And another thing ...

TUXEDO FUNCTION. Microsoft Corp. ballyhooed the rollout of its new Vista operating system around the world last week. The software giant even held a fancy soir'e at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, in part for federal clients. The black-tie affair, co-sponsored by Intel Corp., featured an acceptable selection of food'shrimp, lobster bisque and beef tenderloin'and live music, and, of course, a horde of former federal officials now working for industry. There were a few current feds partying too, at least those who happened to have a tuxedo in the closet.

Meanwhile, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates shilled for Vista on Comedy Central's 'Daily Show with Jon Stewart' before heading off to England and three other countries to promote the new OS. Gates did offer some facts about Vista: 5 million people tested the beta version, and Microsoft consulted 50 families in seven countries on computer use and included 800 functions from that input. Then Stewart asked the key question: 'What does the F12 button do?'
Gates' advice: 'Stay away from it.' Good advice all around?

KEEPING TIME. The National Institute of Standards and Technology is taking part in a system for coordinating time measurements throughout the Americas. The Inter-American Metrology System uses Global Positioning System satellites and the Internet to compare times in Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Panama and the United States, according to NIST. In a recent report, measurements in Canada, Mexico and the United States stayed within 50 nanoseconds of each other over an eight-month period last year. We can't say offhand exactly why that's significant, but it's still pretty impressive.

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