back to article BOFH: This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back

"Ok James, I think it's time we released you into the wild," I say. "What?!" James gasps, no doubt thinking window, brief scream, distant thud, car alarm. "Into the wild," The PFY says. "We can teach you no more. From now on it's all practical experience." "What?" "We've found you a job, faked some credentials and you have …

  1. John G Imrie


    Viva James

    1. Mark 110

      Re: Yes

      Absolute classic. Possibly the best . . ever . . .


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yes

      I am upvoting assuming this is a clever pun on an oral exam (viva voce) since someone of your depth of knowledge could not have failed to know that official Latin would be "Vivat Jacobus".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yes

        Who says it is Latin?

        Viva is "long live" in Spanish.

  2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge


    "This the real world – a world where IT Managers are often dumber than the cleaners, the cleaners far smarter than the users..."

    I'm reminded at this point, of Dilbert's garbageman.

    1. Captain Scarlet

      Re: Optional

      I haven't seen him in the last years worth of Dilbert daily calendars :(

      1. Bandikoto

        Re: Optional

        Scott has gone full Randroid. If the garbage man had anything of worth to say, he would be paid accordingly.

  3. asphytxtc


    Just splendid! I take my hat off to you James! :)

    Now, off to the pub for a "seven pinter" to purge all knowledge of the director's "incident"...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Luckily ...

    ... I'm working from home. I nearly had to change my trousers after reading this episode. It needs a NSFW tag on it to avoid coffee splattered monitors and keyboards.

    Could be a classic in years to come.

    (Yes, reading el Reg *is* work)

    1. maffski

      Re: Luckily ...

      '...working from home... ...trousers...'

      New to home working then? Give it time.

      1. Bill M

        Re: Luckily ...

        Friday lunchtime ? Working from home ?

        He's probably an old hand at working from home and has adjourned to the annex, aka pub. At my work annex they won't serve me unless I have put my trousers on.

        1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

          Re: Luckily ...

          Re adjourned to the annex

          Indeed..... working myself through the cafes and bars of Brussels... Starting the morning in a cafe for breakfast, changing to a restaurant for lunch and proceeding work in a bar for the remainder of the work day.

      2. Philip Stott

        Re: Luckily ...

        Thank you, brilliant comment. I'm shirking from home and nearly had to change my pants!

        1. Tom 7

          Re: Luckily ...

          Pants? You keep screenwipes near your home workstation?

    2. Jedit Silver badge

      "It needs a NSFW tag on it to avoid coffee splattered monitors and keyboards"

      If your coffee drinking is NSFW, you're using the wrong orifice.

      1. Marshalltown

        Re: "It needs a NSFW tag on it to avoid coffee splattered monitors and keyboards"

        "If your coffee drinking is NSFW, you're using the wrong orifice."

        Nah - just he just need the right class of key board and monitor. Mine tolerates the cat puking on it, spilled coffee, gin and the like.

  5. wyatt

    Hahahaha, ace!

  6. Bassey

    Best is sometime

    They've been improving for a year or more but this was the best in many many years. Loved it.

  7. WonkoTheSane Silver badge

    At last, the circle is complete...

    Mine's the bathrobe with a torch in the pocket -->

    1. Myvekk

      Re: At last, the circle is complete...

      Just as long as you know where your towel is!

  8. packrat

    death by pol

    poltics, that is.

    the mickysoft delimiter. (a)

    You forgot <insert relative> here.


  9. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    Great episode. It brightened an otherwise dull and dreary day

  10. TRT Silver badge

    Ha ha.

    Colossal Cave Adventure reference. Excellent.

    1. DropBear

      Re: Ha ha.

      It's recurring joke... :)

  11. Frenchie Lad

    Excellent - a large dose of truth in there. I particularly liked the bit about reinventing new terms for the same thing. Up to now I haven't seen a single thing that hadn't been done earlier on a mainframe and certainly not with the same respect for the capabilities of the machines running the code.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      New terms

      I remember when the 'cloud' first became a thing - I thought I knew a thing or two at the time, but here was a bunch of numpties sales droids selling something that I knew nothing about.

      It actually took me a while (I was young then) to work out what they meant - at which point I was like "Fuck me - you ignorant arseholes have just re-branded the hosting services" (which even back then included a web page where you could order the server of your specification and have it rolled out within the day).

      1. Chronos

        Re: New terms

        As stated in TFA (many a true word, etc), just wait until they're selling you a "synergy leveraging existing competencies to bring unparalleled flexibility" to cloud storage, which basically means a pass-through NAS box near the edge router with a couple of hard drives in it intercepting calls to your cloud provider if pings fail and rsync running as a daemon. The rest is all semantics. Or Symantec, probably.

