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Topics - Doktor Howl

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1
My boss (Jim) quit today.  Well, retired without notice, but you know what I mean.

Lilly is at least temporarily in charge - which is a bad thing - but despite the fact that she is an intelligent woman, she is happy about this.  This facility is just beginning to shit the bed in a major way, and she thinks she just got promoted.  What's really happened is that a noose has dropped from on high, to land around her neck.

After all, with all these projects being fucked up - which Mike did, and Jim unable or unwilling to stop him - someone with the words "plant manager" on his/her forehead is going to have to pay.  And Jim just skipped out on the bar tab.

2
The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / LOBB thing
« on: February 26, 2015, 12:29:26 am »
After 5 episodes of shameful failure on the part of several companies to perform their basic function, I have changed strategies on publishing LOBB.

Instead of print, there will be a smashwords version, which can be accessed by PC, Nook, Kindle, or any other device that can access e-books.

This means I have to bugger with the format a bit, so I expect to have it up in about 4 weeks (I have some travel ahead of me). 

I will let everyone here know when it's up, and it will be up for free for 7 days or until Nigel says she has a copy, whichever happens last.

I know this is yet another delay, but I lack the time right now to deal with printers who can't get the pages in order, or all oriented the same way, or, yanno, not all blurry.

3
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0118093

excerpt:

Quote
Narratives grounded on conspiracy theories tend to reduce the complexity of reality and are able to contain the uncertainty they generate [18–20]. They are able to create a climate of disengagement from mainstream society and from officially recommended practices [21]—e.g. vaccinations, diet, etc. Despite the enthusiastic rhetoric about the collective intelligence [22, 23] the role of socio-technical system in enforcing informed debates and their effects on the public opinion still remain unclear. However, the World Economic Forum listed massive digital misinformation as one of the main risks for modern society [24].
 
A multitude of mechanisms animates the flow and acceptance of false rumors, which in turn create false beliefs that are rarely corrected once adopted by an individual [8, 10, 25, 26]. The process of acceptance of a claim (whether documented or not) may be altered by normative social influence or by the coherence with the system of beliefs if the individual [27, 28]. A large body of literature addresses the study of social dynamics on socio-technical systems from social contagion up to social reinforcement [12–15, 17, 29–41].

There's a hell of a lot more there, nuts & bolts stuff.  I've known for a long time that you can't talk a CTer out of their ideas, it's interesting to see why.

4
The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / ORIGINS thread.
« on: February 17, 2015, 05:01:58 pm »
#1:  NIGEL

Nigel is from way back in the future, somewhere around 3250CE.  She defied her bosses and came back to warn us about the impending apocalypse, but due to factory-second parts being used in the time machine, she arrived with fragmented memories and an infinite number of dicks, which she controls though minature space/time portals.  The less said about that, the better. 

In any case, her fragmented memories frustrated her...All she could remember about the coming weird times were odds and ends which are meaningless without context (ie, "hollow fish" and "weaponized chai" and "apocalypse chickens").  What's more, people who lived 1,235 years before her were DUMB and wouldn't listen when she tried to tell them WHAT.

She was heard to say "If I can't be a super-heroine, Then I shall be a super-villainess."  She embarked on a program of terrorist poetry and lethal macrame, occasionally teaming up with other villains such as Doktor Howl, Richter, and Barack Obama, and - this is rumor - even the hideous master criminal "The Absence", who was never at any of the crimes he was suspected of committing, which is in itself proof that he committed them.

Her largest accomplishment was bending Portland, Oregon this way, which turned it from a racist stronghold to a center of liberalism and artistry...Although when she was defeated fighting the Space Demon Jehovahbubba, she landed so hard she bent it that way, and nothing in Portland has ever gone right since.

She has not been seen since the Jehovabubba incident, but is presumed to be alive on account of her dicks are still functional, as anyone in America can verify with their right hand or perhaps a pair of mirrors.

5
LESLIE GORE DEAD AT 68.

 :cry: :cry: :cry:

6
The job was over.  The code was in a Passport 1TB drive, safely stored in a locked ammo can in the rental SUV.  I took the crew - and Abigail - out to a swank restaurant in Phoenix proper, and poured beer and Thai food down their throats.

