The BOFH steps in to help with a staff identity crisis, and the PFY drives a wedge between systems maintenance and the boss...

Year 1998 - Episode 31


So I'm in early to do some systems maintenance.

Well, when I say early, I mean 9:15am - just when everyone's established their connections to the database and applications server.

My console beeps to indicate that the required 200 interactive sessions have been reached and I start my programme to ensure the reinstatement of overtime rates...

I echo "Axeme" to /dev/kmem and the system goes down faster than a Clinton intern.

As expected, the boss hurtles out of his office like a beige tornado, only to be repelled with a resounding 'thud' by the wedge I'd kicked under the door earlier, in response to the new "Fire and Safety" policy of electronically unlocking certain swipe-card controlled doors during working hours "for ease of access". Unfortunately this means that every half-wit from PR thinks it's an open invitation to come up and talk about someone "hacking their username".

Talk of the devil; a PR geek slips in.

"Told you we should have got a bigger wedge," the PFY murmurs.

"Hi," the PR bod cries. "I think my username has been hacked!"

"No it hasn't," I respond without looking up.

"It has! It's been happening all through our department for a couple of weeks now!"

"Ever since you got that ID camera that takes digitised photos which you're printing on self-adhesive photo labels?"

"I suppose so, but I don't see what that's got to do with it?!"

"So you're saying you don't have a photo of your wife, pet, car or sly love interest stuck on your keyboard in that wasted space where the "Caps Lock" light was?"

"Uh..." he mutters, failing to think quickly.

"Take my advice - cut out the eyeholes on the picture and hit the Caps Lock key every time your wife or pet looks possessed..."

Our visitor backs out of the office in an embarrassed silence as the PFY looks up.

"Self adhesive photos?"

"Yeah," I respond "for this year's renewal of photo-id cards."

"I thought security did those?"

"They did, but the head of PR is the CEO's new blue-eyed boy, and you know what goes with blue eyes..."

"Brown nose?"

"Correct. So the head of PR is snaffling a lot of jobs that fall into the grey area of demarcation."

"Why?"

"More jobs, more workers. More responsibility..."

"More dosh!"

"Correct again. A thinly disguised plan to grab more quiddage."

"I hardly think that's true!" the boss comments, entering the room now his sense of balance is restored. "It just cuts down on photographic double-handling."

"How's that?" the PFY asks.

"Because the PR department keeps an electronic archive of photographs of staff members which they give to the press."

"Yes," I comment, "like when one of the beancounters wins Profit-and-Loss Adjuster of the Year Award..."

"I..." the boss starts,"...anyway, that's not why I'm in here. Why's the Apps server down?"

"Apps Server..." I mutter looking at the maintenance whiteboard."Yes, it's got routine maintenance scheduled - see,"

I point to the lettering thereon.

"You're supposed to schedule that sort of thing out of hours!"

"Well, I'd like to, but you asked us to watch the overtime."

"Yes, but I didn't mean for maintenance on crucial machines!"

"You did!" I cry, reminding him of events recently past. "You started this after a weekend's overtime on maintenance of a crucial server!"

"The bloody espresso machine is not a crucial server!"

"Speak for yourself," the PFY quips, baying for blood.

"It's not! Now get that server up!"

"But..." I start.

"No buts, get it up!"

Pseudo-reluctantly, I remote-boot the server.

Which only leaves the problem of the recent influx of PR types.

A quick scan of the PR network finds the right PC and, thanks to lax group administrator security and default passwords, within a minute I'm browsing the profile of the attached photo-label printer.

And back me up on read-protected media if the printer doesn't have several uploadable photo overlays to choose from, including the words "security", "contractor", "cleaner", "board member" etc.

The next day a resounding thud announces the boss's arrival. After a minute, a second thud confirms the PFY's theory that a larger wedge has done the trick...

On release from the sick bay with mild bruising, the boss returns and knocks patiently on the door. The PFY lets him in.

"What's behind this?" he asks.

"It's a photo-id of an accountant," I respond.

"Why is the word Beancounter printed over his photo?"

"Because it's his job?" I ask.

"If that's the case, how many Wankers are employed in the building?"

"I wouldn't like to speculate on that one..."

"Seventy three apparently. Twenty-seven Beancounters, 35 Tossers and one Bumbag. Which I resent! Oh, and two Good Bastards - but you know that..."

"Someone's hacked a PR username!" the PFY comments.

"Yeah, but I can't believe that PR didn't check the photos before they sent them to security for printing!" I reply. "I suppose they'll have to be reprinted."

"They can't!" the boss cries "Security has run out of blanks and can't get new stock for a fortnight..."

The next day there's some upset when security gives the new cards to the great unwashed. Funny. Even with an updated photo they're still not happy...