Federal Bytes

INEVITABLE CLINTON JOKES, PART I. Everyone weighs in on President Clinton these days, even the desktop computer.

Users of newer versions of Word, Microsoft Corp.'s word processing software, recently have discovered that if they ask the Word Thesaurus for a synonymous phrase for "I want President Clinton to resign," they will get the response: "I'll drink to that."

According to Microsoft, the response does not reflect the software's moral outrage; rather it is the application's canned response to any phrase that begins, "I want."

Then again, would-be presidential candidate Al Gore might see it as a different kind of Year 2000 problem.

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INEVITABLE CLINTON JOKES, PART II. Who says the folks at the Defense Information Systems Agency don't have a sense of humor?

While at a Northern Virginia pub last week, some FCW folks were trying to figure out the details of the happy-hour food special. A woman who later identified herself as a DISA employee explained to us the situation: Buy a beer, get some free food.

"I wouldn't lie to you," she said. "I'm a federal employee!" Amid much laughter, she high-fived her friend, who also identified himself as a DISA employee.

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NAVAL TWIST TO CHAIN E-MAIL. A recent e-mail chain letter making the rounds recently promised cash and a chance to win a full-scale model of the Navy's Aegis cruiser. But the message turned out to be— surprise— a hoax.

The e-mail, allegedly from Bob Coutts, chief executive officer of Lockheed Martin Government Electronics Systems, asked recipients to "forward this to everyone you know" as part of a test of an e-mail "tracking program" developed with Microsoft Corp.

Supposedly, as soon as the e-mail reached 5,000 people, everyone involved would receive $100 and a shot at the model cruiser, which wouldn't exactly float in a standard bathtub.

A spokesman for Coutts said the executive had nothing to do with the chain letter. A Microsoft spokesman also said the e-mail was a hoax. But some people who forwarded it still might wonder whether they should make room in the garage.

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SPACE DEBRIS. Hopefully, this is not an omen. At a press briefing for NASA's Deep Space 1 program, a photographer working for FCW asked the mission coordinator to remove a model of the launch vehicle from a pedestal on which it was displayed. The photographer wanted to get a shot of program officials holding the model.

That idea went awry when the DS1 mission coordinator accidentally broke a solar panel from the model as he tried to remove it from the pedestal. Our photographer assured us that it was human error and not a flimsy model that caused the accident, but we're hoping that the actual vehicle proves somewhat more durable.

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