I like it.
I pop the phone off the hook and close the curtains on the observation window. Now it's really dark in there. I wouldn't be surprised if someone had an accident in here..
I lift a couple of floor tiles up in the darkness and call our maintenance contractors saying the mini popped the breaker again, then replace the fuses in it with a couple of nails and short the power supply to ground. You can't just hope for this sort of thing, you've got to MAKE it happen.
15 minutes later the engineer arives and falls down the hole. I pop the floor tiles back on just as the System Manager (a new and very thorough individual) comes in, telling me to watch out, someone could really hurt themselves in the
I nod and tell him that we can't really afford all the downtime, and should I just throw the breaker and hope that there was no major fault. After thinking about the negative publicity we're getting already, he makes the last decision of his short career and tells me to go ahead.
Later, when the smoke clears I examine the smoking remains of the mini. Not a pretty sight...
"Strange that the breaker jammed shut, isn't it?" I say to our manager as he packs up the personal things in his office. "One in a million chance. A pity that someone saw what you did and posted the whole story to comp.misc. You'll be lucky to get a job managing a car computer after all that publicity..."
I go back to the machine room and throw the rest of the breakers to liven everything up, then login and start deleting users' email. I spot an interesting off-the-record sexual proposition from our male consultant to a member of the men's swim team which will make a good motd, so I copy it there, modify root's owner name to be "Winker" and password to be "ljkadlkajflkj" (then call the big boss to report a suspected intrusion). Should be at least a couple of hours of login time before we can sort that out. In the meantime, people are just going to have to read that message... I realise the message has been read when I hear the gunshot from behind the consultant's closed door.
I edit the online helpdesk information and change the phone number to the System Manager's - he'll probably appreciate the extra calls at such a sad time...
I hear another shot and realise he won't be answering any calls today.
I put the phone back on the hook and flip today's excuse card. "Poor power conditioning". Too plausible. "STATIC BUILDUP". Still a bit too plausible for my liking, but I don't want to run out of cards before the end of the year, so I decide to run with it.
The phone rings almost as soon as I've got "Top Gun" in the video machine so I pause the video and put the phone on hands-free.
"I think I've bought a bad floppy disk"
"Yes?" I wonder if I've suddenly become the consumer's watchdog?
"Well, I've got this disk and it won't format. All the others in the box did so I thought I must have a bad disk"
"Why are you calling me about this?" I ask
"Well, the disk says guaranteed; where do I go to get a replacement?"
Ah! Of course.
"Well, let's see. Are you sure it's the disk, and not just some problem with static buildup?"
"Static Buildup, you know, static electricity that's passed from you to the computer"
"But I'm wearing a wrist strap!"
Around about now I realise I'm deep in dweeb country. Wrist straps aren't fashion accessories in my part of town...
"Of course you are, but your average wrist strap has a 1 meg resistor in series with it, a really poor earth. What you need is a direct earth connection. Hang onto the frame of something that's earthed properly."
"What, you mean like our stainless steel bench?"
"Excellent. Now, have you got a paper clip to discharge the static with?"
"Hang on. Yeah"
"Ok, with your other hand, poke the clip thru the ventilation holes at the back of the unit, and just touch the contact at the end of the thick red wire."
"The one going to the power supply?"
"Yep, that's it"
"....Hey, isn't that the li... >kzzzzt!< >clunk<"
Another call solved by the helpdesk from hell...
I'm really bored. You know how bored you get when work's going on and on and on, and nothing interesting is happening, and you're listening to a radio that picks up ONE station on FM, and it's always the station with the least records in the city, about 5, and one of them is "You're so Vain" which wasn't too bad a song until you hear it about 3 times a day for a year, and EVERY time it plays, the announcer tells you it's about Warren Beaty and who he's currently poking, someone you'll never sniff the toe-jam of, let alone meet, leet alone get amourous with. And EVERY time someone mentions Warren Beaty, someone says that he used to go out with Madonna too, and have you seen "In Bed With.." AND THEN, someone ELSE will say "It wasn't really about Warren Beaty, it was James Taylor" and the first person will say "What, `In bed with Madonna'", and they laugh and everyone else laughs, and I pull out the Magnum from under the desk where I keep it in case someone laughs at a joke that's so dry it's got a built in water-fountain, and blow the lot of them away as a community Service. I figure that I'll get time off my sentence if I ever kill someone by accident who's got a life.
So visitors are getting pretty thin at the moment, and the Quick-Lime Pits are filling up rapidly, and all I've got to do is the full backups and maybe I can go home.
So, to relieve the boredom, I get some iron filings and pour them into the back of my Terminal until it fizzes out (Which doesn't take all that long, surprisingly enough), then call our maintenance contractors and log a fault on the device. Sometimes they'll send someone who knows what they're doing, but it's a lot more fun when they don't - which is about 98% of the time.
So they maintenance guy comes in, and I can tell he's NEW because the photo on his ID actually LOOKS like him, not like the head engineer, whose photo is a black and white tin-type (he's that old).
