back to article BOFH: You drive me crazy... and I can't help myself

BOFH logo telephone with devil's horns >knock< <knock< "Come in." "Hey there," I say. "I'm just here to fix your desktop machine." "My desktop machine?" "Yeah, just here to sort out the problems you were having with it." "I'm not having problems with it." "Sure you are." "No I'm not." "You are – I was talking to you on …

  1. UCAP Silver badge

    Nice to see that Simon and the PHB are expand their scope outside of their company.

    Hmmm ... wonder if I can get them to have a look at one or two of our suppliers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They probably ARE one of your suppliers. Just don't ask questions about the 3AM delivery of enterprise class hard drives with controllers now that Phase 1 is complete, ok? :)

  2. John Riddoch
    Thumb Up


    "reciprocating saw with some sort of organic staining"

    "Does this carpet pull up?"

    Classic BOFH :)

    1. Robert Helpmann??

      Re: Genius

      "Does this carpet pull up?"

      We need to come back to this! I feel cheated that no one ended up in a carpet, on fire, buried in cement or otherwise given platinum level BOFH service.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Genius

        .... YET

      2. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

        Re: Genius

        All that's missing is some quicklime

        1. WonkoTheSane
          Thumb Up

          Re: Genius

          "All that's missing is some quicklime"

          Simon wouldn't need to bring that into the building.

          It's only used at the "dropoff" point, deep in the woods 3 counties away.

      3. Marshalltown

        Re: Genius

        You haven't heard about what happened in the server room? Such a tragedy!

  3. Peter Gathercole Silver badge


    All very good, hassling your supplier, but it did not seem like Simon got his problems sorted out.

    I would have thought that he would have persisted until he got what he needed.

    And, for some reason, I thought Shannon would be a woman.

    1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

      A problem shared is a problem that's rapidly becoming someone else's problem.

      1. A____B

        A problem shared is a scapegoat found

      2. Anonymous South African Coward

        the problem buck does not stop here

      3. lglethal Silver badge

        Consulting - If you're not part of the Solution, there's money to be made prolonging the Problem...

      4. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

        I see we have a number of fans in the room today...

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          I think is like Dilbert.

          One isn't actually a fan. So much as somebody who recognises truth - and decides that the only sensible course of action is to laugh.

          I guess the alternative is to get the carpet, quicklime and shovel and become the BOfH.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Quicklime doesn't actually dissolve bodies or anything in a timely fashion, you know. Its an old wives tale, effectively.

            Now what you need is a good tub-destroying acid like in Breaking Bad. :)

            1. Omgwtfbbqtime

              You mean piranha fluid?

              Concentrated Sulphuric acid and 95%+ Hydrogen Peroxide?

              1. Dante Alighieri

                about to go over your head?


                disambiguation : chemistry

              2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Concentrated Sulphuric acid and 95%+ Hydrogen Peroxide potassium dichromate?

                Makes chromic acid. We used it to disinfect used bacteriology kit. Very effective disinfectant. The H&S briefing for the lab assistnat was to simply drop a few sheets of filter paper into it so she could see them instantly disappear.

            2. short a sandwich

              Alternatively. . .

              Pigs, around 7 per adult human. Sieving teeth from pig faeces though is one for my PFY.

              1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

                Re: Alternatively. . .

                The Stewmaker, from The Blacklist.

              2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: Alternatively. . .

                I once spent a couple of very cold, wet, smelly days watching the contents of a pig farm slurry pit being pumped out* to see if any of the thousands of bones looked human. None did.

                * Result of a false tip-off to the police. There were a few of those over the years in the search for Thomas Niedermayer.

                1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

                  Re: Alternatively. . .

                  I hadn't heard about Neidermayer, so I looked him up on Wikipedia. There is one seriously sad story, especially with his wife, both daughters, and son-in-law subsequently committing suicide.

                  A story which should probably be given as a reminder to our absolutely moronic unelected bureaucrat Lord Frost who seems intent on reigniting the Troubles.

                  1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

                    Re: Alternatively. . .

                    Does LF have a computer needing servicing?

              3. TranceWarp

                Re: Alternatively. . .

                So the Brick Top method then. Thumbs up from me.

            3. wegie

              Quicklime doesn't actually dissolve bodies

              @msobkow "Now what you need is a good tub-destroying acid like in Breaking Bad. :) "

              But do bear in mind that gallstones, dentures and implants take longer, and don't dump the remains in the garden ala Acid Bath Haigh.

              Somehow I suspect Simon has a well-thumbed copy of "Forty Years of Murder" in his bookcase...

