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Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

Episode 3 "So we'd just like you to move these data points from here to over there," the head beancounter says, pointing to a window.

"It's a window," I say.

"Yes, will that be a problem?"

"It's a glass wall.."

"Yes."

"And there's no underfloor data cabling..."

"Mmm."

"So how do the cables get across there?"

"I... Through the ceiling?"

"And from the ceiling to their machines?"

"We could just let the wire hang down?"

"Wire-S."

"Mmm?"

"WIRES. I take it you're going to need power too."

"Oh, yes. Actually, better run two of each."

"Ok, it'll be a big job, as they'll either run a small post or an ugly piece of capping down the middle of the window which the building owner will hate. So who do I charge the work to?"

"It's your area so I guess you'd be paying for it."

"Doubtful. Eighteen months ago when this floor was completely refitted we specified modular underfloor cabling in a raised floor config, utilising, I might add, oversize floor tiles for futureproofing - and your department axed that out of the budget saying it was an unneccesary expense for what is basically a static workplace area."

"Uh, that wasn't our department, that was the auditors."

"Who work?"

"Uh.. Over there," he says, pointing into a small cube farm separate from the rest of the floor.

"Oh, in YOUR department?"

"Yes, but they don't report to me, they report to the Audit Manager."

"Who reports to?"

"Well me, but that's different. It's a whole separate thing."

"And so is asking us to make changes to a budget cabling job after we'd warned you that it'd cost a fortune to change."

"Ok, I suppose we could just run long cables across the floor."

"Till the Health and Safety people notice, yes."

"Oh. So it looks like we'll have to use the ceiling space."

"I suppose so. Unless...."

"Unless?"

"Unless we use the ceiling space of the floor below, run the cables in that, get a bloke with a cement cutter and jackhammer to make some holes in the concrete floor to install some flush mounting power and data boxes onto."

"What'll it cost?"

"Oh, about a grand, fifteen hundred?"

"1500 pounds?!"

"Lets say two to be on the safe side. Course, it's about 750 if you want them to do a weekend job for cash with no insurance, tax or warranty."

"It's a hole! They're drilling a hole, that's all! How can a hole be worth two thousand pounds?"

"It's specialised equipment! They're professionals!"

"Can't you drill the hole?"

"What, with the IT department's little hammer drill and a masonry bit? It'd take about two hours and drive everyone barmy - and we don't have a masonry bit that long."

"I... So how... do we do the... uh.. under-the-table thing?"

"You grab a wadge of petty cash - call it pin money or something - shove it in a brown envelope and drop it off to me. I'll hand it onto them and they'll drill the hole."

"You give it to them BEFORE they do the work? You don't get a receipt or anything?"

"A. They'll be hiring equipment and will want the dosh up front and B. the whole idea of under-the-table jobs is no paper trail."

"It all seems a little... underhand to me."

"The good jobs always do.."

. . two hours later . .

"And it'll be done by the weekend?" the head beancounter says, handing over a brown envelope self-consciously like a crim caught on videotape. Which he is.

"Should do. I'll make some calls later on this afternoon and get back to you."

. . . later on that afternoon . . .

>Ring<

"Hello," the PFY says.

"Want to earn three hundred quid whilst lounging around at the pub?" I ask.

. . . That weekend . . .

"So you've propped the drill up between two chairs with a stack of phone books taped to the handle.."

"To simulate the pressure of a human arm," I add.

"..with the trigger taped on…"

"Yep, and by my calculation the first hole should be drilled in about 4.5 pints time!"

"Best get drinking then!"

. . . 4.5 hours later . . .

"Ok, that's one hole done. Now we need to drill eight more holes around it to make room for the flush box mount."

"How deep?"

"About a pint."

. . . Eight pint trips and a large amount of hammering later. . .

"F - ing magic!" the PFY slurs. "But what's that..."

. . . .

"You didn't run the cables?" the head Beancounter whines, when we get in on Monday.

"No, there was a bit of a problem, so we didn't get a chance to start work."

"Problem?"

"Yeah, they'd done the hole when one of the newer, STUPIDER contractors thought he'd seen an obstruction and rammed the drill in the hole several times."

"Yes, and?"

"And hit the water line for the fire extinguishers."

"Was there any damage?"

"No no, just flooded the third floor. It'll need new carpets!"

"We‘ll sue!"

"You COULD sue, but then you'd have to fess up to the whole under-the-table thing, which would mean the Tax department would probably find out, which given your position in the company would probably mean the whole place would be audited with all the vigor of a dark night at a men's prison, it doesn't really bear thinking about..."

"I....... suppose you're right. We'll have to pay for the carpets."

"You couldn't spring for a raised floor utilising oversize floor tiles for futureproofing as well could you?"

Well, it never hurts to ask. ®

BOFH is copyright © 1995-2005, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.

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