Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Bastard Operator from Hell Official Archive (BOFH)

I note in passing that I have not updated my "Hot Link(s) of the Week" (see sidebar) for over a month.

It has been difficult to give up the 1911 Breakdown, because it has seemed to me the epitome of a Gun Blogger Permanent Reference link. But our policy here at Geek Central has been to keep "Hot Links" as a special, limited-time offer. If you still want to keep a record of this website,, book mark it from the link in the first line of this paragraph.

Moving on ... I have just posted a new Hot Link on the sidebar.

The Bastard Operator from Hell Official Archive is a definitive link to a very geekish series of amateur writings which, from (at least) 1995 to 2001, were usually available through ListServ emails. They were introduced and re-posted on ListSerf after ListServ email lists, and proliferated exponentially.

Essentially, these were short stories starring a man who was either the main Operator, or a SysAdmin (System Administrator) of a computer system.

The series was posited on the almost Urban Legendary assumption that Operators and/or SysAdmins were so totally in power over their (corporate?) computer systems that, when Users would call for help, the SysAdmin would respond in a manner best calculated to produce Chaos, not Order. The Bastard Operator From Hell (BOFH) asserted his power ... entirely unrelated to authority ... at every opportunity, thereby confounding his enemies. And his enemies seemed to include everyone who wasn't the BOFH.

It was (to some) an appealing theme, generally well-written, and I'm sure it's popularity was largely due to the fact that it depicted Computer Geeks in the lead role of what was essentially a Technocratic Society.

At least, it appealed to me in that respect.

Well, it would, wouldn't it?

Here's a taste, chosen (almost) entirely at random from "The Bastard Operator from Hell - the '95 vintage"
So I'm in my office again, reconfiguring the router when the phone rings. Somehow I knew this was going to happen. I'm obviously going to have to change my number (and Operator) YET AGAIN.

I pick it up.

"Start talking."

"Is this the network engineer?"


"Yes it is," I say, resigned to my fate.

I check the phone - there's no corresponding name on caller ID, which can only mean one thing.

"You're new here aren't you?" I ask.

"Yeah, how did you know?"

"Lucky guess. Tell me, how did you get my number?"

"Oh, I just called the helpdesk."

How helpful of them..

"Anyway, I was just ringing to tell you that you've got a problem with the network."

"No," I answer, "no problems here."

"You do have a problem - I can't get my PC to work."

"Let's just look at this logically," I say. "You can't get your PC to work, so I have a problem."

"With the network, yes. It's probably a loose connector somewhere."

Of all the things that REALLY piss me off, the 'loose connector' and 'loose wire' theories TOP the queue. He obviously thinks that my day consists of sitting in a comms room somewhere 'wiggling loose wires' to improve network services. Or that I designed the network by calling up a cable supplier and ordering several drums of CAT-5 and asking for it to be "scattered about the building in a spider web shape".

Next thing I know he'll be telling me that maybe one of the 'bulbs' burnt out on my FDDI ring.

"Hey, maybe one of the bulbs.."

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

"No, it's not that! You've kicked out your patch cable," I say.

"I can't have!" he backpeddles.

"You've kicked out your patch cable."

"No, all the wires are securely plugged into the back of my PC..."

"You've kicked out your patch cable."

"...and they all go to the box in the flo.. Oh, hey! I kicked out the patch cable!"

"Of course you did. It happens all the time. It's because the twisted pairs in your cable get tangled, shortening the effective length of the cable. It's just like the telephone cord when it gets tangled."

"Oh right! I think I read something about that.." he burbles. What a plonker.

"Is there anything I can do to stop it?"

"Well, all you need to do is unplug it from the floor socket and give the cable a really really hard yank. Then all the twisted pairs come into line."

"But won't that damage my machine?"

"Heck no! The connector at the other end is made to pop out when the strain might damage the cable!"

"OK, here goes..."



"Oh well, you obviously pulled too hard," I say calmly.


"I don't know," I reply. "It sounds to me like a hardware problem. I'm just a network engineer.."


I hang up. It's time to have stern words with the helpdesk.

The quality of the BOFH series is that it's always time to have 'stern words with the helpdesk', or the boss, of someone who has situationally targeted as the individual who has spoiled his day inconvenienced the BOFH.

