Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/05/20/bofh_2011_episode_6/

BOFH: Attack of the Global Corporate Overlords

Chaos at Mission Central

By Simon Travaglia

Posted in BOFH, 20th May 2011 11:00 GMT

Episode 6

"There's going to be a takeover!" the PFY gasps, crashing into Mission Control.

"I thought you saw them off the premises," I reply, "although quite what you sawed off you never made clear. Thanks for that."

"No, the company – it's being taken over!"

"Really? Says who?"

"Says everyone. It's all over the building!"

Confirmation comes moments later when the Boss cruises into Mission Control with the news.

"It's the Americans!" he confirms.

"What, all of them?" the PFY asks.

"A large corporate. They're acquiring UK assets to diversify."

"Really?"

"Yes. All we've got to do is get through the due diligence process and we're sorted."

"'Sorted' meaning?"

"'Sorted' meaning we get all get pay rises!"

"Really?"

"Oh yes," The Boss gushes excitedly. "All IT roles are now part of their technical pay scale, which is about 20 per cent above our current scale!!!"

"Really?" I say. "And what about contractors?"

"Contractors rates remain the same – BUT – they also have a six monthly bonus based on performance – up to 20 per cent of the salary!"

"So we're looking at a possible rise as well?" the PFY asks.

"Yes! And an extra week of holiday, free technical subscriptions, at least one overseas training course every year and free social club and gym memberships!"

"Sounds too good to be true."

"If you think that's too good to be true wait for this!" he burbles. "The company sponsors two social events a year, is implementing break-out rooms, games rooms, enhance thinking areas, 24x7 pizza ordering, triple overtime and free lunches."

"It certainly sounds compelling!" The PFY says. "What’s the catch?"

"There is none!!!!" the Boss chirps, even happier. "It's win-win for everyone. Obviously there's a few changes to be made to fit into their corporate profile, but they're minimal and won't really affect anything ..."

"Changes?" The PFY asks, before I can get in "What's this corporate profile?"

"It's the image that the Corporate presents to the world. I mean obviously they want to present the image of a mature and successful company to the world, and to do this they have some guidelines for staff appearance and behaviour – but they're not all that restrictive."

"How not restrictive?"

"It's all covered in the staff handbook. And the staff website."

"The staff handbook?"

"Yes, you would have got one delivered last night?"

"That was the handbook!" I gasp "I thought they’d delivered the Greater London Yellow Pages!"

"I put mine in the shredder," the PFY confesses. "It broke it."

"Well I suggest you use the website then – it's very informative – it has videos and everything."

"Videos!" the PFY says, oozing sarcasm...

...

'Cock' is OK, 'Fat" is OK. 'Fat Cock', however ...

That afternoon the PFY and I look through the staff handbook and website.

"Ooh," the PFY says, leaning back on his chair as he peruses my copy of the handbook. "We have to carry our ID cards at all times, along with three cards with the company's core values and principles, a card with the health and safety coordinators of every floor, a card with the location of fire extinguishers and first aid kits in the buildings, a card with our medical information and contact people and a card for what to do in an emergency."

"An emergency like what to do it we get a hernia from carrying all the cards around for instance," I say. "We're all going to have to do online training – including a test – on workplace harassment ..."

"I've nailed that one already!" the PFY says.

"No, the training's on how it's not permitted."

"Ah."

"We also have to do one on corporate standards – ie, how we communicate with our clients, how we talk to our co-workers, how to handle complaints against ourselves and co-workers."

"I'm guessing there's no cattle prod in the multichoice options."

"Nope. There’s a module on client interaction and entertainment."

"Don't tell me, getting them trashed and pushing them into Soho with a fistful of fifties in their pocket is out?"

"Indeed. And there's a module on appropriate online behaviour, proper use of workplace browsing and email as well as appropriate social networking commentary and the fine line between personal and company business. AND a list of words that can't be used, or used in conjunction with each other."

"Conjunction?"

"Yeah. So in theory the word 'cock' may come up in a conversation about chickens, and the word 'fat' might come up in a discussion about various client-server installations – but the words fat and cock would never be juxtaposed in a company conversation."

"Ah. Well that all sounds pretty depressing," the PFY says.

"I agree that at first glance we're selling ourselves up the river to a soulless corporate who probably regards its people in much the same light as The Matrix did, but on the upside you're looking at a 20 per cent bonus and a stack of other benefits which really do tend to weigh down in favour of the merger."

"So you're saying we go for it?"

"Indeed I am – 20 per cent more dosh and 0 per cent more work sounds like a bargain! Throw in all the meals and travel and it's a no brainer."

"Ok, where do I sign?!"

"You don't. We just schedule a videoconference with their team and they'll step through the due diligence of our systems and networks prior to rubberstamping the technical infrastructure and passing it up the chain."

Time to break out the rubber chicken

"No time like the present!" the PFY says, firing up the VC unit.

"So, are we all here?" the geek from corporate asks, once everyone's spent about 10 minutes introducing themselves to each other and making small talk.

"Yes we are," I say. "All sorted. So what do you want to know?"

"Right, well, if you can login to our corporate portal sketchpad we’ll just get you to scratch out the rough outline of your systems."

"Sure," I say. "What's the address?"

He passes me the address and I bash it in, only to get nothing.

"It's telling me access denied."

"Oh, that'll just be a reverse DNS thing – just turn off your website blocking."

"We don't have any website blocking!"

Website Blocking?

"Oh, well don't worry, we'll sort that our once you’re on our thin clients."

Thin Clients?

"Thin clients? You know we're administrators?"

"Yes, yes, of course. Although we'll be moving you to our cloud while we merge systems you'll still have complete control – via the portal configurator – to increase and decrease the virtual server parameters as required."

merg ... port ..?

"Yes, complete control," the PFY echoes in slight state of shock.

"I can shoot you off an email with the link if you want," another geek says. "You can log into the demo configurator and play to your heart's content. What's your address? Just a minute though, I'll just fire up Lotus Notes."

Lotus fucking Notes!!!

Around this time I notice that the PFY's facial tic has moved into overdrive and his eye is probably signalling: "Kill 'em! Kill 'em all!" in Morse code.

And less than an hour later everything's back to normal and the PFY and I are back to work while the company has slumped into depression.

"Was it something I said?" the PFY asks.

"It could have been. It may have been the FatCock software you said we'd designed for our many clients, it may have been my recounting the number of times we'd been sued for personal injury in the past couple of years, the hint that our systems could fall over at any time and leave us liable for both consequential and exemplary damages far in excess of the value of the company, or it could be just you flashing that rubber chicken out your flies at opportune moments – we may never know."

"So we've lost our 20 per cent bonus?" he asks sadly.

"It looks like. Still, if it's important to you I'll switch the UPS off remotely several weekends in a row until the overtime's cranked up enough."

"Ah, the silver lining ..."

"Is often the chiller bag they choke you with ..." ®