Vendors, line up to endorse the Rat's Olympic Games

The Rat has been looking forward to the wave of Olympic media coverage as a good excuse
to catch up on some burrow cleaning. The only thing Olympic about the Cyberrodent is that
he occasionally gets mistaken for the Atlanta games' computer-generated mascot, Izzy.

Of course, when the Rat hears "torch" and "Atlanta" mentioned in
the same breath, he thinks back to his days serving under Gen. Sherman.

But the Wired One isn't totally immune to the Olympic spirit, considering all the
official Olympic technology product announcements he's heard lately.

In fact, the Rat was a bit miffed that his bid to act as official network help desk of
the Olympics was turned down--and after having all those mouse pads printed. But it soon
became apparent that the International Olympic Committee needed his help elsewhere.

The problem with the Olympics, the Rat observed, is their irrelevance to the modern
world. The Greek athletic events in the original Olympics were practical tests of the
survival skills of their day: speed, strength and agility.

Even in its modern version, the decathlon looks archaic, and the Rat hasn't had to
throw a javelin since the time his cubicle was invaded by a hapless contractor. The
so-called modern pentathlon is just a conspiracy to get lucrative air-pistol endorsement

So, in an attempt to bring to the field the skills of the present-day warrior--the
technology professional--the Rat has devised an event for the next century of Olympic
competition: the Post-modern Pentathlon.

ompetitors will test their mettle in a series of five grueling technology events. The
first, the 100-node LANalyzer Freestyle, is a timed event in which each pentathlete
attempts to locate and repair or replace a jabbering network adapter on a real-world LAN.
This includes the hazardous activity of crawling through the below-desk debris of a
typical office worker.

The second pentathlon event is Web Diving. Competitors are given an assignment to find
information on the World Wide Web. Points are awarded for style, speed and accuracy of the
search; points are deducted for time spent following links to sites that violate the
spirit of the Communications Decency Act. Competitors who lose their free will while being
sucked deeper and deeper into the Web will be disqualified and put into Web detox

In the third event, the Remote Access Marathon, competitors race through a randomly
selected airport carrying a laptop bag in search of a pay phone with a modem jack.

They must connect their notebooks successfully to a remote network after figuring out
the remote-access software, system configurations and passwords required to gain access.
Documentation is provided by a slightly technically literate co-worker who took notes
during a training class but fell asleep.

The fourth and most intense event of the Post-modern Pentathlon is the Head-to-Head
Help Desk VolleyCall. Two competitors answer a trouble call from a hapless user and,
through trickery, deceit and technobabble, pass the user off to each other for help. The
first competitor who actually gives helpful technical information is disqualified and
forced to fix the problem.

The final spectacular event is the Open Systems Cross-platform Project Budget
Justification Gymnastics. While standing on a conference room chair, the pentathlete must
compose a cost-justification report on a personal digital assistant, send it by wireless
e-mail to the judges, and defend it against politically motivated cuts.

Extra points are awarded for using Ada, avoiding Office of Management and Budget
audits, and making a clean dismount.

As the Rat awaits the International Olympic Committee's response to his proposal, he's
putting together a dream team of his own. He just hopes Jolt and Yuban don't show up in
Olympic drug tests.

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


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