back to article BOFH: Don't back up in anger

Backups. Backups Backups Backups. Backups Backups Backups Backups Backups. What more can I say? "So do you have a backup of that?" the Boss asks. "No." "We don't back up your laptop." "But you told me you back up everything?" "Everything on the server, yes." "YOU SAID you backed up everything but desktop machines." " …

  1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Pint

    The moral of the story?

    Be nice to your BOFH! Buy them a pint, a packet of pork scratchings, heed the "do not disturb" signs, buy them something nice on sys admin day…

    1. Gerhard Mack

      Re: The moral of the story?

      A better moral of the story is: Do not try passing blame for your own mistakes on the IT department.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The moral of the story?

        Especially when you faked the mistakes?

        How about: "If you must lie on your CV, and your get-out-of-shit strategy requires a victim, be careful who you choose"?

    2. Frumious Bandersnatch

      Re: The moral of the story?

      And the classic: "Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The moral of the story?

        Do not meddle in the affairs of sysadmins, for they are subtle only in comparison to a brick through the window with "fuck me" written on it?

        1. SteveK

          Re: The moral of the story?

          I thought it was "Do not meddle in the affairs of sysadmins, for they are quick to anger and have no need for subtlety" ?

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: The moral of the story?

          I thought it was "do not meddle in the affairs of sysadmins, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup"

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The moral of the story?

            Pfft, amateurs.

            Do not meddle in the affairs of sysadmins for they have fully charged cattleprods.

  2. Josco

    New technical terms.

    I thought I was up to speed with most jargon, but I haven't heard of bitwise comparison of tesla signatures on the disk surface. Can it really detect as low as 3 or 4 micro-gauss?

    Marvellous stuff.

    1. Si 1

      Re: New technical terms.

      The latest version can go as high as 6 micro-gauss but you need a Bayesian compatible GPU to provide the additional processing power needed for the double ROT-13 calculations.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: New technical terms.

        Surely you need a tunnelling scanning cryo-electron microscope to profile the magnetic polarity of the diatomic regions, visualise the granular domain boundaries and generate a probability density map for the distribution of annealed and fixed data domains?

        1. Kevin Johnston

          Re: New technical terms.

          Recent advances in confocal microscopy actually allow 3D modelling in real-time of nano-level anomolous profiles.

          Although the last time I tried it looked like a dog had eaten my homework

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: New technical terms.

            Combined ultrasensitive magnetic resonance force microscopy (MRFM) / 3D image reconstruction achieves magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with resolution <10 nm. The image reconstruction converts measured magnetic force data into a 3D map of nuclear spin density, taking advantage of the unique characteristics of the “resonant slice” that is projected outward from a nanoscale magnetic tip. The basic principles are demonstrated by imaging the 1H spin density within individual nano-scale particles sitting on a nanometer-thick layer of adsorbed hydrocarbons. The result represents a 100 million-fold improvement in volume resolution over conventional MRI, demonstrating the potential of MRFM as a tool for 3D, elementally selective imaging on the nanometer scale.

            Think I'm making this stuff up?

            1. frank ly

              @TRT Re: New technical terms.

              A quick Google search says it's genuine, and in quite a few locations.

            2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

              @TRT - Re: New technical terms.

              No, but did you understand it?

              Not sure I'd want an MRI taken with this technique, given the phrases, "adsorbed hydrocarbons", "nanoscale magnetic tip", and more importantly, "slice".

              1. BoldMan

                Re: @TRT - New technical terms.

                You forgot the reciprocating trunion that helps avoid sinusoidal depleneration...

              2. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. barbara.hudson
            Happy

            Re: New technical terms.

            Next time, order a colonoscopy - most self-proclaimed "experts" are full of sh*t.

        2. Phil W

          Re: New technical terms.

          It works better if you do the recovery while the drive is rested on top of the user's head, due to quantum entanglement between the electrons used to store the data and the electrons in their brain that originally created the work.

          Although this does inconvenience the user a little by requiring them to sit perfectly still with a hard drive vibrating away on their head, it's worth while if it means they get their data back surely?

          1. John G Imrie

            Re: New technical terms.

            Although this does inconvenience the user a little by requiring them to sit perfectly still with a hard drive vibrating away on their head, it's worth while if it means they get their data back surely?

            The problem with that is if they do move you get the smell of burning hair as the lazer hits their scalp.

            1. Robert Moore
              Thumb Up

              Re: New technical terms.

              The problem with that is if they do move you get the smell of burning hair as the lazer hits their scalp.

