home * about me * resume
Derivative Works from Daniel X. O'Neil

« November 2006 | Main | January 2007 »

God Bless President Gerald R. Ford

And take him into heaven.
He did us no harm.

Red Cross Terrorism Preparedness Courses

So last week I made a snarky picture post about this brochure that offered "Free Terrorism Web-Based Courses".

This week I signed up for the courses offered in the brochure and it all amounts to a pretty complete system for mass training of people so that they know what the hell to do in the event of an emergency. Note that I said "system"-- I haven't taken a course yet, so I don't know about the content.

Here's what they have to say about it:

Welcome to the American Red Cross and Department of Homeland Security's Office of Grants and Training Pilot for staff and volunteers of non-governmental organizations. The online course that you are about to take is the first of a six course pilot program on providing response and relief services when a Weapons of Mass Destruction and Terrorism incident occurs. We encourage you to take all six courses in the pilot program.

I haven't started the first course yet, but I can comment on the way they've put them together as a general platform for training on Open Source Emergency Response:

  • They say that you have to be a member of a non-governmental entity to sign up, but they don't check that you are
  • They use the Plateau Learning Management System, which seems reasonably full-featured in that they allow you to self-register, "purchase" courses and add them to your "Development Plan". It also tracks prerequisites for courses and the progress you've made in each individual course
  • They use Zoomerang for an initial survey of how much experience you have with the subject matter
  • The course content itself is created by an outfit called Pearson Performance Solutions. An initial take on it looks like it has good production values, with voiceover,good design, authored in Flash, etc. Here's a look at a screen from that:

Here's my Development Plan:


Red Cross Terrorism Preparedness Courses, originally uploaded by juggernautco.

More info as I run through it...

Defranchising Arby's


Defranchise, originally uploaded by juggernautco.

When I was a paralegal in the early 90s, I worked on a project for a large franchiser of convenience stores. My task was to drive to specific locations in Chicago and the near-western suburbs taking pictures of buildings that had previously been occupied by franchises of the client.

I took pictures of the facades of these buildings as evidence that the former franchisees had not properly "defranchised", i.e. taken down their signs.

I always thought it was goofy for a couple of reason. Even if the sign was down, the negative space behind the letters would spell out the name in clean whiteness.

The other thing was the paint color of the building, which was always simpatico with the brand.

Upshot: everyone knows when the franchise has failed.

Here's one for old times sake.

Inelegant Test Screen


Test, originally uploaded by juggernautco.

Um, does this mean we should duck & cover asap?

Free Terrorism Web-Based Courses

An unfortunate grouping of words from our Department of Homeland Security.

CTA Evacuations in an Open Source Emergency Response World

So a couple of Chicago alderman are up in arms about re-hiring CTA train conductors so they can help out in the event of future evacuations on the CTA. My brother Kevin writes about it over at CTA Tattler.

CTA Elevator Status

Apparently there is some Homeland Security cash available and the alderman know exactly how the CTA should spend it. The CTA says they want to spend it on technology, like cameras.

I say go ahead and spend the money on cameras. But they should also publish detailed subway maps (with exit holes), allow citizens to tap the cameras on their cell phones,
upgrade the emergency and "way out" path lighting, and do other practical things that would make evacuations less of a mystery for normal riders.

What if they put a great big pulsing light under every evacuation manhole in the subway? Just like the advertisements on the Blue Line between Clark and Washington? That way, if something happens, people on the back of the train could say, "I know we just passed an exit, go this way!" and people on the front of the train could say, "I know from riding this train every day that there's a pulsing light/ exit just ahead", and they could go that way.

What if motivated citizens (and if you're on CTA Alerts, you know as well as I do, there are a lot of train wonks out there) were given extra training on evacuations? No obligation to help, no promise to be on the train on a certain day, just an informal
network of people who would help out if they could. I think we've all seen in an emergency situation that vocal people/ leader-types emerge. Let's give these people some tools to know what they're saying.

These are just a couple of ideas. I know there are more ideas-- better ones-- out there. Not every communal problem is solved by hiring more government workers. This is the way of Open Source Emergency Response. CTA Alerts is one idea in this direction. There have got to be more.

Policy Analysis Market

I created a placeholder page for my new project, www.policyanalysismarket.net. Here's the skinny:

In the summer of 2003, the DARPA-run Terrorism Information Awareness Office of the U.S. Government, directed by former Iran-Contra scandal figure John Poindexter, planned a "Policy Analysis Market", an online tool at www.policyanalysismarket.org that would allow registered users to trade contracts on the likekihood of certain events. PAM was subtitled, "A Market in the Future of the Middle East" and was interested in trading three types of contracts:

  • Quarterly contracts based on data indices that track economic health, civil stability, military disposition, and U.S. economic & military involvement in Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Turkey
  • Quarterly contracts that track global economic and conflict indicators
  • Specific possible events (e.g., U.S. recognition of Palestine in the first quarter of 2005)        

It was quickly branded "the terrorism futures market".

