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BOFH: Got that syncing feeling, hm? I've looked at your computer and the Outlook isn't great

Oh, and sorry about your phone

BOFH logo telephone with devil's hornsEpisode 10 "You see!" the Boss says.

"See what?" I ask.


"Where? What are you pointing at?"

"My contacts," he says, jabbing at his phone with a chubby finger.

"What... about your contacts?"

"Look!" he says, moving the stubby digit from his phone screen to an area of his Outlook contacts then back again. "See?"

"See what?"

"DAVIS," he says. "PETER."

"You've lost me."

"It's not on my phone."


"And it should be on my phone. It should be synced to my phone!"

"Is your phone set to have your work email as its primary source of Contacts, with push syncing enabled?"

"Yes!" he says in the tone of voice that implies he has no idea of what I'm talking about.

"Is it REALLY?" I ask.

"OF COURSE IT IS!" he snaps with the outrage combo-deal of me doubting both his honesty and his technical ability.

"Well I'll just look at the Outlook Management App," I say, pulling my cellphone out of my pocket.

"Don't you manage Outlook from your desktop?" he asks, wanting me out of the office to give him the opportunity to blunder around his phone settings to make sure that syncing is actually on like he said.

"Nah, it's all in the cloud now. I just fire up the app, click on your username, and then just check when the last sync was done. It'll only take a moment."

"Well I've got a meeting to go to," the Boss lies, grabbing his diary and a pen.

"Really?" I ask. "We'd better take a look at your calendar syncing too then, as it's not showing up on Outlook."

Of course it's all lies. I can't see his Contact syncing records and I have absolutely no idea what's in his calendar – I just know he's lying through his teeth.

"It's a... personal appointment," the Boss says, grasping for a credible lie.

"It should still show up as a blocked-out blob in your diary."

"Well I don't know why it's not but we can talk about it when I get back from my meeting."

"It's OK," I say. "I'll walk with you and take a look at your phone on the way."

"Uh... I'm expecting a personal call," he blurts. "I need to be able to answer it at a moment's notice."

I have to give the Boss a bit of respect for being able to lie on the fly like this, but he's still got to be punished.

"I really think we need to look at this now – it could be affecting other people at work. It's too big to ignore – think of all the people out of the office who may not be syncing."

"It's just Contacts!" the Boss whines.

"And Calendars," I add. "If people's Calendars aren't syncing then they could be missing out on important meetings!"

"It's probably my desktop machine!" the Boss snaps back. Now he's created a pile of lies so high he's getting liars' vertigo.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, yes, there's probably something wrong with it. It's been doing odd things for a couple of weeks."

"Ah well, perhaps I should take a look at it?"

"Would you?" he asks, still not wanting to back down. "I'll be out for an hour or so."


... One hour of him wandering around the building like Scott No-mates later ...

"Uh... my machine?" the Boss asks, entering Mission Control after spotting the empty space on his desk.

"It's a mystery to me," I say, pointing at the huge pile of parts strewn over my desk. "I looked in your calendar but there wasn't any appointment there either!!!"

"Wasn't my desktop locked?"

"With the password Eugene2006 – your son's name and birth year?" the PFY asks – being as he is a virtual crap-password cracking savant.

"So, my machine?"

"Here it is," I say, pointing at the parts. "At first I just reseated the RAM. Then I reseated the processor. I replaced the power supply, ran some hardware diagnostics, but still no calendar entry. I ran a non-destructive disk test against all the hard drives then booted a LiveCd on the machine to see if the problem was something to do with your settings. Nothing. So then we brought it back here to examine each component individually."

Again mostly lies, the biggest one being the words "non-destructive". After I'd erased his hard drive the PFY took every single nut, bolt and screw out of everything. Even the power supply is in pieces.

"I don't know what to say," I continue. "I can't find a thing wrong with it. You're SURE that the meeting was in your calendar?"

"Positive!" he lies.

"And you're sure your work contacts are set as the primary contacts for your phone?"

"Yes I'm sure."

"Well, I guess it's some conflict with your private email and calendars and stuff," I say, nodding at the PFY. "We'll need your phone."

"I need it – I'm expecting another call."

"No problems!" the PFY says. "We'll forward your phone to your desk phone while we check it out."

"It's my personal phone – it has a lot of personal information on it."

"That's OK – we'll take a clone image of it, you reset your phone to factory defaults then we can test it without ever accessing your personal data. You'll just need to enter a secure encryption and decryption key to back it up and restore it."

"You can do that now?" the Boss asks, liking the idea of a zeroed phone which can't prove anything.

"Sure, plug the phone into the recovery PC over there..."

Ten minutes later the phone is cloned and erased and handed over to the PFY.

"OK, let's take a look at this," the PFY says, examining the phone from all angles. "It's hard to see under this lig... >woops<"


"It might still be OK," the PFY says, as we all gaze down at the Boss's phone on the road two floors below.

A cab passes.

"Ah well, maybe not. Sorry about that," the PFY says, with the kind of sincerity that could have had him in PR for Union-Carbide in 84. "We'll organise you a backup phone till insurance gets you a new one."


"This is all we have at the moment," I say, pulling out a flip phone which was last in fashion when leg-warmers were cool and which would only "sync" in water. "Unfortunately because of its age you won't be able to recover stuff to it. I'd just key in your most used numbers."

The Boss wanders off annoyed – but not as annoyed as he'll be when he finds out that "cloned and erased" actually just means "erased". Amazing how people will trust web forms that say "Enter your unique Encryption Key", "Re-enter your unique Encryption Key" and then shows a progress bar for five minutes.

But that'll be after three hours of him entering combinations of his password with and without the shift key...

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