It's backup day today so I'm pissed off. Being the BOFH, however, does have it's advantages. I reassign null to be the tape device - it's so much more economical on my time as I don't have to keep getting up to change tapes every 5 minutes. And it speeds up backups too, so it can't be all bad can it? Of course not.
A user rings
"Do you know why the system is slow?" they ask
"It's probably something to do with..." I look up today's excuse ".. clock speed"
"Oh" (Not knowing what I'm talking about, they're satisfied) "Do you know when it will be fixed?"
"Fixed? There's 275 users on your machine, and one of them is you. Don't be so selfish - logout now and give someone else a chance!"
"But my research results are due in tommorrow and all I need is one page of Laser Print.."
"SURE YOU DO. Well; You just keep telling yourself that buddy!" I hang up.
You'd really think people would learn not to call..
The phone rings. It'll be him again, I know. That annoys me. I put on a gruff voice
"Oh, I'm sorry, I've got the wrong number"
"YEAH? Well what's your name buddy? Do you know WASTED phone calls cost money? DO YOU? I've got a good mind to subtract your wasted time, my wasted time, and the cost of this call from your weekly wages! IN FACT I WILL! By the time I've finished with you, YOU'LL OWE US money! WHAT'S YOUR NAME - AND DON'T LIE, WE'VE GOT CALLER ID!!"
I hear the phone drop and the sound of running feet - he's obviously going to try and get an alibi by being at the Dean's office. I look up his username and find his department. I ring the Dean's secretary.
"Hello?" she answers
"Hi, SIMON, B.O.F.H HERE, LISTEN, WHEN THAT GUY COMES RUNNING INTO YOUR OFFICE IN ABOUT 10 SECONDS, CAN YOU GIVE HIM A MESSAGE?"
"I think so..." she says
"TELL HIM `HE CAN RUN, BUT HE CAN'T HIDE'"
"AND DON'T FORGET NOW, I WOULDN'T WANT TO HAVE TO TELL ANYONE ABOUT THAT FILE IN YOUR ACCOUNT WITH YOUR ANSWERS TO THE PURITY TEST IN IT..."
I hear her scrabbling at the terminal...
"DON'T BOTHER - I HAVE A COPY. BE A GOOD PERVY AND PASS THE MESSAGE ON.."
She sobs her assent and I hang up. And the worst thing is, I was just guessing about the purity test thing. I grab a quick copy anyway, it might make for some good late-night reading.
Meantime backups have finished in record time, 2.03 seconds. Modern technology is wonderful, isn't it?
Another user rings.
"I need more space" he says
"Well, why not move to Texas?" I ask
"No, on my account, stupid."
"I'm terribly sorry" I say, in a polite manner equal to that of Jimmy Stewart in a Weekend Family Matine Feature "I didn't quite catch that. What was it that you said?"
I smell the fear coming down the line at me, but it's too late, he's a goner and he knows it.
"Um, I said what I wanted was more space on my account, *please*"
"Sure, hang on"
I hear him gasp his relief even though he'd covered the mouthpeice.
"There, you've got *plenty* of space now!"
"How much have I got?" he simps
Now this *REALLY* *PISSES* *ME* *OFF*! Not only do they want me to give them extra space, they want to check it, then correct me if I don't give them enough! They should be happy with what I give them *and that's it*!
Back into Jimmy Stewart mode.
"Well, let's see, you have 4 Meg available"
"Wow! Eight Meg in total, thanks!" he says, pleased with his bargaining power
"No" I interrupt, savouring this like a fine red at room temperature, with steak, extra rare, to follow; "4 Meg in total.."
"Huh? I'd used 4 Meg already, How could I have 4 Meg Available?"
I say nothing. It'll come to him.
I kill me; I really do!
I'm sitting at the desk, playing x-tank, when some thoughtless bastard rings me on the phone. I pick it up.
"Hello?" I say.
"Who is this?" they say
"It's me I think" I say, having successfully attended a telephone skills course
"Is this like a knock knock joke?" I say, trying anything to save myself having to end this game.
