17th > January > 2004 Archive

FOTW: Niue is NOT dead. Nor will it ever be

Flame of The WeekFlame of The Week Niue is Dead! Long live .nu! From: "miss amanda" Sent: Thursday, January 15, 2004 11:48 PM i am emailing concerning your article on Niue...........................Niue is NOT dead nor will it ever be................those are rumours about the population, Niue ofr one will not give in to New Zealand Rule..........What do you know about Niue anyway? You havent been there! What is your point in this article!!!!!!!!Half of, well most of your articcle was full of crap!!!Incase you care the isaldners are actually helping each other..........now the niuen domains, YOU HAVENT EVEN BEEN ON THEM! the ones you talk off you act as if you knwo what happens on the boards! unless you knwo how to speak or translate Niuen you really need to find yourself a hobby and stop ditching a country you dont know never been to or even going to go to! Flames are published unedited, in full. They may not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Register. ®
Drew Cullen, 17 Jan 2004

Internet fool’s gold sparks Nigerian fiasco

"It seems clear to us now than ever before, that what Mrs Odusote is interested in is to continue to hold the government of Nigeria, and the teeming members of Nigeria's Internet Community, to ransom on personal, selfish and largely unjustifiable grounds, without any regards whatsoever to the patriotic interest of Nigeria." What ICANN head Paul Twomey made of that on 10 December 2003 when the letter from Nigeria’s minister of science and technology, Professor Turner Isoun, landed on his desk, we shall never know. But it was clear to everyone that something had gone horribly wrong in the running of Nigeria’s Internet. Mrs Odusote is the official point of contact between the Internet overseeing organisation ICANN and the domain names set aside for Nigeria, run under the two-letter suffix "ng". It is up to ICANN to decide who (individual or organisation) is allowed to run country domains. But if it had had anything to do with it, no one would know a jot about the enormous battle going on for control of Nigeria’s Internet. Not a single reference to the struggle can be found on ICANN’s website (save two press reports that have slipped through the net), no member has ever mentioned the fact, and none of the official letters sent by interested parties have been put in the public domain. This despite the organisation’s stated policy that: "All decisions of substance are preceded by prior notice and a full opportunity for public comment." However, Nigeria’s tendency toward public criticism and condemnation has caused the whole horrible mess to explode on the wider stage. Prof Isoun’s letter was born out of frustration from what he perceived as the stalling tactics of Mrs Odusote for her own personal gain. A few months earlier, the Nigerian Internet Group (NIG), through its political connections, had been awarded the rights to run the domain by the Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA). ICANN was informed of the decision. However, Mrs Odusote - and much of the Internet community including universities, ISPs and Internet old-hands - were concerned about NIG’s ability to run the show and the fact it was dominated by government officials. It was an attempted coup and the reason - although everyone has been careful not to say it publicly - was money. Ten times ten million is... The head of NITDA’s corporate affairs, Mr Inye Kem-Abonta pointed out in a press conference that it was "alarmingly dismal" that only 576 Nigerian domains had been sold since 1995. There are 120 million Nigerians, he exclaimed, and other countries have had up to one million registrations in one year. Nigerian domain names are delightfully old-fashioned in that they are run as in the early days of the Internet - by individuals and for free. Mrs Odusote is the administrative contact for the domain, and Net veteran Randy Bush, who lives in the US, is the technical contact. They are not paid and there is no fee to register a domain - all you need to do is fill in a registration form and prove you are a Nigerian national by providing a contactable address in the country. The trouble was that the false hopes of Internet potential that infected Western society in the 1990s had reappeared. If you start charging, say, £10 for a domain and you sell one million domains then you make... huge wads of cash in next to no time, figured the Nigerians. Blinded by the glistening fool’s gold and helped by Nigerian officials’ traditional flexibility in monetary matters, the NIG viewed the delay by Mrs Odusote as purely selfish. Nigeria’s Internet community realised too late in the day what was happening, but quickly formed the Nigerian Computer Society (NCS) - made up of the Computer Association of Nigeria (COAN), Information Technology (Industry) Association of Nigeria (ITAN), Internet Service Providers Association of Nigeria (ISPAN), Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPAN)/Software Developers Group (SDG) and others - to put forward their views. Backlash The NCS wrote