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BOFH: This hardware is dead… It has ceased to be…

End user support, BOFH style

By Simon Travaglia, 15 Jan 2001

Episode 2 BOFH 2001: Episode 2

"I just can't believe it!" some mindless feeb from Marketing gasps disgustedly as he surveys the innards of the disk drive The PFY's showing him. "Dead?"

"As the Bay City Rollers," The PFY nods sagely.

"But... How?"

I can't help myself, I have to help the grief process along a little: "Well, to put it simply, your disk spins down over the holidays, gets cold, and when you come back from your break, it's dead and gone. You know, like pets you forget to feed."

"So what should I have done?"

"Fed them of course. No wonder your pets died."

"I haven't got any pets!" he snaps, irritated.

"No wonder!" The PFY adds.

"No, I meant what should I have done with my machine?"

"Well I always leave my machine on and running - 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

"I see. Well, I suppose I may do that once you've got a new disk for my machine and sorted it all out and things."

"I'm afraid you can't do that."

"Why, is it because I'm not one of you computing types?"

"No, it's because you've ticked the Win ME box on the configuration options for the new drive. You'll be lucky to stay up till morning tea time."

"B-but ME's stable..."

"Isn't that what they said about San Francisco?"

"Well what do you suggest?"

I look around furtively, unable to stop myself. The PFY adds to the effect by taking the phone off the hook, closing the blinds quietly and getting in on the 'furtive looks' act as well.

"You want a real operating system?"

"What do you mean 'real'?"

"I mean so advanced it's spelt ADvanced. So advanced that the word processing package won't even try and correct the two leading capitals in ADvanced like Word does (until you're forced to beat your machine to death with your rubbish bin, that is)."

He's interested now. I know it; he knows it - he just can't help himself.

"What's it called?" he asks shyly, totally drawn in by the look-around-furtively game, and I just know that if I was that way inclined I could almost suggest a camping trip about now. Hook, line and sinker, in other words. It's sad really.

"Woah, just hold on a minute there!" The PFY blusters, taking hold of the wheel in a manner that'd have Jeremy Clarkson reaching for his tissues (tearfully, and not for some other reason which would spoil the upholstery). "We can't just give you this OS. I mean how do we know it's right for you?"

"I... Well I suppose you don't... But what's it got that I'd want?"

"WHAT'S IT GOT!?! ADvanced Graphical Interface, true multitasking - not that imitation stuff you get elsewhere! Games, Manuals - it's got the lot!"

"Well, I spose I'll give it a go..."

"Give it a go?" The PFY laughs mirthlessly. "This isn't an Operating System you have a quick bash at and just throw away! This is a life experience. Once you've tried it you'll never be the same again!"

"It's true," I concur. "And it comes with built-in full-licence application windowing support."

"Full-license application windowing support?"

"Yes, FLAWS for short."

"Like faults," he chuckles.

"Faults?" The PFY asks, pretending to be blind to the obvious and faking stupidity so well he could mark MCSE papers.

"FLAWS - faults," our user explains.

"OH!" The PFY gasps. "I see! I'd never have thought of that! That's really quite good!"

Our user bristles happily under the praise while I make a mental note to ask the PFY to give his nasal passages a good wipe with toilet paper later on...

"Well, you've convinced me. I shall try it! What do I have to do?"

"Well, it'll cost you 20 quid for a start."

"Twenty quid!?! But it's a work machine! Work should be paying for it!"

"Yes, it should," I concur. "Only they don't want to. They don't want the package getting out. So while it's one of the options on your configuration form - you have to actually pay for it."

"Well what does 20 quid get me?"

"Manuals, installation media, the works. Once we've installed it on your machine, of course."

"It's not pirated is it?"

"Pirated?" The PFY sighs. "No, not at all. Look - genuine install media." He holds up a large shrink-wrapped bundle of disks and documents.

"That does seem like good value for money!"

"You betcha..."

"So what do I have to do?"

"Well, change your OS choice on the configuration sheet, tick the box there to say you're aware that it has FLAWS, and we'll do the rest."

"Oh, so the operating system's called..."

"DON'T SAY IT!" the PFY interjects hurriedly, then catches himself. "If you say it, they'll all want it. And we've only got one copy left!"

"Really? One copy? Could I get one for home?"

The PFY and I exchange what would pass for meaningful glances in some other world where we weren't complete bastards, while our client has a brainwave. "Actually, I've just had a thought. You could install it on my manager's machine instead - he's away till next week! That'd be a nice surprise."

At least he's half right..

"Well I suppose we could," The PFY murmers slowly. "But who'd pay for..."

"I'll pay!"

"Ok, well just give him the money and fill out another install form."

Two OS/2 installs and one hour later...

"You've got to take if off my machine!" our user begs. "PLEASE!"


"It's terrible. It crashes all the time. You said it would change my life!"

"It will. Just wait till your manager gets in next week!"


"I'd like to, but I can't. See we only deal in system recovery. Kit has to be broken before we'd do a reinstall."

>CRASH!< >CRASH!< >CRASH!<</b>

"I think my machine's broken!"

"Of course it is. And your boss'?"

>CRASH!< >CRASH!< >CRASH!<</b>

I wait until the PFY gives me the thumbs up on the CCTV recording, then continue.

"Now the only other thing is who you're going to transfer the licences to?"

"Transfer licences?"

"Yes. You have to transfer your licence to someone else so the OS becomes theirs, and then we can give you a new OS for your machine. Otherwise we have to reinstall the same OS on your machine."

"But no one'll want this!!!"

"That's correct. However, for a small rental fee of 20 quid we'll permit you to use our rubber panelbeating hammer which leaves almost no marks on a hard drive when you hit it repeatedly - opening up another potential customer for an operating system 'upgrade'."

"And for 30 quid," The PFY shouts over my shoulder, "we'll tell you who borrowed it last night when your hard drive 'failed'."

You've got to love the support experience... ®

BOFH is copyright © 1995-2001, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.

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