Life, Technology, and Meteorology

Month: October 2005

Surf-Bits Seasonality Review

Surf-Bits posted an excellent review of Seasonality over on their site…

What I liked most about Seasonality was it’s ease of use and flexibility. It was extremely easy for me to setup multiple monitoring locations so I could at a glance see what the weather happened to be like in London while I was chatting on the phone with a client in England.


What can I say, Drunken Batman’s Evening at the Adler rocked. A lot of different topics were covered, from future directions in computer languages to working with customers from a small business standpoint. I won’t talk too much about the evening, as DB should be posting a video of the roundtable event soon.

The after party is what brought this event together. I got a chance to meet and talk to a lot of people that evening. I think it was great that many people from various online news sites were there. I spoke briefly with Clint and Jacqui from Ars Technica, Justin Williams from, and Scott McNulty who was representing The Unofficial Apple Weblog. I’ve seen Justin at a couple of conferences in the past but have never had a chance to actually talk to him, so it was great to meet him this time around. Actually, he was interviewing some attendees of the event and asked me a few questions. There’s a PodCast posted on with my interview mixed in with those of some very prominent developers. It’s kind of cool to see my name listed with these other big names that have been in the business much longer than I have. Thanks Justin!

I also talked to a lot of other developers at the event. I was a little surprised at how many people there worked (or will be working) at Apple. They had quite a showing for being headquartered out in California.

Overall I had a good time and I hope there’s other events like this in future years. It’s a great way to replace conferences like ADHOC and Mac OS X Con that have disappeared this past year.

Happy Birthday XRG

XRG turns 3 today. XRG 0.1.1 was released on October 24, 2002. It’s been great working on the project, and I wrote up some memories and experiences when developing XRG on a separate page. I also spend some time talking about the early days of XRG, so definitely check it out.

Thanks to all the XRG users out there, here’s to several more years of XRG development.


In case you haven’t heard, Hurricane Wilma is brewing out off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula right now. Wilma is the strongest hurricane ever measured in the Atlantic ocean, when a hurricane hunter aircraft measured a central air pressure of just 882mb a few days ago, 6 millibars lower than the previous record. The hurricane has “weakened” since then and has now settled down to a Category 4 hurricane with 150 mph winds, but that’s still pretty strong. It’s heading directly towards Cozumel and Cancun at the moment. I would hate to see that area destroyed…Katrina and I went on a cruise that stopped at Cozumel for our honeymoon. It was a great little town and we had a lot of fun both there and in Playa del Carmen.

Hurricane Wilma, October 20 6pm EDT

Meteorologists really aren’t sure where it’s gonna go from here, but it looks like it will sweep across Florida before heading North off the east coast…

So what’s next? Well, after getting to the letter W for yearly storm names, Greek letters are used. The next storm will be alpha, beta, etc… It’s rare to get this far in the alphabet, and there are still several weeks left of hurricane season. This year is definitely one for the record books.

How do you organize your feeds?

Let me just say this right now, if you aren’t using some kind of news aggregator to read this, then get one. The amount of time you’ll save is priceless, and almost half of my web browsing now happens in NetNewsWire, not Safari.

So Mike Zornek brings up a good Question of the Day: how do you manage your RSS feeds? Well, my feed list is grouped in the categories listed on the right. The first three are pretty simple, everything happening relating to the Mac I can keep track of here. Good to keep tabs on the market.

Next is Development, which includes feeds like updates to Apple’s online documentation and articles on MacDevCenter. Other Tech has news feeds relating to any other platform, stuff like Slashdot, Ars, and Wired

Blogs, well not much to say here, but I do split some blogs that post very often out into another group. I’ll always read the blogs group, but if I’m running short on time I’ll skip over High Traffic Blogs for the time being. Media has Flickr and Podcast feeds which I see as a kind of extension of the idea of a blog.

Searches are custom NNW search term feeds. Weather isn’t what you might expect, it includes feeds by the National Weather Service to keep me updated on changes in their data sources and a few other weather sites as well. Seasonality keeps track of my weather for me, so I’ve never really had a need to use RSS for that. Finally, below that is any other subscriptions that don’t fit anywhere else (or are temporary). Right now I just have Autoblog there, because it doesn’t fit into any category, but is still an interesting read.

So this is what works for me. I’m not sure what I would do without feed grouping… There are just so many feeds out there that having one large list just doesn’t make sense.

Seasonality 1.1 Released

Today’s a day to bust out the champagne and celebrate, Seasonality 1.1 is finally ready and has been released. If you’ve been reading here, you already know the biggest new feature is international location support. This version supports 34,000 locations in 202 countries. I’m really glad to be able to support global users. I wanted to add international support for version 1.0, but time constraints kept me from doing it.

You’ve also seen pictures of the new satellite images, but one thing that I haven’t posted about is the new cylindrical wind direction graph. The idea for this graph came up one evening while Katrina and I were brainstorming about how to best display wind direction on a graph. Typical weather programs will show something like the first graph below with the direction along the y axis and time along the x axis. The problem is when you look at time periods like the end of the graph below. Really, the wind direction didn’t change much from Friday to Saturday, but the graph is bouncing all over the place. Sure, I could have just found a way to wrap the graph from top to bottom, but there are a lot of different cases that need to be handled, and not all of them can be handled in an elegant way.

So when we were talking about this problem, we figured that really the problem was that you can’t map the directions of a compass onto a mathematical plane, because 360 and 0 are the same direction so the graph would have to be “broken” somewhere. The solution we came up with was to map the data onto a cylinder. This way it’s easy to display 360 and 0 degrees as the same value. In the second graph below, you can see that between Friday and Saturday the wind direction was hovering around NNE, and the curve isn’t bouncing so much, making it easier to read. The rest of the graph is shown on the back of the cylinder, but I let people spin it around so they can see any part of the graph in more detail. Spinning the graph is a real trip, just seeing the other side of the graph roll around the bottom or top is pretty cool.

We’ll see if users end up loving or hating it. I ended up including both graphs in the final version just in case some people prefer the standard graph method.

So if you haven’t already, check out Seasonality 1.1. And even though there are a ton of new features in this version, this is just the beginning, I already got a set of features lined up for 1.2.

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