back to article BOFH: But I did log in to the portal, Dave

BOFH logo telephone with devil's horns At some point in every successful IT vendor's lifecycle, their infrastructure gets so vast and monolithic that navigating their support network is pretty much impossible for everyone but the vendor's people themselves – and sometimes not even them. "So you see," I tell the Boss, "I log …

  1. chivo243 Silver badge
    Trollface

    I've been there

    It's called HPE! And even the support drones can't help you. Calling Joseph Heller?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I've been there

      We're in the process of decommissioning a lot of HPE gear. The abomination that is their "support" center was one of the minor reasons for switching server/storage vendors.

      Unfortunately, we're also still tied to IBM for the near future. And I can only assume that HPE took lessons from them.

      1. Zippy's Sausage Factory
        Devil

        Re: I've been there

        We're in the process of decommissioning a lot of HPE gear.

        I really hope "decommissioning" is a euphemism in this case. Preferably for something that involves explosives.

    2. G2

      Re: I've been there

      OH GOD, we just bought in december 2017 a crap load of HPE OfficeConnect switches and some ProLiant servers... but even if we have multiple volume licenses for Server 2016 bought directly from MS and we provided them with the license info, HPE REFUSED to even send us a single damned install disk with drivers for the servers and the stupid "HPE Intelligent Provisioning" wizard built in the bios was malfunctioning with the standard MS installers (we download the ISO for Server 2016 directly from Microsoft VLSC).

      HPE's "Intelligent Provisioning" was causing this dreadful message to appear when trying to install Server 2016:

      "Windows Setup could not install one or more boot-critical drivers. To install Windows, make sure that the drivers are valid, and restart the installation."

      NO SHIT SHERLOCK... the drivers were built into the damn BIOS and installed by the installer wizard provided by HPE, how much more "valid" do you want to get?

      1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

        Re: I've been there

        Intel servers FTW - we've got a couple with good track records.

        At first we were wary, but times were tough, so we took the leap.

        The downside is that most Intel kit is not built to last forever, whilst HPE (and others) are built to last, but the upside of this is that you are able to afford a new Intel server every two (or three) years, whereas with HPE (and others' kit) you have to grin and bear it until the BOFH slush fund Bossly Unit's CC is full enough to go out and purchase some pretty HPE kit - and have a major hissy fit with driver installation.

        So far I never had any issue installing Windoze Server on Intel kit. HPE is another matter though...

      2. david 12 Bronze badge

        Re: I've been there

        >HPE REFUSED to even send us a single damned install disk<

        Because they didn't want to get sent to 3 years jail for providing install disks of MS software?

    3. phuzz Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: I've been there

      Plus, how is that HP and Dell, (who between them probably sell a good proportion of all the web servers in the world), both still have websites which are intolerably slow? Do they not have some spare hardware knocking about?

      Don't even get me started on the palava that is trying to burn a copy of the HP firmware update iso onto USB.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: I've been there

        Apparently Amazon reckon that if their pages have a 100ms extra lag time, then they lose 1% of global sales... So Dell and HP and countless others presumably must be saving 100% of global support costs with their 10s + load times.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Holmes

          The difference

          Apparently Amazon reckon that if their pages have a 100ms extra lag time, then they lose 1% of global sales

          Amazon sells stuff that people WANT, and if they can't get it from Amazon they go elsewhere.

          HP and DELL support have something that people NEED, and can't easily get somewhere else (and even though incompetence is widely available anyway, people often prefer the vendor's incompetence over a third party)

          1. Marshalltown

            Re: The difference

            "...even though incompetence is widely available anyway, people often prefer the vendor's incompetence over a third party..."

            They even prefer paid incompetence over free incompetence. And may even be disturbed is the free incompetence is slightly less so than what has been paid for.

      2. Franco Silver badge

        Re: I've been there

        Never had an issue getting it on to USB, the issue I have is that you can enter proxy sever addresses but can't enter credentials, so it's completely useless behind an authenticated proxy.

        And the sheer genius of HPE making you have a support contract before you can download it from their website, but leaving it free to download on their FTP site...

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: I've been there

          And the sheer genius of HPE making you have a support contract before you can download it from their website, but leaving it free to download on their FTP site...

          That can't be anything but FTP access left open from when they uploaded the drivers, and no-one knowing how to close it.

      3. chivo243 Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: I've been there

        @phuzz

        "Do they not have some spare hardware knocking about?"

        You would think they might have a few, but nobody can register them, or get downloads to service them...

      4. Montreal Sean

        Re: I've been there

        The HPE website is one reason why I'm not too upset my company won't give me the time to recertify on HP servers.

        If I'm not certified I can't touch the warranty stuff and thus have no reason to ever use the site again.

        And it also means I can focus on my actual job which is printer repair.

    4. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: I've been there

      Would that be the HPE that just got taken over by Micro Focus a few months ago?

      You never know what changes that might portend. For myself, I don't expect ever to find out, and I'm happy that way.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: I've been there

        Would that be the HPE that just got taken over by Micro Focus a few months ago?

