BOFH logo telephone with devil's horns It's time for our annual Health and Safety audit, which is a surprise in a couple of ways. First, we've never had an annual safety audit before, and second, it's now. "That floor is open. Someone could fall down that," the HR H&S bloke points out. "Yes, but only the two of us have …

  1. Geoff May (no relation)

    Should have said PLUGH.

    1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      The snake drives the H&S Droid away.

      1. Korev Silver badge

        That's why the BOFH like programming in Python...

    2. Anonymous Anti-ANC South African Coward

      What about XYZZY then?

      1. The other JJ

        You are at Y2

      2. Dizzy Dwarf

        Nothing happens

      3. Tboyer

        A hollow voice says ‘cretin’

    3. C R Mudgeon Bronze badge

      H&S guy says: "should have PLUGHED the hole in the floor".

  2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    What, no maze of twisty little passages, all alike?

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge


      It is dark!


      It is dark!


      It is dark!


      You've been eaten by a grue!


        I named my Eve Online corp "Eaten by a Grue"

        1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

          Should have named it "Gatecamped by Griefers". I gave up on that game years ago...

          1. John G Imrie

            I made a lot of cash just by playing the markets and never travailing anywhere. Or at least only travailing in the smallest cheapest ship I could find.

    2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Mustn't make it that easy

      One of the exits from that maze leads to the other maze with a vending machine which will trade a gold piece for a new torch battery.

      1. Rich 11

        Re: Mustn't make it that easy

        The vending machine will also trade gold for abduction by the Leather Goddesses.

    3. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

      Could have had a clue of 'follow the green cable in the cable room"

      Ah ha you exclaim.... go into the cable room and find out that all the cables are green.

    4. C R Mudgeon Bronze badge


      The power is on here.

      You are in a maze of little rectangular office cubicles, all alike.

      The server room door slams shut behind you.


      The door is locked.

      You are in a maze of little rectangular office cubicles, all alike.

      SCAN ACCES CARD. # [sic]

      The access card reader's power is out. Nothing happens.

      You are in a maze of little rectangular office cubicles, all alike.


      Your head hurts.

      You are in a maze of little rectangular office cubicles, all alike.

    5. Tim_the_Unenchanter

      A sea of cubicles all alike…

  3. DailyLlama

    A better story than Bandersnatch!

  4. eJ2095

    Should have gone into "Die Hard" mode

    1. Korev Silver badge


      1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

        Melon Farmer!

    2. renniks

    3. milliemoo83

      Now I have a cattle prod. Ho ho ho....

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

        Next move: KZZZEEERRRT!

  5. Ozan

    Ah Simon, you really love DUNGEON.

  6. John Riddoch

    No win game

    "total possible points of 0". Gotta love the implications of that! :D

    1. A. Coatsworth Silver badge

      Re: No win game

      Strange game. The only winning move is not to play [against the BOFH]

      1. tezboyes

        Re: No win game

        Or use the Kirk option!

        1. Groo The Wanderer

          Re: No win game

          Kirk had a chance to hack a computer.

          These are the BOFH's machines. A mere H&S rep would not have the slightest hope of breaching the security.

          They might, however, manage to remotely undo the bracing bolts under the server racks, causing them to crash painfully across their legs, breaking them as effectively as the fingers had been... :)

        2. Anonymous Anti-ANC South African Coward

          Re: No win game

          The Corbomite Manoeuver?

          or the Kobayashi Maru one?

  7. Lil Endian Silver badge

    That'll teach the H&S drone to be such a stick in the MUD.

  8. Howard Sway Silver badge

    Spoiler alert - game solution

    The game, like all text adventures, is totally unsolvable unless you think very laterally and do something completely non-obvious.

    To escape from the server room, you have to SMOKE CIGARETTE. This sets off a smoke alarm in the Health & Safety office, which causes 10 H&S officers to burst into to the room to find the offender, 5 of them fall into the hole, 1 gets clonked by the ladder then also falls down the hole, and you can then simply walk over them and out of the now open door.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Spoiler alert - game solution

      The game, like all text adventures, is totally unsolvable unless you think very laterally and do something completely non-obvious .

