage

      Re: I'd light a torch

      You are a Grue. the most feared creature in the world of twisted mazes.

      You see Simon approaching, smiling pleasantly, and bearing a cattleprod while he scopes out your home.

      What do you do?

      1) Attempt to eat him.

      2) Run. Very fast, and in any direction, as long as it's away from Simon?

  26. Richard Altmann


    is still alive! Thank gods! Now to the comments.

  27. Marty McFly
    Thumb Up

    Raise your hand if... still have a vintage computer around to play these on! Course, that assumes my generic bargain basement 5 1/4" floppies still retain their 140k of data after all these years.

    You didn't think I had the original disks, did you? Back in those teenage years it was copy-copy-copy from your buddies and figure out how the game works later. The interesting thing is, that skill set of figuring out problems when there were no instructions, is the fundamentals of troubleshooting which I use on a daily basis today.

    1. stucs201

      Re: Raise your hand if...

      I think I do actually have a copy of colossal cave on a 5.25" floppy somewhere. I've even got a PC with a suitable drive (not as ancient as you might expect - it's a 1.2GHz Athlon).

      However I decided instead on digging out the version of the source code I've got which has been adapted for Windows. I had to use XP mode to get the 16 bit installer for the necessary Fortran compiler to run. The resulting Win32 executable seems to run fine on Windows 7 though.

  28. Number6

    Real Life got there first

    Based on trying to navigate some IVR systems, I think there are already some out there that do require this level of skill to get through to a useful endpoint.

  29. mustang0

    (We were lying about the exit to the west.)

  30. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    good, but not *completely* original

    But then, great bastards steal (while those merely "good" borrow). Plus, the comedy is weak in the ESR.

  31. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Hah! That's bastardly!

    A Zork maze dialing dungeon? That's bastardly 8-)

    It'd be funny if it backfired, like the "Random old guy that's played Zork" gets through the dialing dungeon and wants something done with his OS/2 system 8-)

  32. James 100

    Problem solving

    Take boss.

    Open tape vault door.


  33. Richard Altmann

    @bid_D & robertcirca

    Please accept my apologies. Having spent more than a decade abroad and being a disciple of Terry Pratchett and repeatedly having been asked in which part of London i grew up, i might have turned arrogant against my fellow germans. (Now, there is a sentence only a german can come up with) English is the language of the IT trade. I understand that a hairdresser or a plumber (no offence ment) has no need to converse in english and the years at school spent with english lessons were wasted on them. As were my French lessons i have to admit. In IT, i expect everyone to be able to converse and negotiate in English. I became sick and tired of having every english speaking caller being forwarded to my desk. The outcome is that my work mates started to watch their Blue-Rays twice. Once in German, and one more time in English with subtitles. The results are amazing. They can even crack the odd joke now. No apologies for the East German reference though.

    1. CRConrad

      Re: "Watch their Blue-Rays ... in English with subtitles"

      While born a German, I had the advantage of growing up in Sweden, with the result that I can speak English Wizzout zoundink like a Tscherman zpeaking Inglisch.

      How come, you may wonder? Because Swedish television uses subtitles, not sound dubbing. (Except for stuff aimed at the under-ten crowd.)

      Sound dubbing is a ridiculously antiquated idea for a literate nation. Germany should stop doing it.

  34. Mpeler

    An IT Adventure or a user dungeon?

    Now was that XIMOW or WOMIX? And where's the dwarf with the hatchet?

  35. herman Silver badge

    "And we have a large refugee camp here in the area and the people are accepted by the community."

    Hmm, but for how long? In another week, it will overflow. Germany will have to set up road signs that twist around and lead all the way back to Siria.

  36. Tony S

    What a waste of time

    I never got into the gaming scene.

    I had previously discovered girls and alcohol.

    I now wish that I had spent more time on gaming.

  37. Moof

    InfoCom / Zork

    They actually have this as a free game on IOS.

  38. Hugh Pumphrey

    Best BOFH for ages

    I spent far too much time playing Advent when I first had an account on a Unix system in the early 1990s. It was old then, of course. Anyone who likes it should have a go at "curses" and "jigsaw", both of which have also consumed a lot of my time.

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