The staff had pushed two tables together in the center of the room to accomodate us, and we were clearly geeking out the establishment's other patrons.  As the beer took hold, this increased, as our voices got louder.  We weren't drunk, but we were definitely feeling relaxed.  Al stayed sober on account of his pain medication, so nobody had to worry about being sober.

"I still can't believe that you ordered our boss out of his own business", Anna said over her beer glass.

"Owner Thing was in the way."

"Were you bluffing about shutting us down if he didn't go?" Abigail asked.

"I never bluff.  Think of it more as outright coercion.  However, I might suggest you start quietly start looking around for another job.  If Owner Thing was this stupid about a contract this lucrative, your situation is not what we can call 'stable', and something will torpedo him without warning."

"So this is what you do for a living?  Strong arm people?"

"It isn't strong arming.  It's talking jackasses into honoring their contracts, as a last resort before we pour a bucket of lawyers on them.  I must admit I take pleasure in my job, because assholes like Owner Thing are bad for The Future."  I pronounced the capitalization.

Everyone just looked me, except Felipe, who smiled into his stein. 

I was half in the bag, so I stood up to speak my piece.  "You see, what we did this week was write code for a new machine.  This machine will improve our feedstock, meaning that more can be done with it by the vendors.  We have made transparent aluminum, like in Star Trek, but then we went ahead and made that obsolete a month later.  We - we and our clients - have made 100% non-bioreactive replacement knees, hips, and vertebrae that will look the same in 5000 years as they look now.  We have done these and many, many other things in the name of building the future."

"This is a matter of religion for me", I continued, "Because if God exists, he's being very quiet about it.  Therefore, what we must do is bend the universe to our will without His help.  We may drown in our own shit in the end, but until then, we will do as much cool shit as we can, just to do it.  Remember the moon landings?  Yeah, that was a political thing, but we still went to the moon.  Just to do it.  This isn't a new philosophy.  The British lost loads of blue-bloods climbing Mount Everest or staggering around at the poles, just to do it.  Mankind was not meant to live like fruit flies, endlessly breeding for the sake of breeding.  Man was meant to drop his pants and moon the uncaring void.  Man was meant to go screaming out into the universe, learning how it works and what's out there, not for some gain or even for survival, but because that is our purpose.  It is its own end."

I took a swig, then continued.  "And if someone like Owner Thing gets in the way, he must be taken out of the way.  If paying him to get the hell out of the way is the easiest method of doing that, then that is what will be done.  But I was getting my program one way or another."

I snapped out of it, and noticed that the entire restaurant was quiet.  I looked around.  "WHAT?"

Most people looked at their food.  A couple kept staring.  One guy got up, walked over, and badged me.

"Can I help you, detective?"

"I am just wondering if this table is going to get out of hand."

"This table was born out of hand," I said, and gestured at Abigail.  "Even the quiet one.  But if you mean 'will we start some kind of disturbance?', then no.  Our disturbance ended when we arrived."

The police detective laughed and returned to his seat.  I sat down, and we lowered our voices to a polite level.

"How do you DO that?" Anna asked.

"It's no trick.  It's the same thing I did with Owner Thing, only the detective was so much more polite.  I simply demand that the universe - and the people in it - behave as it should behave.  It doesn't always work."

"What happens when it doesn't work?"

"Things get interesting."  As I spoke, I noticed that there was a ring on Anna's finger.  I looked at it, then her.

"She said yes", Michael said, with a shit-eating grin.  I stared at him.

"We've been wanting to get married for some time", Anna said, "But the job situation looked too unstable, so we waited."

"And?"

"And now we have decided that we can do this sort of work anywhere, better than we do it here,"  Michael answered.  "Even if we became independent contractors, we'd earn enough."

Anna smiled at me, as if I were somehow responsible for this.

An hour later, I was in the passenger seat of the SUV, while Al drove us back to Tucson.  Felipe was snoring in the back seat.

"Well," he said, "It was a successful trip.  Code's written and tested, and those two kids are getting married."

"That last bit is good news, I like to see people happy, but that was hardly our doing."