In fact, it was a brilliant idea disguised as a disgusting one.

This site seeks to bring the idea back.

Contact danielx at gmail if you are interested in building this prediction market.

Resources

Initial New York Times story on the project.

Cached mirror of the original site.

Links to all NYT references to the project.


Policy Analysis Market, originally uploaded by juggernautco.

My New Favorite Thing: Radio Shack Emergency Crank Radio

This has everything you would want in a post-apocalyptic broadcast receiver device. The perfect device for anyone interested in being useful in an Open Source Emergency Response kind of way. Here's what Radio Shack has to say:

Stay informed during emergencies.
Listen to local or worldwide programs on this AM/FM/shortwave radio. The emergency crank generator provides light and radio power without batteries, making it a must-have for emergencies. It can also charge wireless phones using the included phone tips. Telescopic antenna provides superior signal tuning.

  • Vernier fine-tuning knob for accurate analog tuning on Shortwave 1 and 2
  • 360° telescopic antenna for superior signal tuning
  • Dynamo recharging red LED indicator
  • Get information, light and wireless phone power when you need it most

What's in the box

  • Emergency Crank Radio with built-in rechargeable battery
  • USB Cable + 4 tips (for Siemens, Sony Ericsson, Samsung & Nokia)
  • Owner's manual

One thing they don't make clear is that is can be used to charge your phone (that's what the USB is for). So if you're stuck somewhere, you turn the crank and can hear AM, FM, and shortwave radio AND charge your phone to make your last-ditch calls.

If we would have had this in WWI, we never would have lost. Oh yeah, I forgot-- we won WWI. Anyway, it's a great radio.

In Poetry News Today

I've joined the following:

24647996 Hi. Am Nikhil Parekh, a poet from India. I’ve always believed that there’s a poet in each one of us and each beat of our passionate hearts, irrespective of howsoever commercial be our exteriors. I am on a mission here at this community in Orkut to make it the “World’s Largest Online Poetry Community” -Currently Orkut has over 400 lac members. This shall be acommunity for sharing your poetry and anything that stirs your heart for any goodness of creation. All Profanity would be instantly deleted.

MORE ON ME:-
By God’s grace am a two-time world record holder with Limca Book of Records India (Only 2nd in World Rankings to Guinness Book) for my poetry. Those interested in browsing thousands of my poems, my works and achievements further can visit my Orkut Profile at: www.orkut.com/Profile.aspx?uid=11981243813468872166 or my website www.nikhilparekh.com

I hope every Orkutian joins me here to break every record and stay beautiful forever with the Power of Immortal Poetry. Lets Toast to a World Record !

God bless us all.

Music, Meet Ears.

First sentence of wonder and joy:

WASHINGTON -

President Bush's war policies have failed in almost every regard, the bipartisan

Iraq
Study Group concluded Wednesday, and it warned of dwindling chances to change course before crisis turns to chaos.

ABOUT ME

Daniel X. O'Neil: Chicago-based writer and internet developer. I am a co-founder of and the People Person for EveryBlock, a site that pulls together local news and public information. I run dozens of personal projects and websites for clients, and also own half of a poetry book company.

PROJECTS

EveryBlock: A news feed for your block.
CTA Tweet: Unofficial Twitter tracker for the Chicago Transit Authority.
CityPayments: Database of all vendors, contracts, and payments that have been posted by the municipal government of the City of Chicago
Wesley Willis Art: Site dedicated to the fact that Wesley Willis was an artist.
Wide Right Turn: An incomplete look at the role of variation in a capitalist society.

TWITTERLICIOUS

    follow me on Twitter

    THE INEVITABLE FACEBOOK

    NEWS NEAR CITY HALL

    OPENGOV CHICAGO

    Projects

    • Wesley Willis Art
      Site dedicated to the fact that Wesley Willis was an artist.
    • CTA Alerts
      Wireless notifications about service on the Chicago Transit Authority.
    • Wide Right Turn

      An incomplete look at the role of variation in a capitalist society.
    • Derivative Works Art Manifesto
      Humans own their experience of copyrighted content.
    • Y!Q Link Generator
      Simple form for creating Y!Q links to add relevance, annotate text, and provide more sophisticated layers of meaning to web content.