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November 11, 2011

Baltimore city gov phones set for a big VoIP upgrade

Baltimore's municipal phone system -- the phones that city workers use to do their jobs -- is set for a big upgrade.

The city comptroller's office is overseeing the process, which is moving steadily along. This week, a partnership between IBM and Avaya, was the only entity to meet the requirements for the city's RFP. The next step is for the city to consider a pricing bid from them. So far, IBM/Avaya has estimated to the city that the new system - a Voice over Internet Protocal system, or VoIP -- will cost $7.6 million to implement, according to Comptroller Joan Pratt, who spoke with me on Wednesday.

I hear the city has about 7,500 phones lines. One insight into how the current system works: when daylight savings time occurred last weekend, city technicians how to go to each city building and change the time on a "key system unit" -- a central box used to reset the time on each phone in that particular building, according to Pratt. (No, city techs did not manually change the clocks on every single phone, as one tipster suggested to us.)

With the new VoIP system, a task like a time change across thousands of phones will be able to handled remotely, from one location, according to Pratt.

Interestingly, in 1995, the city upgraded its phone system -- consisting of 9,900 phones -- for $7.2 million. Here's the Baltimore Sun article about it.

In that article, the city touted the savings it would reap -- several milllion a year at the time -- from the then-new phone system. I'll try to find out if the city sees any projected savings this time around with the VoIP system.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:40 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*, Government Tech
        

October 21, 2011

Job postings in Baltimore City tech

rico-singleton.jpgIf you're interested in the tech side of city government, Baltimore's chief information officer, Rico Singleton (left), has openings for three positions in his office.

You can find details on the positions here, in a Google Doc.

The jobs are: web development team senior position, executive administrative assistant, and performance management analyst. I learned of these openings -- and Singleton's earnest desire to fill them quickly in a tough recruiting environement for IT specialists -- through a Facebook group, Baltimore Tech.

If you haven't been paying attention, some committed and motivated people are working to improve the technology scene in Baltimore, and many of them are active on the Baltimore Tech Facebook group.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Government Tech
        

March 8, 2011

bwtech@UMBC attracts two cyber security companies

Two cyber security companies are opening up offices in the bwtech@UMBC Research and Technology Park, becoming the 13th and 14th such companies to locate in the center as the University of Maryland Baltimore County beefs up its information technology and cyber security presence in the region.

Telcordia, based in New Jersey, has offices all over the world and will open an office at the park where it will focus on developing tools for protecting vital communications networks. The company works with Department of Defense agencies at Fort Meade and Aberdeen Proving Ground.

The second company, Ross Technologies, was originally based in Howard County, but is moving its headquarters to bwtech. The company works with businesses and government agencies to secure computer systems.

As you may know, Maryland is engaged in a big-time push (from the governor on down) to promote the state as a center for cyber security. Is this a good time for small cyber security companies in Maryland?


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:58 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Government Tech
        

February 17, 2011

Sourcefire makes Forbes top 25 fastest growing tech company list

Sourcefire was the only Maryland tech company to get a shout-out from Forbes on its list of America's fastest growing tech companies. It was No. 15.

Columbia-based Sourcefire Inc., which specializes in cyber security (i.e. detecting and preventing hackers from malicious intrusion) was even listed ahead of Apple (#16) and Google (#17).

The top fast-growing tech company was one called FirstSolar, a maker of solar panels.

The Maryland Venture Fund, by the way, was an early investor in Sourcefire. That turned out well.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 3:10 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, Government Tech
        

February 1, 2011

Uprising in Egypt: New protests, old tech

office-space-fax-machine.jpg

The fax machine is relevant again. (Remember that image above, from the 1999 movie "Office Space", where disgruntled workers obliterated their fax machine.)

For days now, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians have taken to the streets to protest Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule. Mubarak's government has responded by essentially shutting down the country's Internet infrastructure. The government has put pressure on independent television media (i.e. Al Jazeera) to cut off their broadcasting, with only minimal success.

Egyptians appear to be finding ways to spread words and images to the outside world. Twitter, Facebook and Youtube -- just search for "Cairo" and "protests" to see many videos uploaded over the past week.

Mobile phones apparently are still able to be used, but the Mubarak government reportedly has cut off text-messaging access. So how are Egyptians communicating with each other and sharing their views and images with the outside world? Here's a short list:

* Dial-up modems: With DSL connectivity down, people are turning to their old dial-up modems and calling international numbers to get access to the outside world, although access at a snail's pace.

* Ham radios: frequencies for Egyptians are being shared across the Internet. Morse code apparently has been in use by ham radio operators.

* Fax machines: apparently, the good ol' fax machine has been dusted off and used as a communication tool, according to the BBC and HuffPost. People are faxing information to phone numbers that automatically upload documents to the Internet, through coordination by We Rebuild, an Internet activist group.

* Twitter by phone call: Google and Twitter partnered to create a tool that allows people to call a number and leave an audio message, which then automatically gets tweeted with the hashtag #egypt.

* Television is, in some ways, "old tech," but it's still an unparalleled, awesome mass medium with arguably the biggest reach. Egyptian state tv has been generally broadcasting scenes of calm and of Mubarak with his new cabinet. But it seems such placid images only further irritates the protestors. For people outside Egypt, Al Jazeera has been the go-to network for 24/7 coverage. The satellite news channel isn't available in the U.S. (except in a handful of places) but it's easy to access it's English channel through its Website's live feed and its very awesome iPhone app, which is free. Kudos to the Al Jazeera correspondents across Egypt for defying government orders and continuing to broadcast and use social media to get news out around the world.

What other old tech tools and methods are Egyptians using to spread the news of their revolt against Mubarak's rule?


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:28 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, Government Tech
        

January 26, 2011

InvestMaryland event starts 9 a.m. Thursday - watch live here!

InvestMaryland is an initiative by Gov. Martin O'Malley to use state tax revenues -- to the tune of $100 million over five years -- from the insurance industry to fund venture capital investment in Maryland technology companies.

The goal of the initiative, which still has to be debated and approved by the General Assembly this year, is to fuel a self-sustaining cycle of investments in early-stage businesses in the state. The problem, many believe, is that there isn't enough money in the private sector for investment in early stage businesses -- hence the reason why public policy makers want to prime the pump, so to speak.

For a full rundown of the program, read my article here.

