The good folks from Slashdot interviewed some of the makers at the 2012 Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire; here's their video.
The good folks from Slashdot interviewed some of the makers at the 2012 Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire; here's their video.
Hurricane Isaac brought with it high winds and a substantial amount of rain, and both of those combined has led to a lot of flooding. Here are some maps I've collected while the storm is still underway. You should know that for each of them I'll also give a link to the underlying mapping source so that you can get current information.
If you are in the affected area and need details about flooded roads or the risk of dams or levees bursting or anything else, do not trust this weblog for current information; seek out official and up to date sources.
Most of the maps are dated August 30, 2012, unless otherwise noted.
A good source for maps of observed precipitation is water.weather.gov, specifically the AHPS (Advanced Hydrometeorological Prediction Service). Here's a 7 day observed rainfall for Louisiana from that service, showing some areas with upwards of 20 inches of observed rainfall.
A good source for rainfall predictions running out to the next 5 days (120 hours) is the Quantitative Precipitation Forecast (QPF). These models are updated several times a day and give rainfall estimates over the entire country. (Your rainfall will differ.) This is the run from Thursday, August 30, 2012, showing a predicted 5 day course for the remnants of Isaac to dump rain up the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys.
The National Weather Serivce Watch, Warning, Advisory Display shows this map with areas in pale green with warnings of potential floods, darker green (Arkansas) with current flood conditions, and parts of Louisiana and Mississippi with flash flood warnings. The accompanying text for some forecasts note that because of the dry and drought conditions the ground will be hard, and thus less able to absorb moisture leading to heavy runoff and flooding.
River gauges, current
Many rivers have flood gauges which measure and report current flood status. This is a map from water.weather.gov's River Observations page showing the whole nation, with flooding marked in color. You can zoom in to individual observations as well.
Here's a zoom of the New Orleans area for the same data. Please note that the gauges are only on rivers, and will not show flash flood areas, levee breaches, or other places where water is not usually found.
I'll be on the lookout for satellite photos that show flooding; those usually don't appear until after the storm has cleared, because any imagery sensitive to water will pick up the clouds first. Here's a NASA Aqua/MODIS image, pulled from their Rapid Response Imagery datasets.
From the news release:
The Gallery Project presents Quantified Self, a multimedia exhibit in which 34 local, regional, and national artists examine how individuals collect and often project information about themselves and others in the digital world. Artists examine the quantified self from two unique perspectives: one, how information about individuals is collected, stored, processed, and used by these individuals and communicated to others; and two how entities collect information about individuals and groups for commercial and other purposes. Examples are self-projections in cyber space, self-monitoring of health and other behaviors, obsessive collecting of self-defining artifacts, and visualizing personal and group data.
The gallery opened today, August 30, 2012; the reception is on the evening of August 31, 2012, and I'll probably miss it. Artists that I recognized included Edward Tufte who had three very lovely prints from one of his books on display, and Mark EJ Newman who had some remarkably presented cartograms.
Visit them at 215 S. Fourth Ave in downtown Ann Arbor, across from Eastern Accents (and thus handy to visit after A2B3).
Ann Arbor's #1 investigative news team!
Each year is a new hurricane season, and each year the internet is a little different. Here's some things that are new that I've noticed.
Every single meteorologist is on Twitter (or close enough), and there's an ample supply of both local weather reporting and national weather forecasting to satisfy anyone's need to look at weather models for hurricanes to come. The word of the year is "spaghetti model", illustrated below, showing a whole series of separate tracks from different atmospheric models to predict a set of possible futures for the storm.
Another novel thing this year is the appearance of the hurricane app for your smart phone or iPad. Hurricane HD for your iPad focuses solely on hurricane tracking, giving you alerts and forecasts and graphical updates as conditions change. (I haven't used it, but the screen shots look good and straightforward). The Red Cross Hurricane App includes “I’m safe” messaging that allows users to broadcast reassurance to family and friends via social media outlets that they are out of harm’s way. Both have access to NOAA Weather Radio, which is one of the typical channels found on any of the scanner apps that are available.
If you are interested in listening to hurricane radio traffic, one good source is Radio Reference. In addition to listening to police scanners and fire service radios, you can also tune into the National Hurricane Center SKYWARN network and hear weather and condition reports directly from amateur radio operators in the field.
One thing that hasn't changed is the excellent hurricane coverage from Weather Underground, with the weblog of Dr. Jeff Masters a clear and precise account as conditions change. The comment board on this blog is notable for being well behaved and well informed, a rarity in this day and age. Weather Underground was recently purchased by Weather.com. There's no visible changes yet to hurricane information, but a few more TWC meteorologists are blogging on the wunderground site.
Here in Michigan, the worst we can expect from a hurricane is flooding from the far-north remnants of a storm. Others will not be so lucky. Do your best to be prepared.
For the most part, I don't comment on newspaper web sites any more; it's generally more effective to engage by writing the same message directly to the reporter or to the editor.
In some cases, good results can also be had by sending messages directly to the parties involved in the story, and cc'ing (or bcc'ing) the reporter in question.
