Friday, November 30, 2012

Hot Chips and Sand 46-50 First Draft Comparison

Hot Chips and Sand
Copyright © 2012 Mary Hughes
All rights reserved

He reached her and the blue of his eyes blazed. She squirmed in her chair. He smiled slightly and went on. “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. Time to nip this in the bud if she could. She cleared her throat. “Could you please explain how we at Fitzwater Software fit in?”
Cliff turned and faced her.nodded. “The computers that we build on the DALE chip, and the system we base on that chip needs need programming smart enough to bring out itsthe chip’s 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 armsfine hands out, encompassing to the group at the table. “I need a driving, creative force for this, not, people who aren’t afraid to take chances, make changes or strike out into completely uncharted territory.”
            Vickie reclaimed his attention. “Heads nodded, there were murmurs of agreement around the table, and even a few shining faces. Pretty soon and they’d be eating out of his hand. Vickie cleared her throat again. “But I thought the Hawkesclyffe Computer Company already employed the best machine and assembly language people in the world.”
“Don’t be stupid, Vickie.” Mel smiled snidely,.
Probably scenting a corporate kill. Rule Number One, never tell a client he doesn’t need you. “Don’t be stupid, Vickie.
Mel went on, “Of course Sir Humphrey employs the best. Which is why he wants us.”
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?”
“Ms. Johnston,” Cliff still spoke directly to her. “Mysaid. “While 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.was like a buzz saw. Under his breath he said, “You should stop causing trouble, little girlsweetheart. You’re way out of your league.”
Damn it, Cliff was not out of her league and she was not just causing trouble. But sheShe simply never said ‘yessir’“yessir” when something didn’t make sense. Out loud, she replied, “I’m sure he does, Mel, but said, “I still don’t understand. We’re to do the applications programs? Why can’t Hawkesclyffe Computer people do those, too?”
Mel answered before Cliff could even open his mouth. “jumped in gleefully. [MH1] “Because Sir Humphrey has chosen our company, 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 placeplaced his confidence.” in us.”  He smiled deprecatinglysickeningly at Cliff. “And weWe will do our very best to deserve that confidence, sir.”
            Vickie felt like gagging.Gag me with a thumb drive. Mel was such a corporate weenie. “But…”—”
“We will discuss this later, Ms. Johnston.” Cliff’s eyes were hard and agates.
Vickie was outrageddrew herself up in outrage. Next to her, Mel chuckled. She flashed him an angry glance but he only cockedshot her a triumphant smile at her. Wonderful. Mel and Cliff, buddies forever. Another strike against the truck. That burned worse.
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 back toward the software. “Since the people who will use this computer will be the best in their fields, the software itself must be the best. Because theThe end 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 most senior project leader, and the alpha‑level programming team.”
“Obviously.” His reply threw her off.
Had he suddenly be come agreeable?
            He had not. “And you, Victoria Lynn Johnston, will be in charge of the entire project, both my people and yours.”
            Oh, come on. Now he just wanted to get even, to insult her. Vickie knew he didn’t mean it. She hadstared at him. She’d heard the words but they made no sense. Her, in total charge? Sure, she’d managed projects in her time, but nothing close to the million dollar program this one must be.
            She He must be insulting her to get even with her interrupting. She answered in kind. “Oh, yeah? I’m doing all the work? And what will you be doing?”
            “I will“I’ll be in charge ofmanaging you. I think that’s work enough.”
“Yes, Mr. Hawkesclyffe.” Fitzwater, with his usual over‑ donea flourish, brought out thepages of contract.
            “Yes, indeed, Mr. Hawkesclyffe.  “Exactly the personnel you ordered—er, ah—requested. Two project leaders, three designers, five senior programmers, ten application programmers, and one top level management—ah, that’s you, Vickie,” he finished, smiling.” He smiled a little weakly at her, which she acidly attributed to the doubled salary.  he was shelling out.
            SuddenlyAnd then it sunksank in. Flabbergasted, Vickie; her knees folded and she sat abruptly. She stared open mouthed at Cliff. He really meant it. But it made no sense.

