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Silence of the Processors

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Episode 41 "It... It's completely stuffed!" the PFY says, looking at the remains of a machine on my desk.

"If you think that's bad, look at this," I say, pointing at the machine beside it.

"Aggghh!" the PFY gasps "He's even... burnt out the interface chips... You mean...?"

"Yes. We have a serial killer on our hands."

"When?"

"No one knows. These were found hidden in cupboards - there may be more! I think we're dealing with a pretty sick individual here who thinks they're a hardware tech, creeping around the building operating on machines."

"Who?"

"We don't know."

"Well how are we going to find them before they strike again?!?"

"I don't know. But I have a lead. I'd like you to go and talk to one of my worst users - a real headcase by the name of Hannon Bell, the Lecturer."

"The lecturer?!"

"Yeah, academics and beancounters are the worst for this sort of thing. Somewhere in their brain they believe that just because they USE a computer means they're somehow gifted in that area."

"How?"

"Well it's a bit like the people who had the first flush toilets - They thought they were somehow a plumbing specialist when in actual fact they were just crap dispensers. Anyway, I want you to go talk to the guy."

"Where?"

"Loony bin just out of town."

"A loony bin!"

"Yeah, like I said, he was a real nut job - fitted in with academics perfectly. Complete obsessive geek with it though - which made him dangerous."

"Why don't you go?"

"Nah, he knows me. I'll go with you, but you'll have to talk to him."

. . . Later that day at the dribbling academy . . .

"Ok, so this is the computer psycho ward. You'll have to leave your PDA here, though."

"Really? Why?" the PFY asks.

"Look at this >flip<" I say, flashing him a Polaroid.

"My mum in a leotard?!"

"Oh! No, not that one, this one! >flip<"

"Aghh!" the PFY cries, stepping back.

"Yes. About two years ago he told a nurse he wanted to Google some info on heart medication ... We managed to save the floppy drive ..."

I wait back while the PFY walks down the corridor past the empty cells of Gates, Stallman and Ellison, and is almost to Bell's cell when some other weirdo shouts out something I can't make out. I switch on the receiver for the PFY's lapel transmitter.

"Mr Bell?"

"Yes."

"Hi, I'm Steven, a Systems administrator and we'd like your help tracking down a machine ... reconfigurator."

"You're one of Simon's people aren't you?"

"Uh, yes."

"May I see your company swipe card?"

>flick<

"C-loser.. Hmmm. Tell me, what did Jobs say?"

"Jobs?"

"Yeah multiple Jobs down the corridor."

"He said I can smell your coffee."

"Really? I myself cannot. You eat onion bhajis, but not today, and favour Chicken Vindaloo. Now, what do you want?"

"I was hoping you'd tell me why our man wrecks machines?"

"Simple. Tell me - how do we covet?"

"What we see?"

"No! We covet one better than what we see. We see someone with a laptop - we want one, only faster. Smaller. Lighter, with a bigger hard drive."

"I see."

"So I think you'll find your man has a slow desktop machine. Quiet, doesn't get out much. Probably has personal hygiene issues. Doesn't relate to women well."

"You just described three quarters of the geeks I know."

. . . Meantime back at the office . . .

"It squirts the silicon on its heat sink or else it gets the power again."

. . . Back at Mission Control . . .

"It's all so... random!" the PFY says, looking at the machines.

"Or maybe not" I respond. If we look at these in inventory number order, we find that the one we found last was actually the earliest machine to be mutilated - judging by the hardware address records out of the router. Which means..."

"The person killed their own desktop machine first, then mutilated others to cover up for it in a classic organised/disorganised frenzied attack!!!" the PFY gasps.

"No! Look, inside the floppy drive - what do you see?"

"Nothing! Oh, actually there's some junk... Lotsa bits of paper, floppy labels, etc. get stuck in machines..."

"No, Look closer."

"I.. What is it, a moth?" the PFY asks.

"No, it's a dead weevil."

"So you're saying that the machine killer has some fixation on BUGs in computing and is actually trying to tell us something!!!!"

"No, I'm saying the killer is you, and the weevils are from that breakfast cereal you had beside that crappy old desktop I made you use when you first started!"

"Aaaaaagg!" the PFY shouts, running from the room.

Classic Blunder. He would have got away with it too, if it hadn't been for those damn kids. ®

BOFH is copyright © 1995-2004, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.

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