PACKET RAT

The wired one taps into some heavy mettle

The Rat went west this month with the rest of the Java pilgrims to the mecca known as JavaOne.
Although the streets of San Francisco were less jammed than at last year's bash'thanks to the high mortality rate of dot-coms and the economy's bite on travel budgets'the festivities were just as fierce.

The whiskered one has sometimes been accused of applying a reality distortion field to his accounts of such events. No such field distorts the following report, proving that truth can be stranger than gonzo technology.

By working his connections, the Rat snagged an invite to the most heavily anticipated event at JavaOne. No, it was not the Java Community Process meeting. It was a party thrown by Iona Technologies of Waltham, Mass., featuring a performance by none other than the fictional band wrought real: Spinal Tap.

The players happened to be in town for a concert at the Warfield Theatre, and Iona urged them to take on a side gig for hundreds of Java coders.

The Rat made his entrance at Masonic Hall just as Derek Smalls (played by Harry Shearer), David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean) and Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest) were finishing an acoustic set. Irony hung in the air like the odor of burning hemp at Woodstock.

'Enough of the wood, it's time for the metal,' St. Hubbins said, and they strapped on their axes for a performance of something very loud.

Behind the bar at the back of the room, scantily clad ladies performed pole dances while the Java coders knocked back free liquor and had their hearing permanently damaged.

'Can you say 'contributing to a hostile workplace'?' the Rat yelled over the din to a female attendee, who managed to look offended and amused at the same time.

Meanwhile, a burlesque show was going on upstairs. And in the basement, snake dancers and contortionists performed. When the coders grew bored, they blew off steam at a row of computers, playing shoot-'em-ups and vaguely disturbing carnival sideshow games.

Temps dressed as Alice in Wonderland characters wandered about the floors.

'So this is what surreal looks like,' muttered the wirebiter to the Mad Hatter.

Up on stage, Iona chief exec Barry Morris was joining the band with his own axe to play 'The Majesty of Rock.' Iona workers and Javaheads cheered as he smoked through a guitar solo on a Gibson Flying V.

A chaotic coder approached the Rat. 'You with a dot-com? I'm from L.A. Can I have your card?'
The furry code warrior handed him a cocktail napkin, whereupon the lost Los Angeleno grinned wide, turned and walked back into the crowd.

As the line of would-be Spinal Tap groupies gathered by the stage door, the Rat decided it was time to go.

'Real groupies for a fake band,' he muttered as he boarded the shuttle bus back to the conference hotel. 'Any more irony tonight and I'll need to have my synapses flushed.'

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

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