Monthly Archives: November 2010

Video: The power of the low-level jet stream

Download now or watch on posterous (16324 KB)

We had a break in the clouds earlier today and I was able to get a little footage of just how fast the puffy cumulus clouds (forming fairly low to the ground) were racing by.  You can also see some altocumulus coming into the frame from the right (and more from the south and southwest), indicating wind shear which will be supportive of strong to possibly severe storms later tonight.

IEM chat rooms I’m monitoring today

I’ll be watching three weather chats today: WFO Charleston, SC, WFO Columbia, SC, and WFO Greenville-Spartanburg, SC as a threat for severe weather unfolds later today and into tonight. A reminder: These are not official NWS chat rooms — there won’t be any forecasters in there, but iembot will be there to relay watches, warnings, and other products from the various forecast offices as they are issued.

Sparrow Beta 6

While I was updating apps today, I also saw that Sparrow, the Tweetie-like Mac Gmail client, had updated to a sixth beta just this morning. I’ve had an on-and-off relationship with Sparrow during its development, but Beta 6 is closer to hooking me in. IMAP IDLE support is now available, so receiving mail should be just about as timely as seeing it in the Web client now. Additionally, labels are supported (and have been since Beta 5), there is now a spam-reporting feature and threading is smarter. It’s getting damn close to the full-blown Gmail experience, with one important exception: No Rapportive. I’m not sure if that is a deal-breaker yet or not, because I really like Rapportive, but I might be able to live without it, too.

Found a Mac-native User Streams client right under my nose

In the end, I didn’t have to go very far to find a Mac-native Twitter client that was capable of real-time User Streams; there was one already in my Applications folder: Echofon for Mac. I had forgotten that they had opened User Streams up to every user (and not just paid Pro users). After self-updating, User Streams was turned on for all my accounts. Echofon is tiny and sits out of the way — really what I want from a Twitter client (though interface-wise I still think the enigmatic Tweetie for Mac wins). TweetDeck is just too immersive for passive Twitter usage, which is more of my mode these days.

Desktop weather alerts with Adium and Growl on Mac OS X

Updated April 16, 2014 to reflect the new XMPP server.

Many years ago, the Iowa Environmental Mesonet at Iowa State University established iembot, a service that relays National Weather Service products from each forecast office in real time. iembot messages are available using a Web-based interface, via Twitter (for example, I follow to receive products from the National Weather Service in Charleston), or via XMPP. While I’ve used all three methods, I far prefer XMPP — nothing beats the immediacy of receiving important messages in an IM client, and for me, weather messages certainly fit in that category. Thanks to Growl and Adium, two excellent (and open source) pieces of software that really make the Mac worth using, I’m able to do a number of cool things with the most important messages: sound an alarm, speak out the text of the alert, and even send a push notification to my iPhone when I’m not around (using another app, Boxcar, which has a Growl plugin).
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Disambiguation: I am not the Best Tube guy

I’ve gotten some inquiries as of late about Best Tube, an Android app that permits a user to save a YouTube video to their device. Confusingly, Best Tube is also written by a Jared W. Smith, which has led to a few errant e-mails my way (that, unfortunately, I have not been able to forward along because I cannot reliably locate the real Best Tube Jared). My sincere apologies to those who have found me in error! (Related: This, right here, illustrates the problem with emphasizing personal brand — there are just too many opportunities for collision!)

A relic of computing lore: the General Protection Fault

Netscape 3.04 Gold chokes on

Netscape 3.04 Gold choking very badly on

Netscape Navigator Gold was the lens through which I first saw the Internet. Thanks to my Windows 3.11 VM and’s browser archive, I can attempt to re-see the Web as if it was 1996 all over again. The results are most certainly not pretty, with an abundance of JavaScript errors and, in the case of this very site, a General Protection Fault — remember those? (Interestingly, Internet Explorer 3.01 for Windows 3.x gracefully degraded, while its Windows 95 counterpart crashes with a stack fault.)

The Mono Growl style is back

My favorite Growl theme, Mono, has finally been updated to version 1.5 to fix strange display issues that cropped up with the Safari 5 release. 1.5 also seems to have a tighter appearance, which makes the theme even more attractive than it already was. Christopher Lobay’s other themes, Basics and the new Eleven, are also very sweet, but I like Mono best.