I'm bored senseless, so I pass the time by reading users email. I must admit that today's lot is PARTICULARLY boring, not one good message in all of them. I was expecting at LEAST some veiled reference to a grope in a storeroom, but nothing. So I'm bored senseless by the usual drivel about some relative's surgery and how the weather is over the other side of the world - that sort of crap.
To relieve the boredom, I remove a e-mail party invite from a user's mail and post it under the senders username to to alt.singles.with.severe.social. dysfunctions on news, and make a note in my diary to be there with my camcorder. Should be a blast!
Next in line is the online medical records database, in which the company doctors store the current medical histories of the staff. I grep it quickly for "herpes" and "syphillus" and send the results to the local scum newspaper. I cover my tracks by adding an entry to one of the doctor's online electronic diarys for yesterday saying "$500, Med Recs To Paper" I think that's all it should take.. That'll be the last time he doesn't shift appointments to make room for me..
I move some tapes from the racks to the trolley to make it look like we really use them, then start looking thru archie listings for a hidden x-gif site. I find one then start a batch job running under some user's account to get them all back, charged to him. I make sure he's got enough disk for the job by removing any files not related to the task at hand. Like all those "Doctorate Final Report" papers that have got quite large in the last couple of weeks.
I go back to the mail now, as something's bound to have happened. I do a grep on all mail files for the words "pregnant" and "family way", and post them anonymously to the local general interest newsgroup.
Then, before anything can happen, the power goes out! The next second, the phone rings.
"Hello?" I say, annoyed - the coyote was just about to kill roadrunner again!
"Has the comput.."
I hang up. This is a matter of life or death. Quick as I can I rip the computer power cable out of the UPS and plug the TV in. Damn! Wylie missed again!
Meantime, all the alarms are going off like crazy as the disks spin down, but that's ok, because my Mac and Terminal are hardwired to the UPS in any case; and I'm at the Beer Factory level in Dark Castle too!
The phone rings, so I pull the PABX breaker on the UPS switchboard and it stops. Now to look like I'm working. I break out the puck and the hockey stick and play a little one-on-wall. From the observation window it'll look like I'm being blindingly efficient, as per usual.
10 Minutes later, the power is back and we're two HDA's down, but what the hell, I haven't lost a man, I'm onto the final screen, and there's more cartoons!
The phone rings, it's a luser. (What a surprise)
"Computer Room" I say, being efficient
"Hello, When will the compu..."
I hang up.
I'm doing well in the screen, all I need do is get past the wizard who throws spells at you and I'm in!
The phone rings again. I put it on hands free
"Computer Room" I shout, still deep in the game.
"I've lost my files" a user whines over the loudspeaker
"You bet you have" I say, as my concentration lapses just long enough for me to get zapped by the wizard.
"What was your username?" I say, all sweetness and smiles
He tells me, I look, and he's right. Shit, and I didn't even do it!
Not to be outdone, I change his login directory to the null device, set his path to "." and redefine the command "news" to execute a script in his old login directory to send a nasty message to the equal opportunities officer, then delete itself.
Now that's trying!
It's friday, so I get into work early, before lunch even. The phone rings. Shit!
I turn the page on the excuse sheet. "SOLAR FLARES" stares out at me. I'd better read up on that. Two minutes later I'm ready to answer the phone.
"Hello?" I say.
"WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN, I'VE BEEN TRYING TO GET YOU ALL MORNING?!"
I hate it when they shout at me early in the morning. It always puts me in a bad mood. You know what I mean.
"Ah, yes. Well, there's been some solar activity this morning, it always disrupts electronics..." I say, sweet as a sugar pie.
"Huh? But I could get through to my friends?!"
"Yes, that's entirely possible, solar activity is very unpredictable in it's effects. Why last week, we had some files just dissappear from a guys account while he was working on it!"
"Straight Up! Hey, do you want me to check your account?"
"Yes please, I've got some important stuff in there!"
"Ok, what's your username..."
He tells me. Honestly, it's like shooting a fish in a barrel. Twice. With an Elephant Gun. At point blank range. In the head.
(Do I really need to tell you the clicky clicky bit?.. I think not)
"How many files are in your account?" I ask
"Um, well there should be about 20 in my thesis writeup, 10 or so with the data for it, and another 20 or so in a book that I'm writing"
"Hmmm. Well, I think we caught it just in time. You've still got 2 files left... .cshrc and .login"
He sobs into the receiver a bit - it really turns my stomach.
