In Brief Weather

Mysteries of the IntelliStar 2, revealed

I’ve had a fascination with The Weather Channel’s local forecast computers since infantile amnesia set in, so reading this post about the tribulations of the IntelliStar 2, the forecast computer that drives the Local on the 8s programming for The Weather Channel’s high definition simulcast, was a fun read. Apparently the project was in trouble for a while (which is why it took The Weather Channel so long to bring a truly local forecast to the HD channel). The hardware specs are wild:

There ended up being 2 boards and a daughter card to make the I2HD work. The two main boards are PCIe boards and are very complicated. There are several instances of embedded linux running across the boards.

Again, the software was developed in-house. The new renderer was purchased from a 3rd party and integrated into the system (VizRT). The device driver was also done in house. The high level software is written in C#/F# running on Windows Embedded Standard (due to business requirements not present for [IntelliStar 1]).

It’s a pretty complex box doing complex things — constantly ingesting a satellite feed with radar and text products from The Weather Channel and the National Weather Service while driving high definition output 24/7. (Via TWC Today.)

Observations Personal

Movin’ to the groovin’

the girl Riot asked over Twitter: “[W]hat songs -move- you?” Needless to say, I’m a sucker for “moving” music, and 140 characters can’t do my list justice, so here we go (with links to listen if possible):

  • Am I Ever Gonna Change? by Extreme. Yes, I fully realize this is the “More Than Words” band. However, this song defined the second half of high school for me. I identified perfectly with its introspective and at times turbulent tone of a person struggling with themselves. The emotion in the song overtook singer Gary Cherone so much that he sang a different lyric at the end of the song. The song is altogether calm, haunting, and jarring at the same time — truly one of Extreme’s best works, and goes far beyond what anybody in “hair metal” (lousy term) was doing at that point. (The entire III Sides to Every Story album is just incredible.)
  • All Systems Go – The Launch from James Horner’s Apollo 13 score. I love instrumentals, and I especially love it when an instrumental can tell a story, and do so in dramatic fashion. Horner nails it here, with the hopeful buildup to the triumphant climax — the launch — and the intense moments during the launch sequence (including when one of the engines failed in the second stage of the Saturn V). It’s an epic at 10 minutes, but it’s so, so worth it. The entire Apollo 13 score gives me goosebumps.
  • Would? by Alice in Chains. This was the defining song of my summer before college. The treatment of Layne Staley’s voice here in the chorus is incredible as he implores the listener to “try and see it once my way”, and Jerry Cantrell’s guitar work is solid and haunting.
  • Gravity of Love by Enigma. Enigma’s mixing in of Carl Orff’s “O Fortuna,” a sultry and powerful drum arrangement, and Sandra Cretu’s vocals make for a song that turns me into a conductor toward the end. I always find myself cranking the volume louder and louder as the song builds to its crescendo at the end. This song particularly inspires creativity and gets plenty of plays.
  • Event Horizon (Live Acoustic) by Blue Stone. The regular electronic version of this song is moving in its own right, but to hear it pulled out to the bare minimums with just the vocalist and piano accompaniment? Powerful. I tend to enjoy the acoustic version more than the electronic version, actually.
  • See What I’m Sayin’? by Boney James. This one moves me literally — I’ve been known to bounce around in the car to this upbeat, uptempo jazz arrangement. If I’m in a bad mood, I can play this once and instantly turn it around. (Yes, this song was once on The Weather Channel.)
  • If Only by Ryan Farish. Yes, another Weather Channel song. There’s something about the piano in the song’s chorus that just riles me up. The song does dramatic pretty much perfectly. Sure, it may not be the most technically challenging song in the world — I can play most of it on the piano and I suck at piano — but it’s still an intense song that gets me focused.

There’s plenty more where that came from, too — but there’s something to be said for brevity, after all. :) Now, I turn the question to you — what songs move you?

As Per Whatever

Speaking of Weather Channel music…

Look out folks — Mike uttered the topic of Weather Channel music on his blog…and well, this brought me out of the woodwork. LOL. I do think the Christmas music is hilarious because of the lack of wintry temperatures here (it only got slightly chillier today, and the Seattle-like rain will be with us for a while yet).

Some of you may or may not know that I have in the last year and a half become a serious Weather Channel music addict. Thanks to the diligent work of Matt & Chazz at TWC Classics, I’ve been able to identify and thus purchase my favorite TWC music from when I was growing up and from now. When I get the full site up, I fully intend on having a full list of the music that I’ve acquired, including the three-disc signed CD set by Trammell Starks (used heavily in the late ’90s and on the Weatherscan channel). I like a lot of the music from the early ’90s, when I was seriously obsessed with TWC as a kid. Nowadays my favorite TWC artists include Ryan Farish and Brian Hughes.

By the way, the jazzy version of Joy To The World Mike refers to is a version that’s been played for the last several years by Bob Rafkin — here’s the Holiday 2002 playlist for proof. ;)

As Per Whatever

My reputation precedes me

It’s always hilarious to come back and see a message asking me if I caught the new Weather Channel show, Abrams & Bettes. For the record, I did not — I was watching ESPN NFL Countdown, and playing with Vista most of the night.

Speaking of Vista, Office 2007 is now properly installed in my fresh Build 5728 installation — I feel like that for the first time the performance and relative stability is there now to possibly make me productive. This is assuming I don’t keep moving windows around watching the backgrounds blur, though…which I have a terrible habit of doing. :-P Build 5728 is sweet though. It performs well, uses memory more judiciously, and feels much snappier. There are still some annoying glitches, but I get the feeling they are at this point driver related.

Congrats to the Saints. What a win down there. Nothing like seeing Mike Vick look dumbfounded. :)

‘Night folks…