1. The range of one's perceptions, thoughts, or actions.
2. Breadth or opportunity to function.
3. The area covered by a given activity or subject.
4. The length or sweep of a mooring cable.
5. Informal. A viewing instrument such as a periscope, microscope, or telescope.
I don't believe it has anything (in this instance) to do with hardware.
This is incontestably brilliant, specially the timing and dynamics between PHB's statement in 2nd panel and Dilbert's concern and answer in the 3rd. Kinda like an "encrypted joke" from Scott. Decode it, have lots of fun.
In all of the discussion about how many people know what a "scope" is or what it means to calibrate one, nobody thought to ask how many people are likely to get the reference to "Cerebus the Aardvark."
itegem, maybe you could provide a link to your syndicated comic strip that I am sure is full of common-man hilarity. Whether you are familiar with a "scope" is irrelevant to the strip. Dilbert strips are funniest when you can see your own experiences within them. Scott uses an example of a management absurdity and it is up to your imagination to do the rest. Perhaps Marmaduke would be better-suited for your level of perception.
I thought this strip was really funny because I have been in this situation several times myself. Upper management had me sending equipment to be certified by some jack-leg to save a few dollars and it caused nothing but trouble for us, especially when we had a regulatory inspection by the Feds.