back to article BOFH: Here he comes, all wide-eyed with the boundless optimism of youth. He is me, 30 years ago... what to do?

BOFH logo telephone with devil's horns I am having an existential crisis. In front of me is a youth, no older than the PFY was when I first met him, full of enthusiasm for a role in IT. "Green and keen" as the saying goes. To him the prospect of IT support is a limitless expanse of exciting experiences – a veritable …

  1. joeW

    Dammit BOFH....

    I come here to laugh, not cry.

    1. Mark 110

      Re: Dammit BOFH....

      Best in ages. And so so true.

    2. Frumious Bandersnatch

      Re: Dammit BOFH....

      Au contraire! With all this c-virus doom and gloom, it's nice to see a spark of hope. (shortly to be snuffed out, but still!)

  2. Chris G


    But verging on the maudlin, very unlike the BOFH we have come to know and fear.

    It does prove however, that PHBs, bean counters and the sales/marketing wonks are bad for your sanity.

    There's always the best window though (for them of course).

    1. tfewster

      Re: Veracious

      Maudlin? Meh. I call that Tuesday, after the memories of the weekend have faded and the view of the next weekend is blocked by hordes of idiots.

    2. RyokuMas
      Thumb Up

      Re: Veracious

      I'd say more "introspective" than "maudlin"...

      ... but the ending proves that no matter what he feels, we can always count on the BOFH to give the poor schmucktrainee a push in the right direction...




      ... gravity will take care of the rest.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Veracious

      There can always be Part II…

  3. Maverick

    awesome again

    " trusting no one and with a cynical streak so wide they could land an A380 on it."

    is now stolen

    1. Ken 16 Silver badge

      I remember, about a decade into my IT career, being taken aside by my manager, a born consultant on the track to junior partner and being told I needed to be less cynical. Unfortunately I'd been told 5 years before that by someone more senior and who had earned more of my respect that if I wanted to get ahead I needed to be more cynical. They were both probably lying.

      1. iron Silver badge

        People have been telling my I'm too cynical since my teens. So far it has served me well in avoiding many of the scams and pitfalls of modern life - social media, crypto coins, Alexa, IoT, etc.

      2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        If you're not cynical, you've not been paying attention.

        1. VonDutch

          I'll stop being cynical when I stop being proven right.

        2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

          I once told my boss that he was too cynical. He replied that it was not cynicism, it was "practical realism".

          RIP, Norm.

      3. Dr. G. Freeman

        I been called cynical since my teens too, usual response is " No, I'm a realist, if I was cynical, I'd be a lot worse."

        Roses are red, Chocolate is Brown, I expect nothing, and I'm still let down.

        1. Sudosu Bronze badge

          Marvin, is that you?

          1. Frumious Bandersnatch

            funny you should mention Marvin

            since THHGTTG was running through my mind right from the outset. "The Window"... Yeah, sure, that's how Zaphod Beeblebrox managed to survive the Total Perspective Vortex, right?

            1. Muscleguy

              Re: funny you should mention Marvin

              No, because it was not reality. That reality had been created specifically for him. So the total perspective vortex told him he was the most important man in the universe. The real world one would have destroyed his ego.

              Remember, the clue was the wrong colour of the frogstar fighters.

      4. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        Cynicism probably isn't all it's cracked up to be.

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon

          Only probably?

          1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

            I'm cynical about absolutism.

      5. VanguardG

        I got similar guidance from management back when i was a youngster...."You're too specialized, you need to have more general knowledge". Very next boss, just a couple of years later. "You need to specialize in a niche you can make your own."

      6. ocratato

        I was once passed over for a job. The reason given was that I was too cynical.

        I found this rather strange since the job involved spending all day on the phone talking to sales people.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          They wanted a pragmatist, not a cynic.

          100 sales people on the phone, 100 sales people.

          Track one down and put them in the ground

          99 sales people on the phone.....

    2. Andytug

      Cynical is what an optimist calls a realist...


      Optimist : The glass is half full

      Pessimist: The glass is half empty

      Engineer: The glass is twice as big as it needs to be

      IT: Bring me a full glass, I've nearly finished this one......

      1. CloudWrangler

        Re: Cynical is what an optimist calls a realist...

        Realist: If I don't leg it, someone will get me to wash the glass afterwards.

      2. Toltec

        Re: Cynical is what an optimist calls a realist...

        Me: the anti-spill buffer has been incorrectly specified.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Cynical is what an optimist calls a realist...

          Programmer: The glass is half empty, maybe if I turn it upside down and back up it will refill

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Cynical is what an optimist calls a realist...

            Project manager: I know the glass has been knocked over and most of the liquid has been spilt on the ground, but if we just put in a little extra overtime, we can get the glass upright and put some of the liquid back in it and I'm sure the end users will be satisfied. Or I'll be out of here when they find out how little liquid is left. Or that the glass was knocked over by the project manager...

          2. maffski

            Re: Cynical is what an optimist calls a realist...

            Programmer: Damn, I should have forked it when it was still full. Now I'm going to gave to work trice as hard.

      3. IanRobertson

        Re: Cynical is what an optimist calls a realist...


        Engineer : glass full , with good safety factor.

      4. MrDamage Silver badge

        Re: Cynical is what an optimist calls a realist...

        BOFH (while charging the cattleprod): WHO SPILLED MY FUCKING PINT?

      5. Blofeld's Cat

        Re: Cynical is what an optimist calls a realist...

        Opportunist: The glass is now empty

      6. Disk0

        Re: Cynical is what an optimist calls a realist...

        Continuity engineer: The glass is not even half the size it needs to be, and we need several more.

        1. Frumious Bandersnatch

          Re: Cynical is what an optimist calls a realist...

          Retroactive Continuity Engineer: We can just explain that the big glass was actually closer than it seemed in the canon.

    3. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

      You're Not Here To Think! - The 90's

      Working on a PCB that I drafted in a second pair of eyes on.....

