back to article BOFH: Putting the commitment into committee

I never cease to be amazed by the seemingly endless possibilities for forming a committee to not do something. It's as though whenever there's a critical mass of deadwood in one room they'll end up creating a committee to legitimise themselves, make some decisions to address the ills of whatever they've talked about, issue …

  1. wyatt

    Reminds me of the conversations I have with my wife sometimes..

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge

      She stands in a cupboard and you go to the pub?

    3. TitterYeNot

      "Reminds me of the conversations I have with my wife sometimes.."

      Wait, you didn't tell her about the TIGASA list did you? And more importantly, that the pattern on the curtains not quite matching the living room wallpaper is most definitely not on the list?

      That way lies darkness, despair & eternal damnation...

      1. FeRDNYC

        First rule of TIGASA list...

        "Wait, you didn't tell her about the TIGASA list did you? And more importantly, that the pattern on the curtains not quite matching the living room wallpaper is most definitely not on the list?"

        Agreed. At the very top of my TIGASA list is "Making sure other people don't know which things that they care about are not on this list." It's part of the overall "peacekeeping/cowardice" theme that makes up the bulk of the first dozen or so items.

    4. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      My sister-in-law once asked me if the kettle and toaster set would match the accent colours in my kitchen/dining room.

      All the words are english, it's just what she'd done with them that I objected to. I didn't bother telling her that the kettle and toaster didn't even match each other, let alone the non-existent cushions. I bloody hate cushions! Buy chairs that are comfortable, so you don't need them.

      Still, most of us have certain things that we obsess about the details of, and others we couldn't give a stuff about. Some people get really upset about Microsoft Comic Sans, or even have preferences for different flavours of arial fonts.

      1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge
        Pint

        Must have Serif fonts. Must! Desktop must have tear-off menus. Must!

        You rang? Do enjoy pub'o'clock for me.

      2. Korev Silver badge

        At one point my work had a 80 page intranet style guideline but no templates. Aligning a three pixel vertical white line with the vertical bit of the N in my company's name is a bit of my life that I won't get back...

        I'm very pleased that I don't do any web development any more.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          I worked for a US multi-national. Our logo useage policy document was 19 pages long. I believe the logo had to be at an exact 23° angle. Heaven knows why.

          I needed a copy of a logo to sling on top of an invoice. Marketing still gave me a stiff talking to, and made me read the document, before I was allowed a copy of the file though.

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

            A Question of style

            Many years ago I got fed up with the lack of desktop organisation tools so I cobbled something together so that all the grouped icons on my desktop were contained within sectioned areas with relevant headings etc. and it was all nice and clear and no matter how many icons I had I could find what I needed.

            Someone from the web team came along and wanted a copy, which I refused at the time (for reasons which will become apparent). I then got into bother for apparently re-programming the desktop and IT stuck their noses in - then they wanted a copy.

            In the end I had to admit that I'd created a picture in mspaint and set it as my background, then just dropped icons into the relevant sections :D For some reason everyone lost interest after that.

            1. Ben Boyle

              Re: A Question of style

              @Sir Runcible - what you want is called "Fences" from Stardock. Lovely little piece of software.

              http://www.stardock.com/products/fences/

              1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

                Re: A Question of style

                "what you want is called "Fences" from Stardock. Lovely little piece of software."

                Looks nice, not sure why it took 20 years to turn up though :) I think I missed an opportunity there.

              2. Marshalltown

                Re: A Question of style

                Ah - Stardock. I first became acquainted with them when - IIRC - Galactic Civilizations was their few products and the only decent game that ran in OS/2. They also came up with a few really nice utilities for OS/2 that took excellent advantage of things OS/2 did that no other OS did at the time. Sadly, they drifted toward Windows while I was settling into Linux.

            2. Chemical Bob
              Pint

              Re: A Question of style

              " had to admit that I'd created a picture in mspaint and set it as my background, then just dropped icons into the relevant sections"

              That solution is quite elegant in its simplicity. Have an upvote and one of these ------->

            3. Captain DaFt

              Re: A Question of style

              "For some reason everyone lost interest after that."

