Episode 2 BOFH 2002: Episode 2 So I'm sitting in Mission Control when The Boss bowls in with a complaint about some advice I'd given a geek from the helldesk last week.
"He says the motherboard/processor/memory combo you told him to buy is crap!" he mutters.
"What, the Gigabyte/Athlon/DDR?" I enquire, wondering what sort of paint thinner he's been tipping on his breakfast cereal. "True, it's not THE fastest processor out, but the price performance makes it a sure winner!"
"He says it's slow," The Boss whines, starting to get on my tits.
"How slow are we talking - as slow as the Microsoft software registration process?"
"I don't know - he says it's as slow as his original machine!"
"A PII with 32 Megs of memory? I hardly think so!"
"He claims you deliberately recommended a crap box to him!!"
"Bollocks! What operating system is he running?"
"Ah... Windows X.P"
"Ah yes. Not so much resource hungry as resource addicted. But still - what hardware's in it?"
"I don't know! Here's his configuration page - you see if you can work it out."
The Boss passes over a page of paper that looks to be the output of some generic system config utility, and I give it the old fisheye. Most disturbing is the handwritten note at the bottom 'and PCI/ISA Bridge'.
"What's that?" I ask, pointing to the note.
"Something your assistant recommended so that he could reuse his old disks and stuff to keep the total price down apparently."
"Did you also ask the guy if he wanted to go on a camping trip?"
"No reason. So this Bridge card - what did it look like?"
"How on earth would I know? Apparently your assistant did all the installation work! Moved his files and everything!"
In the far recesses of my mind I hear the sound of a 1p piece hitting the pavement.
"Ah! I'll get right onto it," I respond, reaching for a large hammer.
. . . Ten minutes later . . .
"So you moved his computer to a new case."
"I never!" The PFY cries.
"Sorry, let me put that a different way, You moved his computer to a new case."
"What's different about that?"
"This time the cattleprod in my pocket is charged up."
"Ah. OK, so I might have pulled a quick one."
"Indeed. And now he's found out about it."
"He can't have! I added 32 Meg of memory to the motherboard, slapped it into a brand,spanking new case, 'upgraded' it to XP, then changed the screen resolution!!! I also put that 'System Config Reporter' program you wrote which just displays whatever it's been told to report. Should work like a charm!"
"Obviously it hasn't. You can't just steal someone's upgrade and not expect them to notice. They expect a speed increase over all the other machines in their area. It's a status thing. The newest machine has to work better!"
"So you're saying I should have given him the upgrade his department paid for?" the PFY asks.
"Of course not! Letting a helldesk geek have a shit-hot box just to play minesweeper and freecell between disservice calls is criminal!"
"Oh. So I should have upgraded my box, and given him my old stuff?"
"Of course not. Even that's still a damn good upgrade!"
"Well what else could I have done to make his machine run faster?"
"The keyword here is comparatively faster. It has to run faster than everyone else's because it's new."
"But how can I do that if I can't upgrade it?"
"It's obvious. You sneak in and downgrade everyone else's. Just pull half their memory out."
"No they won't - they're sheep. Anyway, you just start a rumour that it's a network problem and they'll complain about that - setting us up for a gigabyte-to-the-desktop project."
"I think you're forgetting the people we're dealing with. These are helpdesk people!"
"Good point. Grab any additional memory out of their video card, and drop the CPU speed jumper down a notch while you're at it."
. . . One day later . . .
"And as you can see, the machine works appreciably faster than earlier models."
"It's way faster than mine," one of the guy's fellow geeks corroborates confusedly.
"In fact even boot time is increased!" I add.
"Mine doesn't even boo,t" another of the lesser intelligent member of the Helldesk adds. "I think there might be something wrong with the Network.."
Shooting's too good for them...
"It's still pretty slow," the Helldesk geek in question whines. "I'm sure it's not much faster than my original machine."
"Ridiculous!" I respond. "How long does it take to boot."
"About two minutes."
"And what about that machine over there."
"Just under five minutes."
"So it's twice as fast as the other machines!"
"Yeah, I suppose it is!" he gasps, seeing the silver lining after all.
(It's just bloody sad.)
"Mine still isn't booting," the really SAD geek says. "I think the network must be affecting DOS, cos that won't even load."
"Can't you do something about that?" The Boss demands.
"I suppose I could upgrade his network connection."
"OK, do that!"
"I'll go find get the.... six thinwire ethernet cards and some T connectors..." The PFY responds.
"Fantastic!" the geek burbles.
. . . the next day and six adaptor upgrades later. . .
"You realise there's only one 'upgrade' left after this?" The PFY asks.
"Yes I know, I'm just finding the OS2 disks now."
It's just sad... ®