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BOFH: Critical Mass of Geeks

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Episode 9 So I'm having a quiet lager at a downtown pub whilst waiting for a presentation on wireless networking to start when I notice a brace of Windows geeks all jabbering away to each other. (You know the sort of thing - "I ported Server 2003 to my cellphone in Java in two days - want to browse my file share?" war stories, etc.)

I make a special effort not to meet any of their eyes just in case they try to draw me into their unholy circle with their outrageous claims (i.e. the location of the Steve Jobs glove puppet) whilst simultaneously trying to take on the colour and texture of the wall behind me. The PFY is miles ahead of me and is almost transparent to the technical eye.

As I'm arranging myself to look like furniture I notice something which disturbs me further - if indeed someone with my Machiavellian and sadistic tendencies towards users could become more disturbed - the arrival of a contingent of furry teeth from the Linux Geek bat cave.

"Hmmm," I murmur.

"What?" the PFY asks, the background shimmering slightly like a poor rendition of Predator.

"Critical Mass," I say.

"Hmm?"

"Critical Mass of geeks."

"What?!"

">Sigh< As any Nuclear Physicist will tell you if you feed him enough lagers, bringing two masses of radioactive substances into close to each other is not a good thing. In this case, bringing two bunches of furry teethes into close proximity is similarly not a good thing..."

"I hardly think that's worth worrying about…"

"Not really, but all we need is..."

I halt abruptly with arrival of the entire global OS2 fan club (both of them) dressed in "The one true OS" t-shirts. Size XXXXL if I'm not mistaken.

Luckily they're more like carbon rods in a situation like this and the atmosphere of the pub improves ever so slightly.

It's the Mac geeks sliding in the back way that introduce the cold hand of fear to my internal organs.

Armageddon is upon us!

Slowly, so as not to draw any attention to ourselves, the PFY and I make my way towards the door posing as a German tourists mit eine swartzkopf emergency, but before we get there the PFY stops.

"There doesn't seem to be any trouble," he says, gesturing at the assembled geeks clustered in their groups.

"No, not now. In their natural state fusion won't occur because the elements are too far apart to interact. "

"So we've got time for another lager!"

"It's hard to say."

"Why!" the PFY asks impatiently.

"Generally considerable energy must be expended to bring elements together, however I note that the bar has a happy hour in about 12 minutes."

"Ah."

"Which means they'll be all over the bar like a rash in about nine minutes."

"Geeks and free things," the PFY sighs.

"Ah yes. Oooh, but look - a few of them are going to the bar for an interim drink - or what we in the chemistry trade call a Catalyst."

"Huh?"

"Something which helps facilitate a reaction."

"Ah. And so it's all on then?"

"Not exactly," I say, entering my closet-Einstein persona "The OS2 people are defusing the situation a little because the groups are concentrating their ridicule at them instead of each other - which is stalling the reaction. Add to that the length of the bar which is sufficient to ensure the elements don't get too close together. True, a lesser reaction might occur at another place - the bogs, the door, but nothing with the potential for raw energy as what could happen in this room, if..."

"If...?"

. . .

"Who'd have thought," I say, expelling a meaningless sentence fragment - a tactic which has all the pull of the Death Star's tractor beam in drawing a geek into conversation.

"Beg Pardon?" the Windows geek beside me says.

Told you so.

"I was just saying, who'd have though that Linus Torvalds was Bill Gates' love child? It's so ironic."

"That's ridiculous!"

"That's what I said, but that Linux bloke over there says he's got the DNA match and a 16mm film of the conception. Quite graphic apparently."

. . . Meantime on the other side of the room . . .

"...and he said that Steve Jobs was working for Microsoft THE WHOLE TIME!" the PFY says.

. . . Seconds later at the other end of the bar . . .

"Is it true what those Mac guys said about the Mac moving to Windows OS because Linux performance is so crap?" I ask.

. . . and in the middle of the bar . . .

"Two shandies and 14 packets of crisps." one of the OS2 geeks says.

. . .

"Nothing's happened!" the PFY sniffles. "What a load of crap!"

"Be patient." I murmur "Like most reactions you just need to wait for the elements to come together.. See, there goes a Mac geek to ask about the whole Steve-Jobs-was-a-Microsoft-Spy thing. And there's a Windows geek off to defend Bill's honour by saying that Linus must be a basta..."

>slap<

"AND IT'S ALL ON!" I say, ducking down behind a table. "BITCH FIGHT AT THE OK SNUG BAR!"

Ten minutes and several hundred slaps later, the place is in silence, save for isolated pockets of sniffles and the crunching of the OS2 guys at their crisps.

"Ten minutes till the presentation," I say to the PFY. "We could fit another pint in."

"Or I could tell one of those OS2 guys that the other one has a windows cluster at home.."

"And I'll get the pints in!" I say the the PFY, giving him the nod.

Well, it's God's work, isn't it? ®

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

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