Scuba, the Harvard way

first_img“If you’re low on air, you will gradually lose consciousness,” Justin Sola ’14 tells his scuba diving partner, Alice Xiang ’13, as they perform safety checks on each other’s alternate air sources. Outside, it’s one of the coldest days of the year, and yet the two are decked out in swimsuits, dreaming of faraway places.“We’re in St. Lucia right now,” says scuba instructor Tori Steinmeier. “On a boat, with all our friends.”If only.But these Harvard students are getting the next best thing: scuba lessons inside the Malkin Athletic Center that will earn them PADI open water certification to explore the underwater realm of St. Lucia — and anywhere else in the world.Twin sisters Ann-Marie (left) and Kristina Barrett ’16 check their regulators before getting in the pool.Sola and Xiang are just two of many students who, for a multitude of reasons, returned to campus early after holiday break. The period in between break and spring term contains a block of time known as Wintersession, a College programming initiative that offers students unique opportunities to explore other interests and develop new skill sets, such as personal-finance management, first-responder certification, ethnic cooking mastery, and more.For Kristen DePre ’13, returning to campus early from Long Island was all about utilizing the downtime to work on her thesis — and to enroll in scuba lessons.“I returned just for this class,” she says. “Scuba is something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s typically expensive and time-consuming, and I’m going to be graduating soon, so I really wanted to take advantage of all Harvard’s offerings.”For these students, not only was the class free, it would give them all the skills to complete their open water certification dives in just one week.“You really feel like a fish,” describes DePre of her first time breathing underwater. “It’s bizarre. It feels almost like outer space.”Students test their gear underwater in the Malkin Athletic Center pool during a Wintersession class that will earn them scuba certification.The class meets daily from noon to 4, with a mix of classroom instruction and pool exercises administered by longtime scuba aficionado Alan Budreau, with the help of Jim Estabrook from Somerville’s United Divers, and Steinmeier, a professional scuba instructor and student at Harvard Extension School.Come springtime’s warmer weather, the students will head north to Rockport, Mass., to complete certification dives with Budreau and the other instructors. Yet murky New England water is no match for a vacation’s lure. Many students will opt to complete their certification in places like the Caribbean, over spring break.“I came back to campus to work on my thesis, but I’ve always been interested in marine biology,” says Xiang, whose buoyancy control device, or BCD, gets the clearance from Sola. “And you get to swim with dolphins!”“Scuba’s just cool,” says Sola, suiting up. “James Bond did it.”Harvard Recreation offers scuba courses for students, faculty, and staff in spring and fall semesters. For more information.last_img read more

GUEST BLOG: Emergency Preparedness for Older Pennsylvanians

first_img SHARE Email Facebook Twitter September 25, 2017 Like Governor Tom Wolf on Facebook: Public Safety,  Seniors,  The Blog September is National Preparedness Month and this year’s theme is, “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.” Recognizing that we are in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, disasters like these serve as a reminder that each of us must be prepared for emergencies that can easily affect us where we live, work, or visit.Being prepared for the next potential emergency is a top priority for the Wolf Administration. As such, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and the Department of Aging have been engaged in conversations about emergency preparedness and Pennsylvania’s older population. A recent survey conducted by PEMA revealed that only 26% of Pennsylvanians age 65 and older have a plan in place for when disaster strikes. This sobering statistic tells us that we all have friends, family, neighbors, and consumers who have no plan for how to act when a disaster is imminent, don’t know how to respond after one has struck, and may not know how to communicate if they need assistance.Older Pennsylvanians have some of the same needs as the general population during a human-made or natural disaster. However, for older adults and persons with disabilities, they may also have a wider variety of functional limitations and some additional challenges to consider, including medical equipment, accessibility and transportation issues, and access to prescription medications. Approximately half of those over age 65 have two or more chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. These conditions increase a person’s vulnerability during periods of time without food, water, shelter, and adequate rest. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, of the older adults who were living outside nursing homes or hospitals, nearly one third (11.3 million) lived alone. This reality makes the creation and maintenance of a support network particularly important.Because emergencies and disasters strike quickly, you might be forced to evacuate your neighborhood or be prepared to be confined to your home. While first responders and relief workers will quickly be on the scene, they may not be able to reach everyone immediately, meaning that help may arrive in hours or even days depending on the extent of damage. What would you do if your basic services: water, gas, electricity, or communications, were cut off? Even if you have physical limitations, you can still learn how to protect yourself and cope with disaster by planning in advance and by working with those in your support network: your family, neighbors, friends, and caregivers, as well as your local responders as a team.During September, the month dedicated to emergency preparedness, we encourage all older Pennsylvanians and their families to be informed, prepared, involved and ready, and invite you to take these easy steps:Visit to take the “Ready PA Preparedness Pledge”Download the “Get Ready Now” pocket guide, a 3-step guide on emergency preparedness for older adults. To access the guide, go to, hover your mouse over the “Publications & Reports” dropdown, then click on “Emergency Preparedness” (Direct link: your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA), which is poised to participate on every level of emergency preparedness planning, and meet the needs of the communities they serve in times of crisis. Find your local AAA at GUEST BLOG: Emergency Preparedness for Older Pennsylvanians   SHARE  TWEET By: Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Director Rick Flinnlast_img read more

