Packet Rat: The Rat rounds up IT's axis of evil

Michael J. Bechetti

The Rat is plotting a change of regime'and not merely in a certain Middle Eastern country that a certain president's father took to the woodshed more than a decade ago.

Nope, the Rat's candidates for forced leadership turnover are more local than the guy George H.W. Bush kept calling 'Sodom.'

With Congress back in town to push through the fiscal 2003 budget, despots of all sorts are giving him tics in his whiskers.

It might have something to do with his current deployment to the Tom Ridge Posse, whose mission is to lasso the information systems of all the entities that will make up the proposed Homeland Security Department. The roundup so far has succeeded in one thing'working the Rat into a lather about the folks who sold the agencies those systems in the first place.

'It's like they meant to make it impossible to connect to anything else,' he whined to his spouse after another late night beating his head against the wall. While the nation's lawmakers get ready to box up their new piece of cabinetry, the Rat has come up with an out-of-the-box solution to plug together the incompatible command and control systems of the Coast Guard, Secret Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency and others.

The executive summary of the cyberrodent's proposal didn't go over too well: 'First, put all current systems in one location, preferably a condemned building on the artillery range at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. Second, blow that structure up. Third, start over with a clean slate.'

With that approach nixed, the Rat believes the only answer is to go after the vendors, smoke them out of their caves and give them a choice of either sharing a cell block with John Walker Lindh or fixing the mess at their own expense. There are some vendors, however, that don't deserve even the second option. It is those that the Rat has targeted for regime change, even if they offer to let weapons inspectors look over their books.

'They should be keelhauled under a herd of camels,' the Rat ranted. 'The telecom companies come first. You'd think something like phones would be pretty standard, being more than 120 years old and all, but noooh.'

Running a close second are the software robber barons. 'It's time to stop dillydallying about court settlements and put them out of my misery,' the rascally rodent roared after yet another blue screen of death interrupted his wrestling match with Microsoft Visio.

It looks as if some hardware vendors agree with the Rat. Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sony Electronics Inc. dumped Microsoft Office in favor of Corel's WordPerfect Suite for consumer PCs, and Dell Computer Corp. is shipping WordPerfect on its SmartStep PCs. And the Rat's own pilot with OpenOffice freeware is gaining steam.

Other purge positions on the Rat's list are penciled in, and he's willing to ink them in once a consensus has been reached. So he wants to know: Who's on your IT axis of evil roster? Drop him a line, and start the regime change rolling.

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

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