      It's the last bit that always gets me. Not just text adventures, but the newer ones with scenes too. At some point you find yourself going around in circles trying all sorts of nonsensical stuff. Which is why I've never been a gamer. My inner voice just says "bugger this for a game of soldiers" long before I find the way to get past that bit.And I quit.

      1. Joe W Silver badge

        Re: Spoiler alert - game solution

        This is why the games by Lucas Arts are so good: they are really forgiving (not Zack McCracken), and are mostly just difficult enough to make finding the solution feel good.

        1. Ashentaine

          Re: Spoiler alert - game solution

          As opposed to Sierra adventure games, where you could easily render the whole thing unwinnable by doing or neglecting to do something many hours previous, or even just wandering onto a screen where you weren't supposed to be without a specific item, and having no idea where you made the mistake to avoid it in another playthrough.

          Why yes, King's Quest V, I am in fact pointing directly at you.

        2. tezboyes

          Re: Spoiler alert - game solution

          Absolutely, and generally the solutions were just at that sweet spot that all the clues were there, they became obvious as soon as you got it, but needed a nice amount of in-game think to get it.

      2. Persona Silver badge

        Re: Spoiler alert - game solution

        unless you think very laterally and do something completely non-obvious

        .... like looking at the FORTRAN source code for the original Colossal Cave Adventure as this was how I discovered that to get the last point to take my score from 350 the the maximum possible of 351 I had to leave the Spelunker Today magazine at Witts End.

        1. C R Mudgeon Bronze badge

          Re: Spoiler alert - game solution

          "... like looking at the FORTRAN source code for the original Colossal Cave Adventure ..."


      3. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Spoiler alert - game solution

        That's bad, and I'll also add the situation where there appears that there's an obvious solution, but you can't get the game to let you do it. You can never be sure if the game needs a specific wording of the command before it will accept that you know what you're doing or whether you're really not supposed to do the obvious thing, but either way, you're stuck. The other problem with a lot of these games is that there is one path you're supposed to take, but the game doesn't block you. Sure, you can wander around a lot of places and get information, but it's not going to let you complete any other tasks until you get past this block, so you're just wasting your time trying to go around it. This happened too often for me. I enjoyed some text adventures, but I had some others reach the point of frustration such that playing a new one was more of a gamble than I wanted. At least with normal books, there wasn't much chance of the book simply stopping you on page 94 and not allowing you to read any more of it.

        1. My-Handle Silver badge

          Re: Spoiler alert - game solution

          The key problem that I have with adventure games isn't that you have to solve the problem presented to you. It's that you have to figure out what someone else thought the solution was. I'm usually a pretty good problem solver and can see the utility in an awful lot of stuff that's just lying around. The kind of puzzle where you have to hit the thing with the specific type of hammer that you have to get half the map away kinda chafes when you already have a heavy wrench in your pocket that would have done just as well. Or, failing that, the brick that's sitting right next to the thing on the game screen but that you're not allowed to pick up.

          I'm much more of a fan of the physics-engine based puzzles that games like Portal (and, to some extent, Zelda TOTK) have. The kind where it's possible to arrive at a neat solution to a problem and wonder if that's how you were supposed to have done it (and then realise that it actually doesn't matter). The kind where a player posts a solution online and the developers say "Wow, we never thought of solving it that way".

      4. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        Re: Spoiler alert - game solution

        Try offerings from Wadjet Eye games, particularly Blackwell and Unavowed. They have great stories and the puzzles are usually simple (except a very poor puzzle in the first Blackwell game where you have to talk to the same person three times before they'll admit they know something. It was only their second game, and this wasn't repeated)

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Spoiler alert - game solution

          where you have to talk to the same person three times before they'll admit they know something.

          I don't know that company. But that factor, which you say they have ceased, is at least part of my problem for me trying to play games. Having to repeat an action x number of times, for no apparent reason, is just not rational.