              Simple, easy and functional; anathema for a modern 'Usability Designer'! ☺

            4. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

              @ Sir Runcible Spoon

              Have you tried "Fences"? If you can find an older version, that's free. Install and persuade it not to update, you're home and dry.

            5. Adrian 4 Silver badge

              Re: A Question of style

              Until the day some bit of unrestrained software resized your desktop, autoplacing them all into inconvenient new positions.

            6. barbara.hudson

              Re: A Question of style

              You should have taken a screen capture with the icons in place, inverted it, and offered to "install" it. Then flip the screen upside down (well, it WAS back in the days of CRTs). When they complain, tell them it's not your fault their computer isn't compatible. Then watch them try to click on an icon as the mouse goes in the opposite direction.

              My first victim was the IT tyrant - you know, the guy who knows nothing, got the job because he knows the boss, and tries to dictate how everyone needs the same standard setup. Because that's all he knows.

              15 minutes of saying that I infected his machine with a virus - with a crowd around him by then - when all he had to do was turn the monitor right side up and change the background.

              I thought it was funny. So did everyone else who had experience with how he was a real PITA. What he thought was not on my list of TIGASA. And he couldn't complain because it would have shown just how incompetent he was.

              For bonus points, my next victim I only rotated the image 90 degrees, then turned the monitor on its side.

          2. Number6

            I believe the logo had to be at an exact 23° angle. Heaven knows why.

            Probably to compensate for the axial tilt of the Earth.

          3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "Marketing still gave me a stiff talking to, and made me read the document, before I was allowed a copy of the file though."

            Didn't you ask them to check your stock of paper in the store room? The store room with no door handle on the inside.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That reminds me of a comedy sketch about cushions on beds, you only have to take them off the bed to use it.

        Completely pointless.

    5. MJI Silver badge

      TIGASA

      My TIGASA list if different to my wifes. No problem, she worries about colours, I worry about the quality and usabilty.

      But then at work we all have different TIGASA lists over cars. No 2 owns a kit car I struggle to get in.

      Person 1 : is it economical

      Person 2 : is it different

      Person 3 : is it fast

      Person 4 : is it big engined, automatic, and comfy

      Person 5 : can they fit all their kids and their friends

      Person 6 : is it insurable

      So Person 1 gets a cold sweat at the thought of Person 4 getting < 30mpg. Yet Person 4 cannot understand buying a car with a 1 at the front of capacity and only 4 cylinders.

      I do tend to upset him a bit by quoting poor consumption and buying fuel because the garage is near rather than cheap.

      1. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

        Wives, cars, colours

        "My TIGASA list if different to my wifes. No problem, she worries about colours, I worry about the quality and usabilty."

        I’d just taken delivery of my first proper long distance limo, which I'd bought to be able to do large distances around Europe and not be knackered by the time I got to where I was going.

        I picked up the girlfriend and we set off for the weekend.

        The car behaved immaculately, nice sound system, air con, heated leather seats, enough oomph to deal with the Autobahn etc etc.

        When we got out of the car at our destination, gf pointed at a red Mondeo and said:

        "Look, what a beautiful car!"

      2. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

        Re: TIGASA

        ""Person 4 : is it big engined, automatic, and comfy"

        "Yet Person 4 cannot understand buying a car with a 1 at the front of capacity and only 4 cylinders."

        But surely a 2 in front of the capacity is only "big" if it talks about hundreds of cubic inches? And even then it should be at least a 3... (309 ci = about 5.1 litres).

        Or have I been spoiled by too many years of the 80s spent in the US?

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

          Re: TIGASA

          "Then watch them try to click on an icon as the mouse goes in the opposite direction."

          A mate once asked me to help him sort out a virus on his PC. There was a little information box on the screen, but you couldn't shut it off or even move it. It was also not showing up in the process queue.

