PACKET RAT

Rat's emergency plan rises to the occasion as the server room sinks

Rat Fink

There's a reason why agencies make disaster plans, as the Rat recently was reminded. His plan got a full workout when Hurricane Floyd plowed up the East Coast.

It turned out that two vital pieces of equipment had been left off the emergency supply list: hip boots and a snorkel.

The Rat had started tracking the storm the week before, advising his agency branch offices in Florida and the Carolinas about emergency measures. But when the storm turned at Wilmington, N.C., he realized it was time to take his own measures.

The Rat, a creature of the coastal lowlands, knows what to do when the water gets high. The ground on which his agency headquarters sits was classified as a wetland, so he knew things were about to get soggy.

The undersecretary looked askance at the pile of sandbags the Rat stacked around the server room. 'What is this, Beirut?' sneered the political appointee.




Meanwhile, Mrs. Rat was busy relocating the operations of rMachines Inc. to the high ground. She and the ratlings loaded the family land yacht with all the PCs it could hold and headed for the family's summer bunker in the Catoctin Mountains.

With schools closed because of the storm, the last thing she wanted was to be stuck bailing out the burrow.

Back at the server room, the Rat made a command decision. He had his minions round up the last 200 or so Zenith Z-248s left over from the last batch of upgrades. Then he fetched a caulking gun, filled the old Desktop II machines with sand and caulked them together to the subfloor of the server room, forming a digital dike.

As Floyd howled in and the rains began, the Rat relaxed. The power had hardly even blinked.

Poof. The lights went out, and the backup power supplies kicked in. Good thing, too, because the backup tapes were still whirring.

The Rat smelled water coming. 'We should have built the dike higher,' he muttered. 'Where are those buckets?'

Meanwhile, the Rat's underlings arrived, vaulting the PC seawall two by two and lugging in PCs from the ground floor.

'The rain's backed up the storm drain,' reported one. 'I think I saw my Volkswagen floating away.'

By nightfall, the server room had become the fallback position for almost everyone left. Around 8 p.m., the undersecretary arrived by inflatable boat.

'So maybe the sandbags were a good idea,' he conceded.

'Perhaps,' replied the Rat, plugging a leak in the dike that had sprung through a floppy drive door. 'Got a spare finger?'

'Last backup's done!' cried an acolyte.

That was all the Rat was waiting to hear. He ordered his henchpeople into the boat with the backup tapes and a spare server. 'What about me?' cried the undersecretary, whose fingers by now were wedged in several leaking serial ports.

'Only nonessential personnel can leave, sir,' replied the furry one. 'You stay right there and act like a serial device.'

Then the flood crested, and water began lapping over the tops of the computer cases.''What do I do now?' shouted the wild-eyed political appointee.

'How long can you hold your breath?' inquired the Rat.

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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