BOFH: So you want more boardroom tech that no one knows how to use

Remember that scene from Scanners?

BOFH logo telephone with devil's hornsEpisode 6 I sometimes forget what it's like to deal with idiots.

With the PFY away with long COVID – or as we like to call it, "extra holidays" – I'm dealing with the phone calls he often fields.

"Yes, but it won't switch to 4K," my user gabs.

"It's not a 4K screen. It doesn't have 4K resolution," I explain.

"Yes, but my screen isn't 4K either."

"You mean your laptop can't do 4K, or when it's plugged into the screen it can't do 4K?"

"It's not plugged in."

"Are you screen sharing over wireless?"

"No, I think it's Bluetooth."

"Uh-huh," I sigh. "Are your display settings set to mirror your screen?"

"What does that mean?"

"Is what you see on your display the same as what's on the wall screen?"

I call it a "wall screen" because I've already been through every synonym for large screen with him to avoid confusing which screen he's talking about – his laptop or the 75" display on the wall.


"So I think what's happening is that when your laptop is mirroring it's probably 'dumbing itself down' to the resolution of the wall screen."

"Yes, but I need 4K."

I miss the PFY because about now he'd be yelling in the background "What sort of porn is he looking at?" and it's not the same if I do it.

"What sort of porn are you looking at?" I ask – because maybe I was wrong about it not being the same.

Nope, it isn't the same – and apparently the board don't think it's funny either.

"Perhaps you should do your presentation in the boardroom?" I suggest. "It's got 4K and a huge screen – and it's hardly ever used."

I refrain from launching into a rant about how much money the company has poured into the gaping hole of boardroom infrastructure. The place has more technology in it than a top-end conference center, and it would have been cheaper to have each of the board members fitted with some futuristic videoconferencing brain implant.

"Oh yeah, it's not working at the moment so we thought we'd just use one of the meeting rooms," my user admits.

And now I'm at a crossroads. Should I give up an entire morning to show someone how to use the completely working boardroom, with all its advanced features, again, or should I just get the crappy old wall screen going again?

"Fine, so what you're going to need are several magnifying glasses," I say.


"We need to do something about our boardroom technology," the Boss says, less than an hour later.

"No we don't."

"We do. We need to upgrade it to the latest technology."

"So we want an AI-powered screen?"

"No, I don't thi-"

"8K resolution?"

"Well, if that's what they have these days."

"Some screens do, not many laptops, though."

"Well, maybe we don't nee-"

"What about if we fitted all the board members with a futuristic videoconferencing brain implant?"

"What, is there such a thing?"

"No, but we could substitute a detonator cap with an inductive charging coil."

"And that would solve the problem?" the Boss asks.

"The next time they bent down to look at their wireless charger – yes."

"And this is the latest in video technology?"

"Not even remotely. But it would solve a problem."

"No, I think we need technical," the Boss demurs.

"Should it have a low carbon footprint?"

"Yes, definitely."

"So that'll be three months delivery time. In a solar-powered ship – which doesn't exist. But three months after it does exist we could have it. Or we could get it delivered by a solar-powered plane, which doesn't exist either, but doesn't exist even more than the ship. But it'll have a much shorter delivery time. Probably."

"What?" the Boss asks, adrift on an ocean of confusion. Possibly the same ocean that the solar ship will eventually cross.

"Should the screen be able to do video conferencing?" I continue.

"Oh yes!"

"At what resolution?"

"I ... what are my options?"

"640 x 480, 1280 x 1024, 4K, 8K, or Future K?"

"What's Future K?"

"That's a resolution that hasn't been invented yet."

"What's the point of that?"

"About the same point as 8K – but on the plus side the screen will likely be delivered by solar plane – so there's no hurry on that decision."

"Can't we just ..."


"I ... uh ..."

"OK, skip that, how dumb do you want it to be?"

"Not dumb at all! It needs to be smart! It should be able to meet all users' needs."

"Yeah, that's not going to happen. Our people can't even work an HDMI socket when it's built into a table, so there's no chance they'll manage higher technical interfaces."

"I think you underestimate our peoples' intelligence."

"Impossible. My estimations can't go that low."

"So what are you suggesting?"

"I was going to propose a group policy hack to reduce maximum desktop screen resolution to 1600 x 1200 (which no one will notice) and then disable wireless screen sharing."

"We can't do that!"

"In that case there's really only one option for the boardroom."

"Which is?'

"It's quite high tech."


"We just get the board to all meet in the same room."

"Yes," the Boss says. "Yes, that would work, wouldn't it?"

"And then fit them with those detonator caps."

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