          It was my experience with the desktop trick that made me check the background image - someone had managed to snap his desktop and overlay the dialogue, then save it back :)

          Needless to say I never got any credit for sorting that one out, a more accurate description in the first paragraph should have been 'ex-mate' :)

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: TIGASA

            It was my experience with the desktop trick that made me check the background image - someone had managed to snap his desktop and overlay the dialogue, then save it back :)

            Seen that one done..

            I saw one better when the animated desktop stuff was available in Windows (XP?) Someone did the nasty dialogue box, with an animated counter.. Text along the lines of "Virus will wipe computer in X:XX, do not restart your computer. Close window to abort", with the X:XX of course being a decreasing time.

            Poor guy was just about in tears as he just could not get that thing to close! (Did give me a chance to try to teach him a bit more about backups and if he did them regularly then he wouldn't risk losing a few months work!)

            (May not have been "Virus", maybe "format" or something like that)

    6. Mpeler
      Coat

      Wifey dearest

      I take it you A-Door her... :)

      You'll be needing that coat, methinks...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wait a minute

    I'm convinced I had a meeting almost exactly the same as this just the other week. Although I can't get away with locking my manager in a cupboard.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Trollface

      Re: Wait a minute

      I dont think you've tried!

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Wait a minute

      You can easily get away with locking your manager in a cupboard. So long as you don't get caught. Admittedly this may mean the experience needs to be terminal for the manager in question, but you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs.

    3. Myvekk

      Re: Wait a minute

      Just remember; you can, as long as it is an AIRTIGHT cupboard...

      And there are no witnesses, (outside the cupboard).

      1. theblackhand

        Re: Wait a minute

        I think there are a few points that need to be clarified:

        - the cupboard should be FIREPROOF (to protect important things) not AIRTIGHT to prevent any issues with H&S...

        - if the manager locks himself in the airtight cupboard and is unable to locate the light switch or the emergency door release or they both turn out to be faulty, then it would be a terrible accident...

        - the paper trail showing the manager declining the recommended safety tests in said cupboard may also help in any subsequent inquiries by the local constabulary

  3. adam payne Silver badge

    Reminds me of several people I have worked with over the course of my career.

    These people just don't seem to understand that other people don't feel as strongly as they do when it comes to certain things.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "These people just don't seem to understand that other people don't feel as strongly as they do when it comes to certain things."

      Ah, you've met our marketing team then?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "Ah, you've met our marketing team then?"

        It's reciprocal with marketing teams. They don't seem to understand you strongly I feel about being pestered.

  4. IglooDude

    I'm borrowing "TIGASA list" for future use. It'll nicely supplement my labeling things as SEPs (Somebody Else's Problems, for those of you that don't recall upended Italian restaurants from Douglas Adams books).

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Devil

      NMC,NMM... Not my circus, Not my monkey. Feel free to add this one too. And PEIDO - Problem exists in Director's Office ;-}

      Share and share alike and all that!

      1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

        acronyms

        my personal favorite: FEBCAK - Fatal Error Between Chair And Keyboard.

        1. NucWorker

          Re: acronyms

          'Problem exists between eyeballs and fingertips...'

        2. Huey

          Re: acronyms

          PICNIC

          Problem in chair not in computer!

          The office knows it now but do have the ability to laugh when they realise they have messed up.

        3. Farnet

          Re: acronyms

          I usually tell people who have done something really stupid on the PC that they have an "I. D. TEN T" fault / error.

          most people just sagely nod their head and carry on, but there was the General Managers PA last year (who for a better idea of what I was messing with, is a 50+ Belfast Irish Potty mouthed fog horn), kept putting stuff on her desk and having it hold down the control key on her keyboard and rant that the system was rubbish etc....

          I repeated to her that is was the above error code, so she started telling everyone about it...... until she wrote it down...... " I.D.I.O.T" error......

          Still makes me laugh and especially since eventually she found the funny side to it..... and she never rested stuff on her keyboard again.

      2. Luiz Abdala

        Don't translate that last acronym (Problem Exists...) into Portuguese.

        I've warned you.