On Thursday, Jan. 27, the O'Malley is hosting "InvestMaryland" day in Annapolis, where business leaders and tech geeks will gather to discuss and presumably promote the plan. Below, you can watch a live video feed of the proceedings, starting at 9 a.m. Tune in if you care.

Watch live streaming video from ChooseMaryland at livestream.com



This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 4:59 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events (Baltimore area), Government Tech, Venture Cap
        

Big news: Baltimore city opens up data spigot

Big news today out of Baltimore: the long-anticipated (by this blog) release of data sets by the city has finally arrived.

There's crime data, 311 data, tax data, parking citation data -- and much, much more. The data is available at this site: http://data.baltimorecity.gov/

What's cool about this new site is that it doesn't only allow you to view the data. Programmers and hackers and web geeks can export the data and come up with their own presentation methods for displaying the data.

What do you think? I want to see the mash-ups that get created with this data. Ping me if you plan on doing interesting things with it: gus.sentementes@baltsun.com.

baltimore-data-sets.gif


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 12:04 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, East Coast, Government Tech, Web Dev & Apps
        

January 21, 2011

Baltimore's "tremendous potential as a smarter city"

I just finished browsing the IBM Smarter Cities report on Baltimore (update: which was made possible online by the industriousness of Nick Judd, writing about it for the site techPresident. Nick got a copy of the report and put it online.)

IBM used Baltimore as a guinea pig for an initiative it's undertaking to analyze how well 100 cities are performing when it comes to using and sharing information and data. Then the brains at IBM unleashed a slew of suggestions for how Baltimore can better manage information and data, with a focus on public safety, youth services and general information technology infrastructure.

If anything, the report is a sober analysis of the tough challenges that our city government faces in striving to make complicated information systems better (and simpler?), while at the same time dealing with stark budget constraints.

At 163 pages, the report is a little dense, but it makes for some interesting reading if you're a public policy or government management wonk. Among the findings, the IBM'ers agreed with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake transition report that recommended doing a better job of centralizing the city's information technology functions.

The challenge for political leaders is picking the battlefronts that should be fought to implement these changes, and ranking their priority based on budget realities, I'd say.

It ranked the city at the bottom of a pyramid it used to show how far along it was in terms of development of a strategic I.T. approach. Below is the pyramid:

baltimore-IT-pyramid.gif

Here's the full report, via Scribd, if you choose to hack your way through it. It's actually a good way to get a little knowledge of how some parts of our city government works, what it's already doing well, and what it can do better:


Smarter Cities Challenge_IBM


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:48 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Big Ideas, East Coast, Government Tech
        

January 3, 2011

Baltimore's tech community and its rising political voice

I've been keeping this blog for about 18 months now, and I've noticed one overarching trend during this time in Baltimore: the "tech" community is expanding and pulling in excited people from all walks of life in the metro area. Social media (Facebook/Twitter, mainly) are connecting locals more than ever before.

Perhaps most importantly, the still-relatively-small community of tech/social media geeks are organizing for different goals, from business-oriented networking events to social projects. The fact that such organization is happening, so efficiently and quickly, leads me to believe in one thing: the Baltimore tech community is developing its own influential voice -- so much so that politicians are noticing.

It may not be one unified voice. But great power potentially resides in those who know how to maximize the use of technology and the Internet.

It is nowhere more apparent than last year's local effort to organize a Baltimore application for the Google Fiber for Communities project. It started as a grassroots effort that grew to the point where it made sense for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to embrace it. Suddenly, Baltimore was gussying itself up trying to impress Google, a West Coast company who's looking to build a spanking-new fiber optic network as a test bed for new technologies.

(We also shouldn't forget how, statewide, the tech community organized to defeat passage of a tech services tax a few years back -- one of the organizers was Tom Loveland, Baltimore's "Google Czar.")

dave-troy-head-shot.JPG
Now we see another step in the political awakening of Baltimore's tech community: Dave Troy's endorsement of mayoral candidate Otis Rolley on Jan. 1. Troy (pictured) is a Maryland Renaissance man, dabbling in various entrepreneurial and startup projects, public/social endeavors, and big-idea thinking. He's got the business chops and the technology chops to make stuff happen, and increasingly, he's paying attention to who's politically in charge. (And politics watcher Adam Meister is now watching him.) Troy helped pull together Baltimore's Google Fiber effort, along with Tom Loveland.

And Dave, mind you, is well-connected to geeks across the land, not just Maryland. Geeks know how to work the Internet and social media -- and political candidates like Rolley and Rawlings-Blake, I think, recognize that they'll increasingly need the geeks in their corner.

President Barack Obama tapped the geeks for his campaign, with great success.

"[T]he use of the Internet for political and community organizing will usher in an era of unprecedented change in American cities," Troy writes. He says of Rolley:

I support Otis Rolley in his candidacy for Mayor of Baltimore in 2011. At 36, Otis is part of the new guard. He’s qualified – he has a masters’ degree in City Planning from MIT. He has been in Baltimore since 1998. He served 10 years in the public sector and two in the private sector. As an executive, he led the Baltimore City Department of Planning and – shockingly – produced the city’s first actual master plan in 39 years.

If more geeks, in addition to Troy, break Rolley's way, we could see a very interesting and robust Internet-based campaign season break out in Baltimore for the mayoral election later this year.

Rawlings-Blake, for her part, has pushed for more transparency in city government using technology. The last we heard, her administration is working to unveil large sets of data from city agencies that will give the public -- and eager tech geeks -- material to create new Web mashups that inform the public about government operations.

For more info:

* Rolley's Website.

* Rawlings-Blake's Website.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech

December 14, 2010

Growing Bwtech@UMBC, from life sciences to cybersecurity

Frank Turano was a biology and genetics researcher and professor tied to George Washington University, while his wife was a professor specializing in sensory systems at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

When it came time for the couple to launch their own startup, they looked around Maryland for public and private incubators and ultimately decided on Bwtech at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

“We looked for support to grow a business,” said Turano, who launched Plant Sensory Systems three years ago, a small firm that investigates how to modify plant genes so they produce more biofuel and require less fertilizer. They have five full-time employees now.

“We liked the track record here,” Turano said.

While the University of Maryland, Baltimore and Hopkins have attracted headlines in recent years for developing bioparks in the city, the Bwtech Research and Technology Park has been chugging along for more than two decades, steadily expanding the number of companies and employees that call it home.