If you have never read the BOFH series, this is your best chance. And if you have read the occasional offering from BOFH, here's your chance (and mine) to Get The Whole Set.

Speaking as the man who spent eight years as the Corporate Data Security Officer for a large Multistate Manufacturing Corporation, I'm afraid I may have at one time become too close to this mindset. That is why I perhaps found these technical epistles so entertaining.

No, don't read too much into that.

Pay no mind to The Mand Behind The Curtain!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Geek Central: What's in my EMAIL Today?

The stuff I get in my email ... sometimes I send it to myself.

The Hobo Brasser has returned from his annual Elk Hunt. Word is, he brought beer back!

Here's what's in his game bag today:

[Image Not Immediately Available ... Watch This Space!]

From Mrs Hobo Brasser, aka "Spicy": Grandmothers.
1. She was in the bathroom, putting on her makeup, under the watchful eyes of her young granddaughter as she'd done many times before After she applied her lipstick and started to leave, the little one said, 'But Gramma, you forgot to kiss the toilet paper good-bye!' (I will probably never put lipstick on again without thinking about kissing the toilet paper good-bye...).

2. My young grandson called the other day to wish me Happy Birthday. He asked me how old I was, and I told him, '62.' He was quiet for a moment and then he asked, 'Did you start at 1?'

3. After putting her grandchildren to bed, a grandmother changed into old slacks and a droopy blouse and proceeded to wash her hair.

As she heard the children getting more and more rambunctious, her patience grew thin. Finally, she threw a towel around her head and stormed into their room, putting them back to bed with stern warnings. As she left the room, she heard the three-year-old say with a trembling voice, 'Who was THAT?'

4. A grandmother was telling her little granddaughter what her own childhood was like: 'We used to skate outside on a pond. I had a swing made from a tire; it hung from a tree in our front yard. We rode our pony. We picked wild raspberries in the woods. 'The little girl was wide-eyed, taking this all in. At last she said, 'I sure wish I'd gotten to know you sooner!'

5. My grandson was visiting one day when he asked, 'Grandma, do you know how you and God are alike?' I mentally polished my halo while I asked, 'No how are we alike?' 'You're both old,' he replied.

6. A little girl was diligently pounding away on her grandfather's word processor. She told him she was writing a story. 'What's it about?' he asked. 'I don't know,' she replied. 'I can't read.'

7. I didn't know if my granddaughter had learned her colors yet, so I decided to test her. I would point out something and ask what color it was. She would tell me and was always correct. It was fun for me, so I continued. At last she headed for the door, saying sagely, 'Grandma, I think you should try to figure out some of these yourself!'

8. When my grandson Billy and I entered our vacation cabin, we kept the lights off until we were inside to keep from attracting pesky insects. Still, a few fireflies followed us in. Noticing them before I did, Billy whispered, 'It's no use, Grandpa. The mosquitoes are coming after us with flashlights.'

9. When my grandson asked me how old I was, I teasingly replied, 'I'm not sure.' 'Look in your underwear, Grandpa,' he advised. 'mine says I'm four to six.'

10. A second grader came home from school and said to her grandmother, 'Grandma, guess what? We learned how to make babies today.' The grandmother, more than a little surprised, tried to keep her cool. 'That's interesting,' she said, 'how do you make babies?' 'It's simple,' replied the girl. 'You just change 'y' to 'i' and add es'.'

And finally, from AJ: The Great Office War!

Oregon Is A Blue State

Oregon is a Blue State. That is, it votes Democratic ... 'overwhelmingly'.

Presidential Race
But when you look at the votes within the state by county, you can see that in this current Presidential election (2008), only 12 counties voted in the majority for the Democratic candidate.

That's twelve democratic counties, out of 36 counties in Oregon. (State Map with county names.)

Generally speaking, the counties that voted over 50% Democratic are among the most densely populated. They include counties with the biggest towns (Portland in Multnomah County, Eugene in Lane County, Medford in Jackson County); counties with major Universities (Portland State University in Portland, University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon State University in Corvallis in Benton County, Southern Oregon University in Medford in Jackson County). The county with the State Capital (Salem, in Marion county).