              1. Stork Silver badge

                Re: Quicklime doesn't actually dissolve bodies

                A few decades ago there was a gang far out in the danish countryside (Tolne).

                There was a guy they didn’t like and they killed him. They then cut him in pieces and burned him in the wood burner, and the ashes were mixed in concrete used for a garage floor. Forensics found the dead guy’s teeth there.

            4. Xeiran

              Not only does quicklime not destroy bodies, the exothermic reaction kills most of the bacteria and dries out the corpse, effectively preserving it and making forensic analysis even easier. Must be a surprise to anyone who's tried it...

              1. imanidiot Silver badge

                I think the main idea behind the quicklime is to destroy any external traces. It's fine ne if they can determine someone died by blunt force trauma and that the pattern of bruising seems to match the keyboard of an early model Thinkpad, as long as they can't find DNA traces or other clues as to who was wielding said notebook, the BOFH in in the clear.

                1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

                  Speaking as someone who used to be a chemist, quicklime is apparently useful for hiding the odour of decomposition, as it reacts with and neutralises some of the smellier compounds produced by putrefaction, but useless for destroying evidence. It doesn't render or reduce flesh in any way, beyond mummifying it. For that, you'd need something much more corrosive, such as concentrated sulphuric acid, or TCA (steer away from HF as that stuff is just nasty, and produced and used industrially in such niche applications as to be quite probably easily traceable), and then you'd want to sieve the remains, which themselves would be highly corrosive and probably smelly gunk, for bits that don't easily dissolve, such as teeth, gallstones, fillings, medical implants, fragments of synthetic fibres, and so on.

                  Of course, my primary advice would be to not kill people in the first place. Apart from the obvious "murder is bad", which should go without saying, forensics are surprisingly good these days, and you will probably eventually get found out.

                  1. Justin S.

                    Hydrofluoric acid -- there's a reason it's also known as "devil's p-ss".

                    As you say, concentrated sulfuric acid is a good option, but you really want to combine it with a strong oxidizer like hydrogen peroxide or potassium dichromate, as has been suggested by others, which will turn much of the carbon into carbon dioxide.

            5. Xeiran

              Not only does quicklime not destroy bodies, the exothermic reaction may damage the corpse but also kills most of the bacteria and dries it out, effectively preserving it and making forensic analysis even easier. Must be a surprise to anyone who's tried it...


              Hmmm, call me old fashioned, but I do prefer chicken wire, concerete and a boat to drop the food off to the crabs and sea life off the coast a much more environmentally sound method of cleaning up after dealing with a sales person…

              Even more fun if they are still moving whilst dropping them off…

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                "dealing with a sales person"

                Say what you like about crabs, but they're not fussy eaters.

              2. J. Cook Silver badge

                Ah, the "sleeping with the fishes" method. Old school, time honored, and very effective at also reducing the surplus concrete block inventory...

            7. Siberian Hamster

              I know, I've tried

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        A problem shared is a problem two people have to deal with.....

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          A problem shared is now somebody else's.

      6. Michael Habel

        An SEP? So in other words its invisible?

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      All very good, hassling your supplier, but it did not seem like Simon got his problems sorted out.

      I think you're mistaking Simon for someone that cares.

      I'm sure that in a theoretical sense he'd like all his systems to be operating perfectly. So long as that didn't get in the way of trips to the pub, lager, bhaji consumption and foreign holidays.

      But sometimes you need to focus on higher things. Sometimes, when a supplier has treated you badly, it's not about getting the system fixed. That may only be a subsidiary system whose failure will only annoy some marketing people, who barely merit their ration of oxygen in the first place... What matters is emotional intelligence. Knowing that a good network manager will be much happier having exracted revenge from the deserving wretches who failed you than they would be with a fully working system to allow the marketing department to catalogue their crayons accurately.

      Finally of course, it's all about respect. If you ain't got respect, you ain't got nothin'.

      1. Evil Auditor Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        some marketing people, who barely merit their ration of oxygen in the first place...

        Well phrased! I'd like to send Simon over to our marketing people...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And, for some reason, I thought Shannon would be a woman.

      Wearing, um, tweed, perhaps? Or not?

    4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      You reckon that they travelled all that way and didn't do anything? I feel a part 2 coming…

      Presumably not only are some servers trashed but others now belong number one IT man.

      1. Chris G

        I had assumed the PFY had traded the bent servers for those in the offender's server room.

  4. Hot Diggity

    "Does this carpet pull up?" I ask.

    Run Shannon, Run!!!!

