Arty Murray Arrives

Year 1999 - Episode 26


Here we go again....

I smell trouble as soon as I walk into the office.

It's 11:30 on the dot. Well, no-one could possibly expect me to get in early, given that I'd just come back from a trade show and that I'd had to go back home first to drop off my ill-gotten gains. Or, put more officially, the advanced, top-of-the-range kit that's going to be used as a testbed for advanced interactive digital multimedia (and any other buzzwords that spring to mind and sound appealing on investment proposals) services. Right now the test plan seems to involve rigging up the kit so that we can show the latest DVDs to selected chums (for a small fee, naturally) but that's the nature of draft plans.

On arrival, I'm gasping for a cup of coffee. I function only once I've had a shot of the strongest Java. The PFY keeps moaning that the amount of the stuff I drink is leaving me totally wired, although as far as I'm concerned, I'm completely 802.11 until I've had my first couple of shots of caffeine in the morning.

The PFY is looking worried as he meets me by the door of the office. "The boss wants to see you urgently," he says, jerking a none-too-clean thumb in the direction of our newly-appointed lord and master. "He's been yelling for you all morning."

That is a worrying sign. Our boss has been part of the merry fray for only a few weeks but there is every sign that he's boss type 37b (knows bugger all about technology and spends so much of his time crawling up to the chief executive and the head beancounter that he's forgotten how to do anything that actually resembles work).

His ignorance is staggering. I managed to spend several hours the other day playing Doom with the PFY because I persuaded him that he and I were testing the Dial-up Object Oriented Machine. And then there's the time that a contractor (who, by some amazing stroke of chance, bore a marked resemblance to my cousin) persuaded the boss that Arcnet was tomorrow's magic technology, and that he really should invest in some state-of-the-art kit that the contractor just happened to have in the back of his Escort. Personally, I can't wait for the audit this quarter, particularly when they find the e-mail that I "sent" to Mr. 37b warning him against the deal.

But that's something to look forward to in the future, I'm more concerned at the moment with what the boss is thinking of now. The PFY is right to look concerned; any meeting in the morning involves what we call a BLI (before lager intake) idea - the worst sort to have, as the thoughts simply don't flow so freely as PADOTF (pissed and dribbling on the floor) ones.

"Ah, Simon," beams 37b (a bad sign) when I eventually make my way into his oak-panelled domain. "I've been thinking" (a really bad sign). "The network's been running rather sluggishly lately and it needs a bit of a tweaking" (an extremely bad sign - you never want to hear the word 'tweaking' from someone who even has trouble changing the channel on the TV). "I think it might be an idea for someone to come into the office and have a look at ways in which we could improve the network". Yes, it's an idea, but I'm not entirely sure it's one I'd like to entertain or, for that matter, one which is likely to prolong his status as a living, breathing carbon-based lifeform.

Anyway, of course the network's been a bit slow recently. Doesn't he realise just what demands real-time video has for networked bandwidth, even if you multicast it properly? (And anyway, those video pictures of the marketing director and his PA in the sickroom, after she was "taken ill" at a company bash, were well worth a few megabits per second down the backbone, so to speak). The last thing I need is some snotty-nosed, toad-faced consultant coming in here, taking a cursory look at our systems before filing a hastily-flung together report that completely rips off the company. That's my job.

I'm suddenly aware that the boss is still speaking.

"...and at the show I met this very interesting chap. Told me that he would be happy to take a look at the way our network was constructed, said that if he couldn't think of ways of saving money, we wouldn't have to pay him. I told him that we were future-proofing our network by using a new technology called Thinwire and his eyes lit up. I think he was impressed that we were so advanced - he even said that there wasn't much he could teach me."

This gets worse. And not just because the Boss knows the word thinwire - let alone thinks I'd let it in the place...

"So I've invited this guy over tomorrow to have a look at the way we do things. His name's Arty Murray and you should help him in any way you can."

ARTY MURRAY!!

The man of legend. It's the first time that I've come anywhere near an encounter with the Bastard Consultant from Hell, and it's not a prospect that I'm looking forward to.

It's time to formulate a plan.

To be continued...