The Register


Who's tucking who?

So I'm peering inside a PC at the PFY's request - apparently he's seen something he doesn't like. And if he doesn't like it, it must be in bad shape...

I proceed to check off everything in the diagnostic list. "Hard drive, check; P-II 300, check; 128 Meg Memory, check; 512K L2 Cache, che..."

I pause. What would appear, at first glance, to be an L2 cache module is, in fact, a plastic replica of the real thing. I test this observation by removing it from the running machine. I reboot, and get the same diagnostic report.

"We've been ripped off!" I gasp to the PFY, after noticing the company's inventory sticker on the side of the machine.

"Who'd you get these from?"

"I...," the PFY responds, "...didn't get them from anywhere."

"Well, I didn't order them, we're the only people cleared to purchase computing equip...THE BEANCOUNTERS!"

"You guessed it," the PFY commented. "They ordered the kit themselves because the stuff we buy is 'too expensive' -- they can get these �200 cheaper."

"And a few components shorter..."

"Then they whack an inventory sticker on it and put it in use. Only, these ones don't appear to be working so well..."

"Hangs, crashes, that sort of thing?"


"It's clock chipped, isn't it?" I ask, knowing the answer.

"Yep - and they try to get away with it by running a six-volt cooling fan at about nine volts through a couple of resistors."

"Off the 12-volt line?"

"The 11.7-volt line on this model, yes."


"And, don't tell me, they want us to fix it now?"

The PFY gestures to a pile of machines in the corner.

"Stuff em!" I yell, making an executive decision that's bound to annoy some executives.

"What's all this?" the boss asks, right on time, having been wound up by one of the senior bean counters, who's come for immoral support.

"It's a non-approved computing purchase."

"Approved, non-approved; what's the difference? It needs a service!" he blurts.

"Approved equipment is equipment that we've checked, kit that's passed field and benchmark tests."

"My laptop hasn't passed your tests, and it's running OK!" the head beancounter chips in. "Although the backlight's a bit dim."

I skip the obvious response - fish in a barrel and all that...

"It may well be OK but, unless it's passed our tests, we're not required to service it," I murmur, as the PFY pulls out the IT Departmental Policy Document, indicating the pertinent portion of text. The boss is powerless to counter that one.

Fifteen minutes later, the beancounter's dropped his machine off for testing. Fifteen minutes after that, we've dropped it from ceiling height onto a table.

"Did it leave a mark?" I ask.

"A small one," the PFY notes, looking at the testbench top.

"But you'd better test it again, to be sure..."

Sadly, the owner enters the room shortly thereafter, in time to witness us throwing darts at his machine.


"Floating point tests," I murmur. "All that's left now is the Spec Int."

"Spec Int?" he asks, gazing at the dented remains of his machine.

"Yes, it's a benchmark rating."

"I KNOW WHAT IT IS!" he shouts.

"Well, we're just about to test it now."

"And HOW are you going to do that?"

"I'm going to see if INTegrates with another SPECies - namely, the dog from next door's building site."

"This is bloody ridiculous! Give me my machine!" he snaps. Which, incidentally, is exactly what the hinge at the back of the unit does as it plummets to the ground.

"IS there a floormark test?" the PFY asks. "That's a new one on me."

Surprisingly enough, the beancounter storms off without responding, destined, it appears, for the head of IT's office.

"OK: large pile of excrement in close proximity to wind movement device. We've got machines to test! Quickly now, pass them up to me, and make sure you note the benchmark each one leaves, and let's be thorough!"

"Quite right" the PFY concurs. "Wouldn't do to be unprofessional, would it?"