HOUSTON, Texas – In a scene reminiscent of a Dilbert comic strip, the laptop computer on the desk of TexxonMogul CEO Max Avarice was discovered by a contract IT technician to be an Etch-a-Sketch®. The technician was tracing a fault in the company’s Ethernet. In Mr. Avarice’s office he found an RS-232 plug jammed into the RJ45 wall socket and was replacing the socket when he noticed the Etch-a-Sketch®. Remarking to Mr. Avarice that his 4-year old daughter had one and she loved drawing pictures with it, a virtual firestorm ignited.
Mr. Avarice angrily summoned the Vice-President of Information Technology , Seymour Butts, and demanded an explanation. Mr. Butts explained that the last time Mr. Avarice had a real computer he insisted on unrestricted access to all corporate systems and wound up downloading forty-two different viruses and trojans into the company intranet. It took IT weeks and a complete reload of the system to remove all of them. At about the same time the IT budget was cut in half and ways to save money had to be found. After an extensive study, IT found that several areas of the company could do without computers, beginning with senior executives. Most of them do nothing anyway.
Many so-called computers in the Land Department are empty boxes with a few flashing lights on the side and a drugged monkey living inside. This was an experiment to see if it were true that given enough monkeys with keyboards and enough time an understandable division order could be created.
In the Human Resources Department, the computers in the Non-Discrimination Compliance section are merely televisions permanently tuned to the Oprah Winfrey Network. Training modules for Health, Environmental and Safety are reruns of Marcus Welby MD, Grizzly Adams and Leave It to Beaver.
The budgetary cut-back affected not only hardware acquisitions. The economics software developed in-house for the exclusive use of TexxonMogul is actually nothing more than a random number generator. Users have learned to keep making runs with the same inputs until a favorable analysis came back.
Mr. Avarice ordered Mr. Butts to install the biggest real computer in the company in his office, something befitting his status as Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Butts acquired a surplus 1960’s-vintage Univac 494 computer from a NASA scrapheap. With its ferrite core memory, magnetic tape drives, refrigerator-sized storage drum and the air conditioning equipment necessary to keep it from melting, the device weighs 16 tons and takes up most of Mr. Avarice’s office. Mr. Avarice is enthralled with all the flashing lights and whirling tape drives and awarded Mr. Butts a sizeable bonus.