MS gives New Orleans ‘free’ systems for City Hall, PD

The municipal Netscape program...

Microsoft is to update the computers of New Orleans' City Hall and Police Department for free, according to a report last week in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, saving the city $100 million, claims CTO Greg Meffert. Work will begin in the next two weeks, and the city's only obligations are that it will be used as a model for marketing the systems to other government bodies, and that it will at some point in the future have to pay a "miniscule" amount of money for the software.

So where's the catch? Well, think browser market, and also think about cash-strapped public bodies' readiness to accept donations and subsidy from public-spirited IT vendors, and Microsoft's growing keenness to leverage this. Free to the extent that all of a sizeable body's systems are covered is perhaps a little more radical than what the company has done so far, but in the UK in particular there have been several instances of donation easing the acceptance of the Redmond shilling.

For New Orleans, Meffert helpfully explains how this works. Because the systems are a gift, the city does not have to put the contract out to tender. "The carrot for them is that they can work with an actual city to develop this system," Meffert told the Times-Picayune. "They were extremely excited." Well indeed, they would be, and the plan apparently is to jointly develop and market software for other municipalities. This bears some comparison to the UK Government Gateway project Microsoft announced last year - in that case the returns on UK government IP resold by Microsoft are likely to be small, and it's not clear what, if anything, New Orleans will be likely to make.

Nor is it clear what is being developed for New Orleans City Hall, but the Police Department system, ODIS (Offender Data Information System) is already in use in Oklahoma, is based on "Microsoft's Distributed interNetwork Architecture" (which is a term we hadn't heard in a while, and seems to have already cut off its first air supplies.

Maffert has cancelled a $1.5 million contract awarded to modernise the Police Department's systems last year, claiming that the job can now be done for under $100,000. We're not entirely clear how the numbers here stack up, but the project at least relates to the New Orleans Police Department's Mobile Data Project, which consisted of an Ericsson trunked radio system, 200 Panasonic laptops and software from SCC and Cerulean. Given that you can't get radio systems and 200 laptops for under $100,000 we figure Ericsson and Panasonic (for the moment - think Stinger) are safe, but that SCC and Cerulean have just been Netscaped.

So how did all this get started? According to a spokesmen for the mayor, Bill Gates got seriously interested at an "impromptu meeting" after a Xavier University ceremony last month. Bill, Microsoft's supersalesman, has been getting seriously into giving of late, also helping out Peru last month. Nice to see he's working out ways to combine his two major interests. ®

Other stories you might like

  • Returning to the Moon on the European Service Module
    Moving to series production and dealing with the US, where things are done slightly differently

    Interview NASA has set late August as the launch window for its much-delayed Artemis I rocket. Already perched atop the booster is the first flight-ready European Service Module (ESM). Five more are in the pipeline.

    Airbus industrial manager Siân Cleaver, whom The Register met at the Goodwood Festival of Speed's Future Lab, has the task of managing the assembly of the spacecraft, which will provide propulsion, power, water, oxygen and nitrogen for the Orion capsule.

    Looking for all the world like an evolution of the European Space Agency's (ESA) International Space Station (ISS) ATV freighter, the ESM is not pressurized and measures approximately 4 meters in length, including the Orbital Maneuvering System Engine (OMSE), which protrudes from the base.

    Continue reading
  • Running DOS on 64-bit Windows and Linux: Just because you can
    DOS isn't dead. You can still run it and its apps, even now

    FOSS Fest There are still ways to run DOS apps under 64-bit Windows and Linux, and a lot of free apps to choose from.

    One of the differences between the Microsoft and Apple approaches to maintaining widely used OSes is that Apple is quite aggressive about removing backwards compatibility, while Microsoft tries hard to keep it.

    One of the few times Microsoft removed a whole compatibility layer from Windows was with the launch of 64-bit Windows, which went mainstream with Vista in 2007. 64-bit editions of Windows can't run 16-bit apps, whether they're for DOS or Windows.