      3. Myvekk

        Nie Moj Cyrk,

        Nie Moje Malpy!

        http://www.schlockmercenary.com/blog/nmc-nmm-coin-intro/

      4. Lanmeister

        SNMP

        There's also SNMP - Sorry, Not My Problem

      5. Xamol

        Not my circus, Not my monkey

        Like that one but also like, Not my bull, not my bullshit!

    2. Danny 5

      Ditto!

      First thing I thought when I read it, that's going in my vocabulary!

    3. heyrick Silver badge

      I have used NMFP in the past. Not My {choose appropriate word} Problem".

      Also LASH (Lazy Ass Shit Here) for those things that are somebody else's responsibility but they're trying to push it on to me...

  5. Blitheringeejit
    Mushroom

    Exactly

    "...they want a "good" design and "intuitive" navigation - yardsticks which become weapons in the hands of idiots."

    And meaningless bollocks in the hands of sales wonks who commission website designers. Which is exactly why I moved carefully away from "web design", and now concentrate on finding customers who want to have complex data delivered in plain-looking pages from a well-built backend database, with no unnecessary bells, whistles, or JQuery - and especially no JS predictive typing which spends so long searching for predictions that it stops users from actually typing what they want to type.

    Company motto: "We'll make it work, but don't ask us what colour it should be."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Exactly

      "Company motto: "We'll make it work, but don't ask us what colour it should be.""

      I say to my customers "I'll make it work, get someone else to make it look pretty"

      previous experiences include being berated for not being able to match the colour of chrome (the metal), it turned out that no colour would ever match because the customer wanted to be able see their reflection as if it were highly polished metal

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Exactly

        "I'll make it work, get someone else to make it look pretty"

        All the tools ive made for our staff are command prompt tools. its good for them!

        1. Korev Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Exactly

          I was once asked which user interfaces we provided to our users by someone in "User Experience"; I happily showed them Bash and when asked if that was it, I fired up a C shell instead.

          On nice thing about working in HPC is not having to care about websites :)

          1. DropBear Silver badge

            Re: Exactly

            Obligatory viewing regarding web design, customer requirements, and... EXPERTS!

            1. Floydian Slip
              Coat

              Re: Exactly

              Is that

              Ex - as in has beens

              Sperts - as in drip under pressure

        2. Unicornpiss Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Exactly

          "All the tools ive made for our staff are command prompt tools. its good for them!"

          Ah, but what color is the background of the command prompt window that comes up?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Exactly

            Black . is that the correct coolour?

            I'm thinkig of making the text change colour depending on the day . only the acceptable colours though

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Windows

      Committees

      “Ah,” said the marketing girl, “Well, we’re having a little difficulty there.”

      “Difficulty?” exclaimed Ford, “Difficulty? What do you mean, difficulty? It’s the single simplest machine in the entire Universe!”

      The marketing girl soured him with a look.

      “Alright, Mr Wiseguy,” she said, “you’re so clever, you tell us what colour it should have.”

  6. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Happy

    I see Simon follows the Lord Vetinari school of committology: "What the Iron Maiden was to stupid tyrants, the committee was to Lord Vetinari; it was only slightly more expensive, far less messy, considerably more efficient and, best of all, you had to force people to climb inside the Iron Maiden"

    Doffs hat (grey Tilley once more) to the late, great sir Terry Pratchett

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      The word committee should be the designated collective noun for a group of people suffering from chronic and profound cranio-rectal auto insertion syndrome.

      It's also a place to keep them away from genuinely useful.people.

      I assume they understand so little because both sound and visio are muffled.

    2. theModge

      I believe the main expense is biscuits

  7. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Excellent BOFH. Made my day :)

  8. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Websites

    This is a very good argument to use, especially when every single website put up by marketing is left to die with the "NEW WEBSITE" on the front page for several years.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Websites

      "every single website put up by marketing is left to die with the "NEW WEBSITE" on the front page for several years."

      And news items of which the most recent ages a month per month.

    2. Dr. Ellen

      Re: Websites

      They didn't bother the website I put together, because I was the only one able to do it -- and good with sarcasm. Besides, every time we got a new boss, he immediately got busy designing the new stationery. Got quite a stack of quality bond second sheets every time that happened.

