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BOFH: Lies and the lying liars who lie about them

Some truly beastly behaviour

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Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Episode 9

“And how long will it take?” the user echoes from the handsfree speaker on the PFY’s phone.

“To restore access to your email? I’m not sure. Have you tried closing down Outlook and restarting it?” the PFY responds.

“Yes.”

“What about restarting it in Safe Mode?”

“I tried that,” the user says – a little too quickly.

“Well, what about starting it in comms recovery mode?”

“I tried that as well.”

“There isn’t a comms recovery mode – I just made that up,” the PFY says.

“Oh, I thought you meant –“

“Yeah, don’t bother,” the PFY interrupts drily.

“But I...”

“Let’s just see what we can see,” the PFY says, tapping away at his keyboard.

. . .

“So what can you see?” the user asks a couple of minutes of silence later.

“Oh, are you still on the phone?” the PFY asks

“Yes.”

“Oh right then, I thought you’d wait for me to get back to you, but this works too.”

“So do you see anything?”

“Yes, Fear 3 is due to release in late October!!!”

“About my email?!”

“Oh yes, of course. Well I’ll have to do a little bit of tinkering so I’ll tell you what. Why don’t you look at your screen blankly whilst telling all your co-workers that email is down and then call me every five minutes to see how it’s going – that usually speeds up the process”

“I..”

“Was planning to do that anyway? I know,” the PFY interrupts.

“But I...”

“Was also planning to do nothing else for the rest of the morning because you couldn’t possibly do any other work until your email is working? Yes, we know that too,” I add.

“I'm...”

“But I’ll tell you what, can you answer a few questions. Have you moved your machine recently?”

“Uh... no.”

“You do realise we have voice stress analysis software monitoring our phone lines?” the PFY lies.

“Beg pardon?”

“Voice stress analysis software,” the PFY says. “It measures stress levels in the conversation and pretty much tells us if you’re lying.”

“I don’t think so.”

“The software says you do. It also says you were lying about starting Outlook in safe mode, comms recovery mode, whatever excuse you were going to use for lying about comms recovery mode and about moving your machine. Was there anything else you were planning to lie to us about?”

“No.”

“Oooh, software says 'inconclusive'.”

“Look, this is ridiculous – I know you don’t have any such software!”

“Then you won’t mind answering a couple more questions. Have you ever pictured another man naked – a friend, colleague or co-worker?”

“No!”

“Software says 78 per cent confidence you’re lying.”

“I haven’t!”

“98 per cent confidence you’re telling porkies, but let’s just leave that aside for now. Have you ever – even for a moment – considered bestiality?”

“WHAT! NO!”

“87 per cent confidence you’re lying – although because of the accusatory nature of our discussion we can expect you to have a higher voice stress reading than normal. So probably only 85 per cent likelihood you’re a Farmer Sutra fan.”

“I AM NOT!!”

“Still 87 per cent. See, the problem with this software is very black and white, you’re lying or you’re not – not about whether you’re actually a raving perv. So you’re registering 87 per cent because you probably, for a fleeting instant wondered what a workmate looked like in the flesh or what people see as being erotic in the animal kingdom. The problem is that in covering this minor thought up you’re actually lying – which registers in your mind, in your voice and on the software."

The user is quiet. I continue.

"So what you should be saying is that the thought did cross your mind because then the voice stress analysis software would see that you were telling the truth - as opposed to being a complete closet case. Then you might say that you have no sexual interest in animals or your male co-workers, which would also register as being the truth.”

“So that would prove that it was just a fleeting thought?” our user sighs.

“Exactly.”

“I see. Well in that case, YES, I did once very briefly picture one of my male colleagues with no clothes on and have wondered about how people could possibly consider bestiality, BUT...”

“No, it’s reading inconclusive. I think you’re trying to put too many boundaries on it which blur your mind’s view of the truth. Like when you tell someone you’re going to go for a five mile jog every day when you know that you won’t – your mind knows it’s a lie because in the future it might not be the truth.”

“I see – I’ve got it now. So. I occasionally think about my male colleagues naked and consider bestiality.”

“Excellent.”

“HOWEVER, I do not find either to be sexually arousing to me.”

“Software says you’re telling the truth.”

“Is there really any software?”

“Indeed there is. We got it as a free upgrade to our voice recording software.”

“Voice recording software?"

“Yes. We didn’t get around to installing the voice stress stuff but we did put the voice recording stuff in. So unless you want us to email a soundbite to your HR and your work colleagues I’d suggest you put your machine back where it was, get on with your work and resolve not try to bullshit a bullshitter.”

“Ah."

A moment of silence.

"OK.”

“That was quite rewarding!” the PFY says.

“Yes, but not quite as rewarding as changing his voicemail message to one of a more confessional nature...”

“Ooh yeah, you’re right,” the PFY says, firing up the phone admin client...

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