Tech News for February 2

Microsoft Dives Deep With Underwater Data Centers As Environmentally Friendly Cloud Computing Alternative

It may not be as deep as Jules Verne envisioned in his iconic work “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea,” but Microsoft is embarking on a deep sea adventure by placing data centers at the bottom of the ocean in a bid to save money — and the environment. In Verne’s book, the figure of 20,000 refers to the distance traveled under the water. However, the author does mention depths of 4 leagues, which equates to 16 km (10 miles) — the deepest the submarine in Verne’s novel travels below sea level — but even this is far deeper than anything Microsoft is planning with Project Natick.

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New Technologies Give Government Ample Means to Track Suspects, Study Finds

For more than two years the F.B.I. and intelligence agencies have warned that encrypted communications are creating a “going dark” crisis that will keep them from tracking terrorists and kidnappers. Now, a study in which current and former intelligence officials participated concludes that the warning is wildly overblown, and that a raft of new technologies — like television sets with microphones and web-connected cars — are creating ample opportunities for the government to track suspects, many of them worrying.

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California intrusion: Attacking privacy

It’s a chilling government overreach that could extend well beyond California if that state’s attorney general is not stopped: AG Kamala Harris demands that nonprofits, which are required to register with the state of California to solicit donations, must also provide the names and addresses of donors to her office. The demand is ludicrous. The case law is clear. But in cases such as these, the nation’s Constitution oftentimes is used as a doormat instead of a doorstop.

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DHS funds smart shirts for first responders

A shirt that collects first responders’ vital signs and transmits them to headquarters could become standard equipment for police and firefighters thanks to funding from the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate. Two Canadian companies — Calgary-based data company SensorUp and Montreal-based wearable manufacturers Hexoskin — have partnered to create a system that monitors first responders’ vitals via an Internet-connected shirt.

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How to prepare for the IT department of the future

With the role of IT constantly evolving, and with new technologies introduced seemingly every day, how can IT professionals develop a plan that sets them up for success not only in 2016, but also over the next five years? The key is to focus less on identifying and acquiring new skills and technical experience — though that’s extremely important — and emphasize big-picture thinking, says Cory Chaplin, director of Technology Integration Practice for business and technology consulting firm West Monroe Partners.

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Gartner argues cloud email is still immature – but gaining traction

The cloud email market remains relatively immature with Microsoft ahead of Google in enterprise adoption, according to the latest figures from analyst house Gartner. According to email server domain records of almost 40,000 public companies worldwide, only 8.5% of firms polled use Microsoft, compared to 4.7% on Google’s mail, with the remainder using on-premises, hybrid, hosted, or private cloud email systems.

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WSJ CIO Network: Data Science Can Empower the Consumer

There’s money to be made in upending the asymmetry in the data power structure, according to data analytics experts speaking at The Wall Street Journal’s CIO Network conference Monday. Most companies today know more about a consumer than he about them, said Andreas Weigend, director of the Social Data Lab at Stanford University and former chief scientist at Inc. This imbalance of information serves as an advantage to companies – but one that may not stand as new firms form with a mindset of sharing data to gain competitive advantage, Dr. Weigend, told an audience of chief information officers here at a panel moderated by Wall Street Journal Deputy Editor in Chief Rebecca Blumenstein.

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Federal Government Confirms That It Still Sucks at Cyber Security

A $6 billion security system intended to keep hackers out of computers belonging to federal agencies isn’t living up to expectations, an audit by the Government Accountability Office has found. A public version of the secret audit released last week — a secret version containing more sensitive findings was circulated to government agencies in November — concerns the Einstein system, formally called the National Cybersecurity Protection System and operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

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FDIC Warns Banks To Beef Up Cyber Security

Due to the increase in number and sophistication of cyber threats, cyber security has become a critical issue facing the financial services sector. This article discusses the cyber threat landscape and how financial institutions’ information security programs can be enhanced to address evolving cyber security risks. The article concludes with a discussion of actions taken by the federal banking agencies in response to the increase in cyber threats.