More recently, Bwtech officials are targeting cybersecurity, striking a partnership with Northrop Grumman last month to attract researchers and experts who could launch their own companies.
Cybersecurity is currently white-hot in academia, at least among Maryland’s public campuses.

Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration is trying to push the state into the forefront of the industry, drawing on key government facilities in Maryland, such as the National Security Agency at Fort Meade.

The University of Maryland, College Park recently created the Maryland Cybersecurity Center to promote education, research and technology in the sector. The University of Maryland University College this year launched bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in cybersecurity.
Bwtech@UMBC — as it is known in shorthand — is among 20 publicly sponsored incubators across Maryland.

Across the country, incubators have grown popular as a way to counteract the effects of a punishing recession. With some early funding, hardworking entrepreneurs and investors are taking bets on future growth during a down economy.

Startup companies are attracted to incubators for a variety of reasons, including the potential for low rent, a collaborative working environment with like-minded professionals and guidance from industry veterans.

The Bwtech park, spread across six buildings on two campuses on more than 40 acres, has focused on helping launch startups in the life sciences industry and clean energy. Five of the buildings in the Bwtech North campus, in Catonsville, have been built within the past decade and feature newer office space.

A sixth building, Bwtech South in Halethorpe, was formerly the Martin Marietta research lab, which the state bought in the mid-1990s. The sprawling building near Route 195 is home to Bwtech’s life sciences incubator companies. This building houses companies that have a need for lab space.

Three years ago, the companies that were based at Bwtech numbered more than 900 employees. Today, more than four dozen companies and research organizations employ more than 1,200 people, officials said.

Fifty-two companies, or 91 percent of Bwtech’s incubator companies since 2000, are either still in operation or have been sold, while a small percentage went out of business, according to program statistics.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech

December 6, 2010

Big gov't contractor to hold job open house this Friday

I just got word that ManTech International Corp., a publicly traded defense contractor, is holding a career open house this Friday.

It will be held at the BWI Airport Marriott, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The company, which provides technology and services for national security programs, is seeking to fill more than 400 open positions that require various levels of security clearances.

The new positions are for locations in the Baltimore-Washington area, including a new facility that's opening in Aberdeen in March.

You don't have to register to attend the open house, but the company encourages potential applicants to visit its website at www.mantechclearancejobs.com.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 12:20 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Government Tech, Jobs & Recruiting
        

December 2, 2010

KEYW makes another cyber tech acquisition

KEYW Corp. is a Maryland cyber security company that's been on a roll lately, going public in October and buying a slew of companies (eight) in its two-year existence.

As of today, make that nine companies.

The Hanover-based company, which provides cyber security services and technology to defense and intelligence agencies, said today that it acquired Everest Technology Solutions Inc., of Fairfax, Va. The price: $28 million cash, plus $2 million in KEYW common stock.

KEYW has raised more than $50 million in private equity, plus another $89 million through a public offering in October. KEY has used the money to buy smaller outfits that fit with its approach for developing agile, quick solutions for government intelligence agencies on tight deadlines. Unlike larger defense contractors who may offer broader services and technologies -- and move more slowly -- KEYW is more focused on fast-moving, mission-critical intelligence operations.

I profiled KEYW last month in a piece that outlined the company's brief, but quick-paced trajectory of organic growth and acquisitions.

It just so happens that KEYW executives today are hosting an analysts meeting at the NASDAQ exchange in New York City. Leonard Moodispaw, KEYW's CEO, also rang the opening bell this morning at the NASDAQ.

All in all, a day of good news for KEYW, I'd say. Let's see how the stock does. So far, it's up nearly three percent in morning trading.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:15 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, Government Tech
        

November 23, 2010

KEYW: "Embrace the Parrot"

KEYW is a curious lil' company in Maryland. It works in the super-secret world of electronic and signals intelligence as a government contractor to defense/intell agencies, but it is -- as of last month -- a publicly traded company, with all the public disclosures that that status brings.

The company's executives, including the CEO Len Moodispaw, have an affinity for Key West. Hence, "KEYW." It seems to be a light atmosphere at KEYW's headquarters in Hanover, with stuffed parrots perched around Moodispaw's office. Last Thursday, the company rang the NASDAQ opening bell and gave investors and analysts a briefing they dubbed: "Embrace the Parrot." Seriously.

Anyhow, here's the story I wrote about KEYW today. Check it out. Below are the first few paragraphs:

Several big investment banks advised Leonard E. Moodispaw that he shouldn't do it — but the CEO of KEYW Corp., a cybersecurity company in Hanover that's been in business for just two years, wouldn't listen.

Restless and eager to expand quickly, Moodispaw took KEYW public last month — after canning the Wall Street naysayers who told him to wait for a more hospitable stock market. The company, with the help of smaller investment banks, raised $89 million on the day of its initial public offering. Within weeks, its market cap rocketed to about $300 million.

"We fired the big guys and did just fine without them," Moodispaw said in a recent interview.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:17 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, East Coast, Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers, Government Tech
        

September 27, 2010

SAIC opens cyber innovation center in Columbia

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Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), a government defense contractor, said Monday that it opened a "cyber innovation center" in Columbia where employees will work on cyber security challenges and solutions for its customers.

The McLean, Va.-based company said the new center includes a technical solutions lab, research and development areas, training and conference rooms, and demonstration and prototyping areas.

The company employs about 6,500 people at several locations in Maryland. The cyber innovation center is housed in a seven-story building in Columbia that SAIC began occupying last year and which it leased to consolidate several offices in the area.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:29 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, Government Tech
        

August 13, 2010

But do you really want that cybersecurity job?

subelsky.jpgBaltimore hacker, occasional contributor to BaltTech, and all-around smart/good guy Mike Subelsky (left) penned a thoughtful essay on why Maryland tech geeks should think carefully about diving into the cybersecurity field. Sure, it's a hot area -- I recently wrote about how basically the big wheels of government and Corporate Maryland are turning hard in that direction.

But Subelsky, a former government IT guy himself, cautions that people who aren't in the field should be prepared not just for the potential rewards (nice paycheck, work on important national security projects), but downsides, too (limited creativity and flexibility/freedom within your work role.)

From Subelsky's blog post:

Maryland's business press, government officials, and various tech organizations have lately been enthusiastically banging the gong for cybersecurity. I can appreciate why - there's a lot of money at stake, and a lot of it comes from Maryland's foremost benefactor, the federal government. This is a recession-proof, guaranteed-to-grow industry, and Maryland is already home to many successful cybersecurity companies like Sourcefire. The government and private companies employ many thousands of people and contribute many millions of dollars to our tax base.

