Federal Bytes

BOOTH JUSTICE AND THE AMERICAN WAY. The TRW Inc. booth at the Air Force Information Technology Conference (AFITC) in Montgomery, Ala., once again served as a platform for the world's superheroes.

You may recall that earlier this year, we reported seeing Xena, Warrior Princess, slaying the evil forces of government proprietary IT solutions in TRW's booth at the Technet show in Washington, D.C. Well, last week our reporters spotted Xena's long-lost cousin, ULANA II, Network Warrior Princess, at the TRW booth at AFITC.

ULANA II, named after a networking contract held by TRW and Electronic Data Systems Corp., was seen waving a bayonet at a helpless group of Air Force lieutenants, who, judging by the looks on their faces, were not sure if they were getting out of there alive.

And while ULANA II sported impressive leather and spikes, it was disappointing there was no executive panel discussion with Hercules.

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LEAVE A MESSAGE. A vendor recently submitted to FCW an explanation of why, now that it's September, it is so difficult to get in touch with federal procurement folk. It's not that federal employees are on vacation, the vendor said. It's just that they've spent all of their IT budgets, so there's no sense in them picking up the phone.

Of course, that's not all bad news for vendors. It may inconvenience a lot of IT salespeople seeking procurement opportunities. But we think it could be a boon for vendors of voice-mail products, which will be in increasing demand to absorb all the calls that are being ignored.

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ASSISTANCE IS FUTILE. Speaking of voice mail, we know that one of the priorities of the federal IT community in the past few years has been to make government more responsive to the public. That's why we were struck by the voice-mail greeting of a federal IT official (whom we will not embarrass by naming). To paraphrase: "I'm away from my desk right now. If you need immediate re-...assistance, please dial '0.' "

It would appear that this particular federal employee was close to saying "immediate resistance" instead of "immediate assistance." This, of course, would have had a whole different meaning.

And, no, this official doesn't work for the IRS.

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NO LAUGHING MATTER. A sign that the Year 2000 problem has been acknowledged by the general population is the circulation of a new genre of humor: the Year 2000 joke. Here's an example; stop us if you've heard this one.

Boris Yeltsin, Bill Clinton and Bill Gates were invited to have dinner with God. During dinner, God told them, "I need three important people to send this message to all people: Tomorrow I will destroy the Earth."

Yeltsin immediately called together his cabinet members and told them, "I have two really terrible news items for you: One, God really exists, and two, tomorrow He will destroy the Earth."

Clinton called an emergency meeting with the Congress and told them, "I have good news and bad news: The good news is that God really does exist; the bad news is tomorrow He's destroying the Earth."

Bill Gates went back to Microsoft and happily announced, "I have two fantastic announcements: One, I am one of three most important people on Earth; and two, the Year 2000 problem is solved."

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