Federal Bytes

DUELING TELCOS. Changes in the telecommunications market during the past couple of years have pitted the long-distance service providers against the local exchange carriers, with each side aiming to establish a presence in the other's market.

That hostility may be spilling over into the federal market. Agencies such as DOD that want to move quickly to the government's new FTS 2001 long-distance network - provided by MCI and Sprint - are encountering delays. The main reason for the delays, according to a DOD source, has been poor coordination between long-distance providers and local phone companies (in DOD's case, MCI and Bell Atlantic, respectively).

The source said DOD had hoped to have all of its employees in the Pentagon on the new network as of last week, but the move was hampered by a lack of cooperation between the two companies.

Sources from MCI and Bell Atlantic said privately that things were now moving smoothly, with the transition slated for this week.

Guess we'll have to wait and see. But if you work in the Pentagon and hear people bickering in the wiring closets, you'll know what's up.

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HOT OFF THE PRESS. When the National Weather Service decided to announce at a press conference last week that it had deployed its new high-tech weather processing system, little did we know the event would take place outside - in 95-degree weather.

It seemed a curious decision until we surmised it was really a clever advertising scheme.

What better way for NWS to make weather the focus of conversation - and for us to realize the impact weather has on everyday life - than to host an outdoor event on a sweltering day?

Or maybe agency officials thought it might be funny to turn the tables and watch the press sweat.Camp Chaos. Government officials whose job is to defend against hackers have a reason to fly to Europe this week. Why? Because their nemeses will gather near Berlin for a three-day event sponsored by the German hacker group Chaos Computer Club (CCC).

Billed as a retreat for hackers looking to get away from it all, the event will allow "nerds, hackers and freaks from around the world" to spend their time partying, bathing in a nearby lake and engaging in contests that test their hacking prowess, according to the IDG News Service. Hacking competitions focused on Linux and Windows NT are among the events planned, and German is not a prerequisite, as most of the events will be in English.

Might be a good place for the U.S. government, whose Web sites are among the most hacked, to place a mole. But the CCC made it clear that it does not welcome people from government and industry who are there to gather information. Registration for those participants is about $900, compared with $82 for those in the "nerds, hackers and freaks" category.

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