back to article UK BOFHs face psychometric dissection

The techies among you who are operating in or around Bolton had better watch your backs - the local uni is offering postgraduate PhD studentships in the ominously-titled "Cognitive Style Differences Between IT Support Staff and Computer Users as Causes of Stress in the Workplace". Read on... The project will adopt an approach …

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Cattleprod

*SKRRSZZZZZT*

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Silver badge

I can see it now

Interviewer types all the results into the university computer.

Interviewer runs analysis program.

Program reports that BOFHs are the perfect sexual partner for young ladies with large busts.

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Paris Hilton

Bad idea

BOFHs already recognise that psychological intrigue is part of their job and any student trying any basic psychometric techniques on them is going to get fried as soon as the BOFH notices what they're doing.

Of course, if any of them survive long enough, then they will end up with a simple answer - there are no "mutual sources of stress" caused by "cognitive style differences", the stress is caused by the user being too dumb to be allowed near a computer, and the BOFH being told that he still has to fix their problems if he wants to get any folding beer vouchers from his employer.

Paris, because it sounds like one of her ideas.

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Anonymous Coward

Blade Runner

So does that make the PFY Roy, Pris, or Deckard...?

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mini bofh

you can almost hear the cattle prod being charged as they speak...

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Go

yeh, right...

..like we're going to let some snivelling little snotty student into OUR server room (rather close to Boltonia in fact) Why can't they do a course in "Why domain users are such useless muppets" or "Why that stupid bint in HR can't even turn her pc on without help but she can cover it in teddy pairs and pictures of her ugly kids" or "Why does everyone think that we're a f*cking domestic repair drop-in centre that will happily fix radios, dvd players and kettles for no extra money" or "Why do the stupid c*nts ring us up because they can't make their Tesco-online shopping page work" - now those are the questions I want answered!

Actually i really don't, I just wanted a rant :)

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Coat

BOFHs?

BOsFH methinks.

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Coat

PEBKAC

BOFH looks left, sees greetings card with "HUMAN ERROR. AGAIN." Smiles. Chuckles at a user being unable to add 90 to a total to cancel out a £90 discount.

Acknowledges "It's got stuck. Can you help?" problem by wandering off for a coffee.

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Pirate

No Problem

You see the results of this research has to be stored on a computer, as will all of the resulting analysis and documentation.

The computer will be part of the University of Bolton network, which is under the aegis of the University of Bolton Bofh!!

I can confidently predict that certain hard-drives will fail and that the backups will be unrecoverable. Additionally the head of the Computer & Cyberpsychology Research Unit will soon retire citing nervous stress and a long stay in the sump of a certain elevator shaft.

What all these idiots forget is that while there is only one BOFH, there is a VAST NETWORK of Bofh's and we protect our own (wage packet, perks, etc). <Evil Laughter>

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Flame

Oh no there has been a terrible accident!

Hmmm those uni building look awfully flammable. Has the Halon system been checked out recently?

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Paris Hilton

Servicing?

"differences between IT technicians and the computer users that they service"

Anyone here serviced one of their users?

I can think of one or two that I'd li....... nah, I won't go there ;-)

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Bronze badge
Paris Hilton

Be afraid, be very afraid

Reg readers who imagined that touchy-feely nuLabour was on the wane should think again.

When the undead come out in the open like this it's often a sign of a forthcoming pack hunt, and they can be very dangerous when threatened.

@Lester. A word of advice: garlic.

Paris is close to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

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Pirate

BOFH in Bolton

Bring it on, I could do with the light entertainmenmt.

Hell, I'd invite it, come on in, have a seat and lets chat emotively...

It's not going to be any worse than talking some of our .. 'more' delicate' users through simple procedures

We're in St Georges Sq, send them all over, it would be nice to start by picking and chooseing who we'd let ask us emotive questions

Paris cos I likes eye candy whilst being emotive :)

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Black Helicopters

It's a government plot

They're going to try and get all computer people classed as psychopaths so they can lock them up and stop them voting against the government next election, and to stop them from running all these anti government internet forums that spread dissent. Besides anyone in government knows that anyone who uses a computer for too long becomes a paedophile sexual deviant and cyber terrorrist.

Be Warned! Today sysadmins, tomorrow the world!!! Mwahahahahahaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!

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Happy

BOFHs have empathy....

for waffle irons, anything conductive, tape stores and many other useful forms of, um, data protection.

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Anonymous Coward

@Blade Runner

Let met tell you about my mother.....

