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back to article BOFH: Can't you just ... NO, I JUST CAN'T

"EVERYONE IS A F**KING EXCEPTION!" the PFY snarls - beating me to the very same exclamation by nanoseconds. "What do you mean everyone is an exception?" the Boss asks. "It's the life of a bloody systems admin, people want you to make exceptions for them!" the PFY shouts. "Passwords, web filters, extra file space. People want us …

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>KZERT<

I love the sound of mis-used leccy in the morning....

If I got a pound for every "Could you just..." I could, just, have retired by now...

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DJV
Devil

Could you just...

Ah, that brings back memories of when I worked in this small crap-selling shop in the 1980s fixing electronics for a living. One of the salesmen was notorious for coming upstairs to our workshop and asking us if we could 'just' solder this or that (usually headphone plugs or sockets for crap walkman substitutes they and other shops sold at the time) for a customer waiting in the shop downstairs. We didn't have a magic >KZERT< but after a while we learned to put the fire extinguishers to good use on said salesman. The people who serviced the fire extinguishers always seemed to be surprised that it was often the ones in our workshop that needed refilling the most...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Could you just...

Using a fire extinguisher on the annoying salesman sounds like a great idea. Extinguishers are always at hand, they're a nice form factor to swing quickly, the blunt end is hard enough to inflict damage to the victim. I bet they make a satisfying thunk noise too.

Wait, refilling the extinguishers? Oh... you meant you utilize them in a much different way... never mind, carry on!

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Anonymous Coward

In the big organisations they only bypass you anyway

Usually the IT manager/director has already agreed to the request before talking to you so just overrules your perfectly valid objections to it.

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Mushroom

Re: In the big organisations they only bypass you anyway

"Usually the IT manager/director has already agreed to the request before talking to you so just overrules your perfectly valid objections to it"

At which point the >KZERT< happens to the PHB who authorised it without asking those who have to look after the systems

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Re: In the big organisations they only bypass you anyway

"Usually the IT manager/director has already agreed to the request before talking to you so just overrules your perfectly valid objections to it."

Which is why you express your concerns about it in an email to said folks, then get an email back saying to do it anyway. CYA. When it does come back to haunt you, and it will, you can pull out the email and show that you objected to it because of exactly what happened but the drooling sack of meat said to do it anyway so it''s really his fault, and can you have his office when he's gone.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: In the big organisations they only bypass you anyway

After one of those mind numbingly dumb overrides went wrong I was (in all seriousness) told by HR that I should have protested more vehemently.

One month later I was earning vehemently more money elsewhere..

There is one base rule in larger organisations: if they are out to blame you, you cannot win other than in court for constructive dismissal. I know of a former colleague who developed a briefing pack for the head of a nation and was personally and via email complimented for its clarity and delivery. A week later, he was told by his line manager that he didn't present according to corporate standard. Given that he was brought in to a national project to make sure that something was actually delivered (as it was a major heaving mess before he got involved and cleaned it up) it was clear there was glory management at the root of this, and he bailed after forcing them rather bluntly to make him redundant (said company pretty much standardised on cooking up performance issues to avoid redundancy payments).

Bottom line, if you work for a setup that's intent on hanging you, even CYA can only help you so much. But you sure as hell can make sure you take down the players with you - they *hate* court appearances..

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Bronze badge

Re: In the big organisations ... CYAWP the only way to survive

You bet, having a paper trail is the only way to survive a potential ass reaming when the shit hits the fan.

Every subordinate should keep ready for use, aa "Incompetent Manager" file of the varied memos and correspondence that he had with an incompetent mangler. One day, it mayl prove invaluable when it really blows up, and being able to document to executive management the failings of said mangler just might result in their (the mangler) being given a new career trajectory.

We all know manglers keep such a file on us, so why not on them???? Turnabout is fairplay, after all!!!

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Mushroom

Have you got a sec?

Or

"While you're here"

"This has been happening for a week" - Bit I need it fixing now as the deadline is almost up, I could have told you 4 days ago when you had time to fix it but it really is urgent now. I know you are dealing with someone else's "just" request but can you "just" do this one as well?"

I can't possibly remember 2 passwords

I know we are there to support our users, we provide a service, without you our jobs do not exist but part of the time we have to do things that may seem unreasonable to you but there is usually a good reason.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Have you got a sec?

Yep, have a projector here that no one bothers to report the 'filter warning' message. The last one died from overheating as they ignored till the thermal overload kicked in several times.

Sent that round as a warning and even spoken to those responsible personally. They still don't bother.

They get no sympathy or fast action when it packs in these days.

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pure class

Man this is familiar. If I have to tell a senior member of staff that she can't have her name as a password and shouldn't use her address or the names of her kids one more time I might buy a cattle prod!

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Boffin

Oops!

Charlie^W Simon forgot to tell a joke!

Of course, as a former IT bod I've had the reverse of this conversation many times. If you think lusers asking for things they can't have because they don't understand how complicated it is is infuriating, try talking to support staff who don't let you have things you genuinely need because they think it's far more complicated than it really is. There's a Japanese proverb: "A strategy not fully developed is the cause of grief". It's never been truer than when dealing with incompletely trained IT drones.

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Devil

Sounds familiar

We used to keep a baseball bat in the office and just start bouncing it on the floor when someone started to annoy us with requests.

Users didn't know it was our second bat. The first one broke

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The first one broke

On what?

