Operator From Hell
Created by Simon Travaglia
It's backup day today so I'm pissed off. Being the BOFH, however,
does have it's advantages. I assign the tape device to null
- it's so much more economical on my time as I don't have
to keep getting up to change tapes every 5 minutes. And it
speeds up backups too, so it can't be all bad.
A user rings
"Do you know why the system is slow?" they ask
"It's probably something to do with..." I look up
today's excuse ".. clock speed"
"Oh" (Not knowing what I'm talking about, they're
satisfied) "Do you know when it will be fixed?"
"Fixed? There's 275 users on your machine, and one
of them is you. Don't be so selfish - logout now and give
someone else a chance!"
"But my research results are due in tommorrow and
all I need is one page of Laser Print..."
"SURE YOU DO. Well; You just keep telling yourself
that buddy!" I hang up.
Sheesh, you'd really think people would learn not to call!
The phone rings. It'll be him again, I know. That annoys
me. I put on a gruff voice
"Oh, I'm sorry, I've got the wrong number"
"YEAH? Well what's your name buddy? Do you know WASTED
phone calls cost money? DO YOU? I've got a good mind to
subtract your wasted time, my wasted time, and the cost
of this call from your weekly wages! IN FACT I WILL! By
the time I've finished with you, YOU'LL OWE US money! WHAT'S
YOUR NAME - AND DON'T LIE, WE'VE GOT CALLER ID!"
I hear the phone drop and the sound of running feet - he's
obviously going to try and get an alibi by being at the
Dean's office. I look up his username and find his department.
I ring the Dean's secretary.
"Hello?" she answers
"Hi, SIMON, B.O.F.H HERE, LISTEN, WHEN THAT GUY COMES
RUNNING INTO YOUR OFFICE IN ABOUT 10 SECONDS, CAN YOU GIVE
HIM A MESSAGE?"
"I think so..." she says
"TELL HIM 'HE CAN RUN, BUT HE CAN'T HIDE'"
"AND DON'T FORGET NOW, I WOULDN'T WANT TO HAVE TO
TELL ANYONE ABOUT THAT FILE IN YOUR ACCOUNT WITH YOUR ANSWERS
TO THE PUURITY TEST IN IT..."
I hear her scrabbling at the terminal...
"DON'T BOTHER - I HAVE A COPY. BE A GOOD GIRL AND
PASS THE MESSAGE ON"
She sobs her assent and I hang up. And the worst thing
is, I was just guessing about the purity test thing. I grab
a quick copy anyway, it might make for some good late-night
Meantime backups have finished in record time, 2.03 seconds.
Modern technology is wonderful, isn't it?
Another user rings.
"I need more space" he says
"Well, why don't you move to Texas?" I ask
"No, on my account, stupid."
"I'm terribly sorry" I say, in a polite manner
equal to that of Jimmy Stewart in a Family Matinee "I
didn't quite catch that. What was it that you said?"
I smell the fear coming down the line at me, but it's too
late, he's a goner and he knows it.
"Um, I said what I wanted was more space on my account,
"Sure, hang on"
I hear him gasp his relief even though he covered the mouthpeice.
"There, you've got plenty of space now"
"How much have I got"
Now this REALLY *PISSES* *ME* *OFF*! Not only do they want
me to give them extra disk, they want to check it, to correct
me if I don't give them enough.
They should be happy with what I give them *and that's it*!!!
Back into Jimmy Stewart mode.
"Well, let's see, you have 4 Meg available"
"Wow! Eight Meg in total, thanks!" he says pleased
with his bargaining power
"No" I interrupt, savouring this like a fine
red, at room temperature "4 Meg in total..."
"Huh?... I'd used 4 Meg already, How could I have
4 Meg Available?"
I say nothing. It'll come to him.
I kill me; I really do!
I'm sitting at the desk, playing x-tank, when some thoughtless
bastard rings me on the phone. I pick it up.
"Hello?" I say.
"Who is this?" they say
"It's me I think" I say, having been through a
telephone skills course
"Is this like a knock knock joke?" I say, trying
anything to save myself having to end this game.
Too LATE! I get killed.
Now I'm pissed!
"What can I do for you?" I ask pleasantly - (one
of the key warning signs)
"Um, I want to know if we have a particular software
"Which package is that?"
"Uh, B-A-S-I-C it's called."
>clickety clickety d-e-l b-a-s-i-c.e-x-e<
"Um no, we don't have that. We used to though.."
"oh. Oh well, the other thing I wanted to know was,
could the contents of my account be copied to tape to I
have a permanent copy of them to save at home in case the
"Well, like they get deleted or something..."
"DELETED! Oh, don't worry about that, we have backups"
(I'm such a *shit*)
"What was your username?"
He gives me his lusername. (What an idiot)
"But you haven't got any files in your account!"
I say, mock surprise leaping from my vocal chords.
"Yes I have, you must be looking in the wrong place!"
So first he spoils my x-tank game, and now he's calling
me a liar...
"Oh no, I made a mistake" I say
Did he mutter "typical" under his breath? Oh
dear, oh dear..
"I MEANT TO SAY: That username doesn't exist"
"Huh? >wimper< It must do, I was only using
it this morning!"
"Ah well, that'll be the problem, there was a virus
in our system this morning, the... uh... De Vinci Virus,
wipes out users who are logged in when it goes off."
"That can't be right, my girlfriend was logged in,
and I'm in her account now!"
"Which one was that?"
He tells me the username. Some people NEVER learn..
"Oh, yeah, her account was just after we discovered
>clickety clikc< "..she only lost all her files"
"But don't worry, we've got them all on tape"
"Oh, thank goodness!!!"
"Paper tape. Have you got a magnifying glass and a
pencil. SEE YOU IN THE MACHINE ROOM!!!! NYAHAHAHAHAHA!"
I'm such a prick!
So I'm working so hard I barely have time to drive into town
and watch a movie before I told people their printing will
be ready. The queue's WAAAAY too long to have everything printed
(and sorted) by the time I told them, so I kill all the small
jobs so there's only 2 left and I can sort them in no time.
Then, after the movie, (which was one of those slack Bertolucci
ones that takes about 3 hours till the main character is
killed off in a visionary experience) I get back and clear
There's about 50 people waiting outside and I've got two
printouts. That's about average for me. I thought I'd killed
more tho. Anyway, I put out the printouts and walk slooowly
inside, fingering the clipboard with "ACCOUNTS TO REMOVE"
in big letters on the back. No-one says anything. As usual.
