Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/11/19/bofh_2010_episode_17/

BOFH: Look out!

In BOFH office, squeaky wheel greases you

By Simon Travaglia

Posted in BOFH, 19th November 2010 12:00 GMT

Episode 17

“So what do the following have in common?” the Boss seethes “My desk drawer, the complaints box at reception and the boot of the deputy CEO’s car?”

“They’re all places you can take a dump?” the PFY asks, pouring a little petrol on the flames of the Boss’ annoyance.

“WHAT!?”

“You’ll have to forgive my assistant” I interject quickly “He often uses the word ‘can’ when he really means ‘should’.”

What the hell, in for a penny and all that...

“No!” the Boss snaps back “They’re all places which have been broken into in the last couple of weeks.”

“To take a dump?” the PFY asks

“No, to steal things!”

“What would be in any of those that someone would want to steal?”

“There’s a lot of valuable things in my office for a start!” the Boss snaps back.

“You mean like the bit of paper under your keyboard with your password and safe combination on it?”

“You know my safe combination?!?!” the Boss gasps

“Even the CLEANER knows your safe combination,” I reply “Besides, there’s nothing valuable in your drawer or your safe.”

“And how do you know that?”

“BECAUSE THE CLEANER KNOWS YOUR SAFE COMBINATION!”

“So you’re saying the cleaner broke into those places?” the Boss asks, detective work not being his strong suit

“No I’m saying the cleaner wouldn’t need to break into those places because he’s the person who shuts your safe and locks your drawer when you leave them open.” I reply

“And knows where the key’s kept” the PFY adds

The problem with talking to middle management occurs when they lose focus, often happening when you’re talking about password complexity policy and why someone’s initials don’t count as complex – or when you’re describing the smtp protocol and how it’s not really designed to send that DVD you just ripped to your friend’s Yahoo account.

And so it is that the boss has timed out of the conversation. Before he can switch to hibernate, I draw him back into the conversation by mentioning security robots once more. Nothing drags a bloke back to the light quicker than 1 part gadget mixed with 2 parts potential danger.

“I thought they were all broken.”

“They are” the PFY says “and fraught with bugs. What we’re suggesting is that we build our own security robots – to make sure we record whoever’s breaking into things.”

“They can’t have weapons!” the Boss cautions

“No weapons needed” I say “All we really want is a camera and the ability to move around.”

“No lifts or stairwells!” the Boss snaps again, thinking of the recent past

“Fine. We could make robots that simply stay on a floor and observe.”

“I’m not going to spend a lot of money!” he cautions

“And why would you?” I ask, making a sweeping gesture into the room “When we have all the raw materials on hand!”

“How?”

“Oh, just parts from some servers, laptops, printers – plus the odd vending machine – etc. In fact we have three of them up and running in the building already”

“Where?” the Boss asks

“Well the first one we activated a few minutes ago” I reply “– the vending machine on the Balcony of level 6. It works like a vending machine but is also a completely mobile surveillance device. Has a 12 sector movement detector along with a wireless lan connection for voice and video plus inbuilt facial recognition. It can transmit a suspect’s movements while monitoring their head movements as well. The moment it detects someone looking at it, it becomes a static vending machine again”

“You know, like the statues on Doctor Who.” the PFY adds.

“I... And this is up and running now?” the Boss gasps

We had a few teething problems

“Oh yeah! There’s that, the wheelie bin for shredding on the 3rd floor and the filing cabinet on the 4th floor. We had a few teething problems - the drive wheels for instance - as they’re powered by motors from some old printers and pretty squeaky”

“But you didn’t run this by me before you did it?”

“We didn’t need to – there was no financial outlay – it was all old materials!” I reply

“ANY technical work you do should be run by me first!” the Boss snaps

“But this was a freebie!” the PFY responds

“And it should still be run by me first!” the Boss says

“Well I suppose we could... decommission them” the PFY says, bravely suppressing a sob

“I think you should.” the Boss says “Leastways till you have a project plan and a risk analysis – given the recent history with these devices”

“Not these devices!” the PFY says with a touch of paternal concern “We wrote the O/S from the ground up!”

“And you’re positive they’re safe”

“100 per cent.” the PFY blurts, excitedly “All you’ve got to do is look at them and they become static”

“Well I suppose it can’t hurt to check them out” the Boss says “But the first hint of a problem and they’re for the scrapheap!”

... Ten minutes later...

“There he is” I say to the PFY as the Boss emerges from the 6th floor lift, glances nervously to our monitor. “CAN YOU HEAR US?”

“I can” the Boss echoes back.

“Okay and now just turn and move slowly away”

“Okay”

>squeeeeeek< ... >squeeeeeek< ... >squeeeeeek< ... >squee..<

“There you do, it’s detected you looking at it and has stopped. Now walk the other way, at a slightly faster pace”

“Okay”

>squeeek< .. >squeeek< .. >squee..<

“So it’s noticed you looking again. Righto, last time, move back towards the balcony, very quickly this time!”

“Right”

>sqeek< >sqeek< >sqeek< >sq >SCREEE<

“aaaggh!”

>CRASH!<

...

“So” I say the PFY as the ambulance rolls away “Bit of an oversight in the braking department..”

“Yes” the PFY says “should have realised the centre of gravity wouldn’t support a sudden stop”

“Doesn’t matter now” I say “When he gets back they’re all scrap”

“Yeah” the PFY says sadly “Though did I show you the one I made which looks like one of those hospital cupboards? The door’s razor sharp and can cut through a drip line, a monitor and a patient call cable....”