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The BOFH techno-zealot alert

Paperless office test

Episode 31

BOFH 2001: Episode 31

"..and apparently animals will be able to communicate to owners via a PDA that fits in a belt buckle," The Boss burbles happily, reading a pseudo-computing column from some tabloid paper while cheerfully contemplating yet another item of clothing he won't have to pay for..

"What a Warwickism!" I cry.

"Warwickism?" The Boss asks.

"Yes," The PFY responds helpfully. "You know, an outrageous pseudo-technical statement made to support an illusion of technical competence."

"?" The Boss mouths wordlessly.

"You know," The PFY continues. "Like me saying I have a computer chip implanted in my penis which reacts with cash registers at supermarkets to give me a discount on condoms."

"Have you?!" The Boss asks, shocked.

"Of course not!" The PFY replies. "It's a barcode tattooed down the side."

"Yes, but it comes up as 'Baguette, Large' when he scans it," I add, unable to stop myself once I see The Boss's look of horror.

"And sometimes they have to scan it six or seven times before it gets read, by which time it's changed to.." The PFY blurts, slowing to a stop as The Boss backs out of the room quietly.

"What the hey!" The PFY chirps in response to my glance of disgust.

"I know, I know, but you really should try and work with him - he's The Boss after all."

"Yes, I've been wondering about that," The PFY asks. "It HAS been a while since we had a bit of new blood in the place - in a figurative way, of course."

"Well, what do you want to do about it?! Bear in mind that good managers are hard to come by - the devil you know and all that. Before you know it we'll be lumbered with a new boss who actually wants to know where all the money goes BEFORE he signs the expenses forms, and one who won't be happy making cheques out to Campaign for Advanced System Hardware - or at least it's acronym - and we'll be forced to dip into our own pockets for lager tokens."

"Yes, I suppose you're right," The PFY grudgingly admits. "But he's a bit.. well.. insipid."

"Insipid!" I cry consulting my mental dictionary. "Bland and unappetising. Mundane. In dire need of a short sharp shock perhaps?"

"You mean really showing him what computing is all about?"

"No no, I mean a short sharp shock. 90 volts AC or so, nothing too drastic."

"How will that help us?" The PFY asks.

"Help? Oh, sorry, I was off on a tangent there. So you want some form of HELP? Well now you're asking. We could suggest he goes on a course for technical managers to upskill himself?"

After we both have a bit of a laugh I continue.

"It's not such a silly idea though. We could book him into some course where he could get the rudiments of computing beaten into him.."

"I don't think..."

"It might stop him saying yes to every request by a user for some of our time..."

"I'll see what Junket Search turns up," The PFY responds, quickly Netscaping to a heavily used bookmark.

Several glossy pages later..

"Here's one" The PFY says, tapping the screen in a fishtank manner.

"Let's see.... No previous experience required, Good, No actual learning guaranteed - if you go by the wording - Good.."

"They do give you a Certificate of Achievement!"

"Yes, they stole that idea from Microsoft. Basically it means that you managed to turn up every day, didn't dribble into your machine enough to kill it or you, and kept your head down when the tutor asked questions... YES, I think that'll do nicely!"

A day later we've convinced The Boss to go and two days after that, he's gone.

One day even further on, he's back, new and improved. Well, he's back... Early reports say he's right into the technology thing, having had a great time and picked up lots of ideas.

"This Windows XP stuff looks rather exciting!" he gasps, surfing into Mission Control on the technology wave. "Did you know you can actually have movies and stuff playing on your machine?"

"Like this?" the PFY asks, firing up a recent release movie on his desktop.

"Yes! Is that XP?"

"No, Linux. Exactly the same except you don't have to loosen your belt when you license it."

"Oh. Does it have support for Wireless as well? You know you can save a bundle on cabling by putting in wireless hubs for your machines? And it makes offices easier to re-organise in the event of a restructure!"

The tangy smell of hysteria is in the air, and The Boss is exhibiting all the classic warning signs of a technological zealot. We may have to put him through the 'paperless office' test...

"Wireless is already installed" the PFY responds, pointing at a heat sensor in the roof.

"Really? I always thought that was part of the fire alarm."

"Most people do, but see that little light on the side, it flashes once a minute to tell you the network is present."

"Really?! Well, we must put in some connections - say just the managers - then we can put our machines anywhere I like in our rooms and not have to worry about cabling ever again!"

"Your machines run without power?" I ask, putting the slipper in when he should be down.

"Good point. Well I suppose we can afford laptops for the managers - which would actually allow us to TAKE OUR MACHINES TO MEETINGS!!!" he gasps again, seeing the future extend before him.

Budget Defence DEFCON 3 initiated!

"Ah, I don't think we have the budget for that.." The PFY suggests helpfully.

"Nonsense! There's a stack of money earmarked for an improved fileserver which we can defer till next year - or the year after if that's more pressing projects. Fileshares are a thing of the past! SAN is the answer!"

Short of foaming at the mouth, The Boss is pretty much proved to be in Zealot mode. Only one thing will prove it...

"Do you want me to print up some proposals, circulate them to the managers and then print a purchase order up...."

"No More Printing!" The Boss cries exhibiting the final - and most damning sign of a Zealot. "WE WANT A PAPERLESS OFFICE! WE'RE IN I.T FOR PETE'S SAKE!"

The PFY and I have a second's silence before implementing backup plan 107E.

"Actually," the PFY asks, "Doesn't your machine HAVE a wireless LAN card inside it already? I think we purchased one with it!"

"Really?" The Boss gushes. "I'll just go and see!"

Five seconds later the phone rings.

"No, no card."

"It's internal - it'll look like a blank plate."

"Uh, well, I don't know."

"Tell you what, pull your network connection out of the machine and try and check your mail...."

"Nope, it says the network is unavailable."

"Unavailable........ OH I KNOW! Your machine is being earthed by the earth cable in the power cord. Shut your machine down, break off the earth pin and start it up again."

[clatters and grunts removed in the name of good taste]

"No, nothing!"

"It's ok, your machine is probably not communicating because there's no aerial, but we can use the power lead for the time being, just lift your machine up so that it's as near as you can get it to the Wireless Access Point."

"I could stand on my table. Do I need my monitor?"

"Only if it's been de-earthed as well."

"I'll call you back!"


"Ok, I'm standing on my table and I've put my computer on an extension lead so it's right next to the... OH! The light flashed, the network must be going."

"Yes, the network is there, but you have to remove the heat seal on the access point."


"Do you have a cigarette lighter?"

. . .

"..and it looks like we'll need a new manager," the Head of IT informs us. "He's decided that once he's out of hospital he's going to take up an outside job like market gardening."

"Yes, it's probably for the best."

"So in the meantime I'd like you to look after the manager's role - until such time as we can appoint someone...."



BOFH is copyright © 1995-2001, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.

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