Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2003/07/02/the_bastard_school_of_argument/

The Bastard School of Argument

Devil makes work for idle hands

By Simon Travaglia

Posted in BOFH, 2nd July 2003 22:38 GMT

Episode 12

BOFH 2003: Episode 12

BOFH logo It's not a good day for The Boss - for two reasons.

First, there's no work on and I'm bored - and we know who makes work for Idle Hands. (Apart from Software Assurance). Second because there's no work on and The PFY is also bored.

"I think I'm going on an Operations Mission."

"Really," I ask,. "What?"

"Thought I might break into The Boss's office, go through his stuff, grab anything interesting. Then leave a mop or something laying around so he blames the cleaners."

"OK - Pick me up some of those biscuits in the third drawer down on the right will you?"

"Sure. Run interference for me?"

"You betcha!" I blurt, pondering the right way to drag the Boss into a pointless argument with no possibility of resolution...BINGO!

15 minutes later....

"YOU'RE BLOODY PIRATING SOFTWARE!" The Boss cries unhappily as my DVD writer spins up.

"No I'm not, I'm making a backup copy of our software for safekeeping!" I respond. "All perfectly legit, as noted in the copyright notice that comes with the media."

"A backup copy? But you said you're taking it home!" he continues.

"Yes."

"But it's COMPANY software!"

"Indeed it is. And what better place to store a backup copy of the software than a secure place offsite?"

"I... uh... BUT WE'VE GOT AN OFFSITE MEDIA STORAGE FACILITY!!!" he gasps, unearthing a lie in the making.

"Which costs 10 quid per unit per year. This costs nothing!"

"It's not secure!"

"Yes it is!"

"You got broken into last year!"

"True, but it WAS just The PFY."

"Your assistant stole your TV, DVD collection, and Home Theatre System?!"

"Yes."

"And you weren't angry with him?"

"I didn't say that. Anyway, I got most of the stuff back. AND, he'd only done it for a bet in the first place."

"A BET!"M The Boss gasps.

"Yeah. He thought 'I bet I can get away with this'."

"That's ridiculous!"

"Indeed it was. What he should have thought was 'I bet my supervisor noticed the wax on his doorkey from my hasty impression and has some nasty plan in mind'. That would have been better."

"You let him steal your stuff!?"

"Only until the insurance money came through, obviously. Then, as I said, I got most of it back."

"INSURANCE FRAUD!?" he gasps once more, a vein on his forehead throbbing dangerously purple.

"No, I simply recovered my stolen items."

"Instead of returning them to the Insurance Company who'd paid out for them?"

"Paid out, less depreciation, excess, a random number for actualised market value, etc. Anyway what would they do with the kit?"

"?... People like you push my Insurance Premiums up!" he snaps unkindly, seeing an empty saddle on a high horse.

"No, Insurance companies do," I explain slowly. "Anyway, back to the original topic - your groundless fears that I'm pirating software..."

"Well, you are!"

"No, I would be pirating it if I took it with the intention to sell it or use it for a purpose other than for which it was licensed."

"..othe.. ..whi.. That's just a technicality!"

"Of course it is, but I've noted that technicalities are important if in defending one's actions. Like using the words 'Child Model Website' instead of 'Paedophilia Startpoint'. Or 'Unlawful Combatants' instead of 'Prisoner of War'."

"What ARE you talking about?!"

"Well, you say I'm pirating software, I say my intention is to take a backup copy."

"And?"

"As long as I stick to my story, my intentions are surely presumed to be innocent! As am I."

"I think you'll find that it's not the case. The software is licensed to the Company for Company use."

"Yes, but I'm not intending to use it, I'm just safeguarding the Company in the event of a disaster."

"A disaster?"

"Yes, like fire. Or theft. Where we lose irreplaceable media."

"So you're going to copy ALL our software?!"

"Of course not, just the stuff that would be difficult or expensive to replace in the event of a loss."

"Stuff Like what?"

"OS2."

"Is that expensive?"

"Some would say priceless. I know I'd find it difficult to put an exact figure on it's worth to an organisation like ours."

"And you really think it's worth protecting?"

"Oh yes! With its rarity, it's bound to be a target for opportunity thieves."

"Opportunity thieves?"

"Yeah, you know, people in a workplace who are normally reliable, but can't resist the temptation of stealing something if they see it unattended."

"Surely not here?" he gasps.

"You would be surprised. One time one of your predecessors had the entire contents of his drawers stolen."

"Really?"

"Yes, and the next day they came back and took his desk."

"Did they find out who did it?"

"Nope, the stuff just disappeared into thin air. Not a scrap of evidence!" I pinnochio.

I notice the form of The PFY wandering past the doorway to Mission Control with so much contraband that he's had to steal the Boss's wheelie chair to carry it all.

"Well I suppose if we are at risk..."

"Nah, you're right, we probably don't need to take copies," I respond, ending as The PFY wheels the chair into the back door of the computer room.

"But what about opportunity theft?"

"I've just been thinking - perhaps I'll just chuck the media in the bin - that way people won't see it and won't be tempted!"

"Right! Excellent. But what about...."

BUGGER! Hoist by my own petard, there's only one thing to do until The Boss's logic runs out. I signal The PFY to get me some more biscuits.

Nice biscuits too. Got chocolate in them. ®

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