BOFH 2000: Chapter 12
Some mornings, you just KNOW that someone up there is working against you. (Fifth floor, not God, obviously.)
And so it is that an internal mail envelope negotiates it's way to The Boss's desk, into his bin, out of his bin, over to the coffee station, to the toilets, back to his desk, gets opened, stared at blankly for 10 minutes, gets a couple of the larger words within it looked up in the dictionary, has a few scrawly notes taken from it, gets taken back to the coffee station, back to the toilet, back to the coffee station, then to my office.
"Just take a look at this, will you?" the boss mumbles as he slaps over a mass of glossy brochures designed to impress the mentally feeble.
"It's a bit of bog paper," I comment.
"What?! Oh, yes, how did that get there. No, not that, this!" he responds, shaking the offending scrap of double ply tissue free.
"What is it precisely?" I ask.
"Ah, it's some new software to make our business run smoother," he chirps, hurriedly.
"Really? I don't suppose there'd be much of a market for any other kind of software," I respond drily, "Unless of course OS2 makes a comeback.."
"Yes, yes, of course" he mutters to himself, obviously sidetracked with the weighty task of wondering what's on the lunch menu. "But give this a quick shufti and tell me what you think."
"Righto," I concede. "It's a set of colourful brochures, printed on.. 100 gsm paper, using a dithering process not unlike what you'd get in any glo..."
"THE SOFTWARE IN THE BROCHURES!" he snaps.
"Oh, the software! Well, lets have a look then."
My first estimations are correct. The "THE SOFTWARE YOUR BUSINESS CANNOT TO IGNORE!!!" banner is a dead giveaway. "TEN YEARS IN DEVELOPMENT!" just reinforces it.
"It's a piece of crap!"
"How can you say that - you haven't even looked inside!"
"I don't need to look inside, these brochures are all the same. Inside the cover will be some bulletpointed stats supporting whatever they're trying to hawk, a small picture of a weedy guy in glasses with a Phd in Computer Science who loves it, and names of companies sad enough to have bought a copy of it. On the back page is the SPECIAL, ONE TIME OFFER."
"I hardly think that..." he falters, as he opens the document to discover I was right. "Well, I'm sure that it's well-researched."
"Well-plagiarised, more likely."
"But it's developed by seasoned professionals who understand business orientation - a fact which helped it rapidly become the... uh... undisputed market leader in... Message Protocol Middleware!"he blurts, partially from memory, partially relying upon the front page of the top brochure.
"RAPIDLY BECOME THE UNDISPUTED MARKET LEADER IN.." I remark, "In other words: 'We've just thought up a new way of doing the same old thing, slapped a buzz-phrase on it and are the market leader because no-one else has heard of it!"
"I hardly think..."
Oh Look!" I cry, pointing to the PFY, "Here comes the person who rapidly became the undisputed leader in carrying cable from the storeroom. Or, as we call it 'Physical Data-Carrier Warehousing Management'."
"Yes, yes, very funny, but I think.."
"Hang on, I'm just getting a call on what has rapidly become the undisputed leader in Technical Communications protocol," I cry, answering my phone, "Do you think it might be the person who has rapidly become the market leader in Nutrition-Based Vending Feedback - asking if I want mustard on my lunch?"
"You're a very cynical person," The Boss sighs sadly, shaking his head as he makes towards the door.
"CYNICAL!" I cry, trying - and failing - to keep a grip. "That's Computer Sales - an industry created to give used car dealers a second career option!"
But it's too late, The Boss has gone.
"What was that about?" the PFY asks.
"Crap software alert."
"Undisputed Market Leader in Message Protocal Middleware?" the PFY asks.
"Yes - how did you know?"
"Saw it days ago - I chucked your copy in the bin, though."
"Thanks. So what was the Message Protocol Middleware software anyway?"
"A patch of a public domain email package with your company's logo in the startup banner."
"Smooth. How come you know so much about it?"
"It's my brochure!" the PFY admits smugly.
"YOU'RE MOONLIGHTING CRAP SOFTWARE!?!?" I cry, mildly disappointed in the lack of the PFY's character, "Without cutting me in!?"
"Nah, you're the second brochure - 'Undisputed Leader in Platform Independent Data Transferral'..."
"FTP. With your Company's banner, etc."
"What's it wholesaling at?"
"The whole package - four quid per licensed user."
"Too expensive?" the PFY asks.
"No, I just bagged it in front of The Boss. Now he'll need more convincing."
"Damn. We could fake a Press Release from Gartner?"
"Too obscure for him - he doesn't even know who they are!"
"Photoshop-enhanced photo of Gates holding a copy of the software?"
"Warmer, but we really need something with credibility.."
"Fake cover of a Computer Rag!"
"A SCORCHER!" I cry.
. . .
Half a day and one more glossy page later, the boss is sold and the orders are coming in. As an added bonus, he's told one of his mates in another company about it and he's keen too...
Integrity is the key. Once you can fake that... ®