Packet Rat: Rodent Avatar Techie reinvents acronyms

The Rat

Michael J. Bechetti

With the political season in full swing, the Hatch Act has choked off the flow of wit in and around the Rat's cluster of cubicles.

As for mocking Microsoft Corp. over its latest security faux pas or SCO Inc. for its lawsuits against Linuxites ... well, those topics have gotten old.

But there's always an eternal wellspring of office-safe controversy that the whiskered one and his cohorts can count on. No, not Howard Stern. The wholesome fount of pleasant humor is federal contract acronyms and code names.

Uncle Sam of late has yielded a bumper crop of particularly snicker-inducing abbreviations for procurement vehicles. Not since Air Force Desktop III'the Sumo SCSI Strikes Back contract'have there been so many targets of sarcastic opportunity.

Take, for example, the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet. In a service branch particularly keen on the deconstruction and reconstruction of words'just check out the DicNavAb'NMCI is an easy target. Sailors' de facto alternative meaning is No More Computer Information. And, given the challenges contractor EDS Corp. seems saddled with, EDS might be reminding itself that the alternative meaning of Navy is Never Again Volunteer Yourself.

An even bigger fish waiting to be harpooned is Networx, the $10 billion General Services Administration telecommunications buy to replace FTS 2001.

'It sounds like some of the guys who used to name dot-coms got to GSA,' the Rat mumbled to a colleague as they perused day-old doughnuts in the kitchenette, searching for something to prop up a defective desk leg. 'Or are they learning hacker-speak in the government now? Have they gone leet?'

'No, 'cause then they would have called it Ownzed Joor Networx,' his friend replied.

Nobody knows how to obscure the English language in plain text better than the script kiddies and online gamers who call themselves 'elite hackers' or, rather, 'l337 h4x0r5,' which translates to leet haxors in the Queen's ASCII.

'But leet is so over now,' the Rat replied. 'If GSA were really with it, hackerwise, they would just name the project based on the digital signature of the word they were thinking of.'

As the Rat and his cohort left the kitchenette, having found a pastry of suitable hardness and density for their purposes, the wired one mused, 'How long do you think it will take before people start calling it Notworx?'

'Man,' his colleague replied with a shake of his head, 'give them time to award the thing before you start trashing it. Then we can open the office pool.'

'OK,' agreed the Rat. 'I've got dibs on the 'Less than two weeks' box on the grid.'

Post your own redefined acronyms and alternative names for Networx on the freshly repainted weblog at The best entries in both categories will win cyberspatial bragging rights.

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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