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ScribeVision Meets Bubbatron
by Rodney Hammack

ScribeVision at MRE

When first introduced at the MRE (Fort Polk) in 1999, ScribeVision was projected on an 800 by 600 pixel screen.

BDI Clarity Display

Once in Bosnia, ScribeVision had to adapt to a large video display system that was bundled with BDI (Balkan Digitization Initiative).  The giant system was immediately dubbed "Bubbatron".

Bubbatron from Booth

ScribeVision was used to control the daily Battle Update Briefings for the MND(N) Commanding General.  The view above is the Bubbatron as seen from the G6 Audio Visual Control Booth.

BUB Seen From Control Booth

With the BUB briefings displayed on the Bubbatron behind the CG, a TV monitor was positioned in front of MG Halverson so he could see the PowerPoint presentation.

Operating ScribeVision

It took G3 Ops two PCs to send the BUB presentation to both the Bubbatron and CG TV monitor simultaneously.

Size Does Matter

Ever been envious of a co-worker that had one of those 'large' computer monitors on his or her desk?  You know, one of those 19 or 21 inch monsters that handle the busiest web sites with room to spare.

You probably thought they could never build a computer monitor big enough to suit you, right?.  Then again, you've never had to deal with the "Godzilla of computer monitors" that SFOR 7 was faced with in Bosnia - a computer monitor measuring 12 feet by ten feet!

The monitor was a system manufactured by Clarity Systems and was intended to display tactical data from the BDI (Balkan Digitization Initiative).  It is actually nine separate monitors that are linked together to function as one large system.

Housed in a black metal housing, the display system reminded some of us of the mysterious monolith from 2001: A Space Oddysey when it was initially installed in the main briefing area known as the BUB.  Within days, however, the system was referred to as "The Bubbatron".

The Challenges of Bubbatron

The Bubbatron presented some unique challenges for ScribeVision and SFOR 7.  The first challenge was dealing with the sheer size of the display.  The NT workstation that controlled the giant monitor was housed in a cabinet at the base of the screen.  Imagine trying to do any work on the computer when the the screen towers a dozen feet directly above you.  Instead of moving a mouse cursor a few inches to accomplish a task, the operator had to move the cursor several feet!

The pixel resolution of the screen was the biggest challenge for ScribeVision initially.  ScribeVision had been designed for the 800 by 600 pixel screen at the Fort Polk MRE the previous fall.  However, Bubbatron had nine separate monitors - each one 800 by 600 pixels in size.  This meant that any web page would have to be able to fill up a 2400 by 1800 pixel browser window!

When I initially brought up the BubScribe version of ScribeVision on the Bubbatron, it was "sucked" up into the top right corner of the Bubbatron.  I was forced to construct a "Giant BubScribe" that was hard-coded to fill the 2400 by 1800 pixel resolution.

Controlling Bubbatron

Another shortcoming of Bubbatron was the lack of a method of displaying the same image on both the Clarity display system and the monitor in front of the Commanding General.  We were forced to run two different sessions of the PowerPoint presentation - one session running on the PC hooked to the Bubbatron and another session of the briefing running on a PC connected to the TV monitor.  G3 had two have an operator at both machines clicking the slides (and hoping to keep them in synch).

We eventually simplified this process by installing remote control software on a notebook PC and placing it next to the PC controlling the CG's TV output.  This made it possible for one G3 Ops person to control both slideshows from one location.

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