back to article The BOFH is BACK: And it's cloudy with a 90% chance of beatings

"I just need you to go through it for me once," the user whines down the line at me. "You mean once more?" I reply. "Once more?" he snivels. "Yes, as I already went through this with you a few weeks ago. You said you understood, you even wrote something down." "Really - are you sure that was me?" "Positive." "How can …

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  1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Ah.... Friday again :)

    Love the bit about personal emails :)

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Angel

      Yes but

      How long have we had to wait :(

      My Colleagues have noticed how shouty and how snappy I have become

  2. Phil W
    Flame

    Never received it....

    Oh yes the joy of users who absolutely insist they never received an email, and that the email system must be faulty, despite one or all of the following being true:

    1. You have a read receipt

    2. You have an Exchange delivery report

    3. You have proxy access to their mailbox and can see the f***ing email in their inbox

    4. You're standing right next to them pointing at the f***ing email on their screen on their PC (after them not believing you about the first 3, and even with point 4 they insist the message wasn't there before you came into their office).

    1. Piro

      Re: Never received it....

      I too have gone to the lengths of literally checking their mailbox, often seeing the important and pertinent email thrown in deleted items.

      Then there are the people that use deleted items as some kind of store. But that's for another day.

      1. Teal_B
        Meh

        Re: Never received it....

        or my personal favourite:

        "I saw it was from IT so deleted it, I never read them"

        1. Annihilator
          Pint

          Re: Never received it....

          "I saw it was from IT so deleted it, I never read them"

          Depending on quantity I can perhaps understand that. While not always IT, the number of distributed emails of pointless "news" means that most distributed mails are ignored by me. The emails triumphantly informing me that the tireless efforts of the maintenance staff have resulted in a fixed vending machine rapidly turns all such mails into spam.

      2. Jad
        Unhappy

        Re: Never received it....

        " there are the people that use deleted items as some kind of store. But that's for another day."

        What is it with those people, every so often during "maintenance" we go into their machines and turn on the "empty trash on exit" ... or when it gets to be over 500Mb my colleague cat's devnull to it :)

        "Can you get it back it was full of important stuff" ... what like you keep all your important files in your waste bin next to your desk?

        However the "read-receipt" thing doesn't exist at my work, not only do all the clients have it turned off, but the mail server strips the header from the emails.

        1. Phil W

          Re: Never received it....

          "the mail server strips the header from the emails" really? that's wierd.

          Are you sure it's not just because your e-mail is Exchange so you don't get email headers like you do on conventional SMTP. The info that would otherwise be there is dealt with differently and can be found through delivery reports.

          Also getting your management to agree a mail policy that automatically empties deleted items after X number of days is a VERY good idea.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Never received it....

          Sod read receipts; they're creepy.

          1. Phil W

            Re: Never received it....

            I don't really see how? To me it doesn't seem much different than a recorded delivery letter that you've signed for.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Never received it....

              Nothing good will come in an unsolicited recorded delivery letter...

              1. Phil W

                Re: Never received it....

                "Nothing good will come in an unsolicited recorded delivery letter..."

                Bearing in mind that we were talking about read receipts in the context of work email, I'll address that statement about recorded delivery letters in the context of work post.

                Here are the things I can think of in under 15 seconds that might arrive at work unsolicited (where I'm meaning unsolicited as not in response to a letter you've sent).

                1. Job applications

                2. Bills

                3. Communication from government departments or regulatory bodies

                4. A letter from another division of the company

                5. A letter from a prospective new customer

                6. A complaint from an existing customer

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Never received it....

                  Ok, now explain to me which of these you consider good. I can see 1 possible good and 1 neutral.

                  In my experience, the kind of person that tends to send read receipts is the kind of person who continually pesters people to do things that don't really matter yet they take far too seriously.

                  I make a point of refusing them specifically because I know the ambiguity will wind them up.

                  1. Phil W

                    Re: Never received it....

