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It's funny.  Laugh. Books Media Book Reviews

Bastard Operator from Hell II (Son of the Bastard) 125

Sysadmins should at least pretend to be nice to their users, but we all can think of times when some of them aren't. Craig Maloney may not endorse cruelty to users, but he contributed the following review, which should amuse at the very least the bastards among you, and anyone who's chortled at previous Plan Nine books.
Bastard Operator from Hell II (Son of the Bastard)
author Simon Travaglia (Illus., J. D. "Illiad" Frazier)
pages 152
publisher Plan Nine Publishing
rating 9
reviewer Craig Maloney
ISBN 1-929462-40-9
summary The continuing adventures of the Bastard Operator from Hell in paperback format, illustrated by User Friendly's J.D. "Illiad" Frazier.


If you've been around computers for a while, you've probably read the adventures of "The Bastard Operator from Hell" (or BOFH). Throughout the years, Simon Travaglia's version of the BOFH has become the canonical version with its witty and humorously sadistic vignettes. Bastard Operator from Hell II (Son of the Bastard) is a compilation of some of the more recent tales of treachery similar to the ones that appear at


If you've enjoyed reading any of the BOFH stories, you'll love this collection. The stories are written with the same overall style that has made the BOFH series so popular. Whether the BOFH is trying to revive his boss with PC parts (after showing his boss the bill for his new "work wear") or taking the reins of (horrors) management (where the managers have such exciting meetings such as trying to figure out whether to rent the plants for the building), Bastard Operator from Hell II delivers 37 fiendishly funny glimpses into the life of a truly evil operator. The stories themselves are only a few pages, so the casual reader can take in a few without much trouble. The truly voracious reader will look at this book as merely an appetizer. What it lacks in quantity it more than makes up for in quality. There are some real laugh-out-loud moments in this book which have to be read in context in order to appreciate them. Suffice to say, readers of this book won't be disappointed.

"It's a dog's life really..."

Plan Nine Publishing did a great job of laying out this book. The six illustrations "Illiad" illustrated are sprinkled in various sizes throughout the 151 pages of the book (with some repetition, but unless you're really picky it won't bother you too much). Speaking of nitpicks, a small table of contents would be helpful in locating choice stories quickly.

So, what's in it for me?

At $12.95, the book is a bit pricey for the amount of content. Fans of the BOFH series should not hesitate to get this latest installment. Those who don't feel the need yet should check out the older stories archived in various places on the net before pulling out their wallets. Once you've picked this book up, though, you'll want to read it cover to cover. You'll find it hard not to wish you were inflicting some of the bastardly acts yourself. Now where did I leave my clue-by-four ...?"

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Bastard Operator from Hell II (Son of the Bastard)

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  • I just hope (Score:3, Funny)

    by TheDick ( 453572 ) < minus punct> on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @12:01PM (#2961598) Homepage
    All the copies are Xeroxed by hand by the PFY.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @12:58PM (#2961882)
      Not a chance. That's why the beancounters have that shiny new 11x17" double sided 40ppm network printer. (password: accounts). Hey, they insisted on having a seperate network and tech budget. (Then use SNMP to roll back the print count by 30,000 so they junk it after having to replace the toner every 300 prints.)

      You should see the 'art prints' that advertising's color dye sub is printing out. Very 'artistic'.
  • ...they better have the next book ready to go, cuz I'm going to burn through this one. I'm very much looking forward to picking this up.

    I still remember the looks I got for blowing a snot(drinking a pop while reading BofH is not a good idea) when I read my first story.
  • BOFH At The Register (Score:5, Informative)

    by wizarddc ( 105860 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @12:07PM (#2961619) Homepage Journal
    BOFH 2001 []

    BOFH 2000 []

    Ancient BOFH []
  • BOFH Archive (Score:4, Informative)

    by ratguy ( 248395 ) <> on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @12:08PM (#2961623) Homepage
    A little early morning Karma Whoring....

