back to article BOFH: Switch off the building? Great idea, Boss

BOFH logo telephone with devil's horns "How much power does the company use in a day do you think?" the Boss asks. "Oh, it's hard to say, but we could look at the check meters in the MCB room. They have pulse indicators so we could count the pulses and make a 10 minute average." "And we could use that to work out how much …

  1. chivo243 Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

    Note to self, no food or drink while reading BOFH! Ah yes, the really old days, well, I remember the day they invented dirt! They needed it to put out they newly invented fire...

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

      LOL - this story reminds me of my job, fixing early Holter monitors in the 70's, we used aerosol cans of solvent to clean some of the parts and the guy training me asked me to read the can, I read that it said "the solvent is non-inflammable" so he picked up the can, held up a cigarette lighter and hit the button.

      A flame shot about 8 feet across the room - the solvent was non-inflammable, but the propellant wasn't!

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

        Inflammable is a confusing word, which is why it isn't used any more. I worked with someone who thought it meant non-flammable. Up til the day he tried to put out a small fire with something that was mainly isopropanol...

        His punishment was to get all the customer site callouts until his eyebrows grew back.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

          > I worked with someone who thought it meant non-flammable

          Dr Nick from the Simpsons?

          Liquid Oxygen, non-flammable = technically true

          1. richardcox13
            Coat

            Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

            > Liquid Oxygen, non-flammable = technically true

            Note true. Fluorine can oxidise oxygen.

            Messing with oxygen-fluorine compounds needs to be left to experts who have suicidal tendencies (such compounds tend to be explosively hypergolic with almost anything else).

            (My coat... the one with "Ignition!" in the pocket.)

            1. Anon
              Coat

              Re: Messing with oxygen-fluorine compounds

              Things I Won’t Work With: Dioxygen Difluoride

              https://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2010/02/23/things_i_wont_work_with_dioxygen_difluoride

              There are plenty more interesting "things I won't work with" too.

              1. ridley

                Re: Messing with oxygen-fluorine compounds

                Thanks for that.

                That made me laugh out loud several times.

              2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

                Re: Messing with oxygen-fluorine compounds

                I lost too many hours to reading that blog.

                The nastiest thing I ever worked with was diazomethane as a high-yield methylation agent, and that was quite nasty enough (acutely toxic, as well as carcinogenic and teratogenic, and a contact explosive is it ever comes out of solution or gets too warm). Reactions were done cautiously, in an ice bath behind a blast shield in a well running fume hood, and only in glassware with smooth joints (no sintered glass!), and if you ever smelt the solvent (ether, which is quite easily recognisable), you'd hit the emergency vent button and scram. Thankfully I never did. I'm glad I no work in a field where if I make a stupid mistake I run the risk of blowing myself up, or condemning myself to a slow death through chronic poisoning.

              3. Myvekk

                Re: Messing with oxygen-fluorine compounds

                Dioxygen Difluoride, the compound with the onomatopeic name: FOOF

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

              Is your coat the one thats hot and fresh out of the kitchen?

              Or is that the remix of Ignition....

            3. J. Cook Silver badge
              Mushroom

              Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

              ... There's a reason F2O2 is usually written as FOOF. :)

              And the less said about CF3, the better. (The phrase "Sand won't save you" comes to mind...)

              1. Justin S.

                Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

                But a good pair of running shoes *might*.

                1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

                  Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

                  As long as you run upwind.

            4. Ambdrvr2

              Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

              One word.

              Four letters, actually.

              FOOF

            5. Unicornpiss Silver badge
              Alert

              Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

              "Note true. Fluorine can oxidise oxygen."

              Just to be a pedant, don't you mean that it could Fluoridate oxygen? Or the oxygen could oxidize the fluorine?

              1. richardcox13

                Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

                > Just to be a pedant, don't you mean that it could Fluoridate oxygen?

                No. The reaction is a oxidation-reduction reaction. The oxidiser is reduced while the other reactants are oxidised.

