Rat warns warfighters about war-chalking

According to the media, Pentagon CIO John P. 'Lose the Devices' Stenbit has had enough of wireless devices that interrupt meetings, set off eavesdropping alarms and conceivably could be used to triangulate the whereabouts of key personnel.

Stenbit's primary target apparently is the Research In Motion Ltd. BlackBerry e-mail pager, known by many as the CrackBerry because of its addictive nature.

'Mark my words, the Pentagon is going to be like Tombstone, Ariz.: Check your holster at the door,' the Rat told his wife as he left for work.

'But I don't see how Stenbit thinks the BlackBerry could be used for eavesdropping,' Mrs. Rat said. 'How could anybody type fast enough under the conference table to send out anything without their thumbs falling off?'

Keyboard speed notwithstanding, loose wireless networks have spawned a new subculture of wireless hoboes, who scrawl chalk symbols on buildings to point the way to bandwidth-rich Wi-Fi access points.

The Rat's own offspring have taken to war-chalking with such enthusiasm that they can hopscotch their way to school along their marked route without ever dropping their handheld chat sessions with classmates.


An old Navy shipmate of the cyberrodent's recently called for reassurance after the Stenbit rant - and not by cell phone. 'You know how it is over here,' he said over a secure voice over IP connection. 'I need a Global Positioning System receiver to find my way to the head, let alone the wiring closets.'

'Try chalk. It works for my kids,' the Rat suggested.

Restriction of cell phones might cause friction at the Pentagon, but the Rat suspects the BlackBerry's banishment will raise the most ruckus. 'They're going to have to put all those aides and staff officers on a 12-step program,' he told his old shipmate.

'True enough. Next thing you know, they'll start making us use sound-powered phones for calls inside the D-ring.'

Ah, sound-powered phones, the bane of communications technicians in the days before ships were wired for sound.

Just the thought of them made the Rat nostalgic.

Meanwhile, the wirebiter resolved to use the Pentagon ban as leverage to get his own counter-wireless policy past the suits at his agency. They agreed to enforce Wi-Fi use policies, but for some reason they haven't responded to his request for SWAT uniforms, radio direction finders and rubber mallets for disabling unapproved devices.

'A little agitprop theater goes a long way toward ensuring compliance,' he explained in a call to his department head.

'I'll respond later,' replied the boss. 'I'm busy on my BlackBerry.'

The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets in cyberspace. E-mail him at rat@postnewsweektech.com.

About the Author

The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets in cyberspace.

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