Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 26, 2014

Posts in "Techie"

October 14, 2014

Test Class Already Hooked on Line-Skirting Dining Service

The super-secret Usher app has been helping a tight-lipped clique of well-connected bon vivants sidestep the restaurant reservation process for several weeks now. Rumor has it that some of the early adopters may not be able to go back to living without it.

The homegrown hospitality aid launched in “stealth mode” — a closely guarded roll-out extended to “influential” people in D.C., including an undisclosed number of Capitol Hill denizens — in early September.

Test Class Already Hooked on Line Skirting Dining Service

(Screenshot)

“My boss says it’s like the Uber of restaurants,” our tipster shared. “He says that he was initially skeptical, but hasn’t used OpenTable or Yelp since.”

Per the tipster, Usher somehow enables users to “get access to exclusive clubs/restaurants without a reservation.”

Team Usher declined to comment on how many people have enrolled in the stealth cohort or which local restaurants have embraced the line-cutting program. But the clandestine company sounds like it’s almost ready to come out of its shell.

“Service is throughout D.C. with the intention to expand soon after public launch,” an Usher aide shared via email. Full story

September 17, 2014

NRSC Kicks It Old School Online

Turns out, the coding masters at Wide Eye Creative aren’t the only ones having fun behind your computer screen.

A National Republican Senatorial Committee operative said his group gave itself a little pat on the back during a recent Web overhaul.

 

NRSC Kicks It Old School Online

(Screenshot)

 

“We’re the rare Republican ASCII-bird, I guess,” the tipster said of the three-dimensional NRSC logo embedded in the GOP portal’s back end.

HOH scanned a smattering of Republican-related pages in search of online “Easter eggs” similar to those WEC automatically weaves into its digital branding for Democrats, but we came up empty-handed.

Related story:

Web Firm Shows Democrats Extra Love Behind The Scenes

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

September 16, 2014

Web Firm Shows Democrats Extra Love Behind the Scenes

There are those who suspect that politicians and, by extension, their corresponding messaging operations, will say one thing even if they secretly believe something else entirely.

Not so with Wide Eye Creative, a Web design outfit which champions its clients every bit of the way.

BuzzFeed’s Jeremy Singer-Vine stumbled upon just how deep the site developer’s devotion permeates while sniffing around the back end of Senate hopeful Alison Lundergan Grimes’ campaign page.

 

Web Firm Shows Democrats Extra Love Behind the Scenes

(Screenshot)

 

Those who view the page via its assigned URL would never know about the ASCII love Team WEC tucked into the coding language — because it’s not meant for them.

“Just a nice little easter egg for anyone who looks at the code,” WEC creative director Ben Ostrower said of the digital valentine inserted into a jumble of characters that give the Web meaning.

According to Ostrower, WEC began seeding its political sites with similar signatures about a year ago. Full story

August 20, 2014

Fed-Up Hill Types Get LaRouche Revenge on Wikipedia

The August recess seems like the perfect time to hit the links, bask in the blessed absence of meaningless electronic blather — and perhaps settle a few political scores.

Lawmakers may be away for the next few weeks, but the automated watchdogs at congress-edits noticed that one busy beaver on Capitol Hill felt compelled to share a little something about the acolytes of socio-economic gadfly Lyndon LaRouche with the rest of the world.

The online tweak to the official Lyndon LaRouche wiki, as is often the case with these anonymous changes, was less than complimentary.

Fed Up Hill Types Get LaRouche Revenge on Wikipedia

(Screenshot)

HOH hasn’t bumped into any LaRouchies since last fall. Full story

August 11, 2014

Hackers Jack GPO With Swedish Beats

Is it wrong that we kinda dug the risqué enhancement rogue computer programmers unleashed on the Federal Depository Library Program homepage late last week?

A tipster noticed a disturbance in the Government Printing Office-run force, a rump-shaking hiccup online watchdogs attributed to presumably Polish pranksters operating under the guise of “SoWa BeZ OkA.”

Another cyber-sleuth spotted a similar incursion — same digitized kitty, same Swedish pop soundtrack — executed against the Finnish government.

GPO spokesman Gary Somerset confirmed the FDLP site had been compromised, but assured HOH federal authorities were on it. Full story

July 22, 2014

John Dingell Stumped by Kardashian Craze

Rep. John D. Dingell has spent nearly 24 hours trying to wrap his head around the dizzying world of celebutantes. And it ain’t working.

After being stumped by a seemingly random tweet from someone at the Environmental Protection Agency — which has, of course, since been scrubbed from existence — trumpeting their standing in reality TV star Kim Kardashian’s nascent iPhone-friendly time-suck, the Michigan Democrat apparently turned to staff for a crash course in all things O. J. Simpson’s-former-lawyer’s-since-remarried-wife’s-brood’s plans to prove Andy Warhol wrong.

(Et tu, EPA?)

