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Bastard Operator from Hell 11-15 (engl.)
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Titel: Bastard Operator from Hell 11-15 (engl.)
Verfasst am: Mo, 20 Dez 2004, 11:04
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BASTARD OPERATOR FROM HELL LIVES! #11


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..

I died.

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 nothing!"

"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

"Yes... Woopsy"

"No worries at all" I say "Is it all working well now?"

"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 MODE ON>...

"You can fix it permanently tho'" I say

"Really? How?"

"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?"

"Uh, no?"

"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!

"Oh. Ok!"

>Fzzzt< >clunk!<

I hang up as the receiver hits the floor. Disk space is too good for them.








BASTARD OPERATOR FROM HELL #12

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
dark...

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 door.

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
time...

I hear another shot and realise he won't be answering any calls today.

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 on hands-free.

"I think I've bought a bad floppy disk"

"Yes?" I wonder if I've suddenly become the consumer's watchdog?

"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 disk"

"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?"

"Huh?"

"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...








BASTARD OPERATOR FROM HELL #13

I'm busy with my new shell replacement login script, and it's almost foolproof.
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 of course.

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?"

"YES!"

"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."

"Duh. Oh"

"So, what you need to do is to demagnetise the head. Have you got a disk head
demagnetising loop?"

"Uh.... No?"

"OK, we'll have to do it the hard way. Have you got your original diskettes
for your software?"

"Yeah."

"Right, chuck them in the drive, one by one, and format them."

"WHAT?!"

"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."

"Oh, yeah!"

"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?"

>ALERT!<

Quick as I can, I press the panic button on our LAN-Analyser, or to be more
precise, the "Generate 90% random traffic" button

"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 other phone

"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. Uh-oh.

"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.."

"Monaro?"

"Ok"

"Sold!"

....And so ends the saga, as it should have at #10.








BOFH #14
----------


The Bastard Operator from Hell Rides Again.

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 *are* airtight.

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 it.

"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 say.

"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 moment."

"Oh. Do you know when he'll be back in the control room?"

"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

>clickety< >clickety<

"Yep. Both your x-defaults and AND your newsrc file are ok"

"But.. But what about my site monitoring data?"

"Sorry?"

"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?

He does.

Like running down a snail with a steamroller...

>clickety clickety<

"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, other-
wise 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'"

"Ok!"

"HANG ON! You have to type it with your nose."

"WH..? WHY?"

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<

"Oh. Ok"

"Now, you've got to type it in 20 times"

"Sure, ok"

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?"

"Yes"

"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 was 5?"

"Yeah, why?"

"Nothing.."








THE BASTARD OPERATOR FROM HELL #15

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 room.

I flip today's excuse card. Magnetic Interferance from Money/Credit Cards.
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 though.."

"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?"

"Yes..."

"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.."

>D.M. ON<

"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 do it!"

"Hey thanks!"

"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 last user backup tape, of course).

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 frame
-grabber 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 Room.

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 is dead"

"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 annoy me.

"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 yet.

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 *real* winning.

"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 itself...

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 up.

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

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