        The parts of HPE that dealt with software. Or at least most of it; the SaaS segment is being shuttered, and VMS is kicked out but most of that will likely find a home in VSI.

      2. dmacleo

        Re: I've been there

        yeah I think so, was merger in late 2017 iic with micro focus and hp enterprise

    5. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

      Re: I've been there

      Calling Joseph Heller?

      Through a sickeningly appropriate coincidence, at the moment I pulled up this comments page, your post had 22 upvotes. There must be a ... catch ... somewhere.

      1. pxd

        Re: I've been there - stymied!

        Now I cannot bring myself to upvote this excellent post, because who ever heard of Catch 23? pxd

      2. Unicornpiss Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: I've been there

        "Through a sickeningly appropriate coincidence, at the moment I pulled up this comments page, your post had 22 upvotes. There must be a ... catch ... somewhere.

        I just upvoted your post, and my upvote was also the 22nd one. Synchronicity is alive and well in the universe's cold, cold heart.

    6. Richard 31
      Paris Hilton

      Re: I've been there

      When you can only give one upvote to a post.

      I would love it if HP would just delete the entirety of their site and replaced it with the usual brochureware site for the products and a link to a drivers page, where, get this you can enter the serial number and it actually has the drivers for the device you entered. Surely not too hard.

      Instead we have this piece of tortuously slow site that runs like a monkey with a leaky sack of jizz which makes me want to kill everyone who was involved in writing it. No jury would every convict either.

    7. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: I've been there

      No, HPE have the sheets of paper individually bubble-wrapped, placed in very large boxes, then attached to a pallet with cling film.

  2. }{amis}{ Silver badge
    Flame

    GAH!

    I'm sure I got PTSD from dealing with the Oracle support site!

    1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: GAH!

      I managed to find Oracles hidden registered, paying but not paying customer portals just to get hold of java7 installs for jdk's. However there's a reason I've got more grey hairs though...they really really don't want you to have the installs.

      Also for the record there's recycling centres in north Leeds but no landfill.... unless you count Bradford and that's to the south west....

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: GAH!

        Also for the record there's recycling centres in north Leeds but no landfill....

        Oh yes there is. It's comparatively small as landfills go, just a few cubic meters. Roughly the volume of a rolled-up carpet holding what might have been a human body plus two bags of quicklime ...

    2. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: GAH!

      Quote:

      I'm sure I got PTSD from dealing with the Oracle support site!

      And this article brought back all those PTSD memories I've been suppressing all these years........

    3. Martin Summers Silver badge

      Re: GAH!

      "I'm sure I got PTSD from dealing with the Oracle support site!"

      Oh that I can deal with, it's their support line for the products I deal with that give me sleepless nights!

    4. David Given
      Mushroom

      Re: GAH!

      Oracle support vs. Concur.

      Discuss.

  3. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    Apparently, I can't invoice the company for the quicklime I use in these situations.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Did you register to use SmartLime(tm)?

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        I'll check with my Lime Manager.

        (Sorry/not sorry).

        1. Korev Silver badge
          Coat

          You can download the files using Limewire

    2. Cpt Blue Bear

      "Apparently, I can't invoice the company for the quicklime I use in these situations."

      You shouldn't be invoicing them. Quicklime is a consumable therefore comes under operating expenses. You should be submitting it as an expense to be reimbursed.

      Or so The Girlfriend tells me...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I swear

    BOFH sits next to me, listening to my Rants.

    However, recently found that some carriers "Expires in 48 hours link" is perfectly useful 3 months later. Saved me hours of username / password hell.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: I swear

      Indeed... his desk is right next to one where Scott Adams sits.

      The scary part of the BOFH is every story has real truth in it. So it's obviously not fiction.

  5. Simon 4

    Dell website. Yesterday. Very similar.

  6. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Could we just list the sites that don't put us into Catch 22 Hell? It would be much quicker and save a lot of bandwidth. BTW at least BOFH and Boss can get to speak to a person. The circular web link thing is mostly there to stop users getting through to human.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      Coat

      Here's your list:

      Done and here's your coat with a spray bottle of untraceable nerve agent and a copy of "Workplace Accidents and How to Engineer Them" for the next time the sales droid pops by.

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Joke

        >Done and here's your coat with a spray bottle of untraceable nerve agent

        That made me Novichuckle

      2. Trygve Henriksen

        Where can you buy a softcover version of 'workplace acidents and how to Enginerr them'?

        I need to have a well-read copy laying prominently on my desk...

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Pirate

          How to

          Turn the BOFH stories into a suitable PDF, add a topical cover picture with the title artfully added via your graphical editor of choice, and send it off to a Print-on-demand shop.

          When you get it back, add a few bloodstains, a bit of discoloration and damage caused by quicklime, and a few brownish patches like some lumps of soil had fallen on it at some point.

          1. Alister Silver badge

            Re: How to

            Turn the BOFH stories into a suitable PDF, add a topical cover picture with the title artfully added via your graphical editor of choice, and send it off to a Print-on-demand shop.