to ICANN in response to Prof Isoun’s letter, claiming he had been misled by the NITDA, and went on to list a series of concerns with the NITDA and NIG. We know this because it was also sent to Nigeria’s president (who is keen to stamp out government corruption) and leaked to the press. It alleged close links between NITDA and NIG that made objective advice difficult; a lack of genuine consensus; an absence of transparency and accountability; and that stakeholder meetings were staged. It asked the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to review the decision to hand the domain over to NIG. This, unsurprisingly, did not endear the NITDA to NCS and while ICANN stood back, the fireworks flew. The NIG tried to bypass presidential consideration by publicly calling the NCS’ letter “an outrageous insult on the Presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria" and demanding an apology. It added: "We urge the NCS to immediately withdraw its petition to ICANN because it is an act of gross disrespect to the Federal Government of Nigeria.” The NCS didn’t, and NITDA’s Kem-Abonta tried a new tack: “Forced re-delegation is only now a matter of time," he told reporters. Watching all this, bemused, was the ng technical contact Randy Bush. Randy, who describes himself as “an old Internet dog” has been running the Nigerian Internet for years, for free, from his home in Washington State, USA. Randy is delighted with the idea of the domain being redelegated to a professional organisation, he told us, not least because it will put him out of an unpaid job that has caused him nothing but headaches and early-morning phone calls from angry Nigerians. Randy was temporarily pulled into the argument after he wrote a letter expressing his views. Running the domain was “not intellectually interesting in the least,” he wrote, and explained the apparent lack of success of ng domains by noting that 95 per cent of registration forms were incorrectly filled in. He also make his concern known that Nigeria did not widely discuss the one thing Nigeria has become famous for on the Internet - email scams. Inevitably, there was some backlash to this, with references to foreigners running Nigeria’s Internet domains. "Nigeria does not hold a monopoly of scam on the Internet," retaliated NIG’s president, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, at another press conference. One man and his log But Mr Bush’s concerns are for the African country’s Internet infrastructure. “What can a nerd do to help the world?” he asks us. His answer is to help provide and transfer the technology developed in the West for the benefit of all. He is unapologetic about rejecting so many registration forms though. “I’m a stickler for correctness. That’s my job. And that means the servers must be working, on a different Net backbone, and the person has to be in the country and has to be contactable.” He puts the applicant’s inability to do this down to cultural differences: “They don’t want some Honky telling them they must put their domain on a different server - I even tell them where to find a free server - to them it is just me making things difficult for them, but without that, one day they will find their domain isn’t there.” There are a lot of clever people in Nigeria, Randy explains, but very, very few engineers with the right skills. “Domains are tough - they can be a little complex. The smartest guy in Nigeria works for one ISP and he’s trying to build a business. He helps others out but he is trying to get on with running his business.” All it takes, Randy says, is a full-time engineer, an office with a fax and phone, a help person to explain to people what they need to do and why, and someone to balance the books. Randy told the Nigerian government this and its angry response was telling. It refused point blank to accept that such a small team could start the Nigerian Internet ball rolling effectively. It would clearly need a huge team because hundreds of thousands of domains would be sold in a matter of months. Randy sums it up succinctly: “It’s the smell. I would say that due to its culture, Nigerians are even more of a sucker for the get-rich-quick scheme than we Americans.” The ironic thing is that domain redelegations to date have almost all been controversial for a different reason - that the government or commercial organisation has won control by striking a secret deal with ICANN, signing a contract pledging undying loyalty to it in the process. With ICANN requesting a consensus before it acts in Nigeria, the situation has reached an impasse. But, if Mr Bush is to be believed, the extraordinary battle may soon be coming to a close. “As I understand it, in the next day or so, we [the NCS] will say that the domain should be transferred to the NIG but that it has to become more representative.” And so the seemingly old-fashioned frenzy for Internet riches will, with luck, be solved by the even more old-fashioned Internet culture of consensus. It’s good to see the Net can still spark such passions though. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 17 Jan 2004

