This time it's the Apple's turn to take a bite out of the Rat

When the Rat is asked his opinion about the future of Apple Computer Inc., he harks
back to his recently mandated sensitivity training.

He tries to deliver a gentle assessment, noting, for instance, the company's somewhat
improved financial position. But after an experience he's just had with an Apple product,
the Whiskered One secretly would rejoice if the Cupertino, Calif., company was swallowed
by a convenient earthquake.

From a network administrator's perspective, the Mac is a crab apple. When it goes bad,
it goes all the way--not just a little bruised, but downright rotten.

The Rat is convinced that Apple made its computers easy to use by making them smarter
than most of their users. And the computers know it.

The Cyberrodent had the recent misfortune of dealing with a PowerBook Duo with a
docking station. The Duo had been serving as a remote user's desktop, and now the user was
moving back into the Rat's domain.

The experience took a good year off the Rat's personal lifecycle. As soon as he
recovers, he plans to chuck the Duo into the next available MacDumpster.

Fortunately, there was a silver lining to all this: one less user to support over Apple
Remote Access, the remote networking protocol that makes Microsoft Windows 95's
Point-to-Point Protocol look as good as a personal asynchronous transfer mode connection.

The downside, of course, was that the Rat had to get the Duo and its docking station
onto the LAN. And that meant putting an Ethernet card into the dock. It didn't seem like a
major task, at least in theory. Pop off the plastic lid by pressing the tabs on the
inside, unscrew two spring-loaded screws to access the card slots, disembowel the dock,
add the card and put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

A piece of cheese, thought the Rat, until he discovered that someone at Apple had
tightened down the screws with a power-torque screwdriver. None of his twidget
screwdrivers gave him enough leverage, and the heads of all his real screwdrivers were too
wide to fit into the access holes.

However, the Duo is made out of soft plastic, and the Rat was able to gnaw the access
holes a little wider. He eventually managed to free the innards of the dock, flip them
over and insert the Ethernet card.

Having done this with only a few violations of the Communications Decency Act, he
re-assembled the dock and powered it up. The Duo, sensing an opportunity to foil yet
another carbon-based, tech -support entity, decided that one of its operating system
extensions would go bad.

This left the Rat cursing and sputtering as he went through the seemingly thousands of
useless software extensions on the Duo to find the one that was making the computer
catatonic. No luck . He unloaded everything but the network extensions with the hope of
re-installing the operating system from an Apple server.

That was when he discovered it was the network extensions that were hanging.

The Rat stalked back to his command bunker to retrieve the latest set of MacOS
diskettes. Returning to do battle, he started to reinstall the entire MacOS, but the Duo,
scenting possible defeat, crashed its hard drive and flashed the dreaded
disk-with-question-mark icon on its screen.

Sealing its fate, the Duo also put its floppy drive out of commission, so no would-be
startup disk could aid an attempt to recover its data. The Whiskered One bowed his head in
an act of submission .

It was a relief when the Rat's pager went off, signaling a server crash. After dealing
with Macs, he sighed, there's nothing so soothing as a fried server motherboard and
corrupted NetWare volumes.

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

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