"I think it was", he responded.  "They weren't used to just getting shit done, professionally-speaking, and that tends to intrude on your private life.  Then you came along and shook everything up."

Maybe he was right.  If so, then this trip was an unqualified success.

We drove on through the night, across the desert.  Another success for the Science Gestapo.

- END -

7
At some point, AL and Felipe went out to get food.  The code monkeys were working like maniacs, and there wasn't much for me to do.  I closed my eyes to sleep...Which hardly ever works.  Unless I lay perfectly still with my eyes shut, breathing slowly, and even then I'm lucky to catch a half hour.

I must have LOOKED asleep, though, as the code monkeys started talking out of school, in hushed voices.

"Do you think they're gonna kill us?" Anne asked, "They always kill people in the movies, even if there's no reason to do so."

"Naw," Michael said, "That's the CIA.  These guys will just try to use us in an experiment, and then they'll get eaten by alien critters."

"Or shot by James Bond," Doug added.

"Well, he's nicer than I expected a hit man to be," Anne said, bless her paranoid little heart.

"He's actually kind of a dick," Doug said, "He made Abigail cry."

"That wasn't his fault," Michael responded, "He did what he had to do.  Personally, I think he's a nutcase.  He doesn't seem to give a crap about anything but the job, and he seems to even be doing that grudgingly."

I opened one eye.  "The world of multinational industry is mysterious and terrifying, and not for the likes of you and I to ponder."

"Um."  This was Doug and Anne.

"You heard all that?" Micheal asked.

"I hear everything.  I see everything.  It is entirely possible that you are right and that I am nuts.  But not according to the textbook.  I suffer no misery from it and I get the job done.  Therefore, I am 'eccentric', and thus to be tolerated by yourselves as an uncle.  The sort of uncle that bites people at parties.  You know the one."

They just stared at me.

"Maybe I can explain this another way, but it's gonna cost Doug a cappacino."

More staring.  I got up and plugged my phone into Michael's sound system and punched up Hair by Lady Gaga.  Then I began to dance.  Badly.  It was the sort of thing you'd expect Irish people to do when they gather around the bonfire after power-tooling the neighbors.  Sort of a stomp, really.

Micheal and Anna looked like their eyes were gonna come out of their head.  Doug grinned, and started dancing.  Well.  Very well.  So well, I hate him more.  I have mentioned that we all hate him, yes?  Micheal and Anna shrugged and joined in, about as badly as me. 

As the song wound down, there was a noise at the lab door...There stood Abigail, who wanted to take our lunch order, and was staring at us like we'd lost our minds.  I didn't expect her to understand, not really.  Abigail is one of those people who will never lose her shit, no matter how badly she needs to.  She is the type to always give a fuck, because that's what she's been taught is important.

But we know better.  We know about The Future™, and what it takes to get there.  It takes skill and it takes luck and it takes hard work.  And if definitely requires losing your shit and dancing like nobody's watching, while all the normal people scramble for the other side of the bus.

To be continued.

8
As always, the PMs I'm responding to are not included.  I was stuck on 9 PMs for 6 months, but the crazies have come through for me at last.  I knew they would.

1.  When I was a kid, we didn't do that sorta shit.  We just stomped on whatever it was until we stopped caring, and we didn't ask stupid questions.  For example, if someone in authority said the chicken crossed the road, THAT WAS GOOD ENOUGH FOR US.  This may not be touchy-feely enough for this brave new century, but I am a man of my time.

2.  That's not possible.  Check the patent office, there are MILLIONS of patent applications that have been turned down because PERPETUAL MOTION ISN'T MATHEMATICALLY OR PHYSICALLY POSSIBLE for reasons that would be obvious to anyone who has taken a physics class.  You get points for originality, though.  I don't think there has been a single application for this "principle" to be used in a sex toy.  You, sir, are my hero.  You're an idiot, but you're my hero.

3.  Yes, I made fun of your PM.  The one you wrote in 2010.  Holy crap, you hold a grudge like a champ.  You remind me of me.  I am eventually going to go back to Newfoundland and kick the crap out of Chris Kerr for pushing me in 3rd grade and making me drop my lunch in a puddle.  I don't care if he's a priest now, I'm kicking his ass anyway.  Up the revolution, my friend.