The recipe for cooking the trout was simple: foil, lemon, and basil. It would have done well with a bit of olive oil or butter in the foil to bring out the flavor; it probably could have used some salt, in retrospect.
The fish had been cleaned but not filleted. I don't have the tools or the knowledge to fillet a trout, but some people have it down pat; this video from "battlebauble" on YouTube looks convincing. We ended up picking out the bones after it had been cooked.
The trout was from the Spring Valley Trout Farm in Dexter, and the boys were there as part of Summers-Knoll summer "Escape Camp".
My Twitter feed is full of worry about the changes to the Twitter API. (Yes, that probably means I should unfollow a few people so that it gets back to the baseline of "I'm eating a sandwich".) Here's some of the notable problems that people see with the new rules, which are going into effect over the next 6 months.
From Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper, "Interpreting some of Twitter's API changes" is a good overview of the challenges for a developer to comply with new rules while still innovating on their core application. His conclusion is stark:
Twitter has left themselves a lot of wiggle-room with the rules. Effectively, Twitter can decide your app is breaking a (potentially vague) rule at any time, or they can add a new rule that your app inadvertently breaks, and revoke your API access at any time. [...]
I sure as hell wouldn’t build a business on Twitter, and I don’t think I’ll even build any nontrivial features on it anymore.
And if I were in the Twitter-client business, I’d start working on another product.
The new App.net has grand designs to be a Twitter clone, based on three elements: a solid realtime engine for data, a well defined open API, and a subscription supported model (rather than an advertising supported model) for making the whole thing pay. Dalton Caldwell's manifesto is a worthwhile read, "Announcing an audacious proposal"
I believe so deeply in the importance of having a financially sustainable realtime feed API & service that I am going to refocus App.net to become exactly that. I have the experience, vision, infrastructure and team to do it. Additionally, we already have much of this built: a polished native iOS app, a robust technical infrastructure currently capable of handing ~200MM API calls per day with no code changes, and a developer-facing API provisioning, documentation and analytics system. This isn’t vaporware.
Not surprisingly, the alpha.app.net channel is full of want to be superstar application developers figuring out how their new idea could work in this new space.
There are two applications that I use that could be affected by this set of changes. One is Pinboard, which is a bookmarking tool that (among other things) reads and archives my Twitter stream. Pinboard's developer Maciej Ceglowski has a very funny, no holds barred Twitter account for Pinboard, where he among other things promotes his own service by retweeting posts from the accounts of his competitor Delicious. Here's his take on app.net:
I'd be sad if my Twitter backups didn't work.
The unusual Twitter client that I use which is most likely to run up against the new look-and-feel guidelines of the Twitter API is ttytter, a command line client written in Perl by Cameron Kaiser. It looks nothing like the official Twitter apps of any kind.
It's hard enough to insist on API and look-and-feel rules with applications that are user configurable; imagine what it must be like to enforce those rules when the application is delivered as relatively easy to modify source code. How can you make sure people don't break the rules if they can change their own code?
Twitter has some reasonable reasons to want to narrow the scope of what third parties can do with their service, but it's not going to come without a fight. Expect a tug of war between innovation and conformity, and it's safe to say that some of that innovation that comes at a high cost and low value to Twitter will be squashed out. I'll be particularly interested in the delicate balance between value provided by Twitter to advertisers (who pay directly) and social media marketers (who often ride for free) on the service.
I'm working on a lot of things, or so it seems, but right now I just want to write.
The working environment at the moment is the Chrome browser, with 6 tabs open. Two are Gmail accounts, one is Twitter, one is the Typepad dashboard from which I'm writing this, and one is a Google Analtyics window set to "real time" view for Arborwiki. A sixth tab is currently on Google search, but it varies from time to time.
There are people who keep hundreds of open tabs, but I'm not one of them - my usual plan for dealing with a surplus of work in progress is either to blog or twitter about it or to pin up a bookmark with Pinboard and then close the window.
Most notably from a productivity perspective is that Facebook doesn't fit into the picture. My Facebook stream has turned into a political circus, and I don't like wading through artful graphics making fun of politicians on all sides. It's tedious, and it makes me think that I could give up on Facebook mostly and not miss it.
Pick two endpoints of the journey that you want to take, and then click on the triangle on the left to select your favorite combination of short distance, flat, and bicycle friendly. The route will adjust to reflect the tradeoffs you make. A sample route from bikeplanner.org is below.
More details from the Washington Post: "A bike map for Washington"
BikePlanner was created by OpenPlans, a nonprofit group based in New York that wants to use technology to improve transportation. The organization also worked on CiBi.me, a trip planner for New York City’s (delayed) bike-sharing program and on a trip planner for the TriMet transit system in the Portland, Ore., area.
The bike-trip planners for New York and Washington were built as demonstrations, said Kevin Webb, the Washington-based co-director of transportation at OpenPlans. Much of the technical work was already done for the Portland project, so it wasn’t a huge leap to create the new sites.
BikePlanner.org uses OpenStreetMap as its base map.
A non-profit tech org using open source & open data to help cities work better. Projects incl cibi.me, OpenTripPlanner.org, MTA BusTime, Shareabouts.org.