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BOFH: Judge us not by the size of our database, but the size of our augmented reality

In which the PFY and Simon show the Director their vision of the future

BOFH logo telephone with devil's hornsEpisode 10 The Director is an idiot – that goes without saying – though the Peter principle doesn't even begin to describe him.

He's got the sort of attention span that most people take a regimen of prescription pharmaceuticals to address, he has the business savvy of a bacon sandwich and no technical acumen whatsoever.

And we're in a two-hour meeting with him to discuss his thoughts for the future – in other words a pastiche of ideas he's seen in 1980s technology shows, The Financial Times and Dr Who all mushed together in a Play Doh-esque model of the company's future.

It's apparently driven by a visit from his business contemporaries this afternoon and his desire to appear to be the technological giant he's always claiming to be.


"What are we doing with cloud computing?" he asks. "Because we should be doing more."

"We have a substantial amount of resource already hosted in the cloud as it is," the PFY says, "but we want to limit the company's exposure to risk."

"Risk? What risk?"

"Well, there's been several wind shear warnings this year which affects the cloud, probably due to global warming – though no one will admit to that. So we're just a bit cautious about putting too much of our critical infrastructure onto it. And of course there's the ozone layer thing."

"Yes, of course," he says, feigning understanding. "Well, that's probably for the best. What about blockchain? Why aren't we doing anything in this space?"

"Mainly vendor reliability," I say. "There's been a lot of cheap imported blockchain on the market and apparently there are rust issues because of the poor quality galvanising. We're keeping an eye on it, but until we can guarantee reliability we're just a bit cautious."

"Virtual reality?"

"We're living it already."

"Self-driving vehicles?"

"What for?" I ask.

"I don't know – can't you make a delivery cart to deliver things around the building?"

"We COULD I guess, but it'd be costly – because of Cole's Law"

"Cole's Law?"

"Yes, people spill it in the cafeteria and it makes normal driving wheels slip."

"I... uh... drones?"

"Again, what would we use them for?"

"Artificial intelligence?"

"For drones?"

"No, I mean have we got any artificial intelligence?"

"Outside of senior management? No."

"What about Internet of Things?"

"That's what our users call eBay."

"Big data?"

"We have that already. We converted all our 8-bit data to 16-bit."

"I... don't know what that means."

"Trust me, it's bigger. Twice the size."

"Eight more zeros," the PFY adds.

"Good, and how do we demonstrate that?"

"The size of our database?" the PFY asks.

"The size of our online storage bill?" I chip in.

"What about nanotechnology?" he asks, moving on.

"Apple discontinued them in 2017," I say.

"Oh. What about... uh... holograms!"

"You could be speaking to one now!"

"Am I?"


"Augmented reality?"

"It's virtually the same as virtual reality."

"So pretty much everything I've suggested you've pooh-poohed or given me some excuse about why you can't do it," he shoots back.

"We're a fairly progressive company but we want to implement technology that will work and not fail inside a short period. You can't be too cautious with technology."

"Well, I've given you a stack of ideas and you've shot down every one. How about YOU suggest something to bring this company out of the dark ages?!"

"Well... I dunno," the PFY says.

"And I'm not too sure that anything we've got would really showcase the company's technical excellence," I add.

"You MUST have something," he snaps. "You're supposed to be the technical people! Don't you even have a robot or something?!"

"No, no robots," the PFY says. "They're very much in the developmental stages."

"Didn't one of my predecessors sign off a massive robot project?" the Director asks.

"Yes, but we're still ironing out some of the teethin..."

"How about we take a look at that then?" he demands.

"Uh... we've had some issues with reliability," I say.

"You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs!"

"Yeah but..."

"So you're saying you squandered thousands and thousands of pounds of company money on a project that you just abandoned?"

"Not abandoned per se," I say. "We still have one of the prototypes locked away in the basement somewhere."

"Well, let's take a look at that then!"

"Performance was a little 'choppy'," the PFY warns.

"Nonsense. Let's just see how it goes – as a proof of concept, even if there is the old bug or two."

"OK, I guess so. How about we send it up to your office when everyone gets here?"

"Perfect. What will you need from me?"

"Oh, not much, just maybe a photo of the group of you and the office location."

. . .








You know, I'd forgotten about the power axe. But then again, we did warn him performance was a bit choppy.

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