                    The situation of people using them to pester has arisen because they're generally not on by default.

                    If read receipts were on by default and automatically silently responded to by your mail client, it would mean they would simply be treated as a notification that you'd received the message.

                    In a work context that is extremely useful because it prevents lazy arses from saying they haven't done work weeks after it should of been done because they never got the email.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: "notification that you'd received the message"

                      Um, that's what delivery receipts are for. The recipient generally cannot affect these.

                      The point of a read receipt is to inform the sender that you have read it. It is optional and the recipient can choose in each case whether they think it is appropriate to send one.

                      The clue is in the name, really.

                  2. Cubical Drone

                    Re: Never received it....

                    I must admit that I like to play a little game with read receipts. I have Outlook prompt me when one is requested and sometimes I send the receipt and sometimes I don't. I find that it keeps people guessing.

            2. Steve Knox

              Re: Never received it....

              Perhaps AC finds recorded delivery letters creepy as well? They seem to have an aversion to all kinds of things, including arbitrary online handles.

        3. Rick Giles
          Paris Hilton

          @Jad Re: Never received it....

          .PST files are the worst. There's not really a good backup solution when they have them stored locally on the machine. And, Micro$oft doesn't support them on a network share. We found that out the hard way.

          We used to have a utility that would copy the PST about every 15 days to there home folder on the server when they were logging out or shutting down. It would take a while for some of them to complete as they were close to a GB in size. I'll bet you can guess what they would then do because they couldn't wait for the copy to finish.

          -Paris coz I got something she can find out the "hard" way.

          1. ItsNotMe
            Facepalm

            @Rick Giles

            "We used to have a utility that would copy the PST about every 15 days to there home folder on the server when they were logging out or shutting down. It would take a while for some of them to complete as they were close to a GB in size. I'll bet you can guess what they would then do because they couldn't wait for the copy to finish."

            Yep...know EXACTLY what they did. Hit "Cancel", and went home. PST file never backed up.

            I use that "pfbackup" utility at home on my personal network DAILY, to make sure I have copies of the wife's messages...because she is another one who uses the "Deleted Items" folder for storage...but I still love her.

        4. technos
          Holmes

          Re: Never received it....

          [snip]However the "read-receipt" thing doesn't exist at my work, not only do all the clients have it turned off, but the mail server strips the header from the emails.[/snip]

          Send email as HTML, include a 1x1 white pixel on an external server you control. That's what I do, at least.

          1. Fatman Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: Never received it....1x1 white pixel

            Ahhhh!

            You mean the old fashioned web bug!!!!!

          2. Annihilator
            WTF?

            Re: Never received it....

            @technos

            "Send email as HTML, include a 1x1 white pixel on an external server you control. That's what I do, at least."

            Thankfully: "To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of some pictures in this message" and any other client I use offers similar.

            I'd be suspicious of anyone who went to such ominous lengths to determine whether I'd read their email or not. When and if I read an email is my f*&^ing business and any cretins that try to figure it out would be wise to pick an alternative method of communication if their message is so important.

      3. Ragarath
        Facepalm

        Re: Never received it....

        Then there are the people that use deleted items as some kind of store. But that's for another day.

        The first thing I do when someone calls about email problems is delete their deleted items. I used to have people that store things in there, they don't now. It may take a few times to realise what 'deleted' actually means but they get there eventually.

        1. Fatman Silver badge

          Re: ...delete their deleted items

          We automate that one here at WROK PALCE; trash disposal is performed religiously at 12:00AM on Saturday.

          You would not believe the howls of protest the first time that script ran.

          CIOs response: "Tough SHIT!!!!"

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Never received it....

        "Then there are the people that use deleted items as some kind of store. But that's for another day."

        I am aware of one Head of IT who used the Exchange dumpster (deleted deleted items) as a storage area for crucial work-related email.

        This cunningly avoided any problems with mailbox quotas as the dumpster is not part of the mailbox.

