BOFH: Office politics
A disturbance in the force
So, I'm approaching Mission Control one morning and can't help noticing a disturbance in...the force...It's almost as if a million souls were suddenly installing OS2. Ignoring the feeling, I slip inside to find the Boss and PFY discussing something heatedly.
"...so if you could just reinstall Office on his machine that would be good."
"There's nothing wrong with his Office install - outside of the whole selling-your-soul-to-Lucifer thing," the PFY argues.
"His Word documents aren't displaying properly, so it must be broken!" the Boss explains carefully.
"It's not Word that's broken, it's the archaic document he uses as a template which doesn't look like it used to when he was using the original years-ago version. If he just got off his arse and created a new, REAL template file he'd stop having problems!" the PFY snaps.
"I think you'll find these Office products are always backwards compatible, so it must be the program that's broken."
"Backwards compatible just means that people who are backwards can use them!"
"My assistant is simply suggesting Word's for wissies who can't manage vi," I say, realising that I'm not really interested in calming this situation down any...
"I want you to go and reinstall it," the Boss directs.
"It's just a waste of time," the PFY says, tapping away on his keyboard. "Look!"
I join the Boss as he takes a quick shufti at the PFY's screen, which shows a picture of the user in question picking his nose and eating it.
"What's this?" the Boss asks.
"This is live from his webcam," the PFY says. "We pushed some software around the building to allow us to activate webcams when desired to...uh - aid us in...debugging applications!"
"Shouldn't it be pointed at the screen then?" the Boss asks.
"No, we know what's on the screen from the remote help software - this is so we can see them using their keyboard."
"You can't even see their keyboard!" the Boss protests.
"Obviously, you can't see their keyboard now, but if we ever needed to we'd get them to move their camera."
"So you're saying you rarely need to see the keyboard?"
"No - you can tell he's an idiot just by looking at his face!"
"Wellll...perhaps you should do a reinstall anyway, just to be sure..." the Boss wheedles.
"I'm telling you, there's nothing wrong!"
"I think you should still go down there and reinstall it," the Boss sighs. "He's been complaining all week, and you know what they say about the squeaky wheel."
"Needs a good bash with a hammer?" the PFY asks.
"No, it gets the oil," the Boss answers.
"So you want me to grease up our user?"
"I want you to reinstall Office!"
The PFY resigns himself to the process and wanders off...
"There he is!" the Boss blurts a few minutes later as the PFY appears in the picture. "What's he doing?"
"Just shutting the office door - standard operating procedure for users who have become...a liability."
"Ay?" the Boss repeats. "I'm telling you, the problem isn't the user, it's Office! In fact, the way this is going we should probably install all our user's Office products - just to be on the safe side!"
"All our users. Reinstall every machine? It would take weeks! We'd have to listen to them talk about how it's not as good as what they used to use years ago."
"Yes, but it'll be for the best."
"I see..." I sigh, reaching into the drawer for some gaffer tape. "Could you... uhmmm.. just pop the door of Mission Control closed?"
"What's he saying?" the Boss asks, returning from the doorway.
"The Mic's off - he's probably just asking the usual support questions."
"Like what version of Word he's using?"
"No. More likely it's whether the office is soundproof, if he's got any important meetings this afternoon that he'd be missed at, whether he's got a large roll of carpet or a big duffel bag handy..."
"Why?" the Boss asks.
"I'm not sure, it's just something he does. I could ring him and ask, but it might take a while to get hold of him and you'll have meetings to get to..."
"No, no, miles of time! I'd like to see how this pans out first hand."
"Really? Oh well, in that case, I think I can help you. Can you do us a favour while I ring him and unroll that large sheet of plastic?"
"That black stuff with 'HAZARDOUS WASTE, DO NOT OPEN' on it?"
"Yeah, that's the one. It's actually an antistatic pad that we've been trying out which I thought you might want to look at while you're here."
"Oh, ok. Where do you want it?"
"Where you're standing will be fine"
"What's he doing now!?" the Boss snaps angrily, peering back at the screen "I thought I told him to reinstall Office, not rewire his bloody machine! What's he handing to the user? Oh look! The screen's gone blank, that's just lovely!"
"It's just a static problem on the monitor," I say, plugging a lead into the wallsocket. "Just needs a degauss. Hang on to this...degaussing wand...for a second will you?"
"What? Oh sure"
And suddenly the force is back to normal, shaken, but not disturbed...