Senatorial Race
And the counties that voted for Obama are also usually voting for the Democratic Senator.

It's not a coincidence that of the twelve counties which voted Democratic for the Presidential race, all seven of those counties which voted for the Democratic senatorial candidate (Merkley) against the incumbent Republican candidate (Smith) were among the 10 of 36 which voted for the Democratic presidential candidate, too.

Here's a rundown of the twelve Democratic counties:

  • Clatsop - seaside resort and fishing, county seat Astoria. Obama 59%
  • Columbia- Adjacent to Multnomah. Obama 59%
  • Tillamook - sparsely populated seaside fishing and dairy county, home of Tillamook Cheese. Obama 54%
  • Washington- Adjacent to Multnomah. Obama 63%
  • Multnomah - Portland, largest city in the state. Metropolitan area extending to adjacent counties. Obama 60%
  • Clackamas - Adjacent to Multnomah. Obama 60%
  • Wasco - county seat The Dalles is the largest Oregon city on the Columbia River. Obama 59%
  • Hood River- Adjacent to Multnomah. Obama 64%
  • Lincoln - county seat Newport; located on the Central Oregon coast; fishing & tourism. Obama 59%
  • Benton - county seat Corvallis home of Oregon State University. Obama 69%! (My home town~)
  • Lane - county seat Eugene home of University of Oregon. Obama 63%
  • Jackson - county seat Medford the third largest city in the state; home of Southern Oregon University. Obama 52%
The counties which voted against the incumbent Republican Senator (as of this time, with 80% of the precincts reporting, the candidates are within 1% of each other and a recount will doubtless be mandated :

  • Clatsop: 49% - 45%
  • Columbia: 46% - 45%
  • Multnomah: 67% - 29%
  • Clackamas: 49% - 46%
  • Hood River: 53% - 43%
  • Lincoln: 52% - 41%
  • Benton: 56% - 40%
  • Lane: 58% - 38%

The point of this statistical shish-ka-bob is that the counties with the large populations (generally assumed to contain the most people who are receiving some kind of governmental largesse) and the counties with major universities (generally assumed to include the most Liberal Intelligentia, and the young newly involved students under the influence of these Liberal Scholars) are more inclined to vote for the Liberal Party Candidates.

The counties which are more remote from population centers, with rural rather than urban demographics, are more inclined to vote for the (relatively) Conservative Party Candidates.

Here, using my home state as an illustrative example, the trends are fairly obvious for anyone who has a practical understanding of the distribution of life-styles among the populations of the contribution population groups (counties).

While I'm no statistician, I find these comparisons striking. Cowboys and loggers, mechanics and merchants, tend to vote for the most conservative candidate possible. Those citizens who are more closely tied to major population centers (Lawers and Legislators, Professors and Professionals, Welfare Moms and Wastrels) tend to vote for the most liberal candidate possible.


Just my opinion, but I think it's because the Liberal voters have established a symbiotic relationship with government. They are like Remoras and sharks ... the government being the sharks. Sharks create waste, Remoras eat waste. They support big government because big government supports them. Their doormat reads: "Welcome!"

On the other hand, the Conservative voters are fiercely independent. They range from Wolverines to Shrek; they don't generally expect anyone else to support them, they live by the dint of their own efforts. All they want is to be left alone. They don't have doormats, they have mud rooms; but if they had a doormat, it would read: "Don't Tread On Me!".

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Brits -- Our American Future?

I've got time for only a few more derisive articles which castigate the British Empire's suicidal descent into Socialism, until we begin our own similar descent now that we've elected The Marxist One as our personal savior.

Let's take a few minutes and savor the many ways in which an intrusive Big Government can screw up our personal life. For the purpose of this discussion, we'll assume that "The Brits" includes England, Canada, Australia and (perhaps to some smaller extent) the Scots and the Irish.

[Did you know that God invented Whiskey so that the Irish would not rule the world? True fact, trust me on this. A further thesis is that God invented the English so that the Scots would not rule the world, and He invented the French just to confound the English. But that's a subject for a future post. Okay, probably not.]

I got an email from Julie Jigsaw, from Australia last week. She has been writing about the recent decision of the Australian Government to bowlderize the Internet.

Well, we seem to have dodged that bullet.
THE Federal Government is planning to make internet censorship compulsory for all Australians.