So it makes sense for our government to be pursuing these opportunities, but does it make sense for you, Maryland hacker?

Subelsky makes some good points. In a recent interview with a CEO working in the mobile space, this CEO told me that there is plenty of technical talent available in this area. But what's lacking in the pool of workers in the Baltimore/Washington area are people with bona fide experience in product development, in the enterprise and consumer space.

Satisfying a government customer is very different than satisfying a couple hundred big and different companies who are clients of your enterprise software.

To Mike's points, the only thing I would add, as a side note, is that if there's a silver lining, it is that Mike himself is an example of how federal government work can eventually "spin off" motivated creatives to do their own thing, with a ton of experience under their belts.

It isn't just about Maryland making it easier for residents to get jobs in cybersecurity, but also helping entrepreneurs build their own companies in the private sector, too.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:30 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Government Tech
        

August 2, 2010

Cyber security pros in demand

Cyber security jobs are in demand across Maryland, and many are tied to the government. It's hard work to get the technical skills necessary to make a contribution in the field. But there's also another challenge: obtaining a security clearance to work on defense-related projects. Not only are the government and contractors starting promoting cyber security training early in schools; they also need potential job candidates to have a relatively "clean" lifestyle in order to get clearance.

Here's a story I wrote about the field as it appears to be growing in Maryland:

Wanted: Cybersecurity pros
Federal agencies, contractors and tech companies all compete for in-demand cyber security work force in Maryland and beyond

By Gus G. Sentementes, The Baltimore Sun

August 1, 2010

While unemployment lines remain long elsewhere, SafeNet Inc. is one Maryland employer that's hiring. The Belcamp cyber security firm has more than 100 job openings for consultants.

But so far this year, it has only been able to fill four of those positions.

That's because in the white-hot world of cyber security, there's a lot of opportunity but not enough qualified workers to take advantage. As the federal government, contractors who support federal agencies and private companies ramp up spending to secure complex computer networks, they are all competing for a tight pool of high-tech specialists and workers with government security clearances.

"They're just hard to find," said Joe Moorcones, SafeNet's vice president of cyber security. "Everybody's going after them."

The shortage of job candidates has prompted state officials to craft strategies for creating a capable workforce. Economic development officials hope to step up marketing to lure cyber security companies and workers to Maryland, while educational efforts are being ramped up, too.

The University of Maryland University College in Adelphi is launching a cyber security curriculum this fall, with a bachelor's and two master's degree programs. Community colleges in Maryland also are offering students certifications in cyber security-related tracks.

In Maryland, one of the biggest employers in cyber security is the National Security Agency at Fort Meade. And the federal infrastructure here is expanding.

Last week, federal officials announced a $10 million grant to create a National Cyber Security Center of Excellence at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, which would allow private industry and government to collaborate on digital security standards.

The federal government isn't the only one hiring. At ARINC Inc. in Annapolis, for example, company officials anticipate needing to hire 200 to 300 cyber security professionals over the next couple of years to work for their commercial and military customers.

Vice Admiral Bernard "Barry" McCullough III, head of the U.S. Navy's Fleet Cyber Command, also based at Fort Meade, said recently that he needs to recruit and hire another 100 people — mostly civilian and military cyber security specialists — to fully staff his 200-person command.

"We need to increase that talent pool that everybody is after," McCullough said.

Continue reading "Cyber security pros in demand" »


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:02 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: *NEWS*, Government Tech
        

July 27, 2010

Cybersecurity: a Maryland jobs priority

Uncle Sam wants you – in a cybersecurity job.

The U.S. Department of Labor awarded the Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corp. a $4.9 million grant to work with local community colleges and private industry to fill hundreds of expected openings in cybersecurity jobs across the region over the next several years, officials announced Monday.

Government agencies in Maryland need highly trained workers to take positions in network security and information assurance, but that demand is just as great in the private sector, officials said.

Private government contractors and companies – such as banks, health care companies and technology firms – want to hire workers who know how to protect computer networks from intrusion, officials said.

At a news conference in Annapolis, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, a Democrat who is running for re-election this fall, said Maryland is the “epicenter” of cybersecurity, thanks to the presence of several government installations, including the National Security Agency at Fort Meade.

“Our nation’s main line of defense is right here in Maryland,” said Mikulski, who spoke at ARINC Inc., a communications technology firm in Annapolis. “We are the epicenter of cybersecurity in America.”

The growth of technology jobs in Maryland has been a bright spot in the state’s economy. The number of workers in computer systems and related services climbed to 64,900 last month in the state -- nearly 5,000 more jobs than in June 2009, according to federal statistics.

The DOL grant is part of a $125 million nationwide pool of funding that the federal agency awarded this summer for community-based job training programs in high-growth and high-demand industries. Students will be able to pursue different cybersecurity-related tracks, for certification, at community colleges in Anne Arundel, Carroll and Howard counties.

The $4.9 million grant will be spread over three years, and about $2 million of the funds will be dedicated to tuition assistance, officials said. Courses can include “advanced cyber forensics” and “tactical perimeter defense.” The rest of the funding will go toward curriculum development, technology needs, support and marketing, officials said.

The work force development corporation will give special consideration to workers who have been recently laid off and to military veterans.
Vice Admiral Bernard “Barry” McCullough III, commander of the U.S. Fleet Cyber Command at

Fort Meade, said the threat posed to the country in cyber space was “very real and growing,” while talented individuals to protect against the threat are hard to find.

“People with the right knowledge to successfully protect our networks are not in abundance,” said McCullough.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, Government Tech
        

July 19, 2010

Washington Post's Top Secret America

A very interesting and comprehensive look at our growing national security and intelligence apparatus by the Washington Post today.

The story tries to wrap its arms around the huge industry that has become "Top Secret America." There's nothing truly explosive in the story (aside from the main point that maybe our intel apparatus is too big for its own good), but it's one of the first pieces of mainstream journalism to look at the big picture and what it means for our national security. Plus, it's chock full of interesting data points.

There are many companies in Maryland that do top secret work for the federal government -- you can find them in a database that the Post put together.