      Did you think about this as a line of investigation?

      I'm not here to think, I was told that very soon after I started 7 years ago.

      Who the fuck told you that!

      You did.

  4. Admiral Grace Hopper

    So true

    I feel the same every time our apprentice, blessed with endless energy, enthusiasm and keenness, comes bouncing over seeking enlightenment. I don't want to kill or even temper his enthusiasm, I just can't bear to be around when life rips it from him and shreds it in front of his eyes, then pisses all over it.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Re: So true

      Tell him the truth - IT truly is the cornucopia of enlightenment and knowledge - but the people you meet will turn you into a homicidal axe-wielding maniac before you can finish that can of coke someone left on the side.

  5. Blade918rr

    A familiar story.

    But, 50% of the job is not IT related, IT knowledge just allows us to better understand the business problems and monitor for risk.

    50% of the job is critical thinking and providing information and guidance to the business to allow it to make decisions that hopefully result in business successes

    Yes, we often feel that the business is not doing the right thing (from our view) but the business is much bigger that one department (IT).

    New starters in the industry will consider they have a full knowledge base. unfortunately their knowledge base will be 90% theory based on generic academic views of how things should be done (different between best endeavour and reasonable business endeavour based on risk analysis)

    Us "time served" IT pro's need to enhance and shape new starters knowledge. So as to avoid the pain and business losses experienced by time served IT pro's

    Over the years I try to detach from the emotional aspects and just try to provide information and guidance based on facts, if the business chooses not to act upon the information, I assume there is a good reason.

    1. John70

      if the business chooses not to act upon the information, I assume there is a good reason.

      Yes, the beancounters.

      1. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble?

        I thought the commentard said a good reason?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      My mantra is "I just work here" when manglement makes a penny wise, pound foolish decision.

      My one for this week is a decision that saved £15 a month. Six months later it's cost a week and counting worth of downtime on that particular system and we're about to spend around 30 times the amount saved to resolve the issue.

      Bloody beancounters. Even higher management muttered about the decision being made on the basis of knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing and they made the decision!

      I. JUST. WORK. HERE.


      1. alanh02

        I just work here doesnt work

        because we all know that no matter how cynical we get, we want it to just be right and we will put in the extra work to make it right, and then some other fscker takes the credit

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      if the business chooses not to act upon the information, I assume there is a good reason.


      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        if the business chooses not to act upon the information, I assume know there is a good reason, usually a stupid one.

        Slight improvement on your fix.

      2. Sir Runcible Spoon

        Yeah, but assuming it must be a 'good' reason allows you to completely let go with a clean conscience.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          After one warning (in writing) about the consequences I foresee, I can completely let it go with a clean conscience as it is out of my hands and above my pay grade. Unfortunately, those "I told you so"s are not very good for my karma and somehow manglement never seems to learn.

    4. hplasm

      I assume there is a good reason.

      Ahem.. I think not, little puppy....

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      if the business chooses not to act upon the information, I assume there is a good reason fuckwit in charge.


      1. Blade918rr

        I read the responses with interest

        In most instances I have learned that stress is caused by trying to change something that we are not empowered to change. leading to frustration. Simply inform in writing / e-mail to the management team.

        Then its a case of Bean counters vs Auditors/Share holders.

        When we get promoted to executives then we can take on the stress, accompanied by an appropriate level of pay


        1. Monkey&Typewriter

          Agreed. My policy is "Advise. Warn. Ignore."

          1) Advise them that their action will likely produce results contrary to their goals.

          2) Warn them of the likely consequences of said actions.

          3) Ignore the screams and pleading.

          Further, I am advising you that this policy may not result in favorable employment outcomes...

        2. alanh02

          In my experience stress is caused by the opposing wish to kill someone and the not being able too.

          Ican as it is my favourite method

    6. Brett Weaver

      The business is bigger than one department

      "Yes, we often feel that the business is not doing the right thing (from our view) but the business is much bigger than one department (IT)."

      I'm afraid I disagree.

      The IT department tends to be a microcosm of the whole organisation. If management is unfocused and drifting, with little in the way of objective measurement of projects and policy.. I'm afraid it will be the same in all of the departments.

      You can't have a department driven by egos and knee jerk reactions in a vacuum. If it exists in IT it will be there in the C-Suite...

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Given that in most businesses nowadays, knock over the IT and you've no business left are you really that sure ?

  6. ukgnome

    I can relate to this

    I have just had an admin drone ask what he needs to do to get into IT - he thinks it will be the path to untold riches.

    The only thing I could think of was to ask him if he wanted to become an alcoholic.

    1. DailyLlama

      Re: I can relate to this

      When I started in IT, my manager asked me "Do you smoke yet?"

      1. BebopWeBop

        Re: I can relate to this

        "You've come to the right place - the clean room even has ventilation."

      2. Dr Dan Holdsworth

        Re: I can relate to this

        I've leapfrogged the nicotine addiction and gone straight to an SSRI, by way of propranolol (which didn't work). I dare say I ought to also explore the misty recesses of vapour-delivered cannabindiol as well as nicotine, just to be on the safe side.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I can relate to this

          Hey Dan,

          Wait till the price of vapourised CBD starts to lower a bit, because trust me, booze is waaay cheaper at the moment....



        Re: I can relate to this NERF

        Do you NERF yet is another one :)

        Crack open the NETTLE cordial with a dash of Honey is sure to be another favorite.




  7. Shadow Systems

    "a cynical streak so wide they could land an A380 on it."

    Is that all? Hell, mine's so wide they could land the Concorde on it *sideways* & still leave room for the entire fleet of Heathrow's inbound international heavies land wingtip to wingtip on the back 40.

    You fekkin optimist. =-)P

    *Hands you a pint, raises tankard in toast, & taps rims in salute*

    If I had a time machine & could go back to visit myself a mere 3M years ago, I'd scream "Don't do it!", kick myself squarely in the fork, & carve "Don't go there" on my unconscious forehead for when I woke up.

