Hot Chips and Sand
Copyright © 2012 Mary Hughes
All rights reserved
“You are all familiar with digital technology, where the smallest piece of information can be, like a light switch, either on or off
; yes or no. You are also familiar
with analog technology, where there is a smooth range of values, like a light
dimmer , perhaps, or a volume
control. The HCC300 Digital‑Analog Logic Encoding chip combines both of these
technologies in a single chip; it thus has the capabilities of both, and also
the added capabilities of the combination of the two.”
This was all hardware, and Vickie’s company was a software consulting house. She cleared her throat. “Could you please explain how we at Fitzwater Software fit in?”
and faced her. “The DALE chip , and the system we base on that chip needs
programming smart enough to bring out its capabilities. I’m here to select an innovative software
team to design and implement the code which will make this chip run rings around
the competition.” He spread his arms out to the group at the
table. “I need a driving, creative force for this, not afraid to take chances, make changes or strike out into
completely uncharted territory.”
Mel smiled snidely
scenting a corporate kill. Rule Number One, never tell a client he doesn’t need you.
“Don’t be stupid,
Of course Sir Humphrey employs the best.”
Vickie felt herself growing hot between the intensity of Cliff’s scrutiny and the sly grin on Mel’s face.
“Then why does he need us?”
still spoke directly to her. “My own people will handle the interface between the brain
and the heart of the machine . I want you
to write the interface between the machine and the brain and heart of the
people who will use it.”
“Just relax, Vickie. Sir Humphrey has everything under control.” Mel’s voice always grated on Vickie, but today it
sounded particularly whiney. Under his breath he said, “You should stop
causing trouble, little girl.”
Damn it, she was not just causing trouble.
never said ‘yessir’ when
something didn’t make sense. Out loud, she replied, “I’m sure he
does, Mel, but I still don’t understand. We’re
to do the applications programs? Why can’t Hawkesclyffe Computer people do
before Cliff could even open his mouth. “[MH1] Vickie , why
don’t you leave well enough alone? The rest
of us are honored that Sir Humphrey has chosen our
company in which to place his
confidence .” He smiled deprecatingly
at Cliff. “ And we will do
our very best to deserve that confidence.”
“We will discuss this later, Ms. Johnston.” Cliff’s eyes were
hard and cold.
outraged. Next to
her, Mel chuckled. She flashed him an angry glance but he
only cocked a triumphant smile at
her. Wonderful. Mel and Cliff, buddies forever. Another strike against the
Cliff took tight rein on the meeting and completely overrode any further comments
Vickie had. He discussed the advantages of the new chip for
another quarter hour or so, then pivoted the topic toward
software. “Since the people who will use this computer will be the
best in their fields, the software itself must be the best. Because the
user is the end reason for our existence.”
He paused for emphasis. Vickie saw the opportunity and went for it. Did he think she could be shut up like a child? “Well, Sir Humphrey, if you want the best, you will obviously be going with Tess, our top designer, and Phil, our
project leader, and the alpha ‑level programming team.”
“Obviously.” His reply threw her off.
Had he suddenly be come agreeable?
his usual over‑ done
flourish, brought out the contract.
. Obviously she was not going to get any help from
this quarter. She turned to
. “Well, at least
together is going to be normal. Analyst and designer, soup and sandwich, horse
“No, he looks pretty hard to me.”
Tess looked mildly at Phil. “Well, she’s talked herself into her own mediocrity again.”
began gathering up Vickie’s papers from the conference table.
“I don’t think Sir Humphrey’s going to let her get away with it, though.”
“You think he can get it through her thick skull that she can’t ignore her own talents?”
“If anyone can
. I saw them talking together.” He chuckled. “If anyone can.”
the meantime, stood fuming while Cliff
and Jerry hashed
out the details of
the contract. It seemed to her Cliff was deliberately ignoring her . His
attention was completely on Fitzwater, speaking
reasonably but firmly, as if to a recalcitrant child.
“I’m sorry, Jerry, but I really must have two Q.A. people for this project.”
George Woo, out of Customer Service, wandered over just then. “Q.A.?” he asked Vickie.
“Quality Assurance,” she snapped back.
George, who was unaccustomed to anything but cheerful politeness from Vickie stepped back
, to where Tess and Phil were
just coming up, shadowed by Mel, who was smelling
“That’s a good point, though,” said Vickie, seeing her
to get Cliff’s attention. “ We should
have at least two Q.A. and three C experts. You are using C-sharp, aren’t
[MH3]He's a romance hero and an alpha male, of course he's not easy going. But it still needs to be sketched in with an example or two, not just implied.