        To El Reg: Why is there no grumpy, cynical old misanthrope icon? Most of us are, regardless of gender or age. The windows user comes close but he looks too harmless.

      2. Marshalltown

        Re: New terms

        "... - you ignorant arseholes have just re-branded the hosting services..."

        And that ignores the even earlier days of "time sharing" where you could walk into a Radio Shack and buy time at a terminal to run your BASIC code, then save it to wherever the terminal liked to. Right before PCs appeared with exotic names like Osborne and Kaypro.

      3. Marshalltown

        Re: New terms

        New? The term "cloud" was used by the fellow that taught me about the workings of the internet. As nearly as I can tell, the allusion was to the nebulous nature of the user's knowledge about where his files really were. The trainer used a diagram that showed a PC linked to a LAN, in turn linked to a WAN, which in turn was linked to a "cloud" representing the internet.

        1. magickmark

          Re: New terms

          You were on one of my courses then???

  12. Neil 44


    Nice to see an attempt at referencing Adventure's "YOU ARE IN A MAZE OF TWISTY LITTLE PASSAGES, ALL ALIKE" with "maze of twisting passages all seemingly alike" - so close...

  13. Jonathan 27

    Does this mean the PFY is no longer a PFY?

    1. Captain Scarlet

      With the BOFH there no, so I assume some sort of Star Trek fight to the death scene needs to take place before the PFY replaces the BOFH.

      1. Fibbles

        With the BOFH there no, so I assume some sort of Star Trek fight to the death scene needs to take place before the PFY replaces the BOFH.

        Stephen: Did you ever hear the tragedy of BOFH The Wise?

        James: No?

        Stephen: I thought not. It’s not a story the HR would tell you. It’s an IT legend. BOFH was a Dark Lord of IT, so powerful and so wise he could influence management to increase budgets… He had such a knowledge of the dark side, he could even keep the ones he cared about from being sacked for gross misconduct.

        James: He could actually save people from summary termination?

        Stephen: The dark side is a pathway to many defenestrative abilities some consider to be... unethical.

        James: What happened to him?

        Stephen: He became so powerful… the only thing he was afraid of was losing his power, which eventually, of course, he did. Unfortunately, he taught his apprentice everything he knew, then his apprentice had him sacked for embezzlement and use of a cattle-prod without completing the necessary risk assessment paperwork. Ironic. He could save others, but not himself.

    2. VanguardG

      GIven the time frames, he is probably no longer Pimply-Faced, and certainly *not* a Youth anymore.

      But yes, he's still the PFY anyway.

  14. MJI Silver badge

    I was right

    They were training him

  15. choleric


    So James becomes the new PFY. That must mean the PFY becomes the new BOFH. Which would make the BOFH the new ... >gasp< ... boss?

    1. Pirate Dave Silver badge


      Did you miss the part at the beginning about James' job interview across town? I am assuming the current PFY is as safe as he ever is. The BOFH is just, as they say, "paying it forward" by training up a young, future BOFH to send out into the world to spread the joys of slippery stairwells, cattle prods, and quicklime.

      1. choleric

        Re: ITEOTWAWKI

        Good point. I got caught up with developments at the end of the story. Maybe it ends up with a, "this town ain't big enough for the both of us," kind of scenario?

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon

          Re: ITEOTWAWKI

          Apparently, unlike Sith, the master can have more than one apprentice :D

        2. Pirate Dave Silver badge

          Re: ITEOTWAWKI

          "Maybe it ends up with a, "this town ain't big enough for the both of us," kind of scenario?"

          Could well be. Although...whatever became of Simon's girlfriend Gina from a few years ago? She was Simon's equal, perhaps his better. Then she just sort of disappeared. Perhaps he is planning to use James as a pawn in some war with her.

          1. DropBear

            Re: ITEOTWAWKI

            Oh God no... it has not been years since, surely...? IT HAS NOT, YOU HEAR?!?

            1. Pirate Dave Silver badge

              Re: ITEOTWAWKI

              Yeah, years...

              If you wanna feel REALLY old, go read some of the ones from before 2005 and think "OMG? It's been 10+ years but I still remember this story line..."

              Somewhere, way back in the early days, I remember the story where Simon was at some sort of training, and said something that I printed out and stuck to my wall:

              "But root IS my account!"

      2. Toni the terrible Bronze badge

        Re: ITEOTWAWKI

        The thing is quicklime is not really that good for body disposal...