For instance, there are 372 Maryland companies and government organizations in the state that are involved in top secret work with the government.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:19 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, Government Tech
        

June 17, 2010

Everybody's doing it: Maryland General Services department joins Facebook

everybodys-doing-it.jpgThis isn't really big news or anything of the sort, but you can definitely file this under the category of "EVERYBODY IS NOW ON FACEBOOK."

The Maryland Department of General Services, the state agency that manages state buildings and facilities, now has a Facebook account. To "friend" the agency, search for "Maryland DGS" on Facebook.

From a press release issued today:

“Facebook is one of the nation’s premier new media venues and I believe it is imperative that we should use this valuable communications and networking tool to let those we do business with know that DGS stands for Doing Great Service,” DGS Secretary Alvin C. Collins said.

Is it weird for some to be "friends" with a state agency? I'm interested to see how a state agency like DGS uses their new-found Facebook prowess.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:25 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: *NEWS*, Government Tech, Social Media
        

May 17, 2010

New drone being developed by Maryland firm

drone.jpg

I was in Jessup, Md. earlier today to watch several business leaders leaders and innovators in the state's technology community mark a milestone: the investment by TEDCO into its 200th portfolio company.

The lucky company that received TEDCO's support ($75,000) is American Dynamics Flight Systems, a six-year-old company that's working on a vertical-launching unmanned aerial vehicle, or remote-controlled drone (see photo of life-sized model above). This drone, when complete, will be able to launch from a standstill position, with engines that rotate to give it vertical and then horizontal thrust.

TEDCO is a quasi-public agency that moves quickly to fund all sorts of technology start-ups in Maryland. The entity, which was enacted by law through the General Assembly, has been around for 12 years and 82 percent of the 200 companies it's invested in are still in business, TEDCO officials say.

It helped lure American Dynamics to Howard County three years ago, according to company CEO Wayne Morse. Morse cited three reasons for moving his company to Maryland from Long Island, NY:

1) Closer to the customer: Morris's big customer he's targeting is the Pentagon.
2) University of Maryland: Morris works closely with the school's aerospace program.
3) TEDCO's support for companies working on advanced technologies.

Said Morse: "I couldn't be happier."

In addition to the drone, he's also working on a next-generation missile launcher that could be used with drones and helicopters.

"People love to work here because this is cool stuff," said Morse. He's got three employees and several more engineers on contract.

There were also eight companies giving presentations at the event, including Encore Path, Energy Dense Power Systems, HeMemics, InfraTrac, Oculis Labs, Sensics, and Spiralcat.



This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 1:11 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, Government Tech
        

March 2, 2010

Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development's new Website

ChooseMaryland.org has gotten a fairly extreme makeover. Here's a snapshot of the site's new homepage:

dbedWebsite.gif

Maryland's Department of Business and Economic Development is one of the first agencies that new businesses and entrepreneurs look to for help in launching an enterprise in the state. So, it helps to have a site that's slick and with the times to make a favorable impression on people who want to invest time and money in a business here. DBED's Website used to look something like this.

One of the key differences now is an interactive media player that's front-and-center in the Website, where you can watch video. Going deeper into the site, you get to interact with a map that plots out different kinds of economic and business demographic data across Maryland.

It also seems to want to bring some of the personality of individuals and companies to the fore. Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour, is a "featurered entrepreneur" on the home page. And each industry profile features either a person or a company as a highlight. Nice touch.

Personally, my favorite page -- which I'll be bookmarking -- is MdBizTV. It's a hub for photos and news and video feeds, stock price and Twitter feeds, for all things MD DBED- and business-related. Notice how they aggregate news stories from different publishers, such as the Baltimore Sun and the Maryland Gazette. Very good idea and presentation, DBED.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:11 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Government Tech
        

January 25, 2010

Maryland's "top" defense information technology contractors

Gov. Martin O'Malley's recently released report on the cybersecurity industry in Maryland, dubbed "CyberMarlyland", has a listing of the "top" defense IT contractors in the state.

It's not clear by what standard these companies are labeled as "top," but at a glance, it's probably safe to say that they are significant employers.

What I want to hear from you is: Which of these companies is hiring right now and which ones are a great place to work? Let's help each other out.

Here's the list, in alphabetical order:

* Boeing

* Booz Allen Hamilton

* CACI International

* Computer Sciences Corp.

* General Dynamics Corp.

* Honeywell International

* IBM

* L3 Communications

* Lockheed Martin

* MITRE

* Northrop Grumman

* SAIC


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:59 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Government Tech
        

January 20, 2010

The Top 10 features missing from the White House iPhone app

photo.jpg I've downloaded the White House iPhone app. It's chock full of content, from ideas for modernizing government to photos of First Lady Michelle Obama's birthday party.

But the app, frankly, leaves me itching for more White House insight. Here are the top 10 features I hope the Obama administration adds in Version 2.0.

10) Transcripts and voice snippets of the Nixon tapes. Just for giggles at our fingertips. Include a share with Twitter/Facebook function, too, guys.

9) A play-by-play of Coakley's loss to Brown in the Massachusetts Senate race. Or just a link to FoxNews.

8) A Google map of Cheney's secret bunker locations and the stores, pizza joints, and gas stations within a 1-mile radius of each.

7) Celebrity glam photo galleries of guests at White House state dinners, including our favorite party crashers, the Salahis.

6) One of those thermometer charts (the kind you see for local PTA fundraisers) that shows how close we are (or not) to passing health care reform.

5) A live Webcam peering inside Guatanamo Bay and the Gitmo prisoners' lives. Lift the secrecy!

4) George W. Bush's iPod playlists.

3) Bill Clinton's favorite ringtones.

2) In the spirit of bipartisanship, include a feed of tweets from FakeRonReagan.

And, drumroll please, for #1:

1) The official White House iPhone iFart sound effect. 

 

Do you have features that you'd like to see the Obama administration include in the White House app? Drop a note here!


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:51 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Government Tech
        

More companies now have to worry about "advanced persistent threat"

mroesch.jpg"The phrase 'advanced persistent threat' is something you're going to be hearing a lot more of the next two years," said Martin Roesch, founder of Sourcefire Inc.

That's one bit of perspective Roesch has to offer on last week's news of Google (and 30+ other companies) getting hacked by someone from inside China, by perhaps the Chinese government itself.

Roesch's company, based in Columbia, Md., crafts intrusion detection and prevention defenses for major government and military agencies and, increasingly, major companies.

