Hungover, roped in to cover the Helldesk - if he wasn't the Bastard, this could be a bad day...

Year 1997 - Episode 6


It's a slow day in Mission Control and I have a hangover that would have even the toughest superhero whimpering.

I'm not exactly sure how I got home, but I think it had something to do with a very long taxi ride and someone else's credit card...

It was inevitable after spending most of yesterday 'supplier baiting' at a computing exhibition on the other side of town, then trundling off with some slavering salespeople to all night drinkies. The first one to collapse loses - the sale, the initiative and his corporate credit card when he's not looking.

Because of my health, I'd temporarily forgotten that we'd told the boss that the PFY and I would sit in for the Helldesk while they attended a health and safety course on how to type a whole word without dying of RSI or whatever they call it these days. The boss, of course, did not come down in the last shower and is well aware I'm up to something, but lacks the mental capacity to work out what it is. No surprises there then.

Sadly, he shall be wondering about it at the RSI course along with the other mortals as the company's health and safety policy makes it mandatory for all computing staff to attend. His protestations of already having attended amount to nothing in the light of the fact that there's no record of it in the Human Resources Database (whoops), nor does he appear to possess the 'get-out-of-jail-free' RSI course completion certificate.

The PFY and I, on the other hand, have several of these certificates and corresponding database entries, yet still have no idea what the instructor looks like nor what exactly the course is about.

Knowing he's beaten, the boss goes quietly.

Meanwhile, in the Helldesk area, I'm reconnecting the smoke detectors after the freak fire that destroyed an RSI Course Completion Certificate with the boss's name on it. I blame the heating system - it's been working overtime recently.

"Hello? Is this the helpdesk?"

"Yes it is," I answer, all sweet, fluffy loveliness.

"Can you tell me the number for the modem pool?"

"I sure can!" I gush, then give the number for a fax machine on the fourth floor, which should keep them confused for a couple of weeks.

I hang up and have barely dropped off to sleep when the phone rings again.

"My laptop seems to be running quite slowly. Can you help?"

"Of course I can. Now don't tell me, you're still using the power filter unit aren't you?"

DUMMY MODE ON

"The power filter unit?"

"Yes, the one that filters the power coming into your machine. It should be a black box about three inches by two inches square."

"Oh... yes, I see it."

"Okay, you want to remove that and put the non-filtered cable onto it."

"The non-filtered cable?"

"Yes, it would have come in the box with the machine. It's probably still there."

"But I threw the box out!"

"Hmm. Well, I can order you one, but in the meantime do you have a spare power cable?"

"Uuuummmmm..."

"Well, just borrow one from someone else's machine - then it's their problem."

"Yeah, hee hee..."

What a plonker.

"OK, switch the filter off, then chop the cable off halfway between the filter and your machine. Then strip back the wires and poke them into the two holes in the sides of the socket of the new power cable ..."

"OK, done that."

"And plug her in."

"OK, thanks."

He hangs up and I wait for lift-off. About 10 seconds later the fire alarm goes off, which I take to be an encouraging sign ...

At the end of the day the boss wanders in. He's not impressed. Apparently he'd heard about the PFY's advice to a user to change the screen saver passwords on their department machines to completely random text in the interests of safety. News of the post-lunch lockout made it across the building in minutes ...

In the face of the PFY's completely innocent and apparently naive grasp of security issues, he comes into the office and raves for a couple of minutes about time lost, production down, company money wasted, disgruntled colleagues, blah, blah, blah ...

We concur dutifully with his arguments and promise to do much better on future occasions, should they arise.

"By the way," he continues, with a worried little frown, "has anyone seen my RSI Course Completion Certificate? I'm sure I left it on that table over there ..."

He wanders off in search of it while I disconnect the smoke alarms and the PFY makes an update on the Human Resources Database ...

Looks like tomorrow's just going to be work, work, work.