The Bastard Operator From Hell is off to the movies, thanks to the marvellous advances in everyday technology ...

    The people upstairs want to play with some new toys again. Just because the CEO has seen an article about videomail, he feels that the company is not complete without it.

    Naturally, I'm delighted as the opportunities for mark-up are immense. The finance director was concerned however, but then he wouldn't pass an expense form unless it was signed in blood. Of course, it was the FD who tried to block the part I play in the purchasing process, it seems he got suspicious when I junked the wreck I drove in favour of a brand new BMW.

    With the boss's instructions ringing in my ears I dial our network suppliers.

    "Hello, Network Express."

    "My name is Farquarson. May I speak to Jon, please?"

    "Please hold."

    >Click<

    "Good morning, Mr... errrmmmm... Farquarson. Is the line secure?"

    "Yes, it is. Morning Jon. I need a couple of servers."

    "No problem. What kind of load are they likely to get?"

    "Pretty heavy. We're going in for videomail. You know, you have a graphics tablet and a camera and it stores all your words as phonemes and stuff."

    "Neat. Twin Pentium Pro 200 then?"

    "Errr... it's not my cost centre."

    "OK. In that case do you want eight, 10 or 12 processors?"

    "12 should do it. Plenty of disk too."

    "40GB each?"

    "Pardon?"

    "Sorry, dropped a zero there."

    "OK. Half a gig of RAM should do, too:- nothing too extravagant. What's the damage?"

    "Hmmm... list price is 62,995 each."

    "And after our bean-counter discount?"

    "L124,999 before VAT per unit. I take it you want the commission to the usual account?"

    Two boxes duly arrive. The PFY has them rapidly installed and whirring away, and connected up to the couple of dozen videomail tablets we scattered among the senior executives last week.

    We go back down to Ops and the PFY fires up the videomail console next to his Quake session. A quick e-mail to the admin assistant at our other office brings up the remote execs on our console and we start to see words flying around the WAN. I sit back smugly and concentrate for the moment on psychopathic murder, albeit unfortunately in a virtual world.

    "They seem to have the hang of it - I think they're competing to see who can send the longest mail with the most difficult words in," comments the PFY, neatly dodging behind a wall.

    "Well", I reply, "they are kiddies with new toys. Hopefully we'll have enough material soon," I muse.

    "Material?"

    "Oh, don't worry about it."

    >BAMBAMBAMBAMBAM<

    "Ha! Die, sucker."

    On returning after a brief hour's lunch, I inspect the videomail system. I'm rather surprised that they've managed to fill 40 per cent of the disks on the servers in such a short space of time, but it's all for the good. I run up my trusty copy of Premiere and start picking at the filestore.

    "What are you up to," inquires my pimply colleague.

    "Making a movie, what's it look like?"

    "A movie of what?"

    "Our CEO. Loyal, huh?"

    "Very. That's what worries me."

    It takes a while to remember my way around the controls in the new version, but soon the phrases are coming together nicely. The PFY is wearing his look of utmost puzzlement and goes off to nuke someone's server in the hope that it will ease his mind. An hour or so later he's just sweeping the last few bits into a bin-bag and I sit back, satisfied.

    The PFY sees my contented smile and wanders over. He spots my notepad beside the PC and notices the phrases scrawled there.

    "Annual bonfire night supper... financial director... rumour has it... security department... audio interference... had goat's cheese as a starter... what's this all about?" he asks.

    "Just wait; the phone should ring about... NOW."

    He jumps as the telephone springs to life.

    "Hello, operations. You want whose account removed immediately? But isn't he the FD? OK, OK, I'm not arguing, I'm just surprised. I thought he was unsackably married to the CEO's sister. Who gave the authority? What, himself? Oh, by videomail... how apt."

    The PFY bids farewell to our remote-site admin assistant, who needless to say is on a percentage and is therefore totally tame, and looks suspiciously at me.

    "Care to give me a private viewing of your new movie?"

    "Sure."

    I hit 'play' and the PFY is presented with an extremely convincing image of the CEO telling the rest of the execs that some of the FD's extra-curricular habits just aren't in line with the company's requirements of directorial behaviour and that he's going to have to let him go. A couple of variants contain the instructions to the admin types and security to implement the logistical side of the person-disposal and police-calling. Of course simple voicemail would never have sufficed, but with videomail you can actually see the CEO himself saying the words. And we all know that you can't forge videomail - don't we?