Patent lawyer puts claim to entire Internet

The Net's two biggest registrars of domain names are being sued for infringing an email and domain name patent granted last month. The lawsuit, filed yesterday in California, claims Network Solutions and Register.com are liable for selling, specifically, .name domains. It claims undisclosed monetary damages and an injunction against the sale of any more domains. US patent 6,671,714 - "Method, apparatus and business system for online communications with online and offline recipients" - is owned by Frank Weyer and Troy Javaher, both of Beverly Hills in California, was filed in November 1999 and approved on 30 December 2003. Frank Meyer is a patent lawyer who is heading the case himself and who recently set up the company Nizza Group to act as prosecutor. He has told the press that he is hoping to work with the two registrars and licence his naming method rather than prevent the sale of domains. No wonder, because the only way this patent case will ever be won is if the US court system is as hopelessly incompetent as the Patent Office. The patent and the lawsuit are disingenuous and purport to be different things at different times according to which situation the patent owner finds himself in. Ship of fools That the Patent Office was fooled into thinking what was contained in the actual submission was accurately reflected in the abstract and summary of claims is distressing, but far from a one-off as numerous recent lawsuits have shown. This sentence from the submissions sums up what the patent claims to be: "The invention allows online users to communicate with each member of a given group regardless of whether or not the member has an existing internet presence... [it] does so by setting up a database of contact information for members of the group... providing means of communications between the created internet presence and the member recipient." Fine. Except what is then described as patentable is no more than an explanation of the domain system on which the Internet is built. Whoever reviewed the case clearly has no idea of how the Internet works and so was misled by cleverly constructed semantics. The core of the patent is a so-called method of assigning URLs and email addresses to a specific group. Each member will have a URL in the form "name.subdomain.domain" and an email address in the form "name@subdomain.domain". This, it is claimed in the patent, lives outside the current Internet infrastructure: "The present invention overcomes the limitations of the prior art by providing a method, apparatus and business system that allow a user to quickly communicate online with a member of a particular business, professional or other group regardless of whether the member has an internet presence (e.g. e-mail address or website) and without the user needing to know or find the internet address for the recipient." It is clever double-speak, but double-speak all the same. All the patent describes is a way in which the existing Internet infrastructure may be used to give a certain result. If this is patentable then there is no reason why the way in which companies provide their employees with email addresses like joe.bloggs@company.com cannot also be patentable. It is no more than the logical application of pre-existing technology. Red herring The fact that the lawsuit specifically focuses on the ".name" domain is also nothing but a red herring. There is absolutely no difference between the .name domain and any other top-level domain such as .com or .net. It is ironic that just a day before the lawsuit, the company behind .name started to sell second-level domains - i.e. joebloggs.name - whereas previously only third-level domains were for sale - joe.bloggs.name. The second-level domains are not included in the case, Meyer has confirmed, only the third-level domains. Is there any difference between a third-level patent and fourth-level patent? Could a fourth-level URL and email address be considered contained within a third-level? If so, why should a third-level not be contained within the normal second-level situation that exists as the Internet as we know it? Alternative root company New.net lives on fourth-level domains. It sells domains with alternative endings such as .shop and it sells them on top of its new.net domain. So, "clothes.shop" is really "clothes.shop.new.net". An email to Joe at the domain will be joe@clothes.shop.new.net - but typed in as joe@clothes.shop. Is there anything special about third-level domains? Not in the slightest. The UK domain system operates almost entirely on third-level domains i.e. you buy your chosen name with two dots already in - TheRegister.co.uk, BBC.co.uk. And what of all the hundreds of ISPs that offer as a service the inclusion of a subdomain on your acquired domain? How many company intranets and websites use subdomains as an effective break between sections? The BBC's news site for example is http://news.bbc.co.uk. Subdomains are a vital part of the Internet but require some technical know-how to implement them on your server. This is why many companies let you "buy" subdomains on your system where in fact you are paying them for the technical hassle. Does this patent give two Californians the right to dictate what you are allowed to do with your own domain? It would appear so. Even though the patent appears to give some justification for believing so, you simply cannot connect two everyday parts of the Internet infrastructure together and claim that if such a combination exists in a certain format, you possess it. Mr Meyer has cleverly achieved the patent by arguing one way and then representing the end effect another. But what he is in fact doing is claiming ownership over the workings of the Internet. Straw and camels' backs What he is hoping however is that NSI and Register.com will not want the hassle and expense of going through the US law courts, especially when, thanks to the recent Eolas lawsuit decided against Microsoft, there remains a slight risk that the US courts will decide in his favour. Far easier for the registrars to offer a tiny percentage on sold domains that they will barely notice, but which will make the patent owners rich men while sitting on their sofas. It is our sincere hope though that the two registrars fight the case and so set some legal precedent against the series of increasingly ridiculous patent cases that are coming out of the US. If this case does go to court and is dismissed out of hand (as it should be) there would be a case for the company that owns .name - Global Name Registry - to sue Mr Weyer and Mr Javaher for malicious damage to its business. President of GNR, Hakon Haugnes, told us he was looking at the case "very carefully" but feels certain the patent is not enforceable and applies equally to all top-level domains. He is currently trying to reassure the smaller registrars that from yesterday had received a big boost from the sale of the new .name domains. This will not be the end of uncomfortable and incorrect patent claims but this is certainly one that can be squashed and so hopefully will be. And, with luck, it may even nip this patent madness in the bud. ® Related link Patent no. 6,671,714 Related story Open source prepares to kiss EU patent ass goodbye
Kieren McCarthy, 17 Jan 2004

