The PFY is displaying distressing signs of geekism - beer-bottle glasses and the first growth of a wispy beard - can he be saved?

Year 1998 - Episode 17


Things are hectic. The Boss is away on sick leave - apparently he tripped in front of the traffic on Euston Road last week when the PFY was taking him to see a specialist, but managed to drag himself to the central traffic island after only being clipped by a couple of cars...

Worst luck.

The PFY, too, is away - ostensibly on holiday - but really because he had a relapse into computer addiction. Apparently he'd barricaded himself inside an Internet cafe with 10 boxes of Mars bars, three cases of Coke and a copy of Steven's Unix Network Programming. By the time they'd cut their way through to him, he'd taken up wearing thick glasses and had the beginnings of a wispy beard.

The psychiatrist had prescribed complete computing-free bed-rest for a couple of days, complemented by dangerously high levels of ECT to snap him out of it.

And, wouldn't you know it, when you're understaffed the calls come through - two the first day, and three the day after that. I assume that because the Boss isn't there to pour oil on troubled waters, the helpdesk are trying it on...

Sigh.

"Hello?"

"Hi, Systems and Networks."

"My machine's making a sort of grinding noise. It seems to be coming from near where the power cord is."

Hmm, what would Lassie do now?

"Somewhere near the fan outlet?"

"Yeah, I suppose it's near there, but I don't know."

"OK, well, get a pencil and poke it in one of the fan holes."

CATHUNK "Sure does!"

"Cool!...Hey, while I've got you on the line, sometimes my machine comes up with memory errors and the technician guy says that it's something about a seating problem with Simms. Does that sound right?"

"Yeah," I chuckle, "I'm sure he did. It's the oldest cop-out in the book. We've been having a couple of problems like that this week, due to..." >flipflip DUMMY MODE ON!

"Duh-huh. So what do I do?"

"Well, you should probably wait for the technician to come around, but if you're in a hurry, I can give you a temporary overnight solution."

"Uh. What's that?"

"You know what your memory chips look like?"

"The long thin things that plug into the board?"

"Yeah. Well take them out - don't be too worried if you snap off the plastic clips - they're only there for shipping purposes."

"Duh-huh..."

"Wrap them in tin foil to earth the capacitant charge...plug them back into the motherboard."

"Duh-huh..."

"Then switch it on and leave it in overnight!"

"Duh...OK."

"Oh, and make sure the pencil's in place."

"Duh...OK, thanks."

"Don't mention it."

First thing the next day, I get in and the phone is ringing.

"Hello?"

The voice at the other end starts chirping on about fire, health and safety etc., but my attention is diverted by the reappearance of the PFY on deck. The treatment looks as if it was successful, judging by his general lack of interest in his surroundings.

Meantime, the voice on the phone stops, so I respond with,"I'll get right on to it," then hang up.

To get the PFY back into operations mode, I chuck five double-expressos his way, then whip him downstairs and prime him with a couple of pints and a kebab.

Sorted! I let him straight back into the hot seat by giving him the phone.

"Hello?" He responds to his first call.

Judging by the shouting at the other end, it's my first caller of the day annoyed at the four-hour morning teabreak.

"Yes," the PFY responds," we were out all morning dealing with the effects of..." >flipflip Sounds like a full recovery to me!

"We're having a lot of systems problems because of it - printers not printing documents, files missing from hard disks...have you? Well, perhaps you've been affected too...Hmmm, I don't know whether I should tell you, it might be better to get the technician in...OK, well...shut down your machine and lift off the cover. See the big metal box at the back, or maybe along the side?...Right! See there's two holes, one with the letter 'V' beside it and one with the letter 'A' beside it?...well wind those clockwise as far as they go to allow for entropic interference. Right, now wait quarter of an hour for the system to reset itself, then turn it on...Don't mention it. Bye."

"Fancy a pint?" the PFY asks hopefully, grabbing his coat. "We've only got 15 minutes till the fire alarm..."

So, in true systems management form, we see a window of opportunity and double-click on it...