FEDERAL BYTES

It's Only a Movie

After witnessing Sen. Ernest Hollings' (D-S.C.) acting debut in the film "City Hall," we began a search for roles for other members of Congress. We came up with the perfect vehicle for Sen. James Exon (D-Neb.), the crusader who will protect us from Internet obscenities.

The film is an NBC TV movie called "Deadly Web," the story of "an innocent divorced mother who finds out with jolting horror that she is the victim of a stalker of the electronic age," according to an NBC press release.

The release described what promises to be the most compelling program in TV history since the debut of "My Mother The Car": "What starts out as obscene e-mail spirals into a nightmare in which she fights a killer to save the lives of her children. The drama was suggested by real events."

The release said that Gigi Rice, the film's leading lady, "is not computer-savvy," yet it quotes her extensively. "Some of the information that comes across a computer screen can be pornographic or frightening," Rice said. "This is a problem that will escalate as more psychos get on the Internet. Parents have to be aware of what their child is encountering on a computer screen."

We're so relieved a major network is taking a serious, even-handed look at this issue.

A Brief Briefing

What does it mean when the folks who run the government's telecom nets claim they don't possess the technology to conduct a teleconference?

Officials at GSA's Federal Telecommunications Service planned a press briefing to announce revisions to the Post-FTS 2000 acquisition strategy last month. Unfortunately, it snowed heavily on the morning of the briefing, and most reporters preferred to listen to the briefing via teleconference—an option the agency said was available to those who couldn't attend in person.

Although no reporters came to the briefing, five attempted to listen in—but to no avail. They were told the FTS office had the technical capacity to link only one caller into the briefing, leaving others out in the cold.

The Medicare Transaction System Rediscovered

Maryland congressional hopeful Charlotte M. Meyer, who wants to challenge incumbent Republican Rep. Connie Morella this fall, has proposed as one of her main goals using information technology to combat Medi-care and Medicaid fraud. Sounds to us just like the Department of Health and Human Services' Medi-care Transaction System. Meyer said last week she wasn't familiar with the system but plans to visit HHS to learn more about it. Let's not write Meyer off immediately. Columbus made history "discovering" America.

Java Jive

Conferences, new software products and magazines related to the Java language are starting to appear. So are the catchy names for these spinoffs: Kahlua, Decaf, Espresso and Cafe au Lait.

We're seeing an explosion just as bad or worse than "the information superhighway" metaphor traffic jam.

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