Federal Bytes

BARRY DOES TECHNET. Humorist, columnist and self-professed computer nerd Dave Barry kept the standing-room-only crowd entertained last week at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association TechNet show, which he said should be renamed "The-Guys-Who-Like-Stuff" show.

Some of his quips: "Did you ever notice no matter how much RAM you have it's never enough? So when you go to buy a computer ask the salesman 'How much RAM does this come with?' Whatever he answers, just say 'I'm going to need more RAM than that.' "


WANG BUGS OUT. What's bugging the employees of Wang Government Services these days? Managers of the McLean, Va.-based subsidiary of Wang Global hope it will be prospective employees.

The company's 2,400 employees have been asked to wear "bug me" buttons as part of a recruitment effort that will culminate next year with a drawing for a new Volkswagen Bug.

Wang Government Services kicked off the program locally last month in a meeting that featured company execs in Hawaiian shirts boogying to Beach Boys tunes. You could say the execs were trying to let employees know there is a bug in the program.


WARGAMES II: THE MILLENNIUM BUG. At least one movie about the Year 2000 problem is going into production [see Federal Bytes, June 8], but clearly there is room for more.

The Defense Department recently announced that it would share data with other nuclear powers as a way of heading off any potential problems with Year 2000 in computer-based nuclear weapons systems. This looks like an opportunity for Hollywood to make a sequel to an enduring popular movie: "WarGames," originally released in 1983.

"WarGames," which starred Matthew Broderick, tells the story about a teen who hacks a DOD network and starts a simulated war game on a computer. As it turns out, the computer treats the war game as a real event and nearly starts World War III.

In the sequel, the story would begin on Jan. 1, 2000, when the same computer— updated with a friendly graphical user interface— would nearly start WW III because of the Year 2000 bug, and only a washed up Cobol programmer— probably played by Walter Matthau— would be the only person capable of rewriting the code fast enough to prevent the fatal launch.


A NEW MANAGEMENT TOOL. At most conferences, speakers often are presented useless certificates or plaques for appearing. And we imagine that the more popular speakers on the federal circuit have enough of these to fill a couple of Hefty bags.

The Federation of Government Information Processing Councils' Management of Change conference in Irvine, Calif., last week avoided that problem by presenting speakers with fully functional Swiss Army knife-type gizmos, complete with pen knife, nail file, etc. Conference emcee Max Gail (Remember him? He played "Wojo" on the 1970s sitcom "Barney Miller.") quipped that speakers could use the knife "for cutting through the you-know-what" back in Washington, D.C.

But one speaker had a more immediate concern. "It will probably be taken from my luggage when I go through the airport," she told the audience after being presented the knife.


WARFIGHTER, B.C. Rumor has it that around the TRW Inc. booth at the TechNet exhibition in Washington, D.C., Xena the Warrior Princess was spotted swinging from the camouflage netting and educating a group of captive AFCEAns on her vision for 2010.

Witnesses said it was quite a sight to watch the Warrior Princess, decked out in steel-plated armor, advance the cause of commercial off-the-shelf technology. We understand Hercules will be moderating a panel session at next year's show.


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