When the idea was first mooted, there was the concept of an "opt out" option, where users could contact their ISP and say "no, thanks" to this filtering.

This option has now been REMOVED.

When the plan comes into effect sometime next year ALL internet access through Australian ISPs will be censored.

As far as I am concerned, this is a very dangerous path to start walking down.

The Senator in charge of this travesty is Stephen Conroy and, despite trials being planned for later this year, he doesn't know what content the mandatory filters will bar!!!

According to this article there will be two levels of filtering - one level of mandatory filtering for all Australians and an optional level that will provide a "clean feed", censoring adult material. So we're not just talking about porn here.

So much for Australia. Let's move outside the immediate British Sphere of Influence. I invite you to read Erica Jong's prediction that "Obama Loss will 'Spark the Second American Civil War. Blood will Run in the Streets". (!)

Erica Jong:

"Beware of the man who denounces women writers; his penis is tiny and he cannot spell. "

Well, apparently we dodged that particular bullet, too. Brrrrrrr! It makes my tiny penis shrivel to chance incurring The Wrath of Erica.

Fortunately, there are a few Women Writers whose works I admire: Bujold, Evanovich, Grafton, Rand ... hey, where's Jong?

Not there.

Moving right along, let's zero in on Socialism Central ... England.

London to get Bomb-proof recycling bins.

Central London's financial district will begin installing bomb-proof recycling bins from next year, the company responsible for the product said Monday.

The bins, which cost around 30,000 pounds each to produce and install, will also feature news and weather information on LCD screens that are part of the bins.

"From a blast technology side, it's just something that should be there," said Brian James, the chief operating officer of Media Metrica, the company providing the product.

"You don't expect to get into an accident, but you make sure you have seat belts," he told AFP.

Okay, so England is going to spend over $60,000 each for garbage cans, to occupy the 'high risk' areas of London, and they're touting this as if it is A Good thing.

Reason why, is that 20 years ago the IRA dumped some bombs in garbage cans ... er, 'dust bins'.

It's axiomatic that The Military will spend billions of dollars to fight The Last War. That is, for Vietnam we (America) had tanks and stuff that would have been Good To Have in WWII. In Iraq, the American Military had Hummvees which would have been handy in Viet Nam. Maybe. Except that in this century they didn't have what theLiberals were fond of referring to as "Adequate Armor".

In Viet Nam, we didn't have "Adequate Armor"; we had flack jackets which wouldn't stop an AK47 bullet or a ChiCom Directional Mine from messing up your day. [Another blog article which will never be published.]

Today, when airplanes have been pounded into skyscrapers and (locally) Suicide Bombers are packing bomb-vests onto Trams (or whatever Brits call the subway) and onto busses, and thinking about liquid Binary Bombs on airplanes, the Brits are worried about someone blowing up their dustbin.

Okay, that sounds about right.

The Atlanta Bomber had the same idea ... about 10 years ago. Gee, if we had bomb-proof garbage cans on the streets of Atlanta, Georgia, we wouldn't have indicted whats-his-name .... without, as it happens, any shred of proof.

The Brits are looking very much like the Horse who got his head stuck in a tree last week. Think: Ostrich.

Finally, let's stick with The Home Country ... England .. and concentrate on the way it controls its citizens waste:

A company boss faces a £300 (pounds, about $630) fine for failing to declare his sandwich wrapper as "industrial waste".

Frank Hughes, 62, was threatened with the penalty by a council official during a spot inspection at his office and told he may be punished over his used tea bags.

The businessman, who runs a small scaffolding firm, works from an industrial unit with his wife Liz, 61, while their team of labourers visit sites across Liverpool.

But the official insisted they had flouted new nationwide laws which force companies to declare industrial waste despite the couple explaining they only have cling film from their home-made sandwiches and soggy tea bags.

Yesterday Mr Hughes branded their action "laughable".

He told the Daily Express: "In the face of recession, Britain should be looking after its small businesses, not hitting them with as many stealth taxes as they can dream up."

"They want to fine me £300 for sandwich wrappers. The world's gone crazy. We got a letter from the council's environmental waste department, like everybody else, about six months ago asking us to declare the waste we produce."
"Used Tea Bags?"

