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Episode 14

BOFH 2003: Episode 14

BOFH logo So The PFY and I have been shafted by The Boss who's signed us up to a one-day "conference" in the city which is so airy-fairy it should really just be called a trade show.

Ordinarily, as a computing professional, you'd expect to disagree with people on matters of technology on occasion. For instance, someone might have the position that Word was the best editor of all time, whilst others might rightly suppose that emacs is. Similarly, someone may suggest that Microsoft has a suite of tools and settings designed to ensure application and desktop security, whilst others might rightly say that's a load of crap.

HOWEVER, when faced with the 'expert' opinion that a vendor's machine runs faster or is more robust because the monitor is silver or that the box has a number of flashing LEDs to indicate activity, you find yourself reaching for the 18-inch hammer-of-truth to perform some impromptu vendor reprogramming.

What also irks me are vendor's 'technical' people (whose qualifications would be almost sufficient get them an extra role in a remake of "Deliverance") who are at the conference to give you the 'expert opinion straight from the horse's mouth'. True, there's a part of the horse's anatomy involved, but it's not the mouth...

So I roll up to the conference bright, early and annoyed and am immediately cornered by a meet-and-greet person who tells me she "wants to make me feel right at home here".

"Excellent Nancy, that's great. So where do I find the hot curry, case of lager, a sofa and TV set?"

Nancy chuckles lightly, looking for an exit, but is sadly caught in my tractor beam as unfortunately I must have "accidentally" locked the entrance door behind me to give me a large amount of time alone with the vendors and their freebies before the great unwashed arrive and get all the good stuff. The PFY, meantime, is standing outside in a suit, complete with fake nametag, redirecting people to the rear of the building, for "safety reasons".

"So what do you do... uh... Simon?" Nancy asks, making polite conversation while vainly waiting for a new conference attendee arrives to allow her to step away politely.

"Well I'd have to admit to being a Systems Administrator," I respond.

"Really? Just like Roger over there?" she responds, pointing at a sad vendor droid - made even MORE sad by the fact that he's scrawled MCSE under his name badge just so people know EXACTLY who they're messing with...

"nnnnYes indeed. Roger and I are alike in the same way that a town reservoir could be likened to a toilet cistern," I respond, unable to suppress a hint of snobbish elitism.

"Oh, I see - You mean there's a difference of scale involved?"

"Well yes, but also that Roger's job involves taking shit from people".

"Excuse me?!?!"

"Sorry, I can't believe I said that! Please forgive me! What I MEANT to say was that Roger was full of crap!"

"But Roger's company is a Platinum Sponsor of this show!" Nancy cries loudly, in case her loyalty is in question.

"That would be the company that's marketing an anti-spam product based around Bayesian filtering - only they call it a 'patented statistical classification process', after porting some freely available source to .NET and whacking a 500 quid price tag on it."

"I... uh..."

"But wait, there's more! You can, for a small fee, upgrade the aforementioned pirated software to one which also sends you email to tell you that it's rejected a message!"

"But wouldn't that..."

"Defeat the purpose of the application? Why yes it would. And, talking to Roger there's another bloke whose company sells 100 Base T Network cards for PCs which ALSO have a wireless adaptor onboard - so that your machine can remain connected even if your network goes down!"

"Does that happen a lot?"

"Funny you should ask - No. And if it DOES go down it's generally because a core network device has failed - which the access point is connected to - so you have no connectivity anyway."

"Well, I'm sure there are a lot of other worthwhile products here today."

"Including the company of that bloke at the reception desk over there which has released a bug-fixed version of their software which actually WORKS now. Only they put the words 'New Generation' on it so they can charge their customers extra for the version upgrade."

"So if this whole show is a waste of time, why are you here?"

"Why indeed. Because my Boss enrolled me without asking, and not to attend would be a waste of good quiddage, but more importantly, for the drinks and freebies."

"You're attending to get drunk and get free merchandise?"

"You betcha!"

"Isn't that just a LITTLE shallow?" Nancy asks sarcastically.

"SOME people might say so."

"And YOU would say?"

"Gimme some Pens! And one of those cool rulers with the calculator in it. And the stress ball. And the elastic modem patch cable. And some of those...."

. . .

Suffice to say the show didn't pan out as well as expected. That said, the original objective - having The Boss removed from the Company's Conference mailing list - did eventuate, so the whole thing wasn't a complete write-off.

I never did get that curry, though.

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

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