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Episode 5 BOFH 2001: Episode 5

"So what was the certificate thingy again?" The Boss asks looking at the whiteboard like a man lost.

"It's what our web server presents to prove that it's who it says it is," I sigh.

"And the key thingy?"

"Is what we use to generate a request to GET a certificate from a trusted third party."

"I see. And why do we need these again?"

"To perform trusted transactions on a web server - online sales, internal secure submissions"

"And what were they again?"

...I'm going to have to kill him. If not that, maybe just maim him a bit.

On second thoughts, perhaps a lot...

I hate explaining technology to middle management - it only confuses them, and when they're confused they get upset, and when they're upset, they make rash decisions...

"Can't we just contract it out?"

Sigh.

"If we contract out our secure transactions, we'll most likely pay a per transaction fee"

"And what does that mean in lay terms?"

..Killing's too good for him..

It wouldn't have been so bad if he hadn't re-started the ball rolling on the whole e-commerce thing in the first place..

"It means that it will cost us money every time someone buys something from us, as opposed to what it will cost us if we do it ourselves".

"Sort of like if you pay a scalper for tickets for your own show," The PFY adds, trying to help, but failing to realise that you will only confuse matters if you add an analogy at this point.

"Why would you go to see your own show?" The Boss asks. "And why would you PAY - surely you'd get in free?!"

I decide it's time to use my feet on this baby, and depart the room for a tea break.

A couple of pints later I decide to wander back to The Boss's office to see how far/near he is to understanding the issues involved.

"So if I was.. uh.. Lloyd Webber, and I wanted to see.. Cats.. it would be foolish of me to buy a ticket from a scalper when I have my own box office?"

"Yes", The PFY smiles, mission accomplished.

"But what if I'd already seen Cats, as I'm sure he has, and wanted to see something else?"

"Well that doesn't fit into the analogy," The PFY responds cautiously. "In this case we're talking about handling our OWN internet marketing, instead of letting someone else do it for us and charge us an extra amount to do so."

"Oh, I see. So we don't have to go and see any Shows then?"

"No"

"It's a pity really, as I haven't seen Cats, and I don't really want to pay a scalpe..."

>2 minutes later<</p>

"Terrible!" I cry, helping The Boss up. "Those monitors are usually quite stable, but occasionally do fall onto people."

"He hit me!" The Boss cries, pointing at The PFY.

"No, That's just the concussion talking. The monitor popped off its stand. You were lucky actually as we were going to replace yours with a 21-inch jobbie only this morning!"

"Yes, I suppose you're right," The Boss murmurs, and wanders off, a little more dazed and confused than usual.

To be honest, I've been more than a little concerned about The PFY's attitude of late. Normally quite pleasant to deal with (in a bastardish way) he's become rather more short-tempered than is normal. Perhaps he's been reading too many Linux Journals - I don't know. Only last week he instructed a user to put a fork into a power socket as an 'earthing test' simply for asking if their shimmering screen might need replacing.

"So what's your problem?" I ask, (softly softly approach).

"What problem?" The PFY responds, faking ignorance like a senior IT manager.

"You hit The Boss because he was being a pain in the arse!"

"Yes."

"So what's the problem?"

"I dunno. People just seem to be really getting on my TITS lately."

"I see. How long is it since you went on a holiday - uh, junket, I mean work-related course?"

"Dunno - 12 months I s'pose, I can't really remembe."

"Well there's your problem. You HAVE to go on at least one junket a year, it's an industry proven fact!"

"Proven where?"

"You don't want to know. Now this junket. Where would you like to go? Manchester? Leeds?"

"Manchester? Leeds?!"

"Only joking. Let's see. There's a business ethics seminar in Rome, but you'd have to take a manager.."

"Why?"

"It's simple, I explain patiently "Anything YOU want, you first get for someone else to establish a precedent. Then you're just following the trend."

"Oh, like when the Head of IT gets the managers to upgrade their laptops?"

"Bingo!"

"So how does this help me with a junket?"

"So if you want to go somewhere, you suggest a management angle to it, which allows a manager to have a junket too. Typically, you pick a place that your manager's always expressed an interest in going to.."

"So where does The Boss like to go?"

"Apart from Morris Dancing Seminars? Don't know. But anyway, he's out. He's as likely to travel with you as he is to book a ticket on John Denver airlines. No, you'll need to examine other options.."

"Speaking of other options, " the Head of IT blurts, entering mission control with shiny laptop brochures in hand. "What do you think of these to keep the managers machines up-to-date?"

Bingo.

"It's difficult to say," The PFY leaps in, master plan engaged. "It may be good to keep them up to date, but is it ethical to keep forcing changes on them."

"Ethical?"

. . .

So The PFY's off on a junket with the head of IT, and I'm left alone with The Boss and the ongoing E-Commerce plans..

"So what was the certificate thingy again?"

>thwack<</p>

>2 minutes later<</p>

"You really should get that monitor seen to!" I tell The Boss as I help him up. "It's an occupational safety hazard! Interestingly enough, there's a conference on workplace safety in Paris next wee..."

You can't blame a bastard for trying.. ®

BOFH is copyright © 1995-2001, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.

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