Adopting China's ideals could cure office ills, but workers would see red

"My networks would really buzz," he mused as Jiang explained once again how
the Chinese had emancipated the Tibetans and raised their standard of living.

Utopia revisited

The Rat drifted off into megalomaniacal fantasies. Why, if it weren't for all the
clutter in the Constitution, he could even use Bureau of Prisons labor for his help desk.

The Rat has a lot of trouble keeping help desk hirelings out of the clutches of
high-tech recruiters. Something called money always seems to get in the way. It's almost
impossible to keep 'em down on the LAN after they've seen the flashing link lights and
online stock tickers of the Internet service providers.

Unfortunately, contracting out network support isn't in the Rat's budget. And the
Bureau of Prisons has notified him that using convicts to handle trouble calls from his
agency's users is, well, cruel and unusual punishment.

Besides, the convicts need extra training. But in China, all the best minds are in
prison, and he could make them work longer hours than a Nike sneaker stitcher.

Not only could he staff the help desk with prisoners, he could staff the whole agency.
In fact, if the Rat could play under the Chinese rules, he'd probably never have to answer
another trouble call.

Playing Doom would become a capital offense, as would failure to read the documentation
provided with software. Error messages would place the blame squarely on the user, not the
software--just what Microsoft Corp. does now, snickered the Rat.

Users would never complain about application performance, lest they risk repeating
Richard Gere's "Red Corner" performance in real life. And a death penalty for
computer fraud sure would make enforcement of agency computer policies easier.

Of course, there could be problems. Getting new hardware would be tough, especially
since so much of it is manufactured in that "renegade province" the Chinese are
always talking about.

The Rat suspects that if we had the same setup here in the States, the renegade
provinces would be California and Texas.

Of course, the Rat wouldn't necessarily need the latest and greatest technology under
such circumstances.

Deadpan delivery

If he could play by Jiang's rules, he could make pronouncements like this with a
straight face: "The replacement of all Microsoft Windows 95 installations with MS-DOS
3.2 has emancipated our agency's users from the tyrannical grip of the graphical user
interface and has restored the freedom of the command line."

As for Internet security, the only firewalls the Rat would need would be the reinforced
concrete walls around the agency's fax machines.

"Yep, Jiang sure has it easy," the whiskered one sighed. But then he snapped
back to reality, realizing that in China he'd probably be in prison himself, churning out
knockoffs of Japanese electronic pets.

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

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