Niall King – SportCaller – Securing the ultimate FTP integration

first_imgShare SportCaller teams up with Coral for Racing Super Series launch August 12, 2020 Related Articles Share Submit SG OpenMarket approval sees SportCaller expand FTP distribution capacity August 18, 2020 Niall King, CTO at SportCaller, looks at how operators can set themselves apart by adopting advancing tech to facilitate the most effective integrations from the free-to-play game perspective.The future of technology lies in artificial intelligence and capacity. Indeed, there’s an increasing onus on suppliers to provide the most effortless integration and run off sophisticated yet intuitive systems, ushering in the best of AI which neatly complements the ever-decreasing areas that benefit from human intervention. It’s not enough to have a specific but limited capability, which cannot adapt to a changing environment. Instead, you need a flexible, scalable solution which can be tailored to any specific client or industry requirement.At SportCaller, we’ve been in the vanguard of building free-to-play (FTP) games for operators and media owners for several years now, driving forward an ostensibly niche suite of products into an ever more progressive landscape of varying utility. Having started way back in 2014 by carving out the blueprint for of the free-to-play jackpot game with Sky Bet on Channel 4 Racing, our portfolio has organically evolved with ramping demand – from horse racing to football; through basketball, rugby league, even Aussie Rules; and on to novelty events like I’m A Celebrity. And we plan to diversify that range even further over the coming months, including NFL and darts, as those sports gear up to their flagship events of the World Championship and the Super Bowl.However, despite all the differing formats and underlying sports, one variable remains consistent to our partners’ needs: the technology which facilitates a free-to-play game’s integration. More specifically, the levers which drive the speed and quality of that integration. This speaks to ease of assimilation, flexibility, reliability and security. You need a platform that can adapt to the framework of new events, multiple languages, information-security and cloud-computational solutions. Events data and SSO (single sign-on) technologies are accordingly vital to our business and we have become adept over the years at successfully integrating these in our games. These integrations can be very simple (a redirect and a redirect back for a login) or quite complex (a wallet integration or a complex SSO journey). However, in a year where we have witnessed exponential growth – trebling the number of our partners while our portfolio of games, which are now active in over 20 countries, grew by 650% – we had to be able to scale up with confidence. Each time, the fundamental challenge was to integrate quickly and efficiently across this range of clients with differing events and accounts data endpoints. The majority of new clients require the use of their SSO systems to ensure their customers – SportCaller game players – experience as seamless a journey as possible. These systems vary from client to client – but as each new SSO integration type is encountered, you must build it into the core so that minimal development is required for the next customer using the same SSO type.At fullest capacity, we can even provide a seamless integration with a client’s existing app. The game is embedded in the app via webview, or another method, and SSO takes care of the shared session. Players will never even be aware they are using a game on a completely different platform and environment, while the client gets the benefit of keeping the player within the app.The two KPIs to which SportCaller pays closest attention are the conversion rate from free-play to a click on a live price or bet prompt, and the percentage of people returning each week to play. After all, having made their FTP selections, it’s imperative to ensure the swiftest transition for players to match up their opinions with related or identical betting opportunities (e.g. first goalscorer or next eviction) integrated within the bet slip. In today’s world of online distraction and diminished attention spans, you have to catch the customer while they remain in the moment and focussed on the event at hand.For, while the games are simple on the customer side, there is a level of complexity in the back end to ensure that the games are delivering repeat players, funded accounts and churn reduction in a secure and scalable way. Many of those clients that faced these challenges, without the know-how or internal resources, have now decided that it makes more sense to work with a specialist third party to take advantage of a clearly defined value proposition on FTP. Tracking can also be implemented across any call-to-action button, allowing a partner’s team to track an entire journey, for instance, from a Bet Now prompt on an FTP game through to successful “real-world” bet placement on sportsbook.Probably the biggest game-changer in the technology world over the last 10 years, Cloud Computing, has brought us the ability to test, prove concepts, ramp up and down to meet demand, have more granular control over our development and hosting costs and basically adopt a more agile approach to everything we do. We use latest these technologies for predictive scaling of resources to cope with anticipated client needs. Indeed, this allows us to have an entire production environment up and running and accessible in less than a day.Elsewhere, unique CRM offers operators access to the user data via a secure API from which they can run any push notification, fully confident that all opt-ins are up-to-date and everything is GDPR-compliant. Our campaigns can be tied to a start date and time, or a game-open trigger. We always determine a player’s willingness or otherwise to receive any mails before sending, also allowing that player to change their contact preferences at any time by unsubscribing.Moreover, all of our games are isolated, insofar as their infrastructures have no gateway, except from within that same infrastructure. We store a minimal set of user data – typically just enough to provide a good game play experience for the user and a way to identify any winners for our client; and finally, we never store any player-payment data. You want total peace of mind throughout the supply chain through to the end user. Nobody wants to deal with an unnecessary GDPR headache, and our integrations can incorporate the latest communications preferences, notable reliably accommodating and enforcing self-exclusion.Most traffic is largely predictable for an operator. Unless it’s converging on a tentpole event, like the Grand National, where marketing campaigns (or lack thereof) can create huge fluctuations in activity. Regardless of these variables, though, clients now trust our ability to scale based on such events and associated traffic, as we introduce more automation of this CRM analysis alongside some real “AI” scaling tools over the coming year. In short, if you’re always focussed on unpacking the numbers and improving the tech, you won’t go far wrong. After all, the importance of integration lies in the smart stuff that speaks directly to conversion rates and customer value. Operators and media owners can now steal the edge on the competition and a deep understanding of their players via the free-to-play model.You may have seen the disaster movies about the rise of the robots. Intelligent integration for igaming is no less transformative, and only in a good way. Even if no-one’s going to make a film about it! SportCaller grows US footprint with Betfred USA Sports deal July 30, 2020 StumbleUponlast_img read more

