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 slip 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's 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 with their million dollar equipment *just* because he's got a nice tie..
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. He bites.
"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..."
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 new 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 those 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 my 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...
This guy's a techno, (you can tell by the tie) but he's smart (no grazes), so I'm going to have to be wary.
"What's the problem?" he asks, in a business-like manner.
"It's the Model Three" I say (what the hell, it worked before)
"What the f*ck's a model three?" he asks confused.
He could be just testing me, but I decide to come clean. He doesn't notice so I just walk funny for a couple of minutes and then show him the terminal that I'd poured the iron filings into.
"It just went dead!" I say (having previously vacuumed the iron filings up, of course)
So anyway, he gets to work opening the cover and making board replacement noises. I decide to help and point out a fuse that's blown on the power supply board.
"Oh, I haven't got the parts for that - I've only got a replacement board." he says in a confused manner. "Which one was the fuse again?"
I point it out to him.
"Wow! And what does it do again? You know, I've been working at the same place for 6 years, and I've never seen one of those fuse thingys. It's amazing what you learn isn't it?!"
"What are you again?" I ask, already suspecting the answer
"Say, do you know anything about waffle irons?"
*Click!* *Fzzzzzzeeet!* *Clunk*