          Having a specific sequence of events or actions, (even if they don't need to be done more than once) but without telling you there's a specific sequence, and with no logic behind the order so that it's purely random chance whether you get to the next step is imho irrational. Whatever the intention of these elements might be it just means that a) I don't procede with them and b) I don't spend anymore of my money on future attempts at new games.

          Presumably there are plenty of people who enjoy that kind of thing, and they're the target market. Good luck to them

    2. Evil Scot

      Re: Spoiler alert - game solution

      The only way to win is not to play.

    3. lglethal Silver badge

      Re: Spoiler alert - game solution

      Sorry that solution would never work. Have you ever met a H&S person who smokes. Of course, not because *engage whiny voice* "That's dangerous!"....

      1. TeeCee Gold badge

        Re: Spoiler alert - game solution

        So what?

        There are some people who just deserve to lose.

      2. UCAP Silver badge

        Re: Spoiler alert - game solution

        Have you ever met a H&S person who smokes

        I have. But to be fair, I had just set him on fire.

        1. the spectacularly refined chap

          Re: Spoiler alert - game solution

          Give a man a fire and you keep him warm for a day.

          Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.

          1. C R Mudgeon Bronze badge

            Re: Spoiler alert - game solution

            "Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life."

            Sam McGee comes to mind. (From the Robert W. Service poem.}

    4. Dizzy Dwarf

      Re: Spoiler alert - game solution

      Think that’s how you get rescued from the loose face-hugger.

    5. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

      Re: Spoiler alert - game solution

      Unless of course the halon (still in use in any BOFH outfit) kills you first

    6. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Spoiler alert - game solution

      This also being the problem with text adventures, since in the situation, there is a safe plan. You know there's a hole, and you know there's a ladder. So don't take large steps into darkness near the hole, take small ones, shuffle, or even crawl so you can feel ahead of you. Sure, there's danger if you had to move quickly, but we didn't see any risks that required that. However, in the game, there's probably no way of moving like that.

  9. Bebu Silver badge

    Cook's Tour...

    "That floor is open. Someone could fall down that," the HR H&S bloke points out.

    I was thinking this will be a short tale - in the absence of the popular window exit to the car park, the hole in the floor offering a rapid descent to the basement was on the cards.

    Suppose like a cat with a mouse the BOFH and PFY must have their amusements. Dungeon is just a fancy name for basement after all.

    1. Flightmode

      Re: Cook's Tour...

      Serves him right for giving them the idea...

    2. ITMA Silver badge

      Re: Cook's Tour...

      "Dungeon is just a fancy name for basement after all"

      But basements lack the wall manacles, damp walls (sometimes) and other "toys of persuasion".

    3. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: Cook's Tour...

      The HPC support manager at one place I worked embarrassed himself when giving a tour around the systems, by carefully steering the group around a raised tile in the floor which was up for an optical cable replacement (which did actually have the correct barriers around it), and then proceeded to lean on the barrier, lose his balance, and fall down the hole himself!

      I never got to see the accident report, but I'm sure it was written in an ironic style! He wore the small cut on his face as evidence of his inattentiveness for several weeks.

  10. Korev Silver badge

    In ancient history we had a H&S droid want us to shut a Sun Fire server off as it was too noisy. Turns out to get the reading she'd shoved her meter right up to the fan on the back...

    1. Ashentaine

      I'm almost certain that the primary tenet of H&S instruction is "don't leave until you find a problem, and if you can't find one then invent one".

      1. David Hicklin Bronze badge

        "I'm almost certain that the primary tenet of H&S instruction is "don't leave until you find a problem, and if you can't find one then invent one"."

        That's why you always leave something easy and trivial for them to find.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          This is the rule with all inspectors/inspections.

          It appears that every inspection requires something negative to say, or they feel they haven't done their job.

          This still rankles with me a whole career after the first time I got hit by it.

          In my first year of teaching, in a tough high school taking most of its kids from a "second line estate" i.e. the families had all been moved out of previous council housing for assorted reasons, I received amazingly good feedback, and was allowed to complete my probationary period early. The inspector mentioned though that my desk was very messy and I needed to keep my resources more organised on it.