FAST threatens jail for ‘misusing software’

The Federation Against Software Theft (FAST)is threating a harsh regime of punishments including jail for UK companies which it catches using unlicensed software. The new zero tolerance approach will see the federation participate in evidence-gathering and police raids on suspects' premises. The directors of any firm found "misusing software" will face prison if FAST gets its way. The federation said its move is not draconian, only a matter of maximising its power under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act. Section 109 of this Act allows for a search warrant to be secured from a magistrate's court if a police officer has "reasonable suspicion" that an organisation - either private or public sector - is infringing copyright in the course of its business. FAST added that it has improved its working relationship with the police across a number of counties to identify premises in which it suspects that firms are "misusing" software. Geoff Webster, CEO of FAST, said the organisation has redoubled its commitment to finding and prosecuting copyright offences. "The message to company directors is clear - check your software licenses. Until then you cannot be 100 per cent certain that you're not acting illegally and on the way to receiving a criminal record." The hardball approach comes in marked contrast to the federation's previous tactics which centred largely on use of civil actions that typically carried less severe penalties and offered the opportunity for alleged offenders to settle out of court. Webster says this Mr Nice Guy strategy is now over: "Civil law has its advantages, but in the current business climate, when budgets are under pressure, it simply isn't working. Figures show that in 2002, software piracy levels rose for the first time since 1994." According to Webster, this increase in piracy last year cost the software industry £204 million. "The federation is not being harsh for the sake of it - infringement of copyright costs livelihoods. Software theft of any kind will no longer be a commercial option for businesses in Britain." ®
Robert Jaques, 17 Jan 2004

