PACKET RAT

From message to massage, it's all in the cards

The Rat decided to catch up on some of his outstanding administrivia. He had a few vendor inquiries to make to help him assemble a plan for his new storage area network, and the World Wide Wait was just not delivering the level of detail that he needed.

So the wirebiter reached back deep in his cubicle and pulled out the Mk I Mod 0 Analog Contact Information Storage Device to reference some human sources of data from the hundreds of contacts he had made in the vendor community.

At a glance, the Rat realized he had a bigger project on his hands than he had anticipated. With more than 700 companies having gone to the great beyond over the last year, the whiskered one intuited that there may have been some impact on the relevance of some of the several hundred business cards he had stapled in his Rolodex.

Using science to determine how much work lay ahead, he pulled a random sampling.
His first call was to an old school chum who worked for a storage management software company's engineering department. As he waited for the line to pick up, he thought about some of their less than scholarly escapades.

'Hello, Relaxing Sensations Massage Therapy,' said a soothing female voice from the other end of the line. 'How may I help you?'

'Er, wrong number,' blurted the Rat and quickly hung up the phone.

Somehow, the cyberrodent suspected, there had been a dramatic change in the business model of his old friend's company. 'I guess the bubble crash rubbed them the wrong way,' he chittered, thinking about how he would explain that call on the next phone bill audit.

Yanking a second card at random, he dialed again. The number was disconnected. He spun the wheel yet again and pulled another card.

'Hello?'

'Is this Jamie at NetworksCentral?' inquired the Rat, confused by the brief response.

'Uh, this is Jamie, but I don't work there anymore. They cratered. But I kept the cell phone in my name.'

'Sorry to bother you,' sighed the furry one, furrowing his brow. He tossed the card into File 13.

And so it went. Of the first 15 numbers the Rat called, only one was still a live business'and the person on the other end was busy packing his desk in advance of a mandatory staff meeting to which he had been summoned.

To multiplex the task, he summoned four of his help desk minions. Handing stacks of business cards to each, he instructed them to determine their viability.

Later, they returned with what was left of the Rolodex. Of the 400 or so cards he had collected painstakingly at conferences and trade shows, only 25 were still marginally rooted in reality.

Returning to his PC, the Rat beat his head on his keyboard. 'All that booth bouncing in vain,' he lamented. With most of his real-world resources now apparently on the unemployment line, he was relegated to relying once again on mining the Web for contacts listed in the obscure reaches of vendors' sites.

'Just thinking about this makes me so tense,' the Rat thought and picked up his old school friend's card again. 'I might need a massage.'

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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