Wednesday Roundup: In-Q-Tel investments, executive orders, 404 politics and DARPA’s latest contest


Obama gets letters. Several Senate Republicans on Tuesday urged President Obama not to sign an executive order on cybersecurity, The Hill reports. In a letter to the president, “Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said an executive order would fail to address the nation's cyber vulnerabilities.”

In-Q-Tel invests in cloud startup. In-Q-Tel, the venture capital firm that is funded in part by U.S. intelligence agencies, has invested in Cloudant, a cloud services startup that manages a distributed data layer on top of Apache CouchDB, an open-source “NoSQL” database. GigaOm reports that the “strategic stake means that IQT will vet and promote the use of Cloudant’s NoSQL-based Cloudant Data Layer as a service by U.S. government agencies.” InformationWeek reports that Coudant’s “data layer as a service” can run on “servers hosted by Amazon, Joyent, Microsoft Windows Azure, and Softlayer.” The size of In-Q-Tel’s investment was not disclosed.

Majority expect sequestration “punt.” Seventy-nine percent of “national security insiders” think Congress “will punt sequestration for a few months” when members return for a lame-duck session after the November elections, National Journal reports. That publication surveyed 52 experts from government, academia, media and the think-tank world as part of its regular Insiders Poll series. “A mere 13 percent said members would make a grand bargain on the deficit—but only 9 percent believed sequestration would actually go into effect on Jan. 2 in its full capacity.” 

Sprucing up the 404. “File not found” pages on websites are normally utilitarian affairs, possibly including a search box or link to a site map. But some sites, like Twitter, have taken a more conversational tone, and now House Speaker John Boehner’s office has used a site redesign to bring politics to the Error 404 page. Roll Call reports that the speaker’s recently redesigned site “cyber slaps Obama” with its message: “We recently upgraded our website and moved some things around to better highlight our focus on job creation and economic growth. Unfortunately, that means some links - like jobs in the Obama economy - are missing. Please click below to get back on track.”

None dare call it crowdsourcing. DARPA is not calling it crowdsourcing, but the Pentagon’s research agency is nonetheless “gambling that you can build a swimming tank for the Marines in a fraction of the time it takes the military’s lumbering acquisitions process,” reports. The FANG challenge – the acronym stands for Fast, Adaptable, Next-Generation Ground vehicle – has created a detailed “online library of data — called the Component, Context, and Manufacturing Model Library” to inform would-be designers — and a virtual foundry called VehicleFORGE.”  The design challenge, announced Oct. 2, is broken into three distinct phases, and offers winning teams a total of $4 million in prize money.


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