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BOFH: Beware the lie-detecting mouse

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Security for virtualized datacentres

Episode 34 "You've got to be kidding!" the PFY slurs, putting down his glass of port. "It's Friday at 4:30 - you can't expect me to do anything!"

"It's just a quick job," the user gasps, extricating his laptop from his briefcase.

"Quick as in 'which is the space bar?' or quick as in reinstalling XP on your laptop including non-slipstreamed patches, Office and all your games from scratch?"

"No, no, there's just something a little screwy with it. It seems to work most of the time, but every now and then it runs a little slow."

"When did you last run a virus scan?"

"Every day!" he lies.

"And how often do you update your definitions?"

"Oh, it's set to automatic," he pinocchios.

"Uhuh, and when did you last plug it into the network?"

"Oh, I'd never plug it into the network!" he says.

"Then how do you update the virus definitions?" the PFY asks pointedly.

BUSTED!

"I.. Uh... Well it's automatic!"

"Or your machine is virus infected and you never update your definitions..."

"It's automatic!" he bleats.

"I think he's lying," I say, getting in on the act.

"I'm not!"

"So you'll be willing to submit to a lie detector test?"

"Uh.. ... ...Ok."

"Righto, pop your hand on this."

"What, the mouse pad?"

"MMmm Hmmm."

"It's just a mouse pad!"

"Ok then, so it won't matter if you put your hand on the pad, will it?"

"I... No, I guess not."

"Right. Comfy? Is your machine automatically set to update it's virus definitions?"

"Yes."

"Ok, lets see what the lie detector says about that answer..."

>click click<

We look across to the PFY's desktop, which has a window with the words "He's lying" in large red letters on the screen.

"Ooooh, doesn't look good for today's contestant!" the PFY blurts.

"I... Hey! It's just a Word document! You just opened a Word document called He's Lying.doc - you can see the name in the title bar!"

"The detector has spoken!" I cry loudly.

"It's a bloody word document! Ok, let me have a go and I'll open the one called He's telling the truth.doc."

"There's no such document" the PFY says. "We've never needed one. We've got a She's Lying.doc though."

"So you're saying all users are liars!?"

"Uhhm.. Yes."

"Well I'm not a liar!"

"And the detector says.... Oh, SHE'S lying. Is there something you neglected to reveal in the interview process which you'd like to get off your... chest... now?"

"This is preposterous! In any case I'd still like my machine fixed!" he says. "And I'd like it done before I go home!!"

"And I'd like Claudia Schiffer waiting for me at home with a magnum of lager, but it's not going to happen baby!" I say, refilling my glass. "So how about we settle for a compromise?"

"What sort of compromise?" the user asks.

"You walk away now."

"Yes, and...?" he asks.

"And.... that's it."

"Where's the compromise in that?"

"You'd still be able to walk," the PFY says.

. . . The following Monday . . .

"I've... got a complaint I'd like to talk to you about," the Boss says, cautiously.

"Really? What is it?"

"A user says that he came to you with a problem on Friday afternoon and he got less than satisfactory service."

"How so?"

"He says that he came to you and asked you to take a look at his machine because it was behaving strangely."

"Yes, with you so far?"

"And you didn't help him out."

"Really?"

"Yes we did! In fact, I think we should call him now and sort this out!" the PFY blurts.

"Really?" the Boss says, surprised that it seems to be going so well.

"Most certainly. If someone believes they've had unsatisfactory service from us, it's the least we can do to find out what the story is!"

"Well if it helps get to the bottom of things."

>ring<

"Hello?"

"Hi, Systems and Networks here, just following up on a complaint you lodged with our manager."

"yyyes?"

"So it's your claim that your machine wasn't virus infected?" says the PFY motioning the boss over to his screen.

"Yes!"

>click click<

"And that you automatically update your definitions."

"Yes!"

>click click<

"And that you're a man, not a woman in drag?"

"WHAT?!"

"It's your claim that you're a man."

"Of course it is!"

>click click<

"And you feel that you were treated poorly?"

"Of course I was!"

"Ok, thanks for your time, someone will get back to you shortly."

"I can't believe it," the Boss says, looking up from the PFY's document. "He's a woman!!?!! Are you sure this thing is accurate?"

"Oh yes, we had it calibrated for voice stress last week when she rang asking for your number."

"My number?"

"Yes, apparently she fancies you!"

"What? I... Well.." the Boss burbles wandering out of Mission Control with a thoughtful expression on his face.

"The 'fancies you' bit was laying it on a little thick don't you think?"

"My thinking," the PFY counters, "is worst case scenario we lose one of them. Best case scenario, we lose both of them AND take a patent out on our lie-detecting mouse pads!!!"

"It's win-win isn't it?"

"You betcha!!!" ®

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