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Posts in "Techie"
January 20, 2015
Is your office abuzz about unmanned aircraft systems? Allow OK Go to set your mind at ease about making the most of miniature flying contraptions during a pro-drone tutorial at the 9:30 Club (815 V St. NW).
Those interested in the eye-in-the-sky movement are welcome Wednesday to participate in the “Know Before You Fly” campaign’s star-studded rollout. The program is scheduled to feature a 90-minute presentation, followed by a mini-concert by OK Go — which utilized drones to capture the action channeled into the music video for its song, “I Won’t Let You Down.”
January 16, 2015
Follow Friday. Feline Friday. Whatever you want to call our weekly tumble down virtual rabbit holes, there’s no escaping the fact that you MUST pledge allegiance to Laser Cat.
An amalgamation of music, art and animatronics, Laser Cat is scheduled to shower Yards Park with all kinds of visual funkiness next month. The eye-catching experiment, which has so far been nurtured by the Barcelona-based visionaries known as Hungry Castle and the Art Directors Club, thrives on a steady diet of fan-submitted art, fun-loving DJs and global destinations.
December 17, 2014
Rep. John D. Dingell, the retiring dean of the House, jokingly reflects on a lifetime of public service and the current state of congressional affairs in his latest holiday greeting.
The Michigan Democrat, who each winter lampoons the year that was, is concluding his tenure on the Hill after nearly 60 years. His wife, newly minted lawmaker Debbie Dingell, is set to succeed him in the 114th Congress. Full story
November 12, 2014
A handful of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fellows are making the most of a whirlwind trip to D.C., huddling this week with administration officials and education-minded solons all in the service of stoking the analytical minds of tomorrow.
The quintet of Ph.D holders — Katie Brenner, biochemistry; Livia S. Eberlin, chemistry; Jennifer Laaser, polymer physics; Lauren O’Connell, chemical ecology; Sabrina Stierwalt, astronomy and astrophysics — have been brought to town by L’Oreal USA as part of its “For Women in Science” program.
In addition to pocketing $60,000 in research grants, the multi-talented fellows are getting VIP treatment up and down Pennsylvania Avenue.
The group was expected to touch base Wednesday with representatives from the White House Council on Women and Girls and the Office of Science and Technology Policy before bouncing over to the National Museum of Natural History for a behind-the-scenes tour of the gems and minerals collection.
They plan to make the rounds on Capitol Hill early Thursday (tentatively set to visit with Congressional STEM Education Caucus members Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y.) before broadening the horizons of two dozen local teens during a visit to the National Museum of Women in the Arts. The last stop of the public relation roller coaster is the For Women in Science Awards Ceremony set for 6:30 to 9 p.m. in the Women in the Arts museum.
October 14, 2014
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.
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
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.
“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.
September 16, 2014
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.
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
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.
HOH hasn’t bumped into any LaRouchies since last fall. Full story
August 11, 2014
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
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.
Staff has now informed me of what a Kardashian is. I’m only left with more questions.
— John Dingell (@john_dingell) July 22, 2014
It’s obvious, however, that the pop culture cram session clearly didn’t take. Full story
July 11, 2014
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
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
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.
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
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.
- Age of Mythology
- 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
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.
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).