Bits & Bytes



President Bill Clinton's second inauguration will feature an industry-sponsored technology pavilion, dubbed the "Technology Playground" by the organizers.

Michael Gordon, a spokesman for the privately funded inauguration committee, said the pavilion will accommodate 1,500 people and will showcase high-tech products developed by roughly 20 companies. Gordon declined to identify any of the companies, which will pay for their exhibits.

Among the main features of the pavilion, he said, will be a giant video screen displaying messages from citizens to President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore.

In keeping with an oft-repeated theme of the Clinton re-election campaign, the messages will be arranged to show an image of a bridge to the 21st century, said Gordon.


RSA Data Security, Redwood City, Calif., plans to launch a contest for hackers at its annual conference in San Francisco at the end of January. The company is inviting computer experts to decipher encrypted messages. The goal is to check out the quality of the government-endorsed Data Encryption Standard (DES). Potential participants can find more information at


To get those pints to thirsty Brits a bit faster, Bass Taverns wants Unisys, Blue Bell, Pa., to install Aquanta server computers in its 2,800 pubs across the United Kingdom. The $14.8 million contract is an expansion of a project Unisys and the U.K.-based company took on three years ago to improve customer service.


America Online, Dulles, Va., has prohibited Russia from accessing its service. This move seems to be the first countrywide shutdown of an Internet service provider. While AOL routinely shuts off individuals who do not pay bills or are found to be defrauding the company, the sheer amount of credit card fraud coming from Russian customers apparently warranted the AOL quarantine.

Meanwhile, AOL has hired Tatiana Gau, a former Central Intelligence Agency employee, as vice president of integrity assurance. Gau, who also is an expert in industrial espionage, attended Pushkin University in Moscow and Georgetown University in Washington. Her staff of 20 will work on discovering and prosecuting computer crimes against AOL.

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