Intercepts

Our Capitol Hill antenna is picking up strong signals that the White House has selected the Defense Department's new deputy chief information officer.

We hear an announcement is due soon, but White House spokesman Jimmy Orr said the Bush administration "does not make announcements for upcoming announcements." Orr did say the White House would post the appointment on its Web site as soon as it was finalized.

We hear that Priscilla Guth.rie, formerly a high-ranking member of the government information systems division at TRW Inc., may be the big winner.

DOD Enlists Private Sector to Bring Cheer

DOD is teaming with Amazon.com, Compaq Computer Corp. and other firms to deliver messages and gifts to active service members.

Amazon.com worked with DOD officials to create the Salute Our Troops Web page (www.amazon.com/salute ourtroops), where customers can buy a $20 gift certificate, and include a personal note, for any service member. Amazon.com will deliver gift certificates to DOD for distribution.

Elsewhere, DOD is providing logistics and communications support — while Compaq and its partners, Sorenson Media and Digital Island, are providing the equipment — for the Give Thanks America initiative, a way for Americans to send streaming video messages via e-mail to military personnel around the world.

The initiative, launched simultaneously on Dec. 3 in New York City and Washington, D.C., ran for three days. The video segments that were recorded will be uploaded onto the Web and made available for access by deployed troops, firefighters and police officers.

In addition to those two cities, Americans recorded their messages from Dec. 7 to 9 at special sites in Atlanta; Boston; Chicago; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Dallas; Houston; Salt Lake City; San Diego; and San Jose, Calif., with additional sites still to be announced.

NORAD Tracking... Santa

Monitors of our North Pole antenna picked up strong Santa Claus signals last week and made the mistake of telling some children about it. So when that signal was lost, we quickly turned to the Internet for help and realized that the North Ameri.can Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) had been tracking Santa online since 1997, and off-line for decades before then.

The Santa-tracking tradition began accidentally in 1955 when NORAD's predecessor — the Continental Air Defense Command — received numerous calls from children on Christmas Eve after a misprinted phone number for a "Santa hot line" in a local newspaper ad inadvertently directed children to the combat operations "hot line" at CONAD.

The officer who received the first call realized what had happened and told kids that his staff could see Santa on their radar.scopes, and so a tradition was born.

A new Web site, which was scheduled to be up and running by Dec. 1 but remains off-line, will be found at www.noradsanta.org. It was designed by Analytical Graphics Inc. and Etheriel Web Marketing, in cooperation with NORAD, and is hosted by America Online. It is expected to receive 80,000 hits per week during the holidays, and NORAD plans to maintain the site year-round after the holidays.

Best Wishes

This is the last Intercepts column of 2001, and we'd like to send our best wishes for holiday cheer and a happy new year to the entire DOD technology community. And special thanks to all those at home and abroad defending our country.

Intercept something? Send it to antenna@fcw.com.

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