          That passing comment in the verbal feedback was turned into a whole paragraph in the written report. It was still a really good report, but the offending paragraph made the whole thing turn to ashes.

          I've had plenty of "very good but..." reports since then, there's always something, but even so.........

          I'm retired now, but that first one still annoys me.

          1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

            Burned by being too reactive

            My first IT security healthcheck (back in the days when these things were new - I also think it was the first one done by that particular security team, we were the guinea pig) was a bit like that.

            They came up with something relatively trivial that I was already aware of (something to do with certain services being allowed through one of the firewalls from our DMZ IIRC [not that that term was used back then - this was really at the dawn of the World Wide Web]), so I fixed the rule while they were relaying their initial verbal findings to my manager.

            When they came out of the office, they asked how long it would take to address, and I said I had done it already...

            ...and they then wrote me another black-mark for not having adequate change control! (even though at the time, I was the only sysadmin, so only had to agree it with myself, and I had actually put the changes through our source code control system so that it was tracked and recorded).

            That smarted, although my manager was quite OK with that particular finding.

    2. rototype

      I think if I'd have seen her do that I'd have been tempted to tell her to shove that meter way up somewhere else, possibly at the rear.

      1. Korev Silver badge

        She once had a go at me because I couldn't produce a health and safety datasheet for the oil for the shredder

        1. Zarno

          Very very apt...

          Dilbert Screensaver.

          Notice the sign.

        2. C R Mudgeon Bronze badge

          "health and safety datasheet for the oil for the shredder"

          That data sheet saved me money! My shredder came with a tiny sample bottle of oil. Of course they want you to pay inkjet-refill prices for more. But the Materials Safety Data Sheet for the stuff says it contains only one ingredient: canola oil.

          The (smallest size) bottle I spent a couple of dollars for at the grocery store will long outlive the shredder.

        3. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          I have a story about certification of fluids.

          The water-cooled IBM Power7 775 systems I used to look after had a water based coolant which contained an additive which suppressed gas absorption, and reduced corrosion in the closed water circuit that carried the heat away from the interior of the processor drawers (and also the bulk DC power converters). This was marked as non-corrosive and non-harmful on the labels of the containers for the coolant.

          So the health and safety team wanted a hazardous material certificate (was it a COSHH certificate?) for the additive. But the problem was, suppliers only have to provide that certificate if the material is hazardous. This additive was regarded as non-hazardous by the supplier, so they weren't able to provide one (they said that it was actually safe to drink, not that they said it tasted very good, so they wouldn't advise it).

          We were only able to satisfy the H&S people by providing a list of all active ingredients in the additive, but even then they grumbled.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A few years back I upgraded some office network switches at a number of remote locations. It turns out that when Juniper EX 2200 switches get upgraded from 12.3R2.5 to 12.3R11.2, the fans change from "gentle breeze when needed" to "permanent MD80 lift-off". When such a switch sits on someone's desk, it doesn't matter how techy they are, they WILL call you and complain.

  11. steelpillow Silver badge

    "That floor is open. Someone could fall down that,"

    Was a sketch in The Fast Show. Well, it was a hole in the road next to the pavement, but same difference.

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: "That floor is open. Someone could fall down that,"

      oh bugger!

    2. Marshalltown

      Re: "That floor is open. Someone could fall down that,"

      I saw the results of someone stepping through a hole in the floor. He was carrying boxes of files stacked high enough that he was peering around the (wrong) side. The hole was for an inspection plate that allowed access to something between the subfloor and the suspended ceiling below. I was in the room below when a pair of legs followed by remarkable language fell through the ceiling tiles.

  12. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Fond memories

    The old text adventures were the only ones I really enjoyed. Perfect training for bug-hunting in obscure code.

    1. WonkoTheSane

      Re: Fond memories

      TIL - The original "Crowther & Woods" game this episode tributes has just been "remastered". With animations.

      Mine's the one with a fistful of d6 in the pocket -->

      1. blackcat Silver badge

        Re: Fond memories

        Brings back memories of playing countdown to doom on the beeb!

