Mission control, mission impossible

This summer's Senate hearings on computer crime and the National Information Infrastructure are sure to bring even more attention to the problems of malicious hackers on the Infobahn. For a brief outline of what the FBI's National Computer Crime Squad is doing about computer intrusions, connect to their modest but informative World Wide Web home page at http://www.fbi.gov/compcrim.htm.

The site gives an overview of the types of crimes the NCCS investigates and lists precautions computer users should take to make the FBI's work easier in the case of an investigation.

Missing from the site is a list of the federal laws relating to computer crime, which have changed within the last year to keep up with the changing character of computer break-ins and manipulations.

21st Century Congress

"As we stand on the edge of the 21st century, Congress can't afford to stop striving for novel ways to improve itself." So said House Speaker Newt Gingrich, speaking on the issue of technology and law making.

In the last 18 months, the House of Representatives has tried to carry out that statement with new initiatives intended to bring the House into the information age. Now the House Subcommittee on Rules and Organization of the House has unveiled The 21st Century Congress Project, at http://www.house.gov/rules_org/21home.html.

The subcommittee is touting the site as a focus point for developing and discussing new ways to use technology to improve the legislative process. A kick-off event for the site: an "interactive hearing" held by the subcommittee Friday, May 24. Ironically, even days after the meeting, the testimony submitted during the meeting was not available on-line as promised. The site encourages visitors to "register" on the site and to submit their suggestions on how the House can use technology to improve itself.

Kids in Space

It is an open question as to whether kids' learning toys are more fun now than they were 20 years ago, but this site pushes the argument well toward the "yes" side.

KidSat, located at http://www.jpl. nasa.gov/kidsat, surpasses rocket kits and encyclopedias as a way to learn about the U.S. space program; kids actually participate in mission-control activities and communicate with Johnson Space Center in Houston. At the heart of the program is a set of Earth-viewing sensing instruments, partially designed by students and mounted on the space shuttle. These instruments will eventually operate on the international space station. Kids choose the specifications for the camera systems and communicate with JSC while the systems operate in space.

You can also tour the NASA Ames Research Center's Numerical Aerodynamic Simulation Visualization Lab at http://www.nas.nasa.gov/NASA/Vislab/features.html.

Virtual wind tunnels, data gloves and co-visualization software tools are just some of the gems on exhibit.

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