Creative Cooling...

Year 1999 - Episode 16


So the boss has found out that I was using the four-way processor machine to keep my lunch warm, and isn't happy.

I would've got away with it, too, if I hadn't asked for extra brown sauce and it hadn't leaked from the brown paper bag onto the motherboard of the machine.

R&D aren't happy because they were using the machine for stress-loading some Web page software to see how the machines would handle stacks of connections.

I wasn't all that happy myself - not when I found out that the problem was actually caused by the processor's heat output burning a hole in the bag concerned. A definite mark-down of the hardware performance...

So now the boss is on the warpath, attempting to make sure that no other piece of kit is being used 'inappropriately'.

And wouldn't you know it, he manages to stumble - in his inept way - across the hose that connects the cooling inlet of the chunky old mainframes to the computer room's centralised vacuum-cleaning system.

"WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?!" he screams.

"Ah, it's a centralised vacuum-cleaning system."

"What's it connected to this machine for?"

"Well, you know how temperamental processors are with dust and stuff? I just run the vacuum system through it to make sure none collects inside the machine."

"But that's the machine's INLET!" he squeaks.

I decide to come clean. "Remember when I told you the centralised vacuum-cleaning system was packing up?"

"Yes. And?"

"Well, it did. And, by a one-in-a-million chance, the bag burst when I was there, which is when I noticed that the mainframe was an excellent source of suction."

"You're using the mainframe as a vacuum cleaner?!?" he screams again, worst fears realised.

"Well...yeah."

"Are you insane?! What about the fire risk?"

"No worries. We always empty the machine when dust starts coming out of the floppy drive. Besides, the boards are so sparse the processors rarely even get warm!"

"I don't believe this!" he murmurs sadly, shaking his head.

"So I suppose we shouldn't tell you about the air conditioning ducts then," the PFY mentions gently.

"The air conditioning ducts?" the boss cringes, not really wanting to know the full horror that might await his question, but unable to stop himself.

"Well, we're keeping a bit of kit in them - but only the stuff that runs really hot," the PFY concedes.

"I...," the boss mumbles, having a short out-of-mind experience."Why?"

"Well it runs too hot for the computer room, so if we put it in the cooling ducts, it runs OK."

"And what happens in winter, when the air is hotter?"

"Oh, we thought we'd cross that bridge when we drive under it - as Teddy Kennedy would say."

Images of fires spreading through the building take their toll on the boss and he wanders off mumbling.

"Machines in the ducting? A little far-fetched isn't it?" I ask.

"Yeah, well, I was pushed for time. Besides, it was either make something up or tell him about us using the financial archive tapes for streamers at last year's Christmas party."

A gasp from the doorway indicates that the boss had returned to the land of the sentient. A quick glance at his face tells me he's going to take the harsh approach to solving this.

"Of course, I blame the management," I cry.

"Me too," the PFY comments, following the Bastard Book of Bludges: "Pass all criticism/responsibility up."

"Yes, I wouldn't like to be in management when the auditors find out we've destroyed our old financial records."

"Me neither," says the PFY. "It might look like the company was trying to hide something from the Inland Revenue."

"Haven't they got an anonymous tip-off line?" I ask.

"You don't scare me!" the boss cries. "I can't be held liable for anything that my predecessors should have known."

"Of course you can't!" I agree. "No, it'll be us for the high jump - followed a few days later by the collapse of the company's core computing because of ignorance on the part of the remaining IT staff. I'd hate to be the manager of that little mess."

"Well, it's the head of IT's fault for not paying more attention, then!" the boss cries.

"Yes," the PFY comments dryly. "I'm sure he's going to take the fall and not just palm the blame onto a subordinate."

"I'll just get my resignation done then," the boss sighs as he stumbles off, a broken man.

"Oh, and can you turn over the chicken and mushroom pie on the applications server for me?" the PFY calls. "I don't like them too crispy..."