Monthly Archives: May 2008

Yep, I’m Moving

After four great, unforgettable years living downtown, I’m going to be moving deep into the heart of West Ashley to a one-bedroom place near the river. My last day down here is May 31; I’ll be relocating briefly with the parental units to the Creek for a few days while I wait for my new apartment to open up.

This likely doesn’t matter to most people, except for those who follow my weather station closely. I hate it, but the weather station will be ceasing operations Thursday afternoon for the foreseeable future, and for good in that location. It’s been a fantastic experience providing conditions from my backyard for two years, but the reality of my situation — moving to a complex — dictates that the station can’t continue for now. Perhaps in the future, when I own something and will be firmly entrenched in it, will I be able to restart operations. I may have located a foster home for the station, though — more details to be announced later.

My focus on user-generated weather content is changing. I’m now focusing on what can be done with streaming media and interactivity; I’m already doing some of that now at Ustream and, when it’s up, Twitter. Both ventures have been pretty successful so far. I’m going to expand on that soon and probably spin weather off from here into its own domain as time goes on, more than likely. Stay tuned — it’s going to get really hardcore soon, especially with hurricane season knocking on the door.

It’s going to be weird, though, not knowing what the exact temperature is at my house at any given time. I’ve gotten so, so, so used to that over the years…and now I won’t have it anymore. Here’s hoping someone takes the torch and runs with it.

Epic National Hurricane Center FAIL

This made it into the National Hurricane Center’s advisory system tonight:

000
WTNT21 KNHC 130150
TCMAT1

TROPICAL STORM OPHELIA FORECAST/ADVISORY NUMBER 27
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL162005
0300Z TUE MAY 12 2008

AT 11 PM EDT…0300Z…A HURRICANE WARNING HAS BEEN ISSUED FROM THE
SOUTH SANTEE RIVER SOUTH CAROLINA TO CAPE LOOKOUT NORTH CAROLINA.

AT 11 PM EDT…A TROPICAL STORM WARNING HAS BEEN ISSUED FROM NORTH
OF CAPE LOOKOUT TO OREGON INLET NORTH CAROLINA…INCLUDING PAMLICO
SOUND.

A TROPICAL STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM NORTH OF EDISTO
BEACH SOUTH CAROLINA TO THE SOUTH SANTEE RIVER.

A HURRICANE WARNING MEANS THAT HURRICANE CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED IN
THE WARNING AREA WITHIN THE NEXT 24 HOURS.

A TROPICAL STORM WARNING MEANS THAT TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE
EXPECTED IN THE WARNING AREA WITHIN THE NEXT 24 HOURS.

TROPICAL STORM CENTER LOCATED NEAR 31.8N 77.9W AT 13/0300Z
POSITION ACCURATE WITHIN 15 NM

PRESENT MOVEMENT TOWARD THE WEST-NORTHWEST OR 290 DEGREES AT 3 KT

ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE 990 MB
EYE DIAMETER 90 NM
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS 60 KT WITH GUSTS TO 75 KT.
50 KT……. 70NE 70SE 70SW 70NW.
34 KT…….140NE 120SE 120SW 120NW.
12 FT SEAS..250NE 240SE 225SW 180NW.
WINDS AND SEAS VARY GREATLY IN EACH QUADRANT. RADII IN NAUTICAL
MILES ARE THE LARGEST RADII EXPECTED ANYWHERE IN THAT QUADRANT.

REPEAT…CENTER LOCATED NEAR 31.8N 77.9W AT 13/0300Z
AT 13/0000Z CENTER WAS LOCATED NEAR 31.9N 77.7W

It’s an old advisory for Hurricane Ophelia in 2005 that has apparently been re-dated for today, and it’s causing some minor chaos right now. It’s showing up in my Hurricane Advisory RSS feed, but now some of the automated systems that take in these advisories and warn on them are going nuts. I first noticed when BreakingNewsOn on Twitter started reporting a hurricane bearing down on North Carolina. Similarly, local blogger Matthew Gregg noted the error in a tweet shortly after the BreakingNewsOn tweet. Following the link in Matthew’s tweet took me to the errant advisory listed above. Since then, though, this has made it out to sites like Reuters and the UK’s Tropical Storm Risk center.

I can assure everybody that there is no tropical storm out there, and I hope that this isn’t reaching even further than just these locations. I haven’t seen any false warnings being raised here, which is a good thing. Hopefully NHC will get this out of their news stream quickly.

EPILOGUE: Here’s a Post & Courier piece by Dan Conover about the errant advisory. Interesting how it all went down.

A soupy mess coming together this weekend

Keep an eye to the sky this weekend, folks. We’ve got quite a setup for a pretty significant severe weather outbreak tomorrow, which unfortunately gets in the way of Mother’s Day. There’s also a chance that today could get particularly rough, particularly in the afternoon as the heating of the day kicks in and kicks off those summer thunderstorms we all know and love. I’m particularly worried about the afternoon CofC commencement ceremony, which starts at 4 — typically the time of peak intensity for these isolated thunderstorms. Here’s hoping they avoid the peninsula until after the conclusion of that ceremony. Radar’s not showing much yet, though that could change literally at any time.