    If anyone is interested in reading the old BOFH posts, there is an archive [] available.
  • make users suffer! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @12:09PM (#2961625)
    "Sysadmins should at least pretend to be nice to their users"

    no! sysadmins should be allowed to crucify users that get out of line and then set the crosses on fire.
    • by iapetus ( 24050 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @12:16PM (#2961653) Homepage
      You're missing the point. Sysadmins should behave in such a way that when they crucify users that get out of line and then set the crosses on fire, the users think that they *are* being nice to them.

      You'll never become a true BOFH unless you understand the basics...
      • Exactly. And after you crucify the user and burn the cross, if you are a true BOFH, the other users will come and thank you, and ask if you can do the same for them. This, is a key element to Bastard-Operator-From-Hellness.

      • by mikeage ( 119105 )
        They say tact is the art of telling someone to go to hell, and having them look forward to the trip...
      • You're missing the point. Sysadmins should behave in such a way that when they crucify users that get out of line and then set the crosses on fire, the users think that they *are* being nice to them.

        Not quite.
        Users must think that sysadmins are being nice to them in spite of their incredible tight scheduling, so that they will think twice before bothering them again.
        A sysadmin wants to deal with systems, not with users.

        ciao, .mau.
    • What do you mean "Should be allowed"? You mean we arn't??!?!??!

      Where did I leave the Halon release key?
      • Damn straight! Just today I warned some of my coworkers (whom I'd caught running inadvisable commands) that if they horked with one of my hosts, I would beat them bloody with a power cable. Not only did no one raise an eyebrow, they rushed to assure me that they'd never touch them again...
    • The problem I see with being nice to users, or even pretending to be nice, is that they'll just feel free to call again.
      If I am as unhelpful and un-nice as possible, then they'll think twice before calling me again.

      • No no need to make the users absolutely dread calling you for things.

        My favorite is the user who forgets their password. New employees are encouraged to call me to "have their password reset." Usually, just setting it to "forgot," and then having them hear a light chuckle seems to be enough around here.

        Another favorite is the user who needs the status changed on orders in our internal order processing system:



        "I need a bunch of orders reset to 'newly entered'! The printer messed up while printing them, and I have to reprint them immediately!"


        "Were these orders entered manually, or did they come in over EDI?" I ask, concern for the user oozing from every pore.

        "Uh, manually entered, I think..."

        "Okay, one moment please..."

        clickety clickety clackety click

        "Does 316 orders sound about right?" I ask, still with the Voice of Concern.

        "Yes!" blurts the user. "Yes, that's it!"

        "One moment please while I cancel your orders so you can re-key them..."


        User on the phone "What! Nnnnooooo!"

        "Thanks for calling!"

        Problem solved. Sometimes, I just love my job. HR could never fully explain a perk like this... :-)

    • Some users are genuine and want to learn. But, IMHO _All_ footballer/jocks (with no exception) who even come within a 50m radius of you regardless of if or not they are using a computer, should be electricuted (but kept alive) and locked in a storage room while you print out copies of their browsers' history containing such interesting sites as (if the history is clean, fake it) and post it up for all the world to see (including their girlfriends). They should then be stoned to death with footballs from your homemade catapult.

      This is probably off-topic, but i think i can swing it through with the 'be nice to your users' comment
      • I was banished from my cube to a machine on the counter two weeks before my company moved its HQ. The jock on the counter was nice and tried to relate to me, but he was really computer clueless. My sig is from his most notorious quote-I really had to struggle not to laugh.
        • Thankyou for proving my point. He was not being nice, he was tring to screw you over by making you lower your defences. They are trained in this. I won't even comment on the quote :)
  • by Dimwit ( 36756 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @12:10PM (#2961632)
    Hi, I just got this book, and I can't seem to figure out how to open it.

    Oh, I didn't know humidity would cause it to stick shut...What? No, sorry, I don't have any distilled mineral salts.

    Sure, I've got a power cord right here - now I need to do what? Ionize the electricity with some saline? But I don't...Oh, sure I could do that....