    1. khjohansen

      Re: "Does this carpet pull up?" I ask.

      >>Run Shannon, Run!!

      ... For the stairs?? Or the window??

      1. stiine Silver badge

        Re: "Does this carpet pull up?" I ask.

        The lift...

        1. Robert Halloran

          Re: "Does this carpet pull up?" I ask.

          Not the lift; the BofH will have locked the car at the top of the shaft and all Shannon will see on the doors opening is an empty void right before the feel of hands against the back...

    2. ShortLegs

      Re: "Does this carpet pull up?" I ask.

      "Run Shannon, run"

      Ah, another fan of "How to be a Complete Bastard"

      This is Shannon's computer.... This is SImon's Chainsaw

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    That was novel

    A bit wierd at first. It took me some time to grok that the BOFH was loose in the wild.

    And yeah, Shannon was a woman for me too, right up until the text said different.

    But hey, nothing like some originality in the BOFH stories.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: That was novel

      I missed the he bit, having only met female Shannons up to now. I googled it, and apparently it is ungendered, and means "straw worker".

      Straw's very absorbent you know. As is sawdust.

  6. chivo243 Silver badge


    Where's the lime? Can't pull up a carpet with out the lime!

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Lime?

      No, no, no.

      The lime goes in the pit, then the suspiciously weighty rolled up carpet, then it gets filled in and then it's pub time.

      There's an order to these things.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Lime?

        Lime's not needed. Just follow the carpet with a concrete pour. Next week the steel starts to go up.

        1. wegie

          Re: Lime?

          When I was young (and my mum was allowing me to read Simpson's "Forty Years of Murder" at the age of 14) a neighbour of ours very nearly got away with that one, except that the pour (tarmac in this case) was a bit delayed, and his wife's family started asking questions. Given that he was a navvy/digger driver on the M27 build, even Hampshire plod could work out where to look in the hardcore...

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: Lime?

            As a young adult I remember a colleague who'd grown up locally calling a concrete bridge support a "Hackney coffin".

        2. chivo243 Silver badge

          Re: Lime?

          Calling Jimmy Hoffa?

      2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Lime?

        There's an order to these things.

        True and I would appreciate you using the correct order.

        About half the lime goes in the pit, the carpet is unrolled in such a way the suspicious weight lands in the pit on top of the lime, the remainder of the lime goes on top of that, the now empty carpet goes on top of the lime, then it gets filled in and then it's pub time. It won't take much longer, but there is nothing interfering with the purpose of the lime.

      3. ShadowSystems

        At TeeCee, re: the order...

        (Singing) You put da lime in da coconut an' drink it all up...(/Singing) =-)p

        I'll get my coat, it's the one with the pocket full of tiny umbrellas...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Been there and *redacted* that

    Its the support people they hire, all a shower of Sh1T. The best was when I worked in a company that rented space from Avaya in their Guildford UK office called Avaya house and our Avaya phone system developed an issue, the Avaya engineer apparently could not find our building... That was many many years ago now, I am sure he found the building eventually.

    1. Locky

      Re: Been there and *redacted* that

      I used to work for a company that Avaya acquired. This doesn't surprise me at all.

      We also had the 0208 numbers where the corresponding 0207 ones were Scotland Yard Special Branch. I had some amazing wrong number confessions

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Been there and *redacted* that

      Not IT, but I remember when I was studying in Glasgow that a "tradesman" was supposed to come and do some work. Of course, he didn't turn up and when we did get hold of him he said he'd tried to call us but always had trouble dialling numbers that started with a 4…

  8. FeepingCreature Bronze badge

    Same energy

    Reminded me of Naomi Wu rolling up at UMIDIGI asking for the Linux kernel source for their phones that they're contractually required to provide under the GPL, but have mysteriously failed to make available on prior requests.

    1. Kubla Cant

      Re: Same energy

      Does she really work at soldering in that outfit (there's solder on the workbench)? Looks a bit vulnerable.

      1. stiine Silver badge

        Re: Same energy

        Am I the only one here who solders naked?

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Same energy

          Not more than once, I'd have thought.

          1. iron Silver badge

            Re: Same energy

            Definitely not more than once.

            (from personal experience)

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Same energy

              Tell us more.

              1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

                Re: Same energy

                Sorry for the downvote, but that would be TMI.

      2. Down not across

        Re: Same energy

        Workbench? Solder? Err..

        On a more serious note. Only done it once. Learned from it.

      3. PRR Bronze badge

        Re: Same energy

        >Does she really work at soldering in that outfit...?