    Oh wait, we were talking about IT & not my ex... Nevermind.


    *Shifty eyed looks left & right*

    Ummmm... gotta go. I think I left my cat on the hob...

    *Runs away*

    1. Ken 16 Silver badge

      Re: "a cynical streak so wide they could land an A380 on it."

      Wide enough for all British owned airlines to lands their fleets side by side?

      1. Stumpy

        Re: Seems a bit cheap

        Mines so wide, I'm providing the parking space for all of Boeing's 737-MAX fleet.

        1. nichomach

          Re: Seems a bit cheap

          Presumably their requirement fluctuates up and down rapidly?

      2. Korev Silver badge

        Re: "a cynical streak so wide they could land an A380 on it."

        >Wide enough for all British owned airlines to lands their fleets side by side?

        That's Virgin on ridiculous...

      3. Dave R

        Re: "a cynical streak so wide they could land an A380 on it."

        British Owned Airlines Are there any?

    2. hplasm

      Re: "a cynical streak so wide they could land an A380 on it."

      I have a cynical streak so wide they could land Steve Austin AND all of his missing bits on it...

  8. GlenP Silver badge

    Mixed Feelings

    I'm about to hold the weekly online IT meeting and I'm in a similar position with my latest recruit. He's keen, possibly a bit too keen and I really don't want to disillusion him. He wasn't even born when I started in the industry!

    On the other hand he needs to learn some cynicism to do the job properly.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mixed Feelings

      The keyboard I am typing this on is an IBM model M, manufactured in Scotland on 29/4/1997 according to the sticker on the bottom. I acquired it from a company I worked at and it has followed me between 4 jobs and 2 countries. It is older than all of our level 1 helpdesk staff and several of the level 2s where I work now.

      Shit. I feel old.

      1. herman

        Re: Mixed Feelings

        You realize that you are getting old when kit that you designed is in a museum...

        1. el_oscuro

          Re: Mixed Feelings

          A website I originally designed is still in production. Best viewed on Netscape Navigator 3.

        2. Alan W. Rateliff, II

          Re: Mixed Feelings

          I kind-of know that feel. It was not something I designed, but I helped troubleshoot as part of a high school internship. Now to make certain that does not end up my peak accomplishment.

      2. Dave 32

        Re: Mixed Feelings

        I'll raise you. My Model M was manufactured in the USA on 05MAY92 (which was obviously before they started worrying about the Y2K problem).


        1. wegie

          Re: Mixed Feelings

          The UK operation was already Y2K compliant. My model M says (squints at extremely faded label) 1992-09-02.

          1. fobobob

            Re: Mixed Feelings

            Mine turns out to be 07-13-91. Forgive the date format, it's 'Made in the U S A' (as am I), according to the rather wide lettering at the bottom of its label. I am not much older than it, and acquired it relatively recently, but I don't plan on parting with it any time soon.

        2. Frumious Bandersnatch

          Re: Mixed Feelings

          You're not going to get me like that. If I turn my Model M upside down to see where it was made, who knows what eldritch abominations will spew forth onto my desk.

          (Coffee? Ain't even 1% of it!)

  9. chivo243 Silver badge

    Simon reading my journal again??

    "I could tell the truth and say that the pursuit of professional excellence in IT will leave him a bitter and twisted husk of a man" I'd let the kid walk a mile in my shoes! Then let him make his decision.

    1. BebopWeBop

      Re: Simon reading my journal again??

      You are obviously rather more humane than the average BOFH

      1. Chloe Cresswell Silver badge

        Re: Simon reading my journal again??

        Maybe they have a pair of smelly shoes they would like to be a mile away... ;)

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

    A glimpse into the dark depths of Simon's soul

    Like Sam Vimes, Simon clearly knows he has hidden depths, and knows the things lurking in those depths should perhaps stay there.

  11. Matthew 3


    "...successfully watching an Xbox upgrade has bestowed upon them the technical wherewithal to challenge a group policy put in place to protect the rest of the company from their pedestrian attitude to data security..."

  12. Will Godfrey Silver badge


    Wasn't expecting anything like that. Gobsmacked.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I just finished moving offices...

    Actually, a Whole lot of us moved from one building to another…

    Everyone else packed up their computer and trinkets, and possibly even brought their chair, and up and left for the other building.

    They didn't even clean out the stuff they left in the fridge!

    (We brought the fridge… It's now hidden away in a nook in IT)

    Leaving IT to transfer our storerooms, our worktools, and even all the supplies from the commons by ourselves.

    (We've been toiling for weeks now, and no one has offered to help. )

    The management wouldn't even pay for a mover to shift the furniture.

    'The janitors can do that'... Which means we won't be completely set up for weeks!

    We're already getting snide remarks from other uses because our New Offices looks untidy…

    Any of them pop their head in now for a 'could you take a quick look at' will get a fistfull of foam darts heading for them, thanks to my battery-powered Nerf gun…

    The mini kitchen nearest IT doesn't even have Earl Grey stocked…

    I'm off to plunder all those 'straw' packages of sugar now. (I'm not going to risk having to use artificcial sweetener! )

    I Wonder how long until someone complains about the Caddy we now have parked in the garage. Nope, we're not moving it. That was our assigned place before you fucks moved us out, and it has never been reassigned to someone else.

    1. lglethal Silver badge

      Re: I just finished moving offices...

      Just a little bit of info that might help.

      A simple reminder to your boss that if whilst moving buildings, anything gets damaged which is not being moved by professional movers, well then your insurance wont be paying out for it.

      At least thats how it is in my firm. We're not even supposed to move our PC's between offices in the same building (we do of course) for that very reason.