4.  You have it all wrong.  Nigel is the kind one, it's LMNO that's the prick.  Nigel is only trying to make you UNDERSTAND.  To COMPREHEND why you are a DUMBASS.  She's trying to HELP, you ungrateful slob.  Meanwhile, LMNO is drunk and touching your mom in an inappropriate way.  Even if she's dead.  ESPECIALLY if she's dead.

5.  You are talking to the wrong man.  I believe Whitey's version of events, and the Aztecs were not misunderstood hippies.  They really DID carve peoples' hearts out in truly industrial manner, and they sprinkled the blood on their food and ATE IT.  Cortez's only failing is that he came along so late in the game.  Call the Mexica LUCKY.  What they DESERVED was Pizarro.  Instead they got old softy.  IN ADDITION, "archeological proof" is not "White privilege".  I don't actually expect this to make any sort of impact on you, you're clearly emotionally attached to your bad signal.

6.  I don't even know what the fuck all that even MEANS, but I can assure you that the guy who owns the server is not in our jurisdiction, and I am also certain that being arrested by angels in lieu of the FBI probably doesn't keep him up at night.  The board OWNER is another story...He is a freak and a menace, and if you could whistle up some angels, we'll sort his shit out PROPER.  I have heard that Gabriel likes to put the boot in a bit, and it's no more than the bastard deserves.

7.  You've never even posted, and you're giving me a red ass?  You know, I LIKE that.  It means that someone, SOMEWHERE, is reading my brain-damaged shit.  And SHUTTING UP.  Until now.  And you were doing so well. 

8.  Yes, I believe I DID say that superhero comics suck.  That is what we here in the SANE world call "a personal opinion", which would be SUBJECTIVE.  I think they suck because there isn't a story, there's just endless continuity.  Superman is 75 years old.  How many new things can you say about him?  I understand that this upsets you, and I do appreciate the threat, but you're in some horrible country that isn't America, and I am not scared.  You bastards can't survive in the desert.  It's why you lost Ethiopia.  How the fuck does that even HAPPEN?  You had TANKS.  Crappy tanks, but tanks all the same.  They beat you with FLINTLOCKS.  Some fucking "second Roman empire".  You suck.  Your ancestors suck.  You haven't won a war since 400 AD, so I am less than intimidated by your weak shit.  Good day, and enjoy reading all 17 of your daily newspapers concerning soccer.  Which isn't "football".  It's soccer.  22 hair models running around, then one falls down and cries, just because there's a bone sticking out of his calf.  ONE bone.  Suetonius would be ashamed of you pukes.  GOOD DAY, I SAY!

9.  (Same guy):  What the hell was that?  That wasn't an insult, it was WHIMPERING.  It's because of fuckers like YOU that I take drugs.  Come back with your A-game.  And I DON'T mean soccer.

10.  Good Lord, I haven't seen YOU in a long time.  Years, in fact.  You're still a sociopath, I see, and you will find this board even LESS libertarian-friendly than it was when you got Scorch to ban me from his board.  I never forgave him for that, and I never forgave you, either.  You coming back and pretending that it was "friendly banter" would be like Hugh coming back and saying that he was only kidding.  Only he can't because he's in a mental institution as a result of his very hasty marriage.  It didn't end well.  I hope you don't either.  Now piss off.


10
The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / People Like Us
« on: February 10, 2015, 04:59:34 pm »
People like us don't need anyone's permission.  We are not considered to be good people by the Good People, and we LIKE IT THAT WAY.  We are the tesseract that won't fit in the round hole, the scofflaws and the back seat drivers of society itself.  We're not Leather Face from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but we DO drink with him on Saturday Night™.  We are the whining bearing, the smoking drive train, the oil dripping out of the world's tailpipe.

What people like us forget, sometimes, is that THEY are afraid of US, simply because they honestly can't believe we don't share their values, and when we demonstrate that we don't, They get restless.  Uneasy.  They look at us and see Bin Ladin or Karl Marx or that asshole on the MBTA that stares at you and smiles for no reason at all.  Their inner primate gibbers in fear, and that makes them angry.

