Nasty BOFHses. It burns us! It burns...

What's that, Boss? Speak up, would you?


Episode 7

"Where's my car park gone?" I ask Security as I wander into the building in a very irritated manner.

"What car park?" Security asks

"My Car park. Basement level 2. Right beside the lifts. Now apparently somewhere inside a large concrete room."

"Oh, that. Well we can't really talk about that."

"How about a hint?"

"I... Well.,. It's the new Secure room and Security Centre."

"Secure room?" I ask.

"Yes, the Corporate panic room. Where the board members would retreat to in the event of a terrorist attack."

"Terrorists? Who the hell's going to attack this place?"

"Dissidents. The disenfranchised!" he nods. "We're a target."

"You mean... al Qaeda?" I ask, using the words that can add a zero to the end of a security budget with the flimsiest of supporting evidence.

"Yes. And others!"

"Really? Remind me... why would they attack us again?"

"Because they hate freedom!"

"Of course. And this company represents freedom in what way?"

"I... uh... well we might be a strategic target."

"We're less strategic than the public toilet down the street - but I do appreciate the cunning involved in scamming a new office by pretending that the corporate big wigs would be able to use it in the event of a terrorist attack."

"They can!" Security assures me. "It's state-of-the-art stuff. In the event of an emergency the lift automatically goes to level 6, does IRIS recognition of board members, then delivers them to the secure room, which then goes into 48-hour lockdown, nothing in or out."

"They'd starve!" the PFY says, wandering into the conversation with a set of car keys and a disgruntled expression. "Is that where my car park's gone?"

"Surely you must have noticed it before now?" Security asks. "They've been building it for weeks."

It's a damning indictment of my attention to company detail. Not only did I miss out on Security's presentation to the board to approve who-knows-how-much for a new hidey hole, I didn't even notice a large construction taking place in my own building! I really should drive to work more often...

"Anyway, they wouldn't starve" he continues. "It's a fully functioning panic room with enough food and supplies to accommodate eight people for at least a week. A lot of companies are doing it."

"They'd never last a day. They'd get sick of each other and leave," the PFY opines.

"They can't. The first 48 hours are complete physical lockout which can't be overridden. Then they can use the external cameras and sensors to decide if they want to extend the lockout for another 48 hours, then another 48 hours, and so on. If there was only two people in their they could stay there for weeks," says the Security bod.

"They'd still have access to the internet, and phones, and stuff?" the PFY asks, obviously contemplating – as am I – being in complete isolation from users whilst tucking into board members' food and beverages. Then there's the overtime and meal allowances that we could claim...

"Uh-huh," Security says. "They ran a bunch of data cables from the basement a couple of days ago, which was when the cabling guy tried to lock himself in - so they've disabled that until the big demo."

"The big demo?" I ask.

"Yeah, four of the board members are going to do the 48 hour lock-in as a promo for the safe room design company."

"With a pantload of food and booze, movie channel and all the comforts of home?"

"Uh-huh. The design company is paying for the whole thing and all they have to produce is a video diary."

Part of me is a little bit concerned I didn't exploit the "heightened danger" crap before this. I really have been off my game recently. The rest of me is just annoyed about missing out on that lock-in thing.

Two days later and the lock-in has begun. With all the hoopla that's surrounded it you'd think they were embarking on the first manned exploration of space. The board members' entrance has all the pomp and circumstance of The Right Stuff.

"This is not a good thing," the PFY says, as he rolls out the plans of the bunker once the actual lock-in has been triggered. "It's pretty impressive. I can't see any way that we can break in - the walls are three armoured tilt-slab layers thick with an oxygen-activated polymer cement in between that fills any cut that's made between the layers. I thought we could just cut the power cables but they've got a standalone generator with enough fuel for three weeks running."

"Yes, It really would make an excellent Batcave," I say, thinking fondly of the chunk of building the PFY and I once kept as our own. "If only there was a way to both prove it to be a bad idea and discourage reuse. If only..."

"!" the PFY gasps, seeing I already have an idea.. Ten minutes later in the basement level 2...

"Every plan has a flaw," I say to the PFY, "and a quick perusal of the plans yesterday uncovered it. Why do we never put server rooms in basements?"

"Flood risk," the PFY says. "But the place is sealed! We could flood the entire two basement levels and it would be fine. Besides, they'd turn the water off before it got that bad.

"We could" I say, "but we don't need to. Behold the comms distribution board for the bunker. Behold this very large stilson wrench!" >CRASH< >CRASH< >CRASH< >CRASH<

"Yeah, so?" the PFY says, "so they have no way of communicating with the outside world. Big deal."