They want to ding him two days wages (in an average Western economy) for throwing his Used Tea Bags in the wastebasket?

Wait! Wait .. wait ...

Wait for the punchline.

Like you, I'm entirely outraged by this last report. But we now (today) have to stop and consider the story in the context of our future.

Within the next four years, My Fellow Americans, we too will be subject to equally draconian regulations.

Not laws ... we have control over them. Well, maybe not.

But Regulations?

That's Administrative, not Legislative.

That's Bureaucrats, not Legislators.

The folks we elect get to hire the Bureaucrats who set the Regulations without any input from us. And we will have no choice but to observe them. No, they won't throw us into jail ... unless we refuse to pay the onerous fines they impose.

We can expect to be the Victims of Bureaucracy for the next umpteen years. And there'e nothing ... absolutely nothing ... you can do about that.

Think about it.

Welcome to 1984, we're all Winston Smith in our fresh-minted Orwellian World.

And it's all our fault.

"All that is necessary for the triump of evil is that good men do nothing."

It was a Dark and Stormy Night

At 8:00PM the polls closed and the media could announce the results.

Without the West Coast vote, Barack Obama has won the Presidential Election with 297 Electoral Votes to John McCain's 146.

Here is the MSNBC look at the national results.

This is the review of Oregon Results, by county.

In Oregon, to my everlasting embarrassment disappointment, Obama won with over 51% of the vote, compared to under 48% for McCain.

I am, of course, not pleased with the results.

But we do have one thing to be grateful about: it was not a close vote.

There will be none of the SoreLoserGuy whining and bickering which typified the last two presidential elections, and that has to be an improvement. Nobody likes the kid who gets mad in the sandlot, promising to take his baseball and go home ... but won't go away even though it ruins the game for everyone. (Like Al SoreLoser and John Kerrywhiner.)

The Republicans showed the Democrats how to win. Now the Republicans will have to show them how to lose: gracefully, with dignity and a concern for the benefit of The Nation.

We'll hear from Cranky Conservatives in the future. They'll be whining about how Obama bought the office. One of the recent political memes concerned the fact that Obama promised to take the$86 million or whatever it is that the Federal government gives Presidential Candidates, but later changed his mind and decided to earn contributions on his own. That really worked for him, and there's a lesson in it.

Because, you know what? You can earn better as a result of your own efforts than you can by trying to survive on Government Welfare.

Ain't that a kick in the head? The notational Conservative-slash-Republican goes on The Dole, and his opponent hands him his head comes in a poor second. On the other hand, the Marxist refuses Government Funding and instead wins because he's willing to work hard and make his own way in the world.

This sounds more like a Horatio Alger story than the Marxian Dialectic.
(Go back to that link after reading this article. You will find a view of your future there.)

The Candidates
I'm disappointed that we didn't have a Republican Presidential Candidate to vote for. Instead, we had to vote for the RINO, or the Socialist.

Like most of the Republicans in the audience, I voted for Sarah Palin. She's not only the sole Conservative in the bunch, but also the only Conservative.

I was delighted when Geraldine Ferraro was the vice presidential candidate, riding the doomed McGovernM Mondale ticket in 1984 against Ronald Regan to absolute disaster.

I didn't like Reagan at the time, and I argued with my father about Republicans vs Democrats many times. He thought Reagan would grow the economy, I (then a Democrat) thought he was old and stupid. It's amazing how thoughtful he has become in the past quarter-century; although my father died in1994 I continue to learn from his antiquated sagacity. And I have become a Conservative, which would have pleased "Pop".

But I thought it was time that someone brought a female candidate into the process of selecting a President, and even though I thought McGovern was a non-starter I voted for the Democratic ticket back then.

This year it was much easier to vote for the notional Republican Candidate, because he had a real Republican on his dance card. While others were critical of McCain because of his age (you know, "what happens if he dies in office and leaves us without a leader?"), I figured "it can't hurt, it might help. If Palin assumes the Presidency, we might have a qualified Conservative in the Driver's Seat. Nothing against McCain, but I would have been more enthusiastic about a Palin/McCain ticket.

So much for the Distaff side of the choices-we-had-to-live-with.

How about that Obama?

