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The game's the thing by which to humiliate the Boss but it serves him right for getting the Head of IT1s fancy woman to do the shopping... war and peace as usual

It is truly pathetic! Having successfully repelled the invasion of the PAs, I feel ready to claim the peaceful spoils of war.

Until, that is, the head of IT, designer-coloured cellphone and laptop, brand-spanking-new company convertible car, appoints the boss's former PA to the position of "executive liaison officer".

I am sure that this has absolutely nothing to do with the long lunchtime rides she takes with him in the aforementioned convertible. It is easy to see how her previous two days' experience has her thoroughly versed in the ins and outs, so to speak, of IT.

"She's excellent!" the boss cries, defending his ex-assistant.

"Excellent?" I cry. "She couldn't count her bum cheeks and come up with the same number twice..."

"She must know something about IT to get appointed!" the boss responds, ignoring my comments.

"Of course...And how long did it take her to get her desktop machine going again?"

"The power switch is quite difficult to find!" he replies defensively, loyal as a terrier.

"Yes - the switch on the front of the machine is deceptively prominent..."

The boss realises that this conversation is sinking faster than the Titanic and absents himself. Issue unresolved, I expect bad things to follow...

My fears are confirmed when she buys a swag of cheap network computers at bargain basement prices. This poorly researched decision has obtained the official stamp of approval, followed by a purchase order on my desk for a 'technical sign-off'. I stuff it into the shredder quicker than the average user can say "Where's my file gone?".

The boss is on the job even faster.

"These network computers are great!" he says."Sonya's just been proselytising us."

"Really? I can't say I approve, but hey, what's good for Amsterdam is good for London!" I cry.

"No. I mean she's converted us."

"So you're all prostitutes? Wouldn't quit the day job if I were you!"

"I'm talking about network computers!" he snaps.

"Of course! And the prostitution?"

"There's no bloody prostitution!!"

"Of course there isn't! Walls have ears and all that," the PFY murmurs, winking.

The boss gives up and resumes his tack...

"Anyway, these NCs are great because they act just like PCs without disks!" he cries.

"They don't boot?" the PFY asks.

"No!" the boss responds, "They load everything from a server."

"Sort of like a dumb terminal we used to have 10 years ago, except with graphic and sound capabilities?"

", faster, and in colour!!"

"You mean like those X-terminals we threw out and replaced with PCs three years ago?" I ask.

"Uh...not exactly."

"So a desktop machine dependent on a server is better than an independent desktop PC in what way again?"

"Um...because we'll never need to upgrade the equipment!"


"No, it'll be like a colour TV set!" the boss blurts triumphantly, "Once you've got one, it'll never need upgrading - because everything comes from the station?"

"Not even when the software wants to make use of whizzy new features like Nicam stereo, Dolby surround and wide screen?"


"What about when they bring out faster chips, better mice, tablets, scanners and software that needs them?"

"Look, we're bloody buying some, so sign off on them!" the boss shouts. Cornered by logic, he produces from nowhere a duplicate of the shredded purchase order, patience at an end.

What the hell. I scrawl out a signature. Not mine, of course, but who's to know? Except the boss, should someone check it against his...

"In fact," the boss continues, "you should be using the same technology as the users, so I'll send a couple to the control room as well."


On arrival they are dispatched to the test cases in various departments. The PFY and I get ours into gear as well and the carnage commences!

SNMP management is a damn fine tool for network computers, especially when it lets you reboot them remotely. I patch a game of Network Doom with sprites of the users' faces and get the kills piped to the SNMP reboot command...

I ring the users and tell them, to give them as much of a chance as you can get using the server copy of the game which only lets you pick up a handgun with one round of ammo. Still, a beancounter can get good at pistol shooting when two hours of spreadsheet work is at stake and you have to win a game in order to ungrey the SAVE button (another little patch).

By Friday, the results are in. Surprisingly enough, the NCs weren't a hit with the users and were replaced with PCs after only four days.

Oh, and 327 kills...

The boss gets a slapped wrist for signing them off, the head of department's little helper receives a pay rise regardless (salary really is performance-linked), and the PFY and I get back to normal.

"I was thinking about a PC version of that game," the PFY comments later.

"You mean the same game, except that it causes the Pentium Hang bug on their desktop machine?"

"You mean you've thought of it?"

"Thought of it, installed it, and am waiting for players with a chaingun!"

Sigh. Once more into the fray...