            Really!! After reading all the BOFH stories over the years, you really want to risk doing Simon out of his rights as author?

            1. Stoneshop Silver badge
              Devil

              Re: How to

              Really!! After reading all the BOFH stories over the years, you really want to risk doing Simon out of his rights as author?

              As long as you're not printing and selling them, just printing one for yourself, use as described, I think you're fine. Else you should be offering him a suitable cut of the profit in a form of his choosing, no? And if it's to keep your cow-orkers and manglement in a state of sullen obedience I expect him to approve anyway.

        2. Cpt Blue Bear

          "Where can you buy a softcover version of 'workplace acidents and how to Enginerr them'?

          I need to have a well-read copy laying prominently on my desk..."

          It used to be available from O'Really Publishing, known affectionately as The Guillotine Book.

      3. Zwuramunga

        But the documentation is in Russian.

    2. IglooDude

      ...for varying definitions of "person". I love my fellow man, but some of the people that answer the phones really put the "desk" in "helpdesk".

    3. Montreal Sean

      I really hate the support sites that pop up the instant messaging box asking if you need assistance.

      I don't need a monkey reading a script, I just need the drivers for my server thank you very much.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        I don't mind that instant messaging box if there is actually someone there to answer. But too often it then says that there's no one available to answer,or they're only open at silly times in the day.

  7. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    BOFH matures well with age. This is another one of his best ones. :)

  8. Augie

    Wheres my carpet roll

    Its times like this the BOFH annuals become your bible. If anyone's about to try HPE support, they might be having a slight delay..

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Wheres my carpet roll

      When my colleague says they are popping out for a roll up... I should start checking the papers for unsolved disappearances, no?

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Wheres my carpet roll

      If anyone's about to try HPE support,

      I did, and found them sorely incompetent years ago already.

      And it's gotten worse since.

  9. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Trollface

    Returns policy

    Had this the other day on a bit of kit.

    Nice piece of paper with the returns policy on it, telling me I had the right to return the device within 21 days if I was unsatisfied, as long as it's sealed and in its original packaging.

    Yes, said piece of paper was inside the previously sealed box...

    1. b0llchit
      Trollface

      Re: Returns policy

      Please note, Quicklime is never returned. There is no need to return a perfectly usable tool. You need continuously scheduled delivery, or you may run out, which is not good.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: Returns policy

        Mine's on an Amazon Dash button.

  10. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    It's funny because it it true.

    Also, I'm a bit surprised that the boss gets to lend a hand in the carpet roll and quicklime routine (instead of being the body in the carpet roll).

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Also, I'm a bit surprised that the boss gets to lend a hand in the carpet roll and quicklime routine (instead of being the body in the carpet roll)."

      It sounds as if the boss who had the accident on the balcony last time wasn't after all the new boss of the previous few episodes.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Knowing intimately how it works can sometimes increase the amount of... erm... respect that is given to a particular process.

        1. Alien8n Silver badge

          You'll notice in this episode Simon has setup the boss nicely should there be any repercussions. All traces of carpet fibre and quicklime will now be found in the boss's car and somewhere there will be CCTV footage of the BOFH and the PFY clearly enjoying a pint or few in their local.

          1. Grikath Silver badge
            Pint

            I have no doubt the Boss is aware of that option... But the BOFH has encountered...pragmatic... Bosses in the past. They tend to move on unmolested eventually, quite likely armed with a couple of Ideas of how to deal with ...Things... themselves..

            Nothing strokes the ego like an apt student...

            Meanwhile .... that remark about pints triggered my LPOE reflex, hence icon

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Looped footage of them enjoying a pint or two on the CCTV with an appropriated timestamp on the CCTV to match any amount of hour(s) they so choose.

            (I bet they use high speed motor drives on the CCTV recording machine so it can timestamp on the fly.)

            FTFY.

      2. Zippy's Sausage Factory
        Paris Hilton

        "Also, I'm a bit surprised that the boss gets to lend a hand in the carpet roll and quicklime routine (instead of being the body in the carpet roll)."

        It sounds as if the boss who had the accident on the balcony last time wasn't after all the new boss of the previous few episodes.

        I thought the boss who had the accident on the balcony was the new boss's boss, or alternatively, the boss of HR - which would have made him indirectly a boss of the BOFH and the boss but not directly of the BOFH and the boss.

        I think...

        Paris because I just confused myself...

  11. Matthew 3

    We all recognise HP there...

    HP's site is and always has been tortuous.

    1. Paul Mitchell

      Re: We all recognise HP there...

      The only way to find what you need on the HP website, is to use Google. Even HP staff do that....

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: We all recognise HP there...

        The only way to find what you need on the HP website, is to use Google.

        That's been the case since Altavista, and back then HP was comparatively competent and respected.

        1. SW10
          Joke

          Re: We all recognise HP there...

          Intriguingly, the BOFH seems to have switched search engines:

          I enter that >tappity< and then >Bing<

        2. MJI Silver badge

          Re: We all recognise HP there...

          altavista - first porn site I stumbled across

          alta-vista was a search engine

          1. Josh 14

            Re: We all recognise HP there...

