Blindly trusting detection tools

Imagine I have a house cleaner that comes in once a week to clean the house. After a while I start to notice that my house smells "fishy", but my house cleaner has just the ticket -- the all-new FishBeGone (TM) cleaner & fragrance that gets rid of fishy smells for up to seven days at a stretch! Sign me up, this fish smell is unbearable!

After a while I hear a rumour that FishBeGone is actually paying house cleaners to store rotten fish in their customer's houses, thus driving demand for the cleaner and ensuring high profits. I also hear that the most common place that the rotten fish is stored is under the central heating unit, thus providing ideal environmental conditions for dispersing the delicious, summery smell of hot rotting fish throughout the house.

Aghast that such a thing could happen, I quickly run out and buy a FishBeGoneBeGone product that consists of a video camera and fish-smell detection unit. I install it in my laundry (where the central heating unit is) and sure enough, on the next visit from my cleaner I notice that he adds some more rotting fish to the ever-growing pile. I confront him with the evidence, fire him, and get the laundry completely cleaned up. So far, so good!

Now, I still need a house cleaner so I decide to contract one from a completely different agency -- one that has no known affiliation with FishBeGone whatsoever. And just to be sure, I keep the FishBeGoneBeGone system up and running for a few weeks but it never detects my new cleaner putting dead fish in my laundry.


But after a few weeks, I start to detect that oh-so-sweet smell of rotting fish carcasses, and sure enough my new cleaner recommends that I purchase FishBeGone to get rid of the smell. Worried that maybe this new agency wasn't so up-front as I first thought, I fire up the trusty FishBeGoneBeGone system for a few weeks and check the records, but they're all totally clean.

Maybe I just have a "fishy smell" problem in my house after all?

Or maybe the new cleaning lady was just putting the rotting fish under my bed instead.

Comments (6)

  1. Dean Harding says:

    > I quickly run out and buy a FishBeGoneBeGone product

    Hehe, that trace-buster-buster-buster scene from The Big Hit was classic 🙂

  2. Sean says:

    I heard a nasty rumor that the FishBeGoneBeGone people are actually under contract with the original FishBeGone people!

    From what the friend of a friend said, there is actually a secret compartment contained on the FishBeGoneBeGone video camera which serves as a repository for rotting fish.

    What happens is that when a housecleaner who is being paid is fired due to the evidence provided by the FishBeGoneBeGone product, he/she is given a small reembursement in exchange of supplying your information to the FishBeGone people who then enters that you have a FishBeGoneBeGone into a master database.

    When you go to rehire a new housecleaner, the new person is given instructions from FishBeGone HQ (Presumedly the FishBeGone people have a near-complete control on the housekeeper market) to not store fish in your central heating unit, but rather to find the FishBeGoneBeGone device (using a FishBeGoneBeGone Locator) and to use the secret compartment located on the device to store quantities of fish in various stages of decay.

    Contained within the FishBeGoneBeGone Secret Compartment ™ there is a heating element and fan which blows rotten fish smell towards the item that the camera is pointed at (usually the central heating unit) Giving similar, but slightly less efficient, results as the original FishBeGone ploy.

    Further, the friend of my friend’s cousin, who’s undoubtedly been affected by this tragic scheme, markets a FishBeGoneBeGoneBeGone product which consists of a video camera to monitor the FishBeGoneBeGone camera and reports if your housekeeper is indeed using the FishBeGoneBeGone Secret Compartment to fishify your house.

    Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll give my friend friend’s cousin a ring and hook you up with one.

  3. dleblanc says:

    I think that since the housekeeper has physical access that you’re stuck. So you can:

    1) Supervise the housekeeper (increasing costs)

    2) Keep your fish detector (FishSniffer) under controlled access and change the housekeeper’s contract such that if any hidden fish are found, you get to not pay them, they pay for fish removal and remediation, and they pay for your high-priced legal team.

    3) Subject the housekeeper to Ghastly Torture upon finding fish (evil Overlord method).

  4. jeffdav says:

    Well, when you finally find a fish-free cleaner, let me know who it is and I’ll hire them.

  5. says:

    Hey there little Microsoft-weenie

    I thought you might want to know that while you’re blathering on about security using dubious analogy as though (hah!) you were a member of the cognoscenti who have earned the privilege, the beta preview (beta preview? wtf?) version of IE7 I downloaded from isn’t digitally signed (it doesn’t even have a certificate).

  6. dhwz says:

    Mr., I personally liked the post. If you post anti-Microsoft posts, you will force everyone here to suffer through slow comment moderation to stop trolling. Why?

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