Our hero discovers a surefire antidote for help desk abuse

The calm before the storm of summer trade shows has given the Rat a chance to catch up
on actual network work. Or perhaps it's just that the noise from the tech support desk
finally grew loud enough to penetrate his concrete cubicle and spur him to action.

Putting aside work on his Nietzsche Web page, the Rat rose to quiet the techs'
murmuring. Chief among their gripes was a rash of stupid user tricks, er, technical
support problems.

The Rat's philosophy of tech support is simple: Whatever doesn't crash the network
makes you stronger. Unfortunately, that libertarian view isn't widely shared. Ever since
the General Services Administration rejected the Furry One's recommendation that all
products sold on schedule should be user-proofed, he's had to try to make his users

This time, however, the problem turned out to be a subculture of hard-core tech support
abusers. After fielding several calls in one day asking how to format a floppy disk, the
Cyberrodent knew the problem ran deeper than poorly configured PCs.

The truth came out when the Rat installed a new help desk automation system and forced
his minions to log each call they received. After just three days, it was obvious that
support overhead could be reduced greatly by eliminating calls from a mere fraction of the

Shooting them was out of the question, so the Rat resigned himself to pulling in the
abusers for re-education.

The Rat always has been a strong believer in training. But the Office of Personnel
Management frowns on the use of Skinner boxes for government employees, so the Rat had to
modify his methods. With a training budget downsized to less than North Dakota's tourism
revenue, he needed a solution that was bold, decisive and cheap.

After observing the effect of video on his ratlings, the Rat feels a healthy respect
for the power of that plug-in drug. So when he ran across a video that promised to develop
a "self-reliant technology attitude," it seemed like the cheese at the end of
the maze.

The video, Technology Does the Strangest Things, from Cohen/Gebler Associates
Inc., touted an animated segment starring the characters from Scott Adams' Dilbert comic
strip. The Rat eagerly screened the video, hoping he'd finally put his paws on a tool that
could break the will of his renegade band of technophobes.

The five-minute Dilbert segment, a mere tease at the beginning of the video, was
noteworthy mostly for the startling absence of Ratbert.

The remainder of the video consisted of a self-proclaimed comedy troupe struggling to
add substance to the remarks of an alleged technology training guru. Most of the remarks
were directed not at users but at technology managers--castigating them for poor planning
of technology deployments.

This in itself incensed the Rat: What government procurement was ever poorly planned?

So the Rat gave up on the video and has formulated a new plan to deal with help desk
abuse. After identifying the truly techno-pathetic, he will redirect all incoming calls
from them to the voicemail of their department managers. The savings in support costs
alone should more than pay for the Rat's upcoming sensitivity training course.

"Now, back to the best of Friedrich," the Rat sighed happily, as he scurried
to the comfort of his wire conduit.

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

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