A Mental Lapse...

Year 1999 - Episode 23


"Are you bloody MAD?" the PFY asks as we return to the office after going a couple of rounds with a mixed bag of technical and non-technical staff who'd ambushed us outside the elevator on our way to lunch. "A bloody MEETING?!?"

"Yes," I murmur thoughtfully.

"You HATE meetings!" he blurts.

"Well, HATE is a strong word. INTENSE dislike is more accurate. But that's beside the point -- I saved us having to spend half an hour listening to their wandering thoughts on what should be in our LDAP directory."

Yes, it's true. Thanks to some remark about information publishing by the Head of IT, there are two parties lobbying for what'll end up in our new LDAP server. On the one hand we have the individuals who believe that even their office phone number is their own private info and not be published, while on the other we've got the 'privacy 'nudists' who want to bear all in the directory, listing home numbers, spouse's name, birth date, in an effort to make the world a happier place."

"OK, but still, it's not like you to call a meeting."

"In the past I've been reluctant to attend meetings; however, that's only because I didn't initiate the meeting concerned. THIS meeting, however, with a large number of disparate attendees, will be worth its weight in 128 Meg DIMMS."

"Come again?!?"

"Behold!" I cry, indicating on my desktop the windows of the three separate meeting scheduler programs in use in the company. "On the one hand we have the standalone meeting software, on another, scheduling software built into a mail server, and lastly, some fly-by-night product that Noah used which is so old it had a Y-ONE-K bug! And NONE of them interoperate well. The first two disagree by an hour thanks to daylight savings variations between the two machines, and the last one can handle hours, minutes, days and months, but sadly not years, which means the fly-by-night data import/export routine is bound to flag that the meeting time proposed is either a weekend, or has a meeting scheduled in it -- the legacy of a meeting in some former year!"

"It doesn't get cleaned out at the end of the year?"

"Nope!"

"OK, but this no-interoperation means what?"

"That after several abortive attempts, THREE separate meeting times are going to be set, which I will have to attend."

"But you HATE meetings!"

"Yes, but I LOVE watching movies on my portable DVD player which, once I slap on a keyboard, will look almost exactly like some cross between a palm and laptop! I'll be sure to 'type' something every time one of them sounds like they've come to the point once, or possibly twice per meeting. Meantime they'll be so busy 'discussing' their point of view with the other attendees that I'll never see what I'm up to."

"What if they come to a consensus?"

"Don't be silly -- these are users! Besides, if it looks dodgy I'll throw the idea of retina scans and bank account numbers onto the fire to keep things nice and hot."

"Sooner or later they'll agree!"

"Puleeeeze!" I cry. "I'm already running an LDAP to finger gateway, so when they eventually figure out what they do and don't want I'll just remove that data from the finger information data and we'll be back in business! After 'working solidly for a week to install the new software' of course."

...Three movies later...

"So no consensus reached then?" the boss asks, running a quick meeting post-mortem at mission control.

"Well, we almost reached one. But then someone suggested listing previous convictions and medical conditions."

"Why the hell would we want to do that?"

"Well, I believe the argument was that as that information was supplied in a person's CV it might belong to the company -- and someone might want to know if a co-worker had an alcohol problem before they invited them to an Xmas shout."

"That's just ridiculous!"

"That's what we decided in the end. Then the same person asked if next-of-kin, blood type, then HIV status should be listed for health and safety reasons..."

"They can't be serious!"

"Well as it happened, we decided against that eventually."

"Do you think the next meeting will iron out the wrinkles?"

"Bound to!"

...Later...

"So we're all agreed then?" I ask the final meeting.

Murmurs of assent all round. The PFY arrives with a parcel for me.

From the mail order DVD site.

"Excellent, so we'll just store name, room number, phone number, sexual preference, photo, nude photo and breast size?" I say, slapping "Enemy of the State" into my 'laptop'.