So be it.  Their anger is my medicine.  I season my ham sammich with their tears of panic or rage or whatever the hell it is they think they're feeling, while they shit on some homeless guy on their way to church or quote Dawkins like he was Replacement Jesus™.

Here's the kicker:  We don't need THEM, but they need US.  They understand this on some level, and it drives them even crazier.  Consider it a public service...This mudball needs a little more apeshittery, because "normal" hasn't exactly done a stellar job, has it?  Humans need to lose their shit more often, and that's where WE come in.  With a rubber chicken or a baseball bat with a nail through it.  One or the other, whatever gets the JOB DONE, because that's how we manage shit DOWNTOWN.

And it doesn't matter if They are communists or free market heroes, Atheists or Calvinists, or any other collection of jackasses wearing colostomy bags on their heads.  We do not share their politics.  The only ideals we have are Saturday Night™ and FUCK 'EM IF THEY CAN'T TAKE A JOKE and CRAPPING ON THE HEADS OF PUNY HUMANS.  And, if you think about it, why would we ever need anything else?

This is OUR world, they're just unpleasant relatives that have stayed too long.

Or Kill Me.

12
We staggered in to the lab in the morning.  Doug mumbled something about coffee, and started setting up a batch, while Michael and Anna started firing up the laptops.  I sat there, feeling like I had sand under my eyelids.  When I was young, a 20 hour session of programming was a doddle...At age 46, it felt like basic training all crammed into my head, stomping around singing cadence.

Anna:  "What the fuck?"

Micheal:  "Oh, shit."

"I don't want to hear words like that," I said, "Not right now."

"The code is hashed," Michael said, "It's completely bolloxed."

"What the hell happened?", Felipe asked.

Anna did some arcane stuff with the laptop.   "Last edited this morning at 6AM.  And the names of the processors have been changed to variations on the name "Cliff".

I walked to the door to the lab, and stuck my head out.  "OWNER THING!  YOUR PRESENCE IS REQUIRED IN THE LAB."

Owner thing came out of his office with that look you get on your face when you realize a brilliant idea wasn't so brilliant.

"Owner thing, you fucked with the code this morning."

"Yes.  It was sloppy code and needed to be tightened up."

"It was functional code.  Now it is non-functional.  This isn't good for either of us."

"Well, blame those hacks I hired," Owner thing said, oblivious to the fact that said hacks were just around the corner, "It was their code."

"It WAS their code, before you felt the need to piss your incompetence all over it.  You are now in direct breach of contract, having actively sabotaged the project.  This means you should hire counsel.  It won't do you any good, The Corporation can lawyer you to death without spending an additional dime, but you should at least make the attempt.  This project is dead.  So is your company."

He stood goggling at me.  Behind him, in the cube farm, Abigail burst into tears.  She apparently needed this job.

"However," I said, "In the interests of your employees, there is one remaining option that may save this project and your company."

"Um," Owner thing said.

"You will take the rest of the week off.  As in, you will not set foot in this building until I leave with functional software."

"But..."

"This is a one time offer.  Take a vacation, get paid, ooze your way along in life.  Or get squashed like a bug.  This offer is good for 30 seconds."

"OKAY!" he shouted, stormed into his office and came back out with his lunchbox.  He slammed the door on the way out of the building.  Looking around, I felt like I was being observed by prairie dogs, as people looked over their cubicles with the mininum amount of their heads showing.

"What?  Do you not have work things to do?  Do work things now."  Heads vanished.  I turned back into the lab.

Doug shoved a coffee in my hand.  "Wow, boss, you're a bit of a dick."

"I don't like being this way," I said, "It makes me feel bad.  But shit like this needs sorting."  I took a sip of the coffee, and got a little surprise.  Doug had actually made cappacino.  "DOUG!"

"Yeah?"

"This is like having coffee angels crapping rainbows in my mouth."

"Glad you like it."

"I still hate you."

"I know", Doug said, with the smugness that only those born pretty can attain.

We turned to the task of re-doing 23 hours worth of coding.

To be continued.






