As you likely read in this blog post from a couple months back, I have been agonizing over the mysterious robotic voice being spoken by my work computer, randomly announcing a sentence that sounds like “Ervoke 99 is now available.” As I also mentioned before, I spent a lot of time searching the web looking for like-sounding phrases, computer programs, anything I could think of. OVER NINE WHOLE MONTHS. From June 30 to April 13 this went on.

And then on Friday I figured it out. And it was right in front of me the whole fricking time.

Ervoke 99 is this man.

Jeff Herboek, or Ervoke 99

Meet Jeff Herboek, co-worker at CGI in Austin, Texas. He and I work together very closely nearly every day on new product releases. If we are not speaking in person, we are chatting to each other via iChat. Jeff’s username on iChat is Herboek99, 99 being the year he was married. And Herboek, though pronounced like Twins legend Kent Hrbek, sounds a lot like “Ervoke” with Jeff’s unique family spelling when read through a computer in a robotic voice.

After the 900th time of hearing “Ervoke 99 is now available” on Friday, I noticed that next-desk-over co-worker Eddie’s Apple Magic Mouse slid a little closer to my computer than normal. Could it be that his mouse had some sort of name, and when it got within range of my computer it would announce to me that it was available? I clicked on the Bluetooth icon on the top right of my screen and checked… nope, Eddie’s mouse had no special name.

But right next to that icon was the iChat icon. For some reason, it had never occurred to me before that someone’s iChat username could be the culprit until this very second. And there it was, at the top of the list: Herboek99. “OHHHH!!!! I know what Ervoke 99 is!!!” I yelled to the officemates.

But there were still some questions that needed answering, like why was Jeff the only person whose name was spoken by my computer when he logged on to chat program? Who knows why I had the checkbox for “speak an announcement” checked in the settings for him. And how did I possibly never put this all together after Day One?

We had to tell Jeff everything, and it all made more and more sense to everyone. Jeff was the only person in the office to never hear this announcement and had no idea what we were talking about, because–of course–he was always sitting down to his computer, logging on when the alert went off! I had actually documented for several weeks all the times I heard this announcement, which made the reveal to Jeff extra embarrassing, now that we knew I was actually documenting all the times he was either getting in in the morning, or coming back from break.

Everyone in the office had a good laugh as I retold the story over and over that day, and then I changed the settings to no longer speak Jeff’s chat availability once and for all. I can now put to rest the thought that it was somehow Randy or Eddie pranking me. As nice as it is to have this saga over, I can’t help but be a little sad as this little mystery provided us with much entertainment over the last year.

Ladies and gentlemen, Ervoke 99 is no longer available.