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BOFH: Building changes

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Episode 31

"Just before you go," the Boss cries, waving some building plans at me as I'm ducking out to lunch. "Can you just take a look at this?"

"What is it?"

"We're just looking at making a few small alterations on the third floor," he responds. "And I'd like to get your thoughts on them."

"Didn't we make some 'small' alterations to the third floor six months ago? 'Small' in that case meaning a complete revision of the floor plan, with new offices, aircon and cabling throughout."

"Yes, we apparently did do a few more changes than originally planned back then – scope creep I think they said – but the changes they're proposing now are are just a bit of fine tuning to come up with the ultimate configuration for both staff comfort and work process."

"So we changed from open plan to offices and now we're...?"

"It's a combination of open plan and offices. A hybrid model if you like."

"They're going to move all the walls again, aren't they?" I sigh.

"No, no, nothing as drastic as that," the Boss says, laying down the plans. "We'll keep all these walls here, those over here and of course those."

"Right, so with the exception of the external walls and the load-bearing internal walls, all the other walls go?"

"I... uhhhhhmm, yes, it would appear so."

"So we're only keeping the concrete?"

"Yes."

"The stuff without cavities for faceplates?"

"What's your point?"

"My point is that all the wiring has to be done again – all the comms, all the power."

"It's underfloor, surely!"

"It used to be underfloor looms, sure. Then, when they did the renovations they decided that the floor plates looked ugly and that they caused problems for wheely chairs, so they had to go."

"But the cable looms must still exist?"

"You'd think so wouldn't you? But then one of the CEO's architect mates said that everyone was using solid wood floors for natural heat retention or something so they replaced the integrated tiling with wood, built permanent walls – for their improved sound proofing – and fed all the cabling from the ceiling space into the new walls."

"But surely that would be..."

"Madness?" I suggest.

"No..."

"Hideously expensive?"

"No..."

"The least intelligent method of partitioning offices in a dynamic environment?"

"I.... don't know what to say."

"I do," I say. "We told them so. We told them that on average we 'renovate' about a floor a year in this place – more if there's been a change of head man or head man's PA – and that putting permanent floors and walls in would be a mistake and would cost us a fortune in comms reinstallation."

"Ah well I have some good news there," the Boss smiles. "They said we can reuse our old stuff."

"What, you mean they'll let us reuse the cable that some chippy's yanked out of the wall, tied up in a ball and taped to a ceiling member then untaped, unwound and stuffed back into a wall in another location?"

"I... Well you see the architect hasn't allowed any money for new cables in the renovation budget," the Boss says, scanning over the document.

"Are you sure?" I ask, grabbing the document off him. "Hang on – IT'S THE SAME GUY!"

"What?"

"It's the same guy who recommended solid walls and floors who's behind this and the cabling reuse. I'll kill him!"

"I think we should be reasonable about this."

"REASONABLE?!" I gasp. "If we do this we'll spend the next six months identifying cable faults and organising cable replacements out of my maintenance money!!!"

"But isn't network cable supposed to have a 20 year lifetime?"

"IN THE BLOODY WALL!" I snap. "Your bloody LADA will last 20 years if you leave it in a garage, it's only when you play with it that it stops bloody working!"

"I think you're being a little overdramatic – these builders are professionals."

"Yes, you're probably right," I say. "They're really IT wizards attracted to the building industry by the opportunities of wearing tight shorts and flashing butt cleavage. So when are they proposing to start this work?"

"I.... They started this morning!" the Boss says.

"And we only heard about this today!?"

"Well I might have heard about it a week or two ago..."

"So that dull thumping noise I can hear above me isn't the sound of my assistant encouraging someone to fill in a survey form correctly?"

"That would be the builders," the Boss says.

"Let's take a quick look, shall we?"

...minutes later...

"Well this all looks OK," the Boss says. "The cable's all wound up nicely."

"The electrical cable is, yes," I say.

"What about the data cable then?" the Boss asks, unable to identify the aforementioned.

"It's the thin grey cable," I say. "The stuff they're using to tie the electrical cable together with. Oh, and hold those ceiling lights on with. And to steady that ladder."

"Ah, I..."

"And that bloke over there is using some as a belt and some more of it to run remote speakers off his boom box. But I'm sure he'll join it all back up with strip connectors when he's done."

"I..."

"Oh and look. There's the architect!" I say.

"Now let's not do anything hasty," the Boss burbles.

>KZEERRRRT!< >KZEERT!<

. . .The next day. . .

"And you're sure this room is to stay?" the builder asks me.

"Positive," I say. "I had a chat to my Boss and the architect and we agreed that it should remain here forever."

"But there's no doors!"

"Don't need them, it's going to be a duct."

"But... wasn't there a door there yesterday?"

"There was, but the architect and the Boss popped in last night and had someone put a panel in. The extra soundproofing it provides is priceless," I add.

"Yes, it's good stuff," the builder says. "And you know what they say?"

"In space no one can hear you scream? Or in a duct for that matter."

"What? No, they say no one regrets buying quality."

"So true. And speaking of quality, about that total cabling refit..."

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