      So a bit of a "Nice looking servers you've got there, would be a shame if some non-professional mover tripped whilst carrying it across the parking lot and dumped the whole lot on the CEO's new Mercedes, wouldnt it? I would just hatttteeee for that to happen..."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I just finished moving offices...

        My boss isn't even in my county. And he doesn't have much to say anyways. This is controlled entirely by the self-important arses in 'building management'. They're the same shits that relocated IT out of the main building 'temporarily' a decade ago. That it would take me 10 minutes to get to the main office for any 'face to face' work or to get to the servers didn't matter. Neither that there wasn't a loading bay or similar to receive goods in... (Which is why we managed to keep the garage parking; we needed a dry place to park the Caddy while loading it with tens of thousands of £ of stuff... Unloading at our 'temp' office was another matter entirely... )

        And if any of the computer equipment had ended up broken, it would have come out of our budgets.

        At least I could tell the most pompous one of them that 'no, there's no way to get you a second network outlet in your office. You didn't want to pay for it during the previous remodel...'

        I think he wanted a Cisco videoconferencing unit in his office.

        (My office is in the same part of the building, but I have a repurposed Cisco 8port switch under my table... )

    2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      Re: I just finished moving offices...

      I used to work for 'IT relocation specialists', as they described themselves. One of the bigger companies in London, with a reputation for being better at the job than most.

      The only differences between what you describe and getting professional movers to do the job are that you had to schlep the stuff yourselves, and that it all got to the right place, unbroken.

      There seems to be a special brand of incompetence you get when you mix removals and IT. One time I had to stop them ordering thousands of sticky labels for a job - the ones which said DRHP IT (for Disaster Recovery High Priority, IT) were just about ok, but I had to change the Ordinary Priority ones to Normal Priority, because slapping DROP IT all over stuff you're moving isn't a great look.

    3. Rich 11

      Re: I just finished moving offices...

      The mini kitchen nearest IT doesn't even have Earl Grey stocked…

      Go postal. Now.

  14. TRT Silver badge

    I can almost hear it...

    "Soon I will have a new apprentice, one far younger and more powerful."

  15. BebopWeBop

    Or I could tell the truth and say that the pursuit of professional excellence in IT will leave him a bitter and twisted husk of a man, trusting no one and with a cynical streak so wide they could land an A380 on it.

    Not to mention the opportunity to inflict rightful vengeance on the great unwashed and free range access to the supply store to keep it free of over-ordered kit!

  16. SVV

    Cynicism? It's just another word for experience

    After all, if you reach middle age during a career in in IT without having become cynical then you're either a psychopath or you've got away with doing nothing for a couple of decades. In fact, IT companies should recruit on cynicism if they want the best people. So a job advert would be better phrased as "Senior Network Admin, min 10-12 years cynicism, utter disillusionment a big plus" and you'd be guaranteed to get the best person available.

    1. Gnoitall

      Re: Cynicism? It's just another word for experience

      "I'm not a cynic. I'm a realist."

      A pint to you and a round for all who keep fighting, even knowing how futile is all can be.

    2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      Re: Cynicism? It's just another word for experience

      "you're either a psychopath or you've got away with doing nothing for a couple of decades"

      A false dichotomy there. Nothing stops you being both. They can't all become politicians, surely?

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon

        Re: Cynicism? It's just another word for experience

        Came here to point this out, because I wasn't sure which one applied, so I assumed both did.

    3. Giles C Silver badge

      Re: Cynicism? It's just another word for experience

      Where can I apply, I need a new job soon

    4. Mark 85

      Re: Cynicism? It's just another word for experience

      It's only when you reach middle age (or older) that you realize the truth of "Old age and treachery will always beat youth and exuberance.".

  17. Neil Barnes Silver badge


    Damn it, they're moving us to a new building... on the ground floor.

    I think they may suspect.

    1. Trygve Henriksen

      Re: Windows...


      You can still do bace to face' service in the upper floors...

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Windows...

        bace to face?

        As in Base-to-face? Or more accurately face-to-base... where you go for a one-to-one personal meeting and one party ends up in the basement?

      2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

        Re: Windows...

        & stairwells.....

    2. corbpm

      Re: Windows...

      Ground floor windows are great it the Uber Food Delivery guy will deliver to it.

      Pro Tip there !!!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A better essay on the state of IT I have not read

    Seriously - remove the in-jokes about quicklime and it has got more insight than a years Gartner subscription.

    1. Augie

      Re: A better essay on the state of IT I have not read

      I think even with the in-jokes in it provides more insight..

    2. LeoP

      Re: A better essay on the state of IT I have not read

      The quicklime references provide additional headroom to that undisputed lead.

    3. Roger Kynaston

      Re: A better essay on the state of IT I have not read

      Deep insight is often buried in the best humour.

      1. The Boojum

        Re: A better essay on the state of IT I have not read

        In the same way that PHBs are buried in the best concrete?

  19. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge

    Come over to the Dark Side my son.

    Together we will rule this miserable company, and make the lusers' lives hell.

    El Reg : we need a Darth Vader icon.

  20. IceC0ld

    I don't know how he does it TBH

    rolling out tale after tale each month over the years

    not the tales, oh no, they are a part of life itself, I'm just surprised there's anyone left for him to defenestrate :o)

    1. Alister

      I'm just surprised there's anyone left for him to defenestrate

      There is an endless supply of fresh MBAs to deal with.

      1. hmv

        There's an old, old joke about IBM middle-management.

        Two lions escape from a zoo and agree to meet up after 6 months to see how things are going. Six months passes, and they meet up in the agreed place; one is bedraggled, clearly starving whilst the other is fine and dandy. The second asks the first "What happened to you?".

        "Snacked on one of those humans, and I've been running from them ever since. How did you manage so well?"

        "Hung out in an IBM car park and took a middle-manager every day; nobody noticed they were missing."

        1. Ozan

          I heard same joke about colonel in army.

          1. Martin

            Or project managers.

