Town May Update Its Fiber Optics

The Leesburg Economic Development Commission held a special meeting Tuesday to discuss whether the town is sufficiently wired for high-tech growth.

The commission proposed a study on the feasibility of updating Leesburg's fiber optic infrastructure, the telecommunications network over which sound and data travel. A sophisticated fiber optic network, the commission concluded, is essential to attract the types of high-tech businesses that have flocked to the eastern parts of Loudoun County.

"We're being passed over by some pretty big players because Leesburg can't meet their high-tech needs," Leesburg Mayor James Clem said. "It's time to do something."

Members of the Loudoun County Department of Economic Development also attended the meeting, and Clem told them he would welcome county involvement.

Updating the town's fiber optic network most likely would involve digging up streets to lay new fiber.

Dulles Executive to Head Group

Gary McGraw, chief technology officer of Dulles-based Reliable Software Technologies, has been appointed chairman of the Malicious Code Infosec Science and Technology Study Group for the Infosec Research Council, a group of primarily government officials who sponsor research and development in computer information security.

McGraw will lead a series of workshops and meetings on software security and will present a report to the council in March on his and the group's findings.

McGraw, a resident of Berryville, Va., is head of Reliable's software security group and has consulted on electronic commerce issues for such organizations as Visa International, MicroStrategy Inc. and the Federal Reserve.

The goal of the malicious code study group is to develop a national research agenda to address the threat of computer hackers and their tools, including computer viruses.

Video Conferencing Offered

A Sterling organization figures it could have the answer to easing the area's traffic congestion. Vidnet.org has begun offering video conferencing over the Internet.

Vidnet.org is the latest incarnation of Financial Services Inc., a company founded by Sterling resident Charlie Taylor in 1986. Taylor started out in the mortgage banking industry, eventually moved to lobbying, representing the State of Georgia, and now has decided to try his hand at video conferencing services.

The Web site, www.vidnet.org, offers users free access to video conferencing "rooms" online. Although access is free, customers are required to pay more than $100 for video conferencing software and a PC camera. Taylor has deals with software manufacturer White Pine and other companies that give him a cut of the proceeds they get from sales via the Vidnet site.

Video conferencing for the masses has a long way to go, and the quality is often less than desirable on even the better systems. Taylor contends that his service is easier to use than other video conferencing services, but he admitted that "the sound on the software isn't quite there yet."

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