        However it also means that if the person concerned does something like authorise an upgrade of the email system which involves moving mailboxes they lose all this mail because it is not part of the sodding mailbox.

        I'll leave Reg readers to judge for themselves how much the subsequent suggestion "Maybe I should not have done that" calmed the situation. Thankfully it was not followed with a "but ...".

        1. phuzz Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Never received it....

          My old boss, who in all other respects was a competent and sensible IT professional also used to use the deleted items folder as his slush pile and only keep important stuff in his inbox. He was not happy when I emptied his deleted items, although I did point out he didn't keep his files in the waste-paper bin.

          Yes Malc, I'm talking about you ;)

      5. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: Never received it....

        "Then there are the people that use deleted items as some kind of store. But that's for another day"

        Yeah they never understand why you emptied the deleted items (Because I see a large number and think UNTIDY MUST DELETE)

      6. Swiss

        Re: Never received it....

        "Then there are the people that use deleted items as some kind of store. But that's for another day."

        What the actual f*ck is that about?

        I have come across this a few times now and promptly deleted their deleted items.

        One guy had a whole elaborate folder structure going on.... not for long though.

        1. 33rpm

          Re: Never received it....

          I have had users like that, using deleted items as a store. I ask them, "Do you keep your lunch in the trash bin too?"

      7. jubtastic1
        Facepalm

        Re: Never received it....

        re: deleted items as a store

        I had a call once from a user that used the system trashcan as his documents folder, he called me in a panic because he'd emptied it due to finally running out of space, no backups, I wonder how some people get through each day without maiming themselves.

        I've also pencilled 'space' on the spacebar for a user that was struggling with the concept. She was thankful at the time but in retrospect, it's probably why she never called again.

    2. MrXavia
      Mushroom

      Re: Never received it....

      If its exchange, then non-receipt is very likely.... more than once I've emailed something for the 3rd time, walked over to the recipient and sat waiting for any of the emails to arrive...

      Exchange makes me want to throw things....

  3. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    If only..

    .. he'd brought up the nerve to ask what the hash key was..

    1. Thomas 4
      IT Angle

      Re: If only..

      Hash (n): A mixture of ingredients created by dicing, chopping or repeatedly slamming someone's head in a laminating printer.

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: If only..

        Stewing the results in beer is recommended

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If only..

      It's the one that delivers a much-needed jazz cigarette on Friday afternoons.

  4. GlenP Silver badge
    Happy

    All too true!

    I'm sure this could be almost any IT department that has users!

  5. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Nice

    very nice indeed

    1. Scott Broukell

      Nice indeed

      I second that. What better way to bring a smile about on such a rain-sodden Friday morning. Sorely missed.

  6. Piro

    A blood boiler

    But all too true! Especially.. well, all of it. But deleting important emails from IT is an all-time classic.

    WARNING: SERVER GOING DOWN TONIGHT

    <server rebooted for maintenance>

    Users: Why is X down?

  7. Maverick
    Pint

    I really am . .

    . . . typing this through tears, whether it is tears of laughter or tears due to bitter memories I leave you to guess

    <---------- I need one of these now

  8. Crisp Silver badge

    Sometimes there's just no substitute for percussive teaching methods.

    I swear by them!

    1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Sometimes there's just no substitute for percussive teaching methods.

      I prefer the term "Wall to wall counselling".

      1. Wesley Wakeman
        Happy

        Re: Sometimes there's just no substitute for percussive teaching methods.

        Don't you mean "Concussive" teaching methods?

      2. Fatman Silver badge

        Re: Sometimes there's just no substitute for percussive teaching methods.

        I prefer the term "Wall to Off the wall1 counselling".

        FTFY

        1 As in slam head Off the wall.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "off the wall"...

          means something else.

