Storage drives become voracious wolves in sheep garb to poor Rat

He who lives by the sword dies by the sword, as the Rat's curriculum vitae has
confirmed with great frequency.


Of course, it might help if the sword-makers did a better job.


Take the cyberrodent's latest data fiasco. Take it, please, the Rat begs.


With an eye out for ways to leverage technology, the wired one had pushed long and hard
for his agency to standardize on one flavor or another of commercially available
removable-media cartridges and drives.


After testing a bunch, he told his agency's buyers that he would be amenable to any
brand as long as it had 1G or larger capacity--and a lifetime warranty on the cartridges.


There are obvious advantages to having a standard drive cartridge around, as anyone
who's ever used a Bernoulli box knows. You can lock up your data in a safe or move it
around from place to place without worrying about CD recorders or bandwidth-sucking File
Transfer Protocol downloads. Some removable-media drives can even work as system boot
drives.


Considering the far-flung locations of the Rat's field offices and the meager bandwidth
between them, the cyberrodent happily embraced cartridge drives for support purposes, too.


Instead of trying to transmit the latest database schema or automated administrative
scripts over a 14.4-Kbps line to Tulsa, Okla., he could simply express-mail a reusable
cartridge for local users to stick into their drives.


On a recent sysadmin scouting foray, the Rat was delighted to find the drives handy in
the field offices. He collected surveys at the sites, recorded local network traffic and
ran performance benchmarks. The data fit neatly on one handy portable cartridge.


The Rat congratulated himself on his prescience. That is, until he got back to the
office. When he inserted the golden data cartridge into his drive, it beeped like a
garbage truck in reverse and spat the cartridge out.


"Uh-oh," the cyberrodent muttered, reinserting the cartridge ever so
carefully. "Bee-beep, ptui," responded the drive.


The Rat refused to panic. He checked the back of the cartridge case, called the
vendor's number and heard a friendly recorded voice instructing him to try the company's
troubleshooting Web site.


The furry one sighed and did so.


"Insert the cartridge," the Web site instructed.


"Bee-beep, ptui," the drive said again.


"Did the drive go bee-beep, ptui?" the Web site queried. "Click yes or
no."


The Rat clicked.


"Your cartridge is defective," the Web site replied. "Send it back to us
for prompt replacement."


Now the Rat knew it was time to panic.


He called the support number again and hacked his way through voice-mail jail until he
reached a live person.


Needless to say, the cyberrodent is now waiting anxiously to learn whether the vendor's
data-recovery specialists can resurrect any of his precious files before he starts feeding
peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches into every one of those standardized cartridge drives.


In the meantime, he's rewriting his report on remote site administration--from memory.


"That is, unless my synapses crash," the Rat blubbered.


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


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