Roesch says that government military networks have been accustomed to seeing the kind of sophisticated cyber attacks that Google Inc. experienced last week.

But the attack on Google may have been a watershed moment for corporations.

"This is the first time that nation-state-grade tactics were used against a commercial target," Roesch said. "They were trying to hide. They were taking the time to cover the tracks."

Hence the hacking term "advanced persistent threat," or APT. HackingUniverse.com defines APT as:

...cyber attacks mounted by organizational teams that have deep resources, advanced penetration skills, specific target profiles and are remarkably persisent in their efforts. They tend to use sophisticated custom malware that can circumvent most defenses, stealthy tactics and demonstrate good situational awareness by evaluating defenders responses and escalating their attack techniques accordingly.
Indeed, what may be remarkable in Google's case is not the hacking itself, but the fact that Google was able to sniff it out.

What the attack on Google means is that more companies in different industries will need to pay more attention to APT, from defense contractors to banks to health care systems, Roesch told me.

"I think you are seeing a new level of attacking taking place here," Roesch said. "I think this [attack on Google and others] does change the game and the scope of the problem. You have to consider a whole new security posture."


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 7:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Big Ideas, Government Tech, Web Dev & Apps
        

December 22, 2009

Obama finally names cybersecurity czar

HowardSchmidtcrop.jpg Finally.

After seven months of deliberations (a.k.a. internal back-and-forth at some of the highest levels in Washington), President Obama is expected today to name a "cybersecurity czar" who will be charged with coordinating the federal government's civilian and military defenses against cyber threats.

The new guy is Howard A. Schmidt, a former adviser on cybersecurity to the President George W. Bush White House, according to multiple sources. He's worked in cybersecurity for Microsoft and eBay.

The Washington Post has a good rundown on the background of this position, including the delays and frustrations that many have with it already -- and it only is just about to get filled!

Many Maryland technology companies that hope to target the government cybersecurity market will be watching what Mr. Schmidt does very closely, I'm sure.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:34 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Government Tech
        

December 1, 2009

Baltimore company's "smart bullet" gets TIME recognition

A major Baltimore-based division of Alliant Techsystems Inc. (ATK) was recently honored by Time magazine for having one of the 50 best inventions for 2009: The so-called "smart bullet."

Alliant, which is based in Minnesota, is a military contractor that has sprawling operations across the United States and manufactures everything from weapons to propulsion systems. In Baltimore, the company's "Mission Systems" group oversees the design of advanced weapons systems, a.k.a. big, powerful guns.

One of their latest invention, the XM25, got the "smart bullet" nickname because it can explode at a pre-determined range. ATK says it "features a unique turn-count fuze, coupled with a laser range finder to detonate without impact at a pre-determined range." The bullet is being designed and tested in Minnesota.

It got the #46 spot in Time's top 50 list. The #1 invention of the year, according to Time, was NASA's new Ares rockets currently in development. Coincidentally, ATK is the prime contractor for the solid rocket motor first stage of the Ares I.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:59 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Government Tech
        

October 30, 2009

Los Angeles moving to Gmail and cloud computing

Could this be the beginning of a trend?

NPR reports that the City of Los Angeles has voted to overhaul its email system, converting it from a Microsoft-based software system, to a Google Gmail system where the data will be kept private on Google's servers across the U.S.

With so many municipal and state governments strapped for cash these days, you've gotta wonder if this is gonna catch on. If L.A. is serious about doing it, shouldn't others take a hard look at it, too? Politicians eager to bring home some tax savings to their constituents may not be able to resist the urge to review their local government's spending on I.T., and figure out what they could push into the Google cloud.

For those looking for some more detail on the possible rationale behind this deal, take a look at this InformationWeek column, which gives four possible reasons that L.A. chose Google over Microsoft.

Hey Mayor Sheila Dixon -- is somebody in your office gonna take a closer look at this?


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:03 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Big Ideas, Government Tech, West Coast
        

September 4, 2009

Innovation in Maryland -- through the eyes of Johns Hopkins business dean

If you haven't read it yet, then run -- don't walk -- to Jay Hancock's latest, most excellent column where he talks with Yash Gupta, dean of the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. yashgupta.jpg In it, Gupta (left) talks about the difference in the innovation economies and cultures of Baltimore and Southern California's Silicon Valley.

He makes some interesting points. And, it seems there's a call to action somewhere in there for our business and political leaders to wake up and smell the Old Bay right under their noses.

I may be oversimplifying it, but Gupta seems to say that entrepreneurs are overly dependent around these parts on the federal government as a cash cow for contracts. Such dependence can be both financially and professionally rewarding, but stultifying -- partly because the government market is a different animal than the consumer and business market.

It was also refreshing for Gupta to point out that California has high taxes and a tough regulatory environment, and yet its Silicon Valley is still synonymous with business innovation -- so the excuse that Maryland isn't tax-friendly to businesses may be just that: an excuse.

Yet, the other side is hard to ignore, when billions of federal dollars are staring your local/regional economy in the face.

In an interview I did awhile back with Christian Johansson, the state's secretary of the Department of Business and Economic Development, he essentially noted that the federal government is the big gorilla in the room that businesses around here can't ignore.

If the Maryland companies don't take advantage of the steady spigot of contracts that are made available each year, than other companies in other states most certainly will.

What do you think?

 

(photo credit: JHU)


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech

September 3, 2009

Baltimore police with smartphones: a good idea?

Did you catch Justin Fenton's story about the Baltimore Police Department wanting to roll out BlackBerries to its 2,000 officers? It's an interesting one, talking about how Commissioner Bealefeld hopes cops will use these smartphones to check warrants, retrieve drivers license photos and stay better connected with each other.

Before the Baltimore Police Department decided to give BlackBerries to police officers to do their jobs, I was using my iPhone to do my job as a crime reporter.

The department's top brass can also use the phones' built-in GPS to track the beat cops as they're deployed on the street. Not a bad idea, one might think.

Before I started covering technology earlier this year, I was a crime and breaking news reporter, doing my time on the Sun's city desk for the previous four years.

I had used a mobile laptop and a video camera in the past to do my work from the field. But I really wanted an iPhone because I knew it would help me work faster, because I wouldn't have to wait for a laptop to boot up and I could transmit photos more seamlessly and instantaneously from the device.

