Use DVIDS to keep up with your Marine

...or Airman or Sailor or Soldier. I use it to keep up with my service members who happen to be Marines, so that's the moniker you'll see through the article.

DVIDS is the "Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System" - a nice little acronym for a pretty bad ass (from a programmer's standpoint) system. In short, if DoD publishes it, or makes it available for publication, it goes through DVIDS. Nifty, you might be thinking - and you'd be understating the feat of programming and management that this type of system is by light years. The system has the ability to categorize content by a number of different criteria, but most importantly, by Unit, State, Hometown, and - get this - by Personnel. Yep, you can enter your Marine's name and rank and if they're mentioned, you'll get a customized email on them as soon as it's entered into the system. Here's how to do it.

Step 1 - Create an account / Log in


Click the "Register" link at the top of the page and follow the on-screen instructions to create an account and verify your email. This has changed in the 3 months (or it feels like it has) since I registered, so I'm going to tell you to follow their instructions. Or, if you already have an account (and why wouldn't you?), click the "Login" link at the top of the page.

Step 2: Create a subscription


On any page, click the "Home" tab at the top (trust me, it's easier) and then select "Subscriptions" from the menu.

 Step 2.1: Search By


My Marine is currently at the School of Infantry - East at Camp Geiger/Le Jeune, so I want news coming out of that location, and in this case, MCSOI-E is categorized as a Unit, rather than a location, so I choose "Unit" from the top "Search By" drop down and type "MCS" into the bottom drop down. Here is where I've run into problems in the past, make sure that you select "MCSOI-E" (or whatever your search topic is, if shows in the autocomplete) from the autocomplete, if it shows! Otherwise, sometimes the system doesn't link things up correctly. In most cases, it's very dependable. I probably misspelled something.

Step 2.2: Select Media

Click "Next" and select the types of media you would like sent to you. I chose everything except Webcasts because a separate subscription has to be done for those.

Step 2.3: How Often

Click "Next" again and select the frequency with which you would like to receive the media. In my case, I chose "Instant", because, dern it, I need to know! Options range from hourly to weekly. Ensure that the email is correct and click "Create Subscription".

Step 3: Editing Subscriptions

As you can see in the image, there's a small table below the subscription creator that will show you all of your current subscriptions, and you can choose to edit or delete them from there. Also, for those of you that are into that sort of thing, an RSS feed of each subscription is available, as well. I remember to check email more frequently than I do RSS feeds I'm subscribed to, but that's just me.

There you go. If you have a Marine who can't recognize DoD Media and would never tell you if s/he had their picture taken anyway (they're all kinda busy, I understand), then this will make sure that any pictures that do get uploaded to the DoD archives come to you, as well.

Just in case you're wondering - I have this great tool called Skitch for taking screen shots and uploading them to my Evernote account...huge time saver!