Our first Black President. It's an historic moment, the only problem is that Obama may not be the best Black President.

There's a story going around about a century ago ... no, it was only a decade ... that Colin Powell was approached to run for President in the 2000 elections. He declined, however, under the ominous threat (and perhaps at the time a reasonable concern) that a black man cannot be elected without risking assassination in office.

Obama, in his most brilliant political move, chose The Distinguished Dork From Delaware, the Right Honorable Joe Biden, as his running mate.

There is nobody in this entire country who will risk the health and welfare of Barrack Obama as long as Joe Biden is waiting in the wings to take over the role of Defender of the Free World.

I'm not going to try to convince you that our nation is not going to take some serious hits in the next four years. We are. We will see a couple of Supreme Court Judges retire between now and 2012, under the sure and certain confidence that Obama will present only the most Liberal and Interpretive candidates as replacements. And they'll be seated, too. The Liberals own both the House and the Senate. We'll be dealing with the fall-out for the next 30 years.

Here's the good news. Obama has no governor. He'll over-rev, and the American citizen will watch his taxes rise, the American influence drop in the world Economy, and we will find ourselves in the economic hell of England and Canada where they will not (for example) suffer a non-conformist to live. Literally -- they own Socialized Medicine, which no modern nation has yet managed to provide health care for marginal patients.

In 2012, Obama will face Sarah Palin head-to-head, and it's a whole new ball game.
UPDATE: 5-NOV-2008:
I originally wrote that Ferrro was teamed with McGovern in 1972. Stupid me, Whitefish set me right. It was over a decade later that Ferraro became the first woman to be a candidate from a Major Political Party in an American Presidential Election.

It will be A Good Day when computers come with a Spell Checker for your mind. God knows I need an Editor.
In the meanwhile, I expect to make many more fundamental errors of cognizance, and I continue to rely on my Readers to keep me accurate.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Seattle Activism -

Seattle Activism -

In a recent post by Sondrak, we see a link to Seattle Activism.

Among the appalling events advertised there, I found one single hopeful indicator that irony is not dead in The Evergreen State: as I am not unaware that these links are transitory, here is a snapshot of the calendared event:

Workshop / Training
Free From Fear!! Hoplophobia Workshop

November 7 (Friday), 10:00 am
Discovery Park - picnic grounds
Sponsored by
People United to Save Scared Youth

Be not afraid! Join your peers in encounter groups led by sensitive leaders trained in the Delphi Technique and Accuracy Theory and free yourself of your hoplophobia. Confront your fears and learn the pleasures of the 1-ring. Perhaps you will surprise and please yourself!

Contact Person:
Sig Colt
Contact Email:

get driving directions


I especially appreciate the acronym of "People United to Save Scared Youth".

The conclusion is left as an exercise for the student.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


This is an homage to the SR-71 Blackbird.

Do, please, click on this link; a presentation created by one of the pilots involved in the all-too-limited Blackbird Program.

Perhaps the most extraordinary airplane of all time, the Blackbird flew for decades, being fired upon by missiles thousands of times without ever being hit while still at speeds rivaling the most modern strike airplanes of today, being able to photograph license plated from altitudes of 85,000 feet ... and more.

As a teen, I wanted to fly. I wanted nothing more than to be an Air Force pilot. But I was distracted by other considerations, and never did make the effort to accomplish my desire.

My son has somehow inherited my love of airplanes, and flying. His 'favorite' was the Blackbird, and not without reason. Of the 40 Blackbirds constructed during a 20-year period, there were no more than 93 pilots assigned to Blackbird missions.

It's difficult to imagine that the Blackbird should be rendered 'obsolete', but eventually "Keyhole" satellites were understood to be more cost effective than single-mission airplanes, and the airframes are not longer supported or even retained as options for specific purposes.

In a way, this signals the end of an era when bold pilots would risk their lives to gather information vital to the interests of their country. The airplanes were, under limited and clearly understood (by their pilots) circumstances, the airplanes were able to out-run surface-to-air missiles while continuing to accomplish their assigned reconnaissance missions.

If there remains the concept of romance in the 21st Century, it includes the idea that bold men can ride powerful 'sleds' against all odds, to invade foreign territories in the quest to gather Intelligence.