Federal Bytes

OLD HABITS DIE HARD. Participants of a recent General Services Administration information technology security seminar were taken by surprise when an auditorium sound system began blaring what was believed to be radio communications traffic between Washington police officers and dispatchers.

The seminar speaker, however, did not miss a beat and even managed to evoke a chuckle from the audience. That's because the speaker was Mark Fabro, a former computer hacker who is now the worldwide director of professional services at Secure Computing Corp. Upon hearing the radio banter, Fabro threw himself against a wall with his arms and legs spread.

"Sorry," he said. "Habit."


A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN. For any of you wondering how IT consulting firm Federal Sources Inc. fits into the holdings of its new parent, publishing giant Primedia Inc., we've got the answer.

According to Bob Woods, president and chief operating officer of Federal Sources, his company and the entire federal procurement process have many things in common with the flagship publications of Primedia Inc., which include Soap Opera Digest, Shotgun News, Modern Bride and 4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility.

"If that ain't the [buying] cycle, I don't know what is," Woods joked.


PUTTING YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS. For all the grief the General Accounting Office gives agency IT shops, you'd think GAO would turn to the commercial world for IT services.

But that isn't the case. Officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs, an agency whose IT practices have often ended up in the cross hairs of GAO, announced this month that GAO had chosen the VA's Austin Automation Center to handle its data processing for the next three years. The contract has an estimated value of $2 million.

We're guessing that the center will see a few more feds send business its way after this vote of confidence from GAO.


EAT YOUR HEART OUT. One of the most popular tours for computer executives in Redmond, Wash., is the tour of Microsoft Corp.'s own data center. The network operating center, manned 24 hours a day, would make NASA or DOD jealous. Building 11 boasts line after line of more than 12,000 rack-mounted servers.

On the front of most cases is the familiar red Compaq Computer Corp. logo. According to the tour folks at Microsoft, Michael Dell, who knows a bit about selling computers himself, called Bill Gates and said that folks who tour the data center see that Microsoft uses Compaq servers, so they go home and buy Compaq for their own shops. Seeing that Dell's computer company is such a good customer of Microsoft's, Dell asked Gates to install some Dell Computer Corp. servers. Gates agreed, and there is now at least one rack with a blue Dell logo in the sea of red.


SPEAKING WITH ONE VOICE. Based on recent extended exposure to Microspeak by Microsoftees trained by Waggener Edstrom, we pass on the following phrase du jour from the Emerald City. Everyone at Microsoft is "eating their own dog food"— a trendy way to suggest using your own products.


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