"Behold my large and ugly stilson wrench," I say, walking over to a darkened corner of the basement. "BEHOLD this large and ugly valve." >SQWARK< >SQWARK< >SQWARK<

"They've got enough water to last them for weeks," the PFY says.

"Oh, this valve doesn't stop water coming IN," I murmur to the PFY "This valve stops waste water going OUT."

"And by waste water you mea... Oh you didn't!" the PFY gasps.

"Didn't what?" I ask. "Didn't isolate the building from the sewer so that the new lowest point for six levels of effluent is in that room? Didn't pay the cafeteria chef 100 quid to have a 'Johnny Cash 10th anniversary memorial chicken Vindaloo' as the meal of the day?"

"The Ring of fire!" the PFY gasps in hushed tones.

"I've not calculated the volume of the room, but I'm fairly sure it won't get higher than knee level."

"I..."

"Thigh if enough people go back for seconds." And the rest, as they say, will be history.

Similar topics

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • Assange can go to UK Supreme Court (again) to fend off US extradition bid

    Top Brit judges may consider whether an American prison is just too much

    Julian Assange has won a technical victory in his ongoing battle against extradition from the UK to the United States, buying him a few more months in the relative safety of Her Majesty's Prison Belmarsh.

    Today at London's High Court, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales Lord Burnett approved a question on a technical point of law, having refused Assange immediate permission to appeal to the UK Supreme Court. The WikiLeaker's lawyers had asked for formal permission to pose this legal conundrum about Assange's likely treatment in US prisons to the Supreme Court:

    Continue reading
  • They see us Cinnamon Rolling, they're rating: GeckoLinux incorporates kernel 5.16 with familiar installation experience

    A nice, clean community distro that works well

    Most distros haven't got to 5.15 yet, but openSUSE's downstream project GeckoLinux boasts 5.16 of the Linux kernel and the latest Cinnamon desktop environment.

    Some of the big-name distros have lots of downstream projects. Debian has been around for decades so has umpteen, including Ubuntu, which has dozens of its own, including Linux Mint, which is arguably more popular a desktop than its parent. Some have only a few, such as Fedora. As far as we know, openSUSE has just the one – GeckoLinux.

    The SUSE-sponsored community distro has two main editions, the stable Leap, which has a slow-moving release cycle synched with the commercial SUSE Linux Enterprise; and Tumbleweed, its rolling-release distro, which gets substantial updates pretty much every day. GeckoLinux does its own editions of both: its remix of Leap is called "GeckoLinux Static", and its remix of Tumbleweed is called "GeckoLinux Rolling".

    Continue reading
  • Running Windows 10? Microsoft is preparing to fire up the update engines

    Winter Windows Is Coming

    It's coming. Microsoft is preparing to start shoveling the latest version of Windows 10 down the throats of refuseniks still clinging to older incarnations.

    The Windows Update team gave the heads-up through its Twitter orifice last week. Windows 10 2004 was already on its last gasp, have had support terminated in December. 20H2, on the other hand, should be good to go until May this year.

    Continue reading
  • Throw away your Ethernet cables* because MediaTek says Wi-Fi 7 will replace them

    *Don't do this

    MediaTek claims to have given the world's first live demo of Wi-Fi 7, and said that the upcoming wireless technology will be able to challenge wired Ethernet for high-bandwidth applications, once available.

    The fabless Taiwanese chip firm said it is currently showcasing two Wi-Fi 7 demos to key customers and industry collaborators, in order to demonstrate the technology's super-fast speeds and low latency transmission.

    Based on the IEEE 802.11be standard, the draft version of which was published last year, Wi-Fi 7 is expected to provide speeds several times faster than Wi-Fi 6 kit, offering connections of at least 30Gbps and possibly up to 40Gbps.

    Continue reading
  • Windows box won't boot? SystemRescue 9 may help

    An ISO image you can burn or drop onto a USB key

    The latest version of an old friend of the jobbing support bod has delivered a new kernel to help with fixing Microsoft's finest.

    It used to be called the System Rescue CD, but who uses CDs any more? Enter SystemRescue, an ISO image that you can burn, or just drop onto your Ventoy USB key, and which may help you to fix a borked Windows box. Or a borked Linux box, come to that.

    SystemRescue 9 includes Linux kernel 5.15 and a minimal Xfce 4.16 desktop (which isn't loaded by default). There is a modest selection of GUI tools: Firefox, VNC and RDP clients and servers, and various connectivity tools – SSH, FTP, IRC. There's also some security-related stuff such as Yubikey setup, KeePass, token management, and so on. The main course is a bunch of the usual Linux tools for partitioning, formatting, copying, and imaging disks. You can check SMART status, mount LVM volumes, rsync files, and other handy stuff.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022