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The Bastard Guide to Overclocking

Play with fire, you get burnt

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Episode 13 BOFH 2002: Episode 13

So The CEO's been away visiting his kids up north somewhere, which means he'll be back with a couple of 'useful' suggestions from his pride-and-joy grandkid who's a junior furry tooth. (And has a solar emitting backside, if The CEO is to be believed).

Sure enough, he's in the Boss's office within 1/2 an hour of having his coffee and Danish, paper and daily dump. Things look grim.

Ten minutes later, it's even worse. It would seem that the Mini-Geek's concerned going for his overclocking merit badge and has misrepresented it as the upgrade-of-the-future to his grandpop. Worse still, The CEO thinks we can make a PII-300 into a P4-5000 just by changing the processor and adding a few wires and a fan...

Sigh...

"In THEORY it sort of works like that," I say, drawing a quick diagram on the Boss's whiteboard, "but in ACTUALITY, it's a lot more complicated than that. You've got CPU temperatures to consider - if a higher spec is supported by the board - along with bus speeds, interoperability with other components of lesser spec, not to mention power supply requirements!"

"Yes, yes, but all this stuff has a certain amount of leeway built into it which we could take advantage of," The CEO burbles, having been fully indoctrinated into the ancient order of overspeccing. "We could save the company tens of thousands of pounds by deferring upgrades that you people ask for every year - money that could better be spent on strengthening the Corporate Image."

By 'Strengthening the Corporate Image' he no doubt means getting back the Private Boxes the company used to have at major sporting fixtures where the company upper management could go to drink themselves stupid (well, stupider) at the expense of the shareholder.

Ok, so I'm bitter and twisted at never being invited there myself, but I'm almost over it...

"But think about the kit we're replacing!" I counter. "It's the oldest stuff - the stuff least likely to be clockable - and even if it were, the fastest supported processor is likely to only be a 5% speed upgrade."

"Which is where the clocking comes in" The CEO burbles "My grandson says he can get a 25-40 % increase in speed, which means that we could get another one or two years out of these machines!"

I'm a bit concerned - and not just because The CEO's going to put the kybosh on the nice little earner that The PFY and I have had going for a couple of years - performing the above upgrades and then selling them to the company via a third party company as new boxes...

. . .

"I always thought they'd get suspicious that their 'NEW' machine had a 5.25 inch floppy and a turbo light, but apparently not," The PFY comments later as I tell him about the potential problem and it's effect on one of our lesser publicised revenue streams. "-But there's no accounting for intelligence."

"I always told them that it was there for the backward compatibility module."

"Backward compatibility?"

"Yeah - I added 25 quid to the price and made it a line item..."

"Smooth. So this is going to go to crap if overclocking comes in?"

"Yes."

"So we just stuff the overclocking up then?"

"Can't - The CEO's grandspawn's going to come in and do it..."

"The little bastard. I suppose they're going to PAY him too."

"Yes, a 'consultancy fee' to the little rugrat's college fund."

"Hmmmm," The PFY replies, sitting down to think.

. . .

"And so you put this heat transfer paste on the heatsink which improves its ability to conduct heat away from the CPU, allowing us to increase the processor speed at the same time" the Mini-Geek burbles to his ancestor.

"Until you go too far, of course," The PFY adds. "At which time the machine becomes unusable."

"No, because you put this thermal cutout device in," the little rat blurts, pointing out a small object nestling against the CPU heatsink, "which powers the machine down when it gets too hot."

"Well, it sounds like you've really thought this out," The CEO chuckles happily "so I'll leave you to it. Once you've done the first 10 machines we'll see how well they run, and maybe do some more upgrades."

With that, he trundles out while The Boss brown-noses him about how his grandspawn is a shiny example of the younger generation, and isn't it a pity they're all not like that.

"The thing I find strange," our latest consultant mutters sneakily, once the room is clear, "is that the machines already seem to be clock-chipped."

"Really?" The PFY asks, faking surprise

"Yes. It looks just like someone slapped a 'PIII-500' sticker on the front and just cranked the speed to dodgy levels."

"You're joking!" I cry, "You mean the vendor ripped us off?!!!"

"The Vendor? You mean the Company which doesn't exist, but which shares the same Post Office Box as the Limited Company that YOU trade under?" the Mini-Geek smirks a little too knowingly.

"How much?" I feel obliged to ask.

"50 quid," he blurts smugly, in the manner of a true professional.

"Done."

"..per machine," he adds.

A slight flicker of pride crosses The PFY's face at this point, leading me to believe that there's more rotten in the state of Denmark than the cheese..

"Uh... Done."

"..In the building."

"Ok, so how much is that?" I ask, not wanting to give anything away.

The runt responds with a number that is too accurate to be coincidence - right down to the boxes marked "Analog Phone Spares" hidden in the back of the storeroom, and I know that something has to be done.

"It's a fair cop guv", I cry. "And I suppose you'll be wanting cash."

"Would that be from your hidden cash-stash?" The PFY asks, feigning innocence.

Later, at the hospital...

"I blame myself of course" I blurt to the Boss between sniffles "Who could have know that pallet of paper was so unstable!!!"

"Well, don't worry yourself - you weren't to know they'd let themselves into the store after hours."

"Well is there anything I can do."

"At this stage the doctor believes they just need a bit of rest - a night trapped hasn't done wonders for their mental state."

"Poor bastards," I murmur, scribbling a reasonable rendition of the House Doctor's signature under the instruction for an aggressive laxative treatment on The PFY's sheet. "Poor, poor bastards."

Play with fire, get burnt. ®

BOFH: The whole shebang

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