Mobile data to fuel operator growth

The market for mobile services such as messaging and games will reach $126 billion by 2008, according to a new report. The study, Mobile Content and Applications 2003, by London-based consultancy ARC Group, predicts that mobile services will account for 20 per cent of total mobile operator revenues by 2008. According to ARC, this represents a solid growth trend for the mobile services market over the next five years, with revenues more than doubling from their 2003 level. The study found that while voice revenues are forecast to grow at a slower pace, the total mobile market will continue to expand, as usage of services such as messaging, games and music start to penetrate the mass market. "We see the mobile services market developing from the early adopters and the youth sector to include the wider consumer mass market, as well as business users," said Richard Jesty, senior consultant at ARC and lead author of the report. "This will mean an increase in total revenues for operators, as these new mobile services will offset the likely shift from voice calls to messaging." Spurred on by the popularity of ringtone and image downloads, entertainment will be the second largest revenue generator, accounting for just over a fifth of total revenues in 2008, as mobile video applications and mobile games start to reach mass-market penetration, according to ARC. Although consumer services are leading the way, the study also forecasts strong growth for the business sector of the mobile services market, predicting high usage levels and a growing awareness of the value of adding mobility to front office applications. These factors will help to put office applications aimed at the mobile business user in third place after messaging and entertainment by 2008, ARC says. Operators will need to create new channels to market, by partnering with systems integrators and consultants in the business sector for example, or developing new self-service retail formats such as multimedia kiosks to reach the mass market consumer, according to ARC. This trend towards a greater reliance on partnering will also mean that new business and revenue models will need to evolve in response to the requirement of a more complex market place. Mobile revenue models are still at an early stage of development, and a number of alternative models are competing for acceptance. Currently, the most favoured models are either purely per event-based or are combinations of subscription charge and event-based charging structures, ARC found. As the market develops, there will be more opportunities to offer value-based charging and this in turn will call for more sophisticated billing systems which can offer active rating facilities, and share revenues with third parties, it concludes. © ENN
ElectricNews.net, 17 Jan 2004

Feds seek input on spammer sentencing

A formula that would sentence deceptive spammers to more time in prison for each e-mail address spammed is among the proposals under consideration by the presidentially-appointed commission responsible for setting federal sentencing rules, which this week sought the public's input on how to punish violators of the newly-enacted CAN-SPAM Act. "Arguably the more e-mails you've sent out, the greater the social harm-- just like arguably distributing more drugs is worse that distributing fewer drugs," says Michael O'Neill, a law professor at George Mason University Law School, and a member of the seven-member United States Sentencing Commission (USSC). "The problem is, it's so incredibly easy to send out massive e-mails now, I'm not sure [it] is going to get at the harm the way you want it." The USSC publishes the Federal Sentencing Guidelines that carve out narrow ranges of sentences a court can choose from when punishing violators of federal criminal law. The guidelines work off of a point system that sets a starting value for a particular crime, and then adds or subtracts points for specific aggravating or mitigating circumstances. A convicted kidnapper, for example, starts off with 24 sentencing points -- which maps to 51 to 63 months imprisonment for a first-time offender. But if the culprit held his victim for 30 days or more, he gets two bonus points, translating to an additional 12 to 15 months. The criminal earns another six points if he demanded a ransom, and two points for injuring a victim -- but can shave off two points for pleading guilty and accepting responsibility for the crime. If sentencing kidnappers is relatively straightforward, the Commission is finding it more challenging to erect an appropriate framework for punishing deceptive spammers. Should spammers be sentenced from the same table that decides the fate of thieves and con artists, based on the amount of financial losses inflicted on the victims? If so, what counts as a loss -- if a forged e-mail address makes an innocent company look bad, a "Joe job," in the parlance of anti-spammers -- should that reputational harm earn the spammer more time in stir. "This is one of the places that the Commission is having a difficult time, in determining how to calculate the actual harm," says O'Neill. More Time for Harvesting? The CAN-SPAM Act, which took effect January 1st, doesn't criminalize unsolicited bulk commercial e-mail, but it does outlaw most of the deceptive practices used by spammers. Senders are prohibited from breaking into someone else's computer to send spam (which was probably illegal already); deliberately crafting spammy messages to disguise the origin; materially falsifying the headers in spam; spamming from five or more e-mail accounts established under fake names; or hijacking five or more IP addresses, and spamming from them. A first-time violator face up to one year in federal stir for a small-time operation-- three years if he or she meets one of several minimum standards of bad behavior, like leading a spam gang of at least three people, sending over 2,500 messages in one day, or using 10 or more falsely-registered domain names. Repeat offenders can get up to five years in prison. Exactly where spammers are sentenced within that range will be decided by an amendment to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. In a formal request for comments published in the Federal Register this week, the Commission is asking the public's opinion on such questions as: Should deceptive spammers get an "enhancement," i.e., a little more prison time, if they employ "sophisticated means" to send the spam? Should the method the offender used to gather the targeted addresses be a consideration in sentencing? Under one proposal, spammers could face an enhancement for harvesting e-mail addresses from Web forums, or generating them randomly. Should criminals who commit fraud, identify theft, child porn trafficking or other serious crimes be sentenced more severely if they sent unsolicited bulk e-mail in the course of the crime? Comments are due by March 15th, and can be sent by snail mail to the United States Sentencing Commission, One Columbus Circle, NE., Suite 2-500, Washington, DC 20002-8002, Attention: Public Affairs. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Commission is not inviting comments by e-mail. Copyright © 2004,
Kevin Poulsen, 17 Jan 2004

