The Bastard and his pimply sidekick spread their network of misery across the land...

Year 1996 - Episode 31


The PFY and I are in celebratory mode. The bosses have finally seen reason and agreed to become a Corporate Internet Service Provider in the cities that we have offices in, as an attempt to defray operating expenses.

A long-term attempt of course. In the short term however, it will mean long hours of overtime in foreign cities for the PFY and I as we struggle to make our systems foolproof.

It was a done deal from the time the CEO saw the interesting video conferencing tools available on the Internet. The bit about recovering our Internet operating expenses passed him by as he finally saw his very own project achieve fruition after its many stops and starts over the past year. His eyes watered as he thought of his image addressing all our offices simultaneously. I didn't think it politically sound to inform him of the MUTE control that accompanied almost every conferencing client ...

Once I had his signature, I set the wheels in motion immediately by cancelling the contract with our current ISP. A company that still didn't know which side of the information superhighway you were supposed to drive on, and thought that World Wide Web had something to do with driftnets and dolphins. Not that it didn't charge completely through the nasal cavity for its knowledge. When we got stung with a consultancy fee for ringing to say its router was down AGAIN, we knew the end was nigh.

The PFY puts a brave face on it as he heads off to one of our Scottish offices for a week, forced to stay in a luxury hotel as the company's courtesy apartment had apparently been leased to a Mr Babbage - the same person who hadn't shown up to the Welsh courtesy apartment last week. I too, was forced to stay at a hotel - not that I had much time to see my room with all the work I had to do. The hours of which incidentally coincided with the hours that the house bar opened.

Pure coincidence, as I explained to the boss, two days later when he queried me about the astronomical bar-tab. In fact, I could quite honestly say that I had ABSOLUTELY no recollection of ever being there.

Anyway, to placate the boss about all the spending that's been going on, I show him the extra-special bonus advantage we obtained when a company across the road (and only a short trip down some municipal piping away) asked to connect to us. We were only too pleased to connect them to our LAN.

The boss notes carefully the heavy three-phase power cable going into their tiny router, and the four thick-wire-like segments and one UTP segment that emerged. Back at our offices he noticed even more carefully the termination of the 'thick-wire' segments on the input of one of our UPS units. Even he can see that three 2.4KW supplies is an investment in the power bill of the future. That the company is also paying us for the service has him almost smiling. A frightening thought.

He is, however, not the only one to notice. "This Internet thing uses a ton of power," our client's network expert ('ex' being a has-been, 'spurt' being a little drip under pressure) complains. "Our comms room power bill has rocketed skywards!"

"Well it would," I reply. "I mean, after all, you have to push that data all around the world, not just to the next office. Just imagine what your power bill would be like if you weren't connected through us!"

"Oh!" he mumbles. "I hadn't thought of it that way."

"No, and consider the traffic speed difference. What speed do you get from home provider?"

"Oh," he mumbles. "14.4 or 28.8. Much slower than work. Although work does pause from time to time."

"Well we could speed you up of course," I say. "But then that would involve another set of cables and more power consumption. Then if you wanted, we could run a redundant server over in our offices as well, on our UPS, but you'd have to pay for the power bills for that too."

"Well, the bosses do want redundancy once we start putting up our own home pages..."

I hate me, I really do. It's just like shooting a fish in a barrel. With an elephant gun.

To celebrate my recent successes, I ring through to our other Scottish office to sort out my arrangements for next week's installation.

"Hello? I'd like to reserve the courtesy apartment please...Babbage. London Office. I've already booked? Excellent."

That PFY is damn good.