The BOFH and PFY show there is still a place for love and compassion in the world of network management...

Year 1998 - Episode 2


"Networks.... AND systems," I cry, "I like it!" The PFY shares my enthusiasm, realising the full potential for dodgy deals at our fingertips. "What was it Orwell used to say?" he responds cheerily, "All power corrupts, absolute power..." "... is even more fun," I finish.

Following the coup d'etat at the end of last year, the PFY and I have got it all - the network, the machines, the head of department's password-changing methodology - use the same word year after year, but just increment the numeric suffix by one.

Mind you, it beats addingan 's' to the end of it, as was his original practice.

"New car please," I cry.

The PFY depresses a button, and down in a packed storeroom in the basement, a tape stacker unit whirs into life. However, instead of the DLT cartridges it's used to working with, it's current payload is seven slot cars. A robot arm grabs one and deposits it onto the track set out around the locked room. Checking its position on the CCTV, I turn to the PFY.

"Right, how about a 10 lap job? Loser has to reload the stacker and answer the phones for the rest of the day."

"You're on," says the PFY, lulled into a false sense of security by my previous effort which ended badly at a particularly sharp corner.

Just 15 minutes later the PFY's down in the basement reloading the stacker.

While he's gone. I return the acceleration settings on the PFY's slot car driver to normal - cheating on a game of skill, how can I stoop so low? Years of practise, that's how. It's been hard going but now I can stoop lower than a pygmy limbo dancer.

Upon his return the full weight of his loss descends upon the PFY's shoulders. Our increased role means increased responsibility, and worse still, increased user interaction. A newly arrived phone rings. I smile smugly at the PFY as he answers it.

"Hi, look I've forgotten my password on the human resources system and I need to get into the database this morning."

"OK," the PFY responds with uncharacteristic helpfulness. "Just bring your ID up here and we'll change it for you."

I'm just about to book in for a hearing check-up when I notice the PFY switching the lifts into weekend mode, effectively making them lockdown at the ground floor.

A couple of minutes later a chunky personnel type wheezes through the door after slogging the two flights of stairs to our office.

"I'm here to get my password changed."

"Oh, I'm sorry, the PFY has just gone down to your office to change it for you," I say, as the PFY plays dead under the desk.

"He told me to meet him up here," our visitor gasps.

"No, I'm sure he said he was going down to meet you."

"Oh. Well can you change it then?" the user pants.

"I could, but he's likely to change it and overwrite the change that I make."

"Oh," the user mutters and trundles back downstairs.

A couple of minutes later he's back on the phone.

"It's about my password," he says

"Ah yes," the PFY responds, "You weren't in your office when I came down. How about you wander up and I'll change it immediately for you?"

"But I was just up there and I talked to the other guy."

"Well, you're just going to have to come up here again aren't you?"

The phone slams down and the PFY goes back into the lift maintenance menu.

After the third time the wheezing's so bad I make the PFY come out of hiding and change the password before the poor user has a coronary. I know, I know, Mr Softy, that's me.

Of course, it would have caused the poor guy a lot less discomfort if the PFY hadn't replaced his asthma inhaler propellant with helium, causing him to panic that his vocal passage was prolapsing, and then faint. On the way down he takes my CD-ROM drive with him, which puts me in a foul mood.

I'm forced to get the next call while the PFY drags the unconscious body to the sick bay. Well, puts him in the freight elevator and presses the relevant floor anyway. Never let it be said that we don't care about our users.

"Hi, I've got to get some important sales data off a floppy which says it's in DOS format."

"DOS format?"

"Yes."

"That's easy. Go into DOS."

"Uh-Huh." >clickety click "And use the FORMAT command."

"Oh, of course."

Another barrel shoot successfully completed.