Packet Rat: Rat sees the future'with tongue firmly in cheek

The Rat

Michael J. Bechetti

Something about a fresh calendar turns everyone with a column inch, sound bite or weblog into a reject from the Psychic Friends Network. Regrettably, the Rat is no exception.

But rather than give you, the movers and shakers of government IT, some screwball prognostications based on unreliable information, such as detailed analysis or field research, the Whiskered One turned to his own custom-built forecasting tool to generate reliable, bet-the-farm predictions for the coming year.

So without further ado, here's what the cyberrodent sees coming down the pike, based on a state-of-the-art random-number generator, dart set and Weekly World News clippings.

After repeated attempts to find a scandal-free successor to Tom Ridge for the post of Homeland Security secretary, President Bush will give up on finding anyone with real credentials and nominate Paris Hilton. Ms. Hilton will dazzle in her Senate confirmation hearing with plans to revamp the Threat Advisory system based on feedback from the cast of 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.'

In an unrelated move, the government will outsource the National Archives to Google. Animal rights activists will promptly 'Google bomb' the Second Amendment, and confused gun shop owners around the country will find themselves arming bears.

Upon completing the sale of its PC business to Chinese computer manufacturer Lenovo Group Ltd. and launching a server venture with China Great Wall Computer, IBM Corp. will win a major consulting contract from the Beijing government and oversee restoration of the Great Wall'rebuilding it entirely with Linux mainframes.

As cell phone calls and wireless Internet sessions on airplanes become commonplace, airlines will once again segment their cabins based on passengers' addictions. 'Will that be an IM'ing or non-IM'ing seat, sir?'

Microsoft Corp., to avoid further antitrust attacks from the European Union, will buy up the whole continent'only to find Europe was developed under an open-source license.

Combining its popular music player with ubiquitous wireless access, Apple Computer Inc. will introduce the 100G iPod with Anywhere Email. Users will be able to retrieve new music and e-mail from anywhere. The downside: The new iPod will fill up with spam inside of 15 minutes.

To find more valuable wireless bandwidth for cellular voice and data communications, the Federal Communications Commission will seize previously unlicensed sections of the spectrum. Using complex arrays of listening stations and mobile detection units, FCC will pinpoint and shut down pirate garage door openers.

By the end of the year, spam will be so bad that people will communicate electronically by posting messages to their web- logs. With everyone constantly checking their blogs for messages, as well as monitoring friends' and coworkers' RSS feeds, traffic on the Internet will be so heavy that some users will be forced to subscribe to daily services that deliver CD-ROMs full of messages via first class mail.

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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