BOFH: If you liked it then you should've put the internet in it

Boss puts the ID in IoT


Episode 5 "Wah wah wah wah wah..."

"Wah wah wah wah wah...

"...You know - the Internet of Things," the Boss says.

"The internet of what things?" I ask.

"You know, everything," the Boss says, tossing me the proverbial geeky talking stick.

"Everything?" I ask, watching the stick fly by and fall to the ground. "Yes, you know, the Internet of Things," he repeats.

But I'm not biting. Partly because I don't like the idea of exponentially increasing the number of devices I'll have to support for no good reason, but also because the Boss has absolutely no idea of what the hell he's talking about.

"Oh, the INTERNET of THINGS," I say, nodding, "When you said Internet of Things I thought you meant the internet of things."

"?"

"Are you guys talking about the Internet of Things?" the PFY asks, stalking over after having picked up on my saying the same thing three times in quick succession – our Bat Signal for an exciting new opportunity to make someone cry.

"Yes!" the Boss says, sensing a kindred spirit in the PFY.

"Oh that's a great idea!" the PFY gushes. "What were you wanting to use it on?"

"You know: things!" the Boss says. "We could use it on things in the office."

"YES!" the PFY blurts, escalating his excitement even more - if that's possible. "What things in the office?"

"The sky's the limit!" the Boss responds, catching the excitement buzz. "Where do you think we should start?"

Ordinarily, about now I would put the slipper in and force the Boss to admit that he can't think of ONE SINGLE THING in the office that could possibly benefit from being on the internet but the PFY is obviously one for playing the long game.

"I don't know." the PFY replies, returning the Boss's serve with a quick: "There are so many possibilities. What's your favourite?"

"Like you said," the Boss responds. "There's just too many things! Why don't we just implement a test project?"

"Yes," the PFY says. "What about something that maybe uses wireless connectivity, maybe a GPS, an accelerometer and... I dunno, maybe some contact input."

"Yes," the Boss says, not knowing what the hell the PFY is proposing. "I KNOW!" the PFY says. "What about - as a test - something that just maps where our security guards are in the building from the GPS chip, how fast they're moving from the accelerometer chip and maybe a hall effect device to count how many times they scratch their arse? We could clip the device on the back of their belt."

"Would it work?"

"Well the GPS signal might not work inside the building, and they have the inertia of a dwarf star so the accelerometer is probably not going to read anything at all and they spend most of their time on their chair or on the bog, so no, probably not."

"Hmm," the Boss says, thinking hard. "What about inside the office?"`

"Let's see. I could put a wireless device that would tell you when the light was on, but your internal wall has glass in it. Or maybe I could tell you when the main door was open - but then again you can see that from your chair if you lean back."

"What about the coffee machine? You could build something to tell when the water is hot."

"It's always hot," I say. "It's got an internal boiler."

"What level the beans are!" the Boss snaps back.

"The bean hopper is, as you can see, transparent."

"How many cups have been made today!"

"Have you ever heard the expression 'To an idiot with a hammer everything looks like a nail'?" I ask.

"WELL WHAT DO YOU BLOODY SUGGEST?" the Boss snaps. I have to say it – I'm starting to get a little irritated. Now I don't mind the idea of geeky things – in fact I love the idea. But what I suspect will happen is that everything that moves or does something in the office will get a helpful IoT sensor slapped onto it. Even THAT I don't care too much about, but what I do care about is when they start crapping out and I'm expected to fix them.

The problem is that currently the average, everyday jump-on-the-bandwagon IoT platform is typically powered by either 1. a shoddily slapped-together switch mode power supply sourced from the developing world in batches of 1,000 and with an intended service life in the low hours, OR 2. a shoddily slapped-together battery pack containing several dodgy Lithium Ion batteries with dangerously thin battery wal...

"How about a personal fitness and health tracker?" I suggest.

"You mean like my fitbit?" the Boss says, holding up his left hand.

"Yes, but better. One that can tell you how fast you accelerate. One that – with the right sensors – could tell you about how good your posture is during the day. One that could – again with the right sensors – tell you if you've received enough sunlight to counter the effects of seasonal affective disorder..."

"I..."

"AND ONE which could analyse your dietary intake. Hell, we could even rig it up with interactive eyeglass camera system with a HUD and in-ear, plus mic, all plugged into a voice command interface."

"You could do that?" the Boss asks.

"With available hardware – probably," I say. "It would be a test device obviously. The battery system would be a little hefty to start with to support all those systems – otherwise you'd be charging them all day. But over time we could shrink it all down with low power devices."

"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" the PFY gasps. "The opportunities to learn from this?!"

I have no idea what the PFY's thinking and the only learning I'm thinking about is where the Boss gets a crash course in 1. thermal runaway after a particularly chummy slap on the battery belt from an IT professional, and 2. the foolishness of letting an IT professional rivet the buckle of a battery belt closed "to stop it accidentally opening"...

Yes.

Yes, that will do nicely... I might see if the PFY can slap that tracker on him too...

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