U.S. government agency to ensure 600 vendors offer IPv6-compliant products

The federal General Services Administration (GSA) is reviewing information technology (IT) schedules for roughly 600 vendors to ensure they offer IPv6-compliant products and services, Federal Computer Week reports. GSA is managing a number of initiatives to ensure departments meet the June 30 deadline to ensure network backbones are IPv6-compliant. According to Gene Sokolowski, the GSA’s deputy chief technology officer in the Federal Acquisition Service’s Integrated Technology Service, officials are asking vendors to specify how they comply with IPv6, as well as the test criteria used. He also notes the end goal is to identify IPv6 products on government-wide acquisition contracts and expects the analysis to be finished by early spring. Meanwhile, GSA has created three teams to address IPv6 issues. The emerging-technology team will monitor the evolution of technology and identify those that are commercial in nature; the portfolio team will identify IPv6 products and services that need to be on a schedule; and the communications team will work with agencies’ IPv6 points of contact to understand agency transition needs and inform them of existing capabilities, according to Sokolowski. He adds that the communications team also is developing a Web site and brochure, slated for completion in early February, and in April plans to hold an acquisition event in California. Finally, GSA is compiling information on IPv6 training opportunities for agencies (Miller, FCW, 1/31/08).

New measurement encoding standard released

The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) recently approved the new OpenGIS(r) Observations & Measurements (O&M) Encoding Standard, Government Computer News reports. The new standard offers an Extensible Markup Language schema to effectively describe data and facilitate others’ use of the data for other purposes. Specifically, researchers collect data and display it using their own common language, making it difficult for outside researchers to adapt or apply parts of data from other studies to their own. The latest standard aims to simplify the expression of data used by all scientists. OGC’s executive director uses this example:

 

“The initial work for O&M was done by a Ph.D. in Australia who wanted to express depth in millibars of atmospheric pressure … It became apparent that one of the big difficulties of sharing his scientific data was the description of the data so it could be understood on the receiving end with as little human explanation as possible.”

Noting OGC represents more than 345 companies, government agencies, universities and research groups and has been collaborating with other standards organizations, the executive director is hopeful that the new standard will be broadly adopted and implemented (Marshall, GCN, 1/31/08).

Ohio unveils IBM supercomputer

The Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) recently unveiled its IBM-built supercomputer in an effort to help state businesses better compete in the global market, Government Computer News reports. The $4.4 million IBM Cluster 1350 computer system’s peak performance exceeds 17 trillion calculations per second, making it the 65th most powerful supercomputer in the world, according to OSC. Specifically, the system features 877 of the cluster nodes that run dual-socket 2.6-Ghz Opteron multicore processors from Advanced Micro Devices and are supported by 8G of random access memory. An additional 86 cluster nodes run quad-socket 2.6 Opterons with 16G of memory, while six other nodes are designated for accelerated computational work and log-in duties. The computer also includes four IBM blade servers that run dual-core IBM cell processors and links all 969 nodes and the blade system with 10 Gbps Infiniband. According to GCN, officials expect the system to help Ohio businesses such as Proctor and Gamble refine their products in a manner that could not be achieved with in-house resources. OSC’s executive director adds "the new machine will accelerate research in vital areas such as advanced materials, energy, biosciences, manufacturing, defense and aerospace applications” (Jackson, GCN, 1/31/08).

Microsoft launches comic featuring superhero IT pros

Microsoft on Monday unveiled its new daily Web comic called Heroes Happen Here, which features tech savvy crime fighters, InformationWeek reports. Sponsored by Microsoft and Seagate, the strip will focus on "four characters who are unexpectedly thrown together to chase down a rogue computer virus," according to a spokesperson. Microsoft has tapped Jordan Gorfinkel, the former DC Comics editor who helped revitalize the Batman series, to create the strip, which will run through June 28. To engage readers, the Web site will solicit real-life IT stories to inform future storylines and offer a daily RSS feed. InformationWeek also notes that Heroes Happen Here also lends its name to Microsoft’s February launch event for its 2008 versions of SQL Server, Windows Server and Visual Studio (McDougall, InformationWeek, 1/30/08).

