Bastard Programmer From Hell: Server Side Depravity

Here’s another Bastard Programmer from Hell story. This one’s a bit more involved than the first. In this episode, the Bastard takes on the Marketing department using its own weapons along with a few of his own.


Another call at 9:05AM – before I’ve taken off my coat, tied back my hair, or had a cup of coffee. If the semester course in statistics I took in college is of any use, I’d say this is the beginning of one fuck of a disturbing trend.

The Caller ID (which I “customised” to use an ID list of my own making) says that His Nibs – known to you mortals as the CEO – is on the line.

Lately, I’ve set an “unofficial” policy of countering all calls made prior to 11:00AM with a “kill -9” command aimed at the offender’s X session. Second offenders get their kernels crippled with a random “kldunload” command to rip out a vital driver.

A third offense gets a “kill -9 1” command, targetting the init process. Let’s just say that issuing SIGKILL to that process is generally listed by most Unix manuals as one of the worst things root can do.

Of course, the FreeBSD 4.6 Bastard Programmers’ Manual from Hell lists recommends issuing a “kill -9 1” command on some other luser’s machine as “GOOD CLEAN FUN”.

Information Technology is definitely a profession in dire need of more fun.

But first, time to take care of business. I pick up the phone on the second ring and say, “What’s wrong?”

Well well well – Marketing has willfully ignored the equipment standard and still uses Exchange and IIS on an unpatched NT Server. Tsk tsk.

I agree with my boss – punishment is due. And, since these are marketing scumbags we’re dealing with, a liberal dose of sadism is quite justifiable.

Rubbing my hands together in a manner that would put most Hollywood villains to shame I lower my voice and tell my boss, "Give me a week, and I’ll have Marketing beg to be rid of Exchange and IIS.

First, time to have a look at their systems. Their server is exposed to the planet as marketing.skye-macro.com, all their email addresses are exposed to the known universe as username@marketing.skye-macro.com, and the head of Marketing is known to the entire multiverse as the sysadmin for marketing.skye-macro.com.

I love my work. I really do.

First, it’s time to round up the email address of every scumbag in the Marketing department and pass the list to some of their esteemed colleagues in the direct email marketing field.

Come lunchtime, and Marketing’s filling my voice mail which complaints about an onslaught of disgusting porn pitches and hideously illegal business propositions from Nigerian gangsters. Not to mention the ever-popular “Enlarge your penis naturally” and “herbal viagra” scams.

Naturally, I forward their voicemail to /dev/null. I’m not their sysadmin, the head of Marketing is. Let her deal with it.

It’s almost 5:00PM, so it’s time to implement Step 2 before heading home for the day. It’s time for a little fun with the DNS system. First to pick a particularly heinous porn site from the listings in the back of the Bastard Programmers’ Manual – something from a host on an island that nobody has jurisdiction over – and work a bit ofDNS wizardry to reroute all requests for the porn site to Marketing’s server and all requests for Marketing’s server to the porn site.

My depravity shocks me at times. It really does; I was a sweet and innocent little blue-eyed programmer-cat before I became head of IT.

But this job could make a bastard out of a saint, and I’m just another long-haired sinner.

The next day, and it appears that my little tweak to DNS has propagated across the world. Now it’s time to separate the Bastards from the punks with chips on their shoulders.

An hour’s worth of social engineering in the form of a hefty bribe to the porn site’s webmaster (financed by Marketing’s petty cash; fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke) gets me access to his server, and I belt out a CGI program that sends a burst of Chernobyl packets to any client requesting a page from marketing.skye-macro.com using Internet Exploiter.

Which, by the way, is the vast majority of Marketing’s target audience.

While I wait for matters to come to a head I attend to mundane matters: a patched library here, a driver update there. Busywork, really. I had it done by lunchtime.

A quick grep of the sendmail logs reveals that tempers are simmering nicely over in Marketing as the weasels bitch at Human Resources about “a totally unresponsive IT Department” and HR tells Marketing to fix their own problem.

Nice to know that I have allies.

I nuke a couple of slices of pizza, load Shin Megami Tensei II into the emulator, and grab some pirate anime from Usenet. The afternoon passes swiftly…

Four o’clock comes along soon enough to find me midway through the last dungeon in SMT II. The janitor comes by and tells me that the Head of Marketing is ready to self-destruct.

Another day should do it. I finish the last dungeon and kill God (he had it coming, trust me) before heading home after a hard day’s work.

Vic the Janitor trundles into my office the next morning at 10:00AM to tell me that the Head of Marketing has shut down the NT server, leaving her department without email. Several religious groups have called the CEO to complain about the content on marketing.skye-macro.com, and he’s referred them all to the Head of Marketing.

Being deserted by one’s allies can make or break a person. I guess it broke the Head of Marketing; Vic the Janitor came by at lunchtime to tell me that she took a dive out her window after being hit with criminal obscenity charges by the NYPD.

The Windows NT server soon follows her; Vic and I defenestrate it with a hearty cry of “LOOK OUT BELOW!”

I decide to work overtime tonight and convert the Marketing Department; they’ve suffered enough for their boss’ stupidity. Besides, I get time and a half. Gotta pay off the student loans somehow, right?