I'm sitting back in the Operations Armchair, watching
the computer room closed circuit TV, which just happens
to be connected to the frame-grabber's Video player (sent
off for repair, due back sometime in '94) when the phone
rings. That must be the 2nd time today, and it's really
starting to get to me!
"Yes?" I say, pausing the picture.
"I've accidentally deleted my C.V!" the voice
at the other end of the line says.
"You have? What was your username?"
He tells me. What the hell, I AM bored.
"Ah no, you didn't delete it - I did."
"I deleted it. It was full of shit! You didn't ever
get more than a B- in any of your subjects!"
"And that crap about being a foreign exchange student,
that was your girlfriend and we both know it."
"Your academic records. I checked them, you were lying.."
"How did y.." He clicks. "It's you isn't
it? THE BASTARD OPERATOR FROM HELL!"
"In the flesh, on the phone and in your account....
You shouldn't have called you know. You especially shouldn't
have given me your username.." >clickety< >click<
"Neither should you have sent that mail to the System
Manager telling him what you think of him in graphic terms..."
"I didn't send any.."
"No, you didn't did you? But who can tell these days.
Not to worry though, It'll all be over VERY soon.."
>clickedy clikc< "..change my username back,
"b-b-b.." he blubs, like a stood-up date
"Goodbye now" I say pleasantly, "you've
got bags to pack and a life to start over..."
I hang up.
Two seconds later the red phone goes. I pick it up, it's
He mumbles the username of the person I was just talking
to, mentions something about a nasty mail message, and utters
the words "You know what to do...", with the dots
Later, inside the Municipal Energy Authority Computer,
as I'm modifying the poor pleb's Energy Bill by several
zeros, I can't help but think about what lapse of judgement
- what act of heinous stupidity causes them to call.
Then, even later, when I'm adding the poor pleb's photo
image over the top of the FBI's online "MOST Wanted
Armed and Dangerous, SHOOT ON SIGHT" offenders list,
I realise, I'll probably never know; but life goes on.
A couple of hours later, as I see the SWAT vehicle roll
up outside the poor pleb's apartment I realise that for
some, it just doesn't.
But tommorrow is another day.
It's a thursday, and I'm in a good mood. It's payday. I think
I'll take some calls. I put the phone back on the hook. It
"I've been trying to get you for hours!" the
voice at the other end screams
"Not, it can't be hours" I say, putting Blade
Runner back into it's cover and looking at the back, "it
was more like 114 minutes. I was on a long phone call with
the big boss, trying to get you users some better facilities"
Hook; Line; and Sinker...
"Oh. I'm sorry."
"That's ok, I'm a tolerant person" I make a mental
note to change his password to something nasty in the next
couple of days.
"Um, I need to know how to rename a file" he
Oh dear... Hang on, it's payday isn't it?! I'm in a good
"Sure. You just go 'rm' and the filename"
"No worries" (Now I'm in a REALLY good mood.
I think I just might write that script to make saving impossible
on rogue at random times like I've been thinking about)
The phone rings again.
"Hi there" I say
"Is this the Operators?"
"Yes it is" I say, nice as pie
"Could you get my printouts out please. I need them
urgently, and I printed them over 5 minutes ago"
"Your username?" I ask
He gives it to me, and I write it down for later. "No
worries at all!" I say, and head to the printers.
There's a HUUUUUUUGE pile of printouts there, and sure
enough, his is at the top of the pile. I pick it up, split
it out of the rest and pour our ink-stained cleaning alcohol
all over it, run it over a couple of times with the loaded
tape trolley then slam it in the tape safe door some times
"Here's your printout" I say "Sorry about
the delay, we've got a few printer problems."
He takes a look and shits himself.
"Well, can I print it again?" he asks, worried
"Sure you can" I say "But no promises, the
printer's a bit stuffed today"
"Well can I print it on laser - is that working?"
"Yeah of course, but that'll cost you" I say,
oozing compassion for the geek
"It doesn't matter about the cost, THIS IS URGENT!"
I slide-on back into the printer room and put in the toner
cartridge we save for special occasions - the one that prints
thick black lines down the middle of the page and is all
faint on one side. It took me quite a while to make it like
that too. The printout shoots through and I bring it out
immediately - I don't want to miss this!
"W-w-what's happened to my printout?" he geek-squeals
Lucky I wrote that username down - I'm really starting to
develop a taste for torture.
"Well nothing. I mean sure, it's a little soiled,
but that cartridge has already done 47 thousand pages and
been refilled 17 times. It's quite good compared to some
Geek pays up and starts blubbing.
"Hey now. There's no reason to cry! Have you got a
disk with your work on it?"
He gives me a box of diskettes and I step inside and run
them across the bulk eraser. I come back out again.
"Sorry, I just remembered, our machine is on the fritz,
you'll have to take these to the other side of campus to
the machine there, it'll print them ok, and it had a brand-new
"No worries. Oh, and hold the disks above your head
the whole way there, the earth's magnetic field is particularly
"No arguements, just do it."
He wanders off, hand held high. Shit I hate myself sometimes.
I'm bored senseless, so I pass the time by reading users email.
I must admit that today's lot is PARTICULARLY boring, not
one good message in all of them. I was expecting at LEAST
some veiled reference to a grope in a storeroom, but nothing.
So I'm bored senseless by the usual drivel about some relative's
surgery and how the weather is over the other side of the
world - that sort of crap.
To relieve the boredom, I remove a e-mail party invite
from a user's mail and post it under the senders username
to to alt.singles.with.severe.social.dysfunctions on news,
and make a note in my diary to be there with my camcorder.
Should be a blast!
Next in line is the online medical records database, in
which the company doctors store the current medical histories
of the staff. I grep it quickly for "herpes" and
"syphillus" and sell the results to the local
scum newspaper. I cover my tracks by adding an entry to
one of the doctor's online electronic diarys for yesterday
saying "$500, Med Recs To Paper" I think that's
all it should take..
I move some tapes from the racks to the trolley to make
it look like we really use them, then start looking thru
archie listings for a hidden x-gif site. I find one then
start a batch job running under some user's account to get
them all back, charged to him. I make sure he's got enough
disk for the job by removing any files not related to the
task at hand. Like all those Doctorate
Final Report" papers that have got quite large in the
last couple of weeks.