  16. VanguardG

    "we stuffed the red pill into your mouth and held your nose weeks ago." The Duo are getting soft - Not all that long ago it would have been duct tape OVER the mouth and holding the nose for anyone prying into the secrets of the sanctum.

    BOFH has been a good reader of character, though - he did spare the over-eager youngster who became PFY, and became, in the man's own words, "a fiend with a scarcely human face." Though the PFY did have to demonstrate his chops by checkmating the BOFH's attempt to get him fired, invoking the "Uncle Brian" defense, he wasn't just accepted into the sanctum as James has been....

    ...or has he been? That engagement the lined up for him could still prove to be a tragic, carefully planned accident...

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Nah, somewhere in the cesspool of the office they found a rough diamond and are polishing him up. Get him installed in a relevant company across town and there is endless scope for merriment and budget increases: "ACME now has a 4-Factor redundant storage arrays…"

      1. wowfood

        I now need to find the PFYs origin story.

  17. SJ Coombs

    Where do I sign up for Rutherford? :)

    1. Terje

      You mean you are not a member?

      Must be something wrong with the regs user authentication!

      1. Mark 85

        Indeed... something is amiss as it appears we have a bounder in our midst.

    2. Marshalltown

      Send me your bank account details and I'll sign you up immediately.

  18. Alistair

    Congrats James.

    Welcome to the 'Fold'.

    I was wondering if they were going to post him, or 'post' him.

    /mines the one with the small bottle of coloured pills.

  19. A. Coatsworth Silver badge

    One master... and one apprentice

    So the BOFH-ness doesn't work on the same principle as the Sith Lords? Neat!

    Instead, if James makes it to his job interview, he will be appointed junior BOFH at a new company, where, with time he will select a PFY and with time create new BOFHs to conquer other enterprises.

    So the shadow league of the BOFHs slowly but surely creeps in the underbelly of the IT community, taking it over for the greater good (of themselves)

    1. Wupspups

      Re: One master... and one apprentice


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: One master... and one apprentice

        Bonum commune communitatis! Bonum commune communitatis!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One master... and one apprentice

      So the BOFH is a slowly spreading virus?

      Now I want to make a custom level for Plague Inc.

  20. Chronos

    "This the real world – a world where IT Managers are often dumber than the cleaners, the cleaners far smarter than the users and processor speed being almost entirely irrelevant....

    "It's a world where you get paid to make up new words for the same old crap simply by changing the access method of one of the layers, where literally anyone can be a visionary and the beauty and elegance of bespoke craftsperson code is undermined by a user who demands a flashing font so that other users will know that the box marked 'warning' is important."

    Spot bloody on. May these words be laser etched on the inside of your eyelid. Of the remaining eye.

  21. steve-b

    Welcome to the layer cake, son.

  22. earl grey

    A dull thud

    Nicely played. Nicely played. Have a few.

  23. davidp231


    Now a story involving the BOFH's mentor could make an interesting read.. Bastard versus Bastard.

    1. Marshalltown

      Re: Mentoring

      Look here:

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the first rule of Rutherford

    is obviously that one does not talk about, admit to knowledge of, or membership to.

    Anonymous for obvious reasons :)

    1. DropBear

      Re: the first rule of Rutherford mean the only people able to positively identify members are... beancounters? When tabulating the membership fees?!? *gasp, shock, horror* I see monumental potential here for a brewing "class war" of epic proportions (poor beancounters... of course...)!

  25. Zoopy

    Sheesh, what a Bastard.

  26. Herby

    Rutherford Advanced Computing Society.

    We're all members, having paid the proper amounts. Now we put it on our resumes and gloat away.

    Just remember, if you get a snicker from an interviewing future boss, you have it made.

    1. Anonymous IV

      Re: Rutherford Advanced Computing Society.

      Reminiscent of the old British Computer Society - now stealthed as "BCS — The Chartered Institute for IT".

      Or am I thinking of that spectacularly pretentiously-named organisation "The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists"?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Rutherford Advanced Computing Society.

      So I assume it is operated somewhat like a classic MLM pyramid scheme, with the original BOFH (the BOFH's mentor's mentor's mentor, perhaps?) sitting at the top of the pyramid collecting most of the money until he retires, and everyone below moves up a level.

      The only output it needs to produce are whitepapers custom tailored to "get the Boss/Director to go along with the strategy I want, rather than what Gartner tells them to want", so almost all the dues should go purely to profit of the BOFHs in the pyramid.

      1. Toltec

        Re: Rutherford Advanced Computing Society.

        "sitting at the top of the pyramid collecting most of the money until he retires"

        That sounds lovely, except we all know that 'retires' means both certainties of life have been attained and the HMRC will only get its final cut.