Keep an eye here or on @chswx on Twitter, as I do send tweets in severe weather situations. I also have started to do some live weather broadcasting when conditions warrant, including a quick briefing I produced this morning about this weekend’s setup. Typically, I’ll broadcast in heavy weather situations as well in addition to sending tweets — I take the SuperDeeDooperDoppler full, have interactive chat, and it’s a really great experience. Join us next time!

UPDATE: A snippet from the National Weather Service after the jump. Continue reading

I am a Facebook Spammer

Facebook says I am a spammer

I saw the above screen after writing on my friend Trevor’s Facebook wall, wishing him a happy birthday. I apparently need to stop doing that, as I am clearly abusing their system…because the only time I have to write on walls these days are to write people and wish them a happy birthday. That’s what you DO on Facebook. (I even suck about that, and I know I’ve missed some peoples’ days, and for that, I humbly apologize.) For reference, here’s my wall post frequency, per my News Feed.

I hit my profile a couple times a day, and largely lurk. I don’t use Facebook chat, and I generally lay low regardless. I only come out of the woodwork for birthdays. Something is seriously wrong here. Two of my followers on Twitter have also had issues with Facebook labeling them as abusers, so I’m wondering if their detection mechanisms have gone out of whack. (For the record, I was able to make a different wall post to another friend with no problem.)

Two things here have struck a serious nerve with me. One, the outright “you are spamming Facebook” line. That’s ludicrous. The wording is combative and doesn’t offer the user much hope of reaching a resolution, as it deposits you on an FAQ page that just says “stop spamming” without giving somebody the opportunity to clear their name. Second of all, their rate limits aren’t advertised. I’ll take some of the mystery out: it apparently is sending more than one “Happy Birthday” wall post to more than one friend every two weeks. This is very Comcastian in nature, where you can be shut down for hitting an arbitrary rate limit that they won’t put in writing a la Dave Winer.

The “guilty until proven innocent” crap just has to stop. I understand wanting to shut down spammers, but some of these measures have put a real chill in how I’m going to use Facebook from here on out, which is to say not much at all. The tendency in society to put a serious chill on things has really gotten on my last nerve, but that’s a post for another day. I’ve definitely taken a decentralizing approach with much of their services: Flickr for photos, FriendFeed can help me keep up with what people are up to, and I have Twitter for far better status. Oh, and good ol’ fashioned e-mail is much more effective than the Facebook messaging system. Yeah, I don’t have “walls” to write on but I suppose that’s what good ol’ fashioned phone calls are for. If Facebook is going to continue to try to chill usage of their service with a wayward abuse detection system, then I have to say, my repeat traffic numbers are going to go way down. This is Shark Jumping 101 right here. It’s about as effective as suing your customers (see RIAA); it doesn’t work.

Who needs The Weather Channel when you have Ustream?

Tonight a bunch of people and I learned, once again, the power of the Internet. A storm became unexpectedly severe and plowed its way through Dorchester and Berkeley counties this evening. I went live on a Charleston weather-themed Ustream channel with the SuperDeeDooperDoppler and, for over two hours, was able to give a rundown of what the storm was doing at a particular time and was able to get people to safety when the storm was at its worst, whether it was spewing 60+ MPH gusts in downtown Summerville or chucking golf-ball size hail in Ridgeville. I was able to get feedback in real time in the chat room that Ustream supplied, and that part rocked most of all. One-way weather broadcasts from television don’t give anybody that kind of luxury at all, especially when the storm knocks television out. People were able to relay their reports in real-time and that was excellent. In a way, I’m hoping it stays clear for a bit — two hours of wall-to-wall is probably enough after a long day at work. :) It just felt good to be able to help people.

Imagine what I would have done with Ustream during Ernesto in August 2006, when I live-blogged for three days every advisory that came down with predictions and such. A part of me almost can’t wait for another storm now!

This summer I’m looking to significantly expand my weather outlet, to the point where it will likely be spun off from this site under its own domain. One of the pieces of this is somewhat in play now as I’ve created a Charleston Weather Twitter account to relay conditions, forecasts, and advisories. I wouldn’t rely on it for timeliness right now, though — it’s using Twitterfeed to shoot the information through, so there is a giant delay between checking feeds. I still need to write a proper bot for it, which I’m hoping to tackle this month. The Ustream channel is another piece of the puzzle. I plan to offer up some sort of rotating feature with radar and other things once I can find a box to dedicate to it. I will also use the Ustream channel for periodic weather reports as well as coverage during severe weather situations.

Sadly, the most obvious piece of the puzzle, my weather station, won’t be around much longer. I’m moving in a few weeks, which will force me to end my station downtown after two fantastic years. I’m not sure if I will bring it up yet in my new location (likely to be west of the Ashley), so my backyard conditions may come to an end. However, there are other stations out there, and I’m not overly concerned with taking mine down knowing that others will be able to spring up in my place.

I wanted to write more about my setup here, but I’m getting pretty tired; that will be for a later post.

I’m not sure what I’m on to here, but I can’t help but think it’s a good thing that will enhance weather awareness and, more importantly, explore how the social media space can be used to disseminate important information in an interactive manner.