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FileMaker is a registered trademark of FileMaker, Inc. in the U.S. and other countries.


November 2002

Adventures of Bat Magnum, FileMaker Consultant
by Brian Dunning

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[For actual FileMaker Consulting, click here.]

Bat Magnum slammed the carabiner onto the chopper's rail and leaped out into the nothingness. The wind hit him like a freight train, hammering him back and he dangled like a rag doll in a hurricane, battering in the jetwash. He pulled his feet in to avoid the blur of the tail rotor. Instantly the chopper shuddered as his concussion grenade detonated inside with a ribsnapping thump.

He caught the rail and pulled himself back in. Greer and Macklin lay shattered on the deck, blood streaming from their ears. The chopper began to rock queasily as the dead pilot tumbled from his seat. Bat Magnum transferred his carabiner onto Greer's case, grabbed it by the handle, and leapt out the door as the chopper began its final sickening roll toward the Peruvian crags.

Bat Magnum heard the familiar beep in his earpiece as his Iridium asked him who he'd like to call. "Sidekick," he shouted, and drew a fresh magazine from his pack, sliding it into his MP5K as the rushing wind rattled his jacket harder and harder.

Four thousand miles away, his laptop computer received a voice-over-IP call and sent the standard greeting. Nuance recognized Bat's voice and launched a FileMaker Pro document. As soon as the application was open, a startup script ran and imported the VoiceXML from Nuance with a custom XSLT style sheet. FileMaker composed a single text command, exported it as VoiceXML back to Nuance, then went into a pause waiting for Bat's reply.

Bat called off the numbers stenciled on the case as he slid out the MP5K's collapsible stock and shouldered it. He drew a bead on the approaching Robinson R22s, ripping off a burst and blooming the fuel tank of the lead chopper. The others veered away as debris tumbled from the blossoming orange cloud.

FileMaker Pro was unable to find the case listed in its diplomatic database. Bat Magnum took a moment to glance downward, noting his altitude at no more than 5000 feet. And falling fast.

He spun in the mad hurricane and his MP5K rang again, clipping off a rotor from another R22. As the chopper began vibrating itself apart, the pilot fired off a ballistic chute and saved himself. Bat cursed.

Still falling. An error trapping loop in the FileMaker Pro script tried an XML web service to contact the central database in Macau, which fortunately had the case listed and returned a lock combination. FileMaker imported this, composed a reply, and sent a VoiceXML stream to Nuance. Bat received the spoken combination.

Seconds later he had the case open, pulled out the parachute packed inside, slipped one leg into a loop and pulled the ripcord. It rattled harshly as it opened and then jerked every nerve in his body when it snapped full just as he struck the ground, the case and his MP5K scattering.

Crew from the landed R22s approached from every angle. Bat was too tired, too flustered, and too shocked from the landing to resist. The world spun as they manhandled him, grew darker as he felt himself roughly shoved, and then went black and peaceful.

Before he could rest, Bat Magnum shocked awake as cold water splashed his face, up his nose and into his ears, all over his shirt. His left leg was in agony. He was in a cold room with blue light. By instinct, he immediately knew that his trusty Glock 19 was no longer secreted at his calf.

Four men came slowly into focus, standing patiently. One, apparently a doctor, leaned in and checked his pupil response with a small flashlight. Bat noted an array of syringes on a small metal table. Two of the others were just apes, Eastern Europeans with assault rifles, bad suits, and too much aftershave. The fourth Bat couldn't finger. He seemed too young to be the one in charge. But he was too tired to work it out.

The young man was talking in a language that sounded familiar. In his hands he held out Bat's headset and phone. He gestured something, and continued prattling on. The doctor took out a pad, leaned over the metal table and wrote something. As the young man slowly repeated what sounded like a string of numbers, the doctor showed his writing to Bat. He'd scrawled

CZK 10,000,000

Ten million Czech crowns. That was what, like three hundred grand? Bat almost laughed, the amount seemed so trivial, but it hurt his throat and he tasted dry blood. Instead he gestured for the pen. The doctor handed it to him and Bat scratched out the 10 and wrote in a 12.

The young man's face grew dark as the doctor showed him the new figure. He spouted a stream of something Bat didn't catch, but was interrupted by his cell phone ringing. The young man answered it, listened, and hung up. He nodded tersely to Bat Magnum and handed him his headset and Iridium.

"Sidekick," said Bat coarsely. He waited for Nuance to pick up and then commanded "Service agreement. Three hundred and seventy five thousand dollars." The doctor was writing again, showed it to Bat, and Bat read off the fax number into his headset. He hung up. Moments later, the white lights came on in the room and a fifth man entered. His English was faultless. In his hands he held Bat Magnum's freshly faxed, and signed, service agreement.

"Mr. Magnum," he said as he unlocked Bat's restraints. "Thank you. I look forward to working with you. Valery will go over the specs with you."

Bat Magnum pulled himself unsteadily to his feet. The new man smiled and handed him back his Glock. Bat holstered it and shook hands. "We're going to build you one hell of a contact manager, Pinocek."

Pinocek led him out the door, talking as they walked. "I hope so. Perhaps you can also take a look at our FileMaker Server while you're here. We've had some questions about performance."

The doctor and the two gunmen followed, turning off the lights and closing the door behind them.

Thanks to Rich Coulombre of The Support Group for his technical contribution to this article.

Browse Mode
Jan 10 Solving Performance Emergencies with FileMaker Server
Aug 06 Top Ten Sessions Cut from the 2006 FileMaker Developer Conference
Jul 06 Who's Driving This Thing, Anyway? Or, How Marketing and Engineering Buried the Hatchet (Warning: Contains a Curse Word)
Nov 05 Shingle Grandiloquence
Oct 05 In Celebration of Geek Magnetism
Aug 05 A Rogues' Gallery of Devcon Attendees
Mar 05 Lies, Damned Lies, and Project Specifications
Feb 05 Pick the Right Tool for the Job
Oct 04 Home Media Server Requirements
Jul 04 Leveraging Your FileMaker Lingo
Apr 04 Technical Support Redux
Mar 04 Enforce Seats in FileMaker 7/8/9 Commercial Solutions
Feb 04 Reinventing the Wheel
Oct 03 WAP: The Technology That Wasn't
Aug 03 Brian Dunning's California Governor Election Platform
Jul 03 Sex and the Single Software Developer
May 03 XSLT: Creeping Out of the Closet?
Feb 03 A Consultant's Guide to Traveling
Nov 02 Adventures of Bat Magnum, FileMaker Consultant
Sep 02 FileMaker at Area 51
Aug 02 FileMaker Terminology
Feb 02 Computer Shunts
Dec 01 Aquabase Alpha & the Consultant's Challenge
Aug 01 It IS the Size That Counts
Jun 01 On the Trail of Sasquatch
May 01 Spring Cleaning
Feb 01 FileMaker Mobile Survivor Challenge
Jan 01 Letter from Nürburg
Dec 00 Performance Anxiety
Nov 00 Objection, Your Honor
Oct 00 Leveraging Convergence: Jargon for the 21st Century
Sep 00 Top Ten Things to Do at Devcon
Aug 00 Aesop's FileMaker Fables
Jul 00 Ten Commandments of FileMaker Pro
Jun 00 Explats Cross Examined
May 00 iMac, Therefore iServe
Mar 00 Valley of the Dollars
Jan 00 Are You Up for a Review?
Nov 99 Tales from the Script
Sep 99 Tech Support Revisited
Jul 99 Moderns vs. Classicals
Mar 99 Nashoba, We Hardly Knew Ye