Consortium serves up Web guides for do-it-yourselfers

If you're putting up a new World Wide Web site or just refreshing an existing one, you might want to visit the Federal World Wide Web Consortium's Home Page Guidelines at http://skydive.ncsa.uiuc.edu/consortium/guide/hmpggl.htm. The consortium, led by the National Science Foundation's National Center for Supercomputing Applications, meets to encourage federal use of the Web.

The home page guidelines, making up only a small branch of the consortium's overall site, offer suggestions for designing easy-to-read, well-crafted, federal Web-accessible resources. Included in the guidelines: a checklist to use when creating a home page, updates on emerging Internet standards and information on Web accessibility for people with disabilities—all this with a federal bent.

The Security Front

Before the much-anticipated Service to the Citizen initiatives can really get stoked, on-line encryption and authentication infrastructures will have to settle into place. To find out what the General Services Administration is working on in the area of computer security, visit GSA's Federal Security Infrastructure Development Policy Development Project at http://www.gsa.gov/security.htm. There, you can get complete descriptions with updates on projects, such as the Paperless Federal Transactions for Citizens Project, the Civil Fortezza Project and the Defense Department/Energy Department Travel Project.

CIO Spot

Under the Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1996, all major agencies must appoint chief information officers. Now there's a Web site to support the federal council that brings these CIOs together. Point your browser to http://www.gsa.gov/cio/cio.htm. The site is sure to grow before too long. Right now, you'll find listings and details of the council's first projects, such as discussing roles and responsibilities of the CIO and phasing out the Federal Information Resources Management Regulation.

Spills, Spies and Space

Let's just call it a spinoff of the post-Cold War. Russia and the United States have joined forces to better predict hurricanes and monitor oil spills by sharing data gathered by intelligence sources. The Environmental Working Group of the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission is examining ways to bring together Russian and U.S. "information products derived from national security data acquisition systems" to provide improved information during disasters. Take a look by calling on http://ns.noaa.gov/NESDIS/NESDIS_Home.html and clicking on "Disasters."

Climate On-Line

This world's largest on-line site of archived weather information appears to have won all of the major Web site awards. It is the National Climatic Data Center at http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov. Access this site, and you can get a retrospective of the February 1996 Cold Wave and the Blizzard of '96 (in excruciatingly graphic detail).

You'll also find temperature readings of U.S. cities back to the 19th century, with a service that allows you to make do-it-yourself climatic graphs, displaying rates of phenomena, such as rainfall, temperature and snowfall over periods of time that you choose.

For a hot blast of what scientists say is a prickly reality, click on the State of the Climate page at the NCDC site, which details global warming trends.

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