Emails From the Command-Line: Olympics For Rent

By Ethan Net on at

My new Tulisa calendar tells me we're in for a four-day weekend in a couple of weeks, which is great news (apart from the fact that I'll have to turn over the May page, which is the best month of the year by far). There's then a 3-week section at the end of July too, marked: "No Work. Olympics."

As warning tales begin to filter in through my IT Managers' network (like an old boys' network, only hairier), it comes as no surprise when HR Susan's email, titled "Olympic Games' Working Arrangements," drops into inboxes company-wide.

"This'll be good!" I say to Colin, who is head-down at the keyboard with the Olympic Home Page on one screen and a load of code on the other.

"Uh," he shrugs. That's the best I can get out of him most days, but I always assume he must be involved in something quite important, rather than actively ignoring me. Best to leave him to his important coding work, I think.

Back to the email: "As you are all aware, London is hosting the Olympics this year. This means that travel in and around London will be extremely difficult for those of you who have to come to work on public transport. The company is leaving it to the team managers' discretion whether to allow you to work from home. Please make arrangements directly with them."

Aha. This could be interesting. Our VPN isn't what you'd you call "enterprise-enabled" (maximum of five users at any time, and that's on a good day), and I have one seven-year-old laptop as a loaner. Just as I'm assessing what this means to our already-crippled IT department, the chimes of falling emails start, and continue on for a good five minutes: nearly 200 emails all saying much the same thing: "Hi Ethan, how are you?" Yeah, right! "Oh by the way, can I book a laptop with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and all the fonts for the end of July for three weeks? A really good one please? Oh, and a nice laptop case, too."

Allocation of company loan equipment is done on a very strict, necessity-based calculation, and so I decide that Sophia gets the booking. Not totally sure she'll be able to work out how to use the laptop, but I like to keep her happy. You know, just in case she ever decides to leave her boyfriend for me.

The problem is that the budget for the laptop refresh a few months ago was pulled at the last minute, oddly enough at the same time the car park suddenly looked like the set from Top Gear.

"Colin. Have you seen this?" I ask in a slightly nervous tone.

"I thought that might happen," said the pale hairy one. "So I've done this…"

Turning his screen towards me, I read the website: "The Olympic Hotel London. Stay in Farringdon, close to all the Olympic action this year. 200 spaces, 27th July -- 12th August. Only £1,000. Bring your own camp-bed, towels, bedding etc."

"Er, Colin, that's our address." I point out.

"Exactly; there'll be nobody else here will there? It's only been up since this morning and we're fully-booked already."

Suddenly I have the budget for a new VPN; 200 laptops and a plethora of "nice laptop cases." Sorted.

So it looks like I'll get three weeks at home with remote access to all the kit; Colin gets three weeks in his home (comms room, 15 degrees C and very very dark). The rest of the company gets new laptops, and the bosses get to travel in their ridiculous Olympic VIP lanes to every game going.

As much as I hate to say it, I'm really looking forward to the Olympics now...and how Colin managed to get us both tickets for the beach volleyball, I'll never know.


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