                Multiple elements, generally on the upper right hand side of the periodic table (but not the noble gases) can act as oxidisers; chlorine is a common example.

                1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

                  Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

                  When I was at school, "oxidation" was defined as "loss of electrons" in a chemical reaction. Oxygen famously causes that, but what's left is the same whether the oxidiser is oxygen or something else, and fluorine can cause oxidation of oxygen. Of course, that happens when they have nothing else to react with, and it is quickly and I expect noisily undone when there is something else.

                  1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

                    Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

                    OILRIG: Oxidation Is loss, Reduction Is Gain (of electrons).

                    Ironically, on the grand scale, a lightning strike is actually the loss of electrons (The electron stream moves up the lightning bolt), but the result is your reduction to a pile of ashes...

              2. TeeCee Gold badge
                Coat

                Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

                ..Fluoridate oxygen.

                So you'd be dead, but your lungs would be clean and have a minty freshness?

                1. ibmalone Silver badge
                  Coat

                  Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

                  That would be methylate.

                  1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
                    Boffin

                    Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

                    I think you mean menthylate. If you managed to methylate your lungs, you'd be in serious trouble. See my post about diazomethane above, as this is exactly the risk you are doing your level best to negate when handling this stuff. That, and being blown up.

            6. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
              Flame

              Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

              Fluorine sits there in the top right of the periodic table, snarling at the other elements, like a bobcat backed into a corner.

              Most of its compounds are nasty stuff, such as HF, the only acid that has to be kept in a plastic bottle, because it dissolves glass.

        2. Glenturret Single Malt

          Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

          Inflammable is confusing because people are no longer taught either Latin or about prefixes. What do you say when a scratch or similar goes all red and nasty looking? it has become inflamed (not "flamed"). This is because there are two different meanings for the prefix in-. One has the negative connotations e.g. insensitive, infallible and is probably more common. The other has a variety of meanings such as "in" or "into" or expressing intensity (see what I did there?).

    2. Mystic Megabyte
      Mushroom

      Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

      "They needed it to put out they newly invented fire..."

      I was visiting a pal who lived in a little cottage out in the sticks. He had cranked his coal burning stove up to 11 (For those stove porn dudes it was a Doric) but had forgotten a pan of oil in the oven. While we were sitting and drinking coffee I kept seeing an orange flash from the gap around the oven door. The oil was igniting, using all the oxygen and then repeating the cycle. When he opened the oven door it went thermonuclear so he quickly shut it. So my pal being a genius decided that dirt would put out the fire and went outside and got some. We had a plan, I would open the door and he would throw his dirt onto the fire. It did not work :(

      Then I remembered that I had a Halon fire extinguisher in my car (this was a long time ago). I opened the oven door and gave it a half second squirt. Success, the fire went out! Bear in mind that we were both kneeling in front of the stove. We looked up to see that the entire room from the ceiling down was now half filled with a layer of white and most likely toxic fumes. We crawled of the house on our knees.

      I have no idea how I've managed to live so long :)

      1. Dabooka Silver badge

        Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

        Tremendous!

        Not as good as yours but many years ago in the early / mid 80s (I'd be about 7 or 8 I think) my dad's mate was a mechanic and often took on extra work cash in hand, and he had a canny garage with all sorts of fascinating tools and equipment that we were never allowed to touch or play with.

        I remember coming home from school one day to discover he'd had a fire when welding (knowing what I know now, I appreciate most cars then simply dissolved in the wet) and he'd put it out using an extinguisher he'd got. A blue one.

        I don't know how big this fire was but it would probably have been preferable to simply let the house become engulfed with flames that attempt to clear the mess of all that powder. Crikey what a mess. It had got into the kitchen, the lounge and everything had a thick layer of dust over it

        1. ridley

          Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

          A long long time ago we were working on my mum's MK1 escort estate using the oxy acetylene which my parents were dubios about having under the house in the garage.