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FireEye buys fellow cybersecurity firm Invotas

Cybersecurity firm FireEye Inc. has purchased Invotas International Corp., which was spun off from CSG Systems International Inc. CSGS, -1.46% late last year. Alexandria, Va.-based Invotas focuses on security automation and orchestration. It launched in 2014 after operating in stealth mode for three years. Invotas has 19 employees.

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State Announces Solution Development Phase of Project Approval Process

The California Department of Technology on Jan. 29 released details about the third of four phases that make up the state’s process for planning and approving reportable IT projects. The Stage 3 Solution Development “provides a structured and guided approach for conducting Information Technology procurement activities to acquire solutions that best meet business objectives, adhere to state policies and regulations, and yield the highest probability of success,” a technology letter from the department says.

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White House Launches ‘Computer Science for All’ Initiative

This week President Obama launched a new Computer Science Initiative called Computer Science for All to give all students across the country the chance to learn computer science (CS) in school.

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RFQ: Department of Motor Vehicles AIX Server Relocation

The California Department of Motor Vehicles is seeking the services of an IBM Premier Business Partner to relocate and reassemble IBM servers and equipment from the Office of Technology Services’ Gold Camp data center back to DMV headquarters in Sacramento.

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Report: Sacramento PD Buys Electronic Ticket Writers for Patrol Officers

The Sacramento Police Department will soon be able to issue a ticket as easily as tapping a few buttons: the police force recently used an $800,000 grant to buy 300 electronic ticket writers for their patrol officers, according to a report from Capitol Public Radio.

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5 California Municipalities Move to Networked Next-Gen 911 System

For most people, knowing how the 911 system works isn’t important; it just has to work when they need it. But as our landline phones gave way to cellphones and cellphones evolved into smartphones, 911 centers have had to adapt to the changing environment to provide consistent, dependable service. And in the foothills of Northern California, a cluster of municipalities is looking toward a networked 911 system that will eventually allow them to accept streaming video, text messages and, of course, the voice call.

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S.F. upgrades Wi-Fi, relaunches startup effort, shares data

San Francisco unveiled a series of plans to boost connectivity and encourage tech innovation within the city. In a flurry of announcements this week, San Francisco said it would upgrade to its public Wi-Fi offering #SFWiFi, relaunch its startup residency initiative and partner with mapping directions app Waze around data sharing. City Chief Information Officer Miguel Gamiño told StateScoop that, as the home of a burgeoning technology community, San Francisco is uniquely poised to find ways technology can transform government.

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Report: State, local governments see IT contract bids decline in Q4 FY2015

State and local governments saw overall decreases in the number and size of IT contract bids in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2015 compared to the same period in 2014, according to a new report. The research firm Deltek released a study Wednesday analyzing the latest numbers compiled in its “GovWin IQ State and Local Bid Notifications” database, and found that governments saw an 11.3 percent decline in the number of IT bids received in the final quarter of last year.

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Spike in tech salaries adds to IT recruiting woes for government

Government agencies trying to attract top technology talent face growing headwinds as salaries offered by the commercial sector surged by a record amount last year, according to new figures. Average tech salaries in the U.S. last year grew 7.7 percent to $96,370, according to a survey of 16,301 employed technology professionals by technology career site Dice. The jump in salaries was the biggest year-over-year leap Dice has seen since it began conducting the survey more than a decade ago.

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Reserve your spot for State Worker brown bag Feb. 22

Just a few seats remain open for our second State Worker brown bag lunch later this month. On Feb. 22, The State Worker will host a meeting for state employees and retirees to discuss how we cover state workers. Got a question about a story or blog post? Want to hash over contracts and what you think the stories will be this year? Maybe you’d like to talk journalism or just get out of the office for a while.

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