              It's not a bug. It's a feature.

          2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

            Re: New technical terms.

            electrons in their brain

            I think we've found the problem: what brain?

            Anyway, what the boss deserves sacking for such a pathetic attempt to cover up not being arsed / able to do the presentation!

            1. NukEvil

              Re: New technical terms.

              Given what was on the presentation slides, I'm thinking they were speaking of the "other" head.

        3. PNGuinn
          Pint

          Re: New technical terms. @TRT

          Utter Bollocks.

          Have one of these!

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon
            Boffin

            Re: New technical terms. @TRT

            I recently read a white paper (with perforations) on how our brains store an image map of all the file names on our computers (so that we know where to find them, natch). If you delete the files you can apparently induce the brain to re-produce this image map by flashing an 100000lux light directly onto each retina in 1ms pulses. Apparently the image map will form on the wall behind the persons skull, so be ready with that photo insensitive paper to record it! (You won't get a second chance, because once the retina is incinerated it can't be used to transfer all that light to the brain anymore).

            I'm sure the paper used more technical terms, I've paraphrased it for the management types.

        4. Johndoe132

          Re: New technical terms.

          Is that you aManFromMars1??

      2. John G Imrie

        Re: New technical terms.

        double ROT-13 only works with ascii for full Unicode compliance you need double ROT-557056

        1. rjmx
          Go

          Re: New technical terms.

          John G Imrie: Since it'd be completely useless, it'd be bound to have an ISO classification. Say, ISO910367812-45bis?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: New technical terms.

            "Since it'd be completely useless, it'd be bound to have an ISO classification. Say, ISO910367812-45bis?"

            Surely that would be a British Standard - as in "BS"

            1. Toni the terrible Bronze badge
              Headmaster

              Re: New technical terms.

              BS ISO maybe as BS tends to take up the ISO where it exists and is relevant

        2. Mpeler
          Pint

          Re: New technical terms.

          "double ROT-13 only works with ascii for full Unicode compliance you need double ROT-557056"
          Otherwise it's only half-ASCII...

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon

            Re: New technical terms.

            I'm anaspeptic, frasmotic, even compunctuous to have caused you such pericombobulations.

            1. Aladdin Sane
              Coat

              Re: New technical terms.

              Of course, you could just reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.

              Mine's the one with the jelly babies and long scarf.

              1. Toni the terrible Bronze badge

                Re: New technical terms.

                Surely yours is the one with the little comm badge and Earl Grey Hot cuppa?

            2. Frumious Bandersnatch

              Re: New technical terms.

              Eh, they're all perfectly cromulent words round my way.

          2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

            Re: New technical terms.

            "Otherwise it's only half-ASCII..." - I think that would be half-ASC'ed

      3. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: New technical terms.

        Or you can just discombobulate the fratisstaff, either way...

        1. Chemical Bob

          Re: New technical terms.

          "discombobulate the fratisstaff"

          It's quicker to flatternize the Giff-Hiiny quadrasnopes...

        2. herman Silver badge

          Re: New technical terms.

          "Discombobulate" - what does the bra-size of a booth babe have to do with magnetic storage?

          1. Toni the terrible Bronze badge

            Re: New technical terms.

            "Discombobulate" - what does the bra-size of a booth babe have to do with magnetic storage? - It has far more to do with it than you can possibly imagine - just dont go there

          2. Mad Chaz

            Re: New technical terms.

            Why not just use a flux capacitor and an old car?

            1. TRT Silver badge

              Re: No, but did you understand it?

              It can be neatly summed up as "Use the force."

          3. oldphart

            Re: New technical terms.

            You must, of course, multiply the bra with the ket.

    2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: New technical terms.

      Reading the 'deleted' data off the platter isn't the hard bit.

      The hard bit is programming the butterfly to write to a new disk by generating the correct eddy currents in the upper atmosphere.

      And don't give me C-x M-c M-butterfly. That doesn't work.

    3. Blofeld's Cat
      Alien

      Re: New technical terms.

      "It had um, interesting rhythmic devices, too, which seemed to counterpoint the the surrealism of the underlying metaphor of the poet’s compassionate soul which contrived through the medium of the verse structure to sublimate this, transcend that and come to terms with the fundamental dichotomies of the other. And one is left with a profound and vivid insight into whatever it was that the poem presentation was about!"

      With apologies to the late Dentarthurdent Douglas Adams.

      1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: New technical terms.

        Death's too good for you!

        1. Toni the terrible Bronze badge

          Re: New technical terms. Death's too Good For You

          As it is for all ctitics

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We only backup the shared drives

    Unless you're a certain London based university...