          Lo the car set on fire and we used the powder fire extinguisher to put it out. Took about a milli second burst to put it out but it went for ages, everything was covered, car, garage, drive, flower beds.

          So we spent the next hour or so before they came home frantically cleaning up and learning the art of turning over the garden and dusting flowers.

          All seemed good and it looked like we go away with it, except.

          Mum did keep complained that if she got to 60mph the car filled up with a white mist....

      2. Unicornpiss Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

        I remember being at an outdoor party one chilly autumn evening on a farm. I barely knew the dimwitted, kind of eccentric guy that was hosting the party. We're all gathered around the bonfire talking and drinking and he comes out of the house with a large pan of his used motor oil and decides to dispose of it by hurling the contents onto the fire. Cue the huge flash, seething mushroom cloud, and immense wave of heat. I'm sure I only escaped flash burns because I was wearing a heavy coat. I may have seen my skeleton in the flash like in a nuclear explosion. When everything settled down and everyone that scrambled away in terror came back, we all noticed a fine spray of soot and oil drops on our clothing and faces. Since you can't easily ignite oil with a lighter, he apparently didn't realize how flammable it can be when you toss about 1-2 gallons onto a blazing fire.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Flame

          Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

          and he comes out of the house with a large pan of his used motor oil and decides to dispose of it by hurling the contents onto the fire.

          I used to go winter camping with a small group of motorbike riders from my club, usually for 2 or 3 days between Christmas and new year, and the custom is that the last night we'd be making oliebollen (basically donuts without the hole, or deep-fried sweet dumplings), after which the pan of oil would be upended into the campfire. After sufficient warning, with everybody except the thrower at a decent distance, and with a forceful swing so that the oil doesn't end up near oneself. Haven't seen it go wrong more than just slightly, in over 20 years.

          And the effect is very worthwhile.

          1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

            Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

            At Uni I was I the kitchen once when someone placed a heavily iced ' burger' of some sort found in the back of the fridge directly into a frying pan of boiling fat.

            The sheet of flame removed most of his fringe, but fortunately did not set fire to anything else.

            1. Number6

              Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

              One of my son's classes had a practical demonstration of pouring water on a frying pan fire. They did it outdoors in the car park, and invited the local fire brigade along to watch just in case. It was impressive, and hopefully a lot of kids learned an important lesson. The fire chief said his team appreciated the demonstration because normally they don't get to see that bit of the event, they just get invited to clear up the mess afterwards,

              1. David Hicklin

                Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

                Many country shows (remember them?) often have the fire brigade giving a demonstration of the chip pan fire.

                Only come close when I got the oil to hot and found out that slowly lowering the chips in is the worst thing you can do!

                1. spuck

                  Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

                  Here in the US, we've just finished our yearly Turkey Gluttony Day. 'Tis the season for deep fried turkey fires https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gn895y4wkc.

              2. ridley

                Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

                We used to do that demo in the labs, with just a tablespoon or so of oil. Still very impressive with a flame up to the ceiling.

                We ensure to mask off a smiley face etc on the tiles do the demo and remove the tape ;-)

                Cannot ever think why we were banned.

                (Maybe it had something to do with melting the fire detectors with one enthusiastic demo....)

              3. IsaEirias

                Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

                And here I thought my aviation maintenance teacher was the only pyrotechnic with a teaching licenses.

                He decided to end our course on the different types of batteries by retiring a battery that was well past it's end of life period. More specifically he decided to demonstrate the hazards of thermal runaway with a 24 cell NiCad battery... on the backside of airport property... without telling anyone except his boss who lived and worked 3 states away that approved of disposing of the battery in an educational manner.