  21. not.known@this.address

    Need to educate someone on the finer point of life in IT?

    Simple - although it might not work for Simon.

    Just give them a link to the BOFH Archive!

  22. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    This hurts too much


    Or I could tell the truth and say that the pursuit of professional excellence in IT will leave him a bitter and twisted husk of a man, trusting no one and with a cynical streak so wide they could land an A380 on it.

    I'm another one saving that phrase for a rainy day

    But I think it kinder that the youngster is led over to the window, while making sure the volvo is parked 4 floors down and sending him on his way so that he suffers as little as possible, it may sound harsh but its kinder in the long term.

    Plus it avoids having to use the lift shaft to hide the body, because as we all know, the lift shaft is saved especially for the new general manager, an exciting go getter of a man keen to lead from the front and eager to take that small step for a man that leads to an eternity on the way down.

    All you have to do then is return the lift to its usual function of actually having the lift there when the C level doors open......

  23. Morrie Wyatt

    Obvious really.

    If you want to survive a career in IT

    Avoid Windows.

    Surprised nobody mentioned it earlier.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Obvious really.

      If you want to work in anything other than small niche markets you will be working with Microsoft, deploying windows servers and PC's. Don't kid yourself, desktop integration with corporate systems only exists with the Microsoft stack.

      You can run many applications on a Linux server but if you are buying off the shelf industry specific software a lot has been built on SQL server and anything else just causes you pain.

      Those of us who do deploy large systems are not Microsoft shills but if you have to integrate systems from disparate suppliers and need to use the office automation features then you will end up with Microsoft in the mix. Believe me I've tried to put together a workable architecture which would do the job without Microsoft but have not managed it yet. Even a customer who deployed Gsuite still had to license Office as the CRM & ERP systems used by almost everyone would not integrate with the Google products.

      And of you have a legacy ERP system you're probably stuck with Oracle as well. Must sign off now as I'm sobbing

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Obvious really.

        Look closely. He said "avoid windows" not "avoid Microsoft". Also avoid:

        * elevator shafts

        * cafeteria food

        * dimly lit basements

        * unearthed electrical equipment

        * declining purchase requisitions from IT staff

        (It's more of a manager' guide to survival)

      2. dajames

        Re: Obvious really.

        If you want to work in anything other than small niche markets you will be working with Microsoft ...

        That's the best advert for working in small niche markets that I've seen for a long time!

    2. Alan W. Rateliff, II

      Re: Obvious really.

      Double entendre?

  24. Andrew Moore

    "Do I preach about the shift from selling a software product to leasing it so as to convert the client into a revenue stream with no added value?"

    DO I hate this one. Worse than "no added value" is where the company rinsing you for extra cash feel obligated to load every bell and whistle into the software, just to make it look like you are getting some return on your investment. And you end up with an over-bloated, slow as crap, feature defaced, useless piece of shit.

    1. Herby

      As was said before...

      Avoid Windows.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh so true

    Do I tell him about the technical sales people that will follow in the next rank after the pre-sales people, who will try and sell him future proof kit which will be discontinued, scant months after purchase?

    I had a very interesting discussion many years ago about the writing off of £250,000 worth of 'modular' 3Com kit. It turned out a single module was more expensive than a new to market Cisco router (back in the day when Cisco were the challenger who was so cheap you weren't sure it would do the job ). Replacing all the 3Com gear with Cisco cost me less than 12 months maintenance on the 3Com kit.

    'So why did you buy them in the first place?" the auditor asked

    Because no-one new who Cisco were 12 months ago was all I could answer.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Oh so true

      I've seen the same thing with people considering what solution to buy and what level of maintenance to get for it. Some people will look at a business-critical server and say "We don't need any plan for this as it has redundant PSUs and RAIDed drives" while considering a maintenance agreement on some piece of consumer-level tech that we can probably replace easily enough if it really does break. Meanwhile, the critical details about software updates and availability of replacement parts are rarely considered. For example, I once had a discussion with a friend who was working on* an Android-based product for a company. They shipped that product two years ago, and yet they used Android version 5. Their sales documentation honestly said that they chose Android to provide faster access to updates. While this might have technically been true given what they used before was Windows Mobile 6.5 which stopped being developed in 2009, they didn't plan and have continued not to release any updates to the Android on their device, including security updates.

      *The friend concerned worked for a place that wrote applications that ran on the device, but didn't work for the manufacturer. The lack of updates and cavalier attitude about product lifetimes are not her fault.

  26. Alistair

    There is no icon

    or emoji that covers this article. It is quite comprehensive and covers IT to a Tee.

    1. Rich 11

      Re: There is no icon

      It also covers I.

      1. Frumious Bandersnatch

        Re: There is no icon

        and matches set game, under some sort of permutation...

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Probably the all-time best episode!

    On a personal note, reminds me of what the countless IT sysadmins, etc, have been telling me when I recount to them my displeasure (back then) of having chosen medical school (parental advice) over IT (my field of primary interest).

  28. TheAssassin
    Thumb Up

    Well done BOFH

    So much of this rang true to me. Is the IT world more awful than it was 30+ years ago when i entered it? Am I just worn out with the constant stream of dullards? I honestly don't know but I do know I appreciate this BOFH posting.

    1. Laura Kerr

      Re: Well done BOFH

      I think it's a bit of both. Snake oil sales are definitely on the up, with product lifetimes measured in months rather than years. Crapware's far more abundant than it used to be, too. It came as a pleasant surprise to find that the code I'm currently maintaining was written by people who knew what they were doing. The last lot had more spaghetti than an Italian restaurant and ran about as fast as a sloth on Valium.

      I think the rot set in around the time of the dot-com boom, when any dim bulb who could get some flaky HTML code to more-or-less work with an Access database could get away with swanning around spouting buzzwords and calling themselves an enterprise architect. Then, when dot-com became dot-bomb, those bulbs who were most proficient in bullshit were able to worm their ways into more senior positions, and rather than be threatened by talented people in junior positions, filled vacancies with people less able than they were. Classic Peter Principle.