    *sticks power cord in mouth*

    ZZZZZZZZZT *thunk*
  • Two thumbs up (Score:2, Informative)

    by rde ( 17364 )
    Of course, in the context of the BOFH, hearing phrases like 'two thumbs up' can be a portent of doom. However...

    I really enjoyed the first book, but it wasn't really meant to be read in one sitting; it was starting to get tedious towards the end. Having said that, if you don't have diarrhoea, then it's eminently dippable, and well worth keeping in the bathroom.
  • hrmph (Score:5, Funny)

    by gmack ( 197796 ) <.ten.erifrenni. .ta. .kcamg.> on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @12:10PM (#2961636) Homepage Journal
    My co workers seem to stop by my office a lot less since I showed them the bofh series.
  • .PDF (Score:3, Funny)

    by pkx ( 446643 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @12:11PM (#2961639) Homepage
    Think how much more money the company could make if they sold a .PDF of the book for $9.99?
    • Re:.PDF (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Lendrick ( 314723 )
      A .PDF would be all over the internet within days. They're better off printing a book.
      • by pkx ( 446643 )
        What to go in 1/2 on the book? I can scan it into PDF...

      • Re:.PDF (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Bonker ( 243350 )
        The originals are already all over the internet. You're paying $12 for a bathroom reader and Illiad's art... although I much prefer Pete Abram's art to Illiad's.
        • Re:.PDF (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Larne ( 9283 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @01:04PM (#2961919)
          You're also paying as a way of giving something back to Simon Travaglia (and Illiad) for entertaining you. And as a way to encourage them to create more. By releasing this stuff free on the net first he's clearly not expecting payment, but that's not the same thing as saying he doesn't deserve any.

          It's the same with GNU software. It's great that it's (beer) free, but that's no reason not to give something to the FSF if you can and want to.

      • You are right, and I don't think the book is that expensive anyways. I mean, come on, people, support the people you like, and don't support the people you don't like.

        For instance, I will definately buy this book, but I will not buy any CD's because I do not want to support the RIAA, and that's where most of my money will be going. I don't mind supporting a publisher and the author for work which I think is hilarious.

          • For instance, I will definately buy this book, but I will not buy any CD's because I do not want to support the RIAA, and that's where most of my money will be going. I don't mind supporting a publisher and the author for work which I think is hilarious.

          That's all well and good if you don't mind supporting the publisher as well as the author, but you do realise that Simon Travaglia will almost certainly be getting no more than between 1 and 5 cents in every dollar, right? The RIAA might be a huge, greedy manopoly, but that doesn't mean that what they do is unusual. It just means they're the best at it. The fact that they're in an industry where they have, for whatever reasons, become the "standard" and all musical production must go through them (correct me if I'm wrong?) just goes to demonstrate how good they are. However, I might contest that Joe Average knows any more about the RIAA's methods than about any book publisher--the only reason it's a big deal here on Slashdot is because the RIAA is seen as the Big Bad(TM) in the war over intellectual property etc.

          This is the reason I very rarely buy books, and also the primary reason that have chosen to copyleft all my work (as a writer), and pursue journalism instead.

          Btw, it's "definitely" and "CDs".

    • Re:.PDF (Score:3, Funny)

      by rm-r ( 115254 )
      I think they'd make $9.99 ;-)
  • Buying the books (Score:5, Informative)

    by OctaneZ ( 73357 ) <ben-slashdot2@um ... g minus language> on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @12:14PM (#2961647) Journal
    As a proud owner of the first book I can say it is quite nice to be able to take BOFH with you anywhere you go (aside from the ones on your PDA). The books, both I [] and II [] can be purchased from Plan 9 Publishing [] from THIS []page. Enjoy your reading, and remember only use one excuse card a day! (don't want to run out before the end of the year)

    BOfH Administrator
  • I've got the first book, gonna get the second, now all I need is a computerized version of the 'Excuse for the Day' for my pda.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's really funny, and well worth the money. The BOFH is now my hero, and I'm remodeling my life to mimic his. heh heh. Fiction, my ass.

    That's all I can say. Buy it. You'll like it.

