PACKET RAT: Bada Bing! Rat's nodes get whacked

Michael J. Bechetti

The Rat and his wife have eagerly awaited the return of 'The Sopranos' to television, if only because it's the only reason they can justify the expense of digital cable besides fulfilling the cyberrodent's basic home bandwidth requirements.

But the show also has spawned a side sport in the Rat household and at his agency's network command bunker'matching members of the Soprano family to members of the Bush administration and family.

'So, who do you like for Meadow?' asked the Rat's better half. 'I'm leaning toward Condoleezza Rice right now,' the whiskered one said. 'It depends on who you cast as Tony.'

There's no question who gets the nod as capo di capi in the Rat's network operations center. And the furry don has a few people he'd like to whack'figuratively speaking, of course. At least one of them operates a backhoe.

All was sweetness and light on the Rat's watch last week; from his chair, all he could see was a sea of green icons. Then, all at once, the screens seemed to bleed red as alarms sounded. 'All our remote apps are down,' one of the Rat's acolytes reported. 'It's like somebody pulled the plug on us completely.'

'Or cut it,' seethed the Rat, as he began executing his backup plan. But his primary backup network was dead, too. Soon, he had to resort to runners and dial-up connections to keep things afloat. The agency's acting CIO was soon standing at his door, smoldering slightly as he watched the panic in progress.

'Have you found the source of the problem yet?' he asked the Rat in a threatening deadpan tone.

'I believe we have it narrowed down, sir,' the Rat replied. 'If you'll follow me, I think I can take you right to the source.'

A short walk out of the building quickly found the origin of the Rat's woes: A construction crew had severed not one, but two of the Rat's fiber trunks with a single swing of its backhoe shovel. The cut cables still hung limp from the blade and bucket.

'Oops,' the site foreman said, spying the Rat and his boss.

'So much for self-healing networks,' the Rat said through grating teeth.

Returning to his bunker, the wirebiter noted one connection still up on his personal status screen. For some reason, he could still see his server at home, connected through the digital cable connection. He dialed home.

'I don't think the cable company is going to like this,' said his eldest son, as he configured a routing table on the Linux server running in the Rat's rec room.

'It's only temporary,' the Rat assured the ratling. 'And besides, who'll be watching pay-per-view at 3 p.m. anyway?'

Moments later, the icons on the Rat's console started shifting back to green (though those on a certain cable operator's network monitor were doing the reverse). Now, the Rat could turn his attention to applying some pressure elsewhere'his telco providers.

'Whaddyatalkinabout, three hours?' he shouted into his cell phone. 'What part of the term 'service-level agreement' do you not understand? Do I need to have my people pay you a little visit? And by the way, you're paying my cable bill this month, too.'

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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