            Back when Whitehouse.com was an interesting porn site to find, when on a official use computer looking for whitehouse.gov?

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: We all recognise HP there...

            ...and astalavista the first software crack repository. Winzip, Winrar, all those, had registry number generators. Good old days...

          3. bpfh Bronze badge
            Holmes

            Re: We all recognise HP there...

            www.altavista.digital.com was the search engine.

            /getOffMyLawn

    2. tfewster Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: We all recognise HP there...

      > HP's site is and always has been tortuous

      I found it to be very good at one time, I think it was the 90's. Had everything you needed, where you expected it to be, and a working search function & forums. A model for anyone to aspire to.

      Then they merged with Compaq.* Or merged it with Compaqs site. Or won an award for the website and let it go to their heads. Something like that.

      * My timeline may be hazy. Many real ales through the kidneys since then. Or was that the cause of my drinking?

  12. Admiral Grace Hopper

    Things have changed,.

    Our HP support licences used to arrive in box bigger than the one that they sent the server in. It made sense as the support contract probably cost more than the server.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: Things have changed,.

      What you get nowadays is the virtual equivalent in trying to find that envelope with the license, shipped in a Superdome-sized box full of packing peanuts.

      And you can't scoop out the peanuts like you could with the real box.

    2. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: Things have changed,.

      Reminds me of the HP shipping El Reg used to cover in times past - ridiculously small items (like laptop RAM) in a monstrously hideously oversized box (fit for a minivan).

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: Things have changed,.

        Well, El Reg got back at HPE with that at the opening of the Hewlett You Inn, by offering the sign in a brobdignagian box stuffed with packing foam.

        I wonder what the current state of that joint is, given how HPE are trimming personnel levels to way below any sensible minimum level. It's either closed, or employees are using it[0] as a last resort to make their lives bearable.

        [0] in contravention of the 'For Entertaining Customer Use Only' directive slapped on it.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Things have changed,.

      Remember the HP contract boxed and strapped to a full-size pallet? Yep.

  13. bofh1961

    There seems to be a trend among large companies that they see their web servers as a means of keeping customers away from what they want rather than a means of helping them find it. HP has been impossible to penetrate without using Google for as long as I can remember. IBM somehow manages to be worse... it once took one of their own staff several weeks to find out that the files his customer wanted were hidden on an FTP server somewhere in Boulder, Colorado.

    1. jonathan keith

      Server no doubt residing in dark basement, stairs, leopard etc etc?

    2. 2Nick3 Bronze badge

      "IBM somehow manages to be worse... it once took one of their own staff several weeks to find out that the files his customer wanted were hidden on an FTP server somewhere in Boulder, Colorado."

      Ah, good old service2.boulder.ibm.com - still up and running today!

  14. Douchus McBagg

    not limited to their support site. the driver installation is a page from the same book of self torture.

    best just extract the inf and sys files and let windows splat them in itself.

    no need for:-

    *device* management software

    *device* monitoring software

    *device* user experience enhancement softare

    *device* update software

    *vendor* device update management software

    *device* reporting software

    *vendor* support assist software

    honestly. cut all this crap, and cut the download from the gigs clogging up my MPLS, to the 60kB we all know it actually is, and free up the extra 10% server cpu time burnt with all of the "Support Processes" removed from the equation.

    its like install one tiny peripheral, and your whole machine's purpose for being becomes just a life support system for that one device's existence and operation. "would anyone like any toast?"

    1. sebt27
      Mushroom

      You forgot the update software for the monitoring software that monitors the device update management software.

      The other day Task Manager showed me the *update* service for some pissy little utility I downloaded was taking 40Mb of memory. How TF can

      LookfForUpdate

      If (update exists)

      Install upate

      else

      Do nothing

      end if

      take 40Mb????????

      I just deleted it.

      1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

        It's actually more:

        [pseudocode]

        lookForUpdate()

        if update=true

        {

        getUpdate()

        else

        slurp()

        }

  15. Richard Gray 1
    Flame

    HP support

    I always like the HP "in one sentence what is the problem?" After spending 10 minutes explaining what the problem is.

    Apparently the summary "It's fucked" is not valid.

    1. TomPhan

      Re: It's F!@##$ed

      A long time ago I used to look after systems for builders merchants and had to leave instructions that if I was unavailable nobody should offer to take a message, because the majority of them were along the line of "tell him the f-ing machines f-ed again"

  16. Chris King Silver badge
  17. Chris G Silver badge

    You can't make this stuff up

    This episode is clearly not fiction, is the rest of BOFH actually based on a diary?

    1. Chris King Silver badge

      Re: You can't make this stuff up

      I thought it centered around an Excuse Calendar.

      Today's excuse is "radiation from solar debris..."

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ahh Air France ...

    Air France has a similar process for when, not "if", one is registering claims for delayed or lost luggage.

  19. Rol Silver badge

    "Hello. You're through to IT Support Support. How may I help you?"

    "Err... IT Support Support?"

    "Yes, we help you navigate your IT support system"

    "So you're not IT Support?"