    1. Anonymous Blowhard

      Re: We only backup the shared drives

      "Unless you're a certain London based university..."

      I think you'll find they didn't lose a single one or zero; but they might not necessarily be in the right order...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We only backup the shared drives

        I once worked for a major I/T provider (name withheld to protect employment!) who told us that "They back up the system disk packs nightly.". Seemed safe enough. So, we used them for six months or so, before, in an idle conversation with one of the system guys, it became apparent that by "system disk packs", they meant the disk packs that held the operating system. This did NOT include the "user disk packs", which held all of our development code. Ack!!!

        Oh, yeah, this was the same outfit that, once they did start backing up the user disk packs to tape, they ran short of backup tapes. So the night tape operations person grabbed a tape from the scratch tape pool, used it to finish the back up run of the user data, and then returned the tape to the scratch pool! ACK!!!

        You just can't make this stuff up. The sad part is, I could go on and on and on about such screw-ups that I've personally experienced.

        Anon Y. Mus

        P.S. Did I just hear a stampede of running feet, to check on the backup status of user disks?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: We only backup the shared drives

          have mentioned on here before about the backups to cleaning tape :)

          1. J. Cook Silver badge
            Go

            Re: We only backup the shared drives

            ... I have your backup here on my desk, actually.

            (One of our less clueful tape monkeys actually did put an LTO1 barcode on a cleaning tape. Not surprisingly, it never worked, and it confused the hell out of the backup software.)

          2. herman Silver badge

            Re: We only backup the shared drives

            Clean backups, indeed.

  4. Sgt_Oddball
    Devil

    Never

    Bullshit a bullshiter....

    1. Mark 85

      Re: Never

      But you can't snow a snowman.

  5. chivo243 Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    Love this line...

    ...approaching coma-level dummy mode...

    Yes, a new keyboard, and some wipes for my display please!

  6. Sartori
    Pint

    10/10

    Best one in a while, loved it, thanks for bringing some good laughs on a Friday! :)

  7. Phil W

    Almost as good as the users who want you to recover a document from backup, but don't actually know whether they saved it locally, to a network drive or to some other external media in the first place.

    1. John 110

      @Phil W

      That'll be all of them then...

    2. steve-b

      I've encountered this before with a cherry on top: they couldn't even tell me the name of the file.

      I proceeded to shake the magic 8 ball and replied with 'outlook not so good'

      1. Stoneshop
        Facepalm

        I've encountered this before with a cherry on top: they couldn't even tell me the name of the file.

        I once got a restore request for a missing file*, with the ticket stating "file was there yesterday, today there is only $otherfilename".

        As if that would allow me to divine the name of the missing file.

        *documents had to be saved on a backed-up network disk; saving them anywhere else but in their department's directory was as good as impossible.

      2. Sgt_Oddball

        Outlook had never been good.....well not since they used word to render html in it anyway

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I proceeded to shake the magic 8 ball and replied with 'outlook not so good'

        OST or PST ;-)

  8. Korev Silver badge
    Pint

    Saw it coming...

    I have to admit that I saw the end coming; but I'd be lying if I didn't enjoy it!

    Pint for Mr Travaglia and anyone else from down under who have finished for the week ->

  9. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Then some very disturbing pictures.

    Then some very very disturbing text.

    And more very disturbing pictures.

    Yes, implementing ISO9001 is very disturbing :-)

    1. PatientOne

      ISO 9001: We've got policies and people might be following them.

      ISO 9002: We actually check that people are using these policies.

      ISO 9003: We do something if people aren't.

      Okay, it's been a while, but that was how it was described back then. Somehow I doubt it's really changed much.

      1. gryphon

        I once annoyed an internal guy trying to get us all up to speed on BS5750.

        Him - It's a quality assurance standard

        Me - No its not, it's a repeatability and conformity standard

        Him - What do you mean?

        Me - Well if I write a process that says someone has to take every product we make smash it against the wall and send it to the customer as a broken box of bits it would technically be BS5750 compliant wouldn't it?

        Him - Umm, yes. But, but....

        Happy days.

        1. Steve the Cynic

          "Me - No its not, it's a repeatability and conformity standard"

          Somebody knows.

          Many, many moons ago, I worked for a company that had 9001 certification. When I started, I had a brief session with the main Quality Manager, and he said essentially the same thing, that 9001 guarantees a product of CONSISTENT quality, not one of HIGH quality.

