Fun_People Archive
22 Mar
The BOFH - Genesis

Date: Fri, 22 Mar 96 19:38:04 -0800
From: Peter Langston <psl>
To: Fun_People
Subject: The BOFH - Genesis

[Those of you who were Fun_People during May, 1993 (or who have been perusing  
the Fun_People Archives for that period) will remember the Bastard Operator  
 From Hell, that selfless servant of the user community sometimes confused with
Reid Fleming.  Fun_People carried episodes 1 through 6 of his saga back then,  
but recently I've discovered some further adventures, including the following  
episodes that antedate BOFH #1...  Enjoy.  -psl]

	The Bastard Operator From Hell - Genesis
	(Striped Irregular Bucket #1)

I'm really bored. You know how bored you get when work's going on and on and  
on, and nothing interesting is happening, and you're listening to a radio that  
picks up ONE station on FM, and it's always the station with the least records  
in the city, about 5, and one of them is "You're so Vain" which wasn't too bad  
a song until you hear it about 3 times a day for a year, and *EVERY* time it  
plays, the announcer tells you it's about Warren Beaty and who he's currently  
poking, someone you'll never sniff the toe-jam of, let alone meet, let alone  
get amourous with. And EVERY time someone mentions Warren Beaty, someone says  
that he used to go out with Madonna too, and have you seen "In Bed With.." 

AND THEN, someone ELSE will say "It wasn't really about Warren Beaty, it was  
James Taylor" and the first person will say "What, `In bed with Madonna?'",  
and they laugh and everyone else laughs, and I slip out the Magnum from under  
the desk where I keep it in case someone laughs at a joke that's so dry it's  
got a built in water-fountain, and blow the lot of them away as a community  
Service. I figure that I'll get time off my sentence if I ever kill someone by  
accident who's got a life.

So visitors are getting pretty thin at the moment, and the Quick-Lime Pits are  
filling up rapidly, and all I've got to do is the full backups and maybe I can  
go home. 

So, to relieve the boredom, I get some iron filings and pour them into the  
back of my Terminal until it fizzes out (Which doesn't take all that long,  
surprisingly enough), then call our maintenance contractors and log a fault on  
the device. Sometimes they'll send someone who knows what they're doing, but  
it's a lot more fun when they don't - which is about 98% of the time. 

So they maintenance guy comes in, and I can tell he's NEW because the photo on  
his ID actually LOOKS like him, not like the head engineer, whose photo's a  
black and white tin-type (he's that old). 

Maintenance Contractors always dress up nice, with a tie and everything  
because they believe that a customer will trust a nicely dressed guy with  
their million dollar equipment *just* because he's got a nice tie.. 

Because he's NEW and ALONE, he's what you call an appeasement engineer, the  
new guy they send so they respond within the 4 hour guaranteed response  
period. (Things are getting better and better) Your average appeasement  
engineer is about as clued-up on computers as the average computer "hacker" is  
about B.O, and their main job is to make sure the power plug is in and  
switched on, then call back to the office for "PARTS". The really keen ones  
will sometimes even take a cover off the equipment and pretend that they see  
this stuff all the time. I wonder what sort today's is... 

"You got a dud terminal?" he asks pleasantly 

I tell him yeah, and bring him into the control room. 

"Which one is it?" he asks, confused by the fact that only one of them is  

"It's the Model Three" I say, giving NOTHING away. 

"Ah, the old model three!" he says knowingly, without a clue what a model  
three is, or which one of the three terminals it is, which isn't surprising,  
as I just made it up. 

"We get a lot of Model Three problems" he says nodding "So what actually  

Sneaky, but not good enough. I'm not going to point it out to him. 

"It just went dead" I say, in luser mode. 

"I see. Could you just recreate what you were doing so I can check the unit  
out when it's ready for operation?" 

Very Sneaky. I decide to let him off the hook. 

"Look, I've got to go to the toilet, there it is over there" I say, pointing  
at our Waffle-Iron. 

"But that's a Wa..." He says, then stops. He's a beginner, and it's just  
possible that the company has a line of terminals that look like waffle irons.  
He bites. 

"Sorry" he says, smiling again "for a minute there I thought it was a Model  

A reasonably good save, but it won't save him. "Huh, it's nothing like a model  
2! *THAT'S* the model 2" I say, pointing to the expresso machine. 

He nods and I leave, which means he's got to take the iron to bits, otherwise  
he knows I won't believe he's worked on it. I give him a couple of minutes to  
get the element exposed then wander back in. 

"So how does it look?" I ask, concerned-like. 

"Well, I think we could have a processor problem.." he says concentrating on  
prying the element up. 

..concentrating so much that he doesn't notice me plugging the iron in. 

"Shouldn't you be wearing an earthing strap?" I ask innocently. 

When he thinks I can't see, he creeps his hand over to the wiring frame and  
says "Well, It's just as easy to hold onto earth like this" 

"But what about the risk of a cross-the-body shock with no resistor in series  
with you?" I ask ever-so-more-innocently 

"Oh, it's ok" he says "the unit's unplug..." 

