The Rat reflects on what really belongs in a 2000 time capsule

R. Fink

After finishing the last of his year 2000 tasks'preparing 10,000 BIOS upgrades for his reconditioned rMachines at $300 each in parts, labor, shipping and handling'the Rat finally found time to read about the New York Times time capsule to be opened in 3000.

To the cyberrodent's chagrin, no one consulted him about what to put inside. They forgot the Cobol manual! he fumed. I'm pretty sure that somebody's gonna need one of those to deal with the Y3K bug.

Convinced that, without his help, scholars and the media would give future generations a distorted view of life at the dawn of the 21st century, the wired one decided to build his own time capsule. He obtained a little help through a $4 billion drafting error, thanks to a typo planted on Page 2,439 of the fiscal 2000 budget when it was still a Microsoft Word file.

Funding in hand, the furry cyberhero set out to secure the present for the future. Here's an excerpt from what, in addition to the Cobol manual, made his list:

' A complete dump of the World Wide Web. It took a little doing, but the whiskered one borrowed some spare compute cycles from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory's interplanetary guidance systems. He's almost certain it had no effect on that Mars Polar Lander thing. Using government-surplus laser etching equipment, the Rat made a complete hard copy of the Web in 10 billion microfiche-size pages on a giant titanium disk. Of course, about 15 million of the pages say: '404'Page Not Found.'

' A complete copy of the fiscal 1999 Congressional Record. This should answer questions about how 535 people could work for a full year and get nothing of substance done. The Rat even highlighted in yellow the items from the President Clinton impeachment proceedings.

' Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional and Server Release Candidates 3, on CD-ROM. They will provide a vital reference for future Microsoft Corp. engineers attempting to isolate bugs in Win 3000 Release Candidate 54,756,437,657,471,233.

' Pepper gas, tear gas and rubber bullets. These are essential supplies should anyone need to negotiate another round of trade agreements.

' The Ken Starr Report'lest history forget how low we could sink. The Rat considered throwing in Monica's blue dress but didn't want to risk some future scientist unwittingly unleashing Bill Clinton on a new millennium, Jurassic Park-style.

' A laser disk episode of a World Wrestling Federation Smackdown. The whiskered one figures that watching this might explain to future generations the landslide victory of the Jesse Ventura-Vince McMahon ticket in the 2004 presidential campaign.

' A collection of Pokemon trading cards. By 3000, the Rat might let his kids have them back'if they behave.

' A printout of Linux source code. It's autographed by Linus Torvalds and enclosed in a glass penguin.

The Rat hasn't sealed his time capsule yet, so he's open to GCN readers' ideas about what should be preserved'or locked away'for the next 1,000 years.

Of course, sealing things away is only half the job. Someone has to be able to find the capsule in 1,000 years. So he's going to do the one thing that'll guarantee the longevity of the information. The whiskered one is going to tell Strom Thurmond where to find it.

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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