Federal Bytes

REINDEER RADAR. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the Defense Department organization that watches for man-made objects in space, this month launched a Santa Claus-tracking World Wide Web site located at www.noradsanta.org.

The command has been informing the world of Santa's progress for the past 43 Christmas Eves, but the tradition has taken on a decidedly high-tech slant.

Visitors to the site will be treated to some highly technical information such as how NORAD uses the Defense Support Program (DSP) to keep tabs on Santa's sleigh, which the site tells us has been equipped with a Global Positioning System.

"It turned out that the glow from Rudolph's nose is so bright that it can in fact be detected by the DSP system," the site says. "If Rudolph were to take a day off, we would be in trouble."

The site promises updates "using satellite data and digitized imagery as Santa begins his trip on Dec. 24."

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LOCAL REINDEER SIGHTINGS. Alan Balutis, the Commerce Department's deputy chief information officer, was seen wearing a pair of red antlers and ringing sleigh bells at an Association for Federal Information Resources Management luncheon. The other reindeer were nowhere in sight.

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THEY DID IT THEIR WAY. For all those Webbies who couldn't wait for the FBI to scan and upload all 1,275 pages of its file on Frank Sinatra, there is hope. Just look to the private sector.

APB Multimedia Inc., publisher of the APB Online crime news Web site, has scanned the Sinatra file and posted it online. It resides at www.apbonline.com/gfiles/frank. The Web page contains a link to the entire file, which is 18M in portable document format.

Sources who have perused the file tell us that it has its interesting points, but there is much that's mundane, leaving us to wonder whether the late Sinatra might have been more aptly nicknamed "Chairman of the Bored."

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CHIPS IN SPACE. During a recent press conference, Intel Corp.'s president and chief executive officer, Craig Barrett, announced that Intel is giving the government a free-of-charge license to the design data of the widely used Pentium processor.

Although Barrett said the company was doing this out of a sense of patriotism, he also mentioned that it was part of Intel's "intergalactic expansion" plans.

And the Justice Department thinks Microsoft's business practices are overly ambitious!

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SPIN CITY. Speaking last week at an Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association luncheon, Defense Information Systems Agency director Lt. Gen. Dave Kelley paused mid-sentence to consider how to refer to the upcoming turn of the century and the Year 2000 computer problem.

"I don't want to call it the 'Y2K debacle,' " Kelley said, evidently wary about raising concerns about the Defense Department's status. He settled on the rather innocuous phrase, "Y2K milestone."

Some folks would say "Y2K gravestone" might be more like it.

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