                Apparently his boss wasn't informed of what that educational manner was, that it was going to be done under the flight path of a regional airport, and without advance notice to the Kitty Hawk Airfreight office we were renting our shop space from. He rigged it, ran a couple of LONG cords to it to start the charge process rigged it and ushered us all back behind a plexiglass shield. Nothing happened for about a minute while he explained the internal mechanics, then it started to smoke, then flame, and then hell broke loose and a piece of the sheet metal that housed the cells in a cluster was imbedded in the asphalt a few inches from out protective cover- and the batter had been replaced with a small crater.

                If nothing else everyone one left class with a firm conviction to double and triple check every cell in a battery and make sure they were wired properly. If not for others safety, then because we could still hear the college dean chewing out our career center teacher over the phone even when we got to the parking lot.

          2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

            In a similar vein, I was at school with a guy who thought it would be fun to pour petrol on a fire before lighting it, not realising that the vapour pressure of petrol is quite high and the flames therefore tend to flash back. In this case, to the empty can he was holding. He needed skin grafts from his thigh to replace the skin he no longer had on his hand.

            1. imanidiot Silver badge

              Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

              I have a few hard rules when it comes to (camp)fires. NO liquid fuels of ANY kind is number one. No gasoline, no diesel, no kerosene, no lighter fluid, no lamp oil. If it's even remotely flammable, keep it away from the fire or get my boot to the crotch.

            2. Myvekk

              Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

              Similar thing happened to my sister. Although she was smart enough to use only a small amount when lighting the garden waste in the incinerator, AND she ensured the metal can was sealed & well away from the incinerator before going back & lighting it. Safety first!

              What she learned though, was what people didn't put enough emphasis on, just how fast petrol evaporates. No major damage, but she looked quite surprised for a while after that, from dim memory.

      3. veti Silver badge

        Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

        I fondly remember a physics teacher who showed us all exactly what happens when you try to put out an oil fire with water.

        There was a whole catechism of follow up questions, one of which was "so what would happen if I used this bucket of sand, instead?"

        He showed us that, too. By the time he finished, we all realised that "being completely bald" was actually a mark of extreme cool.

      4. Marshalltown

        Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

        Hmm, I grew up in the Sierra Nevada in California. My dad was a black powder enthusiast and had a cap-and-ball muzzle loader he liked to shoot at targets, slowly, since each shot required wiping the barrel, measuring and pouring in an amount of black powder, ramming home a lead ball, rinse and repeat. I think his record rate was three shots a minute, but that is another tale. My brother was interested in theater and conceived the idea that black powder would be ideal for special effects, like Gandalf vanishing in a puff of smoke. However, he had the odd handicap of having difficulty lighting anything on fire, even black powder. One of my sisters saw this sad performance and took pity. While my brother had trouble igniting anything, that particular sister had the family nickname of "one match." Her ability to start fires in wet wood was scary. Naturally she succeed remarkably and caught the flash in her face. No serious damage, but I became aware of it when I heard her coming up the driveway trailing blue smoke and bluer language. She still has not quite forgiven me for putting her out by shoving her head under the faucet. Only minor temporary inconvenience as her eyebrows and bangs grew back. Life in the country.

        1. Andy A
          Mushroom

          Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

          I always wondered why Americans refer to kids having "bangs".

          Now we all know.

      5. Marshalltown

        Re: Parts of it date back to when fire was invented

        A couple o decades ago I was working for an "expedition" is Israel. They were excavating a site in the Bet Netopa Valley north of Nazareth. One evening the directors threw a staff and labor party at the site (the "labor" were students who paid for the privilege of experiencing sweat, dust, scorpions, and discovering whether they were allergic to fig tree sap). Toward the end of the evening the cook, a Palestinian Christian, who, with his wife and daughters, produced a very fine meal of grilled meat fresh, various sorts of flat breads baked on site, rice, and fresh vegetables, imbibed a tad to much beer. We got a bonfire going and while waiting for a ride home, the cook tossed a very liberal amount of fuel (gasoline I think) on the fire. After that his wife and children dragged him off. I heard the next morning he couldn't find his eyebrows. Things quieted down and we sat and enjoyed the dark, and the distant thump and flare of artillery shells detonating beyond the mountains on Jordanian (or southern Syrian? border, east of the Jordan Valley and the Sea of Galilee.