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Thumb Up

Not such a daft idea

I've kinda got a vested interest in this, since I work for a company that develops psychometric profiles, as well as the software required to process them - indeed, like all the folk who work here I had to undergo a test before I started work here. Although I wasn't suspicious of the test process, I was skeptical but made the effort to answer the various questions honestly and was pleasantly surprised by the results, which I found to be surprisingly accurate (couple of things I didn't agree with, but largely it was bang on the money)

Conflict is inevitable in any workplace, and people with different work preferences are always going to have disagreements - f'rinstance, my results described me as a hardcore introvert/innovative type, which is true - I'm fairly easy going, but there are certain people within the company who I find very difficult to work with because of our differing work preferences and approaches to problem solving (eg. I have big problems with 'controlling' types and the full-on extroverts) and careful use of people's profile data will allow managers to put together teams which perform well with a minimum of fuss. We've tried it, and it can work.

All things considered, it's an interesting field of research, and done properly it could yield some very interesting results, especially as IT types seem to function 'differently' from the rest of the workforce (I've been doing a mini-study of this myself) - if I was having my time again, it's something I'd seriously consider as there seems to be far more money in psychology than there ever was in theoretical physics (my original discipline before the move into IT)

Now, where's my cattle prod :-)

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SOAP

SOAP is an Internet protocol. Or, to quote Ian Dury, "Life is a soul full of hope, a hole full of soap"

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Alert

@John Macintyre

'Charged'?

You have a lot to learn - cattle prods are always kept fully charged!

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Bronze badge
Heart

Continuing on that theme...

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe.

OS2 disks on fire off the shoulder of Tim O'Reilly.

I watched cattleprods glitter in the dark near the Beancounter gate.

All those moments will be lost in time, like tiers in the server architecture."

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Condensed...

"Cognitive Style Differences Between IT Support Staff and Computer Users as Causes of Stress in the Workplace"

==

"Why people without a clue annoy those who do"

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Alert

What scans do the users get then ?

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe.

Attack servers with no firewall off the shoulder of the MD.

I watched switches glitter in the dark near the Wan gateway.

All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain... Time to .. go to the pub

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Oh yes

Fiery the students fell.... burning with the fires of BOFH :)

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Boffin

Not such a daft idea -

Simon

Me thinks you need a vendor expenses paid hoilday!!!

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Anonymous Coward

EBCAK

Most of the problems we get are EBCAK's

Error Between Chair and Keyboard.

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Happy

Not such a daft idea

Simon

Not a fully paid up member of BOFH yet are we!!!

What do you mean you had to undergo the test's. No self respecting BOFH would be within one hundred miles of such a thing unless large amounts of free beer was involved.

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University of where?!?

I'd be more worried if this study were being conducted at a proper university. One that's been around for more than three and a half years, for example.

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Cognitive style differences

Surely the main difference is that the BOFH actually *has* a cognitive style whereas the user thinks "if I'm pressing buttons, the computer should know what I mean".

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@ AC fourth post from top

......neither. It would make you Leon. Shortly before wasting Deckards buddy. Still one of my favourites - Bladerunner

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Stop

There's just no way...

A civilian? In MY server room? Not a chance!

I don't even like the idea of letting my own (off site) boss - the BOFH to my PFY if you will - into the server room, but he has a higher-calibre cattle prod than I do.

There's no way I'm letting in a soap-dodging student with a clipboard who didn't want to get a proper job!

<Insert obligatory rant about users causing 99% of their problems via their own ignorance>

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Thumb Up

Good idea

Most of the admins I've ever dealt with were kind of "difficult". They need to learn to think like the users do and speak the language the users speak, as anyone should do for their customers

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Pirate

Speaking of the BOFH

I missed him last friday and I fear I am experiencing the beginnings of BOFH withdrawl syndrom. I was helpful to a user and my cattleprod has been idle.

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Happy

Re: Not such a daft idea

"Simon

Not a fully paid up member of BOFH yet are we!!!"

Au contraire, mon ami - I could teach the BOFH a thing or three when it comes to dealing with lusers in imaginative and innovative ways, and I'm slowly teaching my boss the ways of the BOFH ;-)

Fortunately, for the lusers at least, most of what I do now is development work and as such I'm kept behind closed doors with a steady supply of caffeinated beverages :-) As for the free beer, all I'll say that most of the afternoon of my first day was spent in the local hostelry, and I don't recall buying any rounds on that occasion (memory a bit fuzzy, mind!)

I should point out that my employers have absolutely no involvement in the studies, at least none that I'm aware of. Personally, I'm glad of that as if I'm going to do a site visit, I'd rather it were somewhere more exotic than Bolton :-) Now if it were, say, the University of Tahiti, then that's be a different matter entirely!

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nbc
Stop

Re. Good idea

"Most of the admins I've ever dealt with were kind of "difficult". They need to learn to think like the users do and speak the language the users speak, as anyone should do for their customers"

Did it ever occur to you that the "difficulty" might be at your end?

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@ Simon Ward

"most of what I do now is development"

DEVELOPER!!!! GERROF MY LAND!!!!!

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Bah! Dealing with sysadmins and operators is easy

Do what myself and my fellow developers do: Whenever possible don't saddle them with extra work and bribe them when you have to. Which for us isn't often.