            She fumed silently through the rest of the meeting. Several commentsAround her people were made concerning the staffing, but it seemed to Vickie that notalking and shaking hands. No one saw the total illogic of what heCliff was doing.
            AfterAs the meeting broke up, she tried talking to her boss Phil about it. “You do realize this means you’ll be working for me, instead of the other way around.”
            “Sure,”“Yep,” Phil said Phil calmly. “HeHawkesclyffe wants it that way. And he has, and he’s been right too many times for me to complain. Look at the wayhow the HCC200 chip brought down the market for PCs. I don’t think you’ll findmade tablets a dual-core machine anywhere any more after that little powerhouse came in at doublegrocery store item. Double the speed and half the price of anything out there.”
Vickie grimaced. Obviously she was not going to get any help from this quarter. She as Phil turned to speak with a developer. Could he not see how weird this was?
“Congratulations, Vickie.” Her friend Tess. “Well, at least  stopped on the way out. “It’s about time you got a good assignment.”
“I don’t know how ‘good’ it is. I’ll be responsible for twenty of our working together is going to be normal. Analyst and designer, soup and sandwich, horse and carriage…”people and an unknown number of Hawkesclyffe’s. Please tell me that at least you’ll be there.”
            “Cut it out Vickie. You’ll“Yes. But you’ll be working with Mr. Magnificent over there, not poor little me.” She looked lingeringly atHer eyes lingered on Cliff, who was arguing over several pages of contract with a slightly green Fitzwater.
            “Not youher, too. Look, can you stop “Stop drooling just one second and see this objectively? He is not  please? He controlled every aspect of that meeting with either honey or a big stick. And look at him haggle with Fitzwater. I don’t think Hawkesclyffe is the easiest man to work with[MH3] .”
“No, he looks pretty hard to me.” Tess’s eyebrows rose suggestively.
            “Arrgh. Stop that.” SheVickie said it both to Tess and her rapidly rising pulse. “I mean it. ThisTess, this doesn’t make any sense. What do I have that makes me the person to be in charge of this project?sense. I’ve never managed a team of more than six people. The biggest budget I’ve had to work with is $100,000.
            “a hundred K. You can’t tell me that this the same, just bigger. I’ve worked with too many systems where the complexity varies exponentiallyComplexity explodes with the size. A small system, a small problem. A middle size, a midsize system, a largebig problem. A large, a big system, fecking impossible. Forget it. I can’t do this. And, and I’m going to tell Mr. Know‑it‑all over there, just see if I don’t!” She stomped her way to Cliff’s side.
Tess looked mildly at Phil. “Well, she’s talked herself into her own mediocrity again.”
            “Ummm.” She shot Tess a glare. Mouthed I can hear you.
Tess just gave her a big grin and a thumbs up.
Phil methodically began gathering up Vickie’s papers from the conference table.smiled. “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?”
Can. Hear. You. Even the hairy eyeball didn’t have an effect. Friends were such a pain.
“If anyone can. I saw them talking together.” He.”  Phil chuckled. “If anyone can.”
Vickie, in the meantime, stood fuming while  turned pointedly back to where Cliff and Jerry hashedwere still hashing out the detailsminutia of the contract. It seemed to her Cliff was deliberately ignoring her. His, 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 smellingscenting corporate blood, came up.
            “C?” George whispered.
            “It’s a programming language, third generation,” Tess whispered back.
            “Of course,” replied“Ms. Johnston.” Cliff calmly, transferring his attention to her. “My people will write the compiler. ANSI standard, naturally.”
            “ANSI?” George moved nearer Tess. “American National Standards Institute,” she answered quietly.
            Vickie tilted her jaw up. “And you expect us to write a DB, too? I expect you’ll want SQL to access that.”
            “Data base,” Tess explained. “And it’s ‘sequel’—stands for Structured Query Language. It allows the average user to query—that’s ask questions—of a data base.”
            “Oh yes. I expect the computer systems arising from this chip will support LANs and WANs all around the globe.” Cliff shifted his weight,spoke mildly but his tone was still eminently reasonable. “We must, after all, have fluent portability.”
            “Local area networks and wide area networks,” Tess translated. “You see, when you tie a bunch of computers together, the connections are different depending on the distance…”
            Cliff’s voice cut through Tess’ explanation. “…expect to keep up with all peripheral enhancements, to keep our ROM, RAM and WORM OST devices with the highest I/O rate, the most BPI and BPS, the most GB per hard drive, the fastest CPU in the industry…”
            Tess’ eyes were gleaming. “Oh, now he’s into the guts of the computer. Read only memory, random access memory and write once read many are types of data storage. OST is optical scan ning technology. I/O is input/output, and refers to data coming in and going out. CPU is the central processing unit, of course, the brains of the box. BPI and BPS are about bits and GB is gigabyte, a little confusing since they’re both abbreviated ‘B’. Anyway, BPI is bits per…” in a way that unnerved her. “I said we would discuss this later. We will discuss this later.”
            Vickie’s voice rose with consternation. “…GIGO! If we’re going to be working on‑site at your offices, what kind of tools will we have? We have our own CAD and CASE packages here, written in‑house, and I think you’d better have some dam…darn good substitutes for us to do our best job…”
            “Garbage in, garbage out. She’s wondering if their computer aided design and computer assisted software engineering systems are as good as the ones we use now. Personally, I don’t blame her. I save a lot of time and frustration by having good tools.”
            “…no problem whatsoever. We have HCC200s on every desk in our MIS and engineering departments, all networked, running our proprietary CAD and CASE systems which are,” he raised his eyebrow slightly, “easily as good as yours. Further, we are industry leaders in our E‑mail package, which we use in‑house. And I wrote the project planner myself.”
            Vickie stood, fists balled, in front of the arrogant bastard. Who did he think he was to waltz in here and totally disrupt her company’s hierarchy, work flow and even physical facility? How dare he? Who did he think he was—a client?
            Jerry Fitzwater cleared his throat just then. Vickie threw him a disgusted look and stormed out before her anger could get the better of her. “SOPA,” she muttered as she left.
            George raised a questioning eyebrow at Tess. She shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s not computer lingo as far as I know.”
            “I can guess,” said Phil, mildly. “Stupid overbearing pompous ass.”
            Tess nodded. “Yep. Both of them[MH4] .In spite of those searing blue eyes she opened her mouth to argue.
“Not now, Vickie,” Jerry said. Since he was the one who signed her paychecks, her mouth slowly closed. Stupid clients.

 [MH1]Here's an example where a well-chosen verb equals a bunch of blah words.

 [MH2]I dialed this down. She has a temper but she's not an ass.

 [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.

 [MH4]I really really REEELY liked this. But all the techie terms were an indulgence on my part. So it got cut.

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