The Bastard Operator From Hell
The disaster recovery budget proves to be a sore point, until the BOFH and PFY stage a little one of their own ...

The Pimply Faced Youth and I are poring over computing catalogues when the boss bursts in. His mission today is to reclaim some of the budget that the PFY and I have allocated behind his back to the white elephant of disaster recovery.

We've been especially good about it too, recommending that we install a 'redundant' satellite dish on the rear of the building, selflessly proposing a test angle that saves the company money by using an established 'test-signal' generated by a Dutch TV company.

"What the bloody hell do you think you're doing?" he blurts, waving the chunky wad of disaster recovery proposals recently given to all and sundry by the PFY and my good self.

"What do you mean?"

"Recommending another satellite dish. We don't even use the first one."

"Yes, but with one at either side of the building, we have a redundant path in case the comms risers at either side of the building lose connectivity - as could happen in an earthquake..."

True, this is less likely to occur than the boss buying a round, but planning demands scrupulous attention to tiny, albeit improbable, details.

For a few seconds he struggles to absorb this. "Don't be ridiculous! We don't have a UPS on the rear of the building."

"Yes, I believe I mention that on page two, between redundant espresso machine with battery back-up and emergency response centre with complete living facilities."

"If you think for one moment that the company's going to pay for you two to have a city flat to drag women back to, you've got another think coming," he snarls, "and as for your bloody coffee machine..."

"...go with the three spout model I think," the CEO finishes, entering the room.

"And while you're still at the planning stage, I was just thinking that this would be a good colour for the carpeting of your emergency response quarters," he holds up a swatch of Axminster with a street value well in excess of most controlled substances. "It's just the right tone to reduce stress in a tense situation."

And just the right tone, if I'm not mis-taken, to reduce the chances of the PFY or I getting a look-in at occupying the room outside the CEO's holidays. Still, sacrifices have to be made for the greater cause.

And this week's greater cause is the pursuit of excellence. True, the city flat would have been nice, along with the 'rooftop coolant storage facility' (complete with diving board), but the PFY and I are going to have to be happy with upgrading equipment.

The boss trundles off - years of experience helping him to recognise defeat when it rings his doorbell - to peruse our proposals further.

"What the bloody hell is this?" he shouts about five minutes later, fingering the proposal to eliminate thin wire cabling. "It'll cost a fortune. And it's not even a disaster."

Strangely enough, seconds later it is. A nasty termination error occurs two floors above us, isolating the human resources server from the rest of the network.

"Ah, we'll be needing someone in for some overtime," the boss says, feigning a casual attitude.

"It'll have to be the PFY. I have a doctor's appointment in half an hour."

"Oh," the PFY replies right on schedule. "I've got a migraine coming on and I don't think I can manage."

"Someone bloody has to - the HR server's gone off the network!"

"But it's happened before," I say, playing innocent.

"But not when the pay cheques are due the next day! The last time this happened the staff went on a rampage and wrecked the place. It was a disaster area." The boss shuts up when he hears the distant tingling of that doorbell once again.

As a networking professional it never ceases to amaze me that the combined bandwidth of FDDI, CDDI and ATM is but a snail's-pace when compared to the speed at which bad news can find its way around the company.

The boss gives in. "How much?" Wearily, he reaches for his wallet.

"What, for our silence, or for the repair?"


"Just pass it over. We'll drop off what's left tomorrow."

One length of thin wire and a loss of memory later, the PFY and I are looking at several 'approved' stamps with accompanying signatures on our proposal. Amongst city flats, Dutch smut and new coffee machines is the dream I've had for years. The end of thin wire is nigh.

"Let's celebrate. Waiter, your finest champagne and when the money in that wallet runs out, start on the credit cards."

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