Rat plays mole with Socks, uncovers some news for Defense

The Rat is still shaking off net-lag. Disguising himself as one of Socks' cat toys last
week, he took advantage of Hillary's book tour to get a free ride to the West Coast, where
he tunneled with impunity into the nets of Microsoft and Borland.

The first packet the Rat turned up had some good news for the Defense Department.
Microsoft will release the Defense Message System pieces for its Exchange e-mail server at
the same time the rest of the product ships, by the end of March.

Of course, that "good news" is relative. After all, the Rat muses, Bill Gates
threw his big coming-out party for Exchange almost two years ago, and all that the
Microserfs have to show for it so far is a second "final" set of code. At least
they're ahead of the Federal Aviation Administration's modernization plan.

Still, this is better news than Lotus Development can give, based on the vagaries
surrounding the Notes DMS offering at Lotusphere (an event spelled with an
"f-e-a-r" in Redmond). Most of Exchange's X.500 guts already are there, while
Lotus is waiting for partners to get it together for the Notes 4.0 server.

Of course, Lotus has a few more platforms to write code for than Microsoft--like actual
Posix-compliant ones. The lingering odor from the Coast Guard Windows NT-is-Posix
manure-slinging festival still lingers in the Rat's sinuses.

Meanwhile, the Borlandians were trumpeting their alleged arising from the ashes with an
announcement of their strategy for database and Internet tools. With all the references to
Java, Latte and such, the Rat was starting to get a caffeine buzz.

Borland's Interbase database server, which recently got a boost from some big Army buys
including J-STARS, is being primed for yet another life, this time as a Java-enabled
client/server system. Borland will port the Interbase API to Java, so browser apps can
directly access data on a remote Interbase server.

Borland also stole a little bit of Sun Microsystems' thunder by pre-announcing their
Java Database Connectivity standard (JDBC).

Just as Java seems to be building up a head of steam, Microsoft seems to be preparing
to release the valve on Netscape's. Microsoft is giving away its Internet Information
Server, a WWW server for NT, free over the Internet. Because the IIS has most of the
features of Netscape's Commerce Server, which sells for considerably more than nothing on
the NT platform, there should be more than a few frowning emoticons at the home of

And there'll be plenty more frowning on the Web over the new telecommunications act.
The decency and anti-abortion riders on the telecom reform bill are driving Web-heads to
protest by turning their Web pages black. The Rat is planning to protest in his own way,
perhaps by posting some compromising pictures of Sen. Exon he found in one of the Usenet
alt newsgroups.

Come to think of it, because the Library of Congress posts information on legislative
debate on Thomas, the decency language in the telecom bill may turn all of Congress into

The Rat wipes Socks' spittle off his tail and tunnels off to watch the ensuing drama.
Even the Web, it seems, isn't safe for democracy--or from it.

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

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