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July 22, 2014
By Rachel Lilly

Do you love listening to podcasts? The new Overcast app, developed by Marco Arment, co-founder of Tumblr and creator of Instapaper, offers a simple, intuitive interface to listen to all your favorites.

What makes Overcast stand out from the many podcast options found in the app store? It allows users to download podcasts and listen anytime, even offline; search and browse new episodes; create custom playlists; subscribe to shows; enhance and normalize speech volume with Voice Boost; and adjust playback using Smart Speed to pick up extra speed without distortion.

July 21, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Office of Information and Technology awarded its fourth and final contract for its Transformation Twenty-One Total Technology (T4) contract to help veterans navigate technical access to health care services.

July 8, 2014
By Rachel Lilly

Have you ever walked into a business meeting and wished you could know a bit about each person to spark real conversation and bypass typical small talk? The free Refresh app for iOS aims to make it possible by providing a quick overview of the people you're about to meet, aggregating information from across the Web.

The app syncs with your calendar, contacts and scheduled meetings to display relevant insights from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and email about the people you will meet.

June 12, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The White House is going green. Well, more like slate gray. And only on the roof.

The White House’s recently installed rooftop solar panels generate renewable energy from the sun and help in lowering the residence’s energy costs. Over the past eight years, use of solar electricity in the United States has increased 10-fold, and added 23,682 jobs last year, mostly in the installation field, according to a survey by the nonprofit Solar Foundation.

June 4, 2014
By Chris LaPoint

It is impossible to protect a network you don’t even know exists. Identifying and protecting networks are a few of the many challenges the U.S. military faces today. Thousands of small networks exist across the Army alone—just one of the organizations attempting to consolidate, eliminate and standardize its service while following the evolving Joint Information Environment (JIE) standards. Ongoing changes in the tactical networks—the mobile battlefield—should provide the U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) with an increased ability to discover and address vulnerabilities in these networks.

May 7, 2014
By Sandra Jontz
Scientists will use the new capability to study the formation of interstellar grains in the outflow of carbon stars.

NASA scientists at Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, reproduced the processes that occur in the atmosphere of a red giant star and lead to the formation of planet-forming interstellar dust.


At Ames, scientists use a specialized facility called the Cosmic Simulation Chamber (COSmIC) to recreate and study dust grains similar to those that form in the outer layers of dying stars. The research can help them understand the composition and evolution of the universe and creation of planets, to include Earth-like planets, according to a news statement.

April 1, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) remains plagued by decades-old problems of unreliable and vulnerable networks and computer systems, putting the veterans they serve at risk, according to a recent government report. Despite years of documented weaknesses, the VA still has failed to shore up vulnerabilities, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

During the past six years alone, computer security incidents at the VA doubled, from 4,834 in 2007 to 11,382 in 2013, GAO investigators write. Incidents included unauthorized access, denial-of-service attacks, installation of malicious code and improper usage of computing resources, among others.

December 30, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

The Federal Aviation Administration has announced the six unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) sites available for conducting operations research and testing. Test site operators will perform their research at the University of Alaska; Griffiss International Airport, New York; Texas A&M University; and Virginia Tech, as well as in the states of Nevada and North Dakota. Investigations will include system safety and data gathering; aircraft certification; command and control link issues; control station layout and certification; ground and airborne sense and avoid capabilities; and environmental impacts.

December 13, 2013
By Jim Sweeney

Every year in the January issue, SIGNAL Magazine introduces a new columnist for its Incoming opinion column. Next year’s columnist, Lt. Gen. Daniel P. Bolger, USA (Ret.), picked a timely topic for his first column. He worries that with social media posts, warfighters and civilian military employees “merrily are doing the work of a million foreign spies.” Gen. Bolger warns of a broad trend toward posting too much information in social media.

November 30, 2012
George I. Seffers

 
Booz Allen Hamilton, McLean, Va., is being awarded a $15,888,620 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for information technology (IT) governance; IT privacy and security; policy and planning; IT workforce and training; SharePoint development and deployment; IT information integration; project management; and administrative support of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Deputy Chief of Information Management/Information Technology/Chief Information Office. The Naval Supply Systems Command Fleet Logistics Center, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity. 

November 18, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Technology plays a central role in helping the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) work smarter, not harder, to medically treat veterans, particularly those who live in rural areas of the nation.