      I certainly wouldn't encourage my kids to go into IT. Roll on retirement.

  29. bed

    Museum items

    Comment from above noting that you know you are old when the kit you started on can be seen in a museum which is indeed true as The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley has (or had at the time) some DEC PDP 11s very similar to the ones I started on in 1985 - shorty followed by a VAX, then a MicroVAX another and another...

    1. Mike Henderson

      Re: Museum items


      My first machines were a PDP 8 and an IBM 7090 - in 1971.

      The owner wouldn't spring for a Boot ROM on the PDP, so we had to boot it by loading a paper tape reader program through the front panel switches :(

      There was talk of buying Mass Storage (a 5MB disk) for the IBM about the time I moved on to my next job

      1. swm

        Re: Museum items

        My first computer was an LGP-30 around 1960. You could watch the instructions execute (almost).

      2. G_Axelsson

        Re: Museum items

        I know I'm a youngster, but at least I got my first soldering iron the same year the computer in my hallway was built. It's a 1972 64 kbyte core memory NORD-1. My goal is to have it running before it turns 50. No ROM or anything, but it got boot logic (TTL circuits) to load a paper tape from a Teletype.

        At the moment it can only run one instruction but does it well... NOP. All I see is zero in the instruction register and the program counter looping around. I highly suspect that the memory read isn't working. :-D

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Museum items

      Not quite the same, but some years ago went to the science museum in London and saw some floppy disk drives. Identical to the ones that our customer had sent in for repair that same week....

      IT isn't always about new shiny things - it's keeping the old stuff working....

      1. steelpillow Silver badge

        Re: Museum items

        I wondered why there was an empty space for some time, where those drives should have been. You, you ... BOFH, you!

      2. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: Museum items

        Or alternatively, our museum "accessioned" a Mk I (Sony) Raspberry Pi three years ago, though my colleague still hasn't got around to putting it in a case next to the Dragon and the Sinclair machines...

        National Museum of Wales, these items were manufactured in Wales :-)


  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Want cynicism? Try customer success

    We literally take crap from everybody and do it with a smile.

    -Portal going down faster than a washed-out lot lizard? CS team will face the clients and cover up the infra team's incompetence.

    -'Award-winning support team' as useless as mammaries on a bull? Escalate to CS, they're better at it, anyway.

    -Devs only testing a software release, that is supposed to fix legacy hardware deployment issues, on new hardware, resulting in a high upgrade failure rate for legacy devices? The CS team will clean it up.

    -Third-party devs adding undocumented features (not referring to bugs, literally introducing features) without telling anyone or sending any documentation? The CS team will train the clients

    -Sales drones making unrealistic promises ('It's so easy to use, it'll operate itself')? The CS team has to 'manage expectations' with the pissed off client

    See a pattern? Other departments fornicate up and CS team gets to face the angry customers.

    1. tfewster

      Re: Want cynicism? Try customer success

      I must apologise to you then - when I heard about vendor "Customer Success" teams, I immediately thought they were just trying to get more of my time to pitch their latest shiny. Oh yeah, Simon already mentioned "customer relationship managers".

      That's not cynicism, it's just 40 years on both sides of the fence.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Want cynicism? Try customer success

        I'm one of those who don't get commission. For that reason, I'll only push stuff that'll get you out of my hair - therefore something that'll make your life easier and minimise the static from your end. I may be a little more aggressive with pushing clients with crap technical staff or very exotic deployments onto our service contractors but that's just to get you out of my hair. Referring a client with troglodyte 'techs', who bash everything together with rocks, to competent install/repair technicians with decades of experience deploying our kit into various environments, really cuts down on troubleshooting data collection or network connectivity issues.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Want cynicism? Try customer success

          I don't think it's just commission, though that undoubtedly contributes. I know far too many people willing to sell things as long as they stand to gain money from it, so if their employer manufactures something that's terrible, they'll cheerfully try to sell it. Often, they manage to memorize enough technical jargon to make you think they know something about what they're talking about only to balk at your first technical question. Often, this is because they don't know the answer, but sometimes they do and they're aware you won't like it. I've occasionally found a salesperson who seems trustworthy, but they're far too rare.

          The odd thing is that they could probably cut out any investment on salespeople they send to me if they spent twenty minutes creating a table of specs for whatever thing they're selling. Usually, I can decide somewhat quickly whether I'm interested from the specs table, and if I'm unsure, I read the manual. That table has to include all relevant information though, as I've seen a lot of tables that always seem to be missing whatever parameter you're interested in.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Want cynicism? Try customer success

            In a previous tech support role, if I advised the customer that he needed a bit of kit to solve his problem, I would say that I'm not on commission so that they wouldn't feel pressured.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Want cynicism? Try customer success

            > Often, they manage to memorize enough technical jargon to make you think they know something about what they're talking about


          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Want cynicism? Try customer success

            Same anonymous coward posting lol One thing I do like about my job is that sales don't factor into my bonuses. Retention does. That's why selling unnecessary junk and/or setting unrealistic expectations can hurt me financially, in addition to increasing my workload. Here's how my approach differs from a sales drone's.

            Sales drone:

            -It's so easy, even a caveman can do it; it will also do your job for you! Here's the dotted line, initial the grandchildren's souls part. Pets, too.