So, here's how I ended up used a smartphone to report on crime in Baltimore: (hit the jump for the rest)

Continue reading "Baltimore police with smartphones: a good idea?" »


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:32 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Government Tech, Smartphones
        

September 1, 2009

Lockheed Martin's virtual reality simulator worthy of The Matrix

A recent patent filing by defense contractor Lockheed Martin gives us a peek into a portable virtual reality simulator the company is cooking up.

lockheedmartin1.jpg

The patent application is titled: "Portable immersive environment using motion capture and head mounted display." Basically, it includes head gear and handheld controllers and a powerful computer system that integrates motion capture, virtual reality, kinematics and computer-aided design.

A motion-capture camera system captures the users' motions and a virtual reality simulator then generates "scaled avatars within a three-dimensional virtual reality simulation." So not only are you viewing virtual reality, your motions can move your avatar through the virtual space.

Cue the virtual reality movie references..........now. The Matrix, anyone? 

One nifty trick the patent app cites: the simulator is able to scale a person's avatar in real time. For instance, a 5-foot 4-inch user of the device can be scaled in real-time to be a 6-foot 2-inch avatar, and the images that the person sees through their headset will be from the perspective of the taller avatar. Get it?

What's different about their system, the Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin notes, is that it integrates motion capture and virtual reality. People who use it can interact with both real and artificial virtual reality environments, according to the patent application.

And it's not just for one user -- you can get immersed in a virtual reality with a group of people, include a trainer in whatever training exercise you can dream up. Below are detailed diagrams of the headset and the portable computer system. 


lockheedmartin2.jpg

Such a system has all sorts of implications and applications, from military training scenarios to virtual gaming. Wonder if Lockheed Martin has ever considered putting out a kicking high-end video game system for consumers?


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:30 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Gadgets, Government Tech
        

June 29, 2009

Feds, Meds, Eds & Beds

johansson.jpg Have you ever heard the phrase "Feds, Meds, Eds & Beds"?

I hadn't -- until I listened to Christian S. Johansson, head of the state Department of Business and Economic Development, drop it during his keynote address at the Maryland Incubator of the Year Awards on June 17.

In a room full of bright start-up companies, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and state biz development leaders, Johansson talked about the strength and resilience of the Maryland economy, in the face of a national recession.  A big reason for that strength, he said, is "Feds, Meds, Eds and Beds."  Here's what that catch-phrase means:

* Feds: The state benefits from tens of thousands of jobs tied directly and indirectly to federal government agencies that employ people at military and civilian facilities. (Think NSA at Fort Meade to the Social Security Administration headquarters at Woodlawn.) Contractors that do work for these federal agencies and military installations are also plentiful in Maryland. 

* Meds: The health care and social services industry is a huge employer in Maryland. Also, biotechnology is a growing, cutting-edge sector that's seen a lot of investment in recent years.

* Eds: Education. Higher education. And the research that comes out of institutions such as the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University.

* Beds: Tourism. From the Inner Harbor to the Eastern Shore to Deep Creek.

The notion of Feds, Meds, Eds & Beds sounds like a nifty marketing jingle for state leaders to use in their cheerleading and marketing of Maryland. What do you think?

Meantime, if you're interested in getting a snapshot of the Maryland economy, here are some links to peruse:

:: This state report has one of the latest overviews of Maryland's private-sector workforce.

:: The 2008 Maryland employment and payrolls data show a breakdown of public and private sector jobs, including average weekly wage per worker. (Hint: There are more workers in local and state government than federal, but federal workers have a higher average weekly salary. Gee, I wonder if that's why everybody seems to covet a job with the Feds. :-)

:: The Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore has more specific stats that drill down on the economic activity in the Baltimore area, such as this chart on employment by industry.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:14 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Big Ideas, East Coast, Government Tech
        

June 25, 2009

Maryland Tech: Protecting your computer screen from the "shoulder surfers"

billAnderson.jpgEvery once in a while, I get to see -- and sometimes write about -- a fascinating new product before the consumer masses get to it. It's one of the cool perks of being a journalist, really.

That happened to me recently, when Bill Anderson (left) of Oculis Labs Inc., in Owings Mills, gave me and some colleagues here at The Baltimore Sun a demo of his new software: "Chameleon" and "PrivateEye." (Here's my full story on how he launched his company and came up with the idea.) 

Here's what Chameleon does: it uses sophisticated gaze-tracking technology to dynamically render the words and images on a computer monitor so that only the authorized user can read them. It's accurate down to about one single character. If someone is peeking over your shoulder (aka "shoulder surfing"), all they will see is dummy text that is constantly changing. You, the user, will be able to read the text you choose to read wherever your eyes wander on the screen.

I tried reading the documents -- a Word and an Excel document -- over Anderson's shoulder, and I could not. I had no idea where his eyes were and the text was constantly changing on me.  

For now, big government agencies involved in military/intelligence operations are the most likely ideal customers because it requires some special hardware (the gaze-tracking equipment), and the price tag ain't cheap. Anderson bills Chameleon as a way for people to protect their monitors, which can be critical in battlefield and intelligence operations, where super-spies with powerful telephoto lenses can peer over your shoulder from a very long ways away.

For consumers, there's a lighter-weight version, PrivateEye. Here's what that does: It taps into your computer's Web cam (that's the only hardware you need) and uses face-detection technology so that your computer knows when you turn away from the screen. As soon as you turn away, the screen softly blurs. Ideal for office situations where privacy of information is paramount, such as medical settings, financial institutions, law firms, etc.

Anderson gave us a tour of the software and we shot some video. Check it out below!


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 1:46 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Gadgets, Government Tech, Startups, Venture Cap
        

June 23, 2009

Cyber security companies in Maryland getting hot, not bothered

I went to visit a little company in Columbia called Sourcefire a few weeks back, on the trail of a story about what Maryland companies think about President Obama's push to upgrade the nation's cyber security capacity. (Hint: They're not unhappy about it, as my story today sez.)

Sourcefire%20001.jpgI met with the company's founder, Martin Roesch (CTO), John Burris (CEO) and Todd Headley (CFO), who gave me and photographer Lloyd Fox a tour of their 300-person shop.  Perhaps the funniest thing that struck me is the company's quirky little culture.

They have a mascot -- the Snort pig -- which they use to brand their intrusion prevention products for computer network safety. They have art on the walls of their offices that incorporates the pig, riffing on popular movie posters and art classics.

The Snort pig as "Neo" in The Matrix? As Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa"? (left) Hey -- why not?