        An important question. After an exhausting study of this and other available videos, I finally noted she wears a denim bib-overall when working with tools.

        Pimping My Electric Mini-Car! t=8:57

        I am so relieved.

        1. PRR Bronze badge

          Re: Same energy

          She gets seriously dressed when warranted.

          She's working with explosive gas release. OTOH (NSFW):

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Same energy

      Naomi Wu rolling up at UMIDIGI

      At least she doesn't have to worry about getting a door slammed in her face...

  9. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    Years ago I was having endless problems trying to get an engineer from some company or other to come to my house for something. Loads of phone calls to countless call centre drones led to an appointment being made for an engineer visit, and then them failing to turn up. The usual frustration of dealing with any large B2C company.

    I phoned the call centre about this. They noted the missed appointment and assumed that I wanted to try booking another visit. They were a bit taken aback when I asked for the engineer's home address and the name of his next of kin.

    "We don't give out personal details for our staff, and anyway why do you want them?"

    "So far as I'm concerned the only acceptable reason for failing to attend an appointment is if he's dropped down dead. I'd like to know who and where to send some flowers to"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I so need more upvotes..

      I'm definitely going to nick that one :).

  10. Chz

    A Welcome Friday Treat

    Personally, I lost it at:

    "Does this carpet pull up?" I ask.

    Though I'm admittedly surprised the BOFH was in such a hurry that he didn't bring his own.

    1. marcellothearcane


      It's all a diversion tactic, while the PFY demolishes the servers - he's keeping Shannon distracted from seeing errors on his PC for as long as possible.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: Carpet

        You are assuming a lot here about how observant Shannon is and/or how much internal systems monitoring they actually use.

  11. Throgmorton Horatio III

    Classic stuff. Apparently no-one ended up in the carpet - is BOFH getting soft?

  12. Luiz Abdala

    I need that resolve...

    ...and that psychopatic streak disguised as helpfulness, and invade our Congress, and demand public services working in perfect order, in exchange for these congressmen keeping their skins around their muscles, and not extended outside in the shape of a pirate flag.

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: I need that resolve...

      Your congresspeople, as well as being monumental cowards, have absolutely no discernable sense of humour between the lot of them. Nor do the ridiculous numbers of police and other security-related goons employed to make sure no-one gets near them.

      You have been warned.

  13. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    What a joyful read on a Friday afternoon. Reminds me of the guys hacking online scammers, virtually invading their offices.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IBM licensing department

    Years ago, I was the poor sod who issued a call to IBM support for one of the 1000s of products bearing the mark of "Tivoli".

    Remember, when every IBM piece of SW was a Tivoli something ?

    2 months later, I realised I had triggered an alarm somewhere, since a lady turned up to my office, asking to audit our Tivoli licences ...

    The issue was, not only did I have 0 access to the systems, run for one of our clients, but I had also no idea nor view if we actually bought all the stuff used for this client or elsewhere.

    So, the conversation went a bit cumbersome until I found out who to hand over that crap, aka, a dude who happened to be off this very day :)

  15. wyatt


    I'm sure many have been on the receiving end of crap support.

  16. Admiral Grace Hopper

    "Does this carpet pull up?"

    Stored away for future use.

  17. Spanners Silver badge

    Phone number problems

    I originally come from Orkney - area code 01856

    Spent a year as part of my education in Oxford - area code 01865

    So many people in one place just never managed to contact me while in the other!

    Is this why I am dyslexic?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. Blackjack Silver badge

    He did remember to disable the security cameras, right? After all there is going to be fire and there is a "No smoking" sign.

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Terrible habit. Terrible point in time for Shannon to pick it up.

  19. iron Silver badge

    The bit about Shannon's desktop problem reminds me of sitting in a GPs office while they slowly pecked at a keyboard with one finger, complaining it was taking forever because the system was complicated and slow. I glanced at the screen and said something like "Looks fine to me. I wrote that code and it meets the various different requirements of every GP surgery nationwide, all of whom signed off on it." That shut the crappy locum up double quick.

  20. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge


    "reciprocating saw with some sort of organic staining"

    "Does this carpet pull up?"

    And there went the keyboard

    A nice expensive one too since some damn fool has decided to promote me......hence having the chat with the boss..

    "Boris , you're getting a bit old to lay under our robots repairing and replacing things.... and you've a good knowledge of our product lines, our production capacity, our customers and suppliers, and of course your PFY is learning very quickly the ins and outs of keeping things going, so I've decided to promote you to assistant production engineer, and you'll be sharing the office with our current production engineer"

    "Jesus gawd almighty.. 8hrs stuck in a room with that idiot" ran through my mind, remembering THAT trip to Birmingham with him.

