Dr. FrankenRat resurrects dead Palms

Unlike the industry that spawns it, the Rat never throws away any technology. He stockpiles it at the bottom of a drawer, behind the sofa or, in the case of some old AppleBus expansion cards, beneath a wobbly table leg.

At least, that is, until his better half insists on the biennial archive purge. With burrow space at a premium due to the growth of three progeny, the Rat again had to yield some of his hardware cache to more pressing requirements.

'That is, unless you want the changing table and diaper pail in your lab,' Mrs. Rat threatened.

So it was that the Rat began excavating his technological elephant burial ground. About three feet down in the pile, he saw a trend: broken PalmPilot, burnt-out Palm III, fried PalmPilot, broken Palm II and so on.

In all honesty, the cyberrodent has never been known as a big user of Palm OS devices. He's much more keyboard-inclined, and he never took the time to really master Palm's Graffiti shorthand language. Having pulled wires for most of his years, he knows only one gesture that fully expresses his feelings for 3Com Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif.

Most of the deceased handhelds had been evaluation units for data-capture projects or parts of developer bundles. Some had arrived dead, others were broken by acolytes' misuse, and still others had been passed on to the ratlings as trinkets, only to suffer at their paws.

Something about the collection of compact computing corpses deeply moved the Rat. He carted the cold carcasses back to his lab, determined to create something of value from them.

Armed with twidget screwdrivers, wirecutters, tweezers and AAA batteries, the wirebiter donned surgical scrubs and magnifying goggles to begin his grisly experiment. After stripping the deceased devices, he identified their functioning parts. He would build the ultimate PDA: bigger, faster, massively parallel. After tightening two extra bolts to hold together the now undersized shell, he pulled batteries from his pocket and slipped them into the battery hatch.

'Life! Give my creation LIFE!' he cackled.

And so FrankenPalm was born. Before long, the Rat had filled the expanded memory banks of his creation with notes scrawled in Graffiti, a to-do list for the next two months and a collection of contact information from what remained of his Rolodex.

'Now to synchronize it with my calendar,' Herr Rat foamed. To his dismay, he had no working HotSync cradles at hand. There was only one thing to do.

'Let me get this straight,' Mrs. Rat said. 'You haven't been using any of these things for who knows how long, and all of a sudden you've got to run out to the computer store and buy stuff for them? And this is more important than cleaning because ' ?'
'I just need a cable,' the Rat pleaded.

Seeing there was no getting around this latest obsession, Mrs. Rat relented. 'OK, but take your daughter. You two can bond.'

An hour and one hundred dollars later, the Rat and his smallest ratling returned.

'There were a few things she wanted for her Handspring Visor,' the Rat explained to his spouse, as their 6-month-old squirmed away clutching her own reconstructed handheld. 'But I talked her out of the Wi-Fi network card.'

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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