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BOFH: Dr Bastard's lab challenge

Mickey Mouse inventions

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Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Episode 20

So it's time for the annual challenge between the PFY and I to create the ultimate item for Doctor Bastard's lab. I've been looking forward to this for some time as I have a couple of items that I've been perfecting that are bound to be of use to my fellow bastards in years to come.

"Are we ready?" the PFY asks, cheerfully.

"Go for it" I say, waiting to see what he has for me.

"Item the first!" he cries, pulling out a small plate with a few wires coming out of it "an automatic toilet door opener!"

"For opening toilet doors?" I ask.

"Yes."

"Any toilet door?"

"No - for opening the toilet doors of those 'smart' pay public toilets."

"Uh...don't they open automatically by themselves already?"

"Yes, but there's one small difference..."

"Yes?"

"This one makes the door open when it hears an UUUURRRRGGGGGHHHH noise."

"...catching the user in an awkward moment," I finish.

"Yes"

"It's a bit...uh...untargeted isn't it?"

"But still a lot of fun!" the PFY says. "Well, what've you got?"

"I present," I cry, waving my hand at my PC. "Interactive focusing!"

"Huh?" the PFY says, looking at my machine.

"Sit down, look at the screen."

"...Nothing" the PFY says, after following my instructions.

"Give it time..."

"Hey, it's going blurry!"

"Now move your eyes."

"It's sharp again!"

"Indeed. I have some software which polls your eye movement and tweaks the display driver when you've stared at the same spot for too long. If you look away or blink more than twice it returns focus to normal."

"What's the point?"

"Well, there's a lot of configurables which can be used to good effect. I can tweak the amount of time you need to wait till focus drifts, the amount of drift, the amount of time till it comes back, etc - which would lead someone to the false assumption that they might need eyeglasses, eye drops, or just a new expensive monitor..."

"Hmmm." the PFY says doubtfully.

"Okay, what else have you got?"

"A business card scanner which translates job titles into what they really do," the PFY replies, pointing to a USB device attached to his machine.

"So you put in the business card of a personnel consultant in and..."

"...it magically changes their job title to slave trader."

"And a sales rep?"

"Crap peddler."

"A middle manager?" I ask, as the Boss enters.

"GIT! And it's got dip switches on the bottom to set the offensiveness of the lookup table. At the moment it's only on level one, too, but you can set it right up til..."

"Is that a business card scanner?" the Boss interrupts, blundering into Mission Control. "The head of IT has been looking for one for some time, but I haven't been able to located one for him."

"Well, what the hell, he can have this one," the PFY says magnanimously. "I hardly ever use it. I'll just set all the...uh...high density scanning options.

The boss wanders off happily, while I unveil my next invention.

"Self correcting keyboard," I say "It's got a dictionary built into the ROM."

"What's cool about that?" the PFY asks.

"The cool bit is that you can configure it to the user's IQ. All switches down for a MENSA candidate..."

"And for someone like the boss?"

"Break the switch!"

"It's pretty crap," the PFY says. "My remote control mouse driver is better."

"The one which uses an IR mouse to override the wired one?" I ask. "No, nothing flash there. HOWEVER, when you put it together with my SUITE of tools you've got a goer!!"

"Suite?"

"Indeed, your remote control mouse (with mods) and my self correcting keyboard."

"What mods?" the PFY asks, ignoring my prize creation completely.

"Well, your mouse driver requires someone to be there - my mods don't."

"How do they work then?" the PFY asks sulkily. "And how did you know about my mouse?"

"I see all. As for the mods, there's two basic mods, triggered by a menu activation. When a menu bar comes down the driver, upon getting a mouse click, moves the pointer up or down a random amount, then clicks - selecting a different option."

"Right," the PFY says thoughtfully.

"THEN, if a dialogue box appears, it waits for a mouse click and then moves the pointer a random amount sideways and clicks. It keeps trying till the dialogue box disappears. I call it the mickey mouse driver, although for obvious marketing reasons I'd call it something else."

"And the other mod?"

"When you're typing in a field the driver moves the pointer to another field and activates that - you know, like crap web forms do all the bloody time."

"And that's it - that's your suite?"

"Ok, I was holding this back - my tourettes spell checker. When you spell check your document it replaces personal pronouns with...uh...other words."

"You mean like my business card scanner does? You took my ideas?"

"The focusing thing is all my own work!"

"And you stole all the rest?"

"What can I say, all property is theft!" I say kindly.

"Who said that, Lenin?!"

"Nah, it was probably one of the other Beatles."

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