            -This can save you 80-90% of work on this particular task [true]

            -You will still need to learn how to use it [pretty obvious]

            -You will get lots of false positives, so you have to go over the data and make sure that there is an actual issue, for each report [the solution errs on the side of caution, to minimise exposure to legal liability]

            -I would still take a random sampling of data, just to be safe [I want my ass covered and to drive home the point that I wouldn't consider it 'fully automated']

            -You are small enough not to need the Cadillac integration solution, but big enough that this solution will save you a lot of data-checking work. ['one size fits all' doesn't exist in this industry]

            -I cc'd your sales drone so they can give you a quote [I don't do sales]

  31. steelpillow Silver badge

    Back in the day

    there was no such thing as systems, just halls filled with white goods collectively known as "the computer". The ancestral BOFH wore a white lab coat and had, as an equally ancestral PFY, spent most of his time swapping out burned-out valves. Now, in the wonderful transistorised 1960s, he had graduated to disentangling dropped reels of tape, be they magnetic or punched, when he was not shepherding a bunch of next-gen PFY hopefuls.

    As one of only two kids in the Computer Club who, after three terms of struggle, had actually got a program to run, I was clearly a PFY with a great future in IT ahead of me.

    I loved programming, knew it was the future, knew I could cream off a good living in a vastly expanding world of BOFHs.

    However I found that my subconscious had read, marked and inwardly digested the true character of life as a BOFH, and had determined never, ever to cut code for anybody else, no not ever.

    So I [see icon], went to college and studied philosophy, a choice I have never regretted.

    But as you can see by my presence here, you may leave systems and software behind, but they will never leave you.

    1. stiine Silver badge

      Re: Back in the day

      Then you missed the desk drawer full of marking pens, which were used religiously, to mark diagonally the top and side of punch-card decks before they came out of the box delivered from the punch room.

  32. earl grey

    as someone once said

    It's Hammer Time!

  33. I.S.

    I faced this same issue when the company I worked for took on two recent uni grads and I was asked to help them get up to speed on what life was like in the real world.

    The idea of taking them both to the pub and not coming back until their money ran out was tempting, but I decided to tell them the truth. Well, my version of the truth at least.

    They were saved by the almighty POP of dot com bubble bursting and the only employees remaining were accounting team, and me, of course.

  34. tip pc Silver badge

    Send in the clowns

    Someone’s been watching the joker

  35. StargateSg7

    One thing I've learned in my many 30+ Years of IT and Video Systems, if you're buying gear and managing IT is to take everything into account both yourself and your company. Soooooo, here is some tips modified slightly for the UK'ers here:

    A) Always Get QUADRUPLE the sales force's specified amount of RAM and disk drive space.

    b) For every 10 computers you buy, buy 15 UPS units and 10 extra batteries cuz 4 units will have their batteries fail in the first 6 months and in one year the manufacturer will DISCONTINUE the line of UPS you just spent good money for no longer having batteries that fit in the old unit!

    c) Always keep TWO full rolls of Duck tape on your desk!

    d) Carry TWO sets of multi-bit screwdrivers.

    e) Bring your IT head manager his Java with the extra whip cream and caramel.

    f) You don't WANT a corner office where everyone can see you. You want the one in the 4x4 meter solid-concrete-walled basement dungeon that is fully sealed off from the outside world but you have a lockable door, a solid 10 gigabit+ connection to the servers, a gigabit Internet connection and an array of four monitors on your desk AND an actual air conditioning outlet!

    g) You used the spare/unused office kitchen funds to get extra offsite safety deposit box space for your weekly FULL SERVER IMAGE backups and a new fireproof safe for your TWO COPIES of onsite daily and weekly backups to multi-terabyte/petabyte tape-based backups! The other part of the coffee funds pays for your petrol and your two hour COMPANY PAID long-lunch and the time for delivery of backups to larger safety deposit boxes!

    h) You have the names and numbers of THREE trusted locksmiths written on paper in your wallet and in your smartphone.

    i) Your underling(s) know HOW and WHERE to reach you!

    j) Those same underling(s) KNOW HOW to restore an entire server or user computer from scratch!

    h) You HAVE an entire spare LAMP server and at least TWO spare client computers with all updated software in your dungeon office already to hot-plug into your infrastructure!

    i) The company pays for the TWO fancy ruggedized smartphones you use daily with the 75 megabits unlimited upload/download plans

    that can become the emergency routers to the external internet for everyone in your company during an emergency!

    j) Your underlings know HOW to setup and use smartphone AS routers!

    k) You work on December 26th (Boxing Day) and January 1st (New Years Day) of every year because you negotiated the following weekend to be the Friday and Monday off to go for a 4-day weekend skiing trip and THEY paid for the lift tickets and at least one free night in the hotel! You mix some scotch into your java and write long-needed batch scripts on the usually quiet December 26 and Jan 1.

    l) You save money for your company by renting a larger sleeping equipped caravan from a local caravan letter off of craigslist instead of a hotel for your Thursday/Friday continential IT/Management meetings and afterwards take a quick Friday evening to Monday morning trip to Barcelona for some RnR and a last minute 25 quid Ryanair ticket back!

    j) Your per-diem funds paid for the 500 Euro Delonghi espresso maker you bought for only 150 Euros from a Spanish going-out-of-business retailer DURING your Barcelona trip and those four boxes of fancy Italian Medium Roast espresso beans you bought for another 30 quid! It eventually arrives safe and sound via Royal Mail two weeks later!

    L) After the Cebit Tradeshow, you negotiated two weeks afterwards for vacation taking advantage of the 40% discount on flights and hotels given to Cebit travellers going to Norway and Sweden. You then get to meet your future English-speaking Hot Blonde Swedish wife on a Windjammer Sailboat cruise in a Norwegian Fjiord.


    Life can be good! Code and Drink JAVA !!!


  36. hittitezombie

    Pretty much how I feel.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The scariest part

    The BOFH stories started in the mid-90s, so he'd got incredibly cynical and homicidal in just a few years.

    Just googled it, Usenet in '92 was his first appearance. So that's only 2 years from greenhorn to BOFH!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The scariest part

      At 18, I went from part-time computer lab assistant (pull fan-fold off of the printer, separate the jobs, and file by account name in lettered boxes) to mainframe system/network administrator with my own personal (root level) account and keys to every building on campus where we had hardware, in less than 4 weeks.

      its 32 year later and I've never used quicklime....I think I've wasted my entire life*.