Microsoft offers $44.6B for Yahoo

Microsoft Corp. on Friday announced it had offered Yahoo Inc. $44.6 billion, making it the company’s boldest challenge yet against Internet giant Google Inc., the Associated Press reports. Under the unsolicited proposal, Yahoo shareholders could receive cash or Microsoft common shares, balancing the total purchase at 50 percent cash and 50 percent stock. The AP notes that Microsoft estimates at least $1 billion in cost savings from the combination and that the company plans to offer significant retention packages to Yahoo engineers, key leaders and other staff. The takeover offer of $31 per share, sent shortly after Yahoo’s CEO resigned, sent Yahoo's share price up 60 percent in premarket trading, while Google fell 8 percent. Demonstrating its tenacity, Microsoft said it will offer a 62 percent premium on Yahoo's closing stock price Thursday, according to the AP. Yahoo, meanwhile, did not immediately respond to requests for comment (Liedtke, AP/Yahoo! News, 2/1/08).

Federal government offers e-learning modules to teach American Indian culture

The federal Office of Personnel Management’s GoLearn.gov recently posted a new e-learning course that covers details about American Indian tribal governments, culture and historical facts, Federal Computer Week reports. Developed by various agencies including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Justice, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the course includes four modules: an introduction, an overview of tribal concepts, a lesson on federal Indian law and policies, and a cultural orientation. Each module features voice-overs and links to additional resources such as relevant laws and executive orders. Officials note the Web-based course, which was produced by the Federal Employee/Workforce Native Education and Training workgroup, will more efficiently teach federal employees about American Indians (Chan, FCW, 2/1/08).

Colorado researchers earn $1.1 million to develop quantum computer

Colorado State University (CSU) on Thursday received a $1.1 million grant from the W.K. Keck Foundation to support the development of a large-scale quantum computer, the Denver Business Journal reports. CSU's Department of Physics will use the funding to expand research that will involve reducing the processing and memory tasks of a computer to the atomic level, which ultimately could lead to computing power far greater than existing microprocessor-driven devices. Specifically, CSU researches say they aim to develop "a laser-cooled, single-atom-on-demand source for silicon quantum computers," adding "the project will yield an essential tool for researchers to precisely place atoms within nanometers of a designated target and overcome a critical roadblock in nano-fabrication" (Denver Business Journal, 1/31/08).

Maryland lawmakers convene biotechnology, life sciences caucus

A group of Maryland lawmakers recently formed a biotechnology and life sciences committee to promote the industry statewide, the Baltimore Business Journal reports. According to officials, the forum will serve as a platform for working with agencies, academic centers and the private sector to improve the state's life science industry. Slated to meet throughout and between legislative sessions, the committee will meet for the first time on Jan. 31 and all meetings will be open to the public. Roughly 25 legislators including delegates and senators will likely participate in the meetings (Sharrow, Baltimore Business Journal, 1/31/08).

Maryland Tech agency awards $300,000 in grants

The Maryland Technology Development Corp. (Tedco), which receives funding from the state but is privately operated, awarded four young Maryland technology companies a total of $300,000, the Baltimore Business Journal reports. Each company received $75,000 from Tedco’s Maryland Technology Transfer Fund, which is designated for companies that use technology developed in labs at government or higher education institutions to create a commercial product. Recipients include Baltimore-based Bamvet Laboratories Inc., which is working with Johns Hopkins University to make an analgesic tablet for use in veterinary surgery; Rockville-based HeMemics Biotechnologies Inc., which is collaborating with the University of Maryland medical school to dry out proteins and cells for easier storage and transport; Vivomind Intelligence Inc., which is also in Rockville and works with the federal government to develop commercial business intelligence and data mining software; and Rockville-based 3CLogic Inc., which together with the University of Maryland-College Park is developing peer-to-peer file-sharing technology for use on voice over Internet (Dance, Baltimore Business Journal, 1/31/08).

EDS to manage breast cancer advocacy group data

Susan G. Komen For The Cure, the nation's largest breast cancer activist group, is contracting with Texas-based Electronic Data Systems (EDS) for server management across five years, the Dallas Business Journal reports. Under the contract, for which financial details were not disclosed, EDS will manage Komen's Website hosting, offer ongoing server configuration and support the organization's IT infrastructure. EDS also will serve as the official host of the June 2008 North Texas Komen Race For The Cure (Dallas Business Journal, 1/31/08).

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