Federal Bytes

FROM JFK TO Y2K. Evidently the government's turgid progress in fixing its Year 2000 problems has taken on a sinister overtone in some circles.

Based on an e-mail response to a recent story in FCW, some people believe that the Clinton administration has been talking up potential information-warfare threats from militias and from other countries as a way to divert attention from the pending Year 2000 crisis: "Clinton knows damn well he is to blame for not addressing this sooner."

The e-mail, labeled: "Y2K— The cover-up has begun," concludes that "our government has lost all integrity."

Sounds like fodder for a new Oliver Stone movie.

DRESSED LIKE NESS. Who says nobody wears hats anymore? The Microsoft Corp. marketing folks do— or at least they did at last month's unveiling of the Terraserver, an online database containing more than 1 terabyte of aerial imagery.

The hats, which were cheap fedoras, were part of the theme of the event, Microsoft's Federal Enterprise Day (FED, for short). The event slogan: "Untouchable Solutions." The Microsoft uniform for the event: black shirts with embroidered badges similar to the one "The Untouchables' " Elliott Ness himself may have toted around. The music: The "Mission: Impossible" theme.

The irony of Microsoft employees dressed up as though they worked for the federal government seemed to have been lost.

OLD PCs NEVER DIE. But they do become victims of the Year 2000. The Financial Management Service recently advised users of its Electronic Certification System, through which agencies secure their financial transactions, how to ensure that the mainly pre-Pentium hardware they're running knows what year it is. The bottom line? If you don't manually update the BIOS configuration in your 386 or 486, plan to leave your computer on for the rest of the millennium. It seems the machines will forget what century they're in if they're turned off.

Evidently there are enough 286 users out there— and you know who you are— to warrant FMS putting a boldface warning on its World Wide Web site, the upshot of which is: Buy a new computer. Or maybe that thought already occurred to you.

Y2K: THE HOME VIDEO. By now we've all heard about the forthcoming Hollywood Year 2000 thriller. But in a reversal of standard film industry marketing practices, you can purchase Year 2000 home videos even before the movie comes out.

But don't get the impression that these videos, produced by Y2K Solutions Group Inc., Chapel Hill, N.C., will rivet you to your seat in suspense. The action heroes featured in these flicks are "the best experts who have worked on the [Year 2000] problem for years" who will offer advice on dealing with the millennium bug, according to the company's press release.

SHANGHAI SURPRISE. Rep. James Gibbons (R-Nev.) should have been a comedian instead of a congressman.

After hearing that the Army's World Wide Web site has been visited more often by the People's Liberation Army of China than by anyone else, Gibbons couldn't let the chance pass to make a snappy remark on the House floor.

"I guess [the Army site] has attained 'China's Most-Favored Web site' status," Gibbons said in an extension of his remarks last month. "I suppose we should be flattered. After all, is imitation not the sincerest form of flattery?"

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