Knock Knock.It was nearly impossible to find an available and fully-functioning PC in the large campus labs at West Thomson-Friedman University. It's not like the student lab administrators were lazy. Oh no, in fact the clueless-users-who-were-far-too-dangerous-for-their-own-good and the malicious-users-who-were-far-too-bored-for-their-own-good made the student admins really earn their minimum wage.

This dog's breakfast was tough to swallow for any serious users of the labs, and even more so for the poor CompSci students who just wanted to test their programming assignment before it was due. So in response to their students' pleas, the powers-that-be set up special labs in the CompSci building. These machines were configured with more RAM, more hard drive space, and bigger monitors than their utilitarian counterparts in the large labs. Since the computers had special software installed just for the CompSci students, getting access to the labs was controlled by a key card. If a CompSci student needed a card, all he needed to do was go down to the dungeon basement in the main admin buildings and pay a $10 deposit to get a card.

The card system worked very well, but it was powerless against the sneak-in. Sensing that non-CompSci students (or those who refused to pony up $10) would gain access to the room, the CompSci administrators responded by doing what they did best: they enacted some strictly enforced, over-the-top guidelines.

Enter Murray M., a CompSci student and a frequent user of the CompSci department's mini-lab. He was well aware of the restrictions on gaining access, as he once witnessed the consequences for another student who snuck in a few buddies. The CompSci student had propped open the lab door with a folding chair which, in turn, caused an "ajar for too long" message to be sent straight to the System Admins’ on-call beeper. The punishment was swift and harsh — three-day suspension from logging into any campus computers — but Murray figured Hey, do the crime and you do the time!

After putting in good thirty-six hours over the weekend to catch up on his Rational Rose midterm project, Murray was ready to hit the CompSci labs on Monday morning to get his project done. That is, until he went to log-in to the system and received the "Your account has been suspended, please see the system administrator" message. And that meant one thing: he was going to have to butt heads with Eric.

The System Curmudgeon

Many system administrators are stubborn out of nature. But it's not like they're rude people. After all, keeping things up and running (while trying to maintain sanity) is very serious business. However, Eric the CompSci department's system administrator was unique among system admins. While he exhibited the hallmark stubbornness, he also had a tendency of being a total douchebag toward any of the students - a fact that Murray sorely knew and dreaded now that he needed Eric's assistance.

"Um, hey there, Eric," Murray asked as he popped his head in Eric's office, "I just tried logging in and got a message saying that my account, you see—"

"Yes", Eric snapped before Murray could finish, "you propped a door open on the weekend which earned your suspension."

"No I didn't," Murray responded, "why would you think that?"

"We have pictures," replied Eric with narrowed eyes.

Murray was shocked. He had been in the labs all weekend working with other classmates on their project, all of which could corroborate that he didn’t let anybody in and that he certainly didn't prop open the door. Eric was not impressed.

"I'm telling you," Murray said, getting frusterated, "I need to finish my assignment and I did not prop open the door. Can you just show me the pictures you have?"

"NO!" Eric shouted as he stood up from this desk and turned towards the door, "No, no, no! You propped the door, you lost your access. That's that. Now, good day!"

As Eric tried to slam the door Murray’s response was to jam his foot in to block it. Eric responded with a shove and then came bursting out of his office into the hall within inches of Murray’s face. Locking in on Eric’s eyes, Murray was bracing for a fight... but fortunately no blows where traded.

Moments later, Murray stormed down the hall and, as any sleep-deprived hot-head would do, told Eric exactly what he thought of him. Eric's response wasn't much nicer, but ended with "you will never get your lab access back, now."

Taking it to the Dean

Still shaking at the prospect of a fist fight with the system administrator, Murray made his way to the CompSci dean’s office and relayed his side of the story. With a calming, Ben Stien-esque voice, the dean assured Murray that he'd look into the situation. And that he did: within the hour, Murray, Eric, and the dean were sitting in Eric's office, talking about the suspension.

"I don't care what he says," Eric smarmily told the dean, "the video doesn't lie and we don't make exceptions. What are we even here for?"

The dean agreed that there were no exceptions, but wanted to have the three of them review the video.

"Fine," Eric gruffed. He navigated to folder and loaded up "See? March 21st at 14:15... there's the 'suspect' entering the lab. Now he's propping open the door. Oh, and what's that? Our 'suspect' sat down and is logging in to Station 7. Hmmm... now guess what time Murray logged in to Station 7?"

"What?!" Murray objected, "that doesn't even look like me! Is this even the right file!?"

"Uhh," Eric furled his lip, "yeah. See M-A-R? That's March. Twenty-one? That's March 21st. Fourteen and fifteen? The time. Easy!"

The dean shrugged and Murray was truly baffled. Did he somehow create his own Tyler Durden personality who went around propping lab doors open? But then he noticed something strange.

"Hey Eric," he said, clearing his throat, "what's with the MAR-00 files? And how come there's no FEB-28 files? I'm pretty sure there's not a March 0th. And I know it's not a leap year, but there should be a Febuary Twenty—"

"What?" Eric was stunned. As he scrolled through the large directory of video files, his face turned whiter and whiter. "Okay... umm... yeah. So, let me, uh... I'll get back to you both on this."

The meeting wrapped up shortly after that and, within fifteen minutes, Murray's lab suspension was reversed. As were all other students' suspensions. Though there was never any official explanation given, Murray already knew the reason: since the video files were named with a zero-indexed day of month, Eric was always looking at the previous day's workstation log-ins to determine the guilty party on the video.

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