Team Dingell did not respond to queries regarding whether the debrief on the reigning tabloid queen/bride of hip-hop mogul Kanye West/mother of North West included “A Clockwork Orange”-like screening of TMZ clips, binge-watching of E!’s burgeoning Kardashian-centric programming (have the pets been given shows yet?) or a quick flip-through men’s magazines.

 

 

It’s obvious, however, that the pop culture cram session clearly didn’t take. Full story

July 11, 2014

Congress-edits Is Just the Latest to Keep Tabs on Pols’ Cyber Stumbles

Another day, another resource to expose the often clueless political operatives who foolishly tool around the Internet believing their subversive activities — be they illicit, shady or just plain dumb — will never come back to bite them in the arse.

It’s getting so that overzealous Hill staffers and campaign spin doctors can’t rewrite history without someone calling them out for flooding the online ether with lies, damned lies and, well, you know the rest.

Senate hopeful Mike McFadden, the Republican pick to challenge Minnesota Democrat Al Franken this fall, received a crash course in transparency after aides got caught tinkering with unflattering responses to a divisive TV spot. Full story

June 30, 2014

Coble Goes Mobile: Rep to Honor App Contest Winner

Coble Goes Mobile: Rep to Honor App Contest Winner

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., will be honoring the winner of the first-ever House Student App Challenge in his district at a ceremony in Greensboro on Tuesday.

The 83-year-old congressman, who will be retiring at the end of his term, does not carry a cell phone, but agrees the tech competition was a useful way to foster a passion for science and technology among the nation’s youth.

“I may not be tech savvy myself,” Coble said in a statement, “but I know the importance of these applications for our economy moving forward.”

The winner of the app competition in Coble’s district was Hunter Enoch, a recent graduate of Northern Guilford High School. Enoch’s app, “In-Game Rugby Manager,”earned him the top honors.

The competition was open to all high school students in participating congressional districts.

 

 

June 16, 2014

Teen Capitalists Demand Congressional Attention, Supply Dessert

Junior Achievement USA’s latest crop of budding entrepreneurs are looking to bend pols’ ears with prospective start-up plans on Tuesday. And the aspiring businesspeople are fully prepared to sweeten the deal by dishing out free ice cream.

JA’s annual “trade fair” is scheduled to take place Tuesday from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Hart 902.

Members and staff who attend the presentation will have the opportunity to pick the brains of more than six dozen teen problem-solvers hailing from Chicago; Atlanta; Philadelphia; Los Angeles; Denver; San Diego; Minneapolis-St.Paul; Cupertino, Calif.; St. Louis; Nashville, Tenn.; Tampa, Fla.; Springfield, Mass.; Lancaster, N.Y.; and Camden, Del.

Some of the moneymaking ideas on the minds of the would-be wheelers-and-dealers include:

  • Subscription make-up delivery (a la a lipstick of the month club)
  • School mascot-branded belts
  • Hand-cranked robo vacuum (battery-free operation)
  • Branded digital screen cleaners
  • Customizable bracelets
  • A website development school (Check yo’ self, ITT Tech!)

Organizers said Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.; Al Franken, D-Minn.; Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.; and Reps. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo.; Chris Collins, R-N.Y.; and Scott Peters, D-Calif., have all agreed to give the projects a look-see.

Their reward?

Jack and Jill ice cream (with assorted toppings) and freshly baked apple pie. And they can wash it all down with lemonade or iced tea.

May 8, 2014

Jared Polis’ Legendary Gaming Campaign

Reason magazine has dubbed Rep. Jared Polis the “Gamer Congressman,” an honor earned by virtue of a lifetime spent mercilessly battling one’s way through fantasy worlds and virtual war zones.

The Colorado Democrat touched on a few of his favorite virtual pastimes — “I don’t really watch much TV. So, it’s a much more interactive thing, I think, to do with your spare time,” he told the interviewer — during a discussion that also touched on intellectual property rights, cyber-regulatory issues and blah-blah-blah.

We here at HOH were much more interested in getting to the bottom of the role-playing and online strategy games that have kept Polis glued to glowing computer screens for approaching four decades.

2000s

  • Age of Mythology
  • Rome
  • Later versions of Civilization

 

  • Diablo and Diablo II
  • Neverwinter Nights and Neverwinter Nights II
  • Defense of the Ancients
  • League of Legends (which he still plays)
  • Heroes of Might and Magic (later editions) Full story

April 1, 2014

Pols Chime In on Capitol Bells

A former House staffer turned civic-engagement evangelist, Ted Henderson has amplified his efforts to connect Congress with constituents by introducing a new way to stake out personal positions: virtual “motions.”

The former aide to ome-time Michigan Democratic Rep. Dale E. Kildee told HOH that a fair amount of Hill types — 9,500 total users, including 6,800 House vote alert subscribers  (versus the 250 currently seeking Senate vote updates) — have taken notice of his fledgling tool.

Henderson estimates that roughly 200 to 250 House members and their staffers are utilizing the smartphone app (and companion website) to keep tabs on the issues folks from their home districts are rallying for/against online.

