Packet Rat: The Rat gets all Googly-eyed

The Rat

The wired one suspects a conspiracy against him at Google.com. 'They're doing it on purpose!' he ranted to his spouse.

'I know they are.'

The whiskered one is up in arms, of course, about his GoogleRank. His columnist archive at the GCN site has a respectable rating of six out of 10, but his individual columns somehow rate a zero. This undervaluing of the Rat's cyber-currency sticks in his craw, and he's determined to do something about it.

GoogleRank is Google's measure of the relative importance of various Web sites. And with Google on the verge of an initial public stock offering, you'd think it would know better than to mess with the cyber-rodent. Considering how much its competitors want to make a dent in its share of the search market, they'd probably do just about anything to get an edge.

Take, for example, a certain ex-Microsoft Corp. employee's inspection of AltaVista source code. He had been employed by AltaVista at one time, and until very recently was working on a search engine for MSN. Of course, it was just innocent curiosity that led him to hack into AltaVista's network and browse its source code.

Considering how many Web searches go out from the Rat's agency every day, he considers himself something of a search-engine kingmaker. And for searches within the its own domain, his agency has its own search engine, running on a search appliance from ... Google.

It wasn't always that way, though. Once upon a time, one of the Rat's minions wrote a very passable search engine that plugged into the agency's content management systems and document metadata. There was only one problem: The wirebiter's underling documented the code on a removable disk protected by the Advanced Encryption Standard. But he forgot to document the AES key.

'You forgot the password,' the Rat said to his coder.

'Um, yes.'

'This was the only copy of the uncompiled source code.'

'Well, not the only uncompiled copy. But the only uncompiled copy of the current version, with the code documentation. So, yes.'

The Rat raised his paw to his brow.

'But the search engine works, right?' asked his now nervous apprentice. 'So, we should be cool. Right?'

'Oh, we're as cool as a cucumber,' the Rat replied. 'That is, until the inspector general asks for the audit of our architecture, and all I can show him is this Crayola sketch on a napkin to assure him of the security and supportability of a few hundred hours' worth of work.'

Hence the switch to Google's search appliance.

Google even added insult to injury. The now ex-acolyte's weblog has a higher GoogleRank than his former boss'; the clueless coder is an expert at search optimization. Now, all the Rat has to do to see his code documentation is to Google it.

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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