  2. Maverick

    "the albatross of responsibility" another C|N>K incident on a Friday

    so stealing that !

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      I'm wondering about a stuffed animal albatross, we could keep in the office and trot it out when someone makes a mistake?

      1. WonkoTheSane

        We used to have a toy boomerang, awarded when faulty work returned to the person responsible for it.

        1. Giles C Silver badge

          One of my old employees had a cabbage award. You made a stupid mistake the cabbage was on your desk until the next person did one....

          1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

            We

            had the plank award

            As in "plank of the week"

            Sadly long since retired... along with the guy who won it 5 weeks in a row thus owning it forever, and the bast took it with him when he was finally and rightfully fired.

            1. Mongrel

              Re: We

              Our plank was a clue by four and was engraved (in cheap marker) with the names of all the people who needed it.

              1. IceC0ld

                Re: We

                ahh, yes the good old LART

                https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=LART

                should STILL be a part of every Sys Admins tool kit, especially if you wish to rise to the heady heights of the true BofH :o)

          2. Agamemnon

            Ours was "The Purple Stick of Thumping" delivered to the poor soul, by the Engineering Team** (33 people packed around the desk), silent and glaring.

            The only way to have it removed was someone had to screw up worse than whatever got our ire up in the first place.

            ** Nobody in Eng could screw up as bad as a sales flunky and occasionally someone from Admin. V-and-C level employees were not exempt and PSoT made a few laps through the upper floors.

          3. ICPurvis47
            IT Angle

            Boomertwang!

            One office where I worked, the Boss had his desk crossways at the end of the office so he could keep an eye on us minions. He had a large ball of newspaper wrapped up in hundreds of elastic bands, attached to a nail in the ceiling by a long string of elastic bands, so it rested on the floor beside his desk. He called it his Boomertwang, and if anyone made a stupid mistake, he would pick it up and hurl it at the offender, whereupon the elastic bands would return it to his desk. Fun ensued when the offender managed to catch the ball and hurl it back at the Boss (Gordon), and everyone else in the office would get involved for about ten minutes.

        2. Persona Silver badge

          We had the software cowboy of the week award. The award ceremony was on Friday afternoon and was awarded for the most dubious bit of code found that week. The "winner" was required to wear a toy cowboy hat for the following week. The plastic sheriffs badge that came with it was optional.

      2. Juillen 1

        I used to have a toy clanger. For when someone dropped one, they'd have one to carry on with while they sorted it out.

        Mind you, for people that tried to hide they'd dropped a clanger, and tried to cover it up, if I discovered it and got excuses, I kept the rear half of a plastic rat in a desk drawer that I'd bring out and place in front of them (they weren't allowed to have it, just to show that I did indeed have a rat's ass, and I wasn't giving it).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      We had the Carlos Fandango Wally Wheelie Award - a beat up Dinky toy bubblecar tastefully mounted on a lump of polished hardwood. It was awarded to the person most recently involved in a Very Embarrassing Incident involving a company car. Once awarded, it was the recipients duty to track down the next qualifying employee. There was only one rule: it couldn't be awarded posthumously.

      There was a very special customised version awarded to one luckless individual. He'd parked on the beach at Morecambe Bay and misjudged the returning tide. He got the car stuck, couldnt get anyone to tow it clear, panicked and went to retrieve his kit. In the excitement he missed his footing, fell over and knocked himself out. He ended up speding the night in Morecambe Hospital whilst his car floated around on the tide.

      >Waves at anyone from Protech Instruments<

      1. Andrew Yeomans
        Alert

        We had a car breakdance award

        Of an upside-down Dinky car, for the company car driver that decided the wheels needed a bit more sunlight.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Childcatcher

          Re: We had a car breakdance award

          Just out of interest, was it a pinky grey Matchbox one?

