A little sabotage is in the offing as the BOFH scuppers the systems department and the boss...

Year 1997 - Episode 24


It's the final week of the PR fortnight and things have calmed down. People don't call us for the 'guaranteed response' so much. Perhaps it's something to do with the type of response they're guaranteed.

The geeks in the systems department are miles ahead of networks in the popularity stakes after blatantly bribing the users by shoving a terabyte of disk at them and electronically yelling "help yourself." Nothing short of upgrading everyone to 100 Meg Ethernet is going to bring us up to their level. The systems department must be brought down.

The terabyte of disk space is the first to go - about 20 in-depth 'treatments' with the rapid-freeze spray then the heat-gun along the drive electronics is sufficient to introduce the fabled 'random factor' into file safety.

The boss, meantime, is trying to curry favour with the masses by announcing a massive memory upgrade to the applications server to give it some real performance, disregarding completely the bottleneck analysis software pointing to desktop network speed. There's no helping some people.

Sure enough, a few hours later we have an engineer outside our office trying to edge into the computer room.

"What the hell's he doing here?" I ask.

"What do you mean?" The PFY is momentarily confused.

"Shouldn't he be stuck in a lift somewhere?"

"Oh of course! It completely slipped my mind. You'll be wanting the 5th floor." He indicates a lift only ever used by operational staff and very stupid people.

Ten minutes later, the engineer is back.

"There's no bloody server up there," he snaps, a little agitated at the nasty delay caused by the lift problems.

"Server?" the PFY responds, "I thought you'd come to fix the girder up on the 5th floor."

The engineer looks at him unkindly, then enquires about the processor needing the new memory.

The PFY swipes his card through the computer room reader and receives the much feared 'denied' beep. I try my card and a similar thing happens.

"Security must be having a problem again. We'd better wait for a bit until the system comes on-line. Coffee?"

"Sounds like a bloody dodgy system," the engineer says following the PFY out.

As soon as they've gone I break out the scalpel and the roll of tamper-evident packing tape.

Five minutes after that I try my real card on the reader and we all enter the computer room.

"So, two gig into this baby," the engineer says reaching for the apps server off switch.

"Hell no," I cry, panic-stricken. "We don't want that upgraded, we want that one upgraded." I point to a system so old it makes a 286 look state-of-the-art.

"You're joking."

"No. Why?"

"Two gig for that would take up half this room, if it could address it, which it can't."

"So why did your guys sell it to us?" The PFY elbows in on the act.

"We bloody didn't. I'm here to install memory in this." The engineer is getting agitated now - the little veins are sticking out on his forehead.

"But that doesn't need memory."

"Look, there's obviously been some mix-up here," the engineer says. "I'll need to talk to your systems guy."

"He's off sick." I don't think I need to tell him about the poor guy's skin inflammation, which is completely unrelated to that consignment of tanning machine lamps which was mistakenly delivered to our department a week ago, just after his terabyte of disk battle plans were overheard. The PFY just happened to be monitoring his phone line for clarity. Purely in the name of good service of course.

Suffice to say a few of his brighter staff have taken to wearing sunblock and heavy jumpers, even when the central heating accidentally came on for four hours the other day.

"OK," the engineer crumbles in the face of resistance, "I'll get my boss to contact you."

Ten minutes later he's gone, leaving with a couple of MFM hard disk controller cards sealed with tamper-evident tape in his memory upgrade box.

"I think it might be time that Kamakuza Memory Systems 1997 gave the boss a call with an offer he can't refuse, don't you?" I say to the PFY, wielding a couple of spanking new memory cards. "While I'm about it - couldn't the two central routers do with a processor upgrade?"

By the end of the week network's goodwill stock is high, with the surplus memory upgrade dosh going into 100 Meg Ethernet cards for the key players in the PR stakes. Meanwhile, in the pub, the CEO of Kamakuza Memory Systems 1997 meets with the CEO of Kamakuza Router Upgrades 1997.

"Whose round is it anyway?" the PFY asks. "It's yours isn't it?"

"Yes, I believe it is," I sigh as I go to the bar. It's not all fun and games, this CEO business. Bankruptcy looms at every bar corner, if you play your cards right that is...