BOFH specs the Quake Box From Heaven

Games Bastard Operators play

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Episode 5

BOFH 2000: Episode 5

So I'm trialling Quake III on my new (i.e. The Boss's hand-me-down) machine and the lag on it's so bad I'm in serious danger of getting refresh fatigue. Or disconnecting the CPU fan and letting it die as nature intended.

Of course, it is a fairly reasonable desktop machine (a couple of months old, but an out-of-vogue colour), so I can't really complain.

"It's the worst piece of crap I've ever worked on!" I complain to The Boss. "The graphics are shocking!"

"You're in Systems Management - what would you need good graphics for, anyway," he asks, in what could be construed as a surly manner.

"The SNMP monitor for a start. Why, just recently I rebooted two database servers, because I thought their Icon colour had changed from orange to brown!"

"When was that?!" The Boss asks, no doubt worried about the swathe of complaints that'll be waiting for him on his voicemail.

"Soon as I get back to my office. Probably..."

"Is that a threat?!?"

"Of course not, we don't make threats! Promises yes, threats, no."

Seeing where this conversation is going, The Boss switches to bargain mode...

"So what would it take to keep you happy?"

"A couple of 3D graphics cards would be a scorcher," I say, pointing out a couple of 32 meg babies that are just GAGGING for a bit of wholesale slaughter onscreen.

"Hmm. I suppose so. Get me a purchase order and I'll sign it."

. . .

The old seventh sense (Junket Detection) is flagging an NMI in the grey matter. He obviously wants me out of his hair for some reason. Time to go on the offensive.

"Well that's the problem. The cards aren't compatible with the ASIJMU technology that the machine's based on."


"Asymmetric Sychronisat..."


"What will it cost?" he asks, interrupting before I can think up an acronym better than "Standard I Just Made Up".

"For a machine that's compatible? Should be around a couple of Grand."


"It IS future-proof equipment!" I cry defensively, "and besides, I can give my old box to the PFY, which should keep him happy..."

In the end, The Boss folds, and not just because he's scared that I'll come around his side of the desk and see all the browser windows that the porno site he's visiting has thrown up on his screen. (Reflection in the spectacles.)

"So, do you have a Requisition form?" I ask, knowing full well that if I leave his office without a signed order, he'll clear his machine and rescind his goodwill quicker than OS2 goes down.

"No, but there's one in the secretaries' office."

A good volley, but not good enough. Time to crank up the heat...

"How about you print one to your printer - before you forget," I respond, moving towards his screen AND a printer with rather a lot of pages that look to be recently printed.

"AH! I know," he blurts, reaching for his top drawer, "I keep one here."

He waits impatiently while I fill in a form so vaguely that I could buy a TV set and still be within spec.

Once I've got his signature, I'm off!

So I call up one of the bits-and-bobs vendors which always hang around like vultures on a Western movie and tell them what we want.

And then it starts. The Car Sales-like pitch...

"What would you be wanting to use it for?"

Step One of how to REALLY get on my tits: when your Sales Assistant - who's been in the job since his voice broke three weeks back - decides he's going to ignore the spec you've given him, and designs his own, using the tiny amount of experience gleaned since his nappies were changed...

"DHCP server," I cry, pulling an App out of the air. (But still not sad enough to say "Exchange Server" to get the sympathy vote.)

"But you don't need the graphics card you've specced for that!"

"Yes I do! Digital High Convergence Peripherals are heavily dependent on graphical representation," I ad lib, cranking up creativity a notch or two.

"Digital High Convergence Peripherals? I thought you meant Dynamic Hos..."

"Old Hat. This is the new juice."

"So you won't be wanting much disk then?"

"Yes I will."

"Well do you really need low profile - what about a desk side tower unit - only 20 quid more and you have all this space to slap extra drives in."

"Don't need extra drives, just the two 72 Gigs I asked for"

"What about a dual processor - got a great deal going with thes.."

"Don't need a dual processor."

"What about a RAID card -- protect your data with one o.."

"If I'd wanted a RAID card it'd be on the spec. Remember the spec?"

And so it goes, till we eventually settle on the spec I'd faxed him in the beginning...

. . .

So two weeks later I get the kit, a Tower with three extra disks, a RAID card and a price tag to match. I ring the vendor back and he agrees, after a due amount of lying (i.e. "We sent you the wrong order - but you could still change your mind," etc.), to send the machine we'd configured.

Two days later my kit arrives - around the same time the Sales guy rings me to find out where all the internals of the machine he sent me have got to.

"Had the box been opened?" I ask.

"No, it was still factory sealed," he admits.

"So it must have been mis-shipped."

"Yes, I suppose you're right..."

"Of course I am! Now, can you do me a favour?"

"Uh, yeah."

"Can you tell me where I'd get drivers for a RAID card like the ones you guys ship in Tower Units?"

Experience - a great teacher.

Like me. ®

BOFH is owned by Simon Travaglia: don't mess with his copyright

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