The Register


Banana Dictator?!?

It's a Tuesday morning and a new boss has started (the old having taken 'early retirement'). The office periscopes are up to see what the new one is going to be like. I bide my time, knowing that he's bound to show his face sooner or later.

There are a few potential types that seem likely - the 'hide-in-the-office-and-annoy-nobody' type, the 'tell-me-what-you-REALLY, HONESTLY think' huggy-feely type and, worst of all, the Banana Democracy Dictator type.

Hide-in-the-office appears to be on the cards as he hasn't shown his face to the troops yet...

A large box arrives in the office with my name on it.

I'm not expecting anything - except perhaps the small cheque from the management placement agency that I get whenever they supply us a new boss (about three times a year).

A quick recce of the box and its packing slip shows that it's about a company's-worth of client software for a database we don't have. Seconds later the courier arrives with another box, which I divine to be the missing server portion. Uh-oh.

Having not ordered it, I efficiently return it to sender.

Its origin becomes apparent when the new boss bowls up with instructions on how, where and when to install it.

"Oh, I sent that back because I hadn't ordered it," I cry.

"Ah yes. Well, I ordered it yesterday," he chips in quickly, "and I'll be ordering all hardware and software from now on."


"I see. And what was the software to be used for again?"

"I'm going to get our financial systems moved to alternative software that's far easier to learn and administer." (He's got a mate who works at a small financial systems company that he's letting get a foot in our company). I don't like it.

"I don't see how that would be an advantage given that all our current staff know the software we're using."

"Ah, but this is ISO98000 certified," he enthuses.

"98000?" the PFY cries. "But we're were only up to 9000."

"Well 98000 was a combination of ISO9000 certification and the lesser-known 8000 - which dealt with secure financial transactions," he burbles. "Now make sure this stuff gets uploaded for installation double time."

I smell a grey furry animal with a liking for food scraps.

Just to be sure, I run a quick scan of ISO titles. After having been woken for the third time (ISO stuff is notorious for its insomnia-curing ability), my suspicions are proved correct.

Then I start wondering...that voice is strangely familiar.

I examine the software in more detail. Inside the flashy CD covers are swags of hand-labelled write-once media. Curiouser and curiouser. And, the Web link to the site is a dead-end page with "Site being revamped" on it.

Hmmm... I decide to confront the boss.

"Yes, yes, they're a global company with blue-chip clients so they don't have enough time to install SSL-secured Web pages with Java-enhanced search algorithms," he responds.

Good answer. The sort of response you'd expect from a b...

"My machine's having problems," I mention to him in passing. "I think the floppy drive needs cleaning."

"Really?" he says. "It's hysterisis loops in the head media."

"You're sure?" I ask, my suspicions confirmed.

"Positive. And you'll need to clear the hysterisis with a resonant magnetic distortion rectifier. Do you have one?"


"Well, I suppose you could use a hammer and a screwdriver at a pinch," he mutters. "You just slip the screwdriver into the drive until you feel a slight resistance..."

"...And bash the living crap out of it until you're down to the handle?" I ask.

"W-Yes, how do you know?"

"You're a bastard," I reply.

"No I'm not!"

"Yes you are. And you're unregistered..."

"No I'm not - I'm a MMBMFH," he says smugly. A Member of the Masonic Bastard Managers From Hell, no less!

"I see. How does it work then?"

"Well, you form a handful of 'manufacturing' companies, produce dodgy code, then get a job as a manager somewhere (using the references obtained from your companies), then buy up your code as the solution to everything at an artificially inflated price, then accept a rapid redundancy (with benefits) when the whole business slides down the toilet."

"Which only leaves me two questions," I say.

"What's in it for you, and when will the bomb drop? Let's see, A couple of grand 'external consultancy fees', and next Wednesday?"

"Next Wednesday?!"

"Yeah, I'm sure there's a virulent virus on the install media."

"I'll get right on to it!" I cry.

Always good to work with a pro.