  9. Maverick
    Thumb Up

    excellent as always and a new phrase to adapt, what's not to like?

  10. Alistair Silver badge
    Windows

    When I've been asked to join "Committee" of any sort

    I respond with "I don't Camel".

  11. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Pint

    Committees

    That's an eerily good description of how committees get formed. Sounds like Simon is venting off some steam from a real recent event.

    Pint, because it might make him less inclined to ask me to check out the wonderful new storage room!

  12. http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/thumb_up_32.png

    A definition

    Committee (n): A cul-de-sac into which good ideas are lured to be quietly strangled

    1. Dr. Ellen

      Re: A definition

      Steering committee: where you send the bull to be gentled down.

  13. John 110

    It's all true...

    I had control of the handbook wrested from me* because someone objected to the font I'd used.

    Footnote: I say "wrested". In one way I was glad to give it up, it was a bugger of a yearly job because I always made sure I'd checked all the references and hyperlinks in it, and then when it was published to the Intranet, some twonk would say "oh I meant to get you to...".

    But my pride was dented by having it removed from me...

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: It's all true...

      "But my pride was dented by having it removed from me"

      You mean you didn't take revenge by checking every reference and hyperlink and complaining about the errors - one complaint per week.

      1. John 110

        Re: It's all true...

        "You mean you didn't take revenge by checking every reference and hyperlink and complaining about the errors - one complaint per week."

        I considered it, but settled for dropping hints to a nit-picky colleague as to where the errors were. That way I wasn't the petty one...

        1. Cpt Blue Bear

          Re: It's all true...

          "I considered it, but settled for dropping hints to a nit-picky colleague as to where the errors were. That way I wasn't the petty one..."

          Nicely played, sir.

  14. chivo243 Silver badge
    Pint

    The only committee I would be part of

    In the pub, Friday afternoon, skipping importantish work...

    1. JR
      Pint

      Re: The only committee I would be part of

      It's not called skipping if you're spending the time 'contemplating' that importantish work.

      Cheers, it's Friday!

      1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

        Re: The only committee I would be part of

        Very important work. Comiserating with your fellows and scratching off yet another item on the TIGASA list. Most important work.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: The only committee I would be part of

      Our office WiFi reaches the garden of the pub next door. Why am I still sitting here?

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: The only committee I would be part of

        ... or as the electrician said to the manager-droid:

        "Just cos I don't have a screwdriver in my hand, doesn't mean I'm not thinking about the job."

  15. Blofeld's Cat
    Headmaster

    Definition ...

    One of the collective nouns for a group of vultures is a "committee".

    No, really.

    1. Herby Silver badge

      Re: Definition ...

      Yes, collective nouns are interesting. For a bunch of crows it is a "murder" of crows.

      Who knew!

  16. Lance S

    "The Things I give a shit about list."

    Brilliant. And a very concise list it is.

  17. BebopWeBop Silver badge

    Don't get me wrong, I love committees - they're a great way of getting the troublemakers all in one place. A small office with a lockable door and inadequate fresh air supply for instance - or even just up against a heavily pockmarked wall...

    Sheer brilliance and good tactical thinking as well.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Last time I had a conversation like this it ended with a new website, and I'm fully convinced it was mostly because someone with a higher salary than me wanted another feather in their hat. Too bad I don't have a closet with no handle available.

    Anon for obvious reasons.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TIGASA

    I got rid of my work TIGASA list many years ago. All it needed to replace it was a daily alarm on my phone reminding me to leave in time for the train home.

    1. ma1010 Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: TIGASA

      You need a reminder alarm?

      I have a simple logic I follow:

      Start ---> Is it time to go home yet?

      --> YES --> LEAVE!

      --> NO -- SHIT! (Return to Start)

      And thanks to Simon for another excellent episode!

      1. FeRDNYC

        Re: TIGASA

        "You need a reminder alarm?

