R. Fink | A techman's holiday

Michael Bechetti

There's nothing like the extra family togetherness of the holidays to renew one's motivation. And so it was with much vigor that the Rat fled his burrow to work Jan. 2.

After all, as for many parents, his holiday vacation had become much like work ' constant calls for tech support.

At least at work, sometimes things get better for a while. Most users, it seems, are even happy with the Navy Marine Corps Intranet these days, to the point where it might no longer be called 'No More Computer Information.' And the final edition of the Windows XP service pack made it run even faster, in addition to fixing some nasty bugs. With fewer things to complain about, the Rat was beginning to wonder whether he might soon have to lose his patented support-desk snarl.

Fortunately ' or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it ' the cyberrodent's mad tech skills will never be short of demand at home. The holidays were like one long trouble-ticket queue lying in wait for him.

Mother Rat wanted a few hours of his time to update the photos on her Web site and install more RAM in her PowerBook. His oldest ratling's iPod died just before the trip to Grandma's, so the Rat struggled to revive it to avoid a major dose of teenage angst on the long trip. Solution: an iPod Touch for a certain 16-year-old's stocking.

'Once again, my kids are more wired than I am,' the Rat groused as his son watched his own YouTube videos while wandering around the house. 'And perhaps more narcissistic, too.'

Mrs. Rat needed help downloading digital photos and uploading them to her new blog. His daughter needed Wi-Fi configured for her Nintendo DS. And then there was the systems management task of setting up his younger son's new Vista laptop PC ' with the appropriate level of parental controls.

When all the wrapping paper was torn asunder, the Rat was left with his wife to clear the debris field while grandparents and children retired to their own warm, Wi-Fi-enabled, screen-lit corners, save for a run to the cookie tray or a cry for help with configuring something.

After a week of serving as Santa's digital elf, the wirebiter was whiny and weary. 'Next year, Christmas is going to be Amish-style,' he groused to his wife as they checked into a hotel on the way home.

Turning back to the desk clerk, he asked, 'What's the password for the
Wi-Fi network again?'

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