How to get an upgrade, BOFH-style

Episode 1Episode 1 BOFH 2004: Episode 1 It's upgrade time again - like it always is when there's money laying about the place not being used - so I scan down the long list of complaint frequencies and pick the HR database server performance problem from near the top of the pile. I love upgrades! In a word, crap! A ZX-81 with tape drive could almost give better performance than the server concerned, and it's easy to see why - all the money was spent on the chassis, not the internals, to give "room for expansion" which never occurred. With a single processor, 128 megs of memory and a single hard drive, it's all rather depressing. Something should be done. "But it doesn't NEED an upgrade!" the Boss burbles, trying to hide the executive edition of the mobile phone and accessory brochure he's been looking through. "Anyway, we don't have the money!" "Well as luck would have it, the beancounters misaddressed the finance reporting output, and it appears that our cost centre is over twenty thousand quid underspent this quarter - due to under-spending in the last quarter." "Really?" the Boss asks. "How did that occur?" "We put it down to the fact as that your predecessor was on life support for so long that he didn't have time to fritter money away on 'tat' like cellphones, handsfree kits, etc", I respond. "Ah. And how much do you expect this upgrade to cost?" "The HR Database server - uuuh, I dunno, not a lot. Maybe five k in processors, a couple in memory and another couple for disk and RAID card. Under ten?" "Which would leave the remaining ten thousand for..." "Projects which you consider strategically important," I respond, playing his game for him. "Well... I suppose it might be in our best interests to address this," he grudgingly admits, "so long as your budget figures are accurate and you obtain written quotes." "No sooner said than done," I say. A statement which turns out to be bollocks. "And the serial number of the machine is?" the vendor's sales droid asks. "373847201B." "B's not a number," he comments. "It's on the panel at the back, beside the 'S', stroke and 'N'," I reply. "Well it must be an eight!" he snaps back, oozing condescension. "Not unless your eights have flat sides." "Ah, so it's flat both sides?" he asks, thinking digitally. "No, just the left. ONE flat side, you know, like the letter 'B'." "The configurator isn't going to like it - it only expects numbers," he warns. "Tell you what, why don't you punch it in anyway to save me popping down there and punching something myself?" I ask, testily. "I... uh... >clickety< Well look at that! It did work. So, it's a quad box, four processors and a gig of RAM." "It's a quad capable box, one processor, 128 meg of memory." "That's not what it says here." "But it is what I'm looking at here - I have the box with the lid off in front of me." "I think you'll find it's got four processors. The configurator is never wrong! Big things with heatsinks on them, and fans." "Yes, there's one of those. And in the other three slots are some proprietary looking cards with some active components on them instead." "With heatsinks on them?" he asks, not wanting to give up too soon. "Told you the configurator is never wrong!" "No. Just small cards." "Screw-in cards?" he asks. "No, not PCI cards, just cards," I sigh, putting the cattleprod battery pack into the charger. "Well let's just skip that. What would you like?" "A quote for three more processors the same as the original, two gig of memory in 512s, a high performance Ultra SCSI 3 Raid card, and four 15k RPM 36 gig Ultra SCSI 3 disks." >clickety< "OK, you can't get processors for it, because it's full." "It's got one processor." "Yes, but the configurator says it's full." "Tell it it's not." "We can't. But we could do a field uninstall, but then it would automatically charge you three hours' engineer time for the uninstall." "Tell it that the client will do it." "But you'll void your warranty." "It's not ON warranty. Besides, I've got the cover off and I'm not certified, so I think we've already crossed that bridge." "Oh. Well >clickety< it'll only remove ALL four processors, unless we trade the processors in." "Do that then." "But you haven't got processors!" he blurts. "Yes, we have, the configurator says so!" "But you told me you didn't." "Yes, when you mentioned the trade-in option, I just realised that they were." "They can't be, they don't have heatsinks on them!" "They will by the time your engineer gets here..." "He'll never accept them - he'll know they're processor bypass cards!" "Would this be the same engineer we normally get whose specialist technical field is lifting?" "I..." "So, we'll trade the four PROCESSORS in on four faster ones. And we'll trade the gig of RAM in on two gig." "You said you had 128." "No, no, it was a gig, I'm sure of it now!" I cry. "He'll count it." "I'm sure he will, and will not find me lacking. In fact, he can take as many SIMMs as he likes from the big bag under my desk." "I think you mean DIMMs," he responds. "Like your engineer is going to know." >sob<