    "Correct. We're not"

    "Err.. I think I've dialled the wrong number"

    "No hold on there sir, if you have an IT issue then we're the people to talk to"

    "But you're not IT support"

    "I'll explain. IT support has reached the point where dealing with them has become counter-productive. In many cases, simply standing on your desk and screaming for help with, whatever irks you, would illicit a more useful and immediate fix. We're that knight in shining armour"

    "..but you have no knowledge of our systems"

    "I beg to differ. Due to outsourcing, the UK has approximately half a million ex IT support workers, currently employed as barristas, litter pickers and dog walkers. Between them they hold the collective knowledge of every byte of software that has ever been written and they have worked for every IT firm you are ever likely to deal with. We are all on 24 hour call, and so we are best placed to fix anything, or tell you how best to get your company's IT support to jump to attention and rain assistance upon you like they really gave damn"

    "I see. That's great"

    "So...How can I help you?"

    "Yes. Well my screen's upside down"

    "That's an easy fix sir. Do you have a male colleague working next to you? Perhaps one that is sat there trying to hold back a fit of laughter?"

    "Err yes there is. How do you know these things?"

    "Years of experience sir. Now I can tell you how to fix this very easily, but I'd rather give you a more permanent fix. Repeat these words loudly enough for the smirking jerk next to you to hear - 'interfering with another users computer is a sackable offence, but we'll overlook it on this occasion if they immediately undo their prank' "

    .....

    "Hello sir. Did it work?"

    "Well yes it bloody well did. They dived over lickety split and did a ctrl-alt-arrow and it's back to normal. Thank you"

    "Not a problem sir....One Americano coming up"

    "Sorry?"

    "My apologies, a customer has just ordered a coffee"

    "Are you serious?"

    "You've seen Brazil. Well I'm just one of the many Harry Tuttles of the IT world, helping to keep the wheels from falling off of the careering supermarket trolley that your superiors bought into because it was the cheapest"

    1. l8gravely

      Bravo!

      Bravo!

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Headmaster

      the careering supermarket trolley

      One that's promoted to Purchase Collection Support Vehicle?

    3. Eelco
      IT Angle

      Now, that's a service they should create an App for!

      1. JulieM Silver badge

        Could go two ways

        That sounds like it could either develop as per the above, or turn into a dystopian gig-economy thing where the ones at the top get all the money and the workers are just casual labourers who have to do everything at their own expense that a "proper" company would be responsible for, such as tools, equipment and vehicles required to do their job, and calculating and deducting taxes at source.

  20. eswan

    Who's got the RAT on my system

    Ok, yesterday trying to do some SSL certificate management.

    The unamed SSL issuer sends me a link and a username/temp password for their portal

    Go to the link, login with the username and temp password, get prompted for old/new/new password.

    Type those in, get a 'your session has been terminated, login again'.

    Try to login with username/new password. 'invalid'

    Try again to login with username/new password. 'invalid'

    Maybe I used different capitalization? 'account locked out for 15 minutes'

    15 minutes later. Maybe the new password didn't take? username/oldpassword, 'you must change your password now'.

    enter old/new/new password. 'your session has expired'

    I'm not falling for it this time, login with username/old password.

    'you must change your password now'.

    enter _really quickly_ old/new/new password.

    'you must now set up 3 security questions'

    go through that, 'your session has expired'

    login again with new password. 'you must now set up 3 security questions'

    run through the 3 security questions as quickly as possible. 'you must now give a phone number for 2 factor authentication'

    give it my cell number. 'please enter the recieved pin'

    Type in the pin. 'your session has expired'

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Some joker set the session timeout to about 30 seconds.

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Who's got the RAT on my system

      Some joker set the session timeout to about 30 seconds.

      BOFH. *grin*

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Who's got the RAT on my system

      "Some joker set the session timeout to about 30 seconds."

      That joker sounds like a candidate for a good carpeting.

      Followed by quicklime.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Who's got the RAT on my system

        So much work.......Why don't any of you live in a place with wild hogs...........and alligators..........and sharks?????

  21. earl grey Silver badge
    Pint

    nicely played

    Have one (or more).

  22. ecarlseen

    And then there's Crisco...

    I'm currently experience the joy of dealing with a support portal that won't accept one of our device serial numbers. Licensing support can only assist with adding licensing contracts - not devices. Nobody can help you if you can't add a device, because nobody ever imagined that that situation could ever occur. And no, the device wasn't grey-market or used or anything like that.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: And then there's Crisco...

      Crisco? You're adding shortening to your system? https://www.crisco.com/

      Icon: Flame since you're obviously doing a fry-up.

      1. J. Cook Silver badge

        Re: And then there's Crisco...

        Obviously, he's talking about Cisco, whom I thought this BOFH was about before I waded into the HPE slugfest here in the comments.

        You know it's bad when your account exec for a company has problems with his company's support site...

        Definately + MANY on IBM's support offerings: I once spent two weeks plus trying to track down the two or three people who had a clue about their SKLM product (encryption key manager for tape libraries) to see if we still had support on that product; By the time I got an answer, I had found the buried documentation on how to do what I needed to do with it...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And then there's Crisco...