Too LATE! I get killed.
Now I'm pissed!
"What can I do for you?" I ask pleasantly - (one of the key warning signs)
"Um, I want to know if we have a particular software package.."
"Which package is that?""Uh, B-A-S-I-C it's called."
>clickety clickety d-e-l b-a-s-i-c.e-x-e<
"Um no, we don't have that. We used to though.."
"oh. Oh well, the other thing I wanted to know was, could the contents of my account be copied to tape to I have a permanent copy of them to save at home in case the worst happens.."
"Well, like they get deleted or something..."
"DELETED! Oh, don't worry about that, we have backups!" (I'm such a *shit*) "What was your username?"
He gives me his lusername. (What an idiot)
"But you haven't got any files in your account!" I say, mock surprise leaping from my vocal chords.
"Yes I have, you must be looking in the wrong place!"
So first he spoils my x-tank game, and *now* he's calling me a liar...
"Oh no, I made a mistake" I say
Did he mutter "typical" under his breath??!? Oh dear, oh dear..
"I MEANT TO SAY: That USERNAME doesn't exist"
"Huh? >wimper< It must do, I was only using it this morning!"
"Ah well, that'll be the problem, there was a virus in our system this morning, the... uh... DE VINCI Virus, wipes out users who are logged in when it goes off."
"That can't be right, my girlfriend was logged in, and I'm in her account now!"
"Which one was that?"
He tells me the username. Some people NEVER learn..
"Oh, yeah, her account was just after we discovered the virus."... >clickety clikc< "..she only lost all her files"
"But don't worry, we've got them all on tape"
"Oh, thank goodness!!!"
"Paper tape. Have you got a magnifying glass and a pencil? SEE YOU IN THE MACHINE ROOM!!!! NYAHAHAHAHAHA!"
I'm such a prick!
So I'm working so hard I barely have time to drive into town and watch a movie before I told people their printing will be ready. The queue's WAAAAAY too long to have everything printed (and sorted) by the time I told them, so I kill all the small jobs so there's only 2 left and I can sort them in no time.
Then, after the movie, (which was one of those slack Bertolucci ones that takes about 3 hours till the main character is killed off in a visionary experience) I get back and clear the printouts.
There's about 50 people waiting outside and I've got two printouts. That's about average for me. I thought I'd killed more tho. Anyway, I put out the printouts and walk slooowly inside, fingering the clipboard with "ACCOUNTS TO REMOVE" in big letters on the back. No-one says anything. As usual.
. . .
I'm sitting back in the Operations Armchair, watching the computer room closed circuit TV, which just happens to be connected to the frame-grabber's Video player (sent off for repair, due back sometime in '97) when the phone rings. That must be the 2nd time today, and it's really starting to get to me!
"Yes?" I say, pausing the picture.
"I seem to have accidentally deleted my C.V!" the voice at the other end of the line says.
"You have? What was your username?"
He tells me. What the hell, I AM bored.
"Ah no, you didn't delete it - I did."
"I deleted it. It was full of shit! You didn't ever get more than a B- in any of your subjects!"
"And that crap about being a foreign exchange student, that was your girlfriend and we both know it!"
"Your academic records. I checked them, you were lying.. Besides which, you forgot to include your criminal record.."
"How did y.." He clicks. "It's you isn't it? THE BASTARD OPERATOR FROM HELL!"
"In the flesh, on the phone and in your account.... You shouldn't have called you know. You especially shouldn't have given me your username.." >clickety< >click< "Neither should you have sent that mail to the System Manager telling him what you think of him in such graphic terms..."
"I didn't send any.."
"No, you didn't did you? But who can tell these days? Not to worry though, It'll all be over VERY soon.." >clickedy clikc< "..change my username back, and..."
"b-b-b.." he blubs, like a stood-up date
"Goodbye now" I say pleasantly, "you've got bags to pack and a life to start over..."
I hang up.