          Icon - Had one as a kid (Dad had the real thing).

      2. Tom 7 Silver badge

        It is amusing when people park below the high tide line and get swamped. I recently parked some 250 yds and 20 ft up a hill from the high tide mark and went on a kids sports day trip by bus. It was a blustery day and I returned to find the wrack line (foam and seaweed) perfectly bisecting the gap between my front and rear axles and several of the people I had the day trip with spent time wandering around the council car park as their cars weren't where they left them.

        Dont mess with the sea - its getting angrier!

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Iphigenia

          It's always a good safety measure to sacrifice your oldest daughter to Poseidon before embarking on any journey.

          1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

            Re: Clytmenstra

            "It's always a good safety measure to sacrifice your oldest daughter to Poseidon before embarking on any journey."

            Not if you want to survive your first bath when you get home to the Mrs.

            1. Rich 11 Silver badge

              Re: Clytmenstra

              That's readily avoided, if you remember to listen to your sex slave.

    3. Steve K Silver badge

      Well I'm having this one..

      Well I'm having this one:

      "There is a moment's respectful silence for the death of a stupid idea"

  3. AdamT

    Building Power / Users ?

    I must say I do like the idea of a contribution to my personal electricity bill based on the office building consumption divided by the number of staff...

  4. macjules Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    Needed that

    Haven't had such a good laugh for ages. Many thanks.

  5. Michael H.F. Wilkinson
    Coffee/keyboard

    Simon is on form!

    Brilliant episode, with a number of brilliant quotable phrases (including the albatross of responsibility)

  6. Ozan

    BOFH always brightens my day.

    1. stiine Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      You're not a coffee drinker, obviously...

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Facepalm

        You're not a coffee drinker, obviously...

        Not an experienced, BOFH-aware coffee drinker that is, otherwise they'd know to put away the coffee, tea, and basically all fluid and solid choking hazards while reading.

        Also, breakable stuff that might be subject to forceful acceleration due to uncontrolled muscle movements, for good measure.

  7. BebopWeBop Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Ohhh god. A real power aupply outage. I have seen the carnage that will (not might) cause for organisations that had not doen a full run up and resilliemnce tes. Agggggg

  8. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    And not even an accident required

    The paramedics did their best but were delayed in getting there because the power cuts meant we couldn't call the emergency services until we knew all systems were restored…

    1. Totally not a Cylon
      Go

      Re: And not even an accident required

      More like:

      The Paramedics turned up, but knowing the building's track record they refused to enter until a 'Risk analysis' had been conducted.

      ie ask the Bofh and Pfy if it's safe to enter.....

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: And not even an accident required

        ie ask the Bofh and Pfy if it's safe to enter........while attached to a lie detector and insisting that they accompany the paramedics to the scene!

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: And not even an accident required

          And the meeting was moved to neutral ground… the nearest pub. Where, after several rounds of foaming nutbrown "Opportunity in a Crisis" an amicable arrangement was met and the death certificate made out.

  9. Korev Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    Cattle prod?

    Was anyone else waiting for the glorious noise of a cattle prod warming the boss' sides? Or perhaps a live electricity cable tragically falling into a pudding the boss had accidentally stepped in?

    1. stiine Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Cattle prod?

      If you remember a much earlier episode of BOFH.... Some of us (or was it only me) were waiting for the transformer on the pad in the parking lot to go BOOM.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

        Re: Cattle prod?

        Actually that isn't all that funny, the incident happened in the 80's & I got a third hand version relayed by a lecturer who taught another student on another course.

        Two engineers sent to a substation, one was instructed to power cycle a transformer & the other to trace an arcing issue. alas the arcing & resulting explosion happened literally in front of the other engineer burning the guy alive, from my recall he clung to life for a week, the resultant flame also destroyed the interior of the company vehicle (They had left the door open).

        1. swm Silver badge

          Re: Cattle prod?