13
It was the ultimate dream up, and it turned out to be the very last team up.  We were all there...LMNO (the Cuban Superman), Delores Nigel (a villain to be sure, but you don't take sides against your fellows when the stakes are the end of everything that is cool and/or absurd), Hirley0 (sort of like Doctor Xavier, but more down to Earth), Cain the Brain, and the others.

When JehovahBubba arrived, we were as ready as we could possibly be; this is not the same as being ready.  The Old Testament Space God wasn't just another Lex Luthor, after all.  He was a God.

He hit Delores Nigel so hard that her first name fell off...And when she impacted in Portland, she bent it, which is why the rules are different based on which side of the river you are on.  She lost all her powers except for her teeth and her drink ray.

LMNO put the sexy time on Jehovahbubba, which bought us some time at what can only be considered a fearful cost.  He stomped all the Cuba out of LMNO.  He is still fabulous, but it isn't quite the same.  For example, he has to be in the same state as a woman to give her an orgasm.

Cain the Brain was so badly mauled that he now believes he was born in Australia, despite his ability to walk upright.  Richter was blown into two dimensions and is now the sharpest knife in the drawer, if you'll pardon the expression.

Hirley0 blew the ballast tanks just as Jehovahbubba started in on me.  I wasn't beaten as hard, so only Hirley0 and I remember any of this, although as the only untouched one of us, he is the only remaining person to remember our language.

Tunguska Crater is but one of the results of Hirley0 trying to punch into this boring sub-universe to save us.  I couldn't help him aim because I can no longer speak in color, so we are still stuck in this banal, grinding horror that the locals think is normal.

So that's what happened.

14
Meet the code monkeys.  There are three of them.  Anna, a very pretty young lady who was tragically born with no social filters; Michael, who advertizes his last meal on his shirt and in his beard; and Doug, who is one of those guys who makes tech look sexy.  In fact, he would probably make sewer work look sexy, or at least mildly attractive.  Everyone hates Doug.  I know I do.

The code monkeys are unsure about how to deal with us.  Anna thinks we are corporate killers, and has asked Al twice to please not let Felipe and I kill her, because she has not yet been to Europe.  Doug has this paralyzing suspicion that work is approaching.  Micheal seems to be in some kind of religious state because he hopes work is coming and he thinks we're it.

"So," I say after an hour of reading through their project files, "You haven't even labeled the processors yet."

"The boss wouldn't let us.  He never lets us,"  Anna said, "He gets to name all the processors."

"What?  Is that some kind of weird status thing?"

"Yep", Michael burped around the straw of a Slurpee, "He names them all after himself in one way or another."

"Well, that's fucking special."

Anna sorted laughter.  Micheal said, "He's a special kinda guy."

"I also note that there is only one processor.  This job should need a minimum of two, probably four."

"Boss said it cost too much."

"Your boss is a piece of shit.  Get me two more processors.  Logix, too.  Not of that compact stuff.  And I shall name them, and your boss may curse me for however long the greasy swine can hold a grudge."

Processors were obtained, and thrown on the chassis.

"They shall be named 'Larry, Curly, and Moe'," I announced.  "Moe is in charge, Larry does all the work, and Curly will tell us the results.  Officially, they will be 1786.Moe.cntr, etc, but you know what I mean."

Everyone stared at me.  Then Michael said, "I think I want to have your babies."

Things went well for several hours.  Until 11:30 PM, as a matter of fact.  We were the only 6 people in the building, hell, in the entire industrial park.  Many dead pizzas lay around.  A lot of code got written.  Anna seemed a trifle disappointed that we weren't there to kill everyone, But she got over it.

Things were in fact looking very promising.  But that was last night.

This morning was another story entirely.  A tale of shame and failure and The Ego That Ate Success.

To be continued








15
We pulled into Phoenix at about 10 in the morning.  The building was one of those beige brick jobs, identical in appearance to every other building for a mile around.  I absentmindedly wondered to myself how people found the right building in which to report for work each day.  Knowing this city, their homes were similar.  Perhaps they went home to a different family every night.  Perhaps everyone involved had learned to not question why their lives changed every evening.

