Intercepts

Katrina making waves

Intercepts East is a child of the 1980s while Intercepts West is, well, a flower child. While I never cared much for Joan Baez, I did appreciate Devo, Big Country and Dexy's Midnight Runners — you know, the one-hit-wonder bands.

Another 1980s group, Katrina and the Waves, was never a big favorite of mine, but the group's name — and it's only hit song — came to mind last week as Tropical Storm Katrina took aim at Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and the 2005 Army Directors of Information Management/Army Knowledge Management conference.

For the second consecutive year, the 3,000 show attendees did not get much time to "walk on sunshine" (I think the song was called "Walking on Sunshine," but cut me some slack because I'm hunkered down in my hotel room waiting for Katrina to arrive and figuring out what to do) as tropical weather again distracted the show. Luckily, my bosses let me cut out early one afternoon to catch some rays and bury my feet in the sand.

I know the off-season rates are too good to pass up, but maybe it's time for Army officials to pick a less hurricane-prone location for the annual event — say, San Diego, where there's a convention center, beaches and cheap flights on Southwest Airlines.

Apple Army

Some vendors call the Army the "Dell Army" because of the service's preference for PCs from the company in the Lone Star State. But Lt. Gen. Steve Boutelle, the Army's chief information officer, could be trying to change that perception.

Boutelle said at the conference that the Army doesn't care if it buys Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Gateway, MPC or Apple, as long as the computers meet the military's standards. He said the company from Silicon Valley with the cult-like following wants to do business with the service again, and he doesn't have a problem with that as long as its computers are "invisible on our networks."

The Army is doing a pilot program with Apple products at Fort Monmouth, N.J. A company employee said the show was going well but improved once Boutelle made his comments.

BRAC shutters Fort Monmouth

Speaking of Fort Monmouth, word trickled down to Fort Lauderdale that the Base Realignment and Closure Commission approved closing the base. That decision about seals the deal for Army information technology workers to relocate to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., and Fort Belvoir, Va.

The golden rule and commies

You can usually count on Boutelle for lively copy. And he had some good one-liners at the conference.

The Army CIO said the service would follow the golden rule in its goal to reduce 80 percent of its redundant systems by 2007. He said the Army will "identify the apps" then "remove the money."

Boutelle also said he appreciates the vendors who exhibit at the conference and encouraged Army IT workers to walk around the show floor to learn about companies' products.

"You are not a communist if you go out and spend some time with industry and know what they do," Boutelle said.

By the way, he backed his words with actions. Not all military leaders take the time to mingle with vendors on the show floor.

Sticklers for language

Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Robert Shea and Air Force three-star Gen. Charles Croom are sticklers for language. They have vowed to clean up the IT jargon that has polluted the military.

Shea, director of command, control, communications and computers for the Joint Staff, said he plans to clarify the use of the words "command and control." He said the chiefs of the military services were recently in the "tank" — the main meeting room at the Pentagon — and used those important words in different ways. That imprecision also used to rankle retired Gen. Eric Shinseki, former Army chief of staff.

Croom, the new director of the Defense Information Systems Agency and commander of the Joint Task Force for Global Network Operations, thinks the nine network-centric enterprise services need better explanation. He asked whether "messaging" means e-mail or machine-to-machine communication.

Don't be surprised if you see a list of IT jargon talking points for DOD officials soon.

We don't get respect

We noted, of course, that the Washington Post ran a front-page story in its Aug. 25 edition headlined "Hackers Attack Via Chinese Web Sites: U.S. Agencies' Networks Are Among Targets."

We hate to toot our own horn, but — toot, toot! Careful readers saw this story first in the Aug. 22 issue of Federal Computer Week. Actually, readers didn't have to be that careful — it was on the cover. n

Intercept something? Send it to bbrewin@fcw.com or ftiboni@fcw.com.

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