          Where I worked, the building power transformer blew up in the middle of the night. It was in a room across from the guard station. When queried, the guard said, "Yeah, there was a hell of a noise."

          "Did you tell anyone?"

          "No, I thought it was someone else's responsibility.

          When they replaced the transformer (live) two guys held 2x4's and braced themselves to pull backwards. A third person reached over the 2x4's to attach the power leads. Everyone was very serious. If anything had happened the 2 2x4 guys were ready to pull as hard so they could to pull the third person back.

          Not a job I would want.

          1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
            Pirate

            Non - Conducting Safety!

            Back in the mists of time, concluding a survey of the waters adjacent to Faslane & packing up the fishing boat that had been used to pull the sonar, the main surveyor went to shut down the associated power supply with the longest wooden beam to hand & let it discharge of it's own time constant. Fishing boats captain* commented along the lines of

            "Och aye issnae scared o that thing to get too close!"

            If it arc's over, he's dead**!

            Oh!

            * & ** - Icon.

            1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

              Re: Non - Conducting Safety!

              A story from where I used to work (I did not witness this, but have it on good authority.)

              Some water got into the oil in a 4kV transformer. When turned on it blew up, killing the 4 engineers in the room, and blowing the external wall across the street.

              1. scoldog1

                Re: Non - Conducting Safety!

                Saw something not as dramatic at one of my offices a few years back.

                A car had driving into the transformer out on the street, knocking it out of action for a few hours. The electrical company guys came out and fixed it, but something wasn't quite right as it blew up a week later. It blew the panel clean across four lanes of road and a grass divider in one go.

      2. AlbertH

        Re: Cattle prod?

        Taking lunch outside a very large coal-fuelled power station, sitting in the company car with my assistant, munching through some indifferent sandwiches, we noticed two people get out of a car parked nearer to the building than us. They were walking past one of the huge oil-filled transformers, when there was a cataclysmic BANG!

        The transformer and the two pedestrians no longer existed.

        Our car was wrecked by flying debris, but my assistant and I were largely unhurt. The Board of Trade inquiry was one of the more unpleasant experiences of my life.....

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Cattle prod?

      I was half expecting to find the reason for the high electrickery consumption was because the BOFH had his own local electrickery supply company, selling to the local businesses.

      1. Persona Silver badge

        Re: Cattle prod?

        More likely a crypto currency farm utilizing all the extra kit that was "needed" for people working at home. It's not the most efficient setup but the electricity costs are zero ..... to the BOFH and PFY.

    3. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Re: Cattle prod?

      To be fair to the boss by this point, he's probably invested in health and safety* workman boots rated at 10,000 volts like any good sparky will own.

      (* for his own health and safety rather than the wooly PPE Form filling kinda stuff).

      Just keep an eye out for thumb tacks I would expect.

    4. 2+2=5 Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Cattle prod?

      > Was anyone else waiting for the glorious noise of a cattle prod warming the boss' sides? Or perhaps a live electricity cable tragically falling into a pudding the boss had accidentally stepped in?

      Black 'current' pudding?

  10. brotherelf

    "Well could force a fault condition then see what the lamp does?"

    Ah yes, the good (rubber-insulated) hands-on approach.

    (OTOH, I can't count the number of times I've had people ask me to fix things that weren't actually broken and they hadn't even tried them yet.)

  11. Kurt 5

    LAMP TEST

    Long ago in college the group I worked with had 2 Cyber 170/730 mainframes. The machine room had all the usual stuff including a big monitoring panel for alarms -- fire / environment / power / etc. Lots and lots of lights. And a button on it innocuously labelled LAMP TEST. Invariably someone would ignore warnings and go press it. LAMP TEST lit up all the lights. Also triggered the alarm relays which included the environmental klaxons. Was always great fun!

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: LAMP TEST

      That's the problem, there should also have been a way to test the lamp test>

      A LAMP TEST TEST, then of course you would need to validate that this worked with .....

