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BOFH and the case of the Zoom call that never was

No boss, your monitor is not a computer

BOFH logo telephone with devil's hornsEpisode 2 "Just need a little hand in the meeting room," our Director says, popping his head around the door to Mission Control.

"There's something wrong with the screen."

"Really?" the PFY lies. "I was just using it half an hour ago."

He wasn't, but there's never anything wrong with the screen.


"Right, so the screen is on >press<  HDMI, and... you're not plugged into the HDMI cable," I say.

"No, I was using the wireless connection," he chips back.

"So... it stopped working?" I ask.

"No, I mean I wanted to use the wireless connection."

"Okay, so you set the screen to Screen Share  >press<   >press<, like so?"

"How did you do that?" the Director asks.

"I pressed the source button twice. Like it says on the note on the wall."

"Oh, is that about the screen? I thought it was about connecting to the meeting room wireless."

"Are you connected to the meeting room wireless?" I ask.

"I suppose so."

"Have you checked?"

"Isn't it automatic?"

"It's automatic – unless you use the office wireless – in which case it won't automatically change over."

"How do you check again?" he asks.


This is my life now.

I mean I'm hardly at the "attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion" point of my existence, but I am starting to question some of my life choices.

Before I can show him how to find the wireless settings, AGAIN, his laptop turns itself off with a critical battery level.


"Have you got a charger?" he asks.

I think quickly about the cupboard full of chargers in the storeroom.


"So how will I give my presentation?"

"Is it on a USB stick?"



An hour later a laptop charger is dropped off by one of the Director's grumpier offspring and he's back in business. Some hasty wireless changes and screen sharing ensues.

"Now I just need this screen to show on the big screen," he says.

"It... is showing," I point out.

"No, I mean THAT screen," he says, pointing at a small picture of a screen on his PowerPoint slide.

"That's a picture of a screen – inside a PowerPoint slide."

"Yes, I want that on the big screen."

"Then you should have a slide which only has a picture of the screen on it."

"So I can't have it?"

"You can if you edit the slide?"

"I don't have time to edit the slide, the meeting's starting!"

...two minutes later...

"What meeting?" I ask.

"The Zoom meeting. I'm just waiting for the call."

"Is Zoom running on your machine?" I ask.

"No, no, I want it to run on the screen."

"It's... just a screen. You need to run Zoom on your machine and mirror it to the screen if you want it on the screen."

"No, because I'm running PowerPoint on my machine."

"You can do both. You run Zoom and share your screen."

"I don't have Zoom installed."

"Sure you do, we rolled it out over COVID."

"Yes but I deleted it after the lockdowns. Can't they just call the screen?"

"That screen is just a screen.  It doesn't have any smarts – no camera, no microphone."

"Someone had video conferencing on it last week!"

"From their laptop. Over wireless screen share. Using Zoom."

"So I can't join the meeting?"

"No," I say, as the red mist threatens to descend.

"Can I use your laptop?"

"It's got Kali Linux on it."

"I don't know what that means."

"It means you can't use my laptop."

"Wait, I've got Zoom on my phone!" he gasps.

He fires up Zoom and waits patiently.

...two minutes later...

"No Meeting?" I ask.

"They should have called by now," he whines.

"Who set the meeting up?"

"I did."

"So maybe you should be calling them then?"

"No, it's in the meeting notes," he says, pointing to an email on his laptop.

"This is an UNSENT meeting email – for a TEAMS meeting. For this time last year. And you haven't put any attendees in it."

"I couldn't send the meeting request!" the Director complains.

"Because it was scheduled for last year."

"So I've missed the meeting?" he asks.


"Oh. So I should close Zoom?"



"So I guess I just have to organize the meeting in person then?"

"I suppose so."

"OK then. How are you and Steven placed for later this morning?"

"Wait! What – you were meeting with us?!"


"You were in our office two hours ago! You could have met with us in person then!"

"Yes, but I wanted to see my PowerPoint slide on the big screen."

I make an mental note to change our meeting rooms so they have external windows.  Meantime I'll have to improvise.


"...and then the projector fell on his head," I tell the HR Health and Safety person after the ambulance has gone.

"Why would he be using a projector when you have that big screen?" the H&S bloke asks.

"Oh, there's something wrong with the screen," the PFY says. "He reported that to us earlier today."

"It looks fine," the HR bloke says, switching the screen on.

"I have a cupboard full of old projectors," I warn him. "Some of them are much heavier than that one..."

Case closed.

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