Shape up or face budget cuts - what will the BOFH do? Enlist the help of an ice cream and some digging gear...

Year 1998 - Episode 9


You can only put off some support for so long, and the directive from on-high is that we've got to go out and press the flesh with the middle management types or we can expect our lack of support to be reflected in this quarter's budget allocation.

I cannot allow my junket budget to be tampered with, especially not after the serious cuts I've had to make in recent months due to unnecessary auditor attention.

The PFY and I go for the divide and conquer method to meet the userbase. I step lively to complainant number one, a cost manager loosely attached to the beancounters.

"I've got some performance problems," he cries forlornly as I roll up. "Yes, I've heard the rumours," I respond, icing up what appears to be a budding relationship between him and his attractive young personal assistant.

"But never mind, it happens to the best of you - what about your PC?"

"I was talking about my PC," he cries.

He leads me through to his office, at which time I realise that not even our beancounters like him, his PC's so old it still has the 'This Side Up' sticker in Noah's handwriting.

Feeling a smidgen of pity for the bloke, I say: "Looks like a Magnum job to me."

"Not the gun?" he asks fearfully.

"No, the ice-cream. Bung it down the back, switch her on, and bugger off to lunch. And take anything flammable off your desk just in case."

"But they'll blame me."

"Not if you leave the wrapper in your assistant's bin they won't."

"But she's..." "...expendable," I say.

Problem solved, I move on to my next victim. On the way I meet the PFY, who doesn't appear to be in a good mood.

"How was the design group manager?" I ask.

"Manager? He couldn't manage a good crap without written instructions."

"Annoying?"

"Annoying, he bloody wanted me to move one of those workstations with the twin 21-inch monitors downstairs."

"Ah yes," I cry, recalling loud noises from the recent past. "So best to avoid the south stairwell for a bit?"

"The bottom two floors and basement level anyway - I got them down two flights without hitting the handrails."

"Bally good shot old man," I cry supportively, slapping him on the back. "We'll make a career administrator out of you yet. Right, I'm off to find out what the head of IT wants help with."

"You're seeing our boss, why?" the PFY cries.

"Apparently he's in need of some advice."

"Really?" the PFY smiles, eyes lighting up.

A few minutes later I'm in the office of our very own head of department, with a fair idea of what he has in mind.

"We're thinking of expanding our operation and moving into Asia," he mentions, confirming my suspicions. "We really need to get this videoconferencing thing off the ground."

It was always a matter of time, and that time appears to be at hand. Before the PFY and I know it we're going to have to release the bandwidth that we're using to receive cable TV from the States.

"Yes?" I murmur.

"I've been hearing good things about something called IP Tunnelling.

I'm not sure of the ins-and-outs of it, so what can you tell me?"

"Well, it's basically a way of directing Internet traffic from one site to another � usually used to provide a virtual private network."

I switch to dummy mode.

"Is it fast?"

"Oh yes."

"How much will it cost?"

"Your cabling's probably going to be cheap because we already have all the fibre bearers and everything, so I guess the main expense is just going to be hiring the digging equipment."

"Digging equipment."

"Yes, to make the tunnel to Asia."

"But we can't make a tunnel to Asia - it would take years."

"No no," I laugh, "only joking."

"Oh thank goodness."

"No, we'll only have to dig the tunnel to the BT office switchroom about half a mile away. Should cost us about four or five grand in rental."

"Four or five grand."

"Well, they might do a cash job under the table for three - if we provide our own project manager."

"Where will we get a project manager?"

"Well rumour has it there's a PA in cost management who's up for a new position. Of course I'd have to liaise fairly closely with her for the duration of the project."

"Make it so," the head cries, like a real Star Trek pro.

Beam me up Scotty, there's no intelligent life down here.