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BOFH: Power corrupts, uninterrupted power corrupts absolutely

The best things in life are free, or at least come when there's no charge

Episode 13

"THE POWER'S OUT!" the Boss shouts, blundering into Mission Control like a robotic vacuum in super-random turbo mode. "THE TRANSFORMER DOWN THE ROAD HAS EXPLO... hey, why are your lights still on?"

"They're on the UPS. Aaaaaaaaaaaand... wait for it..." I say, after a slight flicker; "... on the generator, too."

"Why is your room on the UPS and generator?"

"So that we can shut systems down and bring them up in an orderly manner," the PFY says.

Which is a lie.

"We need to ensure that the server room is able to be recovered in the most optimal manner when the power comes back on," he adds.

Another lie.

"And of course sometimes we're here overnight till the power is restored."

Absolute crap. The only time either of us would be here overnight is if we'd spent our cab fare on booze after the tubes had stopped running.

In actual fact, we long ago realised that any power outage lasting longer than 5 minutes may as well be a half-day outage, because everyone decamps to the pub across the road and is reluctant to return. As a result, a few changes had been made in the last couple of months to "optimise the use of our resources". All access switches are now on mains power and go out at the same time as the users' desktops – along with the phones, wireless access points and any other PoE devices.

The server room UPS and generator now only supply crucial services – Mission Control, the core router and firewall, the webserver (so staff smart enough to check our website with their cellphones think we're still 20/20), our ET Legacy server, Mission Control air conditioning and – in winter – the PFY's 3-bar heater, which has an efficiency in the low teens.

The server room isn't completely unprotected though – we slapped in a small mains-fed UPS with a battery life that relies heavily on our 1-minute outage autoshutdown scripts kicking in.

"Why's it so quiet?" the Boss asks, gesturing at the wall between us and the server room.

"We've shut down most of the servers to protect them from any stray capacitance or line spikes from the power outage," the PFY says.

Honestly, if he could fabricate any better he'd be a 3D printer. Although the media would vary in consistency and would need to be baked afterwards, obviously. In ACTUAL fact, the auto-shutdown scripts I mentioned earlier probably need tweaking based on the age of the dodgily sourced East European batteries – calculated in lost capacity per month.

"Then why do we bother even HAVING a UPS and generator, if it can't keep us up and running?" the Boss asks.

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