' Book your tickets now. Displaying a severe case of Tito envy, promoters of space tourism and government officials will hold their third meeting this week in Washington. The conference, titled 'Going Public 2001: Moving toward the Development of a Large Space Travel and Tourism Business,' is billed as an effort to work on 'inhibitor areas.' We're guessing these might include flight schedules, reservations, food, mattresses and toilets.

' Solution in search of a problem. Visa USA, Sun Microsystems Inc. and several banks this month threw down the gauntlet with the Smart Visa Challenge'a contest with prizes ranging up to $75,000 in cash for ideas about ways to use the existing Visa smart card and Sun's Java Card services. Visit www.visa.com/smartvisachallenge.

' Little green mail. A proposal that went to the Internet Engineering Task Force last month called for live tests of interplanetary Internet protocols aboard a 2003 NASA mission to Mars. NASA and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency are working on communications protocols that won't time out over really, really, really long distances.

' Hire Echelon? European computer users are up in arms over the British government's collaboration with the National Security Agency's secret Echelon spy network. Echelon is 'reading millions of e-mails and faxes sent every day by ordinary people,' the BBC World Service reported last month. Echelon won a Big Brother prize from Privacy International earlier this year [GCN, April 2, Page 46]. Europundits are now advising people to routinely encrypt their messages to deliberately confuse Big Bro. But you didn't find out about it from [email protected].

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