Two seconds later the red phone goes. I pick it up, it's the boss. He mumbles the username of the person I was just talking to, mentions something about a nasty mail message, and utters the words "You know what to do...", with the dots and everything.
Later, inside the Municipal Energy Authority Computer, as I'm modifying the poor pleb's Energy Bill by several zeros, I can't help but think about what lapse of judgement - what act of heinous stupidity - causes them to call. Then, even later, when I'm adding the poor pleb's photo image over the top of the FBI's online "MOST Wanted Armed and Dangerous, SHOOT ON SIGHT" offenders list, I realise I'll probably never know; but then life goes on.
A couple of hours later, as I see the SWAT vehicle roll up outside the poor pleb's apartment I realise that for some, it just doesn't.
But tommorrow is another day.
It's a thursday, and I'm in a good mood. It's payday. I think I'll take some calls. I put the phone back on the hook. It rings.
"I've been trying to get you for hours!" the voice at the other end screams
"Not, it can't be hours" I say, putting "Blade Runner" back into it's cover and looking at the back, "it was more like 114 minutes. I was on a long phone call with the big boss, trying to get you users some better facilities"
Hook; Line; and Sinker...
"Oh. I'm sorry."
"That's ok, I'm a tolerant person" I make a mental note to change his password to something nasty in the next couple of days.
"Um, I need to know how to rename a file" he says.
Oh dear... Hang on, it's payday isn't it?! I'm in a good mood.
"Sure. You just go 'rm' and the filename"
"No worries" (Now I'm in a *REALLY* good mood. I think I just might write that script to make saving impossible on rogue at random times like I've been thinking about)
The phone rings again.
"Hi there" I say
"Is this the Operators?"
"Yes it is" I say, nice as pie
"Could you get my printouts out please. I need them urgently, and I printed them over 5 minutes ago"
"Your username?" I ask
He gives it to me, and I write it down for later. "No worries at all!" I say, and head to the printers.
There's a HUUUUUUUGE pile of printouts there, and sure enough, his is at the top of the pile. I pick it up, split it out of the rest and pour our ink- stained cleaning alcohol all over it, run it over a couple of times with the loaded tape trolley then slam it in the tape safe door some times as well.
"Here's your printout" I say "Sorry about the delay, we've got a few printer problems."
He takes a look and shits himself.
"Well, can I print it again?" he asks, worried
"Sure you can" I say "But no promises, the printer's a bit stuffed today"
"Well can I print it on laser - is that working?"
"Yeah of course, but that'll cost you" I say, oozing compassion for the geek
"It doesn't matter about the cost, THIS IS URGENT!"
I slide-on back into the printer room and put in the toner cartridge we save for special occasions - the one that prints thick black lines down the middle of the page and is all faint on one side. It took me quite a while to make it like that too. The printout shoots through and I bring it out immediately - I don't want to miss this!
"W-w-what's happened to my printout?" the geek squeals at me. Lucky I wrote that username down - I'm really starting to develop a taste for torture.
"Well nothing. I mean sure, it's a little soiled, but that cartridge has already done 47 thousand pages and been refilled 17 times. It's quite good compared to some we get"
Geek pays up and starts blubbing.
"Hey now. There's no reason to cry! Have you got a disk with your work on it?"
He gives me a box of diskettes and I step inside and buzz them thru the bulk eraser. I come back out again.
"Sorry, I just remembered, our machine is on the fritz, you'll have to take these to the other side of campus to the machine there, it'll print them ok, and it had a brand-new toner yesterday."
"No worries. Oh, and hold the disks above your head the whole way there, the earth's magnetic field is particularly strong today."
"No arguements, just do it."
He wanders off, hand held high. Shit, I hate myself sometimes!
| +-----+ Digitally Enhanced | This space intentionally blank for notetaking.
| |-O-O-| Portrait of: |
| | % | Simon Travaglia, |
| | --- | Analyst/Programmer |
| +-----+ Waikato University |
UNPRECEDENTED PERFORMANCE: nothing we had before ever worked this way