      I recently had to download the entitlement keys for a firmware update for three IBM Power8 servers.

      That's an entitlement key to allow an update of the firmware. Not the firmware itself, but a key to allow me to update the firmware (this is apparently a new system to try to lock customers into IBM support).

      Of course, the web site accepted two of the serial numbers , and rejected the serial number of the third system saying it did not exist! So, I raise a hardware call (firmware is regarded as part of the hardware by IBM).

      I then spent the next two days, several emails and a couple of phone calls to persuade the hardware support centre that it was not me trying to update the firmware, nor me trying to enrol the key, but actually generating the key that I had the problem with. Once I had convinced them, they said there was nothing they could do, the system was under support and I should be able to get the key, but that process was not something they had any dealings with. Had I tried pressing the button that reported a problem on the entitlement website.

      Several more emails, some containing screenshots then got them to admit that I would not be able to see the button, as my email address on the support account showed that I was working for IBM, and only non-IBM end users would be able to see the button. They suggested that I raise a feedback on the website,

      A day later, I get a response from the feedback team, who say that they only could provide help on the website, and as I could get to the entitlement page, the website was working properly, and there was nothing they could do about the applications that the website called. Had I tried raising a software call from the Power support pages.

      Two days later, I get a response from a rather bemused software team saying that firmware was a hardware support issue, and I would have to raise a hardware support call.......

      As I now had three email addresses for all of the teams I had been in contact with, each pointing at one of the others, I wrote a new mail addressed to all three, quoting the last response from each of them.

      I ended it up with an appeal that I didn't care which of them sorted this out, but that one of them had to be in a position to solve my problem, and could they discuss it amongst themselves to work out who it would be. I also said that if I didn't get an answer, I would have to tell the end-customer for whom IBM run these systems, that IBM wasn't able to support their own machines to provide the Spectre fixes that IBM had said were needed to protect the machines.

      I actually then got a call from a very apologetic 3rd line support rep. from the US, who read me out the key he had generated for the system, and said that I should be able to confirm that I could use the entitlement website the following day to download it. And I could!

      I must admit that I breathed a sigh of relief, but I wish that I hadn't had to go round this loop.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: And then there's Crisco...

        Nice that you got your code for the update, eventually, but the fundamental problems that caused that issue needed to be sorted out too. Maybe they did. But the common experience is that if you fight hard enough the companies remove your symptom, but leave the disease intact.

        Very similar, I guess to the people who contact a TV consumer programme after being given the runaround by a major company who owe them money, and then they get their refund - you wonder about all the people who don't get their issue publicised.

        1. Cpt Blue Bear

          Re: And then there's Crisco...

          "But the common experience is that if you fight hard enough the companies remove your symptom, but leave the disease intact."

          That's because these operations run despite their systems not because of them. In the background there always people who actually get things done. The challenge is to find them and get a direct number or email.

    3. Cpt Blue Bear

      Re: And then there's Crisco...

      I once started a job as 2IC of IT at a medium sized company which had just driven into the comms equivalent of a peat bog while following Cisco's product roadmap. My first project was "get those fuckers out of the company".

      Thus, I oversaw replacing all the Cisco kit with HP kit...

      The CIO thought that went so well that next he wanted me to get rid of Oracle. I took another job rather than deal with that can of worms.

      That was as high up the greasy corporate pole as I reached and I have no desire to return to those heights.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Uncanny

    Usually I find BOFH amusing but somewhat exaggerated.

    Not this one. I have the displeasure of having to deal frequently with a company with a three letter abbreviation and this story is, if anything, an understatement of how truly and utterly awful it is. I cannot describe the waves of depression that sweep over me when realising that I'm going to have to go on their web site. The endless going round in circles, the impossible-to-tell-apart two levels of engagement. The same damn problem every year which buggers up a licence renewal and which can only be fixed by me emailing a specific named person in the US and asking them to pretty-please sort it out yet again.

    I once, and I kid you not, had to raise a support request to resolve the fact that I could not raise a support request. Turned out that they had changed their policies and I had to go to a specific level of engagement and tick a box on a specific page to indicate acceptance. No prior indication of this (no emails or calls) and the failure when trying to raise a support request was just for the page to be blank. Took thee days to sort it out and, at one point I got passed by phone from person to person until I ended up back at the original person.

    I need a drink.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Uncanny

      It is crap like this that made my give up IT and now I work at a grocery store. Seriously...... :(

  24. johnnyblaze

    Utterly painful

    I actually get the sweats if I ever have to go near the HP/IBM or Citrix support sites. It is litterally one of the most painful processes known to man. You go round and round in circles, and just when you think you've got somewhere, you're either kicked out, asked for information you don't have or lose the will to live.

    Dell aren't actually that bad comparatively, but they recently changed their online server configurator tool from one that worked to one that was designed by monkeys. I complained loudly to our account manager (and he said others have too), but nothing's changed.