    3. Marshalltown

      Re: Rutherford Advanced Computing Society.

      To truly appreciate the RACS, you need to consider the reversed acronym.

  27. Dr. G. Freeman

    Thought he'd be inducted into the Collective of Advanced System Helpers....

    Oh, a cheque,...just use the acronym...

  28. John Crisp

    More murders than...

    The average Midsomer episode :-)

    1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

      Re: More murders than...

      They are not murders, they are accidents, after all, if the dispatch manager in one of my old jobs managed to strangle himself with his own tie getting caught in the industrial cardboard shredder*, I'm sure its easy to for someone to fall out of a window during a meeting........

      * PS he did survive.... curse that attentive admin drone and that easy access e-stop button.....

      1. Mark 85

        Re: More murders than...

        You fed him into the shredder the wrong way. It's supposed to be feet first so there two appendages slowly pulling the "victim" into the machine.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: More murders than...

      While there is often only one murder, there are certain episodes where people are dropping like flies.

      Admittedly, the impact of the 4th, then 5th cadaver is all the greater when it's generally one or two bodies per episode.

      Have you seen the list of counties though ?

      If this series goes on much longer, they're going to have to edit a special atlas just for Midsomer.

      1. davidp231

        Re: More murders than...

        Yet the population count never seems to change... just like the one outside Cabot Cove.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: More murders than...

        Actually they tend to drop more like bricks.

      3. soaklord

        Re: More murders than...

        In the earlier seasons, there were three per episode on average. Though, in one episode, they killed a fourth character and never bothered to resolve whodunnit. Death of a Stranger maybe? The character was electrocuted as I recall.

  29. Marty McFly Silver badge


    '...a maze of twisting passages all seemingly alike....'

    Sheesh, I just realized that is a reference no one under 40 is likely to get.

    1. soaklord

      Re: Memories!

      Is this the iconic code for Fortran or is there something else that could possibly be a better example?

  30. chivo243 Silver badge

    Well now

    Seems we have a dilema. Has the company grown enough to require two side-kicks? Or is there another future "work related accident" scheduled for the near future? And for who?

  31. Anonymous Coward

    The red pill

    Doesn't taking the red pill mean that you've decided to buy Oracle?

  32. FeRDNYC

    A new BOFH is born!

    You know, it's said that every time a server reboots, a sysadmin earns their LART.

  33. David McCoy

    Vintage BOFH

    2017 is proving to be a good year for the BOFH.

    This may have been his finest ever.

  34. Arachnoid

    "The Architect"

    Is not amused by these deviant anomalies and may initiate a redesign of the human intuitive program.Zion is clearly at the root of the erronious code.

  35. rwallace

    I just about went into a temporal loop when I saw " in a maze of twisting passages all seemingly alike."

  36. jamesdanielkirk

    A masterwork

  37. crosenblum

    Green Pill for me...

    Or as some call it the Beer Pill :)

  38. Marshalltown

    Off topic - more or less

    Sometime, someone should start a BUFH. Not about the normal dead from the neck up type of user, but the ones that built the network computers, wired it up, and then had the "Boss" hire a would-be BOFH to administer the system - badly. Since our - the systems builders - job was really nothing to do with computing except writing reports, data entry and analysis, etc., hiring an administrator made sense. The Boss could not have administered his way out of a wet paper bag. But, the first candidate, big into Goth looks, but neither the right gender or correct attitude to deal with the system builders, was a disaster. He threw our "real" job schedules out of the window because he "needed" to "administer" the print server. That was just the start. It didn't take more than three days to decide we had to be rid of him. Initially we resorted to the tactic of crashing the print server, moving the CAT5 connection and then rebooting it, restored to its rightful domain. The WBBOFH complained to the Boss and threatened us - the system builders! He was gone in a month.

  39. Ripper38

    Won't somebody think of the children, uh, the future BOFHs?

    Looking back on some of their verrrry old exploits I started seriously fretting about BOFH & PFY's future especially after reading this: and then I thought, G̶o̶d̶,̶ ̶I̶'̶m̶ ̶t̶h̶i̶r̶s̶t̶y̶...W̶h̶a̶t̶'̶s̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶L̶u̶n̶c̶h̶ "Nah! They wrote the manual" Plus, it says: “Strategic senior level jobs such as CIO or CTO roles won’t vanish, but with the organisation pyramid getting leaner, companies would require fewer managers to manage different teams,” ... Managers vanishing? Well, if that isn't Business As Usual with our favourite IT team...

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simon is my hero. We all have wished at some point, that we could do these things...

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