      2. C R Mudgeon Bronze badge

        The real cave

        "The original "Crowther & Woods" game this episode tributes has just been "remastered". With animations."

        Oh, cool!

        It turns out that the game's basic layout is very accurate representation of a real Bedquilt Cave, which is part of the Mammoth Cave system in Kentucky. Willie Crowther and his wife Patricia were avid cavers who explored it extensively. (The real-life Colossal Cave is a nearby part of the same system, but it's not what the game is based on.)

        As The connection between 'Adventure' and The real 'Colossal Cave' describes, "Patricia was a key member of the team that found [the Bedquilt/Mammoth] connection." In fact, that connection includes a particularly narrow passageway which "may be commemorated in the Colossal Cave adventure as the narrow passage named "Tight Spot" that leads to the Plover Room."

        The same page quotes caver Mel Park:

        "Bedquilt was Willie's favorite part of the cave system ... Computer types who grew up exploring ADVENTURE don't realize how accurately the game represents passages in Bedquilt Cave.

        "Yes, there is a Hall of the Mountain King and a Two-Pit Room. The entrance is indeed a strong steel grate at the bottom of a twenty-foot depression."

        He goes on to describe how a caver named Bev Schwartz, who had never been in Bedquilt before, knew her way around perfectly "based on her encyclopedic knowledge of the game ... Believe me, the cave is a real maze, and this was an impressive accomplishment for a first-time visitor."

        For those with fond memories of Adventure, that page is a fun read.

    2. Marty McFly Silver badge

      Re: Fond memories

      They taught me basic troubleshooting skills. Especially when coupled with the pirated software of the day. A stack of generic 5.25 floppy disks that where hastily copied from a buddy over lunch hour. No clue what they were or what they did. But they were games and they were cool. Everything had to be figured out. No documentation, no Internet videos, the word 'wiki' wasn't even invented yet.

      Simpler times. Cheers!

    3. Marshalltown

      Re: Fond memories

      I quit playing Colossal Cave after the maze became unmappable. That was a version adapted to CP/M. It ran on a Kaypro II. But the version I acquired to play on my first PC was a different kettle of fish altogether.

  13. CledusSnow

    I miss Infocom...

    Even 40 years later, I still get misty eyed when I see things like this.

    1. Anonymous Anti-ANC South African Coward

      Re: I miss Infocom...

      Point and clicks does not have the same appeal as did those old text-only adventures.

      Any Magnetic Scrolls fans on here?

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: I miss Infocom...

      You wake up.

      The room is spinning very gently around your head. Or at least it would be if you could see it, which you can't.

      It is pitch black.

      > inv

      You have:

      a splitting headache

      no tea.

    3. seldom

      Re: I miss Infocom...

      Anyone remember Star Trek on the Uni Birmingham's or Warwick's mainframes.

      1. PRR Bronze badge

        Re: I miss Infocom...

        > Anyone remember Star Trek on the Uni Birmingham's or Warwick's mainframes.

        I played a LOT of StarTrek on US military mainframes, such as Colorado, from US university teletypes.

        Of course the connection (before universal DNS) and login and directory search was as much work/fun as the game.

        Soon after I started, sometimes the MotD would actually tell visiting hackers where the games were and an anonymous login.

      2. davemcwish

        Re: I miss Infocom...

        No but I remember MUD and Vaxtrek from my misspent time at the University of Strathclyde.

  14. Chloe Cresswell

    Given who I follow on Twitch, all I have in my head now is "YOU AWAKE TO FIND YOURSELF IN A DARK ROOM!"

  15. Anonymous Anti-ANC South African Coward

    Excellent start to the weekend.

    Now if only I can avoid pesky Grues appearing when there's loadshedding...

  16. Anonymous Anti-ANC South African Coward
    Thumb Up

    This BOFH episode will age well

    Given time, it will be good for a re-read and a chuckle.

    Thank you, Simon!

  17. JulieM Silver badge

    Shall We Play a Game?

    If anybody is getting nostalgic for a text adventure, feel free to try this (don't worry, it's only a little one):

    And its sequel:

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Shall We Play a Game?

