B>Johnnie Cochran Does SBIS
O.K., so Loral agreed to deliver 20 software applications during the first year of its $474 million Sustaining Base Information Services deal, signed in June 1993. But you can't argue that Loral has failed to live up to the contract merely because 26 months later it hasn't completed even one application to the U.S. Army; however, "It all depends on how you define the first year of the contract," says Stephen Lubniewski, a vice president at Loral's federal system division.
Moorhead vs. Rohrabacher, Round 12
In one of the nastiest intraparty fights seen in years, two colleagues in the House are exchanging charges of lying and misinforming. In one corner is Rep. Carlos Moorhead, chairman of the judiciary committee's panel on intellectual property and vocal proponent of patent reform laws. In the other is Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, ardent defender of the traditional patent system.
A July 27 letter to members of the House from Moorhead accused Rohrabacher of passing "misinformation" about a patent-related resolution adopted by the White House Conference on Small Business. Rohrabacher responded by mailing a copy of the resolution, asking readers to decide. That's restrained for Rohrabacher -- only two weeks ago he told a meeting of congressional staffers that Moorhead's supporters were telling lies to stop Rohrabacher's campaign to restore the traditional patent law.
Cryptic Crypto Cabal
Back room negotiations to loosen government controls on the export of encryption technology are making progress, say a variety of infotech industry officials.
The controls are "beginning to show signs of cracking" under industry pressure, said John Lacopo, EDS' chief of government relations. But the officials don't want to say much for fear of upsetting delicate negotiations between the White House, industry executives, law-enforcement officials and the electronic spies at the National Security Agency.
Internauts in Space
Assuming the Space Shuttle Endeavor finally works out its O-ring problems and is given clearance for take off, an onboard World Wide Web site will give the Earth-bound a chance to witness the events.
The University of Houston's Wake Shield Facility information center will provide real-time updates of results and photographs during the space mission over the Internet's World Wide Web (http://www.svec.uh.edu/). Web site visitors can submit electronic mail questions that will be answered by WSF scientists and the shuttle crew. Internauts can also register for a chance to win mission pins and a mission patch that will fly during the space mission. Endeavor had been scheduled for launch Aug. 3.
Encryption Software May Make Enemies
The government's law-enforcement experts and electronic eavesdropping spooks were really ticked off when Phil Zimmerman released his Pretty Good Privacy encryption software into the wilds of cyberspace. Now he's planning to release PGP Voice.
The software encrypts E-mail and files against most decryption attacks. The new and improved software will soon allow people with powerful computers to talk via computers and the Internet -- shutting out the FBI or industrial spies.
PGP Voice will make even more enemies for Zimmerman in the law-enforcement business, and perhaps in the phone business. How soon will it be before people start using their PGP Voice to chat without the aid of the Baby Bells or the long distance carriers?
The Office of Technology Assessment has been overtaken by budget-cutting events in Congress, leaving little prospect that the office will survive into next year. Senate and House committees preparing Congress' 1996 budget agreed to kill off the $22 million agency, making the OTA's most recent report something of a collector's item.
The Aug. 3 report, "Issue Update on Information Security and Privacy in Network Environments," contains no news, but does reaffirm the steadily growing concern over information security and data theft.
Faxing Is First Choice for Speedy Delivery
The Postal Service faces a threat from technology-based communication, but faxes still seem to be winning out over E-mail. According to a Gallup survey commissioned by Pitney Bowes, when a Fortune 500 company needs a fast response, 47 percent choose fax, 30 percent choose overnight couriers and 9 percent choose E-mail.
Fax is the top means of communication for financial contracts or sales and for documents headed overseas. The study found that companies perceive the telephone as the easiest communication method to use, followed by the fax. Pitney Bowes is one of the world's top suppliers of fax equipment.
VITA's ace in the hole
The Arlington, Va., non-profit group Volunteers in Technical Assistance, or VITA, was awarded a license by the Federal Communications Commission on July 21 to operate a satellite that will provide location tracking and monitoring. VITA filed for the license in August 1990, but last April the organization revealed it had a commercial partner, Rockville, Md.-based CTA, which slowed the FCC approval.
VITA will use its satellite to provide educational, health, environmental and disaster relief communications in developing countries. CTA will use half VITA's satellite capacity to provide commercial services. The satellite is scheduled for an August launch.
Top ten losers in house appropriations cuts to Energy Department
(in millions of dollars)
StateFY 1995House FY 1996Difference
5. New Mexico24492231-218
Suggestions on the Hill for the Energy Department's future have ranged from miscellaneous slicing, dicing and parceling to being moved under the aegis of the Pentagon. Above, House California Democrat George Brown's take on state-by-state cuts, geared to drum up opposition to GOP budget-slashing. Tennessee, home of the Oak Ridge National Lab, is the biggest loser overall.
"Ask him. He'll tell you what I think."
--Rep. George Brown, D-Calif., casually handing off a reporter's question to his aide, Dan Pearson.