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I work for a small consulting company I'll call "FactorE." We specialize in designing computer control systems to monitor and regulate factory operations. Last year we signed a new client, a European metallurgical consortium that was building twin factories -- one in Toulouse, in the south of France, and one in the desert outside Las Vegas. Along with a French colleague, "Jean-Luc," I was assigned to implement all needed computer systems.
It was a dream assignment. Jean-Luc and I had worked together several times; we were friends as well as colleagues. Between us we had years of experience in a variety of computer systems used in manufacturing, …