I go back to the mail now, as something's bound to have
happened. I do a grep on all mail files for the words "pregnant"
and "family way", and post them anonymously to
the local general interest newsgroup.
Then, before anything can happen, the power goes out! The
next second, the phone rings.
"Hello?" I say, annoyed - the coyote was just
about to kill roadrunner again!
"Has the comput.."
I hang up. This is a matter of life or death. Quick as
I can I rip the computer power cable out of the UPS and
plug the TV in. Damn! Wylie missed again!
Meantime, all the alarms are going off like crazy as the
disks spin down, but that's ok, because my Mac and Terminal
are hardwired to the UPS in any case; and I'm at the Beer
Factory level in Dark Castle too.
The phone rings, so I pull the PABX breaker on the UPS
switchboard and it stops. Now to look like I'm working.
I break out the puck and the hockey stick and play a little
one-on-wall. From the observation window it'll look like
I'm being blindingly efficient, as per usual.
10 Minutes later, the power is back and we're two HDA's
down, but what the hell, I haven't lost a man, I'm onto
the final screen, and there's more
The phone rings, it's a luser. (What a surprise)
"Computer Room" I say, being efficient
"Hello, when will the compu..."
I hang up.
I'm doing well in the screen, all I need do is get past
the wizard who throws spells at you and I'm in!
The phone rings again. I put it on hands free
"Computer Room" I shout, still deep in the game.
"I've lost my files" a user whines over the loudspeaker
"You bet you have" I say, as my concentration
lapses just long enough for me to get zapped by the wizard.
"What was your username?" I say, all sweetness
He tells me, I look, and he's right. Shit, and I didn't
even do it!
Not to be outdone, I change his login directory to the
null device, set his path to "." and redefine
the command "news" to execute a script in his
old login directory to send a nasty message to the equal
opportunities officer, then delete itself.
Now that's trying!
It's friday, so I get into work early, before lunch even.
The phone rings.
I turn the page on the excuse sheet. "SOLAR FLARES"
stares out at me. I'd better read up on that. Two minutes
later I'm ready to answer the phone.
"Hello?" I say.
"WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN, I'VE BEEN TRYING TO GET YOU
I hate it when they shout at me early in the morning. It
always puts me in a bad mood. You know what I mean.
"Ah, yes. Well, there's been some solar activity this
morning, it always disrupts electronics..." I say,
sweet as a sugar pie.
"Huh? But I could get through to my friends?!"
"Yes, that's entirely possible, solar activity is
very unpredictable in it's effects. Why last week, we had
some files just dissappear from a guys account while he
was working on it!"
"Straight Up! Hey, do you want me to check your account?"
"Yes please, I've got some important stuff in there!"
"Ok, what's your username..."
He tells me. Honestly, it's like shooting a fish in a barrel.
With an Elephant Gun. At point blank range. In the head.
(Do I really need to tell you the clicky clicky bit? I
"How many files are in your account?" I ask
"Um, well there should be about 20 in my thesis writeup,
10 or so with the data for it, and another 20 or so in a
book that I'm writing"
"Hmmm. Well, I think we caught it just in time. You've
still got 2 files left... .cshrc and .login"
He sobs into the receiver a bit - it really turns my stomach.
"What can I do?" he sniffs
"Ok, do you have any of your stuff backed up on floppy?"
"Some, but it's weeks old!"
I fire up the bulk eraser.
"Ok" I say "How about I come out and load
all that data onto your account pronto so you can get some
"That'd be great, but it's all at home" he wimpers.
"I spose I'll just load it all in myself tonight"
"Sure. But remember what I said, solar flares are
bad for disks and machines.
Protect your disks from solar activity to prevent them losing
"How do I do that? Wrap them in tin-foil?"
"NO! TIN FOIL'S THE WORST THING! YOU KNOW WHAT TIN
FOIL DOES IN A MICROWAVE
"Then don't use it. There's only one thing that protects
disks from solar activity.."
"MAGNETS. Wrap your disks up in a pillow case with
lots of magnets - Solar Flares hate that"
"No worries at all..."
Shit I'm good!
So I manage AT LONG LAST, to get a couple of hours off for
lunch, AND, because I can't leave my desk unattended, I
get the janitor in and have him sit in my chair. I tell
him that all he has to do is make sure the receiver doesn't
accidentally get put back on the hook.
He agrees and I'm off.
First stop, the bank. I change a $50 note into quarters
and then ask to see a balance of my account. Then I yank
the power lead out of the teller's vdu.
It dies. I say I'm in a hurry and is the manager around?
He rolls over like a man-sized twinkie and asks what the
problem is. I say that all I want is a balance of my accounts.
I cross my fingers. YES!
He finds the vdu lead out, plugs it in, and logs in, TO
THE MANAGER'S ACCOUNT.
Now's my chance - I slip up against the counter, slopping
200 coins across the counter. The manager ignores it, but
all the tellers dive for the money. I watch, unobserved,
as the manager types in his password at the breakneck speed
of one character a minute. At that rate I should've got
He finishes typing. "MONEY". What a toughy! Well,
that's my mortgage taken care of tonight...
A user that I recognise from "D(eletion) day '89"
approaches. I think he's going to talk to me. Even the bank
manager is shaking his head furiously.
But it's too late, he stops.
"Um, excuse me, Could you tell me what is the best
computer to buy to do my
"You've heard of Commodore 64's?" I ask
"Avoid them like the plague! Not many people know
this, but computers aren't made to handle that much memory
- it's over 64,000 things, more in some cases.
It's a recipe for disaster!"
"Try something safe and proven. A ZX81 with dual cassette
drive if you can get it. The 1K ram model. Write that down.
Don't buy a disk drive - You know how they're always failing,
but music cassettes last forever!"
"No worries. What was your username again?"
He tells me. Just in time for D-Day 92. You'd think they'd
I get back to work and the janitor's asleep at the terminal.
I ask him if he wants to work here too, but he likes the
ability to bust in on people when they're in the toilet...
I put the phone back on the hook, and straight away it
rings. I hate it when it does that, it takes me AGES to
get my walkman phones in.
It's the hottest hosemonster I've ever met, and she's got
a computer problem!
I love it when that happens!
"What's your username?" I ask
She tells me (as if I didn't know)
Quick as I can I read all her e-mail (mostly boring stuff),
then grep everyone else's mail files for her username. Nothing.
"What's the problem?" I ask, all smiles and charm.
"I can't save my documents, it says something about
"Not a problem for long" I say, and delete everyone
else on the same disk as her. "You should be fine now.."