Lawmakers have begun taking their own stands by utilizing the app’s nascent motion-writing feature.

Pols Chime In on Capitol Bells

(Screenshot)

Instead of simply voting a certain issue up or down, the “motion” function gives CB users the opportunity to post a brief statement (up to 200 characters) that can then be shared on other social media platforms.

Per Henderson, the abbreviated stump speeches should help politicians cut through the legislative noise by injecting easily digestible appeals into the conversation.

“Here’s who I am. Here’s what I’m working on … and it’s all translated into regular English,” he said.

Some early adopters have already hopped on their virtual soapboxes, Henderson said, including Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright (the first to pen a “motion”) and Colorado Democratic Rep. Jared Polis (“a huge supporter”).

Moving forward, Henderson hopes to maximize CB’s vote matching capabilities — it currently only compares users’ positions to members from their home-state delegation — by opening up the cross-referencing to presidential and congressional candidates.

And he’s determined to draw even more lawmakers into the feedback loop.

“I want people to use it anytime they’re talking about a bill online … [because] it’s adding that gateway to constituent engagement,” Henderson asserted.

He plans to continue making his case to the online masses next week via Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything” forum  (perhaps as early as April 7).

March 28, 2014

Ron Kind Puts LinkedIn Perk to Work

As opposed to those in the social mediaverse who routinely threaten to unfriend/unfollow/disown pals who perpetually pepper them with invites to join the professional networking set, Rep. Ron Kind has not only found a use for LinkedIn, he’s been ushered into an elite club: the “Influencers.”

Ron Kind Puts LinkedIn Perk to Work

(Screenshot)

The nascent program, which appears to have launched in late 2012, provides LI “thought leaders” the opportunity to exponentially grow their audience by giving them maximum exposure on the platform’s newsy “Pulse” pages.

“The LinkedIn Influencer program invites top voices in the professional world to reach professionals across LinkedIn. This is an invitation-only program, so Influencers must be invited by LinkedIn to participate,” the company explains in a recent post.

A Kind aide confirmed that the Wisconsin Democrat joined the ranks of the megaphone-enabled commenters last summer. Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 3:22 p.m.
media, Reps, Techie

March 14, 2014

Foster, Holt Fete Pi Day With Pastries

Resident Capitol Hill physicists Reps. Bill Foster, D-Ill., and Rush D. Holt, D-N.J., are doing their small part Friday (3/14) to commemorate the infinitesimal mathematical construct known as pi — by dishing out homemade baked goods.

Foster, Holt Fete Pi Day With Pastries

(CQ Roll Call archives)

Pi Day,” the annual celebration of the non-repeating, never-ending figure revered by “mathletes” the world over, has become a cultural happening involving food, fashion and pop culture references.

Holt and Foster are feeding into the phenomenon by offering guests the chance to fill their belles while expanding their minds.

“We’ll have a variety of homemade pies … [and] a competition to see who can recite the most digits of pi,” a Foster aide said of the scientific shindig scheduled to take place at noon in Longworth 1224.

All are welcome. (But you may wanna download a scientific calculator app on your phone on your way over.)

March 13, 2014

Members of Congress Sum Up SXSWi — in 3 Words

South By Southwest Interactive wrapped up Tuesday, just as the madding crowds for the music festival were arriving in Austin, Texas. Roll Call correspondent Grace Dobush was in town along with a surprising number of congressmen — 12 by our count. In addition to attending the panels they spoke on, covering topics from patent trolls to tech innovation, she caught up with a handful of members to get their sense of the experience — in three words.

Read more about Washington’s takeover of SXSWi (and see a photo of Darrell Issa testing out a new Microsoft dance game) here.

February 11, 2014

Relief Agencies Share Hardware, Liquid Courage With Congress

Assuming Mother Nature doesn’t orchestrate her own brand of government shutdown over the next 48 hours, staffers should prepare to get their geek on Thursday during the “Innovation at the U.N.” reception.

The science-fair-themed gathering, organized by the Better World Campaign, is scheduled to take place Thursday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Rayburn foyer. Those interested in participating are encouraged to RSVP to events@UNfoundation.org.

An event promoter told HOH the plan is to highlight the tools relief groups such as the U.N. Foundation, U.N. Development Programme, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, World Food Programme, UNICEF and UNESCO are deploying around the globe. Attendees will be able to inspect one of those innovations, an Ikea-designed “refugee housing unit” designed with expediency (no tools required), longevity and sustainability (potential to be outfitted with solar power sources) in mind.

Too wonky for your tastes?

The party is also expected to feature “bartenders wearing lab coats/goggles” serving (what else?) “fizzy drinks in test tubes.”

“There will be blue cocktails dubbed ‘Ban Ki-moon blasts’!” our source said of the boozy entertainment named after the current UN secretary general. Those looking to lap up the experimental libation should expect splashes of vodka, lime juice and blue Curacao.

Sign In

Forgot password?

Or

Subscribe

Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...