Throwback: Relive Asamoah Gyan’s exceptional goal against England [VIDEO]

first_imgOn 29th March 2011, Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan scored a late goal at Wembley Stadium to deny the Three Lions of England a win in a friendly match against the Black Stars of Ghana.It was Ghana’s first-ever game against England and the West African side proved their worth as they denied the British a win in an entertaining match.Dominic Adiyiah, the young protégé who had helped the Black Satellites win their first U-20 World Cup, almost sealed his in the history books but the lad was denied twice by England goalkeeper, Joe Hart.Stuart Downing and Ashley Young both had decent chances to hand England the lead but Richard ‘Olele’ Kingson was equal to the task.In an end-to-end game, Andy Carroll grabbed his first national team goal. Young picked out Downing with a precise pass and Carroll slammed a left-foot finish low past Richard Kingson.The game seemed to be well out of reach for the Black Stars of Ghana but the country’s hero and leading goal scorer grabbed a late goal to level the game, a well-deserved goal for all his hard work.Asamoah ‘Baby Jet’ Gyan picked a through pass, danced through the English defense, turned Joleon Lescott with his right foot and curled the ball beyond Joe Hart in the dying embers of the game to send the Ghanaian crowd into a rave.England: Hart, Johnson (Lescott 46), Cahill, Jagielka, Baines, Milner, Barry, Wilshere (Jarvis 69), Downing, Carroll (Defoe 59), Young (Welbeck 81).Subs Not Used: Green, Parker, Crouch, Bent, Carson.Ghana: Kingson, Pantsil, Vorsah (Jonathan Mensah 46), John Mensah, Lee Addy (Opare 46), Adiyah (Tagoe 69), Annan (Derek Boateng 46), Agyemang-Badu, Kwadwo Asamoah (Inkoom 83), Muntari (Ayew 59), Gyan.Subs Not Used: Adjei, David Addy, Kumordzi, Clottey, Sowah.Watch Gyan’s goal here:last_img read more