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Introducing the BOFH-brand internet café

Or should that be 'Technology Centre'?

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Episode 29 BOFH 2004

"What's going on downstairs?" the Boss asks excitely slipping into Mission Control.

"Can I have a sports question?" I ask, not knowing what he's going on about.

"The building!"

"The one we're in, or another building?"

"I mean the CONSTRUCTION, in the foyer!"

"Oh I think it's a visitor's centre," the PFY responds.

"The Technology Centre?" the Boss asks, happily.

"No, I think it's just a visitor's area - desk, couch, phone and coffee machine?"

"No, no, no!" the Boss chatters excitedly, "If it's any centre it'll be the Technology Centre for building visitors to plug themselves in and work online back to home."

"'Technology' being a phone line and a 56k modem?" the PFY asks.

"Oh no, it's going to be very impressive, Video conferencing, wireless, infrared, VPN thingies, connections to various ISPs, etc. Then there's those big plasma screens, wireless peripherals, and integrated something or the other. There's going to be a whole network of them all over the country - maybe even the world."

"When did we budget for that sort of thing?" I ask.

"We don't - it's all being done by some startup venture thingummy company. They pay the setup costs and your visitors pay the running costs."

"So it costs people money to use?" the PFY asks.

"Oh yes. You just swipe your credit card to enter and the centre comes alive, and then swipe it again when you exit to shut it down and get your bill. It's all automated!!!" he gasps.

"I think I might just mosey on down and take a butcher's," the PFY says, exiting stage left.

.. Half an hour later ..

"So who's setting up the geeky stuff?" I ask.

"Some external company that the technology centre people have hired," the PFY replies. "Get this, though, they even have their own Interior Designer who specialises in IT installs. Apparently these centres really are going to go in companies all over the place, as well as train stations, tourist spots, the works!"

"Like a geeky phone booth. And so what's the 'designer' going to make it look like?"

"His name's Patriq - with a Q - What do you think it's going to be like?"

"Oh dear."

"Well, at least it'll have nice curtains," the PFY adds .

"ACTUALLY," the Boss cries, ending his eavesdropping and entering the conversation, "they want the centres to all look the same and have the same features whilst still aligning with the company theme."

"So our one will have a Mickey Mouse outfit over the door?" I ask.

"What?"

"Nothing," the PFY responds. "Private joke. .. About you... .. You'd have liked it too... .. Except that it was about you."

"What?!"

"Just ignore him," I say, tapping the side of my head. "He missed his prescription this morning and so he's failing parity checks."

"What?"

"So anyway, this centre - what will it look like?"

"Oh it'll be a full business centre - pen, paper, workstation, video suite, meeting room, leather couches and plasma screens in the viewing centre, deskside expresso machines, conferencing phones, wireless network, everything a travelling business person would want."

"It sounds rather large."

"That's the beauty of it - it's using all the empty foyer space and giving us a technology centre!"

"Don't we already have all that technology here?" the PFY asks.

"Yes, but this stuff's all in one place."

"As opposed to a walk of about 30 metres."

"Everyone likes it!" the Boss responds, having run out of real reasons.

"By everyone, you mean?"

The Boss pauses for a moment, not wanting to add names to tomorrow's workplace accident register.

"Oh, just everyone. The media too. They're all excited about the big unveiling tommorrow."

"It'll be up by tomorrow?"

"It'll be up by this afternoon! That's the beauty of it, it's all modular, just plug it into the power and you're away! An idiot could assemble one."

"And we're having an unveiling?"

"Yes, well, because it's the first in London!"

"They're opening the first in London... here?"

"Yes, because..." the Boss burbles, then stopping abruptly

"Because?"

"Oh, no reason."

"I'm sure there's a reason," the PFY says kindly, closing the office door.

The soundproof office door..

"The company's a major shareholder in the business centre startup company!" the Boss gasps, crumpling quicker than a SCO press release at a Linux conference.

"And they got someone else in to do the technical stuff instead of us?" the PFY asks.

"Yes."

"And installed it into the building using outside staff instead of us?"

"Yes."

"And weren't even going to tell us about it till it was over?"

"Uhhh. No."

"Why not?"

"I don't know," the Boss lies.

"I think you do.." the PFY says gently, locking the office door from the inside.

"I... Well it's because they were afraid there might..."

"Go on..."

"...be some problems at the unveiling. NOT because they don't trust your technical ability, but because if there were problems then they could just blame the installing company," the Boss gabbles. "They just want it to go smoothly."

"And they thought we'd be that shallow?"

"I.." the Boss says, embarrassed.

"There are limits to our childishness," the PFY sighs, unlocking the door. "They could have simply explained it."

"I..." the Boss says, exiting shamefully.

. . .

"So how do you think the unveiling is going?" the PFY asks the next morning when we're out of the building getting our mid-morning coffee at a brand new internet cafe round the corner.

"Dunno, but I have to admit that the Boss was right about one thing."

"What?"

"That modularity business - not only can an idiot assemble it, but they can also disassemble it, carry it round the corner and reassemble it again."

"Wha?"

"Obviously getting a lease and signage overnight was a little bit of an ask, but I know some people..."

"You stole the Technology centre!!!"

"Of course not, I simply replaced it with functional substitutes."

"?"

"A kitchen table and chair, a 486 and a 14" black and white telly. Oh and a beta video player - had to ring around a bit to find that baby!"

"And security didn't ask any questions?"

"Not once they'd settled into their new leather couch.. Now, would you like another cappucino from this deskside unit."

"I..."

"Don't worry, the Boss is paying," I say, holding up his credit card.

Obviously I haven't reached the limit of my childishness just yet... ®

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