>clickBZZZZZZZEEERRT!clunk! I ring the maintenance help-desk again... 

It's Rhonda 

"Hey Ronda!, Ah, I'm going to need another engineer and a new Waffle Iron over  
here; for some reason your engineer opened up my Waffle Iron without switching  
it off." I say 

Rhonda knows me. It's the third call and the third appeasement engineer this  
year. You'd think they'd learn. 

"You're a real prick" she says, annoyed 

"Tell ya what Rhonda, why don't you come and fix it; it's a Model Three..." 

It's 200 pages long and got lots of ^Gs in it!  And, it LOCKS UP YOUR  
AND  you won't find out it's from until the 199th page.  And
then it'll scroll past, you'll have to read the message again to find out that
my post addr is C/- University of Waikato, Prvt Bag 3105, Hamilton New Zealand
Here come those FORM FEEDS!!!!

The Birth of Bastard Operator From Hell
Striped Irregular Bucket #5

I'm still bored. 

But at least now the radio's off, it was on it's 12 repeat of "Wildfire" THIS  
WEEK, and it's only Tuesday; shit I hate that. 

So anyway, I quicklime the engineer to remove any fingerprints and then FedEx  
him back to headquarters and set about waiting for the new engineer. 

Now the second engineer only has to come out after another 4 hours, there's no  
death of engineer penalty clause, (but I'm thinking about asking for one) so  
I've got to fill in some time. This guy's going to be a technical engineer,  
the sort that comes in with a raggedy tie where he got it caught in the drum  
printer at 3000 rpm a couple of years ago, and he'll have the grazes on the  
face that indicate that he didn't get the gate open in time... 

I know those sorts... 

So I fill in a couple of hours by killing users off and deleting their files,  
then waiting for them to call... 

"Um, I can't find my files" the wimpering simp on the phone says 

"Files? What files?" 

"The files in my account. My thesis, my research - all gone!" 

"Gone ay? What's your username?" 




"OH Turgen, like TURD, but with a GEN instead of a D... Ok lets see" I make  
vague clicking noises my dragging the quicklimed man's fingers back and forth  
across the keypad. "Uh-huh" >drag dragdragedy poke "I KNOW!" 

"Well, what are you calling ME for? We don't make the files you know, we just  
look after them. And chopitty-chop too, your thesis looks like it's due in a  
couple of days.." 

I hang up - he'll call back. Meantime I open up a copy of "VMS BASTARD  
OPERATORS MANUAL FROM HELL" I'm reading the article I sent in about getting  
rid of those trouble users... 

"... Modify the user's password minimum from 6 to 32 letters, give the  
password a 1 day lifetime, set it so that they HAVE to use the password  
generate utility when they change their password (so their password will  
always be something that looks like vaguely pronouncable line-noise), add a  
secondary password with the same as the above, then redefine their CLI tables  
so that the only command that works is DELETE, and all other commands point to  

Beautiful.... Shit I'm good! 

He calls back. 

"MY FILES ARE GONE!" he screams, panicking.

"Did you have a backup?" I ask, as sweet as pie

"But that's what you people are supposed to do!" he sobs

"Yeah, well we did - but then we switched to those 8mm tapes, and they're the  
same size as the ones in my video camera, so I've been using them to tape the  
neighbour's sex romps..." 

I hear the revolver go off, but what the hell, it's 5pm, and not my problem... 

Still Birthing the Bastard Operator.. (Bored #3) 

So the second engineer rolls up, but the FedEx man has been and gone, so he  
misses out altogether. 

This guy's a techno, (you can tell by the tie) but he's smart (no grazes), so  
I'm going to have to be wary. 

"What's the problem?" he asks, in a business-like manner. 

"It's the Model Three" I say (what the hell, it worked before) 

"What the f*ck's a model three?" he asks confused. 

He could be just testing me, but I decide to come clean. He doesn't notice so  
I just walk funny for a couple of minutes and then show him the terminal that  
I'd poured the iron filings into. 

"It just went dead!" I say (having previously vacuumed the iron filings up, of  

So anyway, he gets to work opening the cover and making board replacement  
noises. I decide to help and point out a fuse that's blown on the power supply  

"Oh, I haven't got the parts for that - I've only got a replacement board." he  
says in a confused manner. "Which one was the fuse again?" 

I point it out to him. 

"Wow! And what does it do again? You know, I've been working at the same place  
for 6 years, and I've never seen one of those fuse thingys. It's amazing what  
you learn isn't it?!" 

"What are you again?" I ask, already suspecting the answer 

"Chief Engineer" 

Thought so. 

"Say, do you know anything about waffle irons?" 

"A little..." 

The electronic rights of BOFH are owned by DATAMATION magazine. 

All other rights are retained by Simon Travaglia <>. 

prev [=] prev © 1996 Peter Langston []