        "I have a simple logic I follow:"

        Ooh, a busy loop. That's smart, good way to ensure that cycles don't get eaten up by frivolous things which aren't on the TIGASA list!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you don't have a closet, a tape safe works just as well, is a lot more secure and I've been told the knocking stops, eventually.

    1. Cpt Blue Bear

      A site I used to visit regularly had a door to nowhere.

      It was put in by previous tennant some time in the 1970s (by the fittings and paint) to communicate with the building behind. By 2005 that building had been demolished, then the developer ran out of money and the site stood empty. We unlocked it to take a look and it was quite a spectacular drop of 5 floors onto builder's rubble. After than people were regularly told that the solution to their problem was "through the green door".

      All it needed was an auto-close and a lime pit at the bottom to make it perfect.

      1. tony trolle

        Why is it always a green door?

        1. William Towle

          > Why is it always a green door?

          "Green door/What's that secret you're keeping"?

  21. earl grey Silver badge
    Pint

    time for a few

    Have more than one to start the weekend correctly.

  22. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    The real question here

    is whether I can get that icon in cornflower blue.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: The real question here

      We're not meant to talk about it.

    2. FeRDNYC

      Re: The real question here

      I think mauve has the most RAM.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You miss the point

    Committees exist so that the guys in suits don't have to take responsibility for decisions. Which is why most of the ones I've been dragged into seem to be carefully directed into a forgone conclusion ( usually after about 30 wasted hours ) that the boss wanted to see, but not be blamed for. And sitting in most of these there's been a boss surrogate ( or "toady" to use the technical term), who will redirect the conclusion to the chosen outcome even in the face of absolutely undiluted, incontrovertible evidence to the contrary.

    1. B*stardTintedGlasses

      Re: You miss the point

      Pretty much. I think Auntie Beeb had an article about the HIPPO in the room.

      (HIghest Paid Person's Opinion).

      And funnily enough, that is what a committee of pathological a*se-kissers is there to validate, even, as stated, despite the actual work done by those who seem to have some actual clue as to the technical requirements of the project.

      Wonder what reaction you would get to installing a "HIPPO" klaxon outside mission control, and how long it would take the boss to twig it was about them.... something to mull over during Friday pub o'clock!

    2. Dr. Ellen

      Re: You miss the point

      I was in one of those meetings. It was obvious what the boss wanted -- but he wanted US to want it, too. We didn't. After an hour, I said "It's obvious what you want. We don't want it. You're the boss -- just do it. But stop nudging us to agree." Strangely, I kept my job.

  24. JulieM Silver badge

    Committees

    First Law of Committees:

    Any simple task can be declared impossible, if sufficient meetings are held to discuss it.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Committees

      Second law. If you find yourself drafted onto one argue strongly for something which is so blatantly impossible that even the members of a committee can see it's blatantly impossible (admittedly not an easy thing to find) so you never get invited to any more meetings. Or any other committees.

  25. Lord_Beavis
    Pirate

    Yes, I used lynx for this

    All websites should be designed for 80x24 monochrome terminals. The rest of that stuff is just shit you don't need.

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Yes, I used lynx for this

      And will help to alleviate bandwidth constraints and be more secure.

    2. Herby Silver badge

      Re: Yes, I used lynx for this

      Yes, 80x24 terminals. Just remember that there are 80 columns on a punch card. That is the reason for the number of columns.

      There was a treatise about the width of vehicles and the like, culminating with the width of a SRB for the space shuttle.

      1. handleoclast Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: 80 columns

        True but...

        The reason for 80 columns on a punch card goes back to typographical design rules (which derive from experience of human perception). On a line of more than around 72 characters your eyes have difficulty tracking back to the start of the next line. Add in the 6 columns at the start used by Fortran for label and continuation fields and two for luck and you get 80.

        A standard rule-of-thumb used by printers (the people, not the clackety machines) was "Two and a half alphabets." Because tracking problems don't suddenly happen at the 73rd character but tracking becomes progressively harder after around 65 characters and 72 is really pushing it (but OK if most lines are shorter).