          The quality manual (the book of company-specific procedures) has to state a quality goal, how it will be achieved, and how the company will track deviations from that target back to root causes and fix them.

          If your goal is that 10% (with a +/- one percentage point margin) of shipped product is functional, and the rest is essentially fit only for landfill, you'll remain 9001 compliant as long as you ship 9-11% good product and 89-91% rubbish. You have to be able to find out why you've started to ship 12% good product and you have to FIX that because continuing to ship 12% good when your 9001 target is 9-11% good means you aren't compliant and will have to pay for more prostitutes to bribe the auditors.

          (OK, the QM didn't mention the part about the prostitutes. That came from something my late wife said about the company she worked for at the same time - more than once, they "passed" their audits because they provided enough bribes, including prostitutes, that the auditors overlooked the lack of compliance.)

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "If your goal is that 10% (with a +/- one percentage point margin) of shipped product is functional, and the rest is essentially fit only for landfill, you'll remain 9001 compliant as long as you ship 9-11% good product"

            Similar experience. Coming from a background where qualitative and quantitative are alternatives I quickly twigged that in this crock we're actually dealing with something that's quantitative. It doesn't matter where on the "How good" continuum you are providing you can quantify it. Given that "quality" and "mediocrity" both belong on the continuum I took to calling it the Mediocrity Management System.

            One thing I never got a satisfactory answer to: We'd previously been on TQM which has a mantra of "get it right first time every time". ISO 9000 was supposed to be about continuous improvement. If we'd already been getting things right first time every time how come there was scope for improvement?

        2. Chris King

          Didn't someone come up with a BS5750-compliant method of making toast, that allowed you to burn it so long as you could scrape it to the desired colour ?

        3. Richard Pennington 1

          As I remember it...

          ISO 9000 and its brethren are not intended to prevent the next disaster. They will, however, ensure (if consistently followed) that the next disaster is fully and properly documented.

        4. Diogenes

          I actually documented something similar to this - prior to checking out the code, the developer has walk to exposed brick wall next to the lifts(elevator) and strike his/her head thereon 3 times, and complete the Register with time & date noted -(This was to prove a point to our QM)

          We passed not only an ISO audit & CMM-CEI level 5 audit with this sort of nonsense (the devs just signed the register at odd times) - my continuous improvement was to reduce the number to 3 from 5 and I was able demonstrate a small improvement in productivity :-)

  10. Chris King

    Bonus points for

    laxatives, or something hallucinogenic in the antacid, or both.

    Everyone else is retching at the pics, but Brian's voided himself, saying "What's wrong with the pictures anyway ? I'm more worried about the dragon on the boardroom table !"

  11. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    Having had the ISO9001 man through

    last week....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    You lot owe me a keyboard

    And thanks for giving me inspiration.....

  12. Terry 6 Silver badge

    If only

    A few decades back when I started in education my boss was very complimentary about an analysis I did about the reliability of some educational assessment materials- even though she only had the barest understanding of anything beneath the conclusions. Then she asked me to prepare a presentation on it.

    I later found out that she hadn't used it for preparing part of a training pack ( with full credit) as she'd said she would be doing, but had actually presented it to a panel of local authority bosses and inspectors as her own work. If only there'd been some way of inserting a few slides....

  13. Alistair
    Windows

    "Almost as good as the users who want you to recover a document from backup, but don't actually know whether they saved it locally, to a network drive or to some other external media in the first place."

    Or.... These files we can't find on our server, or on our backups should have been in the archival process...

    Gotta love those "should have beens". I have a wicked recipe for "shouldabeen stew".

  14. ElReg!comments!Pierre

    Nice but...

    Nice as always, but honestly I was expecting the "antacid' to be some rhinoceros-dosed laxative...

  15. RyokuMas
    Happy

    What goes around...

    Brian here is supposed to be doing a presentation..."

    Hmmm.... that name feels familiar.... Set the way-back machine for -21 years...

    PFY: ""Uncle Brian, you know, on the 6th floor. The big office with the leather furniture. I'd hate to disagree with your report to the CEO"

    Don't tell me we've been through so many bosses we're now recycling them???

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What goes around...

      "I'm Brian!"

      "I'm Brian!"

      "I'm Brian!"

      "I'm Brian and so's my wife!"

    2. saturn5

      Re: What goes around...

      Surely, just by the application of the Peter Principle, one in every five IT managers is called Brian?

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: What goes around...

        I though it was part of the job description, Brian?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What goes around...