"Thank you so much" she gushes.
I make a mental note to do something to her account again
The phone rings almost before I've got it on the hook.
"My files are all gone!" a voice whines out at
"When did this happen?" I ask.
"Just now..." he says, through the tears
"I see. Well, I wouldn't worry, there's three days
till the end of the semester, if you work day and night
until then, you should get at least a C-"
He sobs a couple more times then hangs up. What a wimp.
THE PHONE RINGS AGAIN!
"The screen on my PC is really dim" The woman
at the other end says "Should I wind the brightness
"NO!" I scream "Don't touch that knob! Have
you any idea of the radiation that comes out of that thing
when the knob gets wound up?!!!!"
"Well I..." she says, all uncertain
"TAKE MY ADVICE!" I say "There's only ONE
way to fix a dim display, and that's by power surging the
The words "power surging" and "drivers"
have got her. People hear words like that and go into dummy
mode and do ANYTHING you say. I could tell her to run naked
across campus with a powercord rammed up her backside and
she'd probably do it... Hmmm...
"Have you got a spare power cord?"
"Oh well, never mind, we'll have to do the power surge
idea... Ok, quick as you can, I want you to flick the power
switch of your PC on and off 30 times"
"Should I take my disks out?"
"NO! Do you want to lose all your data!?!"
"Oh. No! Ok.."
I listen carefully.. ..
...clicky..clikcy...clikky.. .. .. ...clicky. ...cliccy..
. . BOOM!
Amazing, it probably made it to 27 - the power supply usually
shits itself at 15 or so...
"MY COMPUTER BLEW UP!!!" she screams at me down
"Really? Must've been a dodgy power supply! Lucky
we found out now! Is your machine still under warranty?"
"Dear oh dear. Well, Best get it repaired then. Did
you backup your files?"
"Yes, to the system, Yesterday, but all this morning's
work is gone!"
"Oh dear. What was your username, I'll just check
that your backups worked ok?"
She tells me....
I'm at my desk as usual, and a user calls.
"Hello Computer Room, Simon here, How can I help"
"I can't get into my account!" A user mumbles
"What was your username please?" I say
They give me their username. No worries. I look in their
"No worries, it was just a badly made login file.
I've fixed it, you should be able to login."
"No worries. Have a nice day!"
WHAT IS THIS? you're asking yourself. Has the BASTARD OPERATOR
FROM HELL turned over a new leaf? Sold out?! GONE INSANE?!!!
Nope. The BASTARD OPERATOR FROM HELL is being logfiled.
And if that's happen-
ing, I'm being bugged as well. So I'm being nice till I
can find the bugs. It shouldn't be long - bear with me.
Ah. One in the phone handpeice. Basic. But then the boss
is a sneaky sort, so there's probably a couple more. Ah!
And another in the base of the phone and one inside my keyboard.
Time for a mad coffee-spilling frenzy. This is a big job,
so I bring the whole jug over and wait for a witness. The
System Manager comes in.
"Where's that report of mine?" he asks in a surly
manner - he's obviously pissed that I haven't implicated
myself yet. Antagonist Identified. As the Principal of "BASTARD
OPERATOR SCHOOL" (me) will tell you, "There's
no problem so large it can't be solved by killing the user
off, deleting their files, closing their account and reporting
their REAL earnings to the IRS"
I pull his printout from under the coffee jug where I put
it, and the coffee splashes all over the phone and keyboard,
which for some reason were stacked
on top of each other.
"Woopsy!" I say, mock horror on my face. The
System Manager's face tells me I was right in my guess.
"Don't think you'll get away with this!" he snarls
and stomps off.
I click on the ethernet monitor and watch the traffic coming
out of his PC.
Ah! A memo, authorising the termination of my contract,
going to the laser in the director's office. I make a few
alterations to the file in the spool directory and let it
go to it's destination. I run my dinky little program that
deposits -522 to the PC and our mainframe shits itself.
Later, while booting, I'll remove that nasty logfile business.
Next, I wander into the comms room and plug my earphone
into the spare RS232 port in the Directors office. It's
amazing how simple it is to bug an office once it's got
data lines going to it!
Director: "Are you sure about this?"
SysMgr: "OF COURSE!"
Director: "You don't want to reconsider?"
Director: "Very well, I'll fax it to staffing now.."
Two seconds later the System Manager strolls in smiling.
"Well, I'll really miss you Simon.." he says,
full of himself.
"Oh?" I say, all sweetness and charm "Where
are you going?"
"No Simon" he says, with glee "You're going"
"A PROMOTION!" I say "You've finally written
that letter to the head of staffing telling him he's a bum-sucking
arse bandit and that you quit?"
"Are you sure? It's much better than the one about
me being fired.."
"Y.." His eyes widen slightly
It's like clubbing a seal to death with a foam cushion.
He runs to stop the fax. Only, having just resigned, >clicky
cklikcy< his card key no longer
The Phone rings. It's the same guy as before
"I can get into my account now, but I've run out of
"Hang on, I'll see what I can do"
rm -r *
I'm driving to work and I'm stuck behind this old guy, the
classic slow driver from hell, whose car red-lines at 20 mph
and can't take corners at more than 5. I honk my horn but
his hearing aid's probably turned way down to "whisper",
so I'm stuck.
I make a mental note of his license plate. In fact, I did
that 60 times a minute for 15 and a half minutes. Oh dear..
oh dear.... Looks like another call to the DMV Database
to register a vehicle as stolen by out of town arms dealers...
I get to work, flick the excuse page over. "ELECTROMAGNETIC
RADIATION FROM SATTELLITE DEBRIS". Fair enough, it
looks like it's going to be a good day.
I log into "FUCKYOU", (the help-desk enquiries
username) and go into mail. There's 3 new messages, the
first of which is 117 lines long, so it's obviously a storyteller.
Shit, I hate that. Instead of saying "My account needs
more disk space" they tell you about how they're doing
this bit of research for a lecturer and how it's got to
be in yesterday, and they almost had it but their second
cousing twice removed had a perforated herpes scab and lost
a lot of blood and had to be rushed into hospital... etc
etc. I delete the message.
Second message I read, but it's one of those people who
can't handle the mail interface and send a null message,
so all you get is headers. I reply to the message saying
"No worries, we can do that by next tuesday".
Hope it was important.
The last message I leave for tommorrow, because Saturday
would be a dull day if I ever had to work then.
