Federal Bytes

A VERY PC EDUCATION. John Koskinen, head of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion, took the administration's message to a new audience last Thursday - a 7th grade class in Arlington, Va.

Koskinen taught the class about the Year 2000 computer problem using the council's new Y2K lesson plans for teachers. The education program is an effort to ensure that youngsters get the real story about the Y2K problem and not get caught up in all the hype.

There's probably no fear that students will withdraw massive amounts of money from banks or stockpile food and water, as some Y2K theorists have advised people to do.

But nobody wants to see food fights in the cafeteria next January if the microwaves don't work.

In any case, we wonder if Rep. Stephen Horn (R-Calif.) will be giving out grades at the end of the semester.


WAITING FOR THE SEQUEL. Earlier this month, air traffic controllers were treated to an advanced screening of a new lighthearted movie called "Pushing Tin," which depicts controllers on the job in the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control facility. This is the first film that realistically portrays the technical aspects of the profession, according to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.

Too bad long-awaited new controller equipment wasn't in place for the movie. We wouldn't be surprised to see "Pushing Tin" star John Cusak soon providing expert testimony on Capitol Hill about how the old technology hampers air traffic controllers' jobs.


FURBIES II. The National Security Agency must be going absolutely nuts with the evolution of toy technology.

NSA last year banned Furbies from its offices, fearing Furbies have the ability to record and play back conversations that could potentially result in them blurting out national secrets.

To make matters worse, the Learning Co. has announced plans to create a "virtual baby" software program for PC users' amusement.

Like the company's virtual Petz that took the market by storm several years ago, Babyz is an interactive toy that requires tender loving care and play for it to remain healthy and mature.

But Babyz takes the technology to a new level, using microphones, voice recognition technology and speakers. NSA may want to look into creating an offsite Babyz daycare center rather than further risk national security.


FILE UNDER "M." Federal agencies can procure products and services from more than 100 classification codes and categories. Usually "miscellaneous" is reserved for one-time procurements such as asbestos, lead removal and pest control.

But last week the Air Force's Pacific Air Forces came up with a truly original solicitation for that category: "2 Officials (350 games) and 1 Scorer (350 games)" to work during Eielson Air Force Base's softball season, tentatively scheduled to begin next month.

Did it really take both a contracting specialist and a contracting officer to come up with that solicitation and modification? You think these folks might have picked up a few tips on streamlining procurements from their counterparts in the IT world.


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