The lights are on - all 2,996 of them - and no one's in. The boss's involvement in the hands-on scheme results in a fit of madness, a stretcher, straitjacket and a trip to hospital...

Year 1999 - Episode 11


"Just dump it next to the other boxes." I cry over to the PFY as he brings up yet another box of comms gear. My attention was distracted because I foolishly picked up the phone and talked to a user. It was a straightforward wonky phone problem - nothing too difficult to deal with - particularly when the user has his hands on Network Tool #2, the wire cutter.

"Yes, that's right, put the clippers onto the wire, yes, and snap close." CLICK.

"Did you sort that user's phone out?" the PFY asks.

"I have now. Any more boxes?"

"No, that's the last one. What is all this junk?"

"Oh it's just a load of boxes with lights and beepers in them," I reply. "I'm going to put them in the boss's office."

"This wouldn't happen to be because he wants to increase his hands on?"

"Of course, if he wants to help monitor the network, who am I to stop him."

The boss beams with pride as the PFY and I install the last of the boxes, his rooms is now about to become ablaze with more than 3,000 flashing lights, all with corresponding beeps of various tones. "So this monitoring equipment is usually in the Comms cupboards then?" the boss asks.

"Sure," the PFY replies, screwing in the last LED, which is actually a fibre optic camera so we can see the effects of our experiment.

"Usually we check them for failures every couple of days, but with you on the case, we should be able to really cut down on network problems. It'll look great on the weekly reports."

"It looks very impressive, how do I know when they fail?"

"Oh one of the lights will go out. I'll check in later to make sure it's all running properly," I say as the PFY flicks the ON switch and the room explodes with the cacophony of beeps and the dazzle of lights.

As we leave the office I glance at the PFY. "So, ten quid says he won't last the day."

"You're on!" he replies, sensing quick money. He never learns.

Later in the day the boss's stress levels have obviously increased. He is storming around a lot more than usual and he's barking at everybody, except the PFY, and me. He doesn't want to admit he can't handle the monitoring equipment.

"So how are you getting on?" I ask as I cancel the entire fourth floor's network access, just when the boss is monitoring the equipment to catch it. A quick TCP message to the PFY primes him for a response.

"Oh fine." he replies. "So far I haven't noticed any problems."

Cue PFY. "Uh-oh, the fourth floor's down!" he shouts, furiously hammering irrelevant buttons on his keyboard.

The boss panics as I sigh discreetly. "We need to know what went down, can you go and see what lights went out?" I hand him a network resource chart. "This is a map of all 3,000 lights. Just tick off those which look like they're out," I add helpfully.

The boss is looking very worried now. If he packs in the hands-on scheme the CEO will surely notice and reprimand him for wasting time, so he trots off back to his office as I flick off the power remotely to four of the 3,000 lights and put most of the others on dim.

A few hours later still the PFY and I are standing outside his office as a user has been complaining that his power light is blinking. The result of boss's constant exposure to the monitoring equipment is satisfying to say the least. "WE'VE ALL GOT OUR LIGHTS TO DEAL WITH," he roars. "DOWN HERE I HAVE THOUSANDS OF BLINKING, FLASHING AND BEEPING LIGHTS, THEY BLINK AND FLASH AND BEEP. I CAN'T STAND IT ANYMORE, THE BEEPING AND FLASHING AND BLINKING!"

As the ex-boss is stretchered away, writhing uncomfortably in his straitjacket, the PFY looks penitent. "Perhaps we were a little too hard on him. He was only trying to help."

It's a shame. After all this time, the PFY just doesn't understand that nobody should help a Bastard out in networking. Time for the cattle prod - and a strong laxative coffee later on.