The phone rings. I thought I'd fixed that!
I put it on hands free so I can slop some pizza into the
"Yes" I call
"Something's wrong with my Boot disk, I can't login
to the server"
"Have you got your disk with you?"
I go get the disk and put it and the pizza in for 5 minutes
Six minutes later, he rings back.
"It still doesn't work, and now my disk makes a funny
noise and smells."
"OH SHIT! It's that electromagnetic radiation from
satellite debris again!"
"Really? I think I heard about that!" (What a
"Yep, I'm sorry, you'll have to buy another disk"
"Oh, that's ok, I don't mind, the old one was getting
"Sure, no worries. And be sure to run it through our
virus checker FDISK when you get a lot of important data
"I will! Thanks!"
"That's Ok - it's my job!"
Xcbzone is running really slow so I kill off a whole lot
of database backends that seem to be hogging all the cpu
and get back into my game. Much better.
It isn't easy on the frontline, work work work...
I go to the cafeteria for a quick 2 hour snack - they're
so nice to me there. They always have been, ever since that
computer glitch that registered their kitchen as an organ
recipient - very messy. I grab a couple of cans of coke
and some cheese things and cruise on back to the office
via the first year computer funamentals lab. I look in the
window on the scene that unfolds itself to me - a lab full
of first years with no demonstrator.
WELL I'LL JUST HAVE TO HELP!
I walk on in.
"Right, I'm your temporary replacement demonstrator
and today we're going to put our assignments aside for half
an hour to learn about the REMARK function, or, as it's
known to the computer literate world, rm.."
I should have been a teacher you know - I've got this way
I get invited to a lecture as a guest speaker in "Computing
Operations Fundamentals", so I leave the control room
in the capable hands of Sam, the janitor and cruise on down.
The lecture starts and goes ok, then there's a 10 minute
period where students get to ask a "real operator"
questions that they have about operations.
I get out my pad and pen.
"Before we get started" I say, "could you
just call out your username before you ask me a question,
I find it easier to apply your problem to terms you would
The lecturer eats all this up - the personal touch really
gets to them.
"First Question, You over there.."
"What do you think of the privacy of individuals on
a shared system?"
"What was your username please?"
"Computer Privacy... Hmmm. This is a toughy really.
You mean stuff like reading the email between you and your
counsellor about you not wanting to come out of the closet?"
"AH. Well, he seems to have left - must have picked
a bad COMPLETELY RANDOM example. Next question. You, over
"CMS1136. I was.."
"Ah yes, 1136 the only person on campus who subscribes
"It's purely for research purposes!"
"I'm sure it is. You do a lot of story posting for
a researcher don't you?"
Two minutes later, the lecture theatre's empty.
That's the problem with students today, they just don't
want to learn.
I go back to control and Sam's asleep at the console again.
I think he's after my job. I make a mental note to tap into
the salary database and cancel his health and accident insurance
payments. You can't be too careful..
I put the phone on the hook for the first time this afternoon
and it starts ringing almost immediately. THAT'S IT! I redirect
it to 911 catch a bit of shuteye. That'll teach them. OOPS!
Almost forgot to turn over the excuse calendar. "STATIC
FROM NYLON UNDERWEAR" Nope, too plausable - although
in some cases I could do an on-site check. Nah, can't be
stuffed. I'll pick another one. "STATIC FROM PLASTIC
SLIDE RULES" Now THAT'S one with a challenge!
I un-redirect the phone and drag the rubbish bin so it
rests on the printer's stacker - another job well done.
The phone rings - this could be the big one!
"Hi, Um, how do I spell-check my file?"
"Simple, just type `spell' and the filename"
I'm so bloody nice this morning. Especially as I know that
my version of spell introduces errors instead of detecting
them. Things like changing friend to freind and vice-versa.
What the hell.
The phone rings - it's them again.
"There's something wrong with spell"
"What makes you think that?"
"Because my file is all corrupt now!"
"That doesn't sound like spell to me. Are you logged
into thru PC?"
"Yes, but I can.."
"Please, leave the technical diagnosis to me... Now,
is there a plastic ruler somewhere on or in the desk?"
"Um >clunka<, yes..."
"Right. You've got a static buildup on your hard-drive
caused by the changing electrostatic field generated by
the ruler - the same one that makes bits of paper stick
to it when you rub it up and down your arm..."
DUMMY MODE ON
"Oh. What do I do?"
"You know how you get paper off a ruler by hitting
it on a table lots of times? Well do that with your PC.
Say 20 times - lift it about a foot off the desk & drop
"Um, the screen went dark"
"That's ok, it's supposed to do that - keep going.
And when you're finished, do the screen as well, that static
may have gone up the wires to it."
I hang up. I get up and go out to the public area to put
honey in the floppy drives when a guy who looked like Lee
Harvey Oswald runs up to me and shoots me, only the sound
comes from the machine room, and I can hear the ex System-Managers
Later, in the ambulance, I realise. I forgot to get the
Then everything goes dark
The darkness cleared as we got out of the tunnel and it occurred
to me that I couldn't be all that injured. Then again, maybe
I was. Someone was going to p..
Of course, a true BOFH considers this not really as dying,
but more of going home for the holidays.
Five seconds later, I'm getting the upside of 15Kv across
the nipples. (These ambulance guys sure know how to party).
BASTARD OPERATOR FROM HELL LIVES!
Three weeks later I'm back on my backside and feeling rested
at relaxed behind the console again. The rest has done me
good, I feel *great!*. I catch up on everyone's email then
let the students know I'm back by performing an impromptu
preventative maintenance in the middle of lab time by kicking
the restart switch (They love it really).
I flip today's excuse card, "GLOBAL WARMING"
YES YES YES! What a welcome home!
It's the end of the month so all those automatic email
reminder programs will be sending messages all over the
place. I set the system clock back 7 days to buy some peace
and quiet and swap the printer ribbon for the three year
old one with holes in it.
I sort through my snail mail and crack open the BOFH Monthly
Newsletter, "kill -9" and check out the articles
therein. There's a nice peice of making OS2 slow, boring
and painful, but it looks exactly like the OS2 installation
instructions to me... Ah, who knows. I head straight to
the BOFH Wizard section to see if any of my articles were
published. All of them!!! Even the one about the c compiler
that randomly removes one line from the source
code it's compiling!
The phone rings.
"The Screen on my PC is blank!!!"