Felipe parked the Durango, and I got out.  I opened the back door and shook Al's shoulder until he woke up.  He's nearly of retirement age, and he's physically ready for the knackers, if we're all going to be honest about this.

The three of us walked in the front door.  Typical for such operations, there was an empty breezeway with a card lock on the interior end, and a sign in book with a phone hanging on the wall above it, beside a small sliding-glass window.

Al, being the gentleman and rules-abiding type, moved as if to sign the book.  Felipe shook his head at Al, and then looked at me.  I nodded.  Felipe picked up the book and threw it through the small window.  I walked up to the door and pulled the "greeting card" out of my pocket.  It looks like a hockey puck with a small battery case on the top side and a button in the center.  I placed it over the door's lock and pressed the button.  There was a muted "clack" as the magnet in the greeting card overpowered the lock's spring the same way the normal power lock would do when used normally from inside.  We walked in, facing a twenty-something receptionist who was goggling at us.  Folks in their cubes behind her stared.

I have always said that making an entrance is fifty percent of accomplishing your goals.

"Hello, Ms Person", I said, "I have an appointment scheduled with your boss."

"He hasn't got any meetings scheduled today."

"That is his concern, I am very much afraid.  He can of course decline our 'appointment', but the consequences of that would be unfortunate for the future of this company, of his retirement plans, and even I dare say the future employment prospects of everyone," I looked around at the wide-eyed cubical warriors, "in this room.  Ms Person, you might be wise to let your boss - the owner, I mean, not your supervisor - know that the audit team from Tucson has arrived."

"Abigail."

"Excuse me, I'm sorry, my name is Abigail."

"Fascinating, Abigail.  Now perhaps you can fetch your boss thing.  We will be in the break room, having coffee." 

We left her standing there, and walked unerringly to the breakroom.  15 years ago, this clone buildings were in style, and due to the low cost, much in demand.  I could find their break room with my eyes closed.  It's very depressing, actually.

As was their coffee.  Not even Folgers.  Some sort of service restocked it, the coffee bag had that plain white color that says "airlines aren't this cheap".  No wonder they couldn't produce code on time.  Programmers are strange beasts, with particular diets.  Coffee is part of that diet for the older ones.  The young guns drink Mountain Dew straight out of 2 liter bottles, or Jolt if they can find it.  If their diet is allowed to suffer, they find themselves unable to work.

Nevertheless, we poured ourselves a cup, and were about halfway through it when owner thing stalked into the room, looking angry.

"Who the fuck do you guys think you are, shoving your way in here like some kind of government agency?  I ought to call the cops."

"Go ahead, vato", Felipe said.  Owner thing stared at him.

"You may certainly do that", I added, "but that will - of course - end any profitable or even survivable options for your company."

"You came here to threaten me?  In my own business?"  Owner thing was looking a tad florid.

"Shut up."

"WHAT?"  Now very florid.

"Do you understand the term 'penalty clause'?  Do you somehow believe that the contract you signed was with the normal run of wannabes and has-beens that you routinely prey on?  We have ordered a rather complex program.  You have first, signed the contract, and second, failed to deliver the goods.  You have jabbered things at us concerning cost overruns and delays.  You have an explanation for this?"

He looked a little less florid now, but a sneer crept across his face.  A very small sneer, but very real.  I decided I didn't like owner thing.

"Yes," he said, "There have been some unforseen difficulties in producing the code.  You understand this.?

"Yes, I do, and it is absolute bullshit.  You have spent your time trying to obtain new contracts, rather than working on ours.  This stops right now.  You will introduce me to your code monkeys.  My men here will work with them, and we will have that code written this week.  Nobody will get much sleep, I think, except perhaps you.  You are, for the moment, surplus to requirements.  You may feel insulted by this, or put upon in some way.  I assure you that I am the very soul of mercy, but should you feel otherwise, perhaps you would prefer to deal with our chief counsel.  She keeps a room full of bored young attorneys.  In either case, I do not care.  I will have my program files with your help or without it.  In one case you get paid.  In the other case, we shut you down and hire your code monkeys as contractors.  Decide now; call the police, or take us to your monkeys."

He took us to his monkeys.

To be continued.





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