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: LAMP TEST

        I worked in a lab once which had a continuous alarm.

        A beeper went off every 2 seconds to let you know it was OK, if the beeper ever stopped - that meant an alarm, or that the alarm system had failed. Logically sound, but induced twitching paranoia in everyone that worked there.

        Especially since it was the sort of place where if there ever was an accident you just paint over that bit of the map and rename all the surrounding towns.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: LAMP TEST

          Similar rules in nuclear power stations, except everything is duplicated but producing differing notes from the 2 halves. Affectionately known as the bip-bop generator.

          I wasn't directly involved (worked for a company making the systems) but suspect it was if both tones went then you had to evacuate as you then didn't have a known working way to trigger an evacuation if needed.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: LAMP TEST

          "I worked in a lab once which had a continuous alarm."

          Aldermaston?

        3. ICPurvis47
          Mushroom

          Re: LAMP TEST

          "Goodbye Basingstoke"

      2. hplasm
        Terminator

        Re: LAMP TEST

        "WARNING! Automatic Fault Detection System is faulty!....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: LAMP TEST

      To be honest, I would not have expected a button labelled LAMP TEST to trigger the alarms. Should have been re-labeled ALARM TEST. Only goes to prove that UI design is hard.

  12. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    Turning the building off and on again

    I had a client a while ago with a site in a southern

    UK city. One of the contractors re-fitting the kitchens, I think, decided that they would turn off the electricity supply over a weekend while they removed the old electric kitchen appliances (ovens, hobs, etc.) and installed the new ones.

    Fortunately they mentioned this plan to a manager midweek, who immediately cancelled said plan, and insisted that any temporary downtime of the supply be planned with all of the building's inhabitants.* The organisation had some serious mainframes, literally thousands of PCs, and also supplied power to some mobile phone aerials on the roof under a separate contract. Careful planning allowed the site to be powered whilst changing the kitchen equipment. Disaster averted.

    *Moral: Managers do have their uses after all. :o)

  13. Robert Moore
    Pint

    I have really missed the BOFH

    I felt like my education had come to a screeching halt.

    Good to see Simon has not surrendered to Covid.

  14. veti Silver badge

    If I wanted to know my office's power consumption, I'd look at the leccy bill. Seems safer than anything involving the BOFH.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      ...and if bean counters had any queries they could be sent directly to the BOFH. No need to stand in the way of such things.

  15. Blackjack Silver badge

    I don't think the insurance covers acts of BOFH

    If anything got damaged it may come from the IT budget...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I did this...

    A couple of years ago I was called out to our site's bowling alley (residential outdoor activities centre) when one of the instructors was having issues with an overhead monitor on one of the lanes.

    This was just a cheap 47" TV on a roof bracket, but for some reason it wouldn't come on. The red standby light was on (so it was getting power) but it refused to respond to the remote control. We tested the remote (just point an infrared remote at your phone camera, you can then confirm if its working) but the TV simply wouldn't fire. We decided that powercycling the unit would be the best approach...

    We didn't have access to a tall enough ladder to get at the TV, and there was a group due within a few minutes. In the end I walked up to the main breaker panel for the building and looked for the breaker for the TVs. When I couldn't find it I turned to the instructor and asked

    "do you have to reset anything on the pin-setters after a power cut?"

    "No."

    "Well, there's only one thing for it then..."

    And I dropped the big three-phase main switch on the panel, shutting down that whole section of the building. We patiently waited 30 seconds, threw the big red switch back on and voila! One working TV!

  17. Jamesdave

    Inflammable is confusing because people are no longer taught either Latin or about prefixes. What do you say when a scratch or similar goes all red and nasty looking? it has become inflamed (not "flamed"). This is because there are two different meanings for the prefix in-. One has the negative connotations e.g. insensitive, infallible and is probably more common. The other has a variety of meanings such as "in" or "into" or expressing intensity (see what I did there?).

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