Maintenance Contractors always dress up nice, with a tie and everything because they believe that a customer will trust a nicely dressed guy.
Because he's NEW and ALONE, he's what you call an appeasement engineer, the new guy they send so they respond within the 4 hour guaranteed response period. (Things are getting better and better) Your average appeasement engineer is about as clued-up on computers as the average computer "hacker" is about B.O, and their main job is to make sure the power plug is in and switched on, then call back to the office for "PARTS". The really keen ones will sometimes even take a cover off the equipment and pretend that they see this stuff all the time. I wonder what sort today's is...
"You got a dud terminal?" he asks pleasantly
I tell him yeah, and bring him into the control room.
"Which one is it?" he asks, confused by the fact that only one of them is smoking.
"It's the Model Three" I say, giving NOTHING away.
"Ah, the old model three!" he says knowingly, without a clue what a model three is, or which one of the three terminals it is, which isn't surprising, as I just made it up.
"We get a lot of model three problems" he says nodding "So what actually happened?"
Sneaky, but not good enough. I'm not going to point it out to him.
"It just went dead" I say, in luser mode.
"I see. Could you just recreate what you were doing so I can check the unit out when it's ready for operation?"
Very Sneaky. I decide to let him off the hook.
"Look, I've got to go to the toilet, there it is over there" I say, pointing at our Waffle-Iron.
"But that's a Wa..." He says, then stops. He's a beginner, and it's just possible that the company has a line of terminals that look like waffle irons.
"Sorry" he says, smiling again "for a minute there I thought it was a model 2!"
A reasonably good save, but it won't save him.
I leave, which means he's got to take it to bits, otherwise he knows I won't believe he's worked on it. I give him a couple of minutes to get the element exposed then wander back in.
"So how does it look?" I ask, concerned-like.
"Well, I think we could have a processor problem.." he says concentrating on prying the element up.
..concentrating so much that he doesn't notice me plugging the iron in.
"Shouldn't you be wearing an earthing strap?" I ask innocently.
When he thinks I can't see, he creeps his hand over to the wiring frame and says "Well, It's just as easy to hold onto earth like this"
"But what about the risk of a cross-the-body shock with no resistor in series with you?" I ask ever-so-more-innocently
"Oh, it's ok" he says "the unit's unplug..."
>click< >BZZZZZZZEEERRT!< >clunk!<
I ring the maintenance help-desk again...
"Hey Ronda!, Ah, I'm going to need another engineer and a new Waffle Iron over here; for some reason your engineer opened up my Waffle Iron without switching it off." I say
Rhonda knows me. It's the third call and the third appeasement engineer. "You're a real prick" she says, annoyed
"Tell ya what Rhonda, why don't you come and fix it; it's a model three..."
I'm still bored.
But at least now the radio's off, it was on it's 12 repeat of "Wildfire" THIS WEEK, and it's only Tuesday; shit I hate that.
So anyway, I quicklime the engineer to remove any fingerprints and then FedEx him back to headquarters and set about waiting for the engineer.
Now the second engineer only has to come out after another 4 hours, there's no death of engineer penalty clause, (but I'm thinking about asking for one) so I've got to fill in some time. This guy's going to be a technical engineer, the sort that comes in with a raggedy tie where he got it caught in the drum printer at 3000 rpm a couple of years ago, and he'll have the grazes on the face that indicate that he didn't get the gate open in time... I know these sorts...
So I fill in a couple of hours by killing users off and deleting their files, then waiting for them to call...
"Um, I can't find my files" the wimpering simp on the phone says
"Files? What files?"
"The files in my account. My thesis, my research - all gone!"
"Gone ay? What's your username?"
"TROJAN?! LIKE THE CONDOM?"
"No TURGEN. T-U-R"
"OH Turgen, like TURD, but with a GEN instead of a D... Ok lets see"
I make vague clicking noises by dragging the quicklimed man's fingers back and forth across the keypad.
"Uh-huh" >drag drag< "Yeah.." >dragedy poke< "AH! - You haven't got any files"
"Well, what are you calling ME for? We don't make the files you know, we just look after them. And chopitty-chop too, your thesis looks like it's due in a couple of days.."
I hang up - he'll call back. Meantime I open up a copy of "VMS BASTARD OPERATORS MANUAL FROM HELL" I'm reading the article I sent in about getting rid of those trouble users...
"... Modify the user's password minimum from 6 to 32 letters, give the password a 1 day lifetime, set it so that they HAVE to use the password generate utility when they change their password (so their password will always be something that looks like vaguely pronouncable line-noise), add a secondary password with the same as the above, then redefine their CLI tables so that the only command that works is DELETE, and all other commands point to it."
Beautiful. Shit I'm good.
He calls back.
"MY FILES ARE GONE!" he screams, panicking.
"Did you have a backup?" I ask, as sweet as pie
"But that's what you people are supposed to do!" he sobs
"Yeah, well we did - but then we switched to those 8mm tapes, and they're the same size as the ones in my video camera, so I've been using them to tape the neighbour's sex romps..."
I hear the revolver go off, but what the hell, it's 5pm, and not my problem...