The Bastard counts on the fact that managers never remember...

Year 1996 - Episode 14


It's quarterly budget time again and I'm trying to convince the managers that we should upgrade the thin wire Ethernet in one of our remote offices. An hour into the meeting the conversation goes something like ...

Manager 1: "So basically you're saying that 10 million of these 'bit' things EVERY SECOND isn't fast enough?"

Me: "No, not really."

Manager 2: "He's right you know, I've been to that office, the network speed is abysmal!"

Manager 1: "It just doesn't seem possible! Hell, I can't even manage TEN bits of stuff a second."

Me: "That doesn't surprise me."

Manager: "Pardon?"

Me: "I said the numbers really surprise me. Too, I mean..."

Manager 1: "Oh."

Me: "You see, when my predecessor put that net in, he did it on the cheap. All the devices were connected to the same piece of net. It's like everyone using the same road to get to work."

Manager 1: "But we paid a PREMIUM for that network!"

Me: "Four years ago. Cabling was more expensive then. And...."

Manager 1: "And?"

Me: "And the original spec was for individual segments."

Manager 1: "So?"

Me: "Well basically, everyone was supposed to have their own network 'road'."

Manager 2: "What happened?"

Me: "Well, it was probably a combination of financial and distribution considerations."

Manager 2: "Meaning?"

Me: "He daisy-chained one segment through all of the offices, sold the remaining cable off, and charged you through the nose for labour."

Manager 1: "Really?"

Me: "Yes, it happens with the less reputable network engineers."

Manager 1: "I find this all extremely hard to believe. There must be some mistake. He assured me that it had been done."

Me: "Ah, he probably assured you that YOU had been done."

Manager 1: "No! I'm sure he wouldn't have taken advantage!"

Me: "I see. Tell me, what money was he earning back then?"

Manager 1: "Seven fifty an hour."

Me: "And the car he drove?"

Manager 1: "Mercedes convertible."

Me: "And how did he dress?"

Manager 1: "Nicely - Italian suits."

Me: "Are things becoming a little clearer?"

Manager 1: "You mean to say..."

Me: "I do."

Manager 1: "He..."

Me: "He did."

Manager 2: "How bad IS this?"

Me: "At the time it wasn't bad, but with all client server upgrades, staff are wasting valuable time waiting for networks."

Manager 3: "What should we do then?"

Me: "Well, as you see in front of you, I'm recommending UTP to the desktop, Cat 5 so that we can upgrade to ATM when it becomes a more widespread and viable technology. This will save you the expense of having to recable in a couple of years."

I pause in my delivery to let their minds recover from acronym overload.

Manager 1: "How much will it cost?"

Me: "Well, it won't be cheap. However if you look at the cost over five years, it's fairly small, if, of course, you accept that the cabling will be done out of hours by me and my pimply faced youthful assistant at the standard double-time overtime rate. We could get a contractor in, but as you can see on the paper in front of you, it would be about three times as expensive and only slightly quicker that way. And, given that we will have laid the cable and are likely to know more about it if problems occur in the future..."

Manager 2: "We get your point. Well, it seems that you've covered all aspects of the problem, I for one agree. Everyone else concur?"

Two weeks later, the PFY wanders out to the site and starts the job.

"So we change the existing UTP patch cables to a new colour, drop some Cat 5 off-cuts on the floor and kick a hole in the plasterboard every few offices or so?" he asks.

"Yup! For a week or two."

"Won't someone find out?"

"Well, they WOULD if there was any documentation saying that there was Cat-5 to the desktop here already, but unfortunately that information accidentally fell in the shredder this morning," I reply.

"So we really ARE just changing the patch cables to a new colour?"

"Yup!"

"How's that going to improve performance?"

"It's not. But switching off the traffic generator in the 2nd floor comms cupboard which has been increasing its traffic by one per cent a week since the beginning of the year will."

"So we're just screwing them for lots of labour."

"And those drums of premium Cat-5 which have excellent re-sale value."

"You bastard!"

"Hey! I was this close to charging them for new network cards too, but I relented."

"So that stuff about your predecessor was all lies?"

"No. He did all that, just to some of the other offices..."