FEDERAL BYTES

What a tangled Web we weave

A gripe we've been hearing recently from Web browsers in the government concerns "renegade" Webmasters who co-opt the domain names of agencies (or domain names that sound like agencies) and then post offensive or embarrassing information.

For example try browsing www.whitehouse.org. You might expect to find news on the National Performance Review or the accomplishments of the Clinton administration. Instead you get two links: one to a savagely satirical mock-up of a Clinton/Gore campaign home page the other to the home page of the Censor-U Movement a parody (we assume) of an organization devoted to censoring cyberspace.Go to www.nasa.com and you'll find links to the Clinton/Gore campaign parody as well as one for the Dole/Kemp campaign Colin Powell Ross Perot Pat Buchanan and others.

According to the folks who own the nasa.com domain name they received a phone call from NASA's law-yers informing them their name violated the National Aeronautic and Space Act of 1958. The agency is preparing a cease and desist letter and will take legal action if the domain owners don't comply.

Honesty in advertising?

Some agencies go beyond the call of duty in the interest of government/industry relations.

The Naval Command Control and Oceanic Surveillance Center recently advertised an upcoming Technology Exposition as especially worthwhile because it "brings out some of the highest technical personnel of any other expo." In fact according to the Commerce Business Daily synopsis "Past expositions have captured 250 targeted attendees on site at this one-day show."

The humanitarians among us want to know just how these targeted attendees are captured. Will the Navy allow the Red Cross to ensure these attendees are being treated fairly?

How about a do-over?

Geospatial processing - or digital map making - could have changed the course of wars already fought if the technology had been available according to Irvin Buck chairman of the Defense Department Geospatial Information Integrated Product Team at the National Imagery and Mapping Agency.

Speaking at a symposium this month Buck joked that if Confederate generals had a geospatial processing system they could have tapped into elevation data for Gettysburg Pa. and quickly determined that the most strategic position on the battlefield was the hill named Little Round Top. The Confederates would have realized they needed to push to get to the rise before Union soldiers.

If that had happened "we would be meeting in Richmond now " Buck said.

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