      Bosses are always getting recycled around the BOFH. They become filler in voids under raised floors/false walls/elevator pits. They become fertilizer in nondescript fields just outside of the city. They become cores for rolling up unneeded carpets. They have all kinds of uses.

      They've recycled enough bosses that they're bound to have name collisions from time to time.

    4. J. Cook Silver badge

      Re: What goes around...

      The BOFH (and the PFY) have actually changed companies at least once since then.

      But it's a possibility.

  16. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Happy

    Great episode

    I had almost expected some questions on how you could "accidentally" secure erase a file. You could even envisage some conversation on "secure erase protocol requiring mandatory erasure of all back-ups to ensure ISO-9001 standards compliance following IEEE-235478523676 standard on complete data security, in line with EU directive 72563762357-2016 clause 42-B"

    Come to think of it, I might try that line of what can pass for reasoning in low light

    1. PatientOne
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Great episode

      You accidentally secure erase a file by right clicking and selecting 'erase' rather than 'delete' from the menu, then clicking 'yes' when prompted because you've been secure deleting files for a while and got into the habit. Yes, you need secure erasure software installed to do this, but who doesn't these days? o:)

  17. VanguardG

    I once had to pop open someone's email, with the person's manager peering over one shoulder and the director of HR drooling on the other, to search for "inappropriate emails". I found them. Lots of them. Nothing truly disturbing taken individually, but given how many there were on various themes, I have the feeling the subject of the investigation was sent on a permanent unpaid vacation, and he'd already been warned once about that kind of thing.

    C'mon, its Outlook...purge the sent items and empty the recycle bin, at least *try* to cover your tracks. Trying to cut the idiot a break would have been like trying to hide an elephant in the dining room by throwing a tablecloth over it.

    1. Steve the Cynic

      "like trying to hide an elephant in the dining room by throwing a tablecloth over it."

      Nah, that's not an elephant, we just have strange tastes in dining tables...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ooooh...

        It's not strange tastes as much as it was a wedding present from the wife's mother, and there is no way we can part with it until she passes on to a better place...

        1. Dave 32
          Coat

          Re: Ooooh...

          What elephant? Oh, so you're seeing imaginary elephants in the dining room? What colour are they? Pink, perhaps? Exactly what have you been drinking, or what kind of drugs have you been taking? Should you really be coming to work after you've consumed those items? ;-)

          Dave

          P.S. I'll get my coat. It's the one with the pocket full of peanuts.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Ooooh...

            "Oh, so you're seeing imaginary elephants in the dining room? What colour are they? Pink, perhaps? "

            What'll I do?

            What'll I do?

            What an unusual view!

  18. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Pint

    Nice one

    Enjoyed that and...

    Oh look, it's beer O'clock

    1. quxinot

      Re: Nice one

      >Oh look, it's beer O'clock

      That's what mine says too. One of these days I may have to put batteries in it, but it hasn't been wrong yet.

  19. Hubert Thrunge Jr.
    Coat

    British Standard recovery

    All surface data recovery scans are carried out to meet BS3704

    It's a Standard I quote when anyone asks me if the work I do meets, or needs to meet, a British Standard. If they want the EN version it's EN 600:1996

    You know they'll never go and look it up....

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: British Standard recovery

      That's what I call a prophylactic response.

  20. FlippingGerman

    On an unrelated note, scrolling this page happens really weirdly. Anyone else got this? I'm on Win10/Chrome57.

    It only seems to happen on pages with those full-length side ads.

    1. Swarthy
      Trollface

      <Obligitory>

      What ads?

  21. Lord_Beavis

    Re: New technical terms.

    My bullshit meter just imploded.

  22. Lord_Beavis
    Facepalm

    The majik in the box

    This one time, a fellow tech and I were called to look at this one particularly thick headed users computer. She had created a document, saved said document to the file share and then for some unknown reason, deleted said document.

    VSS only runs a couple time a day and she missed the window.

    When asked (by her boss) how can something like this be prevented in the future, my colleague answered about a millisecond before I did. Don't delete it in the first place. You wouldn't believe the shit storm that caused because that particular boss thought they were someone not to trifle with.

    It ain't rocket science... Yeah, that remark got him in trouble latter on too.

  23. NukEvil

    Name dropper

    I knew as soon as the Director started dropping names, someone was taking a trip down the gurgler.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apart from the obvious flick through the director would do to check it's OK.

    You sysadmin people might think everyone else in the world is a complete retard...

    In 25 years I've never seem anyone just take an unknown deck and start presenting it, especially to a board. Even when you wrote the deck you check it's good before you plug-in.

    Nice dream that definitely didn't happen.

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