"It's the power cord" I say
"No, I checked that. When I switch it on, it does
"It's the power cord" I say
"No, I checked and it's all plugged in properly. There's
no lights on the
keyboard or anything"
"It's the power cord" I say
"Oh. I just noticed, the cord's not plugged in properly!"
"The power cord?" I ask
"No worries at all" I say "Is it all working
"Yes, I think so. I'm sorry, you WERE right all along"
"Yes, we're getting a lot of this, it's due to the
current Global Warming problem. It causes random thermal
expansion and contraction resulting in temperature induced
movement of friction based holding mechanisms.."
I listen carefully. Nothing. In other words, <DUMMY
"You can fix it permanently tho'" I say
"Well it's all to do with lowering salt deposits on
the metal contacts"
"Oh!" (Dummy mode irrevocably engaged)
"All you need to do is just take the power plug out
deposit some dilute mineral salts on it. Do you have some
dilute mineral salts on you?"
"Ok, no worries, just stick it in your mouth drool
into it. But make sure you wipe the plug first to get rid
of any germs, and TURN THE SWITCH OFF ON THE MONITOR before
you do - we don't want a nasty accident!
I hang up as the receiver hits the floor. Disk space is
too good for them.
I get to work and I'm a bit tired so I plug a thick hunk of
copper across the three phase supply and throw the switch.
The room is plunged into darkness as the circuit breakers
trip and for once the machine room is silent.
I like it.
I pop the phone off the hook and close the curtains on
the observation window. Now it's *really* dark in there.
I wouldn't be surprised if someone had an accident in here..
I lift a couple of floor tiles up in the darkness and call
our maintenance contractors saying the mini popped the breaker
again, then replace the fuses in it with a couple of nails
and short the power supply to ground. You can't just hope
for this sort of thing, you've got to MAKE it happen.
15 minutes later the engineer arives and falls down the
hole. I pop the floor tiles back on just as the System Manager
(a new and very thorough individual) comes in, telling me
to watch out, someone could really hurt themselves in the
I nod & tell him that we can't really afford all the
downtime, and should I just throw the breaker and hope that
there was no major fault. After thinking about the negative
publicity we're getting already, he makes the last decision
of his short career and tells me to go ahead.
Later, when the smoke clears I examine the smoking remains
of the mini. Not a pretty sight...
"Strange that the breaker jammed shut, isn't it?"
I say to our manager as he packs up the personal things
in his office. "One in a million chance. A pity that
someone saw what you did and posted the whole story to comp.misc.
You'll be lucky to get a job managing a car computer after
all that publicity..."
I go back to the machine room and throw the rest of the
breakers to liven everything up, then login and start deleting
users' email. I spot an interesting off-the-record sexual
proposition from our male consultant to a member of the
men's swim team which will make a good motd, so I copy it
there, modify root's owner name to be "Winker"
and password to be "ljkadlkajflkj" (then call
the big boss to report a suspected intrusion). Should be
at least a couple of hours of login time before we can sort
that out. In the meantime, people are just going to have
to read that message... I realise the message has been read
when I hear the gunshot from behind the consultant's closed
I edit the online helpdesk information and change the
phone number to the System Manager's - he'll probably appreciate
the extra calls at such a sad
I hear another shot and realise he won't be answering any
I put the phone back on the hook and flip today's excuse
card. "Poor power conditioning". Too plausible.
"STATIC BUILDUP". Still a bit too plausible for
my liking, but I don't want to run out of cards before the
end of the year, so I decide to run with it.
The phone rings almost as soon as I've got "Top Gun"
in the video machine so I pause the video and put the phone
"I think I've bought a bad floppy disk"
"Yes?" I wonder if I've suddenly become the consumer's
"Well, I've got this disk and it won't format. All
the others in the box did so I thought I must have a bad
"Why are you calling me about this?" I ask
"Well, the disk says guaranteed; where do I go to
get a replacement?"
Ah! Of course.
"Well, let's see. Are you sure it's the disk, and
not just some problem with static buildup?"
"Static Buildup, you know, static electricity that's
passed from you to the computer"
"But I'm wearing a wrist strap!"
Around about now I realise I'm deep in dweeb country. Wrist
straps aren't fashion accessories in my part of town...
"Of course you are, but your average wrist strap has
a 1 meg resistor in series with it, a *really* poor earth.
What you need is a direct earth connection. Hang onto the
frame of something that's earthed properly."
"What, you mean like our stainless steel bench?"
"Excellent. Now, have you got a paper clip to discharge
the static with?"
"Hang on. Yeah"
"Ok, with your other hand, poke the clip thru the
ventilation holes at the back of the unit, and just touch
the contact at the end of the thick red wire."
"The one going to the power supply?"
"Yep, that's it"
"....Hey, isn't that the li... >kzzzzt!< >clunk<"
Another call solved by the helpdesk from hell...
I'm busy with my new shell replacement login script, and it's
Let's just say it pops up with:
"Yes means No and No means Yes. Delete all files [Y]?
upon login. I'm really starting to worry about the number
of account breakins we've been having recently.... The manager
isn't though. His main concern appears to be the number
of computer-related fatalities on campus.
Funny world, isn't it?
I flip the excuse card. "DOPPLER EFFECT" Sounds
implausible enough that it's plausable - with a little work
The phone, the bane of my existance, rings.
"Hello, Computer Room" I say, being helpful
"Is this the Technicians?" The caller asks.
Amazing the number of deaf people that use these things.
What the hell, I'm bored..
"Yes it is" I lie (Nixon could've done with me)
"I've got a problem with my floppy drive, it doesn't
seem to be reading all the time"
"Hmmm. How old is the drive?"
"About a year.."
"And it sometimes fails and sometimes works, but it's
starting to fail more and more?"
"Yeah, it's the Doppler effect of magnetism.."
"I thought that only happened with light and sound?"
>Bullshit mode ON<
"Yes, well it's been found that on a spinning surface,
like a disk, the particle's magnetic alignment changes,
especially when the head is stationary and slightly magnetised
in respect to it."
"So, what you need to do is to demagnetise the head.
Have you got a disk head demagnetising loop?"
"OK, we'll have to do it the hard way. Have you got
your original diskettes for your software?"
"Right, chuck them in the drive, one by one, and format
"Don't worry, it won't work - remember the drive is
failing. All that happens is that the virgin magnetic field
of the disks realigns the magnetic field of the head, because
they weren't written by a doppler effected drive."
