Title text: 'So we just have a steady flow of metal piling up in our server room? Isn't that a problem?' 'Yeah, you should bring that up at our next bismuth meeting.'
The first panel starts out as a typical welcoming of the new employee to a small indie business. The process of showing a new employee around the business and starting to get them introduced to people and systems and procedures is often referred to as "onboarding" – hence the title of this comic. Very quickly, however, his explanation jumps to an existential viewpoint. Very rarely do conversations or introductions involve discussing the eventual fate of our bodies, and certainly not in a professional light as in this comic. Beret, however, has no problem with discussing death and decay as just part of his business. This seemingly contradicts the title text in Meeting, where it is claimed that employees of the company can not physically die. Alternatively, this is a literal statement, perhaps related to the cursed Wi-Fi mentioned later in the comic.
In the second panel, Beret shows Ponytail the free bikeshare system this business apparently has in place. Bikesharing is a system in which many users share one or more bikes amongst themselves. Typically the bikes belong to some of the members of the group who are allowing them to be used by other members who may not have one, but Beret calmly remarks that this system will only exist "until whoever owns those bikes finds out", implying that they were not donated or shared by any member of the group, but are being used without permission or the knowledge of the true owner of the bikes.
In the third panel, Beret explains the Laserjet and the printer. This is a bit disconcerting, since the HP LaserJet is in fact a common brand of laser printer, suggesting that Beret's Laserjet may be some rather more exotic device, such as a laser-propelled jet aircraft. In any case, however, the printer is not available, as it's been printing an infinite-scroll web page since 2013.
An infinite-scrolling web page is a web page that, as the name implies, seems to have no end. This style of webpage typically has no definite pages or sections, but instead continues to feed data to the screen as the user scrolls. In reality, trying to print one of these would only print the current section the user was viewing, and even if it was somehow able to infinitely print, the operator could theoretically cancel the operation at any time. Either this continuous printing serves some useful purpose, e.g. prints latest news, or Beret doesn't know how to stop it/does not care. Mistaken print jobs are sometimes notoriously difficult to stop due to many levels of buffering (application, printer driver, OS spooler, print server, printer device) and lapses in job control software.
Infinite scrolling (in the sense of an annoying UI design style for browsing large but finite documents) was previously covered in 1309: Infinite Scrolling. A similar separation of the phrase "laserjet printer" has been explored in 1681: Laser Products.
In the next (lower left) panel, Beret makes a few more remarks. He claims that the restrooms are "all-digital -- no pipes." While many technology standards nowadays are entirely digital, one's restroom is one of the things that most definitely should not be. A restroom without pipes would have no way to transfer bodily waste, and would most certainly be at the very least an unpleasant encounter. The Wi-Fi is "very fast, but cursed." Fast Wi-Fi is certainly desirable, but in this case, Beret claims it is also cursed. Whether the curse is a side-effect of the fast Wi-Fi or totally unrelated is left unsaid, as well as what the curse is. This could possibly be a joke relating to some of the quirks of Wi-Fi. While all technology can behave inexplicably from time to time, Wi-Fi is notorious for randomly losing connection, which might be seen as a curse. Knowing Beret, though, it's probably literal.
He then explains that the server room is carbon-neutral. Normally, this would mean that it is designed to be environmentally friendly by reducing and offsetting its carbon emissions enough that it has no net effect on the environment. The term is a little bit confusing because the meaning is of course carbon-dioxide-neutral. But while carbon is not a common material used in servers, bismuth is used as lead replacement in solder. While this replacement is often used because of the toxicity of lead, in this case it refers to an IBM mainframe computer where the Bi58Sn42 alloy is used because of its low temperature soldering characteristics. So producing bismuth would destroy all the electric connections in the server. An alternative explanation is a compact nuclear reactor in the server room which can both make server room carbon-neutral and leak bismuth.
In the last two panels, Beret explains that Ponytail will be working on the infrastructure, which is apparently maintained by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Lin-Manuel Miranda, among other things, is a songwriter, but certainly not an engineer or anyone qualified to be responsible for an entire infrastructure. Ponytail clearly knows this and is surprised by this fact. (This echoes 1665: City Talk Pages, which includes a train station designed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, a composer best known for writing The Phantom of the Opera.
It is worth noting that Beret actually acknowledges the mistake here, claiming the mistake "cost a fortune." This is unusual for Beret, as he has of yet failed to acknowledge or recognize the oddity of every other aspect of his mysterious business, many of which are certainly stranger than this. However, he doesn't seem to mind this at all and, instead of fixing the mistake (i.e. hiring a real network engineer to supplement or replace Lin-Manuel), he quickly explains the bright side of having Lin-Manuel Miranda in his business, which is apparently that Lin-Manuel is nice and makes karaoke nights fun, referencing his songwriting ability.
The title text mentions the potential dangers of having your server room constantly produce bismuth, but only as a prelude to a bismuth/business pun. Because of the earlier carbon reference, it could also be a parallel to the difficulty in convincing businesses to become more energy efficient and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, even though climate change is accelerating and these things are becoming urgent to the survival of life as we know it.
- [Beret Guy shakes hands with Ponytail in front of a building.]
- Beret: Hi! Welcome to the team! We do business here and we'll turn into dirt later.
- [Beret Guy and Ponytail walk by a set of bikes.]
- Beret Guy: This is our main campus. We have a free bikeshare system, at least until whoever owns those bikes finds out.
- Beret Guy: The LaserJet is over there, and the printer is over there. You can't use it right now; it's been printing an infinite-scroll webpage since 2013.
- Beret Guy: Restrooms are all-digital -- no pipes. The WiFi is very fast, but cursed. Our server room is carbon-neutral but produces bismuth constantly.
- Beret Guy: You'll be working on our infrastructure, which is currently maintained by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
- Ponytail: ...the songwriter? Is he also an engineer?
- Beret Guy: Nope, huge misunderstanding on our part. Cost a fortune. But he's really nice and it makes karaoke nights fun.
- Lin-Manuel Miranda (off-screen): How far I'll gooo
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