      * - except for 2 days that definitely weren't wasted.

  38. Alan W. Rateliff, II


    To all my fellow bitter husks.

  39. perlcat

    ...and it was written:

    "...but life goes on. A couple of hours later, as I see the SWAT vehicle roll up outside the poor pleb's apartment I realise that for some, it just doesn't. "

  40. bpfh

    Brings back memories of the BOFH looking for a new PFY

    - Take this metal pen and put it in the power socket

    - Isn’t that dangerous?

    - Would I ask you to do it if it was dangerous?

    - Oh. < bzzzzzzzert >

    - Of course I would

  41. OptOut

    The Moment of Truth

    Pity the poor PFY:


    nym sys mirror

    This reminds me of the time par kah looked into a nym sys mirror and got par kur, it was certainly more than Heart to Heart.

    Hamburg ( in Germany ( outland ) ) anyone?

    NO-ONE ( NOX )


  43. Blackjack Silver badge


    I am reading BOFH or Johnny the homicidal maniac?

    Killing the guy just because you will be late for lunch? Ouch.

    1. The Aussie Paradox

      Re: Okay....

      Seems totally reasonable to me.

  44. Duncan Carter

    This, so much this...

    I'm not sure if the shared experiences in this world we call IT help numb the pain, or make it all seem a little less worthwhile...

    1. Blackjack Silver badge

      Is like hearing a good joke, you feel better for a while then you have to go back to the harsh reality.

  45. Celeste Reinard

    Unbalanced, unhinged, and cold...

    Love and flowers - we're having none of that. Not here at Mano Sinistra Publications...

    As you all know, I live here in the proximity of the Keukenhof, an annual flower show that's so famous I even found an old, faded, life-sized poster of it in an internet café in the heart of Africa, Kigali. The show is closed this year, due to obvious reasons, or rather, seemingly obvious reasons - so no bloody tourists this year... The quiet... This morning I went for a walk-about, and I even could hear the birds sing. One that made the sound of a house-version of a ring-tone, even. And all it took was a little biological experiment, that went of with a spectacular result, that will have the scientific cummunity talking about for decades to come... For which I deny any responsabiliy - that will be the guy downstairs who will find out later that some fingers are pointing at him. ... I don't like his music that much, and he confuses deo with douche - while being a... enfin. No name-calling. I like birdsong better. Or trash metal. And make things Someone Elses Problem - and disappear.

    About which I do have a little comment, to be a little less on a tangent, or unhinged, as my neighbor will find out about his front door in a not that far point in the future, is the reference in this sublime piece of litterature I am supposed to be commenting on, to the use of lime.

    As I recall, it is already about a decade ago that the theory has been tested on corpses, and that has been found that the use of lime prevents the proliferation of maggots, slowing actually down the process of decomposition. I admit that it has some litterary cachet to use lime, but frankly it is useless. Best practice is, when hippy-minded, to just dump it in a forest, or at sea. Quickest is to set it on fire - and when shot, for example, use wooden bullets - they will burn, so it much more looks like an accident. Pine is fine - it splinters nicely, and is virtually untracable. For those in a more festive mood like the more experimental part of the '80s, one can always chop it up, and distribute the remains in the desk drawers of the temporal manager that replaces the old one, to assure that nothing is really the matter, and it is business as usual. Also to instill the right amount of... attitude.

    The happiest 35 days of my life were when, some day, some 5 years ago now, I hit upon the works of Simon T., and just spend 5, 6, 10 hours a day plowing through his ... bloody mess. That's about 40 days by now. As I, as a redactrix (red nails, riding crop), get more ripe with age, so I recognise Simon the past year finding refinement, as he is getting, the past months, more ripe with age as well. Like whiskey – in front off a log-fire. Lampshades made of the finest leather, to complete the picture. A head of some wild-life as a trophy on the wall. A roll of carpet on the floor.

    Memories start to flood about construction sites I have been employed, using heavy equipment. The smell of curing cement in the morning. Walls being bricked. Elevator shafts being furnished. Stairwells, getting their first painting. Sounds of splattering, things dropping from the sixth floor. This white helmet of the chief engineer somewhere in the cold mud, with a small yellow pool inside. Echoos of ratteling noises. Large rolls of carpet being delivered. Window panes missing at all places... The drum, the rumble, the excitement of doing something that makes a mark in the landscape. The giant flood lights, high-powered electric cables...

    - Doing shit about Oscar Wilde recently (I found some books for £2 more than 110 year old), this piece has the same smell as the good old stuff - just perfectly translated into a new and modern setting. Kids should be taught about this at school.

    The rumour that I married Simon, took him off to my basement and taught him how to write properly in the few months time about a year ago, what would explain the unusual large gaps between entries at that time, is a fantasy, and can be ignored. (thusly.)

    To coin a frase: the love he's making to my mind is getting better with age.

  46. darklord

    Oh so true

    Wy t when ever you tell someone IT isn't +hat its cracked up to be they seriously think your pulling there leg.

    Long hours doing server and datacentre rebuilds with no overtime

    Dealing with the great unwashed

    Phoning people who suddenly have no desire to speak to you after chasing you around the building to reset their password because they left there diary in the car and its raining so cant log on.

    users logging calls in the middle of a power cut

    washing their screens with soapy water

    wet dogs under desks with their shinny pc which is now clogged up with wet dog hair

    Users wandering off to maka brew when you walk in the office , no explanation as to the problem and there pc is locked, only to arrive back 45 minutes later wondering why the problem isn't fixed

    Users dyeing n you unexpectedly and colleagues not allowing the call to be closed

    Moving to different offices in the building and not telling anyone, plus moving the PC by poking holes through asbestos walls to get the Fibre through.

    Yep A typical day in IT 3rd line support

    Yep ive

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