BOFH: You can't outbastard the bastard

Career-limiting strategy


Episode 15 Life as the Acting Head of IT, Acting Manager of Systems and Networks as well as my normal role as Systems Administrator has its ups and downs, and as such I'm starting to appreciate the complexity of the roles which I've disparaged so greatly in the past.

At one time I may have heaped scorn on my seniors, but now that I'm in an “acting” capacity for both roles I'm forced to admit that I now appreciate the intricacies involved in the day to day running of the department and the important decisions that are required of one...

"..Just ONE!" I snap, in answer to the first important question of the day, "and I don't care what my predecessor thought was appropriate. One sugar in my coffee is more than enough!"

"Be back in a jiffy," Michael replies, bless him.

Having ones own PA does have its benefits and I'd be remiss in not commending Michael for his devotion to the tasks at hand. Whether it's filing important yet damning reports in the shredder, block booking meeting rooms so that the only possible venue is the pub across the road or simply stopping a bullet for me when a vendor calls, Michael has proved himself invaluable. It's almost a shame to destroy him.

Still, he does know too much - and trying to outbastard a bastard can be rather career limiting.

My suspicions were aroused when I noticed that his handling of the 100+ page report into “questionable” content on fileservers (commissioned secretly by one of my predecessors) didn't seem to result in a change in the level of shredded paper in the rubbish bag as I'd expected. A later test document printed on colour paper didn't result in the appearance of coloured paper in the bag either, so I'm treating the issue as low-grade mutiny. A quick rifle through his desk while he was out reveals that he's logging my arrival and departure times with the obvious intention of presenting it as evidence in a review of my performance.

Sigh.

That said I may as well drink deeply of the cup set in front of me before the inevitable workplace accident, so I set about giving him the tasks that any manager gives any staff member who shows signs of having initiative.

"What sort of tasks are you talking about?" the PFY asks, when I fill him on the treachery.

"Overseeing the recording - in quarter hour intervals - of the time spent by each employee on their various projects," I reply.

"Ooh, I hate that!" he responds. "It just ends up being a greater work of fiction than the timesheets. What else?"

"I'm getting him to implement pointless security initiatives."

"Long passwords and password complexity?"

"Partly that, yes, but also the typical inane suggestions that managers want people to implement because they read about it somewhere."

"Not..."

"Yes! Paper recording of root/administrator access, one time password pads stored in a special safe. No suggestion is considered too stupid!"

"Nasty," the PFY says, shaking his head. "But won't that just affect us?"

"No. And yes! I plan on putting Michael in charge of the safe combo, then changing it when he's not looking - which should be exciting."

"Smooth," the PFY concurs. "Is that it?"

"Well to pass the time I am doing the all-time hated occupation of new managers..."

"Incompetently commissioning reports on topics that no one gives a rat's arse about!" the PFY replies.

"Yes, but also...?"

"Repeatedly widening the scope when they're almost complete?! You bastard!"

"Yes. My plan is to drive him nuts before he can gather enough evidence to have me fired or imprisoned. And if that doesn't wo..."

>tap tap<

"Sorry to interrupt," Michael chirps. "Here's that report you wanted on people who use their middle names as passwords."

"Their middle names, or their wife's middle names?" the PFY asks helpfully.

"Good point!" I say "Best do their wives as well."

"I'm sure no-one would us..."

"Never Assume," I say sagely. "That just makes an ASS out of U."

"And ME," Michael adds.

"I thought we just mentioned you?"

"I..."

"Thought so. ACTUALLY, here's a thought, why not make it first names as well as middle names!

"Shouldn't that be a separate report?" the PFY asks.

"No I was thinking that INITIALS would be a separate report, because it's not names as such. And Phone numbers."

"How about we just combine all the reports into one?" Michael suggests.

"It's a good idea in theory, but there are so many variables, you know - like floor wax."

"Floor wax?"

"Yes, I was reading in a magazine where floor wax can reduce the build-up of static electricity - or was it increase? - and I was thinking perhaps you could wax the tiles in the computer room with various waxes and produce a report on which is least likely to cause static electricity - but that doesn't really fit into the passwords report."

"Isn't static caused by a combination of man-made fibres and movement?"

"They'd like you to think that, but secretly it's probably just floor wax."

"Although that idea about man made fibres would make interesting reading," the PFY prompts.

. . .

"...and he came at me with a stapler!" the PFY blurts later to security. "But luckily I happened to have one of those tazer guns which I was.... uh.. repairing for a friend.. uh.. in the security business.. and I can see why it needed repair - I think it scrambled his brains a little."

"Perfectly justifiable force in the light of the situation though," our security bloke concurs. "I'll have him and his stuff chucked out onto the pavement."

"Unfortunately he may have some confidential information in with his personal items," I say, as Michael comes around.

"So we should check it?" Security asks.

"Nah, just take it all up onto the roof and torch it."

"!" Michael sobs.

What a pity. Now I'm going to have to get my own coffee - unless...

"Do us a favour will you?"

"Get stuffed," the PFY says.

Well, it was worth a crack. ®

BOFH is copyright © 1995-2005, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.


Other stories you might like

  • AI tool finds hundreds of genes related to human motor neuron disease

    Breakthrough could lead to development of drugs to target illness

    A machine-learning algorithm has helped scientists find 690 human genes associated with a higher risk of developing motor neuron disease, according to research published in Cell this week.

    Neuronal cells in the central nervous system and brain break down and die in people with motor neuron disease, like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, named after the baseball player who developed it. They lose control over their bodies, and as the disease progresses patients become completely paralyzed. There is currently no verified cure for ALS.

    Motor neuron disease typically affects people in old age and its causes are unknown. Johnathan Cooper-Knock, a clinical lecturer at the University of Sheffield in England and leader of Project MinE, an ambitious effort to perform whole genome sequencing of ALS, believes that understanding how genes affect cellular function could help scientists develop new drugs to treat the disease.

    Continue reading
  • Need to prioritize security bug patches? Don't forget to scan Twitter as well as use CVSS scores

    Exploit, vulnerability discussion online can offer useful signals

    Organizations looking to minimize exposure to exploitable software should scan Twitter for mentions of security bugs as well as use the Common Vulnerability Scoring System or CVSS, Kenna Security argues.

    Better still is prioritizing the repair of vulnerabilities for which exploit code is available, if that information is known.

    CVSS is a framework for rating the severity of software vulnerabilities (identified using CVE, or Common Vulnerability Enumeration, numbers), on a scale from 1 (least severe) to 10 (most severe). It's overseen by First.org, a US-based, non-profit computer security organization.

    Continue reading
  • Sniff those Ukrainian emails a little more carefully, advises Uncle Sam in wake of Belarusian digital vandalism

    NotPetya started over there, don't forget

    US companies should be on the lookout for security nasties from Ukrainian partners following the digital graffiti and malware attack launched against Ukraine by Belarus, the CISA has warned.

    In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said it "strongly urges leaders and network defenders to be on alert for malicious cyber activity," having issued a checklist [PDF] of recommended actions to take.

    "If working with Ukrainian organizations, take extra care to monitor, inspect, and isolate traffic from those organizations; closely review access controls for that traffic," added CISA, which also advised reviewing backups and disaster recovery drills.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022