  • Illiad drew a pretty accurate hand for the cover. But then again I can still only see three knuckles....
  • and buy [] the book.
  • It's good, but... (Score:3, Informative)

    by alansz ( 142137 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @12:51PM (#2961823) Homepage
    First, a disclaimer. I like this book. Despite having printouts of most of the BOFH stuff already, I bought both the first BOFH book from Plan Nine and this one, because it's nice to have a bound copy to put on the desk to scare users.

    But there are a few critical points that should be made about the second book, and that can hopefully be avoided in the next installment:

    • The PFY comes from nowhere. The stories that introduce him aren't included, so if you don't already read BOFH online, he appears rather abruptly.
    • Illiad's illustrations are cute, but there are only about four of them, repeated over and over, which is a real shame.
    • The price, as previously noted, seems a bit much for the quality of the paper, etc. used, but obviously, the market will bear (has borne) it.
    As compared to the first BOFH book, you get a lot more BOFH vs. corporation (especially accountants) and less BOFH vs. users. Depending on your outlook, this may be a very positive thing or not. :)
  • BOFH goes America is worth a read because it
    tells you how life in the US really is.

    Oh - and if you're from the US, it teaches you
    all the unfounded lies and cliches we Europeans
    believe in about the Ameican way of life. :-)
  • Salmon Days (Score:5, Informative)

    by Un1v4c ( 226792 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @01:05PM (#2961922) Homepage

    I think Salmon Days [] is going to start running a BOFH-ish broadcast series.
    If you haven't seen The Trailer [] you're missing out.

    All I can say is, "ROFLMAO!"
    • Re:Salmon Days (Score:3, Interesting)

      by FastT ( 229526 )
      Dammit! I found Salmon Days, laughed my ass off at it, and then submitted it as an article. It was promptly smacked down by the Slashdot editors for no clear reason, and now they post an article about a BOFH book... Anyway, here's my original submission:

      Almost anyone who's worked with clueless users will double over laughing at this: a live-action, Internet-only video series called "Salmon Days []", starring the Bastard Operator from Hell []. Featured are a thrashing of the Microsoft Paperclip, an inter-office porn show, and lots of idiot users getting their comeuppance. You have to call a phone number and pay a small fee to gain access to the full episodes, but just the trailer [] is hilarious, and the profits go to charity [].

    • Oh god! just downloaded the trailer and watched it, and I couldn't believe my eyes... BOFHs computer running windozeNT and bluescreening? thats no BOFH, just a sissie MSCE. shame on them. Besides that, it was ok...

  • BOFH Quote of the moment
    Phreedom.Net BOFH Quote []

  • A friend in custome support recently told me of a new acronym, to replace RTFM. It is, apparently, JDASOGFFS, or:

    Just Do A Search On Google, For F*** Sake!
  • "But that's a Wa..." He says, then stops. He's a beginner, and it's just possible that the company has a line of terminals that look like waffle irons. He bites." -Striped Irregular Bucket #1

    Man, from then I was hooked. I kept a waffle iron in my office for a few years, but only two people ever looked at it and asked if it was a "Model 3"! A good way to find kindred spirits!

  • by pherris ( 314792 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @02:10PM (#2962346) Homepage Journal
    Or atleast its what google says: BASTARD OPERATOR FROM HELL #1 []
    (You have to love the classics ...)


  • by Jokkey ( 555838 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @05:20PM (#2963723)

    I must admit that I don't really grasp the BOFH perspective. I figure that as a sysadmin, my job is to serve users; torturing them really doesn't seem to be part of the job description. Yeah, they can be pretty annoying at times, but I figure that's partly because being a computer expert isn't necessarily part of their jobs - any more than it's my job to know the ins and outs of accounting or financial aid or anything else that my users do.

    And yes, I should probably just learn to take a joke. I was a bit curious, though, to learn if anyone else felt the same way...

    • I figure that as a sysadmin, my job is to serve users...

      Well, yes, it is. Mine too. But that's not the allure. Where I work now, there are only a handful of people I have to support. The user/luser ration is pretty user-heavy. a previous posting, I worked with a lrger group with a lower average "computer IQ". There's only so much you can take before revenge fantasies pop to mind, and from there, jail.