"What can I do?" he sniffs
"Ok, do you have any of your stuff backed up on floppy?"
"Some, but it's weeks old!"
I fire up the bulk eraser.
"Ok" I say "How about I come out and load all that data onto your account pronto so you can get some work done?"
"That'd be great, but it's all at home" he wimpers. "I spose I'll just load it all in myself tonight"
"Sure. But remember what I said, solar flares are bad for disks and machines. Protect your disks from solar activity to prevent them losing their data"
"How do I do that? Wrap them in tin-foil?"
"NO! TIN FOIL'S THE WORST THING! YOU KNOW WHAT TIN FOIL DOES IN A MICROWAVE DON'T YOU?!"
"Then don't use it. There's only one thing that protects disks from solar activity.."
"MAGNETS! Wrap your disks up in a pillow case with lots of magnets - Solar Flares hate that"
"No worries at all..."
So I manage AT LONG LAST, to get a couple of hours off for lunch, AND, because I can't leave my desk unattended, I get the janitor in and have him sit in my chair. I tell him that all he has to do is make sure the receiver doesn't accidentally get put back on the hook. He agrees and I'm off.
First stop, the bank. I change a $50 note into coins and then ask to see a balance of my account. Then I yank the power lead out of the teller's vdu. It dies. I say I'm in a hurry and is the manager around?
He rolls over like a man-sized twinkie and asks what the problem is. I say that all I want is a balance of my accounts. I cross my fingers. YES! He finds the vdu lead out, plugs it in, and logs in, TO THE MANAGER'S ACCOUNT. Now's my chance - I slip up against the counter, slopping 200 coins across the counter. The manager ignores it, but all the tellers dive for the money. I watch, unobserved, as the manager types in his password at the breakneck speed of one character a minute. At that rate I should've got $100 worth.... He finishes typing. "MONEY". What a toughy! Well, that's my mortgage taken care of tonight...
A user that I recognise from "D(eletion)-Day '89" approaches. I think he's going to talk to me!! Even the bank manager is shaking his head furiously. But it's too late, he stops.
"Um, excuse me, Could you tell me what is the best computer to buy to do my thesis on?"
"You've heard of Commodore 64's?" I ask
"Avoid them like the plague! Not many people know this, but computers aren't made to handle that much memory - it's over 64,000 things, more in some cases. It's a recipe for disaster!"
"Try something safe and proven. A ZX81 with dual cassette drive if you can get it. The 1K ram model. Write that down. Don't buy a disk drive - You know how they're always failing, but music cassettes last forever!"
"No worries. What was your username again?"
He tells me. Just in time for D-Day 92. You'd think they'd learn.
I get back to work and the janitor's asleep at the terminal. I ask him if he wants to work here too, but he likes the ability to bust in on people when they're in the toilet...
I put the phone back on the hook, and straight away it rings. I hate it when it does that, it takes me AGES to get my walkman phones in.
It's the hottest hosemonster I've ever met, and she's got a computer problem! I love it when that happens!
"What's your username?" I ask
She tells me (as if I didn't know)
Quick as I can I read all her e-mail (mostly boring stuff), then grep everyone else's mail files for her username. Nothing. Excellent!
"What's the problem?" I ask, all smiles and charm.
"I can't save my documents, it says something about space."
"Not a problem for long" I say, and delete everyone else on the same disk as her. "You should be fine now.."
"Thank you so much" she gushes. I make a mental note to do something to her account again tomorrow. "No worries."
The phone rings almost before I've got it on the hook.
"My files are all gone!" a voice whines out at me.
"When did this happen?" I ask.
"Just now..." he says, through the tears
"I see. Well, I wouldn't worry, there's three days till the end of the semester, if you work day and night until then, you should get at least a C-"
He sobs a couple more times then hangs up. What a wimp.
THE PHONE RINGS AGAIN!
"The screen on my PC is really dim" The woman at the other end says "Should I wind the brightness knob up?"
"NO!" I scream "Don't touch that knob! Have you any idea of the radiation that comes out of that thing when the knob gets wound up?!!!!"
