Federal Bytes

Federico Pun

Energy Secretary Federico Pena lightened up a recent press conference by conjuring up images of Vice President Al Gore in his dancing shoes. Pena was talking up the development of new algorithms to help boost supercomputing speeds. He emphasized that these particular algorithms were computational expressions not a bystander commenting on Gore doing the macarena. Get it? Al-Gore-rhythm?

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Inconvenience and intuition

Usually looking up government information isn't very intuitive for the public said Marty Wagner the General Services Administration's associate administrator for governmentwide policy.

At a conference last week Wagner said GSA has projects under way to fix this such as the Blue Pages project to provide a more user-friendly listing of government phone numbers and allow the public to look up the Medicare phone number under the letter "M" instead of under "Health and Human Services."

But Wagner noted that this problem isn't exclusive to the government. Apparently there is a software company out there that should follow the government's lead in this area he said. "Why is it when I want to shut down Windows 95 I have to click on the Start button?" Wagner wanted to know.

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You wanna bet?

It seems gamblers bet on everything. First it was only sporting events. Then the bookmakers were taking bets on the O.J. Simpson verdict. Now folks are betting on Congress and they're using the Internet to do it.An online gambling magazine Rolling Good Times is allowing its readers to "bet" on the outcome of pending anti-gambling legislation gear-ed toward regulating bets placed via the Internet.

Magazine officials said the pool is just for fun and no money is involved. However the magazine is encouraging readers to contact their state legislators to let them know their thoughts on the legislation.The bill would make Internet gambling a federal offense punishable by a maximum fine of $20 000 and two years imprisonment.

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Five days of focusing

GSA's Federal Telecommunications Service designated July 30 through Aug. 6 as its Customer Focus Week. FTS officials will be visiting customers during this week to find out what they like and dislike about FTS products and services and how they think the organization can improve.

We certainly applaud the FTS initiative but we can't help wondering what the organization will focus on next week when Customer Focus Week concludes.

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