For users that aren't as self sufficient, remember that lunches and shouting drinks at happy hour work as bribes.

You don't need a uni course for that, a pamphlet of simple rules written in large print will do.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good idea

>Most of the admins I've ever dealt with were kind of "difficult". They need to learn to think like the users do and speak the language the users speak, as anyone should do for their customers

Learn to think like the users do? No thanks, I don't want a lobotomy.

To be fair, 95% of my users are fine, some just need a little patience and education (without cattle prod, before anyone asks), and I know that listening to them, asking questions and paraphrasing are things I can do to help them to be happy, and happy users don't cause me problems. But there is a hard core of users who do cause friction in the department, and their problem is simple - they are too stupid or too useless to be allowed near a computer.

This study is going to reveal one very simple fact - any BOFH worth his salt is the same position as me - mostly happy users with a handful of morons causing the problems.

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Pirate

Only One Person...

...knows it should be BOsFH?

That is sad, very sad. Very, very sad. It makes me very upset.

It's time for some grammar lessons. Pass the cattle prod!

A retired BOFH has to get some fun somehow!!!

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Alert

@ Good idea

"Most of the admins I've ever dealt with were kind of "difficult". They need to learn to think like the users do and speak the language the users speak, as anyone should do for their customers"

What drool and look around with a vacant expression? No thank you I'll stick with the tried & true insulation tester.

I keep a rubber hose as backup for those days when the battery runs down under unusually heavy load.

Next you'll be asking cowboys to start "empathizing" with the cows. Pervert.

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Re: Bah! Dealing with sysadmins and operators is easy

"You don't need a uni course for that, a pamphlet of simple rules written in large print will do."

You forgot to mention the wrapping of the simple rules around a length of Clue-By-Four[tm] for added emphasis.

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Tom
Happy

My mother?

*KZERT*

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good Idea

"Most of the admins I've ever dealt with were kind of "difficult". They need to learn to think like the users do and speak the language the users speak, as anyone should do for their customers"

Based on most of the responses I've got to the above, I could say 'my point exactly' :)

I'm speaking as someone that was in managerial type of positions and had to make everybody get along. I've seen countless of otherwise smart people getting into arguments with admins. They (almost) never got into arguments between themselves, or with anyone else. I've seen what those arguments were about and I could almost always pinpoint the root cause to the admin's "social skills". Funny thing, the admin wasn't always wrong, but they almost never knew how to explain why they were right. Also, many times, they were unaware of the other side of the coin, like productivity and common sense (from a developer's perspective). There's security, and there's something else too.

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Happy

@Blade Runner re PFY

Don't be daft. PFY is JF Sebastian.

Well, according to BOFH he is, anyway...

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RW
Boffin

It's bullshit

To quote: "The project will adopt an approach using psychometric questionnaires and diaries . . . "

How about "We will use questionnaires and diaries . . ." and similar further simplifications in the language?

It's the usual lame, half-baked, redundant crap language that bad academics (and government flacks) use in lieu of saying what they mean in plain English. A sure sign that whoever is behind this is, as the saying goes, an idiot. Also an indication that whoever wrote this thinks in cliches and buzzwords instead using logic.

I think the underlying problem is simply that most academic psychological research is completely useless. I'd much prefer to build giant mazes with electrified floors and run naked psychologists through them, using a system of rewards and punishments in the classical style.

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Stimpyfication

"Most of the admins I've ever dealt with were kind of "difficult". They need to learn to think like the users do and speak the language the users speak, as anyone should do for their customers"

F*ck that.

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psychometric?

"He laid his hand on the battered hard drive and shuddered; first impressions were usually somewhat slow but this was bad, very, very bad."

Now I think I will be off to write the rest of that 'cause it would be a shame to leave such a fine, shiny, (and somewhat innocent) thought hanging.

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Happy

Re: Good Idea

Re: Good Idea

By Anonymous Coward

"I'm speaking as someone that was in managerial type of positions and had to make everybody get along."

I wonder if you could help me with a test I need performing for HSE. It appears that my fireproof (and soundproof) data safe may have a hole it in. Would you be so kind as to step inside, I will close the door and run a torch around the 2 metre re-enforced concrete exterior. I would be very grateful if you could look around can see the light!!!

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Noes!

Any Penniless Student Oaf asking *me* dam'fool questions will feel the force of my wheelbrace across the bridge of his worthless nose.

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@Richard

"Anyone here serviced one of their users?

I can think of one or two that I'd li....... nah, I won't go there ;-)"

Judy? Julie? Julie? Judy? Juuuuuuudie? Julie? Julie. Judy. Judy?

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Boffin

Re: It's bullshit

"Also an indication that whoever wrote this thinks in cliches and buzzwords instead using logic."

Have you ever worked in academia? Have you ever had to write a grant proposal?

If the answer to either of these is 'yes' then you'll know that cliches and buzzwords are what get the funding, not logic.

Been there, done that etc.etc.

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