"Well I..." she says, all uncertain
"TAKE MY ADVICE!" I say "There's only ONE way to fix a dim display, and that's by power surging the drivers"
The words "power surging" and "drivers" have got her. People hear words like that and go into Dummy Mode and do ANYTHING you say. I could tell her to run naked across campus with a powercord rammed up her backside and she'd probably do it... Hmmm...
"Have you got a spare power cord?"
"Oh well, never mind, we'll have to do the power surge idea... Ok, quick as you can, I want you to flick the power switch of your PC on and off 30 times"
"Should I take my disks out?"
"NO! Do you want to lose all your data!?!"
"Oh! NO! Ok.."
I listen carefully.. ..
...clicky..clikcy...clikky.. .. .. ...clicky. ...cliccy.. . . BOOM!
Amazing, it probably made it to 27 - the power supply usually shits itself at 15 or so...
"MY COMPUTER BLEW UP!!!" she screams at me down the line
"Really? Must've been a dodgy power supply! Lucky we found out now! Is your machine still under warranty?"
"Dear oh dear. Well, Best get it repaired then. Did you backup your files?"
"Yes, to the system, Yesterday, but all this morning's work is gone!"
"Oh dear. What was your username, I'll just check that your backups worked ok?"
She tells me....
I'm at my desk as usual, and a user calls.
"Hello Computer Room, Simon here, How can I help?" I answer
"I can't get into my account!" A user mumbles at me.
"What was your username please?" I say
They give me their username. No worries. I look in their account.
"No worries, it was just a badly made login file. I've fixed it, you should be able to login."
"No worries. Have a nice day!"
WHAT IS THIS? you're asking yourself. Has the Bastard Operator from Hell turned over a new leaf? Sold out?! GONE INSANE?!!! Nope. The Bastard Operator from Hell is being LOGFILED. And if that's happen- ing, I'm being bugged as well. So I'm being nice till I can find the bugs. It shouldn't be long - bear with me.
Ah. One in the phone handpeice. Basic. But then the boss is a sneaky sort, so there's probably a couple more. Ah! And another in the base of the phone and one inside my keyboard. Time for a mad coffee-spilling frenzy. This is a big job, so I bring the whole jug over and wait for a witness. The System Manager comes in.
"Where's that report of mine?" he asks in a surly manner - he's obviously pissed that I haven't implicated myself yet. Antagonist Identified. As the Principal of "BASTARD OPERATOR SCHOOL" (me) will tell you, "There's no problem so large it can't be solved by killing the user off, deleting their files, closing their account and reporting their REAL earnings to the IRS"
I pull his printout from under the coffee jug where I put it, and the coffee splashes all over the phone and keyboard, which for some reason were stacked on top of each other.
"Woopsy!" I say, mock horror on my face. The System Manager's face tells me I was right in my guess.
"Don't think you'll get away with this!" he snarls and stomps off.
I click on the Ethernet monitor and watch the traffic coming out of his PC.
Ah! A memo, authorising the termination of my contract, going to the laser in the Director's office. I make a few alterations to the file in the spool directory and let it go to it's destination. I run my dinky little program that deposits -512 to the PC and our mainframe shits itself.
Later, while booting in single user, I'll remove that nasty logfile business.
Next, I wander into the comms room and plug my earphone into the spare RS232 port in the Directors office. It's amazing how simple it is to bug an office once it's got data lines going to it!
Director: "Are you sure about this?"
SysMgr: "OF COURSE!"
Director: "You don't want to reconsider?"
Director: "Very well, I'll fax it to staffing now.."
Two seconds later the System Manager strolls in smiling. "Well, I'll really miss you Simon.." he says, full of himself.
"Oh?" I say, all sweetness and charm "Where are you going?"
"No Simon" he says, with glee "YOU'RE going!"
"A PROMOTION!" I say "You've finally written that letter to the head of staffing telling him he's a bum-sucking arse bandit and that you quit?"
"Are you sure? It's much better than the one about me being fired.."
"Y.." His eyes widen slightly
It's like clubbing a seal to death with a foam cushion. He runs to stop the fax. Only, having just resigned, >clicky cklikcy< his card key no longer works...
The Phone rings. It's the same guy as before
"I can get into my account now, but I've run out of disk"
"Hang on, I'll see what I can do"
rm -r *