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Re: The first one broke

An office chair. Quite impressive as the gas-riser *and* the cushion couldn't save the bat.

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Pint

Amen to that!

Just Amen!

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Happy

Can't remember who originally told me this

and certainly not who coined it but it is good.

"Downtime: That time during which the system is stable and immune from user input."

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Anonymous Coward

This isn't humorous fiction, at least not until the >KZZRT<, it's a conversation we've all had, a well articulated one, but far too familiar.

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Anonymous Coward

Just say no

A lesson best learned early on, never do favours for users*. Word gets out that you're a soft touch and then you're doomed.

The classic example from my shop is assigning/ installing a licenced application such as Visio after a PO has been raised but before the licence arrives.

A couple of weeks pass and I find out that they never actually went ahead with the PO, so after a couple of reminders I pull the app from their profile. Cue howls of outrage and complaints along the lines of 'Why did IT let me have it in the first place?'

* - Yes, that includes the pretty ones. In fact, especially the pretty ones!

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Gold badge

Re: Just say no

Yes, that includes the pretty ones. In fact, especially the pretty ones!

I know of situations where they especially sent the decorative ones to get their way..

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Daft Rules

Of course, if management does impose a truly daft rule or procedure, you can usually get it removed by sticking rigidly to it any time it gets in the way of something they want to do. That's worked since before computers were commonplace.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Daft Rules

Actually , in Belgium that is a tried and formally recognised tactic to nuke any kind of public service. Because they don't strike it doesn't fall under strike rules, and because they follow the rules exactly they cannot be hit with performance reviews, nor can they be replaced by other people. Nevertheless, government services simply come to a standstill - which is the whole point.

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Re: Daft Rules

It's also how I get rid of micromanagers. I do *exactly* what they say until they've micromanaged themselves into a corner -- unless something more lucrative comes up in the meantime.

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Linux

Up until the end

it sounded like one of my regular work days. I was starting to get bored.

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Password security...

I'm in favour of minimum password lengths rather than mandatory {digit, letter, symbol} rules, and strongly recommend that people use XKCD 936 compliant passwords. To people not in the know, it sounds like an internet standard on par with RFC 2822 or IEEE 754. To people who DO know what XKCD is, it's definitely an internet standard.

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Anonymous Coward

Sometimes the rules really ARE stupid

IANAT (tech) but generally I'm supportive of the IT bods. I recently moved office location however. I'm not junior but we don't do PAs anymore like many outfits.

Me: Can I print something please

IT: Yes, as soon as we've merged the network domains

Me: How long will that take?

IT: Only a few weeks away

[months later]

Me: This is nuts. I need to be able to print.

IT: The domains are merged now

Me: Great. So I can print?

IT: Sorry, that bit didn't get done. But you'll get your email a teeny bit quicker.

Me: Can you loan me a local desk printer then?

IT: No. It breaks the security rules. People leave printed papers on them. No one is allowed one so we got rid of then all.

Me: But, but... everyone else here can print! And the network printers are always covered in print outs!

IT: You can have someone else print it on the secure network printers. They're colour and can scan too.

Me: How on earth is that more secure than having a local desk printer??

IT: Those are the rules...

[I solved this my own way - but live in fear that someone will notice the odd, non-corporate issue, printer-shaped object on my desk]

AC obviously.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sometimes the rules really ARE stupid

If you look into it you'll probably find your techs got sidetracked and let a bunch of pushy "can't you just" requesters get their way. This is the reason I hate those pushy types with a passion - the time they steal (or even the time/energery required to get rid of them) cripples the delivery of work that will benefit everyone else.

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FAIL

I can see both sides of the coin

My company tie down the corporate image as much as possible, but have given the field engineers admin rights to install and maintain their own custom apps (to support our telecoms infrastructure).

They did install PGP Endpoint to prevent us writing to unencrypted USB sticks. This stopped us shifting code onto CF cards for our kit. Unfortunately they didn't prevent us un-installing PGP via the control panel, defeating the purpose....

They are considering a rollout of Win-7 on new laptops, and I hope they let us keep our existing XP ones for field use (off the corporate domain), and we'll maintaine them ourselves. Then they can tie down the Win-7 maches all they want.

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Unhappy

Sorry I'm late. I had to deal with a customer who wondered if i could just...

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Pint

Spooky...

It's uncanny... this could have been an everyday conversation where I work. I only wish I could get Oracle to let me order cattle prods...

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Holmes

Out of the box

Of course designing a corporate system that works for the users is out of the question....ore merely elementary

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Coffee/keyboard

colored firewalls?

Thanks Simon, that totally made my day!

Messed up keyboard. Because this got me laughing so hard, and I have a cup of coffee next to me...

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Pint

Recognizable

All too recognizable.

When I make policies, it's for a reason.

It's to prevent you from braking my Minecraft farm...

And when you begin making exceptions, there's no turning back.

Once you start making exceptions, you're doomed...

User: "You're supposed to help me, so I can do my job."

Me: "I am helping you. Just not in the way you want. What you want will eventually break the system, and you'll be unable to do your job at all."

Hmz...

Not that much difference with their current level of productivity...

But hey, if you can't yell at users, what's the fun in going to the office in the first place?

I can lock down and manage the environment from my home too.

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"Just"

... been saying that "just" is the dirtiest four-letter-word for years. So good to see a BOFH piece re-affirming my point of view.

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