Packet Rat: Revenge, a dish best served cold'and wet

The Rat

Micheal J. Bechetti

Information just wants to be free, as the freeware freaks say, but there are limits. Armed with camera-equipped mobile phones and weblogs, digital voyeurs have been posting snapshots of health club locker rooms and personal pimples, complete with Global Positioning System coordinates.

The Rat's own blogs consist mostly of digital snapshots of the ratlings, of interest only to their grandparents. He hadn't run across many of the 'I must document every moment of my life' fanatics in his daily surfing until the recent northeast power blackouts inspired hundreds of bored cell-phone-cam carriers to post every marginally novel scene: 'Look, Ma, we're lighting candles.'

Once they were reduced to posting photos of their moldy refrigerators, the Rat lost any interest he might have had in mobile-photo weblogs.

That is, until he became a cell phone centerfold himself.

The furry one had started riding a bike to work in an effort to reduce his back-end requirements, which became all too obvious during his recent journey through the air ducts of Redmond, Wash.

He was counting on the bike commutes to improve his speed in the 100-meter undersecretary evasion sprint.

Fortunately, his agency has a shower on the premises, so the Rat can arrive at his desk crisp and fresh after his daily urban assault ride.

Unfortunately, his new routine became all too well-known to his underlings, some of whom he had drafted into installing bike storage hooks for him in the server room. And one recent morning, a subversive subordinate with a cam-phone laid an ambush.

As the Rat emerged towel-clad from the shower, he was shot, uploaded and posted by the concealed conspirator. And as you can imagine, the Rat is at his least attractive when wet.

It was only a matter of time before a Web link made its way to him in an anonymous e-mail. But the sneaky tech had forgotten something in his hurry. He'd set up the site to automatically sign images with his AOL Instant Messenger handle, which happened to be his first and last name.

Before his coffee got cold, the Rat managed to hack the site and post a suitable replacement, created with Adobe Photoshop and the offender's government ID photo. Then he instant-messaged the unsuspecting prankster with the link.

A scream from a distant cubicle confirmed he had hit his mark. Making a mental note to install phone jammers in the shower area as soon as possible, the wirebiter hummed happily and returned to his work.

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

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