The Bastard negotiates around 'budget constraints'...

Year 1995 - Episode 9


So I'm at my first budget meeting of the month, which has one and ONLY one purpose - to increase the size of our modem pool by 10 modems.

Small potatoes on the budgetry scale, but it does set a precedent for future meetings, a fact which is never overlooked.

Normally I'd get about a quarter of whatever I ask for (due to 'budget constraints' - ie the technical managers want the latest flashy status-symbol toys), however today I'm feeling lucky for some reason.

"Well, I still don't see what the problem is," Technical Manager One says. "It's not as if the modems are used 24 hours a day!"

"No," I say, "But at peak times they are 100 per cent utilised causing us problems."

"Perhaps our staff should be educated in modem use?" Tech One says smarmily.

The other Tech Managers fall into line with this statement with lapdog-like nods.

Time to play the ace up my sleeve.

"Yes, education is an answer, however it achieves little when modems are in use for excessive periods of time..."

"Meaning?" Tech Two asks, smelling a rodent-type creature in the immediate vicinity.

"Mainly people downloading large files from Internet's Usenet News..."

"Ah," Tech Two chips in quickly, "Perhaps there is a measure of expansion needed."

"...Large downloads," I continue, "Probably picture files of some description."

"Yes yes, I'm sure there's no need to go into extraneous detail on this."

Tech Two interrupts sweating slightly...

"No, you're right," I say, "None whatsoever. But newsgroups are only one problem. There are a lot of heavy image downloads from Web-Sites as well."

Tech One is suddenly fully awake. He knows (as do I) just which sites I'm talking about here and what images. AND what they depict. AND more importantly, who's downloading them...

I continue...

"Of course, should 'budget constraints' require usage statistics from our News host and Web-cache server, I'm sure I can dig up what articles and images were downloaded, when and by whom. In fact one site is getting fairly heavy access by only one user at our site and..."

"Yes, yes. Shall we move along? " Tech One pleads, "I believe you have a valid point and I am fully behind he move to get more modems."

"I would agree," Tech Two adds.

The Technical Lapdogs once more fall into line...

"Certainly," I say, "I think those 15 modems will be most helpful."

"FIFTEEN!" Tech One says "Your proposal was for TEN!"

"True, but on second thoughts, I feel it prudent to leave room for expansion in this area. Don't you agree?"

The moment of truth. Will he fold or not? Better safe than sorry...

"ESPECIALLY if modems are going to be used to access sites that have dubious relevance to the purpose of the company, such as..."

"ALL RIGHT!" Tech One cries, "Fifteen seems quite... reasonable."

I'm out of the meeting a record two hours eight minutes and back in my office in time to hear my phone ringing. What the hell, I answer it.

"Network Engineer."

"Hello is this the Network Engineer?"

"No, I'm sorry this is the Mail Room. Please hold, I'll put you through."

I forward the user to the talking clock and look over the error reports that have accumulated in my absence.

I grab one at random to give the impression of service. I ring the user.

"Hello, Payments"

"Hi, I'm Simon the Network Engineer. I gather you had a problem with telephone call-pickup."

"Yes, I can't pickup the phones in the office like everyone else."

"And you logged this as a Priority One call?"

"Well it's quite important!"

"OK, your problem is obviously an... EEPROM CONFIG CHARGE LOSS."

"Uh?"

"The battery that saves your phone's information is flat."

"But it's just new!"

"Of course. But it's been sitting for months in a storeroom."

"Oh. Should I get a new battery then?"

"No, no," I chuckle, "It's rechargeable! Just whip down to the basement car park and borrow the vehicle jump starter. Put one of the big clips on either side of the battery and press the red button. In seconds your battery will be back to new."

"OK, thanks."

"Don't mention it."

Five minutes later I'm sitting in the comms room by the exchange. One of the line level LEDs glows very brightly for a fraction of a second then goes out.

Some users have it coming. I'm just a delivery mechanism.