Oh, and a classic bumper sticker, hung above founder Martin Roesch's desk: "My kid reads your honor student's email." (photo below) Total. Geek. Humor among the cyber security set who work closely with the alphabet soup of defense and intelligence agencies based in Maryland.  

I hope one day my kid grows up knowing how to hack into computer networks (in a benevolent way, on the side of the good guys, of course.)  Sourcefire%20002.jpg

 Needless to say, Sourcefire is humming along. The company has had its ups and downs after it went public a few years ago, but revenue is going up and they're trying to stay lean as possible to get themselves to full-blown profitability.

But their long-term future seems steady, as we move deeper into a world where more of our lives are intricately tied to the virtual spheres we've created for our personal and professional lives.

There are probably hundreds of little companies that are hoping to ride some piece of the cyber security wave in Maryland, as money comes pouring out of Washington. Some state and business leaders think the state can become a "Silicon Valley of cyber security." Some say we're pretty much already established as one.

What do you think?


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:15 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Government Tech
        

June 10, 2009

Maryland's latest funding for military/biotech-related companies

Just got the news that Maryland's Technology Development Corp. (TEDCO) awarded $599,934 in funding through a partnership through Fort Detrick (under the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command) and the Frederick County Office of Economic Development.

Check out the jump to find the list of companies -- each of which received a $50,000 infusion over the past year -- and a description of what they're developing. It's an interesting mix of work.

Continue reading "Maryland's latest funding for military/biotech-related companies" »


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:11 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: BioTech, Government Tech, Research
        

Obama, cyber security and what it might mean for Maryland companies

hathawayObamaCybersecurity.jpg President Obama made network-security geeks gasp with glee when he announced late last month that he would be appointing a cyber security "czar" who will focus on securing America's information technology infrastructure.

Maryland is home to a lot of major government agencies and military installations -- from the Social Security Administration in Woodlawn to Fort Meade, the NSA's home, in Anne Arundel County.

And there are many, many jobs and companies in Maryland that are tied directly to work on IT projects with these government agencies. Protecting network infrastructure has been one of those out-of-the-spotlight industries for years.

(Pictured here is Melissa Hathaway, who conducted a 60-day review of U.S. cyber security policy, while listening to Obama's announcement. Read her White House blog post on her review here.)

Sure, network security is absolutely critical, and a mistake could give a company or government a big black eye, but it hasn't been a very sexy preoccupation for the great American government bureaucracy -- certainly not as thrilling as space exploration or "shovel-ready" projects.

But now a U.S. president is pushing it, hard.

So, were Maryland techies in this field excited about Obama's pledge to ramp up cyber-security? Early reports I'm getting from a slew of small companies indicate: Heck, yes!

I'm working on a story about the topic, but I'd love to get some feedback here to help with my research.

 

(Photo courtesy of AFP/Getty Images)


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:48 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Government Tech
        

June 4, 2009

Veggie Tech: Building the better lettuce

lettucecomparison.jpg

Earlier this week, I scooted down to the Baltimore Convention Center, to catch Steven Britz's talk on how he's using ultraviolet rays to grow nutrient-rich lettuce.

Britz, a research plant physiologist at the USDA's Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, was one of many presenters at the Conference on Lasers and Electro Optics/International Quantum Electronics Conference (CLEO/IQEC). (See the photo below) 

Britz talked about things like flavonoids ... and ultraviolet A and B ... and polyphenolic compounds .... and phenolic acid esters ... and the "complicated geometry" of lettuce, which is "hardly a flat surface." (At this point, I started wondering why I took all those English and writing classes in college, and only one bio course. Ack.)

Such veggie geometry -- unruly lettuce leaves everywhere, I suppose -- poses a challenge when you're trying to beam ultraviolet rays at it to help the lettuce turn redder and healthier. CLEOshowlasers.jpg

Britz flashed photos of red leaf lettuce heads (the Lolla Rossa you see above), showing before-and-after shots of what they looked like in experiments where an ultraviolet light was focused on them for 48 hours. Notice how red the one on the right is -- that one got a dose of ultraviolet-B for 48 hours. The lettuce looked better, it tasted better -- and gosh darn it, people liked it!

He talked about how in the future, we might see large farm operations using UV rays to help boost the freshness of lettuce before it gets shipped across country. We might even see UV-emitting LEDs built into our refrigerators, to help sustain freshness and nutrients in fruits and veggies.

His vision, half-joking: "A chicken in every pot and an LED in every refrigerator." I caught up with Britz by phone in a followup interview and he patiently explained what he was doing with UV and lettuce.

Continue reading "Veggie Tech: Building the better lettuce" »


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 12:03 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Government Tech
        

June 2, 2009

Three tales of growth in a recession

GBTCmembermeetingcrowdshot.jpg Their message was tantalizingly exciting at a time when the cable news channels, talk radio, blogs and newspapers are filled with news of economic woe. Afterall, there is a recession all around us -- haven't you heard? 

Yet these executives from TCS, Sourcefire, and Salar -- three totally different companies -- were telling a crowd of about 100 people how they're bringing in more dollars. (That's the attentive crowd to the left.)

The venue was a hotel conference room at the Sheraton in Towson, Md. The moderator: Art Jacoby, an experienced business advisor who's well-traveled in Baltimore biz circles.

The executives were Tim Lorello, global commercial sales senior V.P. and chief marketing officer, Telecommunication Systems Inc. (aka, TCS, a service provider to wireless cos.), of Annapolis; Michele Perry, chief marketing officer, Sourcefire (computer network intrusion prevention), of Columbia; and Todd Johnson, president of Salar Inc. (clinical software for hospitals), of Baltimore. 

Here's a quick-and-dirty rundown of what each talked about at the meeting, organized by the Greater Baltimore Technology Council:

Continue reading "Three tales of growth in a recession" »


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 6:02 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Government Tech, Wireless
        
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About Gus G. Sentementes
Gus G. Sentementes (@gussent on Twitter) has been writing for The Baltimore Sun since 2000. He's covered real estate, business, prisons, and suburban and Baltimore City crime and cops. He was one of the first reporters at The Sun to use multimedia tools and Web applications -- a video camera, an iPhone -- to cover breaking news. He hopes to cover Maryland geeks and the gadgets and Web sites they build, and learn -- and share -- something new every day.

Gus has a wife, a young daughter and two feuding cats. They live in Northeast Baltimore.
This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
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