    I also can't believe HPE require you to have a CarePack to download critical ProLiant updates. These are critical for people whove PAID MONEY for your kit. The least you can do is let them have them. I can understand if you want help from their support team (I use the term 'help' losely), but just let me download the damn updates!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Utterly painful

      Honestly, I'd rather have Microsoft shoving updates up my Personal Computer rear port without asking me first, than going through HP's website.

      Every one there is now cursed to the 5th generation, multiple times over...

    2. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Utterly painful

      Locare someone who likes playing NetHack and tell them that the support system is the Gold Upgrade version.

  25. sisk Silver badge

    Heh. Yep. Just, yep. Unfortunately - or maybe fortunately - all the support vendors I deal with go to lunch at least 300 miles from my office.

    Also, anyone else getting the feeling that Simon likes this boss for some reason?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cisco

    HP? This is like every encounter with Cisco's support I've ever had. An endless cycle of broken web forms and meaningless questions and abbreviations and other jargon when all I wanted to check was the support level / expiry of some switches. I got so frustrated once I was told to leave the room for a while, shaking with sweat and anger.

  27. Xeiran
    WTF?

    Huh. Turns out, using quicklime to quickly decompose a body is an urban myth; it actually preserves the body in far better condition than straight burial: https://bonesdontlie.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/new-morbid-terminology-quicklime/

    1. Herby Silver badge

      Quicklime and bodies??

      This is good information. How about sulfuric acid and hydrogen peroxide, like they did on mythbusters a few years ago? Of course, you need a good bathtub, preferably well coated so as to not corrode. Of course, every BOFH knows how to clean up crime scenes.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Quicklime and bodies??

        "How about sulfuric acid and hydrogen peroxide"

        Chromic acid made, IIRC, with conc. sulphuric and potassium chromate. Dissolves organic matter more or less instantly. Used to clean microbiological glassware. It was essential to warn new technicians by the disappearing filter-paper trick: dip a circle of filter paper into the acid.

    2. J. Cook Silver badge
      Joke

      Interesting; I did not know that.

      To really abuse Anthony Ray's lyrics: I like big booms and I cannot lie.

      (in the absence of booms, hoever, stuff that has a required minimum safe viewing distance is adequate compensation.)

    3. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: "using quicklime to quickly decompose a body is an urban myth"

      According to SWIM, it's not to decompose the body (it preserves it, as you say) but to prevent signs of decomposition (odours, animal excavation, etc).

    4. Cpt Blue Bear

      Indeed. The quicklime is to prevent decomposition and scavenging animals.

      I hear the best thing to do is feed them to pigs [sucks teeth theatrically]...

      I also hear that the "lifespan" of a body in the desert is about 72 hours. It seems that things that live in deserts don't let protein or water go to waste...

      Neither do undersea scavengers like lobsters, crabs and crayfish. Bear that in mind next time you sit down to a seafood dinner.

      Strangely enough I was reading the Bones Don't Lie blog on an unrelated topic yesterday. Totally unrelated, honest Officer.

  28. Lorribot

    Been there!

    Dell, EMC, HPE, Cisco (and their value added resellers), SAP and any number of software vendors you could care to mention or not heard of.

    Find a local (within 100 miles) support company and talk to them it is the only way.

    1. Hot Diggity

      Re: Been there!

      I read this wondering the whole time if Simon was referring to Red Hat or Oracle. Guess this is widespread.

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Been there!

      and their value added resellers

      That's 'value addled'.

  29. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Mandhill Borth of Reeds

    My rhyming chip is borked.

    Took me far too long to link this to the phrase "landfill North of Leeds". :-(

    Edit: however I think I may have a contender for my new password which may resist a dictionary attack.

  30. FeRDNYC

    This is why you want to at least deal with local vendors

    Cross-country murder is a lot harder, and in the US turns it into a Federal crime.

    Back at the very tail end of the 20th Century, I had a home DSL line (I knooowwwww!) at my apartment in Boston, with service through an ISP located in California. They resold service from one company (AT&T), installed by a second (Covad), and so FlashCom's #ONEJOB was basically to just collect my monthly payments in return for doing exactly nothing. It should've been TWO jobs, the second being to keep my service active. And therein lies my mistake.

    After a few months of relatively trouble-free access to the new-fangled Information Superhighway, some sort of physical calamity befell my line that took it out of service. It's ancient physical copper wiring in an old, old city, these things just happen. Unfortunately, though, getting a company clear across the country to service your telephone line is not the easiest thing. And, I couldn't call AT&T because they wanted nothing to do with me: I wasn't their customer, FlashCom was. So, I waited.

    It eventually came to pass that a service tech had been dispatched, and determined that the line was dead. (Gee, thanks.) Furthermore, he determined that it was the last unused pair of copper wires in the trunk, there were no more available, and so they were very sorry, but there was nothing they could do about restoring my service. (Because that line only carried DSL, and no analog telephone service, it wasn't subject to the regulations that would've required them to sort out the problem, no matter what they had to do — even if it meant digging up the street and running an entirely new trunk to our building. This is why regulation is a good thing, folks.)