      If anybody is getting nostalgic for a text adventure, feel free to try this (don't worry, it's only a little one):

      I was going to upvote you but then I stumbled in the dark and broke my neck...

  18. Alistair Silver badge

    Finding the back door.

    Ages and ages ago I spent most of a summer at the Science Centre. (25 cent bus ride, 50 cents to get in the SC, and 1.50 for a hotdog and drink for lunch, it was cheap daycare basically) and found the tictactoe on the mainframe had a back door, of sorts, that got you into Colossal Cave. Got tons of weird looks from the others there, but the attendant had no complaints about it, apparently thats why it was there. Could read and play on the terminal, but the overhead view wasn't very readable.

  19. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    The droid is lacking in foo

    He went into a locked room with a hole in the floor with the Chief Grue and his assistant. Without a pass key. Well, what else did he expect?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: The droid is lacking in foo

      The H&S Dept probably send all the new guys down there. Any that come back get to join the team. And NEVER go back. Assuming they managed to learn to stop gibbering and dribbling after the "experience".

  20. Frumious Bandersnatch

    It is pitch black.

    You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

  21. Xalran

    ROGUE or MUD ?

    That is the question...

    Since it's the BOFH I'd say MUD, ROGUE is too mainstream for the BOFH and the PFY... and they have servers to spare to set up a full MUD with only two players.

  22. DS999 Silver badge

    "No one else has access in OR OUT of the room"

    I thought that 'or out' was going to be the basis for the story - the BOFH and PFY not entering the room for the next week and the H&S guy found dead with claw marks around the door handle - because one of the safety issues he didn't note was the lack of a drinking fountain in case someone was locked in and no one knew!

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: "No one else has access in OR OUT of the room"

      Hence the cold rack with the beers ;) But then again the H&S bot might not know that.

  23. Herby

    Reminds me of...

    I smell a Wumpus..

    Ah, to relive my 20's

  24. earl grey

    i prefer simpler times

    unfortunately you just died from dysentery

  25. Andy A

    I got paid to play Colossal Cave

    At my first employer, one irregular task was to visit outstations to install a dial-up modem and an IBM 3276 terminal.

    First job was to work out how Post Office Telephones had wired the connection. They apparently had eight different wiring schemes, some involving large jack plugs. The only one I had no trouble with was in Hull, who had their own un-nationalised provider.

    With everything connected, I had to test things, and the only mainframe account I had access to hosted Colossal Cave.

    1. old_n_grey

      Re: I got paid to play Colossal Cave

      Before I saw the light and moved into IT, I was beancounter (in my defence it was because aged 16 it was the only job available. Plus I never bothered to qualify). In the late 1970s I investigated the feasibility of buying a mini-computer and headed off to be wowed by numerous sales folk. Most minis/financial apps were much of a muchness, as were the companies desperate to flog them. They made the shortlist if they answered in the affirmative to: "Does it play games?" The game was invariably Colossal Cave and so the remainder of the demo was the sales droids and I failing to get very far in the game.

    2. C R Mudgeon Bronze badge

      Re: I got paid to play Colossal Cave

      Minesweeper (on Win 3.1) was my go-to mouse-test program. It required enough dexterity that I could very quickly tell if the mouse ball's rollers needed further scraping.

  26. bpfh

    Press the intercom


  27. fromxyzzy
  28. FeRDNYC

    Not even tangentially related, really...

    But, one of my favorite moments in Elaine Carroll's always-entertaining "Very Mary-Kate" skits (where she plays both halves of the Olsen Twins, protagonist Mary-Kate and occasional guest Ashley): After Mary-Kate sets the room on fire with pyrotechnic effects during a class presentation.........

    Professor: Mary-Kate, use the juice cleanse on the fire!

    Mary-Kate: Uh, okay Professor Text Adventure...

  29. Locky


    You look at the figure. He is carrying a roll of carpet and some quicklime


    I'm sorry Dave, I cannot do that

  30. notoriusR2

    Zork? Is that you?

    This reminds me of the first and last time I tried to play Zork back in the 80's.

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