  9. Martin 15

    Déjà vu

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Coffee/keyboard

    "Think of me as a meteorological expert as far as IT support beatings go. "

    That was my coffee-keyboard interaction moment :)

    1. Fatman Silver badge

      RE: Think of me as a meteorological expert as far as IT support beatings go.

      I emailed the link to my boss (the CIO) and recommended several (l)users who may benefit from an IT support beating.

      The reply stated that she was taking that under advisement.

  11. davidp231
    Coffee/keyboard

    BOFH and morning coffee.

    THAT, is how one should start a morning!

  12. Andraž 'ruskie' Levstik

    Ahh the joys

    And I get this a lot from people. But I've sent you this email on that and that day.

    Mostly a lot of my mails get looked over for some reason. I guess it's my inivisible personality shinning through.

  13. Don Rickert
    Happy

    YES!

    Friday and a new bofh appears. My universe is back in alignment, thanks for a great read.

  14. Rabs80
    Thumb Up

    Please make this a regular return

    Tickled my pink that did and a much welcome return of BOFH

    Hurrah!

  15. Rick Giles
    Coat

    Ahhhh.... BOFH at last

    "cross to the other side of conference venue drinking area to avoid." had me chuckling.

    "Think of me as a meteorological expert as far as IT support beatings go." had me howling with laughter.

    Now they are ringing up HR... time to hit the pub.

    (Mines the one with the 'leave early on a long holiday weekend' pass in the pocket. TTFN)

  16. SirDigalot

    The user with too many rules..

    "I never got your email"

    "It is in your misc . folder, you have a rule to move it there."

    "no I deleted that rule I do not have any rules like that"

    <clickety> "yes I see a rule that says from IT in your mailbox.. it is at the bottom"

    "Oh that, I did not make that rule"

    "..."

    <clickety> "Ok I have deleted your IT rule so all our mail will go straight to your inbox"

    "does this mean all my email will go there?"

    <click>

    though the enforcing of emptying deleted items after 30 days has really helped the Deleted items is a storage folder thing.

    we recently had to increase the storage for rules in exchange because all our CSR's have a rule for each client (sometimes more when they lose their mail)

  17. Trustme
    Pint

    I have missed the BOFH. We need them to come out faster!

    Pint for always making me laugh!

  18. Tim99 Silver badge
    Unhappy

    An Outlook User

    I had a contact who found that it was easier/quicker to phone me and get me to read out the emails that she had sent me, and that I had replied to, rather than her finding it on their Exchange/Outlook system.

    She was the admin support person of an IT based organization...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: An Outlook User

      I know someone who has a boss who prints all his emails, whether he needs to or not. If he needs to bring up a previous conversation he finds it in the pile, scans it and attaches it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: An Outlook User

        Sounds like a project manager at my previous employer. Shortly after she left I needed some storage space for reference books, so I cleared out the cupboard next to her desk. I discovered that she'd printed out every email that she had ever sent or received over a five year period and neatly filed them in folders.

      2. ItsNotMe
        Pint

        Re: AC @ 15:26 GMT

        "I know someone who has a boss who prints all his emails, whether he needs to or not. If he needs to bring up a previous conversation he finds it in the pile, scans it and attaches it."

        Go you one better. The Dean of my college doesn't EVER turn her computer on...for ANYTHING. She has her assistant go through ALL of her e-mail on HER computer, then print out what she thinks the Dean needs to see/respond to...then her assistant sends out the replies from the hand written responses she gets from the Dean. She's been the Dean here for about 35 years. Never warmed up to computers...obviously.

        I've been the Net Admin here for 10 years, and have NEVER seen that computer on. And I don't dare turn it on for her either. Never been updated, as far as I know. I true time capsule, if there ever was one.

        1. Cliff

          @itsnotme

          That machine might be just what CERN are looking for - a copy of TBL's first ever web page...

          On the plus side, I guess the Dean isn't consuming much IT budget, wasting it on getting every new toy that comes out as being 'essential'. One manager I know of seized the delivery of a sun sparc on the basis that he had to have the most powerful computer in the department for his emails (never mind that it didn't run outlook, it was more powerful therefore his buy rights!).

