Today, everything comes down to the same thing: Are you ready for 2000?

The Rat continued to ply the summer trade show circuit, taking a
fast train to Beantown for Database/Client-Server World, Focus on Windows NT, the
Knowledge Management Conference and other assorted sideshows.


He soon began wondering if it wasn’t time for vendors to drop the term
“client-server” entirely.


Good thing the cyberrodent had other business in the Boston area, because his strong
moral fiber would have prevented him from trying to justify the jaunt just for the
conferences.


Most of the companies on the show floor were locals, except for the government of
Barbados, which was there to pitch the country as the ideal location for growing high-tech
companies. The cyberrodent, sensing a double-dipping opportunity for his retirement
years, picked up brochures about joining the Barbados civil service.


There were plenty of other people to talk with—almost every one of them a former
Digital Equipment Corp. employee. The recent assimilation of Digital by Compaq Computer
Corp. has kept the venture capitalists busy. A flood of former Digerati are working to
launch high-tech companies.


These folks can at least say they’ve learned two things from their Digital tenure:
how not to run a company and how not to market technology.


Digital employees aren’t the only ones being displaced in Massachusetts these
days. There’s a giant public works project under way to replace Boston’s
elevated major arteries with tunnels. The Transportation Department and others are pouring
$10 billion into the hole.


The flood of cash is starting to displace the original residents of Boston’s
substratum: the rats.


All this made a prime recruiting opportunity for the Rat. His staff has been pillaged
by recruiters that give signing bonuses and salaries at twice his acolytes’ GS pay.


When college kids are getting $40,000 to start, it’s tough to keep seasoned
techies down on the federal farm.


So the furry one made a late-night excursion to Beacon Hill to converse with former
Massachusetts Institute of Technology wire-crawlers and other circuit-savvy rodents about
the possibility of government service.


Unfortunately, most of them turned out to have job offers from network switch makers.
But the Rat wasn’t sure he could have gotten them through the civil service test
anyway.


Back at the trade show, the Rat listened in on debates about the future of the Common
Object Request Broker Architecture and other multivendor standards.


It appeared that only the vendors really cared about any of the standards.


Most attendees were too worried about the year 2000 crisis to spare a thought for their
future systems architectures. The Rat could find only one person among all the folks
he talked with who would even admit to having a new application in development. Everyone
else seemed to be stuck in maintenance mode.


Returning to his agency, the Rat had his own date code problems to deal with. The top
brass were finally starting to panic over Microsoft Windows NT and Windows 95—neither
of which, they discovered, is year 2000-ready.


“You’re just now realizing this?” the cyberrodent asked his department
head. “Haven’t you read any of my e-mails for the past year?” Of
course, the fix that his department head is hot to implement is to migrate all Win95 and
Windows 3.x users to Windows 98, which Microsoft says is ready. The Rat has heard rumors
to the contrary, but he’s still working on getting conclusive test information.


“Not to mention,” said the furry one to his fearless leader, “that none
of the Windows applications we’ve invested in is Y2K-OK, either.” That made
the corner office crowd start spinning through the acoustic tiles. The Rat loves it when
he can bring joy into others’ lives.  


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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