Archive for February, 2008

Latest project

February 8, 2008 - 4:26 pm Comments Off on Latest project

US Military Runs First Alternate Reality Game

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Several weeks ago, a tsunami devastated a small island off the southern coast of the US, and now an unexplained illness is spreading among the survivors. The joint task force formed to support the relief effort, originally focused on delivering essential services, now must contend with a medical epidemic as well. Are they prepared for this mission?

This is the scenario behind a new ARG created by BBN Technologies and Dave Szulborski, author of This Is Not a Game and creator of five well-know ARGs. ARGs have been used with great success to promote books, movies and television shows and BBN scientists proposed that the method could be applied to serious training with equal success. Now, the US military is testing that hypothesis with the first evaluation of an ARG as a tool for training military personnel. In a month-long demonstration, a group of 124 participants made up of active duty military, reservists, government staffers, and university students is working together to cope with the tsunami scenario. This is the kind of situation that is most difficult to train for; not an acute, episodic crisis than can be simulated in a short course or in a classroom, but a longer term situation that changes as the circumstances unfold. ARGS offer the benefit of allowing trainees to practice the skills needed for such exceptional situations while they continue to do their regular jobs and to develop real relationships in a virtual scenario that will help them respond effectively when they are required to cope with an unexpected situation such as the tsunami scenario.

Bill Ferguson, division scientist at BBN Technologies, one of the partner organizations for the demonstration, said, “The military needs a training solution for longer term, intermediate intensity situations that involve multiple agencies. Because ARGs are inherently distributed and built on complex, engaging scenarios, they are an effective and cost efficient way to train for the long duration, large-scale problems that require individuals to respond both collectively and individually.”

Jointly funded by the Joint Forces Command and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the demonstration is being executed by BBN Technologies, Dave Szulborski, and Aptima. BBN, which was contracted to develop the tools and pedagogy and administer the demonstration, provides tools to support ARGs under its trademark, Helical Training. BBN engaged Szulborski to develop the ARG’s initial scenario and to build on the rich content as the responses and changing circumstances affect the fictional situation. Aptima will evaluate the demonstration and measure participants’ responses against specific learning goals.

BBN’s Helical Training is a novel application of ideas inspired by ARGs that focuses on information management, distributed coordination, and organizational navigation. A Helical Training event is an immersive, interactive training course that virtually brings together many trainees from different locations to work together to accomplish both individual and group goals in a shared scenario.

About BBN Technologies

BBN Technologies solves real problems through the creation and disciplined application of advanced technology. With expertise spanning information security, speech and language processing, networking, distributed systems, and sensing and control systems, BBN scientists and engineers have amassed a substantial collection of innovations and patented solutions. Today, BBN is managing the planning and design of GENI, an advanced network facility spanning the United States; is saving lives in Iraq and Afghanistan with its Boomerang Shooter Detection System; operates the first metro quantum cryptography network; has deployed the first real-time foreign broadcast monitoring system; and has demonstrated the benefits of the world’s first stereoscopic digital mammography system in clinical trials. For more information, visit

I worked on that. 🙂

The next step in Good Morning Tree Company’s evolution!

February 6, 2008 - 9:27 pm 2 Comments

Good Mourning Tree Co. (or Good Mourning Tree Co.) has evolved! Woohoo!

They have gone from littering my house to littering my blog!

Well hey, at least they’re not killing trees for the paper to advertise now. Hyuck hyuck.

I find it amusing that the name in the email address they used three times is the same name that’s in one of their recent favorable Citysearch reviews. Funny how a rash of happy customers started showing up there around October, after multiple one-star reviews previously (except for the guy who admitted he worked there and rated himself tops).

On a side note, if my house is ever vandalized or I get murdered in my sleep or something, please don’t forget about these posts.

Wee bit peeved

February 6, 2008 - 2:59 pm Comments Off on Wee bit peeved

I really love the professors I’ve had at St. Edward’s, but their communication can be the pits.

There was the instance where I waited a year for them to finally come up with a decision on whether one of my transfer credits would count towards my major. I heard back last semester – no, it would not, since they don’t offer anything like that course (basically an intro to film). Guess what they started offering this semester? I’m taking my fourth film basics course at my fourth university this spring.

There was the professor who told me, last spring, that my final paper was “phenomenal” and that I should submit it to the English department journal when they called for submissions. I’ve been waiting… and waiting… and waiting… for the announcement. Finally I called the faculty sponsor for the journal. The deadline was in December.

There was the other professor who told me to submit a different paper to the university conference. Luckily she and I stayed on top of that one. Submission deadline is the 15th for the abstract. I just today got the notification for it.

Then last week I met with my new advisor to sign my degree plan and make sure I’m on track to graduate this spring. Everything seemed just jolly, except that he was going to check on a portfolio I submitted 3 months ago to find out what the holdup was. I got an email on Monday saying I had a NEW new advisor. Whee.

The hassles are annoying, yes, but the instructors (for the most part) make up for it. I just completed my graduate school application (which, by the way, doesn’t have anything in its instructions about where to turn it in… psychic fax?). The biggest class I’ve had there has been about 23 students, and that’s definitely a good thing for me and a far cry from the impersonal instruction of the 300 student lectures at U.T.

I hate insomnia

February 2, 2008 - 2:08 am 1 Comment

I hate woulda shoulda coulda. I hate my Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday morning quarterbacking. I hate the fact that my heart’s permanently embedded in my sleeve. I wish I were a tough guy.

It’s been a bad week. Caroline’s over the flu but she’s acquired temper-itis and I’m having a hard time keeping my cool. Someone also recently by total surprise showed me that what I thought was a good friendship is apparently just a parasitic relationship and guess who the host is. I’m sucked dry baby, dry. Add some other disappointments and stress along the way and I’m ready for a good crying jag.

On the plus side, this is my last semester of college and no matter how much I’m doing this to prove/please others, I realize that I’m doing it most of all for myself. About 75% convinced to stay on for my Master’s.

Tito has developed a sudden and overwhelming fear of me for some reason and pisses himself when he thinks I’m mad at him. This is the dog I put in my lap and cuddle all the time, all 40 lbs of him. Talk about a vicious cycle; I can’t even holler at him to stop peeing until he gets outside.

I think maybe we all have cabin fever. I should go watch The Shining. And buy some Calgon.