Emails From the Command-Line: Is This a P45 Situation?

By Ethan Net on at

I'm staying put in my little office today, for more than one reason. It's Wednesday, and I still can't quite figure out what happened at last week's charity fundraiser that Sophia invited the IT department (well, me and Colin) to.

It all started so well too, from what I remember. Everybody had the "Friday feeling" at work (the copywriting girls were even playing some classic dance tunes when I walked past their office); all the back-ups were set (and I had found all the tapes); all the software updates on the XP, Vista and Win 7, plus various OS X versions we support had run Thursday night; anti-virus reporting was 100 per cent clean for the first time in ages, and importantly, all laptops were accounted for -- we were good to go.

Even Colin came out of the comms room voluntarily. The company had spent a load of cash on setting the party up, and thankfully, my IT services hadn't been called upon once. The aim was to make as much as possible for the agency's chosen charity, even though nobody could actually tell me what that actually was. And Sophia would be there too, bonus.


Quick shave; hair gelled; emergency cab-fare home tucked into my sock; dab of Old Spice -- Ethan, you are one irresistible IT manager.

Just as I was beginning to feel foolproof, my phone rang. Do I answer? Suppose I have to, it only being 4pm and all.

"Hi, Ethan here" I say, already regretting it.

"Ah, yes Stephen" says our Chief Exec. (How is he still here I'll never know.)

"Er, Stephen, we have a charity event tonight, and it will involve a presentation from me, on my MacBook and my PA's PC both together; a live digital link to the US office, and a Twitter feed, streamed to our website. Do we have a website? Oh yes, we do, good. It's all about how we are the new masters of social media, digital thought processes and web-channelled marketing… or something like that. Oh yes, and it's all being filmed live for the website too. See you there in 10 minutes."

Jaw set to: Drop.

Heart rate set to: Max.

I knew it! I bloody knew it! Live to the States: Our 3G dongles will be crippled at the first hurdle. If I can even find them! And a Mac and PC joint presentation -- won't someone think of the inconsistent fonts?! Filmed live? And two hours to set it all up?

I collar Colin; a large orange crate of assorted cables, dongles, power supplies, USB drives, laptops, the emergency Firewire drive with every application ever made available on it; two mobile phones and my book of "contacts you may need" and chuck the lot in a black cab.

It was a nightmare, but by 9pm on the dot Colin had done a brilliant job of making the evening work brilliantly. I'll never know how he did it, but Sophia even gave me a hug for making it work ("it was nothing…really, Sophia, but give me another hug, yeah?") and then introduced me to her boyfriend...which I wasn't quite expecting.

Nevermind the fact that Colin was under the stage holding the jumbled 3-phase cabling and Cat5 together with duct tape at the time. "He'll be fine; he likes it down there," I told myself. I did chuck him a bag of Doritos from the vending machine outside the function room, as thought smoked salmon canapes probably weren't his thing. Standing back, I watched the collection of young enthusiastic newbies in their skinny jeans and wavy haircuts trying to look cool in front of the copywriting girls.

All that effort, for a five minute presentation using technical buzzwords I hadn't even heard of. With Twitter getting two replies; the US office trying to stream the event from the wrong channel (completely missing the boat), and our website receiving just seven hits during the CEO's speech. My work was done.

Girls on the left; bar on the right; Colin still under the stage. And then, the next thing I experience is the sun in my eyes, and I'm feeling very wet, very bruised and can hear an old lady telling her dog to "come away from the nasty man". I must be in a park. It's morning, I have no jacket, and no left shoe, it appears. That feeling of dread falls on top of me, so I check my phone, and that appears to be missing along with my left shoe and jacket, too.


Back to Wednesday morning: Two gentlemen in suits waving those laser pointer-measuring gadgets around my office, and a chap holding up colour samples against my Kylie calendar. This can only mean bad news...


Ethan Net is a pseudonym for an overworked and underpaid IT Manager. It doesn't matter where he works or who he is -- unless he happens to be your IT Manager. Look out for his column every Wednesday afternoon here on Gizmodo UK.

Image Credit: Server Room from Shutterstock