"Is that all then?" "No, I'd like to buy a Raid card and four disks." >clickety< "We can only give you three - that's all that will fit into the machine." "With ten slots in the front? Oh, how many disks have we currently got?" "One." "I think you're lying. And while you can lie to me, I don't think you want to lie to the configurator..." "I.... seven disks," he sniffs. "Lets trade them in on four new ones. And a Raid card. Now, what's all that going to cost me?" "Well, with... trade-in allowance... one thousand three hundred and forty quid." "Really. It seems a little steep. Can I trade in anything else from my box?" "That's all you have!" "So of the eight PCI slots, there's nothing I can cash in on?" "No." "I think you're lying. Tell you what, configure me up the cheapest ten meg PCI NIC card." "OK." >click<

"What's the total?" >clickety< "1380." "Givvus another." >tap tap< "1420." "And another..." >clickety< "1460." "And another..." >click< >click-click< "You can't, the configurator won't let you." "Why?" "Because the bus is full," he sighs, knowing he's trapped. "What's in the box?" I ask. "Five high-spec graphic cards with 256 meg." "AGP Cards?" I ask. "AGP 8s, yes." "And how many AGP slots does the machine come with?" "One." "And so the configurator tells you that I have another four in there somewhere, taking up PCI slots?" "Yes," he gabbles. "It's because the AGP Connector's right near the first PCI slot, so if you have a AGP card, you lose a PCI slot." "Ah, and because I have five cards, I lose five slots." "Yes," he sighs. "OK, so I'll trade in the five cards and use the on-board video, drop the NIC cards, now what's the total." "Minus 53 quid." "Better. Have the cheque sent to me personally would you?" "You'll never get away with it," he sneers. "They'll find out." "Course they won't. It's all in the Configurator. And the Configurator's never wrong! Gosh, wouldn't it be awful if the we asked specifically for YOU to do the install and you returned to work with a box of old parts - and they started to suspect that you'd rigged the whole thing?" "Make the cheque out to cash then?" "That'll do nicely. And put an expedited delivery on those parts will you - I'd like to get this sorted out quickly so we don't have to upgrade another of your servers to cope with the load. We've got an eight-way in the computer room!" >click<

Now to forge a second quote and get the company cheque made out to Computing Access Support and Hardware (or its acronym) too... Did I mention how much I love upgrades? ® BOFH: The whole shebang The Compleat BOFH Archives 95-99 BOFH is copyright © 1995-2003, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.
Simon Travaglia, 17 Jan 2004