        2. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

          The ral Don Knuth?

          "She has her assistant go through ALL of her e-mail on HER computer, then print out what she thinks the Dean needs to see/respond to...then her assistant sends out the replies from the hand written responses she gets from the Dean."

          Is she the *real* Don Knuth then?

          http://www-cs-faculty.stanford.edu/~uno/email.html

  19. sisk

    Ah, well done. I have my BOFH fix finally.

  20. ecofeco Silver badge
    Angel

    I think I hurt myself

    Laughing.

    And crying.

  21. Alistair Silver badge
    Pint

    I forgot what a PFY was for -- thanks for the reminder

    Now I have to go get me a new one.

    (and I might just steal that meteorological expert line as a sig!)

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    peeves

    1) people who claim to have returned a laptop power supply but have actually lost it, and have the guts to lie to my face

    2) people who steal keyboards and mice from other desks, then abandon their original filthy equipment elsewhere on the floor

    3) people who request file restores of personal resumes (strangely, no-one has been foolish enough to request restores of their batch-deleted MP3s)

    4) people who want personal educational course material burned to CD

    5) a pretty woman who regularly shows up to the door and requests IT equipment (mice, keyboards, etc) and who knows that she can get away with it

    1. Steven Roper
      Thumb Up

      Re: peeves

      "5) a pretty woman who regularly shows up to the door and requests IT equipment (mice, keyboards, etc) and who knows that she can get away with it"

      That's actually my number one peeve. So I operate on the principle that, since merely looking at a woman the wrong way constitutes "sexual harassment", then so does attempting to use femininity to elicit special favours.

      As a result, a "pretty woman" (i.e. flirty manner, provocatively dressed etc) is less likely to get anything out of me than one who presents and conducts herself in a professional manner.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: peeves

        As a result, a "pretty woman" (i.e. flirty manner, provocatively dressed etc) is less likely to get anything out of me than one who presents and conducts herself in a professional manner.

        In certain areas of work this *is* considered a professional manner (and readily get something out of the customers).

  23. stanimir

    Thank you, Simon!

    The BOFH is back and kicking luser's butt.

  24. bag o' spanners
    FAIL

    Those read receipts are a handy weapon in the world of records management, because their 30 day document retention review window plops open the instant they read the email with the offending spreadsheet attached. And slams shut exactly 30 days later, whereby anything that hasn't been reviewed is presumed to be worthless, and fit only for landfill.

    The panic that ensues when the 28th day reminder goes out is priceless. Gotta be cruel to be kind when dealing with lemmings. Red carpet to the cliff edge.

  25. Marshalltown
    Pint

    Ah yes, how to insure communication

    It was the mid-1990s. The employer decided that being an ISP was the thing to be, in addition to the real business of the company, which involved dirt, shovels, and lots of forensic-looking field action. Boss has employees rewire offices to create network and setup an ISP server room where tie in to the ISP servers and carriers lines will be. Because the boss' sanitiy appears dubious, they insure that the "real" work of the company can proceed as needed by setting up two sides to the LAN - one for ISP stuff, one for "real" stuff. New ISP admin decides that HE is the final word in how what computer and LAN gets used. Quite suddenly the "work" side is short the printer and database server that hold critical job related material and support all the "real

    work. Hmmm. Looks like competing BOFHs may butt heads on this one, but .... heh, heh, heh .... only ONE operator knows the actual, physical wiring of the net work, because he did the physical wiring. There can be only one.

  26. Youngdog

    I always blow my top at...

    ...the old 'I didn't get the email' line.

    Please, I'm an IT sys admin - don't bullshit a bullshitter. Just don't Ok?

  27. S Foster

    Love it ! Best BOFH in ages !

    1. Martin Budden Bronze badge

      *only* BOFH in ages, it feels like.

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