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BOFH: Resistance is futile - we're missing BEER O'CLOCK

Torture you, that's good, that's a good idea, I like that one...

Episode 12

"It's quite possibly the worst sound I've ever heard!" the Boss snaps.

"So you've not heard duelling banjos played on the bagpipes?" I ask.

"Or... anything.. on the piano accordion?" the PFY adds.

"It's unprofessional!" he continues.

"No it's not, having NOTHING would be unprofessional - this just implies a lack of concern for quality!" I counter.

Sometimes the Boss comes up with some staggeringly stupid proposal which simply must be opposed if sanity in the world is to be upheld. Other times a proposal will involve great deal of work for a paltry outcome, and still other times the proposal will involve a great amount of work for a fairly good reason, except we don't fancy the "great deal of work" part.

Today's disagreement with the Boss, however, falls into category 4: Arguing passes the time.

The Boss has decided that our on-hold music should be of a better quality - and it's difficult not to agree with him. It really does sound like it was received on an AM radio placed at the far end of a 100 meter drain pipe, fed into a can-and-string intercom, EQ-ed to leave only the worst parts, then A-D converted to a 2 bit signal. It's truly appalling. Having never been on hold long enough, I'd not experienced the true horror of it – but that doesn't mean I'm just going to leap aboard the "quality art-house music" ship at the drop of a beret.

Resistance is called for – if only to test the Boss's commitment to this cause. If he folds, it wasn't worth doing anyway but if he doesn't fold... it'll give us something to do till lunchtime.

"We're just protecting the company," the PFY says, taking one of the more obscure tangents in the conversation.

"Protecting us? How?"

"From having to pay royalties. See, any music played IN public or TO the public attracts royalties – so in effect we would owe the artist an amount of money for using their work as our on-hold music."

"What sort of money are we talking?" asks the Boss, suspiciously.

"It depends on the number of calls that end up on hold, but it could be as high as 150 quid a year."

"150 quid a year - are you kidding me?! Who cares about 150 quid a year?!"

"Yes" I say, "but think of the backlog - all those years we never paid, compound interest, penalty payments, overdue fees.. uh.. vinyl tax. We could be talking serious money. But if we do nothing then we're in the clear. The caller knows we're playing music to them but they can't discern exactly what it is we're playing because the quality is so poor..."

"It's win/win!" the PFY blurts.

"It's not a win when our clients think we're using technology from the '70s!” snaps the Boss. “They'll think we're backward."

"Only if they met a board member,” I say. “Otherwise they'll just think we have an old phone system - like half the world. If you want, though, we could put some cool digital beep noises instead of the ringtone so that the caller thinks they're being routed through some sort of high-speed digital network."

"Why, what does it sound like being routed through a digital network?"

"The same as being routed through an analogue network. Or hung up on. The beeps and crap are just there so that you know what stage your call is at."

"It must be sending something?"

"Okay, so you ring a number and it doesn't exist. If nothing exists, what's generating the phone number-doesn't-exist beeps?"

This is a "tree falls in a forest" situation in the making and the Boss will not like it. If he really starts to think about it, he might even get into some form of recursive loop till he takes a stack dump in his trousers. Better press the NMI now.

"BHAJIS!" I shout.

"What?! Uh.. I... don't know."

"No one does," the PFY says, in hushed tones. "We don't ask. The last person who asked was Kennedy - and you know what happened to him."

"But aren't digital networks quite a modern thing?" the Boss asks, seeing the flaw in the PFY's ramblings.

"Yes, that's just what Robert said - and you know what happened to him," the PFY counters

You've got to give the PFY points for being able to think on his feet. Not think well, obviously, but think nonetheless. The Boss is confused and there's only 10 minutes till lunchtime.

"You know, what the hell - maybe we should change the music," I say, casting a knowing glance at the clock to the PFY.

"Actually yes!" the PFY exclaims. "You're right. I mean how much could it cost? I might start on that right after lunch!"

"Well... excellent!" the Boss says, surprised by such an easy victory. "Actually I had one other suggestion..."

"Yes, yes?" I chirp, wanting to move this on as quick as possible.

"Our access cards - surely the budget could stretch to getting printed cards with people's pictures on them?"

A Category 3 request - but plenty of time to be agreeable as even the early lunch break crowd won't be clogging up the bar yet.

"Well yes, I suppose that's doable, so why not? We've got a couple of card printers we only use sporadically and all the photos are already captured in the system. Sure, I'll get right onto it this arvo!"

"What about if we had a database that kept the cardholder information in it?"

"You mean like the one already in the security system?"

"Yes, but that doesn't have photos. You could sync it up or something?" the Boss asks, hopefully.

Category 2, but I don't care because if we don't get out of here we'll be three people deep at the bar and won't see a cool lager until half the lunchtime has oozed away between the sweaty folds of beancounters and PR geeks who've slowly been taking over our watering hole.

"Premo, can do!" I snap, grabbing my coat.

"Actually, perhaps we should keep the security database in the cloud?"


"So you want to keep data which is local, only ever going to be local, only needed locally, never accessed remotely, not WANTED to be made available outside our building, which can only WEAKEN our security by being off site, hosted offsite."

"On the cloud. Yes."


"Well, because it's the way of the future."

<23 minutes later>

"You chaps are late," the Barman observes.

"Yes, workplace accident," the PFY says. "A couple of the usual, ta."

"Really - that's the second workplace accident this week!"

"Yes, dangerous business IT - lots of pitfalls."

"You mean hazards." the barman suggests.

"No, he means pitfalls," I reply. "He dug the pit himself."

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