It looks as though the Bastard has overreached himself, but the PFY comes to the rescue with a cunning plan...

Year 1997 - Episode 32


If I hear the words virtual boardroom one more time, I'm going to hurt someone.

The bloody boss, stepping out of character, has rekindled the CEO's interest in videoconferencing. Normally this would have me smiling at the thought of spending more company dosh, but we don't have the bandwidth to support the system company-wide.

"Why?" the PFY asks, smelling a rodent-like creature.

"Ah. Well, I'd been meaning to tell you about that..."

"You've sold our bandwidth to a third party haven't you?"

"Not exactly, no."

"You've cranked up the company's ISP service?"

"No, I sold that off ages ago."

"You sold it off!"

"Yup, cashed in the client base and ISP domain name to another supplier. Very lucrative."

"And didn't pay me off?"

"Nope. I didn't even pay me off."

"So what did you do with the dosh?"

"What did I do with the 'venture capital' you mean?"

"Come again?"

"Suffice to say that we are the sole partners in InterTelecom Internationale, supplier of cheap telephone calls to the world..."

"Uh?"

"And our latest client is a company with offices all over the world. One of which you are standing in."

"You're selling our bandwidth back to the company? Why the hell did they buy it?"

"Well, if you remember the time of the big falling out of beancounters and networks..."

"Which one?"

"The one where the head of accounts said that our overheads for providing international calls were too high and that we'd be better off going through a public supplier."

"Ah yes, but I thought you'd engineered that because you had some master plan..."

"So I did. And you'll be pleased to know that InterTelecom Internationale outbid all the other companies by virtue of its low operating overheads."

"Meaning we're stealing bandwidth from the company!"

"Stealing's such an ugly word. We're simply maintaining one hundred per cent usage of the existing links - something the company should be rewarding us for. And they are, every time we collect our bonuses through InterTelecom Internationale."

"Sneaky," the PFY grudgingly admits. "So what's the problem?"

"If we whack in this conferencing stuff we're bound to get congestion problems."

"True, but we know it's a toy and not going to be used all that often after the first time."

"I expect so," I reply.

"Then I have a plan..."

A week later some very expensive kit is brought into the company under the boss's vigilant eye. The PFY has gone to our US office for the testing, and a part-time contractor is to do the same in Rome.

The testing is completed just as the CEO wanders down and electronically greets the PFY and part-timer. Response is good, and the boss and CEO seem fairly pleased with themselves.

"Now I'd like to speak to the rest of the offices please," he says.

Over in the comms room, the telephone exchange suddenly pops a circuit breaker and goes down.

The offices concerned are switched into the picture - and very grainily if I say so myself. The assembled staff listen as the CEO gives a short speech about the wonders of technology. A few comments pass back and forth before the CEO 'rings off'.

"What did you think sir?" the boss asks.

"Well, the testing bit was OK, but the office response wasn't so good."

"Yes," I admit "it's a problem with Heisenberg's certainty principle of video compression."

"You what?" the boss gags.

"Heisenberg's certainty principle of video compression. It's a famous quantum physics experiment which videoed cats in boxes. The more cats, the more certainty that you'll get quantum disturbance in video compression."

"That rings a bell for some reason," the boss blunders.

"How do we fix it?"

"The only way is to eliminate the compression, which would require larger telecomms links..."

"Make it so," the CEO says, having watched far too much Star Trek during office hours.

The boss signs a couple of orders there and then and shuffles the CEO out.

I go next door and show the PFY and part-timer the orders while I reset the breaker on the exchange.

"Shall I call the telecomms providers now?" the PFY asks.

"Yes, and tell them InterTelecom Internationale wishes to expand..."

Fish. Barrel. Shotgun.

What could be easier...