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BOFH: Drunken Time Lord

Glass lift, laxatives, untraceable banknotes ... oh my

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Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

Episode 9

"It's only 1:30pm!" the PFY grumbles, looking up from his cellphone clock.

"I know," I say. "It's that variable viscosity of time again."

"The what now?" the PFY asks

"The variable viscosity of time. You know, how the viscosity of time is inversely proportional to what you'd like the viscosity to be."

"You’ve lost me."

"Okay," I sigh, opening an Excel chart. "Here, on a Monday morning, when there's lots of interesting stuff happening, time flows reasonably well. Friday afternoons however, time flows like road tar on a cold morning."

"What's that then?" the PFY asks, pointing at another section of the graph.

"Ah, that was Wednesday evening."

"And?"

"And I was having a couple of drinks with that nice woman from the inkjet company."

"And time flowed..."

"Like water out a firehose."

"I take it she didn’t know that we don’t have any inkjet printers at that stage?"

"Correct. You can see the rapid incline of the graph at >this< point when she found out. A section I like to call 'the long walk home'."

"And yet it's still wasn’t as bad as Friday afternoons?"

"Yes, well-spotted. It seems that alcohol reduces the viscosity of time."

"So time flows faster when you're drinking?"

"Exactly. So while in real time the walk home took three hours plus kebab stops, to my mind it was five minutes and someone stuffed a kebab wrapper in my letterbox."

"So it really does speed things up?"

"It does. I checked today by spending lunchtime at the pub. Eight minutes."

"You were gone for two hours!"

"I know!"

"So were you at a pub in the morning about five weeks back?"

"No, why?"

"The graph says you were!"

"No, the graph says that time was flowing fast."

"And the difference is?"

"The difference is that was the time I was using my wireless mouse on the Boss' machine to quit without saving every time he tried to send an email."

"I see. And... two mornings ago?"

"That was when the Boss was trapped in the glass-walled lift of the atrium after unknowingly consuming several pieces of laxative chocolate."

"So time was moving slowly for him?"

"Exactly. And this is the interesting thing – and where I think my thesis will shine out – in 'The general theory of relativity of the viscosity of time'."

"?"

"The viscosity of time is relative to each person. Much like Einstein's work, an observer sees time flow differently than perhaps the subject being observed."

"Ah – so while for the Boss, trapped in the elevator, time was travelling excruciatingly slowly, for you..."

"...watching the Boss crap his strides rather than be seen dropping a grogan in a glass-wall lift, it was all over too soon. Which leads me to believe that the viscosity of time is affected by several things: Alcohol, Romance, the presence of large sums in untraceable five-pound notes and witnessing the misfortune of someone who truly deserves it – especially someone who has crossed you in the recent past."

"Really?" the PFY says dubiously...

"Really. And to prove it I've organised a very simple demonstration."

"Uh-oh."

"No, this doesn't involve you. Well, not as the subject anyway. I have here a suitcase full of unmarked five-pound notes, a table reserved at the pub and a get-to-know-you drink or 10 organised with the new women from the bookshop across the road."

"How's that relative?"

"You'll have to wait till we get to the pub..."

Half an hour, three pints and the arrival of our guests later...

"And how's it relative?" the PFY asks.

"Right. This >twiddle< is the receiver for a remote camera generally strapped to the underside of a model aeroplane to tape flights. This camera, however, is taped to the front of the Boss's rear-view mirror. Now watch very carefully as I trigger the swapping of the digital inputs of his accelerator and brake pedals..."

>click<

"Nothing happened," The PFY says.

"And yet the pub is empty, it's dark outside, our dates and money are gone and it's 12:15am."

"Incredible!"

"I know."

"And you can't slow it down any?"

"Not exactly. I have been experimenting with operating systems."

"Operating systems?"

"Yes, Windows ME and Vista mainly."

"And they slow time down?"

"Well, time certainly seems slower."

"So you could install Vista on your workplace machine and it would cancel out the effects of time speeding up when you're enjoying yourself?"

"Except that you would no longer be enjoying yourself..."

"So time would slow down even more than if it were normal time. OS/2?"

"Yes – Remember the last episode of Sapphire and Steel where they’re trapped in the box in the middle of space... That would be an OS/2 user – where every day is like the last and every little thing we tried to do would take a millennium."

"Wow, you could do that to someone?"

"Yes, like the bloke from Security who wheel-clamped me this morning who had an Operating System 'upgrade' this morning. Now before I switch to camera 2 remember that, with the relativity of the viscosity of time the victim would experience time flowing slowly, but to us, the observer, it would travel extremely fast."

"So the first thing we knew..."

"The terminators would be stalking humans, yes."

"But still, they're computers and we could reason with them..."

"Yes, I suppose you’re right, it's worth a crack."

>Click< ®

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