    "Sure sounds a good idea" I tell the boss....

    Looks like I'll be spending the weekend reading back issues of the BOFH for the best plausible method of emptying the office of its other occupant... which reminds me.... must unstick the dead fish from the back of his desk I put there 3 months ago ...

    1. Dante Alighieri

      does this carpet lift?

      at least you didn't pour the milk under it.

      did you?

      1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

        Re: does this carpet lift?

        Not yet.... bwwahahahahah

    2. Zarno

      Re: Quote

      Limburger and onion sandwiches.

      Cut limburger 6mm thick, onion 2mm thick, do one layer each on rye or pumpernickel with a skim coat of a hearty stone ground mustard on the bread. Wrap in wax paper, then bag.

      Tastes divine, but can empty a room.

  21. I Am Spartacus

    I think I met this supplier.

    That would be the one who turned up 2 weeks after installing a massive double fronted rack of disks, sliding in front and back. His job was to note the serial numbers down. Only he knelt down and knocked the master cabinet power switch. Only for a moment mind, he switched back on immediately, hoping no-one would notice. However, the Oracle clustered database which was using the array did, and crashed. And took out one of the table spaces which refused to recover.

    No problem. We had a backup, written by the system manufacturer, so we just loaded up the tapes and found .... that tablespace wasn't backed up. Because it was a read-only table space.

    So, we handed the whole thing over to the supplier. Tapes, disks, computers, backups, and told them - Recover That.

    They failed, obviously. But the called a meeting to say that they had fixed the problem. Where they handed me, in front of the Director of IT, an envelope. Inside was a single sheet of paper. This was an official change to the manual that said that the configuration they had spec'd, installed, setup and handed over was no longer supported, so they weren't liable.

    Strangely they got knocked off the preferred supplier list that morning.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: I think I met this supplier.

      Liability changes were both contractually permitted and could be applied retrospectively? And someone Spartacus' company signed off on that contract?

      1. Lup

        Re: I think I met this supplier.

        So, story time, not for Oracle, but for a surprising number of other places of similar reputation.

        Back in the late 80s, my mum was a contract lawyer for a tech company that will forever remain nameless. She had been the only female lawyer in her class, legal firm, and one of two at the tech company. So, she was both tough as nails, and *extremely* tired of male, and particularly 80's programmer tech geek male, bullshit.

        She also wrote some truely terrifyingly one sided contracts at the time, partly, I feel, as an act of revenge, and partly because she noticed that she could slip in things that would be ignored by the opposing counsel. Many clauses from these were later reused in standard contractal agreements at this time, partly because lawyers recycle successful terms, and partly because they were spectacularly dickish.

        Her favourite, though, was a contract, that, faced with a programmer who condescending explained his code could be read by anyone, and therefore didn't need comments, specified the legal sectaries as the people who signed off on the code being intelligible to the company.

        So, the tl:dr is: Why do IT contracts feel like they're out to get you? Well, because, when at least some of the clauses were written, the person writing them was.

  22. chivo243 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Workin on someone else's kit?

    Calling Harry Tuttle?

  23. earl grey

    no cattle prod

    i'm sad.

  24. Zarno

    Fine Young Cannibals

    Note to self, do not eat the BBQ pulled pork sliders at BOFH Bar&Grill.

    1. Toni the terrible Bronze badge

      Re: Fine Young Cannibals

      Why not as long pig is tasty and eco-friendly!

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Always pack something as a substitute in your vehicle, whacha gonna do if it's all carpet tiled floor? Useless for containment during exit.

    Just working the issue...

    Anon because...just working the issue...

  26. J. Cook Silver badge

    Had something like that happen when I worked at [ISP]; we had shipped a Juniper OC-48 linecard to one of our sites for the telco staff that we employed there to insert on an M20 router, and those line cards only slide in ONE WAY; Yet they managed to insert the damned thing in the wrong way, destroying ALL connectors on a linecard that cost over $125,000 USD (and this was 2000's money) and badly damaged the backplane of a $50,000 USD chassis.

    My boss and the department director were incandescent.

    I mean, the other times when hardware was damaged, it was the fault of the Stupid Shipping Gang, so we had insurance to fall back on. (especially in the case of the M160 that got impaled by a forklift to the tune of 2 million US marks) But this? The company had to eat the whole thing, and they were NOT happy about it.

  27. perlcat

    Service provider?

    It's a service in the agricultural sense, like when you hire a bull to service your cows.

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