The Bastard on a devilish buying mission...

Year 1995 - Episode 5


The story so far... The Bastard Operator from Hell and his ex boss's secretary Sharon are on a fact-finding mission to the States to check out on some security hardware ...

Sharon and I have to make the junket look more plausible so I track down several trade-shows for us to go to and pad out our cover story. I use the basic two-step junket cover-up plan:

  1. Drop business cards saying I'm interested in everything so I get lots of correspondence when I get back.

  2. Sign up for every free subscription and on-site demonstration (to be farmed off to someone once I get home).

I then engage the one-step Make The Most Of It Plan - get to the bar as soon as possible and get freebies and drinks from suppliers.

Later that day at a sales stand...

"..combined with dual, redundant power delivery systems, opto-mode indicators, and rapid install strain relief fixtures"

"So what you're saying is it comes with a spare power cable, a 'power' LED and a bag of cable ties?" I ask.

"Ah well, you're obviously not aware of the full ramifications of system redundancy, hardware stressors and high availability."

"IT'S A BLOODY ROUTER!" I shout. "If the power goes out, it doesn't matter how many spare power cables, lights or cable ties you have, it still stops, you lose your net and get lots of phone calls!"

"Yes, but it does come in a nice black case with eight rubber feet instead of four!"

"WHAT I'M AFTER," I repeat for the fifth time "is an FDDI hub with IMPRESSIVE LOOKING ENCRYPTION built-in. I don't need another router."

"It's a nice router.."

"I don't care, I have routers. I want IMPRESSIVE LOOKING ENCRYPTION!"

"What do you mean by impressive LOOKING?" the guy asks.

"Something that'll fool a technical manager," I reply.

"What about converting everything to lower case?" he suggests, knowing the level of competence of the average technical manager.

"No, no we might get an intelligent one sometime in the future."

"Lowercase and all words spelt backwards?"

"Better.."

"Well, we do have this encryption chip set for terminal servers that we could whack into a hub.."

"What sort of speed would we get?"

"FDDI in."

"And out?"

"96K.. ...on a good day."

"NOT really what I want is it?"

"Well, that would be version one. But we promise that version 1.1 would have perfect performance, no lag, and so secure it'll seem like magic."

"You're lying aren't you?"

"Of course, I'm in sales!"

"What would we really get?"

"Like I said, version 1.1 would have the lot - everything you asked for."

"When would it be delivered?"

"Third quarter."

"Third quarter?"

"2012."

"Thought so. Perhaps we give this one a miss?"

"But it's the only hub on the market with high-speed-opto-interfacing!"

"They all have that - that's what FDDI means."

"Yeah, but no-one else calls it that in their brochures. And you get a couple of bottles of 40-year old scotch with every one as a product endorsement."

"Make it half a dozen with each one and I'll take 10."

Sharon looks a little concerned at this.

"We'll never get away with it," she whispers. "They'll cripple the net!"

"Sharon, Sharon, Sharon," I sigh. "We're never going to use them, that's the key. We'll buy them and mention to the CEO that we'll be able to ensure that absolutely no-one can snoop our networks without being detected. He'll realise that the piece of software he uses to detect the schemers among his junior execs will be compromised, and late one night all the routers will disappear from the storage cupboard to reappear in a landfill somewhere in Bognor."

"You mean the CEO spies on the other execs to protect his job?"

"Of course! I'd be most put out if I'd written that software for nothing!"

"What if he's not snooping any more?"

"Please! Upper management has all the 'filial loyalty' of a piranha infested toilet bowl. And anyway, should that fail I will engage the old-favourite 100 per cent-foolproof kit-destruction ploy."

"What's that?"

"Switch the voltage to 115 and PLUG 'EM IN! Works every time."

"How much do they pay you to think up this stuff?"

"NOT ENOUGH!"