      BOFH is a release, much the way a quality FPS is a release. Only a brave few will actually emulate the BOFH. The rest will take solace in the fact that somewhere, some luser just got some more free disk space ;)

      P.S. Where you work, does your HR insist on some level of computer experience before hiring? We just hired a data-entry person who had NEVER used a PC on her 55+ years on the planet: "Press the Tab key to enter your password." "The what key? Enter?" Aaargh!

      - Glad to have moved on from support to analysis!

      • P.S. Where you work, does your HR insist on some level of computer experience before hiring? We just hired a data-entry person who had NEVER used a PC on her 55+ years on the planet: "Press the Tab key to enter your password." "The what key? Enter?" Aaargh!

        Ouch... Actually, the place where I work is small enough (a small college, ~150 employees) that we don't have a proper HR department. The staff are mostly clueful, though, and the students aren't technically inclined enough to be too demanding.

        What probably helps me most, though, is that one of the other guys in the computer department usually ends up handling users. I keep the servers happy and do programming (both of which involve some dealing with users), while he does PC troubleshooting and helpdesk (which involves most of the dealing with users). I must say that I don't envy him.

    • I figure that as a sysadmin, my job is to serve users; torturing them really doesn't seem to be part of the job description.


      I was a bit curious, though, to learn if anyone else felt the same way...



    • . . . any more than it's my job to know the ins and outs of accounting or financial aid . . .

      Financial Aid? Easy. If your EFC exceeds your COA you're SOL for the FSEOG. It's really all you need to know.

    • What's your user name?

      clickety click...

  • ... 'cuz I'm a horrible stand-up but here's my .02 for BOfH

    "My computer is frozen" ... "well put a six pack on it and I'll be right there"

    "My computer is stuck" ... "You need to put a laxative in the cupholder"

    "I can't get in" ... "Well tell your significant other to use a lubricant"

    Some of the people I deal with are competent and I treat them well ... but a good majority of them deserve to be beaten down

  • My first posting... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Prof_Criswell ( 557059 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @08:08PM (#2964721)
    Greetings from the denizens of Plan Nine. I want to thank all of you for the very nice remarks about Simon's book. I have sent him the link, but don't know if he will respond here.

    While here, I thought I would address a few points/questions brought up in the posts.

    1) Order of the stories - I pulled the stories from Simon's web site in the order they were posted, so I had assumed they were in order. I'll read through both books tonight and double check.

    2) BOfH in PDF - I am not a big believer in electronic versions of books. While I feel they have there place in the realm of college texts, people still want a tangible book to read. Besides, the book doesn't need batteries.

    3) Price of BOfH - I would love to get the price down, but given the very small print runs, that is hard. As demand for the books increases, this will happen. The good news is that a fair chunk of the purchase price goes to Simon (he makes more than we do, which is how it should be)

    All of Plan Nine's books are more expensive than the average "Dilbert" (of course I think our stufff's funnier, but I am biased), but I can't afford to print 250,000+ copies.

    A side note, if you buy the Bastard Pack, you save $4.00.

    4) Availability from Amazon - The book is available from Amazon, they just have to get their act together. Once upon a time, they used to allow publishers to upload title info directly. Now they only do that if you sign up for their "Advantage Program", which only is advantageous if you are Amazon. I personally don't have the money to make interest-free 60-day loans to multi-billion dollar companies.

    Besides, when you buy direct from Plan Nine, the artist/author gets twice the royalty that they get if you buy from Amazon or a book store.

    Thanks for supporting Simon and the other folk at Plan Nine.

    David Allen
    Publisher, CEO, Janitor
  • I know I should know this, but what does PFY stand for? I've been reading BOFH on The Register for about a year and I don't think I've ever seen it explained, and I'm far too stupid/lazy to figure it out.

"Call immediately. Time is running out. We both need to do something monstrous before we die." -- Message from Ralph Steadman to Hunter Thompson