"So, when it gives you a write error and asks if you
want to continue, you say yes. Do it with all your original
diskettes, then, to complete the demagnetising process,
run a head cleaning diskette through the drive as well,
which will pick up the stray magenetic particles clinging
to the head."
"Oh. Ok. Thanks"
"Don't thank me - IT'S MY JOB"
I put the phone down, it rings again. It's the big boss.
"Simon, could you come to my office please?"
Quick as I can, I press the panic button on our LAN-Analyser,
or to be more precise, the "Generate 90% random traffic"
"Sure, would you like me to come now, or..
The other phone rings. I chuck it on hands free
"Hello, Computer Room, Simon Here, How can I help?"
"THE NETWORK IS DOWN, ALL OUR PCS HAVE SHIT THEMSELVES!"
the voice on hands-free screams into the mouthpeice of the
"I see" I say calmly "Yes, our Monitor shows
it up, it looks to be a bad segment of thinwire - please
hold the line while I unplug it"
I press the "I just got a raise" button (AKA
"Stop Traffic Generation") on the Lan Analyser,
and almost immediately the user shouts back "Excellent,
it's working now, thanks"
"That's ok, don't mention it. Have a nice day"
The big-boss has been listening to all this, so I reckon
that the trip to his office won't be so bad after all. I
tell him I'll be right down as soon as I secure the net
and hang up. On the way down, I invent a new buzzword which
always keep management happy. Complete Transient Lockout.
Sounds much better than pulling the plug.
Like Master-Reset sounds better than off-switch.
I get to his office and the staffing officer is there too.
"Simon - How would you like to be our System Manager?"
"Well... I don't know, I like that hands on.."
"Extra 10 grand a year, Varisty Car.."
....And so ends the saga, as it should have at #10.
Don't ask how I got back, I just did. Suffice to say that
work frowns upon management material that uses electrodes
to gain client information.
Especially when you do it to the boss's in-laws.
That's his entertainment.
So I'm back in the saddle. Unfortunately, that means there's
a surplus of operators in the computer room. One slam of
the tape safe door later, the problem is solved. The knocking
dies down in a couple of hours, so I guess the safes really
To welcome myself back, I send a message out saying there's
a shutdown in 10 minutes. 5 minutes later I shut the system
down. I love doing that. I see the hard-disk activity lights
flicker as the "disk recovery" phase of startup
run through, globally deleting journal files. Funny how
we always start up with lots of free disk..
I just get Wolfenstein started and the phone rings. What
the hell, I almost missed it while I was away, so I answer
"Computer Room" I say
"THAT WASN'T TEN MINUTES!!!!" the voice at the
other end screams
"What wasn't 10 minutes?" I ask in a pleasant
manner. I can see that things have deteriorated in my absence.
Spare the rod and spoil the rm -r, that's what I always
"THAT! You said it was going to be te... >pause<...
Um, who is this?"
"This is the Operator; who did you expect it to be?"
"Darren? Is that Darren?"
"Uh, No. Darren.. Darren is... unavailable... at the
"Oh. Do you know when he'll be back in the control
"Probably around the time of our next backup - the
year 2007 or sometime thereabouts I should imagine"
He's toying with asking me if he can recover their files
or not. I let him dangle for a few moments.
"Was that all?", I say, nice as pie
"Well.... NO, it doesn't matter"
"Of course it doesn't. Would you like me to check
if your files are ok?" I prompt
"Would you? I'm a bit new to this system and I'm not
too sure what to do"
"Sure. What was your username?"
Everything inside him is screaming at him not to say it
- People beside him are screaming at him not to say it.
He says it.
You just can't tell some people.
"Ok. Well, it looks ok to me, all your files are in
perfect condition!" I say
"THEY ARE!! GREAT!!"
The relief in his voice is overwhelming
"Yep. Both your x-defaults and AND your newsrc file
"But.. But what about my site monitoring data?"
"There were about 10 files in my research subdirectory,
data I'd collected over the past year."
"Oh. Well, I can't see anything. Perhaps you backed
them up somewhere?"
"I put a copy in my girlfriend's account.."
"What was her username?"
"Uh.... >pause< ... "
Is he going to do it? Is he?
Like running down a snail with a steamroller...
"Nope, nothing there either. OH! Hang on, there looks
like some form of journal file in your account, it's quite
large... I think maybe you should login there and try to
recover with it..."
I cat about 100 man files together and slop them in his
girlfriends account under then name "rsrch.j"
"How do I do that?"
"Ok; can you login yet?"
"Yeah, I think so..... Ok, I'm logged in"
"Ok, You need to run the file thru the mailer to clear
the eigth bit, otherwise the journal recovery will probably
choke with an instruction error"
>DUMMY MODE ON<
"Oh... How do I do that?"
"Well, you have to type in `mail root < rsrch.j'"
"HANG ON! You have to type it with your nose."
I flip the excuse card till something appropriate pops
up. "HARDWARE STRESS FRACTURES"
"Well, it's got to do with hardware stress fractures.
You probably type too hard with your fingers which upsets
the internals of the keyboard. It's got to do with dry joints
and electromagnetic inductance"
>DUMMY MODE IRREVOCABLY ON<
"Now, you've got to type it in 20 times"
He hangs up.
I ring campus security
"Hey, we've got another crazy in the lab. Apparently
he's typing with his nose. He might be armed..."
3 minutes later I hear the shots. I close his account,
he won't be needing
it any more..
The phone rings. It's my mum.
"Hi Ma, what can I do for you"
"Simon, I've got a problem at work, the floppy disk
with all my personal stuff on it is failing I think"
"Oh. Ok. Well, have you got any nail polish remover
and some cotton wool buds?"
"Ok, take your disk out, and clean that brown stuff
off the inside of the disk. That's what gets the heads dirty.
You should just have a nice clean plastic disk when you've
cleaned it completely"
"Oh, Ok Simon, Thanks"
"You're welcome. Oh; remember that time you wouldn't
let me go over to Graeme's place to watch videos when I
It's a warm afternoon in the computer room. I dunno, maybe
I should turn the chillers back on, but what the hell, I've
got a cold and I need to keep warm if I go into the machine
I flip today's excuse card. Magnetic Interferance from
Hmmm, vague enough to be plausible.
The phone rings
"Hello, Computer Room" I say
"Hi!" the caller says "I want to fit some
RAM to my machine to upgrade the memory. I just bought some
4 meg chips off a guy in town and wanted to know if you
guys would fit it."
