Off we go into the wild blue podcast

The Air Force, no slouch of an organization when it comes to technology, has jumped on the podcasting bandwagon. The Air Force Broadcast Service is using it to transmit "Around the Air Force" news feeds in cyberspace.

Users can subscribe to the Air Force podcast service at mil/podcast. The service suggests users check out free podcast software from iTunes or JPodder.

The Army also offers podcast-like delivery of its Soldier Radio Network via e-mailed MP3 files.

Appropriate music to play while reading this column can be found at the Air Force Band Web site, This site offers music files of the "Air Force Hymn," one with music only and the other with jet noise and music combined. We love the jet noise version, though it causes Daphne, the new Intercepts cat, to hide under the desk.

Sights on processing centers

Don't expect to hear the sites of the first four of six area-processing centers announced at the Directorate of Information Management/Army Knowledge Management conference this week in sunny and, we hope, hurricane-free Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

"We do not have the locations decided yet," said Gordon Van Vleet, a spokesman for the Army's Network Enterprise Technology Command (Netcom), which operates and defends the service's networks. "And the money piece is still being worked."

Army information technology workers want to know which servers will be taken away and placed in a centrally managed location under the proposed enterprise consolidation initiative. Some view this as a move to first take away their work and then their jobs.

Joe Capps, director of the Enterprise Systems Technology Activity at Netcom, said at the Army IT Conference in June that the initiative aims to improve network security management and to obtain operational efficiencies. Capps said the service chose the four sites for the initiative but would not announce them yet.

Maybe the Army has changed its mind. But the Defense Information Systems Agency-run centers are a good bet.

AFSOC Wi-Fi wizardry

It is not impossible to install a Wi-Fi network that complies with DOD wireless policies. But it is difficult. Telos has figured out how to do it well enough that the Air Force Special Operations Command has contracts with the company to install a secure Wi-Fi system at two bases so far.

Tom Badders, Wi-Fi wizard at Telos, said the command installations feature defense-in-depth security including a virtual private network concentrator and intrusion-detection system that detects bad guys and rogues trying to penetrate systems. Cisco Systems provides the hardware and software.

The command has installed the Wi-Fi system at Hurlburt Air Force Base and is working on one at Moody Air Force Base. Aircraft maintenance crews will use the network to access online tech manuals and databases — handier than trundling a lot of paper manuals to the flight line.

Telos also has at least one Wi-Fi and long-range WiMax wireless deal in the works. Badders promises to tell us about it when it happens.

Hungry for a slice of the JNN pie

While the Army has tantalized potential vendors with notices that it plans a buy for the Joint Network Node (JNN) gear used by the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq and currently sole-sourced to General Dynamics.

"If there is a competition, we are certainly going to bid," said Jim Hardin, director of business development for command, control, communications at Northrop Grumman's Mission Systems business unit.

Matt Kramer, a spokesman for Lockheed Martin, said the company is also interested in a JNN bid, which could see the nifty mobile system fielded to as many as 10 Army units.

Tim Rider, a spokesman for the Army, said the service has not yet decided on a course of action.

The RFID BPA blizzard

Last month, the Army awarded 17 blanket purchase agreements for DOD-wide technical and engineering services for passive radio frequency identification technology, with one more out of a series of five RFID BPAs due for award by the end of this month.

Jay Gulati, team leader for acquisition and contracting at the Army's Project Manager Joint-Automatic Identification Technology, said the contracts — for tags, readers, printers and later this month, handheld readers — will provide one-stop shopping for the gadgets, gizmos and services needed to support use of the short-range wireless tags throughout the DOD supply chain, making it easy to find a box of bullets in a mountain of beans.

But now that RFID hype has become reality (the technology still needs human intervention), has its moment come and gone before DOD finishes the contracting?

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