The Veterans Health Administration steered the use of telehealth technology, which now lets cardiac patients heal at home, and might one day help cancer patients avoid long drives to VA hospitals for follow-up care, says Tom Klobucar, deputy director for VA's office of rural health. “Our office of telehealth services actively engages in looking for enterprise-level technological solutions to the questions of access.”

November 7, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Federal employees continue to express overall discontent with their jobs, agencies and senior leadership, and the dissatisfaction leads to a staggering amount of lost productivity, experts say.

Unhappy employees lead to disengaged employees who fail to give their all to their jobs. Roughly 70 percent of federal employees reportedly are disengaged from their jobs, prompting them to take three sick days a year more than their engaged colleagues. The result is an annual loss of 19,000 work years throughout the federal government, says Paul Wilson, vice president of federal solutions at the Ken Blanchard Companies. The loss comes in to the tune of roughly $65 billion.

November 12, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Last year, Kade Wolfley held a federal job as an electrician that gave him such little satisfaction he opted to quit and test his luck on an intriguing training program that took him away from his family for 11 weeks and offered no guarantee of employment.

The 36-year-old veteran took the “blind step of faith—hold on to the horse and see where it goes” approach, he says, and the plunge took him to Potomac, Maryland, and the Bolger Center, where for nearly three months, he underwent intensive training as part of the first class of the SAP National Security Services (SAP NS2) Serves veterans employment program, an independent, nonprofit initiative to give back to the community it serves.

October 7, 2014
By Sandra Jontz
U.S. Air Force troops from the 633rd Medical Group load onto a C-17 Globemaster at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, on September 26. They packaged and delivered a modular medical treatment center as part of a U.S. government-wide effort to support humanitarian relief operations in Ebola-stricken West African nations.

A Defense Department-backed research effort seeks emergency expert input and advice on ways to help combat the Ebola epidemic. Sharing to Accelerate Research-Transformative Innovation for Development and Emergency Support, better known as STAR-TIDES, seeks input on methods that can help health care workers better protect themselves while providing better care to patients infected with the deadly virus.

November 1, 2014
By Sandra Jontz
The nearly $400 million U.S. Army Pacific mission command facility at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, will provide state-of-the-art capabilities and dovetail with JIE requirements.

When the U.S. military began its now popularly termed “Asia pivot” a few years ago, the new outward focus on the Pacific region as a national military priority warranted some internal Defense Department focus on how to achieve the mission—to include bumping up the position for the U.S. Army Pacific commander from a three-star general to a four-star. Accordingly, the new position would need a four-star mission command center.

November 1, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

It can be daunting to transition from a life of taking orders to one of giving them. So business leaders in Virginia are stepping in to help transitioning veterans not only network for jobs, but also launch a business.

The Alexandria Veterans Business Enterprise Center (AVBEC) is opening an incubator space this month with roughly 3,900 square feet that boasts training rooms, meeting rooms and a workspace to serve as a home base for 10 to 15 veterans seeking to start their own businesses.

October 2, 2014
By Sandra Jontz
The tri-agency managed Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite in the cleanroom for inspection. With funding from Congress in the fiscal 2014 appropriations, it is slated to launch in January.

U.S. Congress has approved full funding for the prelaunch processes to continue on the tri-agency Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite system, developed to help monitor for potentially disastrous sun storms. The funding ensures systems are a go for a January space launch. It is set to blast off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9, built by the private space technology company founded by Elon Musk.

September 16, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

NASA has awarded its long-awaited Commercial Crew Development contracts to Boeing and SpaceX to build the next generation of spacecraft that will deliver astronauts to the International Space Station beginning in 2017. The two firms will build, deliver and launch space capsules of their own design to provide human access to low Earth orbit. Currently, U.S. astronauts can reach the space station only by purchasing seats aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft for $70 million each.

The total potential contract value will be $6.8 billion for spacecraft certification over the life of the contracts, according to Charlie Bolden, NASA administrator. Boeing will receive $4.2 billion, and SpaceX will receive $2.6 billion.

October 1, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

When cloud computing revolutionized the way businesses stored, processed and transmitted data, the rapid transformation—as with a lot of technological advances—left U.S. government agencies behind the times. The government’s hurried effort to align itself with the paradigm shift from traditional stand-alone computers, workstations and networks to the not-quite-understood cloud computing technology left a policy aperture fraught with challenges that caught some agencies unprepared—particularly adjuncts in inspector general and general counsel offices.

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