"Well," I say "normally we would, but today
the technicians are busy trying to gas axe open our tape
safe to see why it smells - You could probably fit it yourself
"Really? I thought that was dangerous?" she says
"Nah nah, it's safe as houses, just remember to get
the chips out of those stupid plastic bags before they stuff
them up altogether"
"Really?! How do they do that?"
"Well, you've heard of static RAM right?"
"Well, Why pack static RAM in an antistatic bag? Sounds
really suspect if you ask me!!! Yours might even be stuffed
already, so you'd better remove them.."
"Oh >crinkle crinkle< Ok. Now what do I do?"
"Ok, you'll need to get rid of the charge those bags
have probably given your RAM, after all, you don't want
to blow up your computer, do you? Get rid of any woolens
that you're wearing and switch to nylon. Run round some
cheap carpet, then comb your hair a couple of dozen times
and then plug the chips into the comb to keep them steady.
Turn your machine on, then plug the memory in and out about
10 times to get the slots warmed up. Then slop them back
in, flick the power switch half a dozen times and that should
"Don't mention a thing, all part of the service"
I leave for lunch - after all I have been here for 10
minutes solid - and walk past the student labs. I hear a
mass of beeping and look round to see a user's screen full
of garbage. They've either typed an image file or fingered
my account and got the core file I renamed as .plan. By
the time he gets his terminal sorted out, his allocation
of connect time will be all used up. A tragic shame.
I get back from lunch early a couple of hours later and
slip into the Usenet news directory tree, slide on down
to alt.binaries.pictures.erotica, then start deleting parts
3 or 4 of the really long gifs. (After taking a copies
myself and overwriting them to the lat user backup tape,
Then I get ready to watch the videos I got out from the
video shop by taking the printers offline and disconnecting
the phone, and I notice that the framegrabber video player
is gone from the office. Someone has obviously moved it
while I was away...
I make some discrete enquiries under the threat of rm
-r, and find out that the secretary now has posession of
it. So I mosey on down and ask to take it away. Only I can't
because I've got to sign *THE BOOK*, saying when it will
be back, how many minutes of tape I'm going to put thru
it, if I'm going to be watching PAL or NTSC etc. Then it's
all fed into her *personal* computer (which I'm not allowed
to touch because it doesn't belong to us) so she can produce
full colour plots about who's not working in the department.
I mention that it's not coming back - as I was the person
that put the hammer through the frame grabber in the first
place, I should be the one to hold the video. She then tells
me that that's not acceptable, and I will have to find some
other video to use, she needs access to get to the video 24
hours a day, in case someone needs it. And because she takes
her PC home at night, I needn't think that I can fake any
borrowing records. All this I see for what it really is -
a thinly disguised attempt to gain access to the seat of power
(The Operators Room) by the Bastard Secretary from Hell.
I decide to let it slide for once, after all she does
get the snail mail into the correct distribution slots about
20% of the time, so that can't be so bad.
Next morning, I get in about 2pm and find that I have
three departmental memos about the status of other stuff
that is in the Computer Room that has been "incorrectly
inventorised" as "Awaiting Repair" (The shithead
technician has been leaking privileged information in an
effort to score the secretary again - A tragic shame, I
used to quite like him..) with a note from the Big Boss
authorizing the secretary to investigate. Attached to all
that is a note from the secretary herself stating that to
action this she requires a 24 hour access key to the Computer
ONCE AGAIN I realise that letting things slide never pays
off. I look up the secretary's RS232, Ethernet, Appletalk
and Phone port numbers and yank them from the comms rack.
What the hell, I kick the circuit breakers to her power
points and lighting too while I'm at it. Then I strip off
some mains cable & plug it in..
The phone rings a couple of minutes later.
"WHAT'S HAPPENED TO MY ROOM?!" the secretary
screeches at me.
"Your room?" I say, in a pleasant and innocent
manner, using caller ID to track down the room she's in.
Ah! Just down the corridor
"Yes, MY ROOM! The power's gone off and everything
"Oh dear. What were you doing when the power went
off? Perhaps you did something stupid?"
"I did NOT! I was working on *my* PC!"
The way she says "*my*" is really getting to
"You were working on *your* PC?" I say, reflectively.
"Yes!" She snarls
"Not your *own* *very personal* computer?"
"Yes.." She doesn't know what I'm getting at
And now I exercise the basic law of Bastard Operating which
roughly says, Bastard Operators don't just win. Anyone can
win. Bastard Operators win and totally DEMORALISE. That's
"I hope you switched your machine off before you called"
"Why?" she barks, a little uncertain.
"Well, it's just that personal property isn't covered
by the site insurance policy. Why, if there was a power
surge, heaven knows WHAT could happen to an expensive peice
of delicate *personal* machinery like..."
I hear her place the receiver down *very* quietly and sprint
on tippy toe to the door. As I repeatedly toggle her circuit
breaker I start thinking about what I'll be watching on
video this afternoon... Still on the phone, I hear a bang
way in the background which probably means her pc has shit
10 minutes later the phone in the control room. It's the
secretary, and she sounds a little stressed. I manage to
translater her sporadic outbursts into a request that her
lines be connected to her terminal. I tell her they are,
and has she got the technician to look at it. She hangs
No sense of humour.
10 minutes later still, the technician rings up and tells
me all the secretaries lines are dead. I tell him I'll check
them out, then plug her ethernet, phone and Appletalk back
in. Which leaves RS232...
Another 10 minutes later I'm startled out of my snooze
by the phone. It's the technician still greasing the secretary
by being super-efficient. He tells me the RS232 still isn't
working. I make some excuse about dry joints on the plug
etc, and ask him to put a new plug on the cable. I hear
the >snip!< as he clips the old plug off, and the
receiver rattle as he starts to strip the wire in a manly
way with his teeth. Then I connect the mains cable to my
end of the RS232.
As soon I hear the ">ERRRRRREEEERRKKK!<"
coming down the receiver at me, I know that the "incorrect
inventory" problem won't be repeated.
Another problem solved by the Bastard Operator from Hell
It's a dirty, filthy, stinking dog-kill-dog job, but someone's
got to enjoy it
This is the final chapter (at least for a while). I'm off
to find a job in
Britian somewhere in a couple of weeks, so I'll let BOFH
enough, someone sent me a copy of BOFH #1 with someone else's
name as author the other day - they thought I might be interested
Live long and prosper! - Simon firstname.lastname@example.org
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