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Episode 16

BOFH 2003: Episode 16

It's a dull week at Mission Control with no one adding a lot of value to the place, so the PFY and I give ourselves a quick challenge of writing the ultimate application for the new 802.11b cards that we've picked up for our personnel disorganisers.

A few furry toothed days of programming later, the PFY and I meet to show off our respective efforts.

"Check this out!" the PFY chirps happily, handing his PDA over.

"Well, at least you're trying I suppose," I admit grudgingly.

"Trying?!?"

"Yeah, well, with the self-paging thing. But if you want to make an urgent departure from a meeting really believable you need something like the EEP I wrote for my PDA"

"EEP?"

"Emergency Exit Procedure. It's hooked into the Excuse Calendar and generates a message which is SMS'd to your mobile in less time that it takes to compromise IIS, and, should anyone ask questions, is vague enough to be believable as a real fault"

"Hmmm.... It does look interesting," the PFY admits.

"But not," I interrupt, "as good as the ECF program."

"ECF?"

"Emergency Calendar Filler. You know, like when you're somewhere near the Boss and he has a brainwave about how he could send you to some technical event in godforsaken backwater full of retards like Virginia or somewhere, and you just know that if you say you have something on he's bound to check your calendar before you can get back to the office and take it offline..."

"Yes."

"Well, with ECF, all that's taken care of. You say, 'Hang on while I check my calendar,' fire up ECF, select the length of unavailability you want (in months), then click on the maximum allowable free time (in hours), and the ECF will fill your calendar with copies of past appointments, random specialist appointments, religious observations, etc. that you couldn't possibly attend the event he has in mind."

"You know that actually sounds like a bloody useful tool - but what about if you reversed it to make yourself more avai--"

"You mean my ECD program - Emergency Calendar Deleter," I interrupt. "Select a date window click the GO button and your Calendar will have less content than a software support agreement."

"You haven't really done that."

"Sure. And from the drop down menu at the top you can also choose who's calendar you want to empty. Which reminds me, the Boss has booked you into that Health and Safety refresher course next week."

"Ah, I don't think so, I've booked holidays next week!"

"Not any more you haven't!"

"BASTARD!"

"In person, WAP'ed up and making your life a misery!"

"OK, so those things are good, but what about my locator?"

"Locator?"

"Yes, it's software that tracks the Boss by his PDA. As his PDA moves about the place the software tracks his network card's progression through the building."

"A little inaccurate, don't you think? Those 802.11 cards work through walls and floors?"

"Not so bad in this building, but in any case, I also flipped the on-board Bluetooth on his PDA and installed a sprinkling of Bluetooth cards in strategic places round the building which make the location a lot more granular."

"Sneaky. But how did you get access to put the Bluetooth cards in?"

"Told them I was giving them more RAM. Worked like a charm."

"Smooth. So where's the Boss now?"

"Survey says... out of the building."

"Really. And he hasn't switched his PDA off or forgotten to take it with him."

"No, I've told him we'll keep him on the cutting edge of PDA releases..."

"So he can show off his new kit to all his toy-loving mates."

"Exactly, and to ensure he keeps it with him I told him it makes the ultimate secure repository for private, personal stuff that he doesn't want people accessing because no one can steal his stuff if he keeps his PDA with him."

"Sounds like you've thought of everything," I admit with a touch of newfound respect. "What was the private, personal stuff then?"

"Oh, a bit of cheap smut, a spreadsheet of his DVD collection, some email drafts to women, etc. - nothing interesting."

"I have to admit it does sound like a good tool..."

"But...?"

"But, when compared to my last program, which I call Pandora, it still pales."

"Pandora?"

"Oh, yes!"

"What does it do?"

"Here," I show him proudly. "To the casual observer, a remote control application for infrared devices. In actuality a remote control for a large part of the building."

"Really?"

"Indeed. Here we have the touch screen controls for Fire Alarm Test, Halon Discharge, Security Alarm Test - both with and without building lockout, and/or individual door lockout, Lift Priority Recall and Remote Control, Escalator Emergency Start/Stop, Building Environment Control and master Building Lighting remote!"

"No Building Power On/Off."

"No, it's a chunky manual breaker in the basement, damn it all!"

"That's fantastic, but what's the big button down the bottom?"

"My favourite, orders a large Pizza with all the toppings to whatever room in the building you're in, supplying the credit card number of the person whose desk is nearest to the current location."

"Bloody Fantastic!"

"You like"

"I certainly do!" the PFY gasps.

"Excellent, because I pressed that button 14 times from your chair about ten minutes ago"

"BASTARD!!!!!" ®

BOFH is copyright © 1995-2003, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.

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