    Continue reading
  • China's blockchain boosters slam crypto as Ponzi scheme
    Communists reckon Bill Gates and Warren Buffet got it right

    Executives at China's Blockchain-based Service Network (BSN) – a state-backed initiative aimed at driving the commercial adoption of blockchain technology – labelled cryptocurrency "the biggest Ponzi scheme in human history" in state-sponsored media on Sunday.

    "The author of this article believes that virtual currency is becoming the largest Ponzi scheme in human history, and in order to maintain this scam, the currency circle has tried to put on various cloaks for it," wrote Shan Zhiguang and He Yifan in the People's Daily.

    He Yifan is the CEO of startup Red Date Technology – a founding member and architect behind BSN – where he serves as executive director. Co-author Zhiguang Shan is chair of the BSN Development Alliance.

    Continue reading
  • Carnival Cruises torpedoed by US states, agrees to pay $6m after waves of cyberattacks
    Now those are some phishing boats

    Carnival Cruise Lines will cough up more than $6 million to end two separate lawsuits filed by 46 states in the US after sensitive, personal information on customers and employees was accessed in a string of cyberattacks.

    A couple of years ago, as the coronavirus pandemic was taking hold, the Miami-based biz revealed intruders had not only encrypted some of its data but also downloaded a collection of names and addresses; Social Security info, driver's license, and passport numbers; and health and payment information of thousands of people in almost every American state.

    It all started to go wrong more than a year prior, as the cruise line became aware of suspicious activity in May 2019. This apparently wasn't disclosed until 10 months later, in March 2020.

    Continue reading
  • India extends deadline for compliance with infosec logging rules by 90 days
    Helpfully announced extension on deadline day

    India's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and the local Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) have extended the deadline for compliance with the Cyber Security Directions introduced on April 28, which were due to take effect yesterday.

    The Directions require verbose logging of users' activities on VPNs and clouds, reporting of infosec incidents within six hours of detection - even for trivial things like unusual port scanning - exclusive use of Indian network time protocol servers, and many other burdensome requirements. The Directions were purported to improve the security of local organisations, and to give CERT-In information it could use to assess threats to India. Yet the Directions allowed incident reports to be sent by fax – good ol' fax – to CERT-In, which offered no evidence it operates or would build infrastructure capable of ingesting or analyzing the millions of incident reports it would be sent by compliant organizations.

    The Directions were roundly criticized by tech lobby groups that pointed out requirements such as compelling clouds to store logs of customers' activities was futile, since clouds don't log what goes on inside resources rented by their customers. VPN providers quit India and moved their servers offshore, citing the impossibility of storing user logs when their entire business model rests on not logging user activities. VPN operators going offshore means India's government is therefore less able to influence such outfits.

    Continue reading
  • Hangouts hangs up: Google chat app shuts this year
    How many messaging services does this web giant need? It's gotta be over 9,000

    Google is winding down its messaging app Hangouts before it officially shuts in November, the web giant announced on Monday.

    Users of the mobile app will see a pop-up asking them to move their conversations onto Google Chat, which is yet another one of its online services. It can be accessed via Gmail as well as its own standalone application. Next month, conversations in the web version of Hangouts will be ported over to Chat in Gmail. 

    Continue reading
  • OpenSSL 3.0.5 awaits release to fix potential worse-than-Heartbleed flaw
    Though severity up for debate, and limited chips affected, broken tests hold back previous patch from distribution

    The latest version of OpenSSL v3, a widely used open-source library for secure networking using the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol, contains a memory corruption vulnerability that imperils x64 systems with Intel's Advanced Vector Extensions 512 (AVX512).

    OpenSSL 3.0.4 was released on June 21 to address a command-injection vulnerability (CVE-2022-2068) that was not fully addressed with a previous patch (CVE-2022-1292).

    But this release itself needs further fixing. OpenSSL 3.0.4 "is susceptible to remote memory corruption which can be triggered trivially by an attacker," according to security researcher Guido Vranken. We're imagining two devices establishing a secure connection between themselves using OpenSSL and this flaw being exploited to run arbitrary malicious code on one of them.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022