Federal Bytes

TEN YEARS OF TELECOM. The General Services Administration this month held a ceremony celebrating the 10th anniversary of the FTS 2000 program. Most of those in attendance were employees or former employees of GSA and the two FTS 2000 vendors, AT&T and Sprint.

Despite recent accusations by the vendors that FTS 2000 program officials owe them millions of dollars in unpaid revenue, the theme of the day was government/industry cooperation. In fact, if we had heard the term "partnership" mentioned once more we were sure we would have run out of the auditorium screaming.

The best moment of the afternoon came when GSA Administrator David Barram addressed the crowd. He spoke about the telecom industry's changing landscape and the preceding speeches by AT&T top gun C. Michael Armstrong and R. Michael Franz, president of Sprint's business division.

"I was afraid that one of you might say you acquired IBM or merged with Disney [long pause, sardonic smile] or maybe had been acquired by MCI," Barram said. It may have been the first time that AT&T and Sprint workers simultaneously hissed at their biggest customer.


DUELING FLOPS. The competition among supercomputer vendors— always about raw computing power— reached a new peak last week. On Wednesday, Vice President Al Gore announced that IBM Corp. had finished building the fastest computer in the world, capable of performing 3.9 trillion floating-point operations per second (teraflops), for the Energy Department's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Anticipating the news, a source at IBM's main rival, Silicon Graphics Inc., phoned Tuesday to remind us that SGI's computer, which DOE already has installed, will steal the title within the next two weeks, after Los Alamos National Laboratory runs benchmark tests. This reminded us of the playground taunt: "My (fill in the blank) is better than yours.'' A DOE spokesman then took on the ego-smoothing teacher role, noting that both systems, and another by Intel Corp. at Sandia National Laboratories, deserve to share the "world's fastest'' label.

That didn't deter would-be challenger Tera Computer Co. from issuing a press release Thursday touting its own, still-experimental technology, which DOE has not purchased, as a future contender for the title.


HER OWN VIRUS. Sure we're all sick of hearing the name Lewinsky. But in the interest of computer security, we thought we'd better let you know about the Lewinsky virus that reportedly deletes anti-virus protection files. For more information, check out www.pandasoftware.com/Lewinsky.html. And as usual when calling up any World Wide Web site that features the "L" name, discretion is advised.


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