8-Bit Software Online Conversion

LUNCH, THE HP WAY This is a war story of a different kind. No melting CPUs, screaming disk drives, just the kind of psychological torture that scars a man for life. I had a 9 a.m. meeting with my sales rep. I needed to buy an entire Series 70 -- the works. He said it'd take about an hour. Three hours later, we we'd barely gotten the datacomm hardware down on paper and he invited me downstairs for lunch. This was my first experience in an HP cafeteria. Above the service counter was a menu that began: MMUs (Main Meal Units) 00010A Burger. Includes sesame-seed bun. Must order condiments 00110A separately. 001 Delete seeds. 002 Expands burger to two patties. 00020A Double cheeseburger, preconfigured. Includes cheese, bun, and condiments. 001 Add-on bacon. 002 Delete second patty. 003 Replace second patty with extra cheese. 00021A Burger upgrade to double cheeseburger. 001 From single burger. 002 From double burger. 003 Return credit for bun. 00220A Burger bundle. Includes 00010A, 00210A, and 00310A. 001 Substitute root beer 00311A for cola 00310A. My eyes glazed over. I asked for a burger and a root beer. The waitress looked at me as if I were an alien. "How would you like to order that, sir?" "Quickly, if possible. Can't I just order a sandwich and a drink?" "No, sir. All our service here is menu-driven. Now what would you like?" I scanned the menu. "How big is the 00010 burger?" "The patty is rated at eight bites." "Well, how about the rest of it?" "I don't have the specs on that, sir, but I think it's a bit more." "Eight bites is too small. Give me the double burger upgrade." My sales rep interrupted. "No, you want the single burger option 002 'expands burger to two patties'. The double burger upgrade would give you two burgers." "But you could get return credit on the extra bun," the waitress chimed in, trying to be helpful, "although it isn't documented." I looked around to see if anybody was staring at me. A couple stood in line behind us and I recognized one of them -- the guy who nearly mowed me down in the parking lot with his cherry-red '62 Vette. He was talking to a woman who was waving her arms around and looking very excited. "What if... we marketed the bacon cheeseburger with the vegetable option and without the burger and cheese? It'd be a BLT!" The woman charged off in the direction of the telephone, running steeplechase over tables and chairs. My waitress tried to get my attention again. "Have you decided, sir?" "Yeah, give me the double burger -- excuse me, I mean the 00020A with option 001. I want everything on it." She put me down for the condiment expansion kit, that included mayonnaise, mustard, and pickles with an option to substitute relish. "Ketchup." I hated to ask. "I want ketchup on that, too." "That's not a condiment, sir, it's a tomato product." My sales rep butted in again. "That's not a supported configuration." "What now?" I kept my voice steady. "Too juicy. The bun can't handle it." "Look, forget the ketchup, just put some lettuce and tomatoes on it." The waitress backed away from the counter. "I'm sorry, sir, but that isn't supported either. The bun can take it, but the burger won't fit in the box." "Ah, but it will." The sales rep defended himself. "Just not at first release." "It is being beta-tested, sir." I checked the overhead screen. Fries, number 00210A, option 110, French, followed by option 120, English. I turned on the sales rep. "What the hell are English fries?" "Chips, they call them. We sell a lot of them." I gave up. "OK, OK, just give me a plain, vanilla, burger bundle." This confused the waitress profoundly. "Sir, vanilla as an option is configured only for series 00450 milkshakes." My sales rep chuckled. "No, ma'am, he just wants a standard 00220A, off the shelf." I wondered how long it had been on the shelf. I didn't ask. "Very good, sir." The waitress breathed a sigh of relief. "Your meal is now on order. Now how would you like it supported?" "Support?" She directed me to the green shaded area at the bottom of the menu, and I began a litany with my sales rep that I'll never forget. "Implementation assistance?" "You get a waiter." "Implementation analysis?" "You tell him how hungry you are, and he tells you what to eat." "Response Center support?" "He brings it to your table." "Extended materials?" "You get refills." I thrust some money at the waitress and told her to take it. She gave me my bill -- three sheets of green-bar paper. I studied it on the way to my table, and decided it'd pass as an emergency napkin. Table? My sales rep had been bright enough to order us a table. He hadn't been bright enough to check on a delivery date. The tablewaiter in the corner surveyed the crowded room, looked at me, and said "two weeks. But I can get you a standalone chair by the window right away." I handed him the tray. A woman rushed up to me with two cups of chili and sauerkraut for the hot dog someone else had ordered. The room began to grow dim, my eyesight faded... I woke up clutching the waterglass at my bedside table. It was 5 a.m., four hours till my meeting with HP. I had had a vision. I did what it told me to do. I dialed my office and called in sick. Stephen Harrison and Noel Magee (Taken from 'Users Forum' section of "Interact" magazine)