PACKET RAT

Back at the ranch, Rat suffers telecommuting trauma

As the president of the United States was announcing a new Office of the 21st Century Workplace at the Labor Department to promote telecommuting, the Rat was running batteries of Section 508 compliance tests neglected by his acolytes.

'While the Rat's away, the weasels will play,' the cyberrodent seethed as he checked yet another application's advertised compatibility with text-to-speech software.

The presidential telecommuting initiative hit a nerve with the Rat, who'd had considerable trouble trying to run things remotely toward the end of his recent parental leave.

Anyone who has ever telecommuted knows its pluses and minuses. On the plus side: You spend more time with your family, and you're buffered from office politics. On the minus side: You spend more time with your family, and you're buffered from office politics.

The whiskered one vividly remembered one conversation he had while trying to reach out and work from home. It started when he couldn't get access to his virtual private network.

'Oh, that server's down,' replied a colleague at the office when the Rat called. 'We had to take it down for maintenance.'

'Why didn't you guys tell me? I need to get in to execute some admin scripts I just finished coding, and I've been planning this for weeks!' the wired one groused.

'We sent out an e-mail right after we brought that server down,' the tech drone replied.

'And how exactly was I supposed to get the e-mail if you'd closed off my VPN?' the enraged rodent queried.

'Well, we told everyone in the data center we were taking the server down. They didn't tell you?' the drone droned.

'I'm not at the data center, am I?' the wirebiter bellowed. 'I'm trying to come in over the VPN. I'm telecommuting.'

'Well, how were we supposed to tell you if you weren't here?' the tech asked.

'Follow the curly wire from the thing you're holding to your ear,' the Rat instructed. 'It connects to a box with a pad of numbered buttons on its face. Did you know that if you lift that thing you're holding, listen for a tone and then press a sequence of buttons, you can talk to real living beings at long distances? It's called a telephone. You can call me on it.'

'Er ' ' groveled the wirepuller's apprentice, trying to identify a desk in the data center to crawl under.

'Is this a little too bleeding-edge for you, son?' the Rat roared. 'Maybe next time, I'll try communicating with you by scrawling messages on rocks and hurling them from a slingshot. One ' letter ' at ' a ' time.'

In the face of such resistance to even 19th century technology, the Rat decided it would be fun watching Dubya try to run the country as a telecommuter.

'Imagine him sitting at his ranch in Texas, trying to log on and catch up with what was going on back at the office,' the packet-cracker mused.

'I'll bet he's out of the loop in no time. He'll get no press. Foreign leaders and Congress will forget about him. Heck, Cheney will probably have to run everything. On second thought, maybe the president is already telecommuting.'

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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