    Now, mind you, it's taken the better part of five weeks to make this determination, with my line down the entire time. Then the other shoe dropped.

    Turns out, FlashCom had been continuing to bill me for the entire five weeks that my line was down and I was not, in fact, receiving any of the "service" I was paying them for! Naturally, when I discovered this, I immediately stormed off to their website (yes, it is possible to "storm" to a virtual location, as I learned that day) to cancel my non-service. I mean, after all, they were a modern dot-com company, with a customer account portal and everything!

    A customer account portal which promptly crashed every time I attempted to submit the cancellation form.

    After trying three times, and now completely livid, I practically broke the buttons off my phone pounding their phone number in, to speak to their billing department in person. This involved subjecting myself to the same four-song hold music loop I had already become intimately familiar with, over the preceding five weeks, but this time I don't think I even heard it.

    To make an already-long story slightly less long, the tale ends with me SCREAMING, completely unhinged at what sounded like a tiny 70-year-old woman in their billing department (because screw her, she knew the risks), after she suggested that I log in to their customer portal and cancel the account myself.

    Seriously, I was so belligerent she had to hang up on me. And to her credit, when I called back a few minutes later, slightly less rabid, she did finally process my cancellation and release me from the hell that was FlashCom. Which promptly went out of business some time within the next two months.

  31. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
    Coat

    Apple

    Personally this sounds like me trying to support I-Pads, along with various levels of HP (with or without the E)\Lexmark etc

    Icon - Wheres me Android?

  32. Wapiya
    Paris Hilton

    Must be Dell

    Even though most agree, that this should be HPE (ex HP) and I did have some interesting clashes with HP support (this is for another time), the best ever happened with Dell.

    Dell color printer, magenta and cyan replacement cartridges buth have a fault (a fixed fault line every few cms, probably some problem with the roll in the cartridge due to non recommended storage).

    Have you ever tried to log a warranty claim (EU type mandatory 2 years for private customers, non UK.). for a printer cartridge? The web system requires a serial number to check the warranty, but they do not have one. If you try to log it via the printer you get "it is out of warranty, to old". The phone system works the same.

    You are in a maze with tiny little redirects all alike.

    I resorted to good old snail mail, registered delivery. After that they really did contact me by phone and tried to reject the claim (out of warranty after more than 90 days, even though this does not apply to private customers).

    I did politely point out that with the claim reject they had just waived their right to repair and that I did want a refund or replacement now.

    And asked for a number from 1 to 4. So that they could choose which lawyer in the family would extract his fee from them as this was a clear case of consumer rights violation.

    I got my replacement cartridges with overnight delivery. And an apology from the manager.

    Paris, because even she cannot suck that much.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like Big Red is back....

    Obviously the portal in question belongs to the

    One

    Rich

    Ar$eh0le

    Called

    Larry

    Elli$on company.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Old wisdom

    The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Old wisdom

      Well yes. I think world events bare that one out. The enemy of the enemy often seems to be another enemy. (Think Syria)

    2. ShadowDragon8685

      Re: Old wisdom

      Maxim 29. The enemy of my enemy if my enemy's enemy. No more. No less.

  35. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Sequal to the "chat" commments

    The Mrs was looking at the web site of First Utility to find if they were open over the bank holiday. She used the "chat"facility. And it kept telling her "I'm not trained to answer that". In other words, it was a "bot". Not a human. Even she knew that and she has no IT interest.

  36. Nate H.

    Support Denial Portal

    Still better then Veritas.

  37. PM from Hell
    Mushroom

    So many credentials so many sites

    I'm currently implementing a system where the software vendor has recently been taken over. Apart from the fact that i's now impossible to see status updates on tickets on the call management system, when they do provide a fix the technical team cannot get the fix to an FTP site/ Portal / document repository or forum. They issue them but don't know where they are published. They now have to email me the objects. Of course being inside a corporate network I can't receive very large files, zipped files or executables. I can see this ending in tears shortly. Don't even let me get started about the degradation in service from Business Objects since the SAP takeover where I now have to speak to a salesman if i want a technical whitepaper, or the monster that MyOracleSupport has become since replacing metalink. Sometimes I long for the old days of ICL where I would receive the known error log on 32 microfiche each month.

  38. Uplink

    Tesco, but without the murder

    This sounds a lot like my Tesco Clubcard customer services experience before they updated their website a few years back.

    There was a cookie that was messing up the server if I logged in using the correct page, and I was getting Internal Server Error until I cleared cookies. Clearing the cookies and logging in would land me back the Internal Server Error message.

    Logging in via Tesco Direct to view my Clubcard took me via a beta version of the site, and that worked just fine.

    Tried explaining this to CS, to get a bug reported. That's all I wanted: report a bug to whoever is working on this in India. I ended up with an inconsistently deleted account instead. Yep, I had Schrodinger's Tesco Clubcard - both registered and not registered at the same time. They fixed this too, and now I had a shiny brand new account, but the problem didn't go away.

    I did exasperate the CS representative and had to get passed to somebody else, but I didn't need to drive my car to the woods.

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