        1. dajames Silver badge

          Re: 80 columns

          On a line of more than around 72 characters your eyes have difficulty tracking back to the start of the next line. Add in the 6 columns at the start used by Fortran for label and continuation fields and two for luck and you get 80.

          Don't forget that columns 73-80 were sometimes used for card sequence numbers, so you actually only have 66 columns of actual code after the label and continuation at the start.

          Card sequence numbers? If you'd ever dropped a deck of a couple of thousand cards and watched them tumble chaotically floorwards you wouldn't ask!

          1. John R. Macdonald

            Re: 80 columns

            @dajames

            One didn't always enjoy the luxury of card sequence numbers. A diagonal line drawn across the card deck with a marker pen helped in that case.

      2. Soruk
        Boffin

        Re: Yes, I used lynx for this

        > There was a treatise about the width of vehicles and the like, culminating with the width of a SRB for the space shuttle.

        This could be traced back to the width of the average Roman horse's arse.

  26. Joe Zeff
    Devil

    A new way to keep the number of committees down.

    I belong to a social club that has an interesting way to keep the number of committees at a reasonable level: whoever proposes that a committee be formed automatically becomes the chair. You'd be surprised how good a job this does of keeping things under control.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: A new way to keep the number of committees down.

      Did you have a committee tocome up with that rule?

    2. JulieM Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: A new way to keep the number of committees down.

      That is a brilliant idea.

      It provides the perfect disincentive against forming a committee for all the wrong reasons (e.g., not taking responsibility for an unpopular decision) without penalising anyone creating one for the right reasons.

      Icon, because you deserve one for coming up with it.

  27. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    SWMBO's ladies group have a committee meeting every month. Given that the only thing the group as a whole does is have monthly meetings and given that the entire year's meeting programme has to be drawn up and printed in advance I've no idea what they find to talk about in 11 of the meetings. But they do.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Pint

      Yea, but that's a girl thing. Don't even try to understand.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Pascal, it's a long time since any of them were girls.

  28. Trollslayer Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Got this

    We have a 'workers forum' where bloody stupid ideas come out.

    I could have been part of it except this article is real life.

  29. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge
    Pint

    Another term for that manager

    "Sexual intellectual" ... otherwise known as a fscking know-it-all.

    Outstanding BOFH. Great way to end the week.

  30. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

    Agency Query

    British Omni-Functional Holdings seems to have a high turnover of bosses. Has the agency that supplies replacement bosses not begun to wonder what is happening?

    Or is this a cunning plan by the agency to move the people it does not want off its books?

    1. Cpt Blue Bear

      Re: Agency Query

      Of course they don't wonder. They get a commission each time.

      The first rule of business management seems to be not to question where the money comes from as long as it keeps coming.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can I borrow the BOFH? Or just some carpet and quicklime?

    We are being force-fed "Workplace Social Networking" as the panacea for all ills. So far we have been lumbered with SalesForce, Tibbr and now Yammer. All at once, plus Orifice365.

    The guv'nors think it is fantastic.

    95% of the rest of us are . . . . somewhat less so.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can I borrow the BOFH? Or just some carpet and quicklime?

      At my orkplace we've recently had a Shyte for Business rollout, and they're making horrible noises about Orifice 365.

      Then again, if it's all supposed to be web based, maybe I can finally get that Linux laptop - that is of course assuming that 365 is standards-compliant. Knowing my luck, it'll more likely be standards-complaint.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can I borrow the BOFH? Or just some carpet and quicklime?

      Oh good grief! The contagion is spreading! We have Shite for Business deployed, Yammer, Despairpoint and Orifice 365 in progress. Yammer is a particular cause of irritation as I don't use "Social" applications at home, buggered if I want to support them in the office.

      1. TSM

        No need to panic

        Just do what we do - roll out a bunch of applications, but keep communicating over email like always.

        I think there's only one or two people who have ever contacted me over Lync^H^H^H^HSkype for Business. Our team has a Slack channel which I don't